’Tis the Season … for Soup

Japanese Udon Soup

Shown above is the Pork Udon soup made by the Men’s Club at the West L.A. Buddhist Temple Obon festival each July. Even though it is in the middle of summer, I always go to down a couple bowls of the stuff. I always add a little Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese chili powder with black sesame seeds) to bring out the flavor.

Soup and I go way back, to the beginning in fact. My mother was a great cook, especially when soups and pastries were involved. We always had a bowl of soup for every lunch and dinner we ate together as a family. Sometimes that bowl was all we needed, particularly if the soup was the hearty Gulyás Leves—or Hungarian Goulash, as it’s also called.

I wish I had the recipes for all her soups, such as the Hungarian egg-drop soup, the mushroom and vegetable soup, the green bean soup with sour cream, the Slovak dry bean soup, the beef broth with big chunks of beef in it (Husleves), the tomato soup, the rice and caraway seed soup—and the list just goes on forever. Mom’s homemade beef broth was the stuff of dreams, though I remember not appreciating it as much when I was younger because I thought my Dad asked for it too often.

Virtually all Hungarian soups begin with a roue (Hungarians call it rántás) consisting of minced onion and garlic, real Hungarian paprika (not the Spanish variety), minced parsley, and some flour. I’m still working at trying to get the right combinations to make it taste as if Mom made it.

Martine has not been feeling well for the last couple of weeks, so I will cook a home-made vegetarian minestrone tonight with a broad mix of veggies and crowned with some Swiss Chard that has been blended into the stock. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of a serving of it tonight and save it for later publication, perhaps with an approximation of the recipe I used. (I never follow recipes exactly: Usually I cherry-pick several recipes and add a few elements of my own.)

When we have soup, we rarely eat an entrée with it. Sometimes I’ll have some cheese and crackers.

If you want to get through the winter happy and healthy, I recommend you eat lots of soup. Real soup, not the canned stuff!