26 September 2023

Beef & Noodle Broth

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By Christine Salins.


Soups are one of the most underrated meals, aren’t they? I love them for a quick pick-me-up, especially in winter when they provide warmth, nourishment and so much goodness.

It’s great having a batch of soups in the freezer, or even just a bag of vegetable offcuts that you can keep adding to, for use in a soup sometime down the track. Frozen soups come in so handy when you arrive home to an empty fridge after being away, or when you’re exhausted after a long day.

I always have homemade stock in the freezer too, made from chicken bones and vegetable scraps. Used with pumpkin – which is still very cheap compared with most fresh produce – it makes for a quick and very affordable meal (although I’ve had so much pumpkin soup this winter I’d be happy not to see another bowl for a while).

Like me, the team at recipe website taste.com.au believe soups are underrated, and they’ve set out to rectify that with The Big Book of Soups (HarperCollins Publishers, $34.99).

Editor-in-chief, Brodee Myers, says that’s possibly because soups were once considered boring winter peasant food, made with root vegetables and whatever other produce was at hand.

“While grabbing seasonal vegies to toss into a soup may still be the norm – there are few meals more wonderful than a hearty pumpkin soup in the middle of July – soups in Australia have taken on a more international flavour in recent decades, giving us much more of a reason to slurp them up at any time of the year.”

She points out that quick soups are great in warmer weather when you don’t want to slave over a hot stove or heat up the house unnecessarily.

“Take, for example, a clear broth with Asian greens and thin strands of rice noodles, like our Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho. It’s nice and light for taking a soup spoon to – and the chopsticks!”

Because soups generally contain lots of goodness in the form of lean protein, fresh vegies and grains, the recipes include nutritional information to help readers make healthier choices.

If you are trying to keep your immune system in top shape, there are special immunity-boosting soups. Gluten-free soups are highlighted and there’s a whole chapter on vegetarian soups.

The recipes are designed for all seasons and all occasions, though many, not surprisingly, are perfect for winter. Cool-weather favourites include pumpkin (with some twists), chunky minestrones and other slow-cooked wonders.

The beauty of the Taste recipes is that all ingredients are readily available at supermarkets. The quick and easy Asian noodle soup here is nice and light and can be ready in 30 minutes, while still satisfying the carnivore in you.

Japanese Beef & Noodle Broth

Serves 4

7cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled

1 tbs peanut oil

500g beef mince

2 garlic cloves, crushed

125ml (½ cup) mirin seasoning

1 tbs brown sugar

125ml (½ cup) light soy sauce

1.5L (6 cups) chicken stock

270g pkt soba noodles

3 baby bok choy, halved lengthways

50g snow peas, thinly sliced lengthways

2 green shallots, thinly sliced diagonally

2 soft-boiled eggs, peeled, halved

¼ tsp shichimi togarashi (see note)

Finely grate 3cm ginger. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking up mince with a wooden spoon, for 4 to 5 minutes or until well browned. Add the garlic and grated ginger. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the mirin, sugar and half the soy sauce. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes or liquid is reduced and mixture is sticky. Remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the remaining ginger. Combine the stock, sliced ginger and remaining soy in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil. Cook the soba noodles following packet directions. Drain well.

Divide the noodles and buk choy among serving bowls. Ladle in the hot broth. Top with beef mixture, snow peas, shallot, egg and shichimi togarashi. Serve.

Note: Shichimi togarashi is a common Japanese hot spice mix containing seven ingredients, including chillies. You can buy it at supermarkets.

Recipe and image from The Big Book of Soups by Taste, published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available in bookstores and online.

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