Weeknight Shorts: Hot and Sour

Life gets busy this time of the year. There's not a lot of time for cooking between spring cleaning, events for school and work, and even our growing desire to spend more time outdoors. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be hit by a spring cold, like I was the other week, it's easy to want to crawl into bed and ignore food. However, that's no way to fuel your body for feeling better and sometimes the best medicine is a hot bowl of soup, particularly when it takes less than half an hour to make:

I'm a fan of regular hot and sour soup and this version adds tender salmon for an extra protein boost. Hooray for getting the body what it needs in a quick, delicious, and nutritious package! If you aren't a fan of salmon, you could use shrimp, a different kind of fish, or even chicken, pork, or beef in this soup. Even a little sautéed tofu would be lovely. I just like the idea of loading the bowl with a bit of quick-cooking protein. My choices of vegetable add-ins is also a place where you can be flexible. Swap spinach for sliced green onions or carrots for diced peppers. You could even sprinkle a some sesame seeds over the whole bowl or add a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce if you are looking for a bit more heat. Experiment and find what you like.

I've also been known to make a much bigger batch of the garlic-ginger-miso paste (think 5x) and storing most of it in a little container in the refrigerator. Then, when it comes time to mix together a soup like this, you can begin with the water-paste combining step and go from there. You'll save yourself 5-10 minutes, which isn't much until you consider how quickly this soup comes together! So build yourself a kit and be ready for an unexpected spring cold or just a case of the mid-week blues. Soup's on!

Hot and Sour Salmon Soup

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled
  • 1 T. red miso paste
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 3 c. water
  • ¼-½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1 (2 oz.) pkg. glass noodles
  • 2 small salmon fillets (2-3 oz. each)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 T. Asian sauce of your choosing (I opted for an orange-ginger sauce I like with salmon) — optional
  • Fresh spinach
  • Shredded carrot
  • Crispy fried onions

In a food processor or mini chopper, combine the garlic, ginger, red miso paste, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Process to form a thin paste. Pour the paste into a medium saucepan and add the water (use some of the water to rinse out the bowl of the food processor or mini chopper. Stir to combine and add the red pepper flakes and frozen peas. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering, then lower the heat and maintain a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the stove, add the glass noodles, cover the saucepan, and allow the pan to rest on the hot burner.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the salmon fillets. Pan-fry on both sides for 4-6 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness. If desired, add the Asian sauce in the last 2 minutes.

To assemble, ladle the broth and noodles into a bowl and add a salmon fillet to the bowl. Add spinach, carrots, and onions according to your tastes. Enjoy with a spoon and chopsticks.

*Note: This soup can be made gluten free if you choose your miso paste, tamari (instead of soy sauce), Asian sauce, and fried onions carefully. Gluten free varieties of all of these products exist. Read labels carefully when choosing them if you are looking for a gluten free option.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

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