Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easy Asian soup recipes dress up
store-bought chicken broth

This time of year, early spring, one of my favorite things to make and eat is a bowl of Asian-inspired soup  full of tender meat and noodles.
   But I don’t have the time or inclination to make my own broth, so I appreciate a recipe that can take store-bought chicken broth and effectively dress it up and boost its flavor with some choice ingredients.
   I have two terrific easy recipes to share that can do this.

   The first is Sliced Pork, Chinese Broccoli, and Soba Noodle Soup (click for the recipe) from Martha Stewart Living magazine.
   Don’t be intimidated by the “Chinese Broccoli” portion of the recipe’s title. It’s hard to find, but you can easily substitute something else. I used Chinese cabbage, which is much easier to find, or you could likely use bok choy.
   The soba noodles in the recipe can be found in the Asian foods section of well-stocked supermarkets, and some health or speciality foods stores.
   In this recipe, fresh ginger and minced garlic add flavor to the chicken broth, which provides a warm, welcoming backdrop to the soba noodles, pork and greens.
   The soba noodles are cooked in boiling water, drained and transferred to an ice-water bath, then tossed with some sesame oil.
   More sesame oil is heated in a Dutch oven or large pot, and the ginger and garlic are cooked briefly until fragrant. Store-bought chicken broth and water is added, the mixture is brought to a boil, and the Chinese broccoli or another green is simmered in it until crisp-tender.
   The heat is reduced, and sliced pork tenderloin and soy sauce are added and the soup simmered until the pork is just cooked through.
   To serve, the noodles and soup are divided among bowls.

   The second Asian soup recommendation I have is Chinese Dumpling Soup (click for the recipe) from Food Network Magazine.
   This super-easy weeknight recipe makes use of frozen Chinese dumplings, readily available at many supermarkets.
   The first steps of this recipe are the ones that boost the chicken broth’s flavor. The broth, fresh ginger, soy sauce, Shoahsing rice cooking wine or dry sherry, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and salt are brought to a boil in a soup pot, then the heat is reduced and the stock left to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
   Thinly-sliced carrots are added, then the dumplings, and finally scallions (also called green onions or spring onions) and spinach at various intervals.
   We skipped the optional cilantro – my husband and I both hate the stuff!
   Serve with chili sauce on the side if desired.

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