Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vegetable Soup

I had a craving for vegetable soup, so today I printed a recipe from the internet and proceeded to try to make it. As I'm writing, it is simmering, which according to the recipe it should do for at least 1 hour 45 minutes. That's almost how long it took me to prepare all the vegetables! Here you can see almost all the vegetables ready to put into the soup (well, I added 2 cubed tomotoes that aren't in that photo)

Most of the above is standard vegetables, but I should explain about a couple of them. While I have seen it for sale in the park, in general I don't think corn is featured in many Korean dishes. I bough three ears of corn at the local shop, and decided to try to steam them. Since I have that huge 24cm pot from the king crab feast, I decided to give it a try. I was impressed - the corn cooked really well, although it was hard to cut off the kernels with the cob so hot. Next time I'll wait for it to cool down first. Another vegetable that I have not seen in many Korean dishes is the green bean. After I washed and cut them, and since the water was already boiling in the pot from the corn, I decided to steam the beans, too! Let me say, that was the most successful. I don't remember if I've ever eaten fresh steamed green beans before, but that is the way to go. I am not a super big fan of the green bean, but the couple of bites I stole were delicious. Of course, in hindsight, I wonder why I even bothered to cook them at all, since they will be boiling for 1 hour 45 minutes in the soup. Anyway, I'm probably 100 years behind the times, but I recommend steaming after my simple experiment. Also, if I could read the Korean instructions, my electric rice cooker can also steam vegetables without the fuss of getting out the big pot.

Next, I needed some tomatoe juice. I put 6 tomatoes in the blender, and voila! I had instant tomatoe juice. All my life I have had an "allergy" to tomatoe juice, because at some point in the long ago past I drank something called V-8 juice and hated it. I mistakenly equate V-8 juice with tomatoe juice, and just wouldn't drink either. Well, the tomatoe juice that I blended up today looked COMPLETELY different from V-8, so I tasted a little bit. It is not at all bad. I think if it were served very cold, I would even like it. But, this batch was not for drinking, it went into the soup.

Side comment - in the USA people will often debate, "is the tomatoe a fruit or vegetable?" Well, in Korea, it seems to be universally thought of as a fruit. Maybe that is why I've seen it sold frequently at juice shops? I remember sometimes Young Stumbler #1 would make fruit drinks in the blender, but I don't recall using tomatoes.

Also, I cheated a little bit. This is not entirely vegetable soup - I added some of the Australian ground beef that I have left over in my freezer. Gotta use that up. And I have seen "vegetable" soup served in a restaurant before that had beef or ground beef included. Speaking of beef, as of Friday I believe USA beef went on sale at some of the local stores again here in Korea. I'll keep an eye out for it next time I need some, but for now I'm well stocked.

There it is above as it begins to boil. The recipe had one unusual step in the cooking process. After 45 minutes of boiling, I'm supposed to take a few cups of the soup, put it in the blender and mix it up, then pour that back into the soup and let the whole thing boil another hour. Sounds fun, I like the blender.

I have no idea how this will taste. All the time I was cooking, I kept thinking over and over again... "I have no idea what I'm doing", but that didn't stop me. Taste report next post.

Edit: The soup turned out wonderful. I want to give credit to an interesting website on which I randomly found this recipe. I made a joke a few posts ago about whether cook books were obsolete or not - well, this website is quite a move in that direction. You search for a recipe, and when you like it you can save it in you personal virtual cookbook. The site is called the Cooking Cache and the recipe I followed is called Basic Vegetable Soup. I even wrote a "review" of the recipe. Enjoy.

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