Category Archives: Soup

Green Tomato & Dal Stew

In my produce box this week I ordered 4 green tomatoes, an ingredient I have eaten but never cooked with.  Searched around the internet, and I found the results of a green tomato recipe contest on the blog, for Roopa’s Green Tomato and Lentil Stew (aka: Thakali Masiyal).

I pretty much followed the recipe on this page exactly, except that I didn’t have toor dal (yellow split peas), but I had chana dal (split small black chickpeas that look very similar!).  So I substituted the chana dal which just had to be cooked a bit longer until tender (more like 45 minutes for that first step). After the dal was tender, I added the tomatoes plus one long green chile and one jalapeno for a little kick.

green tomatoes

I used two of the green tomatoes, one had a blush of pink in it, and then added some riper cherry tomatoes for the last 1/2 cup or so needed for this recipe. The dish looked pretty pale and non-descript at that point, but after stewing for a longer time and adding the tamarind and spices, I ended up with an appetizing stew – about 3 servings using this recipe.

Thakali Masiyal

The green tomatoes and tamarind make this a sour/tangy dish, but also very good without being ultra-spicy.  I found some papadam in my pantry, so I cooked up a couple of those to eat with the stew and it was nice to have the crunch and pepper flavor to balance the stew.  Overall a nice dish and very simple to make.

I still have 2 more green tomatoes, and may try grilling them with this recipe from Southern Living –



Mediterranean Dinner, Part 2

I’m a little delayed in getting to this, but here is a description of the other treats that I prepared as part of a Mediterranean dinner I hosted last month. As you’ll recall from the previous post, the main dish was a beef and lamb stew served over creamy eggplant.

I started the meal with a beet and lentil soup, recipe online here – I made it without the dumplings since it was for an appetizer.


Along with the main dish, I also served a warm zucchini and yogurt salad, recipe online here.


And for dessert, I used shredded phyllo dough, or kataifi, to make a dessert from “Baking at Home” cookbook by the Culinary Institute of America. You can find kataifi at some middle eastern grocery stories (including Neomonde here locally in Raleigh). Out of the box it basically looks like fresh vermicelli noodles.

kataifi box

The dessert started with a classic pastry cream. Dates and pistachios were folded in, and the filling was rolled into a kataifi crust and baked until crisp. It was served on a plate with a light lemon sauce, which added a nice tang.

filled kataifi

It was a fun and unique meal, and I think everyone enjoyed it!  I know I had fun putting together the recipes, and I always appreciate guests who are willing to be guinea pigs for some new concoctions :)

dinner guests

Soto Ayam

This weekend I finally had an opportunity to make soto ayam, a recipe shared from my friend Hans who lived in Indonesia for a number of years.  Soto ayam is a chicken coconut curry soup with lots of ginger and its relative galangal, also an aromatic tuber.

soto ayam without toppings

The soup itself is flavorful, but you can see from this picture that it doesn’t look very exciting, even with the chicken chunks and rice at the bottom of the bowl.  What makes this dish a fun party food (and a fresh and hearty meal) is all the toppings that go with it!

soto ayam

Isn’t that better?  This recipe is included in our Flavors of the Triangle cookbook (now on sale at the Ten Thousand Villages store in Cameron Village, Raleigh).

Soto Ayam
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (ground or finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
2-inch piece galangal (peeled, ground)
2-inch piece ginger (peeled, ground)
Vegetable oil
2 glasses water
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 stalk of lemon grass (cut into 3 strips)
Breast meat from 1 chicken (cubed, about 1.5-2 lbs.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Warm the spices (coriander through ginger) in a large stock pot, then add a bit of oil to cook lightly, until it turns slightly brown and fragrant. Add water, chicken broth, coconut milk, and lemon grass strips. When the broth is boiling, add the chicken, then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add salt to taste, and season with fresh lime juice.

Serve (with sambal – hot chili paste) over cooked rice, then let your guests add:

2 c. chopped, blanched green cabbage
2 eggs, cut into wedges
2 c. bean sprouts
3 Tbsp. chopped celery leaves
1 small package soaked glass noodles
Crushed potato chips
2 limes, cut into wedges

I’d estimate that this amount of soup serves about 8 people.

Kimchi Jjigae – Pork and Kimchi Stew

A big bowl of Chinese hot and sour soup has always done me well when I’m suffering from a cold and have all but lost my sense of taste. So as I’ve been fighting a bad one this week, a hot and spicy Korean soup recipe was calling my name. Kimchi jjigae is a stew made mainly of kimchi, so it’s also a good way to use up some of that homemade kimchi that’s still in my fridge. Here’s a basic recipe that I compiled after looking at about 5 variations and considering my own tastes and available ingredients.

Kimchi Jjigae
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 lb. pork
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3 cups kimchi, chopped with liquid
12 oz. firm tofu, cubed
2 tsp. fish sauce
4 shiitakes, fresh or dried and reconstituted, sliced
4 green onions, sliced thinly

saute pork

First, saute pork and garlic in the sesame oil, until garlic is aromatic and pork is starting to brown.

kimchi added

Next, add kimchi with it’s own liquid and about 3-4 more cups of water, enough to cover the pork. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

mushrooms etc

Add mushrooms, tofu, green onions, and fish sauce. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes.

finished jjigae

Now you have a hot and spicy stew. Vegetarians could easily leave out the pork and still have a great bowl of soup. It’s very simple because all of the flavor comes from the kimchi, so I can see why it is a favorite Korean dish. Definitely a tasty dish to help clear out my sinuses and warm me up on this cold winter week!

Spicy Potato Guk

As I learn to cook from all these different cultures, I have come across a lot of different ingredients, and it’s rare anymore to run across a recipe that asks for something I haven’t seen or at least heard of before. But the recipe for Spicy Potato Guk (soup) did just that – with an introduction to anchovy-filled tea bags.

anchovy tea

I discovered the recipe for Spicy Potato Guk on Aerie’s Kitchen, a set of Korean recipes and YouTube cooking lessons. It looked good and I had some potatoes in the cupboard that I needed to use, so I thought – why not?  Then I looked closer at the recipe and realized that it required anchovy packets. I crossed my fingers and went to look at the Korean market, and sure enough there they were – tea bags filled with dried anchovy powder.

steeping tea

So I boiled the anchovy packet with kombu seaweed (dried kelp that I already had from my Japanese cooking experiences, you just have to rinse the salt off before using it). This essentially makes a dashi broth, similar to the Japanese version which uses dried bonito fish flakes.  With the stock made, it’s a couple of simple steps and the addition of the Korean red pepper flakes that make a distinctly Korean dish.

potato guk

FYI – I probably used half of the red pepper it called for and it had a nice kick without being overwhelming.  Also, it calls for “soup soy sauce” – which as far as I can tell is just a lighter-colored and lighter-flavored soy sauce.  This is unverified by a Korean, but best guess based on internet knowledge and experience with other soy sauce options from Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. I think any soy sauce in a typical American pantry would probably work fine – I just knew I shouldn’t use my extra dark Chinese one.

Kidney bean soup

I don’t typically cook with kidney beans, other than to include a can in my crockpot chili recipe. I think maybe they were too common in some of my childhood meals, and I haven’t had much of a taste for them as an adult. Thankfully though, in continuing to cook some Georgian dishes this week, one of the things I decided to try was a kidney bean soup.

This soup started with dried kidney beans, a very cheap protein! Unless you grow your own herbs (parsley is all I have growing right now), the herbs for this dish may be the most expensive ingredient. But the combination of herbs and leeks, plus that little bit of vinegar at the end, is what gives this soup a fresh spring flavor that is just delicious. I’ve had a lot of trouble with other dried beans, being able to cook them and get them completely soft – but that was not a problem with this recipe. Especially with reheating, the beans start to break up and dissolve a bit into the soup, thickening it. Soup lovers – it’s highly recommended that you give this one a try!

Kidney Bean Soup (Lobios Chorba)
1 1/2 c. dried kidney beans
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, (white and light green parts) thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper, or 1/2 jalapeno
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. celery leaf, minced
fresh parsley, cilantro, dill (about 6 sprigs each)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Place the beans, water, salt and bay leaf in a stockppot. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid slightly ajar for about 1.5 hours, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure the water doesn’t run out as the beans absorb it.

Saute the onions, carrot, and leek in the butter in a nonstick skillet until soft, 15 to 20 minutes over medium-low heat. When the beans are softened, add the vegetables to the soup, plus the garlic, hot pepper and black pepper to taste. Stir well and continue to simmer another 15 minutes. Just before serving, check the levels of salt and pepper, adjusting as needed. Then stir in the celery leaf, herbs and vinegar, and serve.

Adapted from : The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein

Georgia on my Mind

During a quick browse through the library’s cookbook section a couple of days ago, I ran across a book called The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein. Immediately intrigued at how Georgian food might be distinguished from other (formerly) Russian cuisines (which overall I know embarassingly little about…) I started skimming the recipes. I’ve recently been thinking about getting back into Persian cuisine, and these recipes use similar ingredients and spices – and even similar names for some of the dishes, while also drawing heavily from Turkish influence. So I decided to give it a try!

Here’s a description of my first Georgian meal of yogurt soup, broiled salmon with a pickled onion relish, and sauteed cauliflower with egg.

The salmon dish (Uraguli Dzmarshi) was fairly simple – salmon was rubbed with black pepper and crushed bay leaves and left to sit and ‘marinate’ for a few minutes. It was supposed to be grilled, but since it was already dark outside and I haven’t fired up the grill yet this spring, I decided to cook it under a low broiler. Meanwhile, raw chopped onion was simmered for 15 minutes in a mixture of vinegar, water and salt. The fish was cooked briefly in the vinegar after it had reduced and then served with the sour onion relish.

The yogurt soup (Matsvnis Shechamandi) was an easy, vegetarian dish – with very little fat when prepared as I did with nonfat plain yogurt.

Yogurt Soup
2 c. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. butter or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1 Tbsp. mint, minced
1/3 c. cooked rice

Stir together the yogurt, flour and salt until mostly blended. Add the water and whisk briefly to remove any lumps and fully incorporate water.  Saute the onion in butter or oil over medium heat until translucent but not browned. Add the yogurt mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully whisk some of the hot yogurt mixture into the eggs, and then whisk the egg mixture into the soup. Simmer just a few more minutes, as you can see in the photo this thickens the soup. Immediately before serving, stir in the rice and herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To round out the meal – and this was my favorite dish of the three – I prepared a cauliflower Chirbuli. Chirbuli is described as often involving a variety of vegetables mixed together, with beaten eggs stirred in at the last minute. Goldstein states a preference for focusing on one vegetable at a time, so I decided to try the cauliflower first. It was delicious, especially with the slow caramelization of the onion and cauliflower. I think this technique would be easy to do with any leftover steamed vegetables that don’t already have much flavor added. The original recipe called for a whole stick of butter, but I substituted canola oil for half to keep it just a bit more healthy. The butter taste still shone through nicely.

Cauliflower with Egg
1 lb. cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 onions, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/4 c. Italian parsley, minced
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Steam the cauliflower until starting to get tender, but still crunchy (I did this in the microwave about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, slowly saute onions over medium heat in half the canola oil and butter (2 Tbsp. each), until they are starting to brown nicely. Stir in the steamed cauliflower and remaining butter and oil. Continue slowly cooking and stirring regularly, until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Just at the end of cooking, stir in eggs and herbs and continually toss the cauliflower while the eggs cook and coat the vegetables. Don’t overcook or the eggs will get tough. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.