I was telling my colleague about creating this food blog and she (in passing) mentioned how she wanted to get some cosy Asian broths for the winter. Unfortunately for her, little miss smart-ass me actually responded with a large list of different ways and flavours that she could chop and change to her heart’s content.
Luckily for me – she actually cared. Ha! But yes, then I thought it would just be generally a nice resource of lists and flavours so that other people can just stock their cupboard and be able to make different, healthy, and warm soups over the winter (that being said I will write down some of mine and post as well).
My Definition of Asian Soups
I was in academia for MUCH too long not to sit here and explain my definition of the word prior to explaining how it should be created. As well, people will most likely be inclined to argue with my recipe basics and ideas, and so these suggestions are for this definition.
Asian-style brothy soups are really gorgeous. Things like thai curries, miso soup, ramen – are all really nice and light ways to stay warm but low-calorie in the winter. I look at East, South-East and India as my countries for Asian broth soups. I love to use flavours like garlic, ginger, Miso, meat broth.
Basics and Concept
You don’t HAVE to use a recipe. A general guide of flavours are completely fine and you can go back and just muddle together any which way you wish to achieve what you want.
If you are cooking for one, it is really good to get frozen vegetables. If you get a wide range and then you can basically mix and match as you see fit. I generally find that simple handfuls of vegetables can make a great dinner. As well, along the same vein, make sure that your spice cabinet is well stocked.
If you are using from frozen vegetables. You have several options available to you for cooking this.
I will generally add the frozen vegetables into pot, and add the seasonings. I will cover and let that heat up / defrost. Then I will add about as much water as I need to dilute it. I find about 2 handfuls of vegetables is more than enough for a dinner.
- Tomato paste – gives a nice broth base
- Chinese rice vinegar – gives a lovely addition and and oomf to your flavours. Especially nice in hot and sour soups
- Miso paste – use this as a brothy base
- lemon grass – always boils down nicely, it will give a bit of a thai curry flavour to whatever you are cooking
- Ginger – Go for fresh, you can always freeze the leftovers
- Dark Soya sauce – If you want to make something a bit richer, try this out – it is less salty than regular soy sauce.
- Sesame seeds – (toasted) and sesame oil
- Onions – yes
- Garlic – of course. If you fry it with the ginger and onions it is really great.
- Chinese 5 spice – if you want to use it in a broth, try frying it in oil first to open up the spices.
- Meat Stock cubes – chicken, beef, pork are the main ones which I would suggest
- Sesame oil
And no, onion does not count as an ingredient or vegetable – it is a flavouring.
- Baby corn
- Bok Choi
- Spiralised courgette – can be used instead of noodles
- Cabbage – this goes nicely with a chicken stock cube
- Pork – look for small chunks
- Beef – however this can get a bit cumbersome. It does go nicely if you are putting curry flavours into this
- Chicken – cubed chicken breast
- Prawns – uncooked frozen are my favourites to use. They take about 10 minutes to defrost, which is the time for your soup to cook.
And then if you like spice
- Siracha 😀 it really adds a great cosy kick to it. I also find that it adds a lovely flavour
- Hot peppers – fresh and fried with the garlic
Starch / Carbohydrates
- Udon noodles – these are one of my favourites they are fat and they absorb so much of the juices and flavours. They can be cumbersome though
- Thin noodles – these are white like the udon noodles, and also very nice
- Whole wheat thin noodles – these are great. They get a lovely texture when they are cooked
- Egg noodles
- Glass noodles
- Microwavable Rice – You don’t need much of it, and it does add something to chew on. The microwavable rice as well is already cooked so it doesn’t take away from your eating.
The trick if you are adding noodles is to not buy some that will take a long time to cook, and if they do take a bit longer, add them in as soon as possible so that everything else does not overcook.
So essentially chop and change as you see fit. I hope this outline and concept will inspire you to create lots of different ideas. As always do send them along and I can see what you have come up with.
If you are planning the “new year, new you” mentality, which is not a bad thing – if you want to try and improve yourself, only for a month, that is a great month of health for you. Asian brothy soups are really low in calorie and I do find they are very filling. They also have great benefits in the fact that you are getting more water into your diet. Also to note – the hot sauce and chillies help to boost your metabolism.