May 21, 2013

Light and Refreshing TROPICAL SOUPS

Gazpacho - Hawaiian Style
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You don't think of people in the tropics eating soup, it's too hot. Tropical soups, just like other heavier soups from around the world, are based on local seasonings and ingredients. Tropical soups tend to be lighter and more refreshing than the soups that originate in colder climates.

There are numerous varieties of soups available. They are a staple food in many families whose recipes get passed down from generation to generation. Whether you live in a warm tropical climate or in a cold one, soup is a timeless staple, and is truly a beloved food that is economical, nutritious, easy to prepare and one that I am excited to see constantly evolve.

Tropical Soup Recipes:
Gazpacho - Hawaiian Style
Gazpacho is a classic Spanish tomato-based vegetable soup that is traditionally served cold. It is also served in neighboring Portugal where it is spelled Gaspacho. This Portuguese adaptation was created with the tastes of Hawaii, combining the best of Hawaiian summer vegetables and seasonings for a refreshing luau meal or for a 'ohana (family) picnic on the beach.

2-14.5 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2-14.5 ounce cans tomato sauce
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 sweet maui onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 small bunch of basil, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
6 or more drops of Hawaiian Hot Chili Water, or Tabasco sauce to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Garnish with a dollop sour cream, watercress, or small basil leaves

In a food processor, add one can of crushed tomato and one can of tomato sauce. Then add HALF of each of the chopped vegetables and garlic. Blend until almost smooth, or to desired consistency. Pour into a large non-metal, bowl. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Now add the vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce to the bowl. Mix together with a spoon and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight, allowing the flavors to blend. Ladle cold soup into chilled bowls and garnish with small dollops of sour cream and the top sprigs of cold watercress or basil. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and serve immediately with your favorite crackers on the side. Makes 8 servings, or 4 if you're hungry.

Shrimp Long Rice Soup with Taro Leaves
and Purple Sweet Potatoes

8 ounces (about 20) large shells-on shrimp (40 count per pound)
1-inch slice of ginger, peeled and lightly smashed
2 teaspoons fish sauce (patis) or 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 ounces dried bean thread noodles (Mum’s brand), sometimes called "long rice"
1 large taro leaf, stem removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 small purple sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce, or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Chinese hot chili sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Katsuo Mirin Furikake for garnish

To make the stock, peel and devein shrimp (shells and heads reserved for stock), put aside in the refrigerator. Put ginger, shrimp heads and shells into a large pot filled with 6 cups of salted water. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. Strain the shrimp broth into large heat-proof bowl. Skim out and discard the shells and ginger. (Stock can be made the day before and refrigerated).

Soak the bean thread noodles (Chinese long rice) in 4 cups of cold water and set aside for 20 minutes, then remove from water and cut into 2 inch long chunks.

Using a sharp knife and cutting board to remove the stem and large vein in the taro leaf. Roll the taro leaf up and cut across the leaf into 1/4 inch strips. Then cut in half to make the strips shorter to help the fit on your spoon after the soup is cooked. Add taro leaf strips and garlic to the shrimp broth. Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, and cut into 1/4 inch circles, add to pot. Add the, Tamari sauce, and Sriracha sauce. Bring everything to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the taro and potatoes are tender. Add the reserved peeled shrimp, reserved soaked bean thread noodles, sesame oil and lime juice and allow the soup to return to a boil once again. At this point, the shrimp will have curled and turned pink, indicating they are cooked. Serve immediately, garnished with Furikake seasoning. Makes 4 servings.

Green Papaya Chicken Soup
This is one of my favorite Filipino recipes. It is important to find rock hard, dark green papayas for this dish, with no sign of any yellow-orange on them.

2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2-3 pound whole chicken or parts cut into bite sized portions, remove skin
2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
3-4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups peeled and cubed unripened (green) papaya
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and saute another 5 minutes to partially cook and lightly brown. Add the fish sauce and stir well. Add water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, stirring and skimming off fat and scum occasionally. Add cubed papaya and simmer another 5-10 minutes until papaya is tender. Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste and stir in the chopped spinach. This dish will be soupy when done. Serve with hot white rice on the side with Tamari sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Sweet & Spicy Mango Soup with Tamarind
5 medium-sized white onions, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
6 very ripe mangoes, peeled, seed removed, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
creme fraiche or plain yogurt to garnish
lime zest to garnish

In a soup pot, melt butter. Saute chopped onions in butter until tender but not brown. Add chopped mangoes and minced serrano. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tamarind paste, salt and pepper.

Puree soup in blender in several small batches. I always cover the lid of the blender with my kitchen towel before I turn it on, just in case that hot soup spurts out of the top.

To serve, ladle hot soup into serving bowls. Place a small scoop of Creme fraiche or plain yogurt on each serving. Garnish with zest of a lime. Makes about 6 servings.

Coconut Fish Chowder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 pound skinless red snapper fillets (opakapaka or ehu)
3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion, 1/4 tablespoon red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt; cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 11/2 cups water and 1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until corn is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer 11/2 cups corn and onions to a blender. Add 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk; blend until smooth.

To pan, add 1 pound skinless red snapper fillets. Simmer until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Return corn puree to pan. Break up fish with a spoon; heat until just warmed through (do not boil).

Remove from heat; stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges, if desired. Makes 2-4 servings.

Watercress Soup
2 bunches of watercress (about 12 ounces), chopped
2-3 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups water, or you can use chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
creme fraiche or plain yogurt to garnish

Wash the watercress and chop the leaves and stems. Peel and dice the onions. Peel and dice the potatoes into a medium sized bowl. Add the 4 cups of water. This keeps them from turning brown and they release their starch into the water, which will provide a little thickener for the soup.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until the onions have softened and are translucent but don’t let them brown. Add the watercress, potatoes and the water they were soaking in, and the salt, to the onions. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat until the potatoes are softened, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish each portion with a spoonful of creme fraiche or plain yogurt. Serve with crusty white bread. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Fish Soup
1 1/2 ounce package dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated according to label directions
10 cups water
2 3/4 ounce packets Dashi-No-Moto* (Asian soup stock)
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced Daikon (Japanese white radish)
1 cup sake, or dry white wine
3 slices lemon
1 cup soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 12-inch piece lemon grass, chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 ounce thin spaghetti
1, 3 ounce can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1 pound whitefish fillets cut into 1-inch pieces (such as flounder, cod, red snapper or halibut)
1 12 ounce can salmon, skin and bones removed, and flaked
4 tomatoes cut into eighths
lemon slices and chopped green onion (garnish)

Chop rehydrated mushrooms. In a five-quart Dutch oven or soup pot combine the water, Dashi-No-Moto, leeks, daikon, mushrooms, wine, lemon slices, and soy sauce. Wrap the garlic, lemon grass, peppercorns, and ginger in a piece of cheesecloth; tie securely with string and add to soup. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Meanwhile, break noodles into thirds; cook according to package directions; drain. Set aside. Add crabmeat, fish pieces, and salmon with noodles and tomatoes to soup; cook 5 minutes more. Ladle soup into serving bowl and garnish with lemon slices and green onion. Makes 6 servings.

*Purchase Dashi-No-Moto in the Asian or ethnic food section of your supermarket or an Asian Specialty Market.

Cold Cucumber Soup
2 large cucumbers, seeded and diced, reserve 2 slices for garnish later
2 cups yogurt
2 scallions, diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, reserving several sprigs for garnish later
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut two thin slices of the cucumber for garnish and put aside, covered in the refrigerator. Cut the rest of the cucumbers, leaving the peeling on, in half lengthwise, and with a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Dice the cucumbers into small pieces. Place cucumbers pieces into a blender, or food processor, with 2 cups of yogurt, 2 scallions, 2 hard-boiled eggs, and 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds. Add 1 tablespoon each fresh dill, mint and parsley. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover and purée until smooth. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a single slice of cucumber and a sprig of fresh dill. Makes 2 servings.

Won Ton Soup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup green onions and tops, minced (reserve 2 tablespoons of the tops for garnish)
1/2 cup minced fresh mushrooms
1 cup cooked shrimp, finely chopped
1/2 cup water chestnuts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound (8 ounce) snow peas
1 12 ounce package won ton wrappers

For the won to filling, heat oil in skillet or wok. Stir-fry ginger and onions for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, shrimp, water chestnuts, soy sauce and sherry. Stir-fry for 1 minute and set aside. Remove 24 won ton wrappers from package. Cover with damp cloth to keep from drying out. One at a time, moisten one side of a wrapper with fingertips which have been dipped in water. Put a level teaspoon of filling in center of wrapper. (Don’t overfill!) Fold over to make a triangle. Press edges firmly to seal. Bring two opposite sides of triangle together and press to seal, using a little water if necessary. Set aside and continue to fill wrappers until all filling is used. Carefully slide won tons into a large pot of boiling water. Cook until won tons rise to the top. Remove and drain. Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth just to boiling point. Add snow peas and won ton and cook about 1 minute. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with minced green onion tops. Makes 6 servings.

Golden Squash Soup
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 pounds squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (such as acorn, butternut, or kabocha)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
1 1/4 cups half and half or light cream
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a Dutch oven with water 2 inches deep. Add carrots; bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add squash pieces to pan; simmer 10 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. Drain well and set aside. In food processor, or with a stick blender, puree squash and carrots until smooth; set aside. In same pan melt butter; sauté onion and ginger for 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add puree back to pan with half and half, broth and orange peel. Heat and stir mixture until it begins to boil. DO NOT BOIL; reduce heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup hot or chilled. (If necessary, add additional broth to chilled soup to thin to desired consistency.) Makes 4 servings.

Chow Fun Chicken Soup
8 cups chicken broth
2 leeks, sliced
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons, crushed dried basil
3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 packages dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted
half of a 1-pound package fresh chow fun rice noodles, cooked separately and drained

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring chicken broth to boiling. Add leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns, basil, and cut-up chicken. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid to pot. Chop mushrooms, add to pot with noodles. Cook 5 minutes more or until heated through. Makes 8 servings.

Moloka'i Mango-Papaya Soup
This is a cold soup with the tropical fruit flavors of the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i.

2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 large ripe papaya (3 3/4 pounds total weight), peeled, seeded, and chopped
about 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice (using more or less as necessary)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 kiwi fruit, peeled, sliced and each slice cut into 4 pieces
3 lilikoi (passion fruit), cut in half
6 thin slices of fresh lime

Put chopped mango and papaya in a food processor with the orange juice and lime juice and blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a large bowl, cover and chill until required. Divide into 6 small soup bowls and top off each bowl with a few slices of peeled kiwi fruit, the seeds of half a lilikoi drizzled over the top, and a thin slice of lime. Makes 6 cups, or enough for 6 small servings.

Hot & Sour Soup
I love this recipe, great for cooler winter days when you want to warm your insides in a wonderful way. Lily buds, shiitake mushrooms, Wood Ear mushrooms, and chili oil can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
12 dried lily buds
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
10 dried Wood Ear mushrooms
6 cups chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small carrot, cut into julienned strips
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili oil, or to taste
8 ounces fresh tofu (firm)
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion

Partially freeze chicken, cut into 1 x 1/4-inch strips. Sprinkle meat with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Meanwhile, in three bowls soak lily buds, shiitake mushrooms, and Wood Ear mushrooms in enough warm water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain lily buds, shiitake mushrooms and Wood Ear mushrooms.  Cut off and discard tough stem end of lily buds. Slice each lily bud into 1-inch lengths. Throughly rinse Wood Ear mushrooms under running water, drain well. Cut shiitake mushrooms and Wood Ear mushrooms into thin strips. In large saucepan bring chicken broth to boiling; stir in chicken, the remaining soy sauce, lily buds, shiitake mushrooms, Wood Ear mushrooms, garlic, carrots, vinegar, and chili oil. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Slice tofu into 1/4-inch wide strips. Add to soup. Simmer, covered, 3 minutes more. Blend cold water into cornstarch. Stir into soup. Pour egg slowly into hot soup in a thin stream, beating constantly with fork till egg cooks and shreds finely. Cook soup till slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with thinly sliced green onion. Makes 6 servings.

Chips & Avocado Soup
Hawaii has some wonderful tropical avocados, just like Mexico. This simple soup satisfies my south-of-the-boarder cravings, and is a great way to enjoy avocado.

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
cooking spray
1 3/4 cups sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups chopped tomato
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (3 ounces) queso fresco, or shredded 4 cheese Mexican cheese
1 cup cubed peeled avocado
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place strips on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden. Set strips aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Place onion mixture, tomato, and hot sauce in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

Place pan over medium-high heat. Add tomato mixture, and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Divide the cheese, tortilla strips, and avocado evenly among bowls. Sprinkle each serving with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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