Now, I should probably be posting this after my post regarding the importance of spices and other staples (coming in the next couple of blogs), but I’m just ready to share a recipe. However, I want to reiterate that creativity is essential in cooking – not just in general, but for those of us who can’t always afford to get the good stuff. There is no reason why you can’t use some of your favorite restaurant dishes as inspiration to make a dish of your very own, and absolutely no reason to stick to a recipe word for word. I am the type that uses recipes as a guideline for most dishes, adding my own spin on things by taking out ingredients here, tossing in new ones there. The only time I don’t do that is for baking, as that is definitely all about precision. Hopefully I can get to the point where I can share some baked goods recipes with you in the future. For now, remember it’s okay to let your imagination lead you down different paths.
With this in mind, I also want to note here that my “using recipes as a guideline” method will probably show up in the recipes I create. I will do my very best to be as precise as possible and not use “pinches”, “handfuls”, and “smidgens” of things, but I am warning you now that it’ll probably happen! I managed to do okay this time around though, so without further ado, here’s my recipe for Sick Person Soup.
3 T canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 heaping teaspoon crushed garlic (or 2 cloves)
1 small handful fresh basil (Thai basil, preferrably)
3 Thai chiles, chopped
6 cups water or vegetable stock
2 medium carrots
1 large red bell pepper
6 white button mushrooms
Juice of 6 key limes (or regular limes)
1 oz. extra firm tofu, cubed
Salt & pepper to taste
Other fresh veggies (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Couple sprigs of cilantro for garnish
In a large pot saute the oil, garlic, and onion over medium high heat until the onion is clear. (I like to combine these two at the very beginning to make the most of their flavors and sometimes add salt & pepper here at the beginning to further enhance the flavor). Next, throw in two of the 3 chiles, sauteeing for a minute or so. Add the basil and saute for another minute, following with the carrots. Pour in the water or vegetable stock with the key lime juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for approximately 3 minutes, giving the carrots a chance to cook a bit before adding the rest of the vegetables. You’ll also want to check your seasoning at this time, making sure there’s a good balance between salty, sour, and spicy. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms, pea pods, and any other veggie you feel like throwing in there and let simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Check the flavors again, adding more lime juice if needed (I like my soup nice & sour), or cayenne for added spiciness without it being overwhelming. Throw in the tofu and the remaining chile pepper and simmer for about 2 more minutes. Finally, add the cherry tomatoes (no need to keep simmering, the broth will heat them up nicely). Ladle into a big mug or bowl, garnish with cilantro and & serve w/a wedge of lime. Prepare to have your sinuses unclogged!