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Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

How to make vegetarian hot noodle soup in 20minutes

1 Oct Vegetarian Noodles
Vegetarian Noodles

20 minute vegetarian hot noodle soup

Super speedy (20 minute) hot vegetarian noodle soup

I seldom have time off. I am constantly tired and submerged. But I am not complaining because the rewards are infinite and I am my happiest when I am with my boy. I do get the occasional moments of liberation into the friday night world when I see the girls and I only got my wings four or five months ago, so the excitement is a bit like the thrills I felt as a fresh and novice teenager venturing out into the bright lights.

So our last, enjoyable and tasty dinner out was at wagamama and behold, it was my first time. I was a wagamama virgin. When I’ve mentioned this to my friends they’ve all raised their eyebrows and given me an understated and polite chuckle. I cant say I haven’t considered going in recent years but I make a lot of noodle soup at home; it’s so easy and fresh as well as thoroughly tantalising.

It regularly surprises me when people tell me that they don’t make noodle soup, even when they like it. It isn’t much of a leap from a simple stir fry, all you need is a good stock. My recipe may stir a little bit of argument for the following reasons;

1. Curry powder- insult or enhancement?

I know a lot of foodies detest curry powder. I quite enjoyed watching faces aghast at the mention of it when I watched Rick Stein in India. It’s isn’t balanced creatively, it has one taste and isn’t fresh. I agree. I would never, ever use it in curries as they deserve proper layering of goods spices and each curry should be cooked in consideration of the vegetables in that curry. This noodle soup is a quick recipe and curry powder works. Simple.

2. I’ve called it a super quick 20 minute recipe, naturally this will be contested.

3. It’s hot.

4. Tomato purée – in a noodle soup? Yes. It is true. It adds colour and sweetness which I feel is important given that some of the other flavours are pungent.

Today I got my cosy socks on, thought about hot water bottles and made noodle soup. It’s my comfort food that doesn’t make me fat.

Here are my pointers for making noodle soups work

1. Be careful with chilli bean sauce and soya pastes. They add wonderful background depth and aroma, but if you over do it, you will taste bitterness and that’s not nice.

2. Don’t go crazy with noodles, they tend to swell in the soup.

3. Use exotic mushrooms rather than woods ones, they are soft and absorb juices well and the noodle soup is cooked for just a few minutes so work well with the delicate nature of exotic mushrooms like oysters.

4. Use salt sparingly, vegetable stock is salty. I didn’t add any to this recipe.

5. Use sesame oil or groundnut oil. Nutty oils are delicious in noodle soup. They are the vehicle for enhancing the other flavours.

I’m not an overly tidy Eater, I had splutters of the hot and spicy stock on my phone today. Luckily it has a cover on it, but this soup is drinkably, suckably, flaming good.

Ingredients

100g baby corn chopped into bite sized pieces
100g green beans cut into bite sized pieces
2l vegetable stock
2 pak choi, roughly chopped
One bay leaf
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp tomato purée
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tbsp chilli bean paste
4 spring onion chopped into bite sized chunks
75g exotic mushrooms (I’ve used largely grey oysters) torn
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp pounded schiuan peppercorns
75g Amoy vermicelli
2tbsp sesame oil for cooking

Method

1. Heat the oil for a few seconds before adding the garlic, ginger and spring onion. Sauté for a minute before adding the curry powder. Stir through until the colour deepens (it should take a minute or so).
2. Add the vegetables and coat well.
3. Stir in the vegetable stock, bay leaf, peppercorns, rice wine vinegar, chilli bean paste and tomato purée.
4. Bring the soup to a simmer and then add the noodles.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes before serving.

 

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