Gazpacho, a raw vegetable soup with Creole tomato base!



I can’t believe I just discovered gazpacho, a soup made with a blend of raw vegetables. This dish is commonly served cold so it is perfect for a hot summer day! Gazpacho is renowned in Spain. I don’t enjoy eating salad, but I’ve been wanting to start eating more raw vegetables (I’m aware that salads can be tasty and people have become very creative, but I still can’t get my taste buds to love them yet!). I think gazpacho is appealing to me because I can add familiar flavors of Thai cuisine such as garlic, cilantro, basil, and lime juice.

After reviewing numerous recipes and talking to my friends, I learned that some of the main vegetables in this soup are cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. A friend told me that you can make gazpacho whatever color you want based on on the colors of the vegetables you are using. I like mine red so I got some meaty Creole tomatoes from the farmers market (currently in season in Louisiana!) and red bell peppers. I like mine just a little spicy and very citrusy, so I threw in half of a jalapeño and juice of one and half limes for two cups of tomatoes purée. 

I won’t include a recipe here since it was my first time making the soup and I barely did anything creative to it. Check out recipes from the Food and Wine MagazineSpanish Home Cooking, and Alton Brown’s recipeIna Garten’s recipe from the Food Network. 

What are Creole tomatoes? Chow’s visitors have answers for you. 

Somen Noodle Soup in Miso Broth with Seafood, Tofu, and Chives

Somen Noodle Soup in Miso Broth with Seafood, Tofu, and Chives
Last month, I started to use miso paste in my cooking and since then I can’t stop making miso soup! A few of my vegan friends also use miso paste as a new favorite ingredient in their salad dressings and for marinating vegetables and mushrooms for grilling.

This miso soup is slightly different from the one I made a month ago. I realized that miso paste is flavorful enough that there was no need for additional vegetables like celery and carrots. I just added soy sauce and enhanced the herbal flavor with some finely chopped chives, which have a delicious garlic-and-onion flavor. Chives is more flavorful than scallions, so use them sparingly.

I used seafood from a mixed seafood bag that I bought from Trader Joe’s — it has scallops, shrimp, and squid. The tofu was a good addition because of its soothing texture and it also goes well with the flavor of fermented beans. Even better, the seafood and tofu take about the same time to cook!

As I wrote in my earlier post, I used Cold Mountain red miso paste. I added about one tablespoon of miso paste per one cup of water. Since desired saltiness varies from person to person, I would suggest adding just a little miso paste and soy sauce at first, and adding to that as necessary. Additionally, feel free to try the soup with other vegetables and ingredients such as mushrooms, spinach, seaweed, sprouts, rice noodles, clear noodles, and scallions. 

I chose somen noodles because they’re so easy to cook. I didn’t have to soak them in water and they takes less time than pasta or rice noodles. Somen is usually used in noodle salads, but it brings a delicate touch to soup as well. Tip: don’t boil the somen noodles in the same pot as the soup broth because it will form a murky white color and starchy taste.

Keep in mind that this dish is a two-step process that should take you no more than 15 minutes. Make sure you set up the two pots of water at the same time, one for cooking the somen noodles and another for the soup broth. 

Makes 1 serving, takes 15 minutes
Ingredients:
~3 oz. somen noodles, cooked and drained 
~9 cups water 
~4 tablespoon red miso paste~ 2x2 inches of tofu, cut into small pieces 
~1 cup mixed seafood; defrosted and cleaned 
~2 tablespoon soy sauce 
~1/2 tablespoon chives, chopped finely 
~1/4 tablespoon dried crushed chili peppers 
~1 head bok choy, cleaned and cut into small pieces

Start by setting up two pots of water on the stove, one for cooking the somen noodles with about 5 cups of water and another with four cups of water for soup broth

In the pot for the noodles, add a pinch of salt and put the lid on to speed the boiling process. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the noodles, and bring them to a low simmer immediately. *Always cook somen (and soba) noodles over low heat after you bring the water to a boil. Somen are best when  cooked  slowly for a tenderly firm texture. If you cook the somen noodle in boiling water throughout in the same way you prepare pasta, your somen will be overcooked, sticky, and starchy.* Stir the noodle constantly, making sure that they do not stick together or to the bottom of the pot. After the noodles are cooked (about 6 minutes) pour cool water into the pot, then drain and set aside in a nice serving bowl. 

Start the broth while waiting for the noodles to cook. Bring water to a boil and dissolve the miso paste and soy sauce. Add the tofu and seafood; then add bok choy. Taste and see if you need to add more miso paste or soy sauce. I found that just the soy sauce and miso paste did the job for me. Once everything is cooked, pour the broth on the somen noodles. Sprinkle some dried crushed chili peppers, and chives. Enjoy!

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