Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

The summer is beginning to ramp up, which means we are fully booked from now until mid-July. Weddings, bachelorette parties, friends visiting, family visiting, conferences – our weekends are busy. Beyond that, we are trying really hard to not plan anything for the rest of the summer. It’s tough. I already have light suggestions in my calendar for what we might want to do, but for our first summer in New York, I want to maintain some semblance of flexibility to explore the city in which we live.

Chilled Korean Soup (2)

Eric and I have started building up a bit of a routine to our explorations as well. Saturdays usually include a one-way long run – 8-10 miles to a destination that most often includes food and beer. With the weather having been so lovely lately, these one-way runs often turn into all-day patio-hopping endeavors. It’s fun. Sundays we switch it up with a bike ride to some of the farther-flung places: breweries, parks, other boroughs. We’ve found some good biking routes around the city and we certainly get our hill work in with the number of bridges we must cross on our rides.

Chilled Korean Soup (1)

So this soup – it’s tasty. Spicy. Perfect for a hot day. You can use a chicken egg instead of a quail egg, though quail eggs are cuter. And you can skip the ramps if they’re no longer in season. Or add other greens if you want to amp up the health factor. Compared to most hot soups, you don’t want a fatty broth here – the fat will congeal when you chill the broth, making it rather unappetizing – so if you’re making your own, remember to skim the fat before you use it. The tofu fries add a nice crunch and texture and frankly just taste good. Slurp these up before a big bike-riding, patio-hopping, beer-drinking day.

Chilled Korean Soup (4)

Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 heaping teaspoon gochujang
1/2 cup kimchi
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 bunch ramps, roughly chopped
2 cups ice water

2 servings fresh Chinese or Korean noodles
4 oz extra firm tofu, cut into strips
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

green onion, shredded, to garnish
quail eggs, one per serving, to garnish
red chile, thinly sliced

To make the broth, start by sautéing the garlic and ginger in oil over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant. Add the chicken stock and gochujang and allow to come to a boil, whisking to incorporate the gochujang. Turn off heat and add the kimchi with plenty of its juices and rice vinegar. Make sure the ice water is ready, then add the ramps, stir so they are all submerged, then immediately add the ice water. Taste for seasoning – add salt if necessary. Put the pot in the refrigerator or the freezer if you want it to chill faster.

Make your noodles according to package directions until al dente. In a frying pan, fry to tofu strips in oil over medium-high heat until crispy on the outside. You might need to do this in batches.

For soft boiled quail eggs, bring a pot of water to boil, drop the eggs in and set the timer for two minutes. After two minutes, remove from hot water and submerge them in ice water.

To assemble, layer the the noodles, tofu, green onions, quail eggs (peeled and cut in half), and red chile in a deep bowl. Pour the chilled broth with kimchi and ramps over the top. Slurp to enjoy.

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Asian Wonton Soup

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Yes, another soup. I can’t get soup recipes out of my head right now. I do have some other good stuff to post, so I will promise you this: no more soup recipes! At least for a little while.

I think my obsession with soup right now  goes right along with my inability to get out of bed in the morning. All summer, I was getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning to go to spin class or go for a run, but ever since the mornings have gotten darker and the weather colder, I am hoarding every minute of sleep. I make excuses to push snooze one more time; it’s very easy to rationalize sleeping just a little bit longer when your eyes are closed and your brain is only half functioning. Even as I’m walking out the door to go to work, I’m still thinking about my warm, comfy bed. My down comforter. My cozy, cuddly kitties. This cold weather is messing with me – my sleep habits and my appetite – and yet again I’m asking myself why I still live in the Midwest.

Anyway, I recently bought wonton wrappers at the store to try out one of those ravioli recipes I see everywhere; they were so easy to use and I had leftovers, so I thought an Asian dumpling soup would be great. If I had any, I would’ve thrown some greens in the pot – spinach or Chinese broccoli – but sometimes you just have to make do with what is in the fridge.

This soup was really fantastic. Eric really liked it too, and this time he didn’t add the “then again, I’m starving” afterthought to the sentence. It was perfect after an extra hard spin class last night – after who-knows-how-many squats, I walked in to spin looking for a low-resistance cardio workout. Instead, our instructor informed us we were going to max out Watts – in spin speak, this means high resistance, fast legs, trying to push your power output (measured in Watts on the spin computer) as high as humanly possible. It’s a tough, tough workout, and my legs were not willing to push my Watts much higher than 300 at first (as a point of reference, my usual spin class average is 160-170, pushing 250 in the intense parts and coming down lower during recovery). This is not much higher than normal for me, and since the intensity bursts are so short, I should have been killing this workout. After a while, though, my legs got used to the spinning motion and I managed to push up to 525 Watts at one point, even if it only was for 5 to 10 seconds. Whew. You really feel whipped and accomplished at the end of those workouts.

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Asian Dumpling Soup

an original recipe – this makes a pretty large pot of soup; halve it if you prefer

12 cups beef stock
10 – 15 wonton wrappers
1 red pepper, sliced or chopped however you prefer
½ package baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced
2.5 ounces soba noodles (in the package I bought, the noodles are separated into 3 bundles – I used one bundle)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ pound ground pork
slivers of sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste

First, get all your veggies chopped and ready. Sauté the ginger and garlic in some neutral tasting vegetable oil for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and red pepper. Sauté a couple minutes longer, then pour in the stock and let it warm up – almost to a boil.

Meanwhile, make the wontons. Combine the pork, granulated garlic, granulated onion, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Spoon a small dollop in the center of the wonton wrapper. You don’t want to add too much – otherwise they won’t cook through or the wonton won’t close. Wet the edges and form a little pocket – the corn starch that coats the wrapper will make it stick together.

When the soup is almost to a boil, add the black beans and wontons. Cook for just a couple minutes, then add the soba noodles. When the soba noodles are soft – about a minute – take off the heat and serve garnished with green onions. If it needs salt, add at this point.

You might be left with some pork – we just formed them into balls and baked them like meatballs!

The dumplings are really versatile. I think in the future, I’d mix it up a bit by adding green onion or maybe shaved carrots and ginger to the pork filling. Even some shrimp would be really good in there. A dash of fish sauce in the body of the soup might be nice, also. Play around with the veggie combinations and try not adding the soba noodles.