Category Archives: Soup

Soup

Ramen Noodle Soup

Ramen Noodle Soup

Ramen Noodle Soup

From those 5-for-a-dollar noodle packets that are a staple of broke college students everywhere, to high-end Japanese Noodle restaurants, ramen noodle soups really run the gamut in price and sophistication. I ate a lot of those cheap packaged ramen noodles in college, and I still get a hankering for a bowl of noodles every now and then. You can buy higher quality ramen noodles at Asian markets or the Asian section of well-equipped grocery stores. I’ve used those, and they’re good. But we keep the cheap packaged noodles around for emergencies, in case we want to throw together a quick and really tasty bowl of noodle soup.

First, throw out the little packet of powdered seasoning that comes with the noodles– it’s full of sodium, MSG, and God knows what else. We’re going to make a much more flavorful and healthy soup base for the ramen noodles.

Since this site is called “RecipeOptions.com”, I’ll give two options for ramen noodle soups here– a spicy Thai Tom Yum-style soup, and a non-spicy soy sauce-flavored soup. These are not strictly authentic recipes– just quick and delicious Asian style soups I put together using ingredients I’m likely to have on hand.

These recipes serve about two people (or one if you’re hungry). Double up on ingredients as needed.

Spicy Tom Yum Style Ramen

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Raw Jumbo Shrimp, Deveined.
  • 1 Package Ramen Noodles
  • 2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Thai-Style Red Curry Paste
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 1/2″ Square Piece of Diced Ginger
  • 1-2 Celery Sticks
  • 6 Green Onions
  • Peppers– Any Combo of Red/Green Bell, Thai, Jalapeno, Serrano, or Sweet Peppers– depending on what you have on hand and how hot you want your soup.
  • Handful of Mushrooms
  • Red Chili Pepper to taste– once again, depending on how spicy you like
  • 1 Teaspoon of Peanut Oil
  • Few Drops Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Fresh Cilantro (Optional)

 

Dice up garlic and ginger. Cut celery and peppers into thin strips. Dice up mushrooms and cut green onion into 1/4-1/2″ pieces. Juice the lime. Cut shrimp down center about halfway through to butterfly them so they cook quickly and evenly.

Heat up a soup pan, add the sesame oil (just a few drops for flavor) and the peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers, mushrooms and celery and stir-fry them in the oil for just a few minutes– not too long. Add chicken stock, red curry paste, fish sauce, and chili pepper. When it starts to simmer, add ramen noodles and cook for about two minutes.

Add green onion, lime juice and cilantro (if you like cilantro– a lot of people don’t like the taste, but if you do it really adds a lot to the soup). Finally, add the shrimp, turn off the heat, cover and let the soup sit for about three minutes. This is the secret to NOT overcooking shrimp in soup– don’t boil it! Make sure the shrimp is completely submerged in the broth and let the residual heat cook the shrimp just right. Enjoy!

Ramen Noodles with Soy Sauce Flavored Broth

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Raw Jumbo Shrimp, Deveined.
  • 1 Package Ramen Noodles
  • 2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 1/2″ Square Piece of Diced Ginger
  • 1-2 Celery Sticks
  • 6 Green Onions
  • 1/2 Sweet Red Bell Pepper
  • Handful of Mushrooms
  • Fine-Ground White or Black Pepper, to Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon of Peanut Oil
  • 1 Sheet Nori (Japanese Seaweed), cut or torn into strips

 

Dice up garlic and ginger. Cut celery and peppers into thin strips. Dice up mushrooms and cut green onion into 1/4-1/2″ pieces. Cut shrimp down center about halfway through to butterfly them so they cook quickly and evenly.

Heat up a soup pan and add the peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper, mushrooms and celery and stir-fry them in the oil for just a few minutes– not too long. Add chicken stock, soy sauce, and white or black pepper. When it starts to simmer, add ramen noodles and cook for about two minutes.

Add green onion and nori. Finally, add the shrimp, turn off the heat, cover and let the soup sit for about three minutes. This is the secret to NOT overcooking shrimp in soup– don’t boil it! Make sure the shrimp is completely submerged in the broth and let the residual heat cook the shrimp just right. Enjoy!

Smoked Chicken Jalapeno Soup

Smoked Chicken Jalapeno Soup

Smoked Chicken Jalapeno Soup

This is a good one. I first came up with a variation of it looking for a way to get creative with some smoked fish on a camping trip. I usually use chicken now, because it’s more typical I’ll have some leftover smoked chicken on hand. It was perfect for this past Labor Day Weekend, because I had just happened to have some applewood-smoked chicken left over from a barbeque, and I have a ton of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers from the garden. The combination of spiciness, smokiness and citric flavors (from the lime juice) work together fantastically.

Ingredients:

  • Smoked or Barbecued Chicken
  • 30 oz. Chicken Stock
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes or several fresh tomatoes
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 3-5 Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic
  • 3-4 Celery Stalks
  • 2 Carrots (optional)
  • Juice of 1 Large or 2 Small Limes
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. Thyme
  • 1 Tsp. Oregano
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

I added carrots for a little extra color this time, but I usually don’t add carrots to this, so I consider them optional. What I DON’T consider optional is the lime juice and the jalapenos. If you don’t want it to be too spicy I’d recommend cutting out the seeds and the ribs that attach the seeds to the inside of the jalapeno peppers, instead of using fewer peppers or leaving them out altogether.

Dice up vegetables. Dice or shred chicken. Squeeze lime juice and set aside.

Cook diced peppers, onion celery and garlic in olive oil until they soften up. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients except for the chicken and lime juice.

Note: Even though I had some frozen home-made chicken stock on hand, I just used canned chicken stock for this soup. I like to save the good stock for recipes that benefit the most from the flavor and richness of the home-made stock, but this soup has so much going for it flavor-wise I decided to save the good stock. You may disagree, and decide to use good stock for this if you have it.

Simmer for about 1/2 hour, add the chicken and simmer for another 20 minutes to 1/2 hour (since the chicken is already cooked, I don’t add it right away but I like to let it simmer long enough to let the smoky flavor mix in). Add the lime juice at the end, after the soup is done cooking– if you add it at the beginning the lime flavor won’t be as “bright”.

Serve with pasta or rice. You could even dice up some potatoes and throw them in, same time as the chicken. I usually prefer rice, but I had some pasta left over from the day before, so I used that in the photo.

Enjoy!

 

 

Simple Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup

The Soup

Kristina pointed out that all my recipes so far took a long time to prepare, and people might want to see recipe ideas that were quick and simple to make. I thought this was a great idea, and so a new category for the site, “Quick Meals” is born. Here is a recipe that I put together quickly with what we had in the kitchen, and it’s quick, nutritious and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • Couple handfuls of mini-carrots
  • 1-2 cups broccoli florets (the flower-looking ends)
  • 1 Tbs. Olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 28-32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Cup rice
  • 1/2 Tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Serves 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

First get 2 cups of water boiling in a small pot on the stove. Add the rice, reduce heat to low, and cover. White rice will take about 15-20 minutes to cook, brown rice about 30 minutes, so we want to start it now so it’ll be ready for the soup. Special soup tip: When I make soup I always make the rice or noodles separately and mix them only when serving the soup. The reason for this is if you have leftovers the rice or pasta will continue to absorb the liquid from the soup overnight like a sponge. The next day you won’t have soup, you’ll have slop.

Dice up the onions, garlic, and celery, and cut the mini-carrots in half or thirds. Add to a pan with the ground turkey and saute on medium to high heat, stirring, until the turkey is browned and the onions and celery are softened up. Use a spoon to remove the liquid fat in the pan from the turkey- it won’t be much.

Add the soup stock. Reduce to a simmer when it starts to boil and add oregano, thyme and pepper. Cut broccoli into bite-size florets and squeeze juice from one lemon.

When the soup’s been simmering for about 10 minutes, add the broccoli. After about 20 minutes see if soup is done by checking a carrot piece to see if it’s cooked through. When soup is done remove from heat, add the lemon juice and stir it in. Serve in bowls with rice added and enjoy!

Soup Stock

Soup Stock

The stock

Even though the title is “Soup Stock”, stock is used for more than just soup base- sauces, gravies, and stews, and probably something else I can’t think of right now. We use stock in a lot of the recipes you’ll see here, so I thought I’d do a post on making stock now so I can link to it when I refer to recipes using stock. When we make stock we freeze it in portions to use later. You can use canned broth instead, and we do when we’re out of the homemade stuff. But if you really want your recipe to be special, using homemade stock is the way to go. By the way, you may wonder “what’s the difference between stock and broth”? Not much really, but stock is generally made just from bones while broth has meat added. Depending on how much meat is left on the bones you use, this recipe is somewhere between the two. We’ll use the terms “stock” and “broth” interchangeably on this site.

Stock can be made with either bones that are raw or bones from already cooked meat. Using the leftover bones from a whole cooked turkey¬† or a rotisserie chicken or two is a great way to make the most of your food budget. We like to take the turkey bones on the Friday after Thanksgiving and make stock and then a big pot of turkey soup– turkey bones make a great stock. The picture above is chicken stock, but the principle is the same whether you want to make turkey, beef, or even a seafood stock using shells from shrimp, lobster, and/or crab.¬† You can also use just vegetables and seasonings for a veggie stock. The ingredients below are what I used for this particular stock, but it’s really just a guideline– you can throw just about any veggies or seasonings in there for the stock.

Ingredients:

  • Bones, skin, whatever’s left when the meat is mostly gone
  • 1-2 Onions
  • Around 6 celery stalks (with leaves if available)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • Handful of whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. Whole celery seed
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2-4 quarts of water

First, remove meat from the bones and save it for the soup if that’s what you’re going to make. You don’t need to clean the meat off the bones too thoroughly- meat left on will add flavor, and make it more of a broth, as mentioned. Put the bones, skin, etc- whatever’s left over after the meat is removed- in a large pot.

Chop the vegetables coarsely. You don’t have to do much cutting, and you don’t even have to remove the skins on the onion and garlic if you don’t want to- it’s all flavor. Throw the chopped vegetables and the rest of the ingredients in with the bones. Notice there’s no salt added- I keep the stock low-sodium until I decide what I want to use it for. If you add salt now it will be too salty if you want to reduce the stock later. Fill the pot with water until it covers everything by an inch or two. You want to end up with a lot of stock, but not so much water it dilutes the flavor. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on high until it just starts to boil– then turn the heat on low, cover the pot and simmer. The water should just barely be bubbling. Let it simmer for at least 4 hours to make sure to get all the flavor. You can’t really cook it too long, but more than 5-6 hours is probably overkill.

Once the stock is done simmering, pour it through a mesh sieve into another pot to remove the solids. If you want really clear stock, you can use cheesecloth in the sieve to strain out all solids. Now it’s time to remove the excess fat from the stock. There are two ways to do this:

  1. if you’re not going to use the stock right away, you can let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it. Once it reaches refrigerator temp, the fat will be the solid waxy stuff on top, and it will be easy to remove. A tip for rapidly cooling the stock: put the pot of stock in the kitchen sink and fill the sink with cold water, up to the level of the stock inside, or until the pot is almost (but not) floating. Make sure the pot has a lid on it so sink water doesn’t accidentally splash in.
  2. if you do want to use the stock right away, let it sit for a minute so the fat comes to the top. If you have a large glass container to hold the stock it will be easier to see the “oil slick” of fat on top. Use a large serving spoon or ladle and carefully skim the fat off the top.

If you do refrigerate your stock, you may notice it solidifies and turns “jiggly” like jello. This is a good thing- it’s collagen from the bones. This makes for a better consistency to the stock-, and it’s one thing (along with the superior flavor) that distinguishes home-made stock from canned broth.

Put any stock you don’t use right away in the freezer. I use quart-size plastic freezer bags with the date written on them. You should use frozen stock within around 6 months.