Friday, 27 March 2015

Don't Spoil the Broth

Brodo Asiatico con Tofu al 5 Spezie & Verdure Miste
Lemon Grass
& Ginger Broth with 5-Spice Tofu & Vegetables

Some days- or evenings to be precise, it just has to be something comforting, warm and simple like a soup, or a lovely hot broth... like this one here!

I had gone a little over-the-top with my shopping at the Asian supermarket last Saturday- and amazingly still had a couple of ingredients still left today. Maybe just a teensy-tad past their prime for a stir-fry- but definitely not going to waste... not in my kitchen!


Another, delicious ingredient, that had been sitting in my freezer for a while, was 5-spice tofu- definitely my favorite kind of tofu! I have to admit- every other kind is just to bland for my primitive palate- don't hate me for it!

And being already baked, this 5-spice tofu needs only to be warmed up and is ready to go, straight from the package. It is perfect to add to soups, noodle dishes or salads, with a tasty and chewy consistency that needs little further seasoning.

So armed with this, a little Szechuan pepper and some basic Asian staples, I was able to make a light yet satisfying soup in just 45 minutes.


For a double-serving of soup, I needed 3 baby bok-choi, 1 large Spring onion, a few slices of ginger, 2 sticks of lemon grass, a handful of sugarsnap peas, 3 baby sweetcorn, 1/2 of a carrot and celery stalk respectively, some fresh cilantro and a half of a package of 5-spice tofu (8 small pieces in this case).

The only other ingredients I used ba way of seasoning, was 1 tablespoon of Szechuan pepper, 1 good teaspoon of Miso paste and a drop or two of sesame oil at the end. I opted to do without any hot chili or any equivalent in this soup as I wanted the flavors of the vegetables to come through, as well as that of the tofu... and yep! This was a close to perfect balancing act!


No, have no fear- there is plenty of great flavor here! And you have plenty of time to eat more of those hot and spicy dishes- sometimes, something simple and mild makes a nice change! Don't you agree?


I really enjoyed sitting down to this with my chop-sticks and my spoon- nice big pieces of tofu and greens and a delicious light and steamy broth... perfect on a day like this, when Spring doesn't seem to want to kick into gear yet!

Care to find out how I made it? Read on...


I began by banging the lemongrass flat, to expose the juicy and perfumed interior and cutting myself 4 slices of ginger- these ingredients along with the celery and carrot would make the basic broth. I cut the baby sweetcorn, peas and carrots into good sized pieces (that would fit on my spoon!) and sliced up the onion finely... and having done that- I was ready to begin!

Into the pot went the lemongrass, ginger, carrot, celery, half of the Spring onion, the Szechuan pepper and plenty of cilantro. And on went the heat! As soon as it came to the boil, I reduced the heat to a gentle, rolling simmer and let the broth boil for 30 minutes.


Of course, 30 minutes later, it was looking a little sorry for itself- but it was packed with flavor of course! I removed the lemongrass and ginger, brought it back up to the boil- and then continued with the other ingredients...

In went everything else, along with that teaspoon of miso paste, and after about 5 minutes, when it had come back up to the boil, I reduced the heat back down again and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes more.

In that time, the tofu is nicely up to temperature and the vegetables are cooked through but still have a little bite to them... perfect! And so easy!


Served up with just a few drops of sesame oil and a leaf of cilantro here and there, my light soup was finished- and tasty... and delicious!

Obviously, it would be easy and also wonderful to add some hot chili sauce or flakes if you so wish- or more soy or seasoning... but you might just like the subtle flavors that I enjoyed this evening as well- you won't know unless you try!

I think that looks pretty inviting, don't you?


And my favorite thing about this was that it was exactly what I wanted- a very light broth that let the taste of the vegetables shine through... but the flavor of the 5-spice in the tofu kept it from being bland- it was a very good thing! And one that is meant for sharing!

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