These days, I have ditched the treadmill for a run in the open and I must admit, I am enjoying it. The other day, as I was running my usual laps; I felt a sharp nip in the air. It was nature telling me winter is arriving soon. I stopped in my tracks. Winter is my favorite season for many reasons. Firstly, festivals usually begin in winter, family functions are planned in the pleasant winters cold and of course all the good food appears the fat laden biryanis, the onndhiyu, the gajar halwa and the likes. Just as the virtual slide show was reaching its crescendo in my mind; a trickle of sweat ran down from my forehead on to the cheekbone. This reminded me of why I am running? To keep my waist and weight in check. My slideshow was torn to shreds 😦 . I completed my lap and came home thinking what could be done where I could eat without the guilt of having loaded myself with calories. The eureka moment came when I was having breakfast. A cup of adrak-chai (ginger tea). Comforting, and just the right warmth. If i could have a warm soup with a few veggies and meats for good measure I would be in a good place. So there, soups it was. Warm like the love of your mom and as comforting as a home you’ve grown up with. That’s when I decided to do a few soups on the blog.
The first one of this series is a personal favorite of mine. The meatball soup with rice noodles, the soup almost resembles the Vietnamese Pho in the look and feel but is a bit different cause the Pho uses beef stock while I have used chicken. I also altered the seasoning a bit to suit my almost jaded palette. A good thing about soups is they literally make themselves. This one does too that too with literally no oil. Use whatever veggies and meat are available in the pantry and your done. I cheated a bit and used some pork mince along with the chicken mince. Another important thing while making soup is a good stock. Refer my notes at the end of the recipe to know my secret stock recipe.
So how did the soup fare on the most important taste quotient? Honestly, I am not one to praise my cooking but this one passed every muster if ever there was one. Each spoonful honest, rustic, warm and making me convincing me that you did not need large cauldrons of oil to and truckloads of spices to improve taste. A perfect example where the ingredients shine and speak for themselves.
I suggest don’t be too dainty while plating. Its meant to be rugged. And ohh, what about the biryanis and oondhiyus. Hmm. I guess they can wait a while 🙂
Asian Meatball Soup
For the meatballs:
- 100 grams pork mince
- 150 grams chicken mince
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the soup:
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
- 1/2 inch of ginger, roughly mined
- 2 birds eye chilli, chopped
- 1 lemongrass root, crushed
- 1 star anise
- 2 stick of cinnamon
- 4-5 small sprigs of corriander chopped along with the root
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 small tablespoon soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or jaggery
- Juice of one lime
- 2 liters chicken stock (This quantity will give you three large portions)
- Salt to taste
To assemble the soup
- 1 pack rice noodles
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 60 grams moong beans, sprouted
- 1/2 inch ginger, julienned
- one onion, roughly sliced
- 2 small chillies, cut slant.
- Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the pack. It would be nice to leave the noodles a tad underdone as they will get cooked in the final stage of the process.
- Once the noodles are done, divided them to equal portions in the bowls in which you will be serving the soup. Similarly, place the carrots and the moon beans in the bowls. With this about 50% of your plating is done.
- Prepare the meatballs by combining the two types of mince together. Add salt and pepper and make even sized balls. Heat a pan and then add the meatballs. Cook till they are evenly brown and keep aside. After about 10 minutes, arrange the meatballs in the bowls.
- For the sauce, heat oil in a large pan and add the cinnamon and star anise. Once the spices are fragrant add the garlic and chilli. Stir till garlic is just brown.
- Now add in the corriander, lemongrass and the stock and let it simmer on a medium heat.
- Once it has reached a boil add the the fish sauce, soy sauce and the sugar. Stir for a bit till sugar (or jaggery) has completely dissolved. Add in the juice of a lime and the salt and pepper.
- Gently skim off the scum (if any) and then using a ladle, pour this stock onto the prepped up soup bowls.
- Garnish with the ginger juliennes, sliced onion and chilli and serve hot
To make soup
Though this may not sound as authentic, here is my secret stock recipe that has always worked for me.
In a large vessel, heat 2 teaspoons oil. Then add in 2 garlic cloves, a small carrot, 1 sticks celery and 1bay leaf Add about a kilo of chicken (or any other meat) and add in a liter of water. Let the water simmer for on a low heat for about an hour. Keep checking and skimming of the scum at regular intervals. After about an hour, Your stock should be ready to strain and use.
- This ratio is important, so pay attention to that. There should be equal amount of meat and water.
- Let the stock simmer on low to medium heat. Higher heat would mean the vegetables getting mashed and resulting in a cloudy stock
- I usually dont season my stock when i make it. I season it when i cook the final recipe.