Sunday, September 18, 2011


Bok Choy in my garden
This week the bok choy in the garden is about over for the season so there is quite a bit there to use. If you don’t grow your own, you may never have noticed this wonderful vegetable in your produce market. I discovered bok choy a few years ago and quickly became a fan of its texture and flavor. Used most often in Asian dishes, it works equally well in a stir-fry or a soup.

You can find baby bok choy in the market in the early summer.  Later in the season (as it is now) you'll find larger heads or, if you grow your own just chop off several smaller leaves for your meal.  If you have to buy a small head, use some in this soup and use the rest in a stir fry like the one I brought to you back in April, it's really delicious.

Making healthy, homemade soup is a simple process for the single cook but I’m constantly surprised that we don’t do it more often. What I discovered is that making a single serving or two of soup tends to grow exponentially during preparation. It’s really difficult to gauge just how many carrots or onions or beans actually make up one or two servings, especially when most recipes for soup give ingredients for six or more servings. On many occasions when I've set out to produce a single bowl of soup, it's turned into soup for the week in my own kitchen.

Today I revisited a soup I made sometime last summer.  The amounts weren't quite right so I gave it another go to get it right.  Inspired by a recipe I found on-line, I've cut the amounts to make just a couple of small bowls for lunch servings, or one dinner for one really hungry person.  Carrots and peas bring a hint of sweetness to offset the heartiness of the beef and beef broth.  The bok choy should still have some crispness at the end to lend a little texture.  The lime gives this a nice acidity and the jalapeno gives it a slight kick but feel free to add some extra heat to this with a dash of hot chili oil.

Hearty Beef and Bok Choy Soup

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 small clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon prechopped garlic)
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 pound beef sirloin tips, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot
1/4-1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (more if you like the heat)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
about 1/2 cup chopped bok choy leaves 
1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes.

Cut the beef cubes into small, bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Stir the beef into the onion mixture and continue cooking until the beef is evenly browned.

Add the broth, water, carrot, ginger, lime juice, jalapeno, and soy sauce. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and let cook about 15 minutes to cook the beef and carrots till tender.

Stir in the bok choy and peas and simmer until the bok choy is tender, about 5 minutes.

Garnish with some sliced green onion and serve.

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