My long favourite Thai vegetarian dish, and vegetable soup; “Jub-chai” or จับฉ่าย(if you can somehow read Thai).
I’m pretty sure “Jub-chai” had its origin in the main-crib China(like quite a few of Thai dishes, i.e. Thai noodle soup), but since its rebellious break off from the motherland and prolonged residency in Thailand, “Jub-chai” has developed with its sweet, savoury and slightly chili zing, to become one of the typical Thai household meals.
As mentioned in the previous blog entry, mum had just recently boiled this soup up, so I had spark of thought to share its simplicity and ease in creation with all of you. It’s cheap, easy to make, and although is a Thai dish, still has ingredients you won’t need to scavenge for, or go on google image to make out which is its head and tail. In fact, you may not even need to leave your house, for your fridge and cupboard may already be stocked with the ingredients you will need!
(As can be seen in the image above, this soup can be made non-vegetarian. In fact, most of the time this dish contains meat, i.e. hunks of pork or beef. The meat is usually stewed up for at least an hour in the soup to release fat and flavour, which result in an almost curry-like consistency. But for the healthiest, low fat soup, the meat can be easily omitted and replaced with low fat vegetable stock)
(An oily, less healthy version of this vegetable soup)
This soup only needs a few certain vegetables to make up its distinct “Jub-chai” flavour.
Super simple Thai vegetable soup recipe
1 medium carrot, chopped into circles
1 cup of cauliflower, roughly hacked
half of a cabbage, chopped into big pieces
1 leek, chopped into medium sized rings
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
2-3 chili peppers(or more if you like it hot), chopped in half
1 cube of vegetable stock i.e. OX is a good, low fat brand
soy sauce and Maggi seasoning sauce to taste
Two coriander roots (gives your soup a special, appetizing aroma and taste)
Enough water in your pot to inundate the vegetables
Let the dried shiitake mushrooms soak up in hot water for about 5 minutes. If you don’t have shiitake mushrooms in hand, then simply use any mushrooms that may be hidden within your fridge.
Put all the ingredients, except the soy and Maggi seasoning sauce(if you don’t have or don’t want to go out and buy a bottle of maggi, then add a bit of sugar and soy sauce instead. It’s true, Maggi is pretty much sugar and soy sauce, yet tastes delicious) into a large pot.
Boil on medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then let it boil on low heat for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft enough for your liking(No need to cover the pot). The traditional recipe calls for boiling for at least 45 minutes or until the vegetables are a ball of mush or the meat nearly disintegrated. But I’d recommend you to boil for not too long, just to be a bit kinder to the nutrients in your veggies(Some vitamins do actually deactivate in prolonged high temperature).
Add the soy sauce and Maggi seasoning to your soup, adjust amount to your liking.
For meat version:
Simply replace vegetable stock with about 2 cups of chopped/diced hunks of meat(any cut, preferrably fatty bits to create a layer of floaty oil), you may need to boil a bit longer than 30 minutes(as in the vegetarian version) to deform the meat out of recognition.
Notes: Tofu cubes can be added to replace the meat hunks for vegetarians. Any vegetables to your liking are welcome to be added to the soup, seasonal and cheap vegetables alike.
This is coriander/cilantro root, they’re used a lot in Asian soups and cuisine. They’re not hard to find, just buy a small bunch from your local supermarket. If you’re awesome enough, you’ll already have your own coriander plants in your garden(like I do). Be sure to wash them thoroughly(although you’ll be boiling them to the point of disintegration anyway)
This soup is light, refreshing, flavourful, different from your usual ‘Western’/European soups which can sometimes be heavy with cream or thickener like flour. It doesn’t contain random seasonings like nutmeg or cloves, and require 5 different fresh herbs or a sprig of something fancy that you’ve spent $3.99 to buy for a packet and now has a leftover of, as the garnish. If you’re looking to make an easy, super cheap, oriental, low-fat soup then look no further!