Sprout Soup

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I was inspired by Heidi’s timely post on soup, and wholeheartedly agreed that it’s a fine time for soup. Today is officially the first day of spring, but it seems like we’ll be facing a few more bouts of cold weather before the season warms up to us.

I called the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve yesterday to ask how the blooms were coming along. With such a dry winter this year, they’re estimating that the poppies won’t be out until late April, possibly early May. They suggested I make some soup as I wait.

No, they didn’t, but if they read Heidi’s post, they might’ve.

This is a Soybean Sprout soup. It’s nourishing, simple, and good. The broth may appear light and clear, but it’s incredibly aromatic with a base of dried pollock and soybean sprouts.  You can find bags of dried pollack at most Asian supermarkets, located in the aisles where the packages of dried anchovies and octopus would be. The pollock smells quite strong, but the soup isn’t fishy at all, but rather has an aroma of a light seafood broth.

The main ingredient of this soup is obviously the soybean sprouts. They’re used in many Korean dishes, but I’ve noticed that with non-Asian cuisines, apart from soybean products like soy milk and tofu, the actual soybean sprout is rarely used. The sprouts in the soup mellow and complement the pollock so wonderfully, and if it’s your first time trying both ingredients, this soup is an easy introduction.

The flavors in this soup are subtle enough to accompany most main dishes, particularly rice dishes or main courses that are rich with meat. Or, as with nearly all foods I mention, it’s great with just a bowl of hot, white rice.

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Soybean Sprout Soup

Serves 6 as main, 10 as starter/side

8 cups water

12 ounces soybean sprouts

6 ounces dried pollack

1/2 onion, sliced

9 ounces tofu, cut into cubes

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon hondashi

salt, to taste

3 green onions, diced

Heat the water in a large stock pot over high heat. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, wash the soybeans, then drain in a coriander.

When the water begins to boil, add the soybean sprouts and the dried pollack. Lower the heat to medium high. Cover the pot with a lid, and make sure you don’t open the lid until the water comes to a boil again, 5 to 6 minutes.

When the water comes to a rolling boil again, add the sliced onions, tofu, garlic, hondashi, and salt. Boil for another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Serve hot with diced green onions on top.

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