Tag Archives: soup recipes

This is How to Make The Perfect Chinese Hot Pot at Home

Chinese hot pot is a broth set on a table meant for sharing, and is a social dining experience where people huddle around a simmering pot of broth with a variety of proteins, veggies, spices and a string of incredibly diverse dipping sauces. In short, you make a personalized dipping sauce, dunk some ingredients into the broth and scoop it out into your bowl. Much like cheese fondue, hot pot is a buffet of mix-and-match ingredients perfect for customized social gatherings.

Depending on the region of China, the broth and chosen protein will vary, with Northern China favouring lamb, and Cantonese hot pot commonly filled with fresh seafood. To make at home, you don’t need to choose a region. It just involves a bit of preparation.

Hot Pot Tips and Tricks

Equipment 101: To keep the broth simmering on the table, you need a portable burner. Whether you choose a butane burner or portable induction stove, look for butane burners in camping stores or online, and be sure to purchase the fuel every few hot pot dinners.

The Right Pot: The ideal pot has a divider in the centre to allow for two different broths (cool, right?) and is often called a shabu-shabu hot pot with divider. I have a wide, shallow pot with a fitted lid that accommodates a selection of protein, vegetables and broth while cooking quickly.

Tool Time: You’ll need chopsticks or forks/small tongs for dipping in the pot and eating. Strainers, spoons and small plates or shallow bowls for eating, and small bowls for dipping sauces. Remember, you are dipping into a communal pot, so you will need separate tools to dip the ingredients, retrieve and eat. No one likes double dippers!

Spice is Nice: Decide on the type of broth you will serve, whether you make your own from scratch or purchase the many flavoured packages offered in Asian grocery stores. Choose from a basic chicken broth with mild flavouring agents i.e. onion, ginger, daikon, or a tomato-based, mushroom-based or spicy broth (it’s called Hot Pot for a reason!).

Ingredient Buffet: The choice of ingredients fit for a hot pot is too long to list, and with no hard and fast rules, it’s a mix-and-match game. You want a little bit of everything, and balance is critical when it comes to vegetables. You want texture, satiating veggies and complementary choices for the remaining ingredients.

Hot Pot Ingredient List

Greens
Hearty and leafy, look for greens that retain texture after cooking like bok choy, watercress, snow pea leaves, Napa cabbage, Chinese spinach, gai lan and green onions.

Root Vegetables
Look for daikon, carrots, small potatoes and either cut into cubes or thinly sliced. For larger pieces, let them simmer in the broth to flavour it, and thinly slice for a slight crunch.

Mushrooms
More than an umami-rich flavour agent, reach for enokis, small cremini or shimeji mushrooms for quick cooking and sliced king oysters for a meaty choice. Add the small mushrooms the last minute of cooking; they’re ready as soon as they start to wilt, and king oysters can handle a longer cooking time.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a staple in many Asian soups and stews. Cut tomatoes into quarters and simmer until softened for the acidity to balance the spice.

Squash
Kabocha squash is my first choice for its bright hue, rich texture and sweetness to balance the stew. Winter melon, also known as bitter melon, is wildly popular in Asia for soups and stews with a mild flavour and absorbs the characteristics of the other ingredients. The skin and seeds must be removed, and while the flesh is firm, it can become mush if overcooked.

Other Vegetables:
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, bean sprouts, corn, green beans.

Dipping Sauces
Often, the hot pot is not the source of big flavours; it’s the personalized dipping sauce that sings and heightens the experience. You drop your protein and vegetables into the broth, or allow them to cook for a few minutes, scoop them out onto a plate or bowl, then sink the protein/veggie into the dipping sauce before eating. Choices of sauces include: Soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese black vinegar, Hoisin sauce, Chinese chili oil and Chinese sesame paste.

Soup Base
The broth is the foundation of any hot pot, and you can make your own with prepared chicken, beef or vegetable broth, then layer with flavour agents such as fresh or dried chilies, fish sauce, Chinese rice wine, garlic, soy sauce and vinegar. The easy solution is to venture out into your local Asian market and look for the many Hot Pot Soup Bases. You will be spoiled for choice: Tomato Broth, Mushroom Broth, Sichuan Pepper Broth, Mild Broth, Spicy Broth, Vegetable Broth.

For a homemade spicy broth, fry dried whole chilies in vegetable oil until they turn red. Scrape into the hot pot with prepared chicken broth with star anise, sliced ginger and chunks of green onions.

Protein
Just about any protein will be utterly delicious in a hot pot. Buy thinly sliced lamb, beef or pork belly (often found frozen in Asian grocery stores) for pure ease of enjoyment. Dip a slice of your chosen protein a few times in the hot pot and, it’s done in about 30 seconds. For chicken, look for chicken cutlets and thinly slice into strips.

Seafood
Shellfish additions are as endless as the sea and promise to add even more flavour to the pot. The current favourite is shrimp, and don’t be afraid to leave the shell and head on. Scallops come in all sizes, oysters should be shucked and can be purchased frozen, shucked. Mussels are sustainable, and you need only to remove the beards and cleaned, clams need a good scrubbing too, and the littlenecks are best for hot pot for their quick cooking time, and they take up little room.

Fish Balls and Fish Cakes
Fish of all varieties when thinly sliced are great in a hot pot. Place salmon, halibut, and bass in the strainer during the cooking process to catch all the flaky pieces.

Fish balls are pressed fish paste, cuttlefish, shrimp and lobster and can be round, square, oval and even come in a variety of colours from white to brown to pink. Look for them in the freezer section of any Asian grocery store, when they’re already cooked and frozen and need a minute or two in the hot pot to thaw. When they float to the surface, they’re ready for dipping.

Tofu
Medium-firm or firm will work, the soft or silken variety won’t survive the jostling dippers from all angles. Fried tofu is pre-cooked and needs only warming.

Noodles
Traditionally, rice noodles are an excellent choice for its quick and clean cooking. Wheat noodles will thicken the broth and leave a cloudy soup.

From a party of two to an elaborate gathering, hot pot is a warming, fun and creative dinner idea, and the most deliciously entertaining.

We’ve also rounded up last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy. You should also try your hand at this easy, cheesy fondue board for entertaining.

This Beef and Bean Chili Contains an Unsuspecting Secret Ingredient

Chili is the perfect comfort food: it’s delicious in cold weather (or any time), it feeds a crowd, it’s festive during sporting events, it’s spicy and stew-y, and now, it’s chocolatey too! We believe most chilis are missing this key, secret ingredient. Pairing cocoa with an already rich chili only deepens the flavours, adding more sweetness and bitterness, while creating a velvety texture.  

Hearty Beef and Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
Few cracks of pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 red or yellow potato, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 cup broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 ounces (75g) dark chocolate (70% or higher)
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:

1. Place a large pot or dutch oven on the stove, heat to medium, toss in the oil and then sauté the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Toss in the spices and mix around so they get nice and toasted.

3. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with your spoon, so it’s in smaller pieces that can brown. Mix it around so it gets coated in the spices. There’s no need to fully cook it yet, since the beef will cook further when it simmers in a few steps.

4. Toss in the potatoes, broth, diced tomatoes, kidney beans and dark chocolate, and give the whole pot a big stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 35 minutes. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with fresh cilantro on top.

For more comforting recipes, this winter greens mac & cheese and these slow-cooker ribs with a red wine sauce will save you on the coldest winter days. You can also try these slow-cooker curry recipes.

The One Healthy Soup That Should Always Be in Your Freezer

This immune-boosting soup is one that you should always have on hand. It’s the perfect cure when you have a cold, are battling the flu or simply need to warm up in the wintertime. This soup has so much going for it: shiitake mushrooms, turmeric, garlic and chicken bones, to name a few of the nutrient-rich ingredients. Each ingredient has a specific job to detox the body, regulate the immune system, lower inflammation, protect from aging and help prevent cancer.  

Shiitake mushrooms are nutrition powerhouses. They have a little something called beta-glucans, which support the growth of good bacteria in the gut. When the gut is populated with good bacteria, your immune system is stronger and better able to handle whichever illness gets thrown your way. A study found that eating four ounces of shiitakes a day for four weeks enhanced immunity and reduced inflammation. In addition to that powerhouse ingredient, this healthy soup would not be complete without homemade bone broth; the chicken bones provide collagen and gelatin to the soup, which helps strengthen the gut lining. A strong gut lining aids digestion and prevents bad bacteria and viruses from getting in. So, yes, this is definitely a soup you want to batch cook ahead of time.
 

Immune-Boosting Bone Broth, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (2-3 lbs) or 2-3 lbs of chicken bones
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bulb garlic (about 6 cloves)
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 ½ cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 12 mushrooms)
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or 2 tsp dried turmeric)
1 bunch of parsley
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp peppercorns
10 cups water
Few handfuls baby spinach (optional)

Directions:
1. Place all the ingredients, except for the water, in a large pot.
2. Then, pour the water in the pot until almost everything is submerged, but do not overflow. You will likely use around 10 cups of water.
3. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer.
4. After about half an hour, skim the top of the soup with a wide slotted spoon to discard the scum that’s risen to the top.

5. Allow to simmer on low heat for minimum 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
6. Place the soup through a sieve to catch the veggies and chicken (you can use some of the extra chicken meat to make other delicious dishes). Place the sieve over top of another large pot for the broth to go into.
7. You can serve the soup as this nutrient-rich broth. Or, you can add the carrots, mushrooms and chicken meat back into the broth. You can also stir in some baby spinach if you’d like.
8. Store the soup in airtight jars, containers or sealed bags.  Freeze them in individual portion sizes.

Looking for more nourishing winter dishes? Check out these 15 Best Vegan Soup and Stew Recipes and 15 Flavour-Packed Recipes to Boost Your Gut Health.

This Vegan Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk Takes Less Than 30 Minutes

A warming bowl of Thai coconut curry soup is made even better with the addition of pure canned pumpkin. A fiery twist on the many squash soup recipes out there, this robust vegan pumpkin version is layered with flavour, coming through with a delicate balance of salty, sour, citrusy, sweet and savoury tastes. Both pumpkin and coconut milk provide dairy-free creaminess to the vegan soup base, which is super satisfying on its own, but can be quickly made into a heartier meal with cubes of firm tofu and shredded bok choy stirred in until heated through. For additional heft, a few spoonfuls of natural peanut butter or a handful of unsalted roasted peanuts would be delicious.  Make this easy vegan pumpkin soup recipe your own, experimenting with the Thai-inspired tastes you find most appealing.

Vegan Spicy Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp vegan Thai red or yellow curry paste
1 Tbsp peeled minced fresh ginger
1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more to thin as needed
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree or 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk, 1 Tbsp reserved for garnish
2 Tbsp lime juice, plus more for serving
1/3 cup shredded Thai basil or fresh cilantro
3 red Thai chilis, sliced or minced

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil and sesame oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, curry paste, ginger and lemongrass, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until onions are softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add broth, pumpkin and tamari or soy sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and discard lemongrass. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth, or transfer to a blender and puree soup in batches. If soup is too thick for your preference, thin with additional broth until desired consistency.

3. Reheat soup over low heat, ladle into bowls, swirl over reserved coconut milk and top with basil or cilantro and chili. Serve with additional lime juice.

Want more easy pumpkin recipes to make this autumn? See here for 12 Incredible Ways to Hack a Pumpkin and 35 Creative Pumpkin Recipes to Try This Fall.