Soups and Stocks

Good stocks are fundamental in the kitchen. Not just as the foundation for soups, but as the starting point for sauces, stews and braised dishes as well.

Vichyssoise - Cold Leek and Potato Soup
Vichyssoise – Cold Leek and Potato Soup

Vichyssoise

Two things… First of all, the name of this Classic Soup is pronounced ‘Vishee-SWAAZZ’. Many North Americans pronounce it ‘Vishee-SWAH’, as though omitting the final consonant were the truly refined and properly Frenchified pronunciation. It isn’t.

Secondly, thick soups of pureed leek and potato have been around forever, but the version created in the early 20th Century and named ‘Vichyssoise’ has traditionally been served cold, often at very formal meals. Personally, I like this type of soup served nicely chilled, but I also love it served piping hot with crusty bread. In French cuisine, a hot ‘Vichyssoise’ would more properly be called a ‘Potage a la Parmentier’.

Of course, you could always just call it ‘Leek and Potato Soup’


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Oyster Chowder with Canned Oysters
Oyster Chowder with Canned Oysters

Oyster Chowder with Canned Oysters

Canned Oysters are a pale shadow of the freshly shucked real article, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them completely. I always like to have a can or two in my pantry for those times when fresh oysters are not available, or for when you just want to put something together quickly, without all the usual shucking around. This super quick chowder recipe makes a nice hearty dish for one, if served with crusty bread and maybe a small salad, and a lovely little starter soup for two.


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Kimchi Soup with Pork
Kimchi Soup with Pork

Kimchi Soup with Pork

Kimchi is not merely a side-dish, or pickled snack. Rather, it is often used as a cooking ingredient as well. Most notably, it can be added to fried rice, used as a primary ingredient in particular types of Korean stews known as Kimchi-jjigae, and is also used in a class of soups collectively called Kimchi-guk.

Today’s recipe is a simple and straightforward Pork and Onion Soup to which I have added a good, healthy dollop of my homemade Basic Kimchi to give it a sour and spicy finish…


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Chinese Superior Stock - 上湯
Chinese Superior Stock – 上湯

Chinese Superior Stock – 上湯

A good Basic Chicken Stock is essential in the Chinese kitchen but for very special soups or other dishes suitable for the banquet table, a very rich broth known as ‘Superior Stock’, or 上湯  (pronounced shàng tāng), is required.

Basically, a traditional Superior Stock is prepared using chicken, pork and ham, the latter very often the prized Chinese ham known as ‘Jinhua Ham’. A select few other ingredients are used, ginger and scallion usually, but not much else in the way of vegetables are added. It is a very rich and complex preparation and a good stock can make all the difference between a mediocre dish and one that is truly special.


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Basic Pork Stock
Basic Pork Stock

Basic Pork Stock Recipe

A stock made with raw pork bones, skin, and meat is sometimes called a ‘White Stock’, or even a ‘Milk Stock’, in Chinese cookery, because, unlike a thin, clear Chicken Stock, for example, it is quite opaque and somewhat ‘milky’ in appearance.

As such, a Basic Pork Stock doesn’t have quite the same elegance those used in refined soups, or banquet dishes, but, as a ‘rustic cousin’, so to speak, it is has a rich and hearty goodness that  is very versatile, and particularly popular for use as a Ramen broth , or other style ‘soup-noodle’ dishes…


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Basic Chinese Chicken Stock
Basic Chinese Chicken Stock

Basic Chinese Chicken Stock

A good quality Chicken Stock is as indispensable in the Chinese kitchen as it is in the west. Not only is it the starting point for many sorts of soup, it is even more widely used as the broth for noodle dishes, and as the base for a wide range of sauces for stir-fried dishes, and more complex preparations.


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Kakejiru: Japanese Noodle Broth
Kakejiru: Japanese Noodle Broth

Kakejiru is most widely known and used as a Japanese Noodle Broth. Indeed, the famous ‘Kake-Udon’, is simply thick Udon noodles along with other toppings, served with Kakejiru poured over everything as a rich ‘soup’.

Similar ‘soup-noodle’ dishes are also made with many other sorts of noodle (including Soba, Somen, and the ever-popular Ramen), but the name ‘Kakejiru’ simply means ‘dressing’ or ‘gravy’, and it has other uses as well. It is extremely versatile, and often forms the base for more complex broths and sauces, as well as being frequently used to braise Tofu and other ingredients.


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