Alright, alright, here I am.
We’ve been in Perth for the last nine days and MAN ALIVE does Andy’s family like their meat. I think I’ve eaten more meat in the last two weeks than I would honestly eat in six months (also, I may have been boozing quite considerably…) so the first thing I wanted when I got home was fresh vegetables. Lots of them. My stomach had actually got itself together to crawl out of my body and look my in the eye as if to say – seriously? SERIOUSLY?! I’m not set up for this, give me some damn vegetables or I’m leaving.
This is the kind of thing that I make quite often if I’m at home for lunch but for some reason never cook for other people – probably because Andy is like – fuck soup – and I tend to extrapolate that out to other people. I, on the other hand, am an ardent lover of soups – if something can go in a soup, so much the better. However I feel that endless soup recipes do not really make for an interesting blog so tend not to put them up here.
This soup, however, get’s a go because it’s not a it’s-cold-give-me-comfort soup but rather a what-the-shit-have-I-done-to-my-body-fix-it-right-now soup. It’s sort of a half-arsed idea of vegetarian pho except lacking what I consider to be the key ingredients – bean sprouts and vietnamese mint (rau ram) – but retaining the clean * flavours of lime juice and hot chilli.
Clean Green Soup – makes enough for two
note: this recipe does call for fish sauce but if you want a vegetarian/vegan version it can easily be left out or you can substitute something else in. My first go to substitute for this would be tamarind paste because it has match for tangy sourness to fish sauce but you could just as easily use tamari/soy sauce – it will change the flavour profile but will still be lovely. If you don’t have either of these ingredients, add some extra salt and extra lime juice and she’ll be right.
soba noodles – the kind I buy come in three little bunches in the packet, one of those would be enough for two people in this soup, about 90g
½ an onion
4 cm/1 ½ inch piece of ginger – this is a lot of ginger, you want it to be super gingery
1 clove garlic
1 long red chilli
half bunch Chinese broccoli (kai lan/gai lan) – about two stalks
1 cob of corn
2 spring onions
1 TBS fish sauce (optional, see note)
Cook the soba noodles according the instructions on the packet (usually 3-4 minutes), drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking. Put aside or in the bowl you are going to use.
Slice the onion lengthways in a medium thickness. Slice or grate the ginger, whichever is your preference, I cut mine in a combination of short batons and really thin but large slices because that’s just how I roll. Thinly slice the garlic.
Put about a litre of water in a pot and two stock cubes (or a litre of stock, if you will), add the onions, ginger and garlic and whack it on the stove on a medium to high heat. You want to boil them up from cold so the flavours have lots of time to permeate the stock.
Cut the leaves off the gai lan and quarter them, put aside. Cut the stalk into 2-3ish cm lengths that are all about the same thickness – you’ll have one thick, central stalk and thinner branching stalks that the leaves were on. you want the stalk pieces to all be about the thickness of the thin branching stalks. Using a sharp, fairly small knife, cut the kernels off the corn cob. Slice the chilli into thin rounds.
Slice the radishes into thin rounds, thoroughly wash and chop the coriander (obviously everything should be washed but coriander will always have shitloads of sandy grit and there’s nothing worse that that sandy crunch between your teeth), if the basil leaves are large roughly chop them, slice the spring onions thinly, on the diagonal.
You should now have all your prep done and hopefully the stock is now boiling and the onion etc nicely cooked. If it’s not cooked enough for you just wait until it is to proceed. Add the corn, chilli (reserve a little for garnish if you like), and broccoli stalks to the stock, cook for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli leaves, cook for about 30 seconds then turn off the heat. Add the lime juice and fish sauce (or whatever flavourings you decide to use), taste, and adjust the seasonings for your palate. Depending on the stock you’ve used you might find you need some salt.
Ladle the soup into a bowl over the noodles, and add the radishes, herbs, spring onions and, any extra chilli.
Feel smug and superior, if you must 🙂
*. I feel like I should point out here that I don’t mean “clean” as in “clean eating” which is a whole other thing about which I could rant (but I won’t), but rather clean like simple and direct flavours. Bah, food writing sometimes, I don’t know, what a wank.