Homemade Vietnamese Canh Chua Hot and Sour Soup

I recently went to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant and asked them what they would recommend for me. It turns out it was Hot and Sour Soup. Thinking they were nuts, I ordered it anyway, and it’s nothing like Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. I guess I liked it even more than the Chinese style Soup. I made my version with some Rice Vermicelli in it as it was a dinner and it was delicious!

Ingredients: makes 4 bowls
1 tbsp chili flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 stalk lemon grass
4 chicken thighs (diced)
shiitake mushrooms
1 tomato diced
half can diced pineapple
1 stalk celery
bean sprouts (I forgot to purchase some, so my recipe doesn’t have any)

To make this soup, it’s actually easier than I would’ve imagined. Well, I took my own shortcuts as I don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking after work. But, you start with a bit of oil and toast the chili flakes and garlic. When it’s fragrant, pour some fish sauce into the pan and let it cook out a little bit on medium heat.

After it cooks up, add some broth or just water is fine and bring it up to a boil with some lemon grass. I actually put some of the pineapple juice in at this time as well when I made mine. I love pineapples, so I didn’t mind it being a bit sweeter than usual.

Once it’s boiling, I turned down the heat and added the chicken and let it cook thoroughly. I made sure it cooked through at this point, but I’m sure it would have been cooked completely by the time the vegetables were done if you cooked it only to it’s half way point at this step.

Now as it’s cooking away, chop up the vegetables and then throw it into the soup and let it cook until it’s tender crisp. In the restaurant they used some bean sprouts which I forgot to purchase, and I think it’s better with it. So, if you’re making this, buy some!

When it’s ready, I just tasted it to season to my liking with salt, honey and some sriracha and adjusted it. I added some rice vermicelli to mine, so I just softened it in some boiling water on the side, and place it in the bottle of my serving bowl. Then, I just ladled the soup on top and it was good to go! A perfect dinner for a cold night!

I really enjoyed this soup. I’ll keep modifying from this weird but basic recipe I made. Some people put lime, thai chilies and basil leaves in their soup and other herbs, so I’m sure it’ll be fun to modify!

Homemade Vegetable Minestrone Soup

One evening, I was really wanting a nice hearty soup in a flash, so I made Vegetable Minestrone Soup which really doesn’t take long to make – and chances are, you got most of the ingredients in your fridge/pantry!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
2 sticks of carrots
1/2 large onion
2 roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 baby zucchini
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup instant polenta (fine)
2 tbsp warm temperature butter
handful cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

First, start with chopping up all your vegetables. Saute the onions and carrots first, and season with some salt and pepper.

Then, add in the tomatoes and zucchini, and garlic and let it come together for a few minutes. I like to add a small handful of cilantro at this stage too. You can use any fresh herbs you want, such as thyme, oregano, etc.

Add the chicken broth and let it boil and slowly add the polenta until the soup thickens. Then, just let it simmer until all the vegetables are softened, and finish off by stirring in the butter, and season again to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!

Homemade Japanese Miso Soup

I love Japanese food, and I’ve always wanted to make my own Miso Soup, so I finally got a package of White Miso Paste from my market, and found some bonito flakes and wakame from the Asian grocery store. They are tricky to find (well, for me at least!) but, I think it’s necessary for a miso soup. This simple homemade soup smells and tastes like miso soup when you go out to have a bowl!

Ingredients (makes 2 big bowls or 4 little bowls):
3 cup of water
3 tbsp bonito flakes
1 heaping tbsp white miso paste
1 tbps wakame
tofu cubes

To begin any soup – start with boiling some water.

When the water has come to a boil, put some bonito flakes into the water and reduce the heat, and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

Once that has steeped, you’re ready to put in the miso paste. Take a heaping tablespoon (or just 2 tablespoons) and put it into a bowl. Take some of the “soup in progress” into the bowl and mix to dissolve the miso paste so you get a dissolved and thinner consistency. Once you’ve achieved this, you’re ready to pour the miso solution into the soup. Bring the soup back up to a boil at this time, and let it boil for another 3 to 5 minutes.

By now, taste your soup to see if it needs additional salt. Add some if it needs more. To finish the soup, add the wakame flakes, and they will rehydrate and add lots of flavour into the miso soup. Once the wakame has rehydrate, you’re ready to serve and enjoy!

I also like to add some udon noodles to my miso soup, and it becomes and excellent and healthy lunch! Just boil some instant udon in the miso soup. Once the udon noodles are ready, you’re ready to eat too! If you want, you can top it off with sesame seeds, scallions or anything you like – really!

Homemade Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

I was wanting to make a soup for lunch – with a sandwich, so I roamed the grocery store and found some nice sweet potatoes. So, I figured I can make a delicious Sweet Potato Soup

4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 lb chopped sweet potato
1 chopped onion

Smokey Chipotle
White Pepper
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

I first chop my onions and saute them until they’re golden. While they’re browning away, I chopped up my sweet potatoes into sticks. I got lazy to do them into chunks – which didn’t matter anyway as I use an immersion blender to make the soup thick and smooth afterwards.

When the onions have softened, I add the sweet onions into the pot and give it a few minutes to develop it’s flavours.

After a few minutes, I add the chicken stock into the pot and turn down the heat. After about 45 minutes, the sweet potatoes have soften – so I use the immersion blender in the soup. You will find the soup is quite thin, so let it cook down some more and it’ll thicken more and the flavours will become stronger.

Once the soup is to the right consistency, I then season up the soup and serve. This was my version of spicy sweet potato soup so I added smokey chipotle seasoning, cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper and some salt. I served this in a bowl with a gallop of sour cream. I’m not sure how much seasoning I used, but I kept tasting it until I was satisfied with the end result. It’s always best to add a little at a time until instead of adding too much and not knowing how to reduce the flavours.

Serve this soup hot and it’s really delicious. The sour cream helps cool the heat from the spicy, so it was a bowl of soup that was beautifully balanced.

Homemade Dong Gua Tong – 冬瓜湯

Wintermelon Chinese Soup

In my family, most of my Chinese soups begin with the same base, and for the most part, this soup is no exception.

1 lb of pork bones
1 slice of dong gua
5 or 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons of dried shrimp
1 or 2 dried scallop
2 tablespoons of ginger
2-3 carrots
1 piece of dried orange peel

It is good to rehydrate all the dry ingredients a few hours ahead if you can. If not, it’s not a big deal as it all cooks together and will soften.

First, take a pot of boiling water and cook the pork bones in the pot of water. Then, when it’s cooked through (or most of it), rinse it with cold water and place into a soup pot.

In a the soup pot with the cooked pork bones, place peeled carrots which is cut into large chunks, dong gua into chunks as well – which I usually leave the peel on as well, so make sure you clean everything, and the ginger! Then, I place all the dry ingredients into the pot and fill it up with cold water.

Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 3 hours. The longer you let it simmer, the more flavours get developed into the soup. When you’re ready to enjoy, skim the fat off the top and add some salt to taste! Then, serve and enjoy this refreshing winter melon soup!

This particular time, we bought the edge of the dong gua and my other half decided it would be fun to make a bowl out of it as a dong gua zhong – winter melon pot. If you’re doing this properly, you steam the soup in this bottom piece and it then acts as a serving platform. Here, we just carved it and he used it as a bowl.