My mom visited this weekend and we girded our loins and went to Costco on Sunday. May I suggest that if there is an epic rainstorm in your city and it is the weekend that Costco is probably the worst possible place on earth to be? It was like that World War Z movie but instead of zombies exploding out of the crowd it was surly people viciously jabbing giant shopping carts at other shoppers in mass hordes.
I hadn’t been there in months and months for a variety of ankle related reasons, so despite the crowds and the overall oppressive and surly attitudes, Mom and I had a good time checking out what was available and picking up some good finds.
I was quite delighted to find packages of Chinese cured pork sausages, the kind that taste like char siu BBQ pork. In the walk in cooler I found a package of beech mushrooms and my favorite haricot verts and Meyer lemons. Of course, we had to pick up cheese and wine and toilet paper and a few other necessities and checked out all of the kitchen gadgets.
Once home at my apartment, we watched the the rain bucketing down, which was wonderful because we are in a drought and despite 20 inches falling in Marin that weekend we would still need six more storms of this level to take us out of drought situation this year. For dinner, given we were both not terribly hungry, I concocted an Asian inspired soup from the goodies from Costco, plus a few items in the pantry and from my last produce CSA box.
The soup only took 30 minutes or so to put together and we watched the Olympics and caught up on Downton Abbey until dinnertime. I am taking the leftovers to work for lunch this week, which makes me terrifically sharp at watching the clock, or checking this site often.
Asian Inspired Soup
1 pork chop, diced
2 Chinese cured pork sausages, sliced
1 Tbl grapeseed oil
2 Tbl chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry sherry
1 quart of pork stock (from 4505 Meats) or chicken stock
2 cups of water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbl fish sauce
1 stalk of lemongrass, crushed
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
2 cups of beech or other mushrooms (sliced if they are large)
1 cup green beans, cut into 1″ lengths
2 bunches of spinach, stems removed
Juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1/3 package of rice noodles, cooked in boiling water per the directions, drained and rinsed with cold water
Cilantro for garnish
In a soup pot over medium high heat, heat the oil and brown the pork chop pieces and the Chinese cured pork sausages. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in sherry and scrape the bottom of the pan and let reduce for 5 minutes. Add pork stock, water, soy and fish sauces, lemongrass and the Sichuan peppercorns and bring to a boil. Toss in the green beans, mushrooms and the white parts of the green onions and turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and stir, simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, my soup needed a bit more salt and I added the lemon juice and the green onion tops right at the end.
To serve, add a heap of the cooked rice noodles to each soup bowl, ladle in the hot soup and top with handfuls of fresh cilantro.
I am so glad my mom came in for the weekend to stay with me, despite the rain. It was so lovely to catch up on things, do a little shopping and errands together and enjoy each other’s company. Since my stepdad passed away it seems time is very precious and every moment we get to spend with family and friends feels that much more important, even if only shared over a fast bowl of soup.