Those of you who have some background in music will understand the title. Basically, this is 3 different one-dish meals based on one simple veggie soup.
First and foremost, I must introduce you to what my husband calls the ‘4 Musketeers’ of a good veggie soup : celery, onion, carrot and potato. Once you have these 4 ingredients, you can make delicious soup. The other must-have is, of course, stock base. You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock, depending on your preference. I always use my basic chicken stock.
Theme – The Simple Vegetable Soup
First, you start of with the most basic. Later, everything will build from here. The most basic is a simple veggie-chicken soup. Although I say ‘basic’ and ‘simple’, it is no less delicious than the ‘variations’ built upon it. Quantity of ingredients is up to your preference.
Equal portion of celery, onion, carrot, roughly chopped.
Same portion of potato, diced.
1 Chicken Breast, skinned and diced.
Thyme – fresh is the best (1 bag from Cold Storage, about $2). Or else, ground one works well too.
Salt and Pepper
1. Heat oil, throw in celery, onion and carrot. Fry for a while.
2. Turn down the fire to low and let the veggie continue to cook. You may want to add a little bit of stock so prevent burnt. But this is optional. The veggies will turn out their own fluid.
3. When the veggies are nice and soft, pour in the stock. Add in the thyme. Turn up the fire and bring to a boil.
4. Add the diced potato and let it cook until it is nice and soft.
5. Add in the chicken meat. Continue to cook over medium fire. At this point, it really does not matter if you continue to let the soup simmer. It will bring up the flavour more if the soup simmers a bit longer. But if you are eager to eat, the soup is ready as well.
6. Just add salt and pepper to taste.
This, in itself, is already a good one-dish meal. Nice bread goes very well with it.
Variation 1 – Minestrone Soup
By and large, minestrone soup should just make use of whatever veggie is in season. But you can build it upon the Theme. Add other veggies to make it more scrumptious. Of course, you must not leave out the signature of a minestrone soup – tomato, beans and pasta.
As above. Leave out the chicken if you wish.
If you are using the local tomato, they tend to taste rather ‘washed out’. So I suggest you add a tablespoon of tomato paste (not ketchup!!!).
Beans, e.g. kidney beans. – I use the can one because I can’t be bothered to soak dried beans myself.
Seasonal veggie that are good in soup. I like cauliflower. They are lovely in soup. Practically melts in your mouth.
Pasta – I use alphabet pasta for the kids. Actually, I sometimes leave this out and just eat the soup with garlic bread or baguette. Pre-cook according to packaging instructions.
Sage – a pinch of it
Basil – 2 leaves
Oregano – about a teaspoon of the dried ones.
Basically, as above! Add the herbs in a the same time.
Grated Parmesan Cheese. You must have this! Try without the cheese and then with the cheese and you will know the difference.
And please, not the pizza hut type. Use the real ones! After tasting the real ones, you will never ever want to eat those pizza hut type anymore.
Variation 2 – Local Style Kare (Kah-Re) Rice
I mean Japanese Curry, local style (read : spicier, spunkier) My version is healthier also because of all the veggies.
As for Theme. Minus the thyme.
You can also add other veggies like snow peas, cauliflower.
Curry powder – get good one. Makes a lot of different.
Flour – to thicken things up
As in Theme, without adding the thyme, of course.
Once the soup is ready, dunk in plenty of curry powder. As much as your taste bud can take it. When it is sufficiently ‘curried’, add in the flour to thicken up the soup.
How to add the flour – mix some flour in some water, making sure that there are no lumps. Pour the mixture into the Kare while boiling.
Variation 3 – Simple Red Lentil Soup
As for Minestrone. Minus the herbs. You can also leave out the chicken, if you wish.
Cumin, Tumeric and 2 Bay Leaves
As in Theme. Instead of adding the thyme, add the cumin, tumeric and bay leaves.
Add the lentils together with the potato.
You can eat this on its own, with rice, bread or couscous.
A dash of lemon juice also enhances the flavour.
Turning it into Baby Food
The best part is : these are also great as baby food (except for the Kare, of course).
1. Take out a portion before you add the seasoning. For Kare, take out a portion before you dunk in the curry powder.
2. Throw in some pasta or rice, cooked soft. Alphabet pasta is great for younger kids and babies. At this point, you can serve to the toddler who can manage bigger pieces of veggies and meat. For the Kare, instead of curry powder, you can add a little ketchup or tomato paste if your toddler is ketchup crazy like my boy.
3. For babies, mesh veggies and meat with a fork. Or blend into a puree, if your baby is really very young.
See how easy it is? 4-in-1 recipe. And you don’t have to stock up on too many different items in the fridge! Once you master the ‘Theme’, you can create more variations of your own!