In my last post I noted that I almost never use recipes, especially for soup. My cooking skills ain't all that, it's just... I don't have the patience to collect ingredients and follow directions. I reiterate that I have MUCH to learn, grasshopper, and I assure you my limited repertoire would most certainly benefit.
That being said, a friend who reads Easily Pleased asked how I can cook without a recipe. She says she never does, not even to make a salad! Whoa nellie. Since I happen to be free-stylin' another soup tonight, here's a typical session:
I begin almost every soup with onions and garlic in a little oil. Carmelize. Let's see what we've got in the fridge. Ah, some carrots. Chop chop. Now I'll pour in veggie soup stock and some additional water. How 'bout some dried, shaved bonito flakes (I just leave 'em in there, no straining) and yamaki somen tsuyu for a smoky flavor and some mushroom soup stock paste because we need a bit of salt. Needs... lesseee... dried ginger and a bit of dried coriander.
My friend would now say (because I know her), "But how do you know to put in those spices? And how much?" Well, the truth is, it just seems like ginger would be good since I seem to be going Asian-ish and coriander adds some... some... corianderness. Sorry I can't be more specific, but this is how I roll.
Now I need something substantial. How about the best squash known to humankind, the Kabocha. It is rich and nutty and sweet. Look for smaller, heavy ones. This one is an orange Kabocha from the Farmer's Market.
Also, some lotus root, which I buy frozen in a bag and looks like this...
Convenient and delicious and also nutty, though nutty in a different way than the Kabocha. Now I'll huck in a few dried shitakes and chop in some Red Russian kale.
Now, I want the soup to be a full-on meal, 'cause homie ain't makin' no side dishes tonight. The kabocha is probably enough for carbs, but there is no such thing as enough carbs, so... why not some matzoh balls (made from Manischewitz mix, is there another way?) which I'll infuse with dried dill before plopping into a separate broth (my good'ol standby, Vegeta) for cooking.
All done. I let it cool down and then re-heat. I don't know why. I've just noted that soup always tastes better the next day when has become a "leftover", and this is my way of faking the "leftover" process.
In the bowl, it looks like this.
I guess it turned out to be Pan-Asian Matzoh Ball Soup heretofore to be known as Nutty Russian Buddha's Balls! That's the thing about my cooking "style"... you never really know what you're getting until it's done. And sometimes when it's done, you still don't know what the hell it is!
But this soup was truly delicious. The Kabocha was so sweet, some of it dissolved into the broth resulting in a sweet nectar of enlightenment. Of course, one of the drawbacks (or, magical mysteries, if you will) to being recipe-challenged is that I could never make this same soup again.
Now, what utensil to use for such a soup?
Partner in Crime invented a truly multicultural method...
John Lennon, this soup's for you. ... and the world will live as one...