Why, I’m soup-er! Thanks for asking!

2013-03-19 02.44.22I tried something a bit different today when I was making my soup. I didn’t want to use one of the instant pho soup bases, I wanted to try basing it on a chicken s2013-03-19 00.08.07oup base instead. To start out, I did what I tried yesterday: I filled my bowl with water, then dumped it in the pot. I went a bit over on it because I was expecting some of it to boil away. To the water, I added: 2 Tbs of Knorr Chicken Broth mix (from the Chinese section of the asian food aisle – less yellow food coloring and no parsley compared to “regular” chicken broth mix), 1 tsp of Bovril beef bouillon concentrate, 1 tsp fish sauce, and 1/4 tsp of Chinese Five Spice. I actually measured everything this time (except for the actual amount of water I used) and wrote it down. I never do that. I used the Five Spice for the cinnamon and star anise that are in it. Both of those are used in a real pho broth. I have to say that I’m halfway pleased with the results. In the triangle of broth perfection: color, clarity and taste, the color and clarity are pretty close to what I’m looking for, but it’s still a tiny bit too cloudy. Not sure what that came from, but I could probably fix that by straining it through a cheesecloth before serving. Gee, sounds like it’s getting to be a bit more work. Smile with tongue out The taste, while flavorful, wasn’t quite what I was aiming at. Next time, I think I’ll double the Bovril and cut back on the chicken soup base. Go for more beefy flavor.

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While I chopped up the herbs and veggies, I put my noodles on to soak in a separate pot. Halfway through all the cutting, I drained and rinsed them, then put them on the stove to cook. This, as I expected, turned out to be a really important step, extra dishes be damned. My noodles only took a few minutes to cook to the right firmness. I immediately shocked them with cold water, drained, rinsed, drained again and put them in my bowl waiting for my broth to come back to a boil after I added the meat balls and thin-sliced roast beef. With not cooking the noodles in the broth, it didn’t thicken with the added starch and remained nice and soupy (as soup should be). Smile

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As you can see from the picture, the color isn’t bad. It’s still moderately clear, so I doubt that I’ll use the cheesecloth. I don’t mind a broth with a bit of body. I only used 3 meatballs, but I cut them up in thirds. I cut off all the fat on the roast beef slices (that’s Schneider’s Mainstreet Deli – Cooked Seasoned Roast Beef for anyone keeping track) which the dog really liked. Even though it’s already cooked (obviously), I like to cut it up and add it to the broth with the meatballs and let it boil away for a bit. I like to think that it helps add to the flavor. It changes the texture if nothing else.

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The finished product looked and tasted pretty good. I wish that sandwich steak was cut a bit thinner, but for something quick, which this bowl of soup quest is supposed to be leading, they’re alright. Sure, I could get the meat person at the grocery store to slice up a nice lean eye of round roast for me, or do it myself here at home with the meat slicer, but that seems like a pain in the ass. Smile Some people might be put off by me adding raw steak to my soup, but by the time I get to them, they’re very gently cooked by the hot broth and almost creamy in texture. Very nice. OK, I retract that wish that they were thinner. Smile with tongue out 

I misjudged something tonight. I think it was that I ate more for lunch that I took into account, but I couldn’t finish my bowl of soup… Too full. A very rare occurrence that I couldn’t finish my bowl. I also got some spicy broth directly in my right eye. First bite/spoonful too. Smile Something fell off my spoon and splashed broth right up into my eye as I was leaning over the bowl. Ouch. To make matters worse, I didn’t wash my hands after slicing up the serrano pepper. As I type this, my left eye is burning from where I stuck my finger in it. I rock.

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