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Archive for Soups

TIP OF THE DAY: Quick Homemade Ramen Soup

Ramen Bowl With Boiled Egg

Different Ramen Soups

Tofu Ramen Soup

Tonkatsu Ramen

Nona Lim Pho

[1] This comfort food is ready in just 10 minutes with this recipe (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF). [2] Three ramen options at Kabuki Japanese Restaurants: [3] Ramen soup with yuba, called “tofu skin” in English; a by-product of soy milk production (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. [4] Tonkatsu ramen soup, with sliced roast pork. Here’s the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. [5] Buy ready-made soup base, like this pho from Nona Lim.


America’s favorite soup is chicken noodle. Is that why so many people love ramen soup, Japanese noodle version? (Ramen is the name of the Chinese-style wheat noodles in the soup.) Both versions are comfort food and hearty main courses.

Instant ramen soup is helpful in a pinch, but it’s laden with so much salt. There’s much more much salt in the little silver seasoning packets than is good for you.

One label we checked had 1434mg of sodium which is 60% of your Daily Value of salt; and if you eat the whole package (two servings), you’ve exceeded your Daily Value.

So here’s an easy solution: Make your own ramen soup. It’s easy, and you can make as large a batch as you like. It’s also a great catch-all for leftover pasta, meats and veggies. Just follow this recipe template: Choose Your Base Buy beef, chicken or vegetable broth or stock, preferably low sodium. If you like to make your own stock, by all means, use it. If you find yourself with pork bones, make pork stock.

Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 12 ounces Nona Lim pho broth, spicy Szechuan broth, or miso ramen broth
  • 5 ounces ramen noodles (one packet)
  • 1 head bok choy or ½ head chard or kale, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts chopped roughly
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly (substitute basil, chervil, mint, parsley)
    Optional Toppings

    This recipe specifies green onions and soft boiled eggs, but you can switch them out or add other toppings. Look in the fridge, look in the cupboards.

  • Asian vegetables: baby corn, bean sprouts, water chestnuts
  • Frozen, canned or leftover cooked vegetables
  • Leftover proteins: beef, fish/seafood, poultry, pork, tofu (shred and toss into the bowl)
  • Seasonings: nori chips (the dried seaweed used to make sushi rolls, now a popular snack) other seaweed seaweed, sesame seeds or, Japanese 7-spice (shichimi togarashi)*

    1. HEAT the broth, adding 1 cup water to dilute slightly. When it boils, add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the greens and scallions and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, until greens are bright and tender but still have texture.

    2. BOIL a small pot of water, then add the eggs and simmer for 7 minutes and 20 seconds. Remove from the water and place in an ice bath; peel when cold.

    3. LADLE out bowls of noodles and broth. Halve the eggs and add two halves to each bowl. Top with a handful of fresh herbs and serve.

  • Homemade Ramen Soup
  • Homemade Pork Ramen Soup
  • Modern Ramen Toppings

    We were heartbroken when our beloved pho soup starters—beer, chicken and vegetable—were discontinued by Pacific Natural Foods.

    Thank goodness Nona Lim stepped in to create fine Asian broths (and soup cups, too).

    Beyond fabulous flavor, Nona, a former professional athlete who ate whole, clean foods to gain a competitive advantage; I discovered the power of food as functional medicine. I observed how inflammatory foods would hurt my performance: my body and brain would only function at peak performance or recover faster when fueled with whole, clean foods.

    She developed the line as a healing, nutrient-dense, non-inflammatory meal program made with fresh, plant-rich, whole food ingredients and clean preparations made from scratch. We’re happy to be eating food that is all of these things; and even happier that the flavors are fabulous.

    Check out the website and find the retailer nearest to you.


    Although we think of it as Japanese, ramen soup is a dish of Chinese wheat noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—with toppings that originated in China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either vegetables or seafood (and these broths continue to be used as a base for ramen soup).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but remained a special-occasion meal that required going out to a restaurant. The broth could take days of simmering, requiring time beyond what most housewives could spare.

    Restaurant ramen is considered fine cuisine; soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets.

    Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants (the different types of ramen by region).


    Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Innovation is the name of the game. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce.

    Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have also found their way into recipes. What’s next is anyone’s guess—or what your creative thinking adds to the bowl. (BLT? Jalapeño?)

    Instant Ramen

    In 1958, instant noodles† were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water.

    Of course, the instant version is a pale shadow of laboriously-made restaurant ramen soup. But exported, Ando’s ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

    Cheap, flavorful and filling, they were salvation to people with limited funds, including college students.

    To avoid the sodium overload, toss the seasoning packet and add your own seasonings: red pepper flakes, curry, herbs, whatever.

    Instead of salt, use low sodium soy sauce.
    *Japanese 7 Spice, shichimi togarashi, is a popular seasoning for soup, rice and other dishes. It’s a blend of black and/or white sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, hot red pepper, ginger, orange peel and other ingredients such as hemp seed, poppyseed and white pepper. You can blend your own or buy it.

    †The first instant noodles were ramen, but now include soba, udon, etc.


    Restaurant Ramen Soup

    Nissin Ramen Package

    [1] Restaurant ramen soup, simmered for many hours to get an elegant broth (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky). [2] The ramen that captivated America: “oodles of noodles” (photo courtesy Nissin).



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Start A Soup Club

    In 2011, four friendly neighbors who, among them, have four spouses, 10 kids and jobs, realized that they could benefit from each others’ home cooking.

    They simply had to make and share a bigger batch of something.

    They decided on tasty, nutritious, filling, relatively inexpensive, and easy to make and transport soup. And the first soup club was born.

    In the manner of holiday cookie swaps but once a month, they cooked and shared soup.

    The idea was a success, and three years later they produced The Soup Club Cookbook: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself.

    Once a month, each soup club member takes a turns cooking a big pot of soup, making enough to feed all four families. He or she then drops off the soup, along with garnishes and an optional salad or side, at the homes or workplaces of the three other members.

    Share once a month and get the large part of a meal once a week? Sounds good to us! Several of us at THE NIBBLE enjoy soup for lunch, and a small container of quality takeout soup can cost $7.

    The Soup Club Cookbook includes 150 recipes for soups and sides, and storing tips for stretching those meals across the week. It’s also a guidebook for starting your own soup club: the logistics, the essential tools and stories to caution and inspire.

    Whether for family dinner or workplace lunch, give it a try. You can start by getting the book, available in paperback or Kindle.

    Cconsider it as a gift for someone you’d like in your club (or who could benefit by starting a club).

    Co-workers, gym buddies, book club members, school friends, neighbors—everyone from students to seniors—can participate.

    All you need are four people who want more home-cooked food, and who like the same types of ingredients (vegetarians vs. omnivores, for example).

    The idea isn’t to eat together, although that could be a pleasant by-product sometimes.
    NO BOOK?

    If you prefer to wing it, start here:

  • Find three other co-workers, friends or neighbors who are like-minded.
  • Have a starter meeting and pick a day of the week when soup will be delivered (the “soup day”).
  • Decide on a soup philosophy. Do you want hearty soups that can be light meals? Low calorie? A different theme every month (vegetable, international, etc.)?
  • Establish preferences. Spicy? No garlic? No gluten?
  • Do you want to include some kind of salad as well?
  • Need a whole meal? Consider adding a casserole, wings, etc.

    Soup Club Cookbook

    Miso Soup

    Salad In Container

    [1] Start your own soup club (photo courtesy Clarkson Potter). [2] Miso vegetable soup, an interesting recipe from [3] Your club can choose to add a salad—green, bean, grain, pasta, etc.—or other side (photo courtesy

  • Discuss the containers you’ll deliver the food in. If everyone has the same type, you don’t need to return the empties.
  • Be prepared to test and refine your process, so that it works for everyone.
    One day a week, when thinking about lunch or dinner, you’ll be able to say: Soup’s on!


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Turn Any Soup Into St. Patrick’s Day Soup

    There are plenty of green soups to serve on St. Patrick’s Day. For starters, consider avocado; Caldo Verde (kale, potato, sausage); cream of asparagus, broccoli or spinach; cucumber; green pea; herb; and nettle soups.

    There are also classic Irish soups like Irish Bacon & Cabbage, Potato & Leek and Irish Potato Soup.

    But you can also take your family’s favorite soup and add a green topping, starting with diced avocado.

    Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped green herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley.

    Don’t like avocado? Dice the tops of green onions, or use a chiffonade of basil. If you like, you can toss them on top of a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

    If you’d prefer a cheese garnish, hit a cheese store for Sage Derby, a Cheddar-style cheese from England; or Basiron Pesto, a Gouda turned green with added pesto.

    Now, commence to the eatin’ of the green.


    Bean Soup Avocado Garnish

    Instant St. Patrick’s Day food: soup with an avocado and herb garnish. Photo courtesy

  • Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant. They can be used fresh or dried.
  • Spices are obtained from other parts of a plant: bark, berries, fruits, roots or seeds. They are usually dried.
  • The word “herb”” is pronounced with the “h” in most English-speaking countries, identical to the man’s name, Herb. In North America, the “h” is dropped, so the word sounds like “erb.”
  • There are culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. Culinary herbs are simply called “herbs,” as distinguished from “medicinal herbs.”
  • The difference between herbs and vegetables in that herbs are used in small amounts to enhance flavor (like spices), rather than used as a substantial ingredient.

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    RECIPES: It’s Cherry Time!

    Fresh cherry season begins in May; but today is George Washington’s Birthday, a traditional occasion for cherry pie and other cherry recipes.

    We started the day with a Cherry Yogurt Parfait. Chobani, Dannon and Yoplait, among others, sell cherry-flavored yogurt; but one can easily make a more festive yogurt parfait. And we did! We prefer our parfait to a cup of cherry yogurt.



  • Yogurt brand of choice, in plain or vanilla; if you can find cherry yogurt, great
  • Cherries: fresh in season, frozen in the off-season
  • Optional: dried cherries (alone or in combination)
    What about canned or jarred cherries or cherry pie filling?

    You can mix cherries in water or light syrup into plain yogurt, but sweet, gloppy pie filling is over the top.

    1. COMBINE the yogurt and cherries in a mixing bowl, in your preferred proportions. Reserve a few cherries as a topping for the parfait. Stir to combine.

    2. SCOOP into a dessert dish, parfait dish, Martini glass or other festive vessel. Garnish with the reserved cherries and serve.

  • In the “normal” way—as a yogurt parfait.
  • Atop dry cereal (we eliminate the milk, and enjoy the cereal at its crunchy best).
  • As a topping for pancakes or waffles.
  • As a garnish for fruit salad.
  • Spooned over pound cake or angel food cake.
  • Atop frozen yogurt.

    Pick up some Welch’s Fruit & Yogurt Snacks in the new Cherry flavor.


    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt - Cherry

    Top: Make a Cherry Yogurt Parfait like this one from Bottom: Want something that’s grab-and-go? Have fun with these yogurt-covered cherry snacks from Welch’s.

    Small, round and chewy, they are, alas, addictive. There’s more information on the Welch’s Fruit Snacks website.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Lentil Soup

    Lentil Soup With Mustard Greens


    Top: Vegetarian lentil soup with mustard
    greens from Good Eggs. Bottom: Black beluga
    lentils from


    Lentil soup is a winter favorite: hearty, nutritious comfort food. Why make your own? Better lentils, more nuanced flavors and the ability to control the salt.

    Today’s tip is an easy recipe for homemade vegetarian lentil soup, with a variation if you’d like to add smoky ham hocks.

    Lentils are an ancient food, found in Mediterranean archaeological sites up to 13,000 years old. As with all foods, it first grew wild and was then cultivated, sometime around 8,500 years ago. It grows well in rainfall-challenged climates like the Middle East.

    In the Bible (Genesis 25:30-34), Esau, famished after working the fields, gave up his birthright (the rights of the first-born son to inheritance and position) to his younger brother Jacob in exchange for a pot of Jacob’s red lentil soup. The Greek playwright Aristophanes called lentil soup, the “sweetest of delicacies.” [Source]

    Plentiful and inexpensive, through much of history lentils have been considered food for the poor. Marie Antoinette made them fashionable in 18th-century France, although elsewhere, even into the 19th century, they were called “poor man’s meat,” and acceptable during Lent for people who could not afford fish. They became a staple in the Middle East and India.
    In modern times, in Europe and the U.S., lentils and lentil soup have moved up, acquiring a position as a hearty and tasty fall and winter comfort food.

  • Lentil soup can be vegetarian or contain meat. Adding ham hocks or other smoked pork is a popular meat version in Europe and the U.S.
  • Whether meat or vegetarian, the soup can include vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, turnips and yellow squash/zucchini.
  • Aromatics and herbs can include bay leaf, cumin, garlic and parsley, plus olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Spices popular in Indian recipes include cardamom, cinnamon and fennel seeds.

  • It can be garnished with butter or olive oil, chopped herbs, cream or yogurt and/or croutons.
  • Any lentils can be used: black beluga, brown, green, red or yellow.
  • The lentils can be cooked with or without the husk. Dehulled red and yellow lentils disintegrate in cooking, losing their shape but making a thick soup. Alternatively, the soup made with husked lentils can be puréed.

    Beluga lentils, also called black beluga lentils and petite beluga lentils, are tiny black lentils that glisten when they’re cooked. Their tiny size and shiny black surface reminded chefs of beluga caviar; hence the name.

    They are preferred by fine chefs for pilafs, salads and sides because they hold their shape when cooked and don’t become mushy. They have the same good nutrition profile as other lentil varieties: protein, dietary fiber, iron, potassium and important minerals.

    If you can’t find beluga lentils, substitute La Puy French green lentils.

    When you cook the lentils, consider making extra lentils to add to a salad or to serve as a side. Start with this recipe for Lentil, Olive & Arugula Salad.

    Mustard greens comprise the leaves and stems of the mustard plant, Brassica juncea. The seeds are used whole as a spice, pressed into mustard oil or ground into mustard powder, which in turn can be mixed with vinegar or wine to create prepared mustard.

    The greens are much more prevalent in Asian cooking than in Western recipes. While they have not received the media attention of kale, mustard greens are being discovered for their flavor and nutrition. Mizuna, a “designer green,” is a Japanese mustard plant, Brassica juncea var. japonica. Tatsoi, another Japanese specialty green, is mustard-like but from a different species: Brassica narinosa.

    Low in calories, mustard greens are high in vitamins A, C, K and folic acid (also known as vitamin B9 and vitamin M).



    This recipe takes 10 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes of cook time. For another vegetarian lentil soup recipe, check out this Red Lentil & Yogurt Soup.

    If you’d like to add a smoky meat flavor, use chicken stock plus 3 to 4 smoked ham hocks.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 celery root or 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • ½ bunch of carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, destemmed and cut into 1” ribbons
  • 2 cups of beluga lentils
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice†
  • For meat version: 3-4 ham hocks‡
  • Optional garnishes: chile flakes; croutons; crumbled feta,
    grated Parmesan or similar cheese**; fresh parsley
  • Optional side: toasted baguette or multigrain, whole grain bread
    *You can use any combination of broths, or combine broth with water. You can use all water, but the more broth, the more flavor. For a vegetarian version, of course, use vegetable stock.


    Mustard Greens

    Mustard Greens

    Red Mustard Greens

    Conventional and red mustard greens. As with kale and other vegetables, different varieties will have different leaf styles. Photos courtesy GoodEggs.

    †A medium lemon will yield 2-3 tablespoons of juice; a larger lemon can provide 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup).

    ‡A ham hock, also called the pork knuckle, is the joint where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg.

    **Substitutes for crumbled feta or Parmesan in this recipe include include cotija, goat cheese (lightly aged, so it crumbles), queso fresco or ricotta salata.

    1. PLACE the lentils in a large strainer and rinse them under cold running water. Pick over the lentils and remove any discolored ones, or occasional debris like small pebbles.

    2. HEAT 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the celery root or parsnips, onions, garlic and carrots and cook over high heat for a few minutes. When the garlic starts to turn golden brown, turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking the mixture for about 7 minutes, until the root vegetables begin to soften.

    3. ADD the lentils and 8 cups of liquid—this can be any combination of water, stock or just one or the other. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. When the lentils are fully cooked…

    4. GENTLY STIR stir in the mustard greens and cover the pot. Cook the lentils and greens together for about 5 minutes—just enough for the greens to soften, but still maintain some of their bite. To finish, stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.
    Variation With Ham Hocks

    1. FOLLOW steps 1 and 2, above.

    3. Add the ham hocks (instead of the lentils) and chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 1 hour, or until the hocks are tender. Then add the lentils and continue cook for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

    4. REMOVE the ham hocks and stir in the mustard greens; allow to cook for 5 minutes, or until the greens soften. While the greens cook, cut the meat from the ham hocks and cube or julienne as desired. Stir the lemon juice into the soup and add the ham. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Garnish and serve.


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