A (mostly) white vegetable soup recipe

What do you do when you’ve got a small cabbage head and a bunch of small carrots from your CSA? Not to mention that your mother bought you half a nagaimo (Japanese mountain yam) and a couple of chayote squash for no reason?

Soup!

And I must be absolutely mad to be making soup on a hot summer Sunday evening (a little humid and 90F!). It was only made possible by the lone air conditioner in my apartment which was strategically placed in the kitchen.

I was inspired by two driving forces: by the memory of the shiso-white wine-chicken recipe in “Ancient Kitchen, Modern Wisdom,” and by my belief that chayote squash doesn’t pair well with traditional herbs. (I roasted chayote squash once with dried basil, and discovered it was one of the worse pairings I could have done.  It generally tastes good with spices.)

Here’s how the (mostly) white vegetable soup went:

Heat a mixture of olive oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. (I think I had 2T olive oil and 1T butter.)
Add 1 onion, diced, into the pot. Reduce the heat to low, and let this soften slowly for 20 minutes.
Then add the following veggies, sliced somewhat thinly:
2 chayote squash, peeled
1/2 nagaimo, peeled
1 bunch of small carrots, peeled
Turn the heat back up to medium, and cook the veggies for about 5 minutes. Add some freshly ground pepper and garlic powder. (Add salt now if you think you’ll be adding low sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken broth. If you’ll be using concentrated broth in a jar like I did, wait to add salt at the end because you might not even need it at all.)
Add a small knob of ginger, quartered. (You can cut these into matchsticks if you want, or finely dice. But I don’t like biting into ginger myself so I wanted the ginger to remain visible for fishing out before serving.)
Add 1 cup white wine plus 3 cups of chicken broth as your liquids. (Feel free to replace the chicken broth with veggie broth if you like.) Add 4-6 shiso leaves.
Bring to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer, and let this simmer for 15 minutes with the cover on.
Add 1 small head of cabbage, shredded. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
Check to see if the soup is salty enough for you before killing the heat.
Serve!

Final thoughts? Pretty tasty! I imagine only some minor tweaking in the future.  I’ll swap the cabbage with something more tender and sweeter. Napa cabbage would be awesome, but I think spinach, watercress, and kale might be nice replacements. And fresh nagaimo doesn’t need a lot of time to cook. Cooking nagaimo for only five minutes toward the end probably would have been enough. Oooh, or maybe I’d grate nagaimo in after the soup is done cooking.

[Warning for anyone unfamiliar with nagaimo – 1) peel and cut with gloves on because many people are allergic to skin contact with the meat of it, 2) it has mucus not unlike okra, 3) nagaimo looks like spit when it is grated.  Now that I’ve made it sound completely unappetizing, let me assure you that it’s one of my favorite Asian vegetables.  It has a nice clean flavor if you’re eating it raw.  And if you eat it cooked, it’s wonderfully sweet and tender.]

The next CSA pick up looks like fun.  I got an email today with lots of veggies listed.  We’ll find out later what comes into my hands.  ^_^

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4 thoughts on “A (mostly) white vegetable soup recipe

    • You should!

      I realize that nagaimo and shiso might be really hard to get your hands on. You could easily sub with more chayote squash, and more ginger. Ooooh, or maybe sub shiso with star anise!

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