Ok, on point with the angle of things that make me pause for one reason or another—because they “give me a little jolt, or a moment of reflection, or a bit of happiness, or a different way of thinking.” Well. Well, well, well. This is the ultimate entry then, because what I am about to share—to wax poetic about, in fact—accomplishes it all: jolt, reflection, happiness, mind-alteration.MY BREAKFAST SOUP.
I have been making and eating this soup roughly four times a week for about two months, and it is a joy both to create and to slurp. It takes roughly 15 minutes to make and at least half the time, it becomes my lunch and Craig’s as well. So, in addition to it being incredibly delicious, it probably saves us about $100 a week in food bills. I would guess one batch (say, six bowls) costs CDN$6. On a day when I eat it for breakfast and both Craig and I eat it for lunch, we’re talking three meals for $6. I am exceptionally proud of the frugality of this soup because in the other 99.7% of my life, I am dumber than a box of rocks with money.Have I mentioned that My Breakfast Soup is also nutritious? Well, it is.
And a perfect start to the day? It is that, too. I sit at our kitchen bar (God I love this bar) and read the Globe and Mail and get my head unfuzzed for the day of work. The soup can’t do it all, but I follow it up with a large medium-roast Bridgehead coffee and that usually does the trick.The origins of my soup spring from a great find I made at the bookstore (Chapters—not very romantic but true) just after Christmas: a cookbook I’d never heard of called Easy Vegetarian One-Pot. My Breakfast Soup is not the only wonder to come from this unassuming yet thrilling little gem. Here is One-Pot’s version of the recipe (serving just two), then I’ll tell you how I doctor it to make it even better.
Garlic & Chilli Rice Soup With Spring Greens (serves 2)Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 small red chille, deseeded and thinly sliced
100 g/3 ½ ounces long-grain white rice
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bunch spring greens, roughly shredded
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
“Put the oils in a saucepan and set over high heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook until the garlic is just turning golden and starting to burn. This will give the soup a lovely, nutty garlic flavour. Add the ginger, chilli, and rice to the pan and stir-fry in the garlic-infused oil for 1 minute. Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to the boil.
Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until the rice is soft and the soup has thickened. Add the spring greens and cook for 5 minutes, until they turn an emerald green and are tender. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle the cilantro over top and season to taste with pepper.”
Thoughts on This Soup and Doctoring IdeasNot everyone likes to start their day with garlic and chilli pepper—I get it, I do, and maybe part of why I do like to start this way is that I work at home with no one to upset but my husband (who is not in fact upset about this particular idiosyncrasy—he has so many others with which to contend). But I am not alone—soups like this, or congees, are habitual in lots of Asian countries for breakfast. Still, if My Breakfast Soup is not Your Breakfast Soup, maybe it can be your Middle Soup or End Soup instead—a cheap, easy lunch or dinner.
Next, I did not lie about the 15 minutes it often takes me to make this. That’s because if I need to make it fast, I use rice I’ve already cooked (say, the night before), omitting it from the directions till the very end because it’s already soft. It’s not as perfect with this shortcut, but it’s still better than anything else I can imagine for breakfast.Finally, doctoring bits: I add enoki mushrooms if I have them (or better yet, soaked shitakes), and I use bok choy as my go-to spring green—you get a little crunch and a little slippery goodness. I have a constant supply of mushed lemongrass (in one of those tubes) in my fridge, as well as a hulking container of sambal (almost as big as our bottle of Strubs' full sour dill pickles); these I always add, as well as a dash of lime. If I want a protein boost, I add some shredded tofu. If I want to go easy on the carbs, I ladle in a little less rice.
And that is all. You are welcome in advance.