This Summer, I have one simple word for you: EASY. I'm inviting you to join me for a fun and (hopefully) care-free time in the kitchen making easy Asian dishes. What I'll be doing is taking some of my favorite Asian recipes and giving them a new twist by simplifying them.
What that means is I will be replacing some ingredients that are either too difficult to find outside of Asia or too expensive to buy when you do find them. I will introduce one or two basic ingredients that may be new to you. I may even throw in several simple step-by-step videos to show how they are done. How exciting!
Some of these recipes I grew up with, some I learned from traveling, some are not strictly Asian, but definitely inspired. The keyword is SIMPLE. And I'm starting with this super easy bowl of comfort from my childhood.
This soup really is called ABC Soup. Neat, huh? No one quite knows why. Some theorise the name is derived from the vitamins provided by the main ingredients: carrot (Vitamin A), potato (Vitamin B), and tomato (Vitamin C). One thing's for sure, everyone agrees it is as easy as ABC: put all the ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Yes, it really is that simple. I promised EASY, didn't I?
My mom usually adds meat (pork ribs or chicken), but I prefer it vegetarian because the soup is less oily and you can really taste the wonderful "sweetness" of the vegetables this way. That said, the secret ingredient to making this vegan soup really flavorful is dried shiitake mushroom.
More concentrated in flavor than the fresh kind, dried shiitake mushroom is an essential umami agent in my pantry that I use often in stock, soups, stews, and even stir-fries. They can be found at most Asian grocery stores and stored for a long time. Just soak them in water when you want to use them.
Really, you can't go wrong with this recipe. Not only is ABC Soup an easy introduction to Chinese soups, it's also an affordable way to pack vitamins into a meal. Ho sek!
Ho sek = delicious in Cantonese. Look out for more Asian recipes made simple in the Easy Summer series. I'm taking orders! Tell me in the comment section below what Asian recipe you'd like to learn to make at home.
ABC Soup (Vegan)
It takes only 5 ingredients to make this easy Chinese soup that's packed with vitamins A, B, and C. Serves 2 as an entree with rice or 3 to 4 as a side.
3 large or 5 medium carrots, chopped
1 large or 2 medium russet potatoes, quartered
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, halved
1 large onion, quartered
4 to 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted
5 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place all the ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a pot and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. If you want a thicker or creamier soup, let the potatoes cook until mushy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice (and chili soy sauce dip, if you like some heat).