Ramen Noodle Soup

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My eldest daughter left home, this year, and has been joking about living on ramen, so I figured we had to come up with a quick cooking healthy version that contains real vegetables and no msg!

We managed quite a few variations as we closed in on what we liked best. When I first made it, I sliced hard boiled egg onto the top of the soup rather than coddling the egg in it, and also used commercially produced garlicky hot sauce in the broth rather than the garlic, Braggs, sugar, root ginger, and chili. This version uses ingredients that are more universally available, and reduces the number of pans used. It’s also less labor intensive.

Jeanette's Ramen

Ramen with sliced boiled egg rather than poached egg.

We determined that cooking the ramen in the vegetable broth thickens the broth slightly. It just so happens that 2 ramen cakes (140g/5oz dry pasta, total) to 4 cups of water gives us about the right consistency. My girls also had me adjust the ratio of vegetable to noodles. We all figured that there needed to be more veggies than the commercial varieties offered, but I did over do it to start off with.

I’ve found it a pretty useful recipe as the vegetables included are easily adjustable. I add the veggies in two batches: longer cooking vegetables such as onion, carrot, cauliflower, sweet bell pepper, and mushrooms go in first and get sautéed then simmered, and then quicker cooking vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage go in the pan just before the broth, and so get a quick coating of oil to help them retain their shape during the 5 minutes simmering.

As for the amount of chili used, if I’m cooking for my youngest who doesn’t like spicy food, I use 1/2 a fresh jalapeño and pass round the sriracha sauce bottle to the others. If I’m cooking for my eldest who loves spicy food, I’ll use a whole jalapeño or 1/2 a fresh red serrano chili, at which point it’s as hot as I care to have mine (if not slightly hotter). The moral of the story is that you’ll probably have to adjust to taste.

The noodles I use are commercially prepared, gluten free, millet and brown rice ones from Costco. However, you could substitute freshly made pasta, if you wish. Interestingly, I added the miso because I felt that the broth was a bit ‘thin’ on flavor, and miso rounds it out very nicely.

Serves 3-4

14-16 oz firm tofu, drained (optional)
1 tsp salt (for the tofu, optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp onion powder (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp garlic powder (for the tofu, optional)

2 large cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 inch fresh root ginger, skinned
1/2 – 1 jalapeño, deseeded (or to taste, see note above)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp brown rice miso
3 tbsp Braggs, or other GF soy sauce

1-2 tsp sesame/coconut oil
4 oz mushrooms (or other veggies: see comment, above)
4 oz broccoli florettes, cut small

2 GF ramen cakes (5 oz total, when dry)
3-4 eggs (one per person)
fresh cilantro/leaf coriander for garnish

If you’re using the tofu, drain it, and cut into small dice. You can either use it as is, or toss it in the tofu seasoning, then cook: Coat a baking tray with cooking spray/oil. Spread the tofu cubes on the tray, and place under a hot grill/broiler, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.

Put 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups of water into a blender along with the garlic, ginger, chili, sugar, miso, Braggs/soy sauce, and blend until there are no large lumps.

In a medium sized saucepan, warm the oil, then fry the harder vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the softer vegetables to the harder vegetables, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the contents of the blender to the saucepan, and use another 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the ramen cakes (push them to the bottom), and crack the eggs towards the edge of the simmering broth. Keep the soup simmering very gently for 4-6 minutes or until the ramen are cooked and the egg whites have solidified.

Serve in individual bowls with one egg per bowl, and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro, and tofu if using. Hand round the sriracha sauce and Braggs/soy sauce for diners to adjust to taste.

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Low Calorie, Vegan, Creamy, Pepper and Tomato Soup

A smooth, warming, spicy soup, this is a great way to make use of the cauliflower stalk that so often gets thrown away. Note that this started off life as a way to use up the last bit of ranchero sauce that I had in the fridge one day when I was thinking fondly of a cream of tomato soup that I used to have as a child. If you find yourself in that situation, 8 floz / 1 cup / 1/4 litre ranchero sauce, 8 oz / 250g cauliflower cooked in 24 floz / 3 cups / 700ml of water with 1/2 tsp salt will get you a small amount of this soup in a jiffy.

Spicy Tomato and Pepper Soup

Serves 6-8

1 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance) or cooking oil/spray
6 oz (1/2 of a large) onion, diced
8 oz / 2-3 cups / 230g red/yellow/orange sliced peppers (frozen is O.K.)
1 jalapeño chili, seeds removed and flesh roughly diced
1 lb / 450g cauliflower
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz / 400g chopped tinned tomatoes, with juices
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp of sugar if necessary to counteract acidic tomatoes

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium high heat, then cook the onion, peppers/chili, and cauliflower until the onion is translucent (~10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and allow it to warm through for a minute.

Add the remaining ingredients along with 48 fl oz / 6 cups/ 1400 ml of water, and simmer until the cauliflower is soft (~10 minutes).

Blend until smooth, check seasoning, reheat if necessary, and serve hot.

Creamy, Spicy, Carrot and Coconut Soup

Spicy Carrot and Coconut SoupThis soup was inspired by the Thai curry that I’ve been experimenting with recently (but not currently published), at a time when I was considering making carrot soup. In keeping with that, I think garnishing it with fresh basil or cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves is an apt idea. It’s rich, smooth, and spicy hot, with deeper notes courtesy of the ginger. The 1/2 tsp of crushed red chile that I used made it as hot as I care to eat it, and hotter than daughter #2 appreciates, so adjust to taste.

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp ginger powder OR 1 inch fresh ginger, skinned and sliced
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lime
14 oz can of light coconut milk (full fat is too rich)
½ pint of water
1-2 tsp lime juice
3 – 4 tsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 -1/2 tsp crushed, dried red pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt

Melt the oil in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned. They should start to sizzle instead of steaming, after a total of about 15 minutes.
Stir in the coriander, ginger, and lime zest, and warm through for a minute.
Add the remaining ingredients, and allow to simmer gently until the vegetables are perfectly soft (~10 minutes).
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.

Make up to 40 fl oz with more water (or to make it the consistency you like). Adjust seasonings, reheat, and serve.

Virgin Tomato Cocktail

Tomato cocktailI was intending to make a low-FODMAP tomato soup here, but didn’t get around to heating it, as I drank it all before getting out the saucepan. I think it should be served in a glass with a green olive on a stick, or green onion spike! You really need some kind of special treat when sticking to this diet, and I felt this counted as one. Daughter #1 was a bit suspicious when I offered it to her, but was pleasantly surprised. However, I managed to drink the whole lot myself (by waving her off) in the space of about 15 minutes (though this should serve 2 people), and it looks as if I managed 90% of my vit.A daily requirements, and 200% of my vit.C daily requirements for my 230 kcals!

28 oz tinned tomatoes
3 spring onions (green parts only for low FODMAPs)
1 tbsp white sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 small clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic infused oil for low FODMAPs)
1/8 tsp black pepper
No salt! 🙂

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pass though a sieve/chinois, if you think it needs it.

Lentil Soup (Dal), and variations

The recipe below is my basic lentil soup recipe. Below that are some variations that I have enjoyed. Both this and the lentil and spinach soup are actually fairly standard Indian curry accompaniments, when served thick. It’s one of those very comforting meals, sating hunger without expanding your waistband.

1 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan margarine) or oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 lb red lentils
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat the margarine/oil, in a large saucepan, over a medium heat, and fry the onion until it becomes translucent and starts to brown.
Add the garlic and cumin to it, to warm through for a couple of minutes.
Pick the lentils over for stones, and then rinse them.
Add 6 cups (48 fl oz) of water to the onions, then the lentils, and bring to the boil. Simmer the soup until the lentils have completely disintegrated (about 20-30 minutes. The lentils should disintegrate just with vigorous stirring with a spatula).
Adjust consistency with more water, if desired.
Stir in the salt and lemon juice (and any other desired additions); taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Variations:

Lentil and Tomato Soup: Add 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved) to the soup 5 minutes before the end of cooking.

Lentil and Spinach Soup: Add  ~8 oz fresh or frozen spinach to the soup at the end of cooking, along with 1/4 tsp salt.

Chili Lentil Soup: Mince 1/2 cm squared piece of chipotle chili in adobo sauce (check for gluten) with the blade of a knife (so you don’t end up with exciting lumps in your soup), and add with the water and lentils.

Silky Smooth Carrot and Coriander Soup

Thick, creamy, warming, and gloriously yellow. This soup is brought out of the realm of the ordinary with its silky smooth texture, and subtle use of coriander and lemon zest. It’s one of those dishes that has you trying to analyze the ingredients, if you don’t already know them. So, the trick is to take your time frying the carrot and onion; make sure all the ingredients are totally soft before pureeing, and err on the side of caution with the coriander and lemon zest. Start with the lesser amount and check the flavor before adding more. The flavor should be uplifting and curious, and certainly not bland! The same goes for the carrots. If they’re fresh and sweet, you might not want any sugar at all! If they’re a bit older, then a little help from the granular white stuff is appreciated …. but taste before you add; this is not a sweet soup. If the carrots are distinctly old and tasting soapy, use them for something else instead.

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Makes about 50 floz / 6 cups of soup

1 tbsp vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into slices/dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1 large onion, diced
4 tsp ground coriander seed
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lemon
1 ½ pints of water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tsp lemon juice
1 – 3 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (that’s right, no salt!)

Melt the margarine in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned and completely soft. They should start to sizzle instead of steam, after a total of about 15-30 minutes.
Stir in the coriander and lemon zest, and warm through for a few seconds.
Add water and cashews, and bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and other seasonings.
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.
Check seasoning, reheat, and serve.

Creamy Onion Soup

My daughter has been horribly ill for a few days now, but when asked if there was ANYTHING she could eat, she asked for this soup. It’s been ages since I made it, but it is a very comforting, warming soup, so I wasn’t so very surprised when she asked, and it is so very easy to make.

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1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled & chopped small
1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup raw cashews or slivered almonds
dash of cayenne pepper (optional, and to taste)
3/4 – 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 cup white wine)
dash of nutmeg

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Fry the onion over a medium heat until the onion is golden.

Add 2 cups (16 fl oz) water, the potato pieces, the thyme, and the nuts.

Simmer until the potato has cooked: about 10 minutes

Add the remaining ingredients, and blend with an immersion or worktop blender.

Return the soup to the saucepan to reheat.

Use 1 cup (8 fl oz) water to rinse out/off the blender into the soup.

Check for seasoning and consistency and adjust to taste with salt, pepper, or water.

Serve hot.

Variation: Warm some garlicky fried cauliflower in the soup, after blending.