I wanted something nice and light for lunch yesterday so I decided to try making a soup that I had the day before at Earthen Place Cafe here in Zushi. It was a kabu (a white turnip) and onion soup so I gave it a try and was happy with the results. Click here for a picture of the kabu. Despite the texture resembling the daikon radish, which takes a long time to cook through and become tender, kabus cook very quickly. This soup can easily be vegan, gluten-free or any other allergen free simply by changing your bullion cube.
Kabu and Onion Soup
500mL water 1 bullion cube 1 medium onion 1 medium to large kabu salt and pepper, to taste
Put the water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel and thinly slice the onion into half moon shapes. When the water has boiled, add the onion and bullion cube and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the onion turns translucent. I let mine get soft because I don’t like onions that are still firm. While the onion is cooking, peel the kabu, cut in half, then each half into thirds. Finally slice thinly. You basically need to cut a thin slice into six pieces. Once the onion is ready, add the kabu and simmer until it becomes tender. This should only take about five minutes.
A couple of weeks ago I picked up three cooking magazines at the local bookstore, カラダ温めレシピ (recipes to warm you up), Esse Special edition of their most popular bentos and 楽々スープジャーレシピ (thermos recipes). Now I have tons of ideas for lunches. I found the thermos recipe book the most interesting, conceptually. Almost everything is cooked in the microwave but I can easily make everything on the stove.
This recipe is the second one I tried from the warming recipes magazine. The first one I tried was carrot and ginger rice and none of us liked it. This one, on the other had, was delicious. I used orange fleshed yams (annouimo安納芋 あんのういも) instead of sweet potato and I don’t think I can go back to regular sweet potatoes. The yams were so smooth.
Goma shio is a mixture of salt and black sesame and is a common rice topping. To mix, use one part salt to ten parts black sesame seeds, by volume.
Sweet Potato and Black Rice Takikomi Gohan
1/2 sweet potato (I used about 70 grams) 1 cup uncooked rice 1 tablespoon black rice 1/3 teaspoon salt goma shio for topping
Wash the rice, add the appropriate amount of water and let sit for at least thirty minutes. Chop, but don’t peel, the sweet potato into small cubes and soak in water for about fifteen minutes. Drain and rinse the sweet potato and it and the salt to the rice. Give it a quick stir and then put it in the rice cooker and cook on the regular white rice setting. I haven’t tried the quick setting but it is probably okay if you are in a pinch for time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook it the same way you would rice. Serve topped with goma shio.
I just about had to ditch writing this post. I went on to Amazon to get the link to the 1kg bag of yellow split peas I bought last month and I couldn’t find it. I searched for イエロースプリットピーズ instead of イエロースプリットピース and the difference in the final character made a huge difference. Then I went on to Rakuten to see if they had any (using the incorrect search term) and nothing. I checked Tengu Natural Foods as well. Nada. I can’t post a recipe if you can’t get the main ingredient relatively easily. Luckily I just googled it and google suggested the correct spelling. Phew.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite winter soups. It might even rank higher than mykabocha soup. Maybe because it is special because I have to order one of the ingredients. It’s usually made with a ham bone but I have had to improvise since I have never even seen one for sale here (not that I’ve ever thought to look).
This soup tastes fantastic the next day and is great in a thermos for lunch.
Split Pea Soup
250mL cup of yellow split peas 750mL water 3 slices of bacon, sliced thinly 1 small onion, diced 1/2 carrot, cut into slices 10-15cm of celery, cut into slices 1 bay leaf salt and pepper, to taste optional, 1 bullion/consomme cube
Fry the bacon in the bottom of your soup pot. When browned, take out and saute the onion in the bacon fat. Add everything and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer on low, covered, until the split peas are soft. Take out the bay leaf and puree. You may want to let it cool a bit first. Reheat, if necessary, and season to taste. If you like thinner soup you may want to add water but wait until after you puree as it will appear thicker at first. Serve with a hearty good bread.
I have been making a bit of an effort to buy more additive-free and organic pantry items. I have started keeping my eyes peeled for organic/additive-free products in the supermarket. My food philosophy tends to be eat as healthy as possible with what is available. You should be able to find some of these items in your local supermarket. I have found a lot of additive-free and organic food at the local OK Supermarket, a discount supermarket.
I have been using this soy sauce for a couple of weeks and I like it. It is made by Yamasa which is the company I usually buy non-organic soy sauce. This is a picture of the bag it was sold in.
Additive-free sausages 無添加 ソーセージ (むてんか ソーセージ mutenka souseeji)
I spotted this about a week ago for the first time and tried them. They taste like normal chemical laden sausages. They were about 270 yen for one pack so they are a bit more expensive than regular sausages.
My husband got into these before I had a chance to eat them. He said they tasted good.
(Mostly) Organic soy sauce
有機しょうゆ (ゆうき しょうゆ yuuki shouyu)
This one is made from organic soy beans but all other ingredients are not organic. I have never made soy sauce before so I can’t say how much non-organic material is in the soy sauce.
有機コーヒー (ゆうき こうひい yuuki kouhii)
I don’t drink coffee so I will not be able to review it but it is there for you to try.
有機納豆 (ゆうき なっとう yuuki nattou)
Another product I can’t stomach but the boys of the house love it. Aside from OK Supermarket, which sells organic natto for the same price as non-organic, supermarkets seem to sell organic natto in two packs for the same price as a three pack of non-organic. Not too bad if you don’t go through a lot.
Do you have a favorite organic or additive-free product? Please leave a comment (preferably with a link to a picture) below in the comments.
I take my lunch to work and most days I take a large salad. I love salad. My son, on the other hand, is two and is not a bit fan of raw vegetables. Lunch making takes a bit longer since I have to cater to his twoness. When I moved a few weeks ago, I picked up some frozen veggie side dishes to use for the first couple of days. They came frozen in individual muffin cups, perfect for his bento box. I thought it was a great idea decided to give it a try.
In the picture is leftovers from a quick side dish I made with spinach, tomato and canned tuna. I decided to freeze leftovers instead of making a whole batch of something to freeze. Who wants to have the same side dish for three weeks? I picked up some reusable muffin cups at the local supermarket and have been using those. I’ll soon have quite the collection going. The best part is that since it is summer, I don’t even need to thaw them before I put them in his lunch. It’s over thirty degrees everyday, they’ll be thawed before he gets to school…
Do you freeze small quantities of food for lunches? Please leave a comment below with what you freeze. I’d love to see all of your ideas.