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warming winter soup

December 1st, 2010 | 30 Comments »

It’s time, everyone. Time to roll back my sleeves, part the curtain and say ‘Ta-Da!!’ to the recipe created for the Marx Foods and Foodie Blogroll Iron Foodie Competition.

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me:
MarxFoods.com -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

It’s something wholly appropriate for winter, for soothing the soul and senses and for nourishing the body and boosting one’s resolve to face the chill of the day, the brisk wind at your back and whipping through your hair.

Within the bowl of steaming soup, of soothing soft noodles to slurp and crunchy sprouts, there’s a sense of calm that begins to spread over you with the very first mouthful. Outside lays the endless expanse of snow, as far as you can see and the memory of dragging a cartful of groceries through the parking lot, turning your back to the wind that cut through you with the precision of a laser…. it sticks in you like a bad dream almost. My coat gets stiff in the cold, and even though I may be warm inside, the crackle I hear when I move my arm sounds like the material could shatter at the slightest touch.

Winter just means soup, and this soup was a perfect tonic for that trip to the grocers, and really, for any nagging sense of imbalance that might cross your day.

The Iron Foodie Challenge was to utilize at least three ingredients from the Mystery Box sent to the contestants from Marx Foods. Everyone’s box contained Fennel Pollen, Smoked Sea Salt, Tellicherry Black Peppercorns, Bourbon Vanilla Beans, Maple Sugar, Dried Aji Panca Peppers, Dulse Seaweed, and Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms. Our products were sample sizes only, so basically we had a pretty small window to work with. I knew I had to really think over my recipe before taking it to the kitchen because I couldn’t screw up. I had no back-ups.

Right away, I knew it would be a noodle soup. With the seaweed and porcini mushrooms, a big steaming bowl of noodle soup was a given. I love having one set down in front of me in a restaurant, the scent of rich broth reaching my nose, golden noodles, green herbs and lots of wonderful vegetables. I contemplated adding chicken to mine, but settled on tofu to use up a container in my refrigerator. The result was wonderful, and Mike and I sat down next to each other, forks in hand and happily slurped from the bowl, exclaiming over the subtle bursts of flavor.

Warming Winter Soup

From my kitchen:
One block extra firm tofu
4-oz soba noodles
1/2 c. fresh bean sprouts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

From Marx Foods:
Fennel Pollen
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Dried Aji Panca Chilies
Dulse Seaweed
Smoked Sea Salt

Take the block of extra-firm tofu and slice through it the wide way into three equal portions. Place on several layers of paper towel and cover with several more paper towels. Place something heavy over the three portions and weigh it down to press the liquid out.

In a small bowl, measure 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of fennel pollen and 1/2 teaspoon of smoked sea salt. Whisk to incorporate and set aside to blend the flavors. Whisk occasionally to combine.

Bring a kettle of water to a rolling boil. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Place dried peppers in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set both aside to soften.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1-1/2 quarts of good chicken stock to a boil. Add in 4 oz. of soba noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving the broth, and rinse noodles to stop cooking. Set aside. Place broth back in pan over a low flame. Place a length of paper towel or cheesecloth in a wire strainer and place over a measuring cup. Drain the porcini mushrooms through the paper lined strainer to remove and dirt or grit, reserving the mushroom broth in the cup. Add the mushrooms to the simmering broth. Check the mushroom stock for clarity, and add to pan with mushrooms.

When the chilies are soft and pliable, snip them with a scissors into the bowl of a food processor, and add several tablespoons of their soaking liquid. Process the peppers until they are well chopped, adding more soaking liquid if necessary. Strain the pepper mixture through a wire strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much chili puree as you can. Whisk 1-2 tablespoons of olive or sesame oil into the pepper puree.

Remove the tofu from the paper towels and brush with the fennel pollen/oil mixture, then heat a saute pan to nearly smoking. Carefully place tofu steaks in pan and sear for about 5-7 minutes or until nicely browned, then carefully turn over steaks and sear the other side for about 5 minutes. Place on fresh paper towel to drain and cool enough to cut into bite size pieces.

Place dulse seaweed in bottom of a deep soup bowl. Ladle the hot broth with mushrooms over the seaweed. Add the cooked soba noodles, cubed tofu, bean sprouts, cilantro and basil. Drizzle the soup with the chili puree and serve immediately. Season with more smoked sea salt, and pepper if desired.

30 Responses to “warming winter soup”

  1. Great blog! A pleasure to read.

  2. Shay Brown says:

    Hi I just dropped by and wanted to say you to have a Happy New Year. Let all your wishes make come true for you and your family and lets hope the next year be prosperous for all us.

  3. Great blog! A pleasure to read.

  4. [...] I entered a contest and my recipe took 2nd Place. I got paid to write a blog post, my very first paid blogging job, and I created an amazing Curried Squash and Corn Risotto. I also baked another memory, which I am swiftly finding to be my most favorite aspect of writing this blog. [...]

  5. Now this is one appealing soup! Great entry, excellent use of the secret ingredients! Good luck to you! LL

  6. moowiesqrd says:

    Congrats on a great run at Iron Foodie! That’s a beautiful bowl of soup and I look forward to seeing what you do with your prize.

  7. Lori Lynn says:

    Now this is one appealing soup! Great entry, excellent use of the secret ingredients! Good luck to you!
    LL

  8. Another Liz says:

    Looks wonderful … thanks for sharing your ideas!

  9. I love this!! Definitely my kind of soup! Voting right now!

  10. This looks really good!

  11. I could really use a bowl (maybe 2) of this right now. Looks very warming, indeed. Beautiful!

  12. Liz says:

    Looks amazing. Wish I had some right now!

  13. Lisa says:

    Kate, you amaze and impress me all the time. I love your creativity and the photos are captivating. Did you know that I’m a taste tester of all things good? If you need a sampler, sign me up. Your recipes always beg me to taste them! Good job.

  14. [...] down to Kate in the Kitchen: http://kateinthekitchen.com/2010/12/01/warming-winter-soup/ Click on the link and read about this delicious [...]

  15. bryce murphy says:

    This looks great. I will try this fabulous soup soon.

  16. This sounds so warm and inviting, and the photos are gorgeous! (Hi from a fellow contestant!)

  17. This certainly looks inviting! Great use of ingredients. Good luck in the polls and thanks for your participation!

  18. Amanda says:

    Not only are these pictures just stunning… but the soup makes my mouth water!! You have got such mad skills girl!!!

  19. I’m linking over from Twitter and happy to have found your site. Look forward to reading regularly and trying some of your recipes. Beautiful photography. Have a great weekend.

  20. maybaby says:

    I almost feel like I got to taste this wondeful concoction! Your description and gorgeous photos make me want to head straight to the kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  21. I think the soup looks even better when set against the snowy outdoors. Now I just have to get my hands on some fennel pollen, Dried Aji Panca Chilies and Dulse Seaweed!

  22. [...] cookies, winter soup, wassail, and fresh cranberry salsa. » Wassail and Recipe Roundup » Print Version [...]

  23. Rebecka says:

    Awesome soup!! I made a soup dish for the competition as well… and with an Asian theme! Great minds think alike…loving a big hot bowl of soup!! Best of luck in the challenge. Stop by my blog to see my recipe.

  24. Liz says:

    I don’t even know what some of those things are but it sounds delicious!

  25. Joan Nova says:

    That definitely looks warm and welcoming — and the cilantro is just jumping out of the bowl in your beautiful photos.

  26. kat says:

    Beautiful soup! So, perfect for a cold MN day. I thought of doing something similar when I saw the seaweed so I’m glad I didn’t.

  27. Thank you, very useful. I wasnt actually a big fan of Spinach for many years ( lie, I hated the stuff), but after marrying a vegan I kind of had to get used to it, and have slowly come to absolutely love the stuff. Spinach curry is now my absolute favourite! I recently found an entire spinach recipes website which is my new favourite site now, you should take a look!

  28. Mike says:

    Nom nom nom!

  29. Been waiting for eryone to step up to the plate(or soup bowl), and post for the competition, this is the second soup I’ve seen, both are getting votes, I really want to try some tofu.

  30. Wow. This looks so great. I’m determined to make it for Bruce next week. Love slurped noodles more than anything. And tofu. Shoot, there’s nothing here I don’t want RIGHT NOW.