Tuesday, May 6, 2008

An Aromatic Discovery

A couple of months ago, I was making green creamy vegetable soup with the health-giving likes of zucchini, fennel and spinach. While dreamily stirring the pureed soup, a picture of fragrant Rendang unexpectedly assailed my mind and the idea of "adding some hand-torn kaffirlime leaves during the final five minutes of simmering" floated into my head.

The result was pronounced 'fantastic' by both friends and Other Half.

You can vary the vegetables and proportions. Here I share a sample recipe with you:

Fragrant Green-Is-In Soup

2 tsp olive oil
half a medium onion, chopped
1 largish zucchini, sliced or roughly chopped
1 medium-size fennel, sliced
80g of frozen or fresh spinach
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
50ml cream or yoghurt, or 100ml milk (depending on how health-conscious you are)
2 kaffirlime leaves, hand torn many times to the spine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat medium large pot to medium hot. Add olive oil.
2. Add chopped onion and stir-fry gently till translucent.
3. Add fennel, zucchini and spinach, with a minute in between additions.
4. Add stock. Lower heat. Adjust with water to just cover simmering vegetables.
5. When veggies are tender, take it off heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Puree.
6. Put puree back on low heat and add cream, yoghurt or milk. Adjust thickness with water to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Add torn kaffirlime leaves and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove leaves before serving.
8. Serve with potato croutons (panfried little cubes of potato) or chunks of sausage or cubes of bacon.

And now that the weather is getting warmer and sunnier every day, a lovely health-giving, nutrient-rich drink is simply to puree fresh or frozen (thawed) raspberries with buttermilk (add a teaspoon or two of powdered sugar, if you like).


Lee Ping said...

I admire cooks who can come up with their own inventions and make it taste delicious. I am still very much a follow-the-recipe person.
In addition to using Kaffir Leaves in Beef Rendang, I can use them Argus' Green-is-in soup. Thanks for sharing!

Kenny Mah said...

It's that little bit extra that makes all the difference, no? A lil bit of magic, I always say.

(Ah, but it's knowing what to add that differentiates the masters from the novices, no?)

You make me wanna try out them recipes but where on earth do I find buttermilk in Malaysia? I know it exists but not something we can easily obtain from the supermarket, surely?

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Mrs HBT. I know at least a few who can't (or won't) follow recipes. ;-) Once in a while, I hit on a good idea that works out fine. Guess you don't hear about the ones that did not work!
This soup is good for people (especially children) who don't like to eat vegetables. (I'll make Xeus eat/drink this soup one fine day.) ^_^

Kenny, thanks for the support and encouragement. The next time you're in Cold Storage or the organic shop in Bangsar Village, check to see if they carry buttermilk. Mmm... I wonder what local butter manufacturers do with their 'resulting' buttermilk. Or are there no local butter producers?!
Where's St Limaugrass when you need her fount of knowledge?

Kenny Mah said...

Ooh, I'll just check out the mart in Isetan KLCC when I head there tonight to buy ingredients for dinner. Me thinking of another one-pot dish...

St. Limaugrass is quite the busy, poor dear, work beckons and all that. I'll bug her on this the next time I meet/chat with her.

Now that you mention it, I'm pretty sure they do sell the resulting buttermilk... just wonder who sells it and where...

Argus Lou said...

And if it tastes a bit sour, it's not gone bad -- it's just buttermilk! (You can also puree banana or other berries or fruit into it. But don't tell me if you do it with durian, OK?) ^_^

fatboybakes said...

buttermilk, another exorbitantly priced ingredient here.
i love the soup. so, do you make your own 200ml chicken stock, or do you use ready made/concentrate/cubes? or DONT tell me you are one of those perfectionists who boil a ton of soup and make chicken stock ice cubes for when needed! oooh, you're back in august. so many ppl visiting... june. july. august.

Kenny Mah said...

Argus: Durian? Hmm... that's an idea... Hehe.

FBB: Ooh, and the chicken stock ice cubes idea sounds cool... too bad I neither have a pot large enough nor the patience to go through with it... :P

Argus Lou said...

FBB, I use chicken stock granules (MSG-less) to stir up the 200ml of stock. Self-made stock? No way! I'm very chin-chai one. ;-) No domestic goddess -- more like domestic witch, conjuring things in a jiffy.

Double the recipe if you're making the soup for 4 to 6 people.

Kenny, I said NOT to tell me about durian buttermilk smoothies. Kapisch?
Also, I've got a feeling you were thinking of doing funny things with chicken stock ice-cubes. Why ah?

Kim said...

I like the asian influence in your soup. Good for winter now that it's getting cold downunder. Lots of bread to dunk them in..... You're back in August. We're thinking September coz that's when school hols. Must find a way to get together.

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Kim. Yes, to use an old phrase, it's an east-meets-west soup.

I'm there till Sept 9. Hope to see you and the other ex-classmates.

wonda said...

The soup looks good for my cold. May I have chicken soup next?

Argus Lou said...

You've another cold, Wonda? I'm sorry to hear it. You know, I've never made cream of chicken soup in my whole life? Only recently made cream of mushroom soup based on a VideoJug presentation -- turned out nice but go easy on the flour (halve it!).

Cynthia said...

How come I was not invited to this get-together :)

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Cynthia. Always a pleasant surprise to see you here. You know you're welcome every time. ^_^

catty khoo said...

Hi, Argus. It's me, only you would know who. To make buttermilk, using a measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon vinegar and top it with milk to one cup. That's what I usually do when I run out of buttermilk for pancakes!

Argus Lou said...

Thanks for the tip, Catty Khoo. I'm sure those living in M'sia would appreciate your helpful hint even more.

Er, are you living in Canada or CH?

SteamyKitchen said...

I love this idea of a green soup!!! I just know the boys will love it.
and great idea for the cookbook too. I'll email you...

catty khoo said...

I'm still in Canada... why would you think that I'm in CH(does CH means China or Chicago? You know, I don't have very much grey matter left in my brains due to too many babies...Ha!)

Glad I'm able to help with the buttermilk thing! Please use plain mild white vinegar (Heinz, my preferred brand), not rice or apple cider vinegar.

Argus: How many hours are you ahead of PST zone? Are you in the same time zone as London?

Argus Lou said...

Mrs Steamy, thanks -- are you saying it might be a good idea to include in your cookbook?! Can't wait to see what you meant, but I'm off to Italy for a week in half a day. The suspense will do me in.

Catty Khoo, CH stands for Switzerland (Confederatio Helvetia). Was wondering if I got the right Ms Khoo, ha ha.
Will white wine vinegar do? The only other kind I have is 'aceto balsamico' which is dark coloured.

Argus Lou said...

I'm one hour ahead of London, Cat Khoo.

jesse said...

Adding Kaffir leaves is a brilliant touch! How I miss a good bowl of rendang here in California.

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Jesse. Make the rendang yourself -- if you can buy lemongrass and kaffirlime leaves over there (galangal, too, if you're lucky).

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

the raspberries got me there..but the exorbitant prices that they cost..i think i would need to resort to strawberry ice-cream and milk..

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Joe - welcome to Argus World, where living folk gather to chat on a blog named after a beloved late dog!

Strawberry ice-cream and milk? That's funny! How about raspberry jam and buttermilk?

Kenny Mah said...

Hehe, no lah, nothing weird or nasty with the chicken stock icecubes. Just convenience for more of my one-dish wonders. :P

Tunku Halim said...

The weather here is getting cold so I'm keen on your soup rather than the cold drink. Also, buttermilk is not easy to find. I did make pana cote (if that's how you spell it) the other night so I might contribute with a post on it! I'm making pumpkin soup this afternoon but a bit boring compared to your green one! :)

Argus Lou said...

Hi, TH. I did blog about pannacotta many moons ago. Mine is the low-fat kind but still delicious eaten with berry sauce or caramel syrup.
I'd think Tasmania would be overflowing with buttermilk, but it looks like I'm wrong.

SteamyKitchen said...

Hey! I'm going to try this soup - instead of fennel - what other veg would you recommend to keep it more "asian" flavors?

oh yeah and TOFU CROUTONS would be great on this.

Argus Lou said...

Leek, cucumber or spring onion, Jaden. Tofu croutons is a great idea. Cheers!

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)