This is no top selling book cliché. Seriously. This soup will quickly become a “recipe” plastered all of your fridge until you figure it out, much like my dad did.
And so it goes… my father used to travel a lot for work as a field journalist. Sometimes he’d be gone for 10 days or so. That’s a long time for a Mami raising 5 kids. No one to help with the extra curricula, attend to school matters, or help with the cooking. One thing Mami constantly asked him while traveling was “how’d you enjoy the food today, Papi?” Africa’s the farthest he’s been so we know the food is quite different from what he’d been accustomed to. Even the American fare, a dramatic change from the Cuban staples so accessible in Miami, were closer to his palate. For a man that’s been conditioned to eat fresh, lively food every day, eating abroad for extended times like that, only make home cooked meals a prize to look forward to. And so Mami always welcomed Papi home with a fresh, hot meal. Always. Every time.
Now she’s extended the same to me when I’m on the road. It’s become part of my travel experience no matter how short an excursion is. But, the longer the trip, the more heart and soul she pours into cooking.
My recent trip to Australia was no different. In fact, because my sister was trekking with me and eating fancy foods she’s not exposed to, Mami was deliberate about sitting us at the table with un plato iresistible. Great. We both put in our requests and giggled like little girls on the last leg of the non-ending flight, thinking about what we’d chow on. She wanted plain white rice with a fried egg and tuna. I want split green peas.
Yes. We both envisioned it so well.
But our flight leaving Sydney was delayed 3 hours. And our LA-DC flight was delayed 2 hours. That put us at home at 11pm. Not 6 as scheduled.
Surely, we’d have to nibble on whatever free standing snackage was taking up kitchen counter space.
But like loving parents do, they worked around our timely mishaps and welcomed us to this soup!
Only Mami didn’t make it. Papi, as proud as he can be when he conjures up something on his very own, extended an invitation to try his sopa china. Huh? What? You made an Asian soup? Desde cuando te entojan los sabores chinos? Mami, perhaps in her motherly way to make him feel great about his creation or to coerce us into eating a proper dinner, cosigned its goodness and asserted she loved it.
Initially, I wasn’t too convinced but it did smell amazing. Not sure what it was, but it did me in. And sis, too, who could have quickly gone for a tuna sandwich. He served us a huge bowl and even joined us in the dinning room. The 3 of us said our blessing and went to town. And I slept like a charm. No qualms about resting a superbly full stomach. After flying 26 hours, it was amazing to enjoy a beautifully made dish that was made with nothing but love.
My admission: I can’t get enough of this unplanned liquid goodness. I think I’m impressed with its 15 minute cooking time aside from the genuine flavors which I’m attracted to. It’s the absolute perfect soup for anything from feel good, eat clean, eat now, weight loss, fill up, channel your Asian inspiration, kind of need. It satisfies all that. When Papi’s hungry and no one’s about to break into cutting boards, chopping, searing, etc… he’s quick to make this vegetable soup. It’s warm, filling, full of green goods which are healthy and just plain delicious. That simple.
I’m so in love with it… if only you really knew. He made some last night and I finally decided I’d give him some public love. It’s well-deserved and I figured some of you could benefit from a super simple option for anytime of the day. It was my breakfast this morning.
So Papi is now even more eager to welcome us home after a long trip, because he knows anyone will eat his new creation. And love it.
One thing though… there’s no recipe! Yep. I asked him for it and what you read below in the recipe section is how he responded via email this morning, verbatim. I was going to tweak it and make it a proper recipe, but like I told him after I considered it, “Sometimes a formal recipe takes away from the soul of its purpose!”
I hope you’re inspired to make it! I won’t even try. I love leaving it up to Papi.
*if you really need a proper recipe, feel free to email me and I’ll gladly email it to you.
SOPA CHINA by my Dad
- Water (or chicken broth or a mix of both)
- Kale (or similar green-leaf veg)
- Tomatoes (2 medium size, chopped in not so small chunks)
- Snow peas
- Green onions (scallions) – a bunch
- Bok choy (Optional) – I’ve never used it but probably would be a good addition**
- Bean sprouts – a lot
- Mushrooms (optional) – make the veggie mix heartier
- Eggs (Optional) 1 or 2 depending on how much soup you’re making
- Ground pepper (optional)
- Sesame oil –enough to give the soup that distinct Asian flavor
Pour water (or mix) in right-size pot; set to medium-high temperature. Add sesame oil, salt and pepper and stir. After 3 minutes, add tomatoes, broccoli, snow peas, and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until mushrooms begin to soften Add spinach, kale, parsley and green onions. Bring to a boil. Add bean sprouts and let boil for a couple of minutes and bring heat down to medium low. Add egg(s); you may choose to batter first or just add to soup and stir to mix.
The order in which you add the ingredients is just to ensure that they don’t get too mushy. If this is not a consideration, then just add everything together at the same time…which is what I generally do.