Between the dreadful weather on this side of the world where it alternates between sunny, rainy and both sunny and rainy, my recent trip to Japan where we ate, walked, ate some more (and learn that the most delicious things in life doesn’t have to be pretentious, expensive or even cooked) and quite possibly the one alcohol-fueled night I spent singing and dancing my heart out (I blame the alcohol!) to music from the 70s and 80s, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather . And with that, admittedly went my desire to spend any time eating or even being in the kitchen.
The one thing I absolutely hate about being sick, other than being sick itself of course, is the horrid waiting time I usually spend waiting at the clinic just to see the doctor for a quick diagnosis and a heap of medication.
This time around though, I wised up and brought my favourite cookbook- Nigel Slater’s Appetite- along. And true to its name, by the time I walked out the clinic a good hour after I first stepped in, I couldn’t wait to cook up a bowl of soup to soothe and nourish my soul.
And soothe and nourish this bowl of soup did indeed.
Essentially a glammed up bowl of chicken soup, the deep savouriness of the soup and heartiness of the tofu and sliced mushrooms was all I needed to soothe a raw throat and energize a lethargic soul.
And the best part of it all? Thanks to a can of chicken broth, it really only took less than an hour to go from chopping board to stove to bowl (and if I did it in under an hour sick, imagine how quick it would take you).
So after a good two days of rest, I might be all better now but I sure as well won’t be waiting till the next time I fall ill to make this bowl of soup again!
Mushroom and Tofu Noodle Soup [adapted from Nigel Slater's Appetite]
Note: As with all Nigel Slater’s recipes, he doesn’t give exact quantities for ingredients, instead encouraging his readers to play around until they like what they taste. So trust your taste buds and go forth- and if you’ve never cooked without an exact recipe, try it. It’s pretty liberating. Oh and can I just add that if you’re still looking for a Christmas present for someone food-crazy in your life, can I suggest Appetite (hell, or any of Nigel Slater’s books for that matter)? The man can seriously make even the simplest of meals sound incredible!
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and diced
2 shallots, peeled and diced
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves discarded and diced
A large handful of mushrooms (I used a mix of white button & swiss brown)
1/2 a block of firm tofu, cubed
1 can of chicken stock (I used Swanson’s Natural Goodness Chicken Broth)
A handful of noodles of your choice
1 star anise
A glurg of groundnut oil
Fish sauce, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Sesame oil, to taste
Basil leaves, to serve
1 small red chili, to serve
Spring onions, chopped, to serve
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil until hot. Add the garlic, shallots and lemongrass and fry until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and fry until mushrooms are soft and slightly browned.
- Pour the stock in and bring it to a boil. Add the star anise and season with fish sauce, white pepper and sesame oil to taste. Bring the heat down just until the soup simmers. Add the tofu in and let simmer for a few minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook just until noodles are tender. Strain the noodles and tip them into a large soup bowl.
- Ladle the soup, tofu and mushrooms over the noodles. Serve with basil leaves, chili padi and spring onions. Serves 1