Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Soup


Who says you can't eat soup in the summer?  Not me!  My husband is a huge fan of Asian food, and I wanted to create something light yet hearty for dinner.  I came across some rice noodles on the Asian section of the grocery store, which are something we'd never eaten boiled.  I've flash fried them before for lettuce wraps.  It's a pretty cool thing to watch.  You throw some rice noodles in hot oil, and they grow really fast, kind of like watching those black snake fireworks grow.  Remember those, the little black circles that you set on fire and an ash snake grew?  Yeah, it's kind of like that.

My husband loves Ramen, which I very rarely eat, so I wanted to give him his pasta fix without the Ramen.  I thought I'd give these rice noodles a try.  I had ground pork on hand, so why not throw some meatballs into the soup.  And it was really good.  It was hearty, yet light.  The broth was to die for, and the meatballs were perfect.  Now, you don't have to keep the parts separate like I did in the picture.  That's just me trying to be all fancified.  So, if you're craving Asian but want to keep it light, this is the way to go.  And a lot of the ingredients here I have listed as optional or to taste.  Add in as much or as little of each as you want.  Just taste it and keep adding until it's too your liking.  I tend to oversalt things, so I left it up to you to get the seasonings just the way you like it.

Can you eat soup with chopsticks?

ASIAN MEATBALL RICE NOODLE SOUP
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1 lb ground pork
2 green onions
A few drops of fish sauce (optional)
2 T soy sauce
A few drops of oyster sauce (optional)
1 T garlic powder
Red chili flakes (to taste)
A few drops of sesame oil
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
Olive oil

FOR THE SOUP:
8 C chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 ounce package of dried exotic mushrooms (or 4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced)
Soy sauce (to taste)
A few drops of sesame oil
Red chili flake, to taste
1 T chopped cilantro
Rice wine vinegar (to taste)
1 head of bok choy, stems removed and chopped
One 8-ounce package of dried rice noodles (reserve a bit to deep fry for garnish if desired)

Sliced green onions, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the meatball ingredients except the olive oil together.  Shape into half-inch meatballs.  Place them in a casserole pan and drizzle with some olive oil.  Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the meatballs are done.

If using the dried mushrooms, rehydrate them in hot water for about 30 minutes.  Drain and rough chop them.

If using the reserved rice noodles as a fried garnish, heat some vegetable oil in a shallow skillet to very hot.  Throw in the rice noodles and cook for a few seconds until they are well expanded and crispy.  Drain.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add in the carrots and garlic.  Cook until the carrots are almost tender. Add in the mushrooms (either the rehydrated or white mushrooms), a few drops of sesame oil, soy sauce to taste, rice wine vinegar to taste, the chile flake to taste, and the bok choy. Add in the noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until they are tender.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.  Stir the meatballs in and serve, garnishing with the green onions and crispy rice noodles.

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