Wait, don’t worry, this is good, healthy, nourishing instant soup. Really. Nothing fake about it, no weird powdered spice packets to add, no freeze dried tofu. I could eat this soup everyday. It takes about seven minutes to make and is the most satisfying, quick and easy lunch or dinner ever. There is a little upfront work to do, but once that is done, depending on how much you do, that part could be over for weeks. I would tell you what’s in it, but it changes every time. It actually changed from the pictures I took, as I was making it.
How to describe my favorite soup…it is basically whatever you have in the fridge that you want to use up, so it doesn’t go bad, because you really shouldn’t have bought broccoli, kale, asparagus and cauliflower, even though you swore you were going to use it all up in a week, but ended up going to lunch instead of eating broccoli at home, and then ordered pizza one night and ok, I’ll meet you for brunch on Sunday. I also usually add miscellaneous goodies in the freezer that I keep on hand just for this soup in case I was good and used up all the veggies in the fridge but am still craving this soup.
It all starts with home made chicken stock (or veggie if you must). I would stop reading right here if you are not willing to make home made stock. I don’t think there is anything more disgusting than canned or boxed chicken stock. How does it get that thick? Why is it so “flavorful”? How come it is dark yellow and not clear? I will admit that I keep a box in my pantry for emergency use, but would never EVER dream of using it in this soup, because this soup is great and healthy and light and nourishing because of the home made stock. Ok, tangent/tantrum over.
Stop groaning about making your own stock, this is accomplished much easier that you think. It is super easy if you have a crock pot. If you don’t have one, go to Target, they start at $20 or the thrift store and get one (if Martha from Soup n’ Bread hasn’t snagged them all!) Or I bet your mom has one you can steal borrow. So crock pot stock is great because you don’t have to find two to three hours you are going to be at home so you can put the stove on. We have a six quart Rival crock-pot we got as a wedding gift ten years ago that stayed in the box for the first five years! Anyways… those damn tangents….put an onion, a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, all cut up, some parsley, if you’ve got it, some whole black peppercorns, about a tablespoon, a bay leaf, if you have one, and chicken bones in your crock pot, fill it with water and press six hours and walk away. When you come home, wah-lah, it’s chicken stock. Ok, details, details. I know you must have them…. Chicken bones, we get ours at Paulina Meat Market for .79 a pound, sold in five pound bags. We use about half the bones for one batch of crock-pot stock. It’s very convenient. The bones come frozen, so just put the rest back in your freezer. Or if you are ambitious you can start another batch right away. We usually make back to back batches of stock.
We get about a three quart yield from our six quart crock-pot. We buy quart containers at the Asian grocery store. They come in sleeves and are great for freezing stock, leftover soup, sauce, etc. So, strain your stock and don’t worry about skimming the fat. When you freeze the stock it will separate and when you microwave it to thaw it, you can just spoon it off before it is totally thawed. Tip: Don’t fill the quarts all the way to the top; leave a little room for it to expand when it freezes. Ok, food safety issues here. You have to cool your stock down to 40 degrees in four hours. We use a quart of frozen stock and use it as a giant stock ice cube and mix it into the very hot steaming stock. It does the trick! You just have to run a little hot water over the quart container and the frozen stock should slide right out.
See that wasn’t that hard, was it? Now you have these quarts of delicious, nutritious chicken stock in your freezer, ready to be made into instant soup. Boy, wasn’t that a long tangent to get to the title of this blog, wasn’t it? Maybe I should just change the title!
So, when we are starving or sick or lazy, most often lazy, we defrost a quart of chicken stock in the microwave, put it in a pot with some of the usual suspects, if you have been reading my blog, you know what those are from the Mapo Tofu post (sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and rice wine vinegar), and some ginger. That is to season it. Then we add in all the goodies from the fridge and freezer. Today we added tofu, roasted corn and edamame (both frozen from Trader Joes, kept on hand for occasions like this), asparagus, and kale, that I was keeping alive in the fridge in a bowl of water. We didn’t end up using the smoked chicken we had in the freezer because I am rationing it. We are almost out. Laurent has to fire up the smoker and make some more of this delicious crack. This is our Asian version of instant soup, but we also make a Mexican version and alter the flavorings by adding lime juice, canned diced tomatoes, cilantro, leftover rice, and avocado. The beauty of it is you can make it how ever you want, with whatever you have on hand, whenever you want….IF you have those magic quarts of home made chicken stock in your freezer!