Friday 15 April 2011

NCR Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac

Tonight's soup brings up many mysteries such as chicken soup, stock, celeriac, children's diets, translating meat dishes into vegetarian versions.  I don't know what to tell you first.  That chicken soup has such a great reputation for being comforting and restorative that it even appeals to vegetarians.  That Sylvia wanted to go shopping for tofu this morning but cried when she tasted a piece of tofu from the soup.  That celeriac and fried tofu gave this dish some of the richness that a vegetarian seeks without the need to turn to meat.

The best seller Chicken Soup for the Soul gives an indication of how important chicken soup is considered in some cultures.  It is not just about the chicken.  It is about a full-bodied yet undemanding nourishing broth.  It often seems to be about nostalgia for a nurturing relationship and a cure for all manner of ailments.  For me, it is the sort of soup that I want to eat in these cooler Autumn evenings.

For vegetarians, there is the challenge of making a soup which is centred around a carcass.  I am not the only vegetarian to be fascinated by chicken soup. Many others have trodden this path before me.  Susan, PPK, Erin, Mollie and Lindsay are just a few to share their versions.  They use matzo dumplings, noodles, chickpeas and special seasonings.  I have started to buy fried tofu puffs occasionally and thought they would do the trick.

Despite the vegetarian recipes out there, it was Katie's Chicken Rice Soup that inspired me.  I had to wait until the weather cooled to try it, but it has been niggling at me ever since I saw the recipe at the start of the January.  Once I tackled it, I changed the recipe beyond recognition. I increased the vegies as well as using fried tofu.  I was particularly pleased with the addition of celeriac.  Often I don't know what to do with this strange knobbly vegetable but it seemed just right in the soup.  I forgot about Katie's addition of mustard and cornflour.  Maybe next time.

Katie's recipe directed me to make stock first and then the soup.  Most chicken soup recipes call for the simmering of a carcass to make stock and then the adding of a shredded chicken.  However vegetables do not seem to need to simmer as long as meat.  So it is a mystery to me as to whether vegos need to make a separate stock for such soups.

When I make a soup that is full of flavoursome vegetables, I feel that some salt and a bouquet garni of herbs from the garden is all the extra seasoning that is needed.  Though I did wonder if some stock would have given depth of flavour.  I have a bag of vegie scraps in the freezer to make into stock when I have some time.  They include the scraps of purple carrots which I didn't think would give the soup the right look.

I need not have worried about the stock.  E and I were very impressed with it.  The combination of  a bit of chewy tofu, nubbly rice and soft vegetables was just right.  The broth was full of sweet vegetable flavour that needed seasoning to turn it into a savoury meal.  The soup was satisfying without being heavy.  Sylvia wouldn't eat it despite loving rice and tofu.  She will share some of our meals but draws the line at soups and stews, not even convinced by the Soup Dragon in her favourite tv program the Clangers.

While eating the soup, I asked E if his mum had made chicken soup for him as a boy.  I can't remember my mum doing so, though I do remember her horror when I mistook a pot of stock for dishwater and threw it down the sink.  E remembers what he calls his mum's "famous broth" that she made with chicken bones and the family loved.

It was an evening full of nostalgia.  Not only did we reminisce over dinner but we followed it by watching Turn Back Time: the High Street.  We only got hooked towards the end of the series, unfortunately.  It was fascinating the way it looked at the British high street in six different decades and how it has changed.  This week was the 1970s.  E loved seeing some of the food he had used to eat (Vesta, Angel Delight, etc).  The shops made him remember Easy Rider (his favourite record store in Forrest Road, Edinburgh) and the Pakistani convenience store opening up near his Granny's house.  Ah, memories!

I am sending this to Jacqueline for this month's No Croutons Required (an event run with Lisa).  She has chosen a fun birthday theme (check it out) to celebrate her own birthday. My soup fits with the nourishing soup and rice themes.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
This time two years ago: Easter Nut Roast and Feasting
This time three years ago: The Nut Roast in History

Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac
inspired by Thyme for Cooking
serves 5-6
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 large carrots
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 1 celeriac
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • bouquet garni - I used bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, parsley (and would have used sage if I had it)
  • 180g fried tofu puffs, chopped
  • 3/4 cup rice (uncooked)
  • seasoning, as required
  • chopped parsley, to serve
Heat oil in large stockpot.  Trim, peel and dice vegetables and add them to pot as you chop them, stirring occasionally to prevent them sticking to the bottom of the pot.  I prepared them in the order that I have listed them.  Stir garlic into vegetables for a minute or two.

Add 8 cups of water, salt and bouquet garni.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until vegies are soft.  Throw in tofu.  At this point I left it overnight, but that is optional.  Add rice and simmer for about 15-minutes until it is cooked.  Add more water if needed.  Remove and discard bouquet garni. 

Check seasoning.  Mine benefited from some more salt and black pepper.  Ladle hot soup into bowls.  Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.  Soup keeps well for 2-3 days but the rice will absorb a lot of the water.

On the stereo:
The Bells Shall Sound Forever: a tribute to Current 93: Various Artists


  1. That looks so much more exciting than a bowl of soup Johanna and you know how much I like soup. Thank you so much for submitting it. Oh for a bowlful now!

    Oh, and did I tell you Cooper is loving my soup now. He just didn't understand it when he was younger.

  2. This soup sounds wonderful! I've always thought about making a chickpea noodle soup but have yet to try it. I may have to take your recipe for a run, though!

  3. This soup looks quite delicious to me!

  4. As someone who loves playing around with words, "tricken" makes me smile! As do parsnips, which really don't get enough play in the food world these days. Ooh, so Sylvia is a fan of fried tofu and not just plain tofu these days?

  5. What a wonderful soup! It really gets me wanting to make it at home! :)

  6. That looks so good. Warming, tasty, and food for the soul.
    I miss out on far too much soup as The Monkeys have added it to the 'No chance' list...sigh.

  7. Well done taking on a classic and obviously meaty soup and vegetarianising it! And I can imagine E's mum's reaction when you threw away the stock. that happened to my mum once and she was very upset. I'm just glad it wasn't me that did it :P

  8. Thanks Jacqueline - you are so lucky that Cooper loves your soup - wish Sylvia would understand mine

    Thanks Jodye - I love chickpeas in soup but for the real tricken experience I think I would recommend this one

    Thanks Maria

    Thanks Hannah - Sylvia will eat a bit of the fried tofu puffs though she plays with them so much it can be hard to see how much she has eaten - but will not eat them in the soup - glad tricken made you smile - always makes me smile too! And I love parsnips!

    Thanks Kath - highly recommend it

    Thanks city hippy farm girl - I stuck a bowl of this soup in front of Sylvia in an effort to remove it from the "no chance" list but she was not budging - but I love my soups too much to give them up

    Thanks Lorraine - have been thinking about this one for a while now so am glad I pulled it off - and it was my mum's stock I threw down the sink - luckily I was young enough to get away with it - glad to hear I am not the only one to make the mistake

  9. An interesting soup. I am yet to make my own stock, but it is on my to do list.

  10. This sounds lovely. The vegetables are always what made chicken soup special to me, anyway.

  11. This sounds like a very successful vegetarian chicken soup! Have you tried adding nutritional yeast before? I've made a couple of "chicken" type soups with it and I think it really helps. - Ashley (eat me, delicious), for some reason it won't let me post as anything other than anonymous right now


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