As the temperature slowly drops and cool winds whip through Beijing, there is nothing more satisfying than coming home to a warm, nourishing soup. Growing up, soups were a frequent appearance at the dinner table, as my grandmother cooked up a weekly batch with vegetables from her garden.
Easy to prepare and chock full of nutrition, a bowl of carefully concocted brew can easily provide a day’s worth of vitamins and minerals for your kids. Soups are also a great place to add vegetarian proteins. Beans and rice are a great choice, as are egg-based dumplings, or even small pieces of tofu. The only thing you’ll want to keep an eye on is sodium, which is why it’s a good idea to make your own stock. In a pinch, however, a low-sodium canned stock or bullion will do.
The beauty of this soup is that it is versatile, and you can make it with any vegetable you might have on hand, fresh or frozen. You can even use canned stock to simplify things. Some reliably delicious ingredients to combine are carrots, green beans, onion, pumpkin and corn with egg-based dumplings. Another option is mixing beans, rice, corn, zucchini, tomato, onion and green peppers with tomato and cumin. The sky is the limit, and you can even have your kids pick their favorite ingredients and create their own version.
Bountiful Harvest Soup
½ cup green beans or peas, chopped into 2cm pieces
½ cup carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
½ cup zucchini and yellow squash and cut into small cubes
½ cup yellow and red bell peppers and cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
½ cup whole wheat flour
Mild paprika and salt to taste
2 liters vegetable stock
In a large pot, bring stock to boil and add vegetables according to their required cooking time. First add the carrots, beans, peas, onion, and pumpkin, and allow them to simmer for ten minutes before adding quick cooking vegetables like zucchini. Cover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Note: If you want to include meat in this recipe, it should go in at the beginning.
In a small bowl, beat together the flour, egg, paprika and salt. You can substitute other spices of course, and spice mixes are a quick and easy alternative. Once the vegetables are tender, scoop them out of the soup and bring it to a medium boil. Carefully drop ¼ teaspoons of the egg batter into the soup, and cook five minutes until done. Add vegetables back to soup, and serve immediately.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
2 liters filtered water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, coarsely chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
In a large, lidded pot, heat the oil. Then add all of the vegetables. Let them cook over low heat for ten minutes with the lid on. Add the water and spices and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain.
Share the recipe with a Chinese-speaking friend.