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Archive for Soups

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Egg Drop Soup

Chinese Egg Drop Soup

Fresh Cilantro

Top: Egg drop soup is known for its strands
of eggs. Bottom: A fresh herb garnish
—chives/green onion, cilantro or parsley—
makes a big difference. Photos courtesy
Good Eggs | San Francisco.

 

Chinese egg drop soup is a very simple concept: chicken broth with thin strands of cooked egg. The strands are created by pouring a thin stream of beaten eggs into hot broth at the end of cooking.

It’s the easiest dish you can make to celebrate the Chinese New Year—also called the Lunar New Year, since other countries in Asia celebrate the holiday. With no added fat or carbs, it’s also spot-on for new year’s diet resolutions—American or Chinese versions.

The recipe below, from Good Eggs in San Francisco, is more sophisticated than what you get at Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Star anise and miso give the soup so much flavor, it becomes a knock-your-socks-off alternative to the standard American version—typically a bland, gummy (from too much cornstarch) soup.

While you’re at it, make your own Chinese fortune cookies for dessert!
 
EGG DROP SOUP HISTORY

In China, the dish that we call egg drop soup is called egg flower soup. Food historians can’t pin a date on the emergence of the recipe, but the domestication of fowl for eggs was recorded as far back as 1400 B.C.E.

Similar recipes combining chicken broth and eggs appear in other cultures as well.

  • In France, tourin, a garlic soup, is made with chicken stock that is drizzled with egg whites and thickened with an egg yolk. Unlike egg drop soup, the egg whites are whisked in rapidly to prevent strands from forming.
  • The Greeks added fresh lemon juice to create avogolemono soup. The eggs are added for body and don’t create strands.
  • In Italy, the addition of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese created stracciatella. As with egg drop soup, the eggs form strands.
  •  
    In China, versatility is the name of the game.

  • Tastes vary across regions, with southern Chinese preferring to thicken the broth with cornstarch, and northerners favoring a thinner soup without it.
  •  

  • Tomatoes, corn and green peas may get tossed in as well.
  • Other add-ins can include bean sprouts and tofu cubes.
  • Familiar garnishes may include black pepper, chopped green onions (scallions), and a drizzle of sesame oil, but that’s just the beginning of a whole slew of possibilities.
  •  
    In the U.S.:

  • The soup is thickened with cornstarch, as is done in southern China.
  • It is typically served without a garnish or extra add-ins—but make yours as customized as you like.
  • We like to add cooked chicken strips and chopped green onions, plus fresh cilantro or parsley—whichever we have on hand.
  •  
    As with any recipe, you can (and should!) make it your own.

     

    RECIPE: CHINESE EGG DROP SOUP

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    You can buy the broth or make it with this recipe.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 quart chicken broth/bone broth
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 4 eggs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat in a big soup pot. When the oil is hot, add the leek and cook for about 6 minutes, until it is soft and starting to turn golden brown. At this point, turn the heat down to medium and carefully add the broth. Then whisk in the star anise, soy sauce and vinegar.

    2. ADD the miso: Pour a ladleful of the broth into a small bowl and add the miso. Whisk to incorporate, then pour the enhanced broth back into the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes. While the broth cooks…

    3. WHISK the eggs vigorously in a mixing bowl that has a pouring spout, until the whites and yolks are completely (and we mean completely) combined. When the broth has simmered and you’re ready to eat, turn the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat back down to low and wait until the broth is at a steady simmer.

     

    Star Anise

    Midget Corn

    Star anise is perhaps the most beautiful spice. Photo courtesy SilkRoadSpices.ca. Bottom: Customize your soup with ingredients like baby corn. Photo courtesy Alibaba.com.

     
    4. At this point, hold the bowl of eggs in your left hand and slowly stir the broth with a whisk in your right hand. Pour the egg into the broth in a slow and steady stream and watch it form an eggy ribbon as soon as it hits the broth. (If it doesn’t immediately form a ribbon, the broth needs to be hotter—so stop pouring and turn up the heat for a few minutes before trying again.) Continue to pour and stir slowly until all of the eggs are in. Let the broth stand for a few minutes for the eggs to finish cooking, then garnish with parsley and serve.
     
    WHAT IS STAR ANISE?

    Perhaps the prettiest spice, star anise (photo above) comes from an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and China. Although it is not related to the herb anise, it closely resembles anise in flavor since both contain the organic compound anethole.

    Star anise, the seed of the tree, is harvested from the star-shaped pericarp*.

    It is widely used in China, where it is a component of Chinese five-spice powder; in India it is a major component of garam masala. It is also prominent in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. In Vietnam, you’ll find it in our favorite soup, pho. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.

    The French use it in mulled wine (vin chaud).
     
    *Pericarp is a type of plant tissue, the outer layer of the flower’s ovary wall. It surrounds the seeds, in this case, the star anise.
      

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    RECIPE: Turnip Soup

    Turnip Soup

    Today is pretty chilly, so we’re making turnip soup. Photo and recipe courtesy Quinciple.

     

    Turnips are part of the super-potent cruciferous vegetables* group, from which we try to eat daily. There’s more about the family below.

    We’ve enjoyed mashed, purée, roasted and stir-fried turnips, and we’ve fried and baked them in the manner of sweet potato fries.

    But until now, we never tried turnip soup, a comfort food that can be crowned with garnishes from apples and chives to crumbled bacon and shredded cheese.

    Although the soup looks creamy, there’s no dairy. The rich color and texture come from the gold turnips.

    If you can only find white turnips, you can add a some carrots for color, or just enjoy the pale soup. But gold turnip are noted for their “bonus” flavor, slightly sweet with a nutty nuance of almond.

    The recipe is courtesy Quinciple, a subscription service that delivers the week’s best fresh produce.

     

    RECIPE: GOLD BALL TURNIP SOUP WITH APPLES

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound gold turnips, washed and peeled
  • 1/2 yellow onion, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Optional spice: 1/2 teaspoon cumin or dried chile pepper
  • Garnish: ½ apple, thinly sliced†
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped basil, chives or parsley
  • Garnish: extra virgin olive oil, plain or flavored
  •  
    __________________________________
    *There’s more about the cruciferous family below.

    †Wait until ready to serve to slice the apples, so they don’t brown. Leave the skin on for a touch of color.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Cut the turnips and onion into ½” cubes. Toss with two tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

    2. ROAST until the turnips are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Purée the roasted turnips and onions with the stock, and add enough water to achieve a smooth consistency.

    3. WARM the soup in a small pan. Taste and adjust the seasonings. To serve, garnish with apple slices, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

     

    GOLD TURNIPS HISTORY

    There are several varieties of gold turnips, heirloom varieties from Europe that were first grown in France in the 1800s.

    In the U.S. they are marketed variously as Baby Gold, Boule D’or (the prized French variety, which translates to “golden ball”), Golden Ball and Golden Globe turnips.

    Gold turnips are a less durable than the common white and purple-white varieties, as they are not a good “cellar vegetable.” This means that they will not maintain their firmness and flavor if stored throughout the winter—a prized feature of turnips, rutabagas and other root vegetables in the days before refrigeration.

    Turnip were cultivated as far back as the Greek Hellenistic Period, 321 B.C.E. to 31 B.C.E. They grow from fall through spring, and can’t tolerate summer heat.
     
    HOW TO USE GOLD TURNIPS

    Gold turnips can replace common turnips in any recipe, and provide more flare due to their color. In fact, they can pretty much be used anywhere carrots are used, as well.

    In addition to cooked recipes, turnips (white and gold) can be eaten raw as crudités and in salads. They can be shredded into a slaw along with cabbage and carrots, and tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette. The leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked.

    Per SpecialtyProduce.com, the flavor is truly transformed and sweetened when they are slow roasted, braised or sautéed in butter.

    Good accents include:

  • Acids: lemon juice and vinegar
  • Apples
  • Bacon
  • Butter and/or cream
  • Cheeses such as Parmesan and Pecorino
  • Herbs: chives, garlic, parsley, tarragon and thyme
  •  

    Gold Turnips

    Purple Top Turnips

    Top: Gold turnips. Photo © Marie Iannotti | GardeningTheHudsonValley.com. Bottom: Common turnips are all white or white with purple tops. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    THE CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES FAMILY

    The turnip is a cruciferous vegetable, a member of the Brassicaceae family of cancer-fighting superfoods. They are also called the brassicas, after their family name.

    “Cruciferous” derives from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” It refers to the flowers of these vegetables, which consist of four petals in the shape of a cross.

    The family includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips.

    Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can’t eat too many of them, but you can overcook them.

    Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and the rest of the family, cruciferous vegetables contain chemical compounds that, when exposed to heat for a sufficient amount of time, produce hydrogen sulfide (an unpleasant sulfur aroma).

    So take care not to overcook them.

      

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    RECIPE: Homemade Tomato Soup With Goat Cheese Crostini

    We love tomato soup, but have run out of patience with the added sweeteners—typically corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. We don’t like the excessive sweet taste of the soup, we don’t like the added calories, and we certainly don’t like HFCS.

    For National Soup Month, here’s an easy recipe from Davio’s Boston, one of several locations in the excellent Davio’s Northern Italian Steak Houses in Atlanta, Manhattan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and later this year in Los Angeles.

    A side of goat cheese crostini turns the soup into a first course or a sophisticated “soup and sandwich” lunch.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP

    Ingredients For 6 To 8 Portions

  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large white onion, sliced*
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed San Marzano tomatoes†
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Optional garnish: swirl of plain Greek yogurt
  • Optional side: goat cheese and chive crostini (recipe below)
  •    

    Sundried Tomato Soup

    Make tomato soup for National Soup Month. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

    ______________________________
    *While butter adds a nice flavor note, you can substitute oil if you’re avoiding cholesterol, want a vegan option, etc.

    †You can buy the tomatoes crushed or whole. Steve buys them whole and hand crushes them.
     
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a stock pot; add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer for 1 hour.

    2. ADD the cubed bread and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool. Purée until smooth with an immersion blender or in a regular blender or food processor. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

    3. SERVE: Bring the soup to a simmer. Plate and garnish with the optional yogurt, then with the basil and parsley. Serve with the crostini.

     

    Goat Cheese Crostini

    Goat cheese crostini are delicious with soup
    or a glass of wine. Photo courtesy Wines Of
    Sicily.

     

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 ounces spreadable goat cheese (a softened log is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 slices sliced baguette (1/2-inch-thick slices) toasted French bread baguette
  • Optional garnish: extra virgin olive oil, fresh-ground pepper and lemon zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the baguette slices.

    2. BLEND together the goat cheese, dill and minced garlic. Spread evenly over the toasted baguette slices.

    3. GARNISH with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some lemon zest and fresh-ground black pepper.
     
    DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BRUSCHETTA
    AND CROSTINI
    ?

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chicken Or Turkey Stock

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    Enjoy your feast, but don’t toss the carcass.
    Use it to make stock! Photo courtesy Sur La
    Table
    .

     

    Plan ahead: Don’t throw away that turkey carcass. Or the roast chicken* carcass. Or those tops, root ends and stems from trimming vegetables. Save the vegetable trimmings from the week’s meals: carrot tops, celery ends, fennel fronds, herb stems, kale stalks, leek tops, scallion ends, etc.

    Check the freezer for herbs and vegetable scraps you may have tucked away.

    Use all of it to make a delicious batch of chicken or turkey stock, which you can then turn into cooked grains, sauces, soups, stews and other preparations.

    RECIPE: CHICKEN STOCK OR TURKEY STOCK

    Ingredients

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, cut in half
  • Chicken or turkey carcass
  • Vegetable trimmings† or 1-2 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery
  • Parsley and thyme (leftover stems are fine)
  •  
    *Or duck, game hen, quail or any poultry carcass. You can blend them together into one stock as needed.
    †Check the freezer for herbs and anything else you might have tucked away to prevent spoiling.
     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a stock pot (6-8 quarts for a turkey, 4-6 quarts for a chicken) and cover them with water plus one inch. If the carcass doesn’t fit in the pot, use poultry shears to cut it into pieces that do. Don’t salt the water; stock should be unsalted to accommodate any recipe. Place the top on the pot.

    2. BRING to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for minimum of 90 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Once or twice during the simmering, remove the cover and skim off the frothy scum that’s formed on the top of the broth. Add more water if it boils away; the bones should always be covered. When the broth has turned a golden brown color and is rich in flavor…

    3. REMOVE the pot from the heat. As soon as it’s comfortable enough to handle, strain the broth and discard the solids. If it isn’t clear enough for you, strain it again through cheesecloth.

    4. FREEZE the chicken broth in portion-sized containers. We like ice cube trays (once frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag); or in half pint or pint storage containers. If you have a short-term use for it, you can refrigerate the stock for up to a week.
     
    Tips

  • A stock pot with a pasta strainer insert is ideal for this purpose.
  • If you don’t want to “watch the pot,” you can use a slow cooker on a low setting.
  •  

    USES FOR STOCK

    Instead Of Water

  • Grains: rice (plain or in risotto), quinoa, couscous and other dishes
  • Soups: use as much stock as you have, then fill in with water
  • Vegetables: steaming and boiling
  •  
    Instead Of Butter And/Or Cream

  • Gravy
  • French sauces, such as bercy and velouté
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Purées: use stock to smooth out a bean or vegetable purée
  • Sautés: add some stock and use less butter or oil
  • Soups, from wintry butternut squash soup to summer gazpacho
  • Stuffing, dressing and other savory bread pudding recipes
  •  
    Instead Of Wine

  • Deglazing the pan for sauce
  • Marinades
  • Any recipe that requires wine
  •  

    Chicken Stock

    Take pride in your homemade stock. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STOCK & BROTH

  • Broth is a finished soup; stock is an ingredient.
  • Broth has a higher proportion of meat.
  • Because stock is made largely from the bones, it contains more gelatin, which gives it a richer mouthfeel.
  • Stock is not salted. Since it is an ingredient, it combines with whatever seasonings the recipes call for.
  •  
    What about bouillon?

    The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably, though not correctly.

    Bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantial with the addition of a grain (barley, rice, etc.) and vegetables.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

    Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of popcorn.

    Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.
     
    THE HUMBLE SNACK BECOMES FANCY FARE

    Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn garnish mac and cheese 230

    Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.

     
    But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

    While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

    Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.
     
    USE PLAIN OR FLAVORED POPCORN

    A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
  •  
    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Carrot cake with Caramel and Popcorn honestcooking 230

    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy MyKitchenStories.com.au.

     

    WAYS TO USE A POPCORN GARNISH

    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
  •  
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
     
    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.

     

      

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