Sunday, September 18, 2016

Vietnamese-Style Asparagus Soup with Noodles and Spicy Peanut Paste for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays and for #SoupSwapParty

It's no secret that I love soup. I love it so much that I make at least one soup every week and eat the leftovers for lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast. I love it so much that I have had my own weekly soup blogging event, Souper Sundays since 2008--adding sandwiches and salads to the mix the following year. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the #SoupSwapParty, a blogging event hosted by The Book Club Cookbook to launch a fun new soup cookbook, Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share by Kathy Gunst.

Kathy Gunst is a the Resident Chef for NPR's Here and Now and became a soup lover when a long and fierce freezing New England winter had her thinking about, making, and eating soup for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon pick-me-ups. She and her friend and neighbor Hope started a wintertime Second Sunday Soup Swap Supper where soups were made and swapped and those taking part could go home with a variety of soups to chose from. Although I live in a tropical climate and eat soup year-round, I can get behind any soup-centered function and think that Gunst and I would get along well.

Soup Swap has the basic info for hosting your own soup swap party (including some Soup Swap stickers for labeling your soups), more than 60 recipes for soups, toppings, side dishes and accompaniments. Gunst covers the basics of making broths and stocks, and recipes are divided into Vegetable Soups, Chicken & Turkey Soups, Meat Soups, Fish & Seafood Soups & Chowders, Side Dishes, and Garnishes & Toppings. Although I don't know that I'll ever host an actual soup swap, I frequently make and give soup to friends and Gunst offers handy To-Go tips for making her recipes portable for swapping or giving. Although I don't eat meat or poultry, there are plenty of vegetable and fish and seafood recipes that I can enjoy in the book like Asparagus and Leek Soup with Chive Oil, Miso Soup with Tofu and Scallions, Mulligatawny, Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream, Provencal-Style Fish Soup with Rouille, and Baby Turnip Soup with Miso Butter and Toasted Hazelnuts, and Cioppino, to name just a few. 

Soup Swap is a paperback with a thick and and touchable textured cover. It lays flat and will stay flat when opened--important when you are busy in the kitchen. The recipes all sound tasty, instructions are clear and step by step, and many of the soups have mouthwatering color photos to look at. The recipes have introductions and there are boxes with soup making tips scattered throughout the book. If you are a soup fan, Soup Swap would be an excellent addition to your cookbook collection or it would make a great gift for a soup-loving friend

Chronicle Books
September 13, 2016

After much indecision about which soup to make, I finally chose the Vietnamese-Style Asparagus Soup with Noodles and Spicy Peanut Paste. Gunst says, "The inspiration for this soup comes from Vietnamese phở, a hearty soup of hot chicken stock topped with asparagus and other vegetables, noodles, and a dab of chili paste. A spicy peanut butter-based base slowly releases its assertive flavor and slightly thickens the broth."

I love phở and Vietnamese flavors and a big bowl of noodly goodness and spicy peanut paste sounded perfect. That I can get good local asparagus most of the year here and that this soup is vegan just added to the appeal. 

I did make a couple of very small changes--namely swapping out the mung bean sprouts for peppery radish sprouts and adding some Thai basil. I am not a mung bean sprout fan and usually ask restaurants to leave them off my plate and I love the flavor of Thai basil and had some that needed to be used up. The result was a bowl of wonderfully satisfying and flavorful soup. 

Vietnamese-Style Asparagus Soup with Noodles and Spicy Peanut Paste
Reprinted with permission from Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst
(Makes 8-10 Tasting Portions or 6 Full Servings)

Spicy Peanut Paste:
3 Tbsp freshly grated or minced ginger
1/2 tsp Chinese chili paste or hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup (150g) chunky all-natural peanut butter
1/2 tsp hot chili oil or hot-pepper sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
3 scallions, finely chopped

4 oz (115g) angel-hair rice noodles
1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 tsp toasted Asian sesame oil
1/2 cup (80g) julienned peeled fresh ginger
5 scallions, cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) pieces
2 lbs (910g) asparagus, ends trimmed, peeled & cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) pieces
6 cups (1.4L) vegetable stock, homemade or good low-sodium broth
1/2 cup (30g) packed, coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
(I added fresh Thai basil leaves)
1 cup mung bean sprouts (I used radish sprouts)
coarsely chopped salted peanuts for garnish (optional

To Make Peanut Paste: In a medium bowl, combine the grated ginger, chili paste, and peanut butter, stirring to create a smooth paste. Add the chili oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, and scallions; stir until smooth. The paste will be quite thick and should have a good, spicy kick. The paste can be made several hours ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Make the Soup: Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the rice noodles to the stockpot and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Immediately transfer the noodles  to a colander to drain and cool them under very cold running water to stop the cooking. Transfer the noodles to the bowl of ice water and separate them to prevent them from clumping. (If you are good with chopsticks, use them to do this.) Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, warm the peanut oil and sesame oil. Add the julienned ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for about 20 seconds. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, The vegetables should be al dente, not completely cooked or soft. Set aside. (The recipe can be made ahead up to this point. Store the noodles and about 1/4 cup of the ice water in a separate container and store the sauteed asparagus in plastic wrap. Store all the elements in the refrigerator until ready to assemble. Bring the peanut paste and asparagus mixture to room temperature before finishing off the soup.) 

In a large stockpot over medium heat, bring the vegetable stock to a rolling boil. Turn the heat to low and keep hot. 

To Assemble: Ladle the simmering stock into serving bowls (about 1 cup per serving for 6 servings). Whisk in about 1 Tbsp of the peanut paste. Drain the noodles well and divide them equally among the bowls of broth. Top each serving with a scoop of the asparagus-ginger mixture and sprinkle with a handful of cilantro, (Thai basil), and the sprouts. Serve with the remaining cilantro, spicy peanut paste, and peanuts, if desired, on the side and let guests add what they like. 

To-Go Tips: Transport the vegetable stock in the soup pot. Pack the noodles, peanut paste, and each of the toppings in separate containers. At the party, reheat, the soup and continue as directed. Set out all the toppings so that guests can choose what they want to add.

Notes/Results: And what a great bowl of soup this is! So much flavor in the Spicy Peanut Paste (I would probably lick this paste off of a stick) along with the ginger and fresh herbs. The paste stirs into the broth nicely and I liked mine with an extra scoop of the paste on top. It seems like a long recipe, but once you chop and prep your ingredients, this one goes together surprisingly quickly and easily. It's not authentic phở, but it is really delicious and if you love East Asian flavors and ingredients, you will love it. It's a vegan soup as written and if you use GF tamari instead of soy sauce, it can be gluten-free as well. I loved the asparagus, but you could work other veggies in--green beans, mushrooms, Asian greens, etc. in if you can't get good asparagus and it would be delicious. I will happily make this again.

Besides receiving a complimentary copy of Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share to review from Chronicle Books, we participants were lucky enough to get some excellent cooking tools to help with our soup prep from Chef’s Choice and Zeroll

We received the Chef’sChoice® ProntoPro™ Diamond Hone® Knife Sharpener, the fastest manual sharpener available for sharpening both 15 degree and 20 degree knife edges and
the Zeroll® 8720 4-ounce Stainless Steel Ladle which features a deep bowl, perfect for serving piping hot soup, as well as the Zeroll® #8711 Stainless Steel Slotted Serving Spoon to help stir and portion your soup. 

Thank you to the publisher, Kathy Gunst and these wonderful vendors--all of these tools will be well-used and loved at my house! Thanks to The Book Club Cookbook for putting together this fun event! (Note: No monetary compensation was received for this review or post and my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stop by the #SoupSwapParty Page to check out all of the tasty soups that were made and hear what the other bloggers thought about the book!

Speaking of soup... we have some good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some marvelous dishes last week--let's have a look! 

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared these Chilled Tomato Soup Shooters and said, "Bring on the party with these delicious tomato soup shooters! Served at room temperature or chilled, these shooters are the great way to get any party or meal started and they are one of the best tomato soups ever! With just 5 ingredients, preparation is a breeze! The recipe meets my criteria for health, ease, convenience and taste. It's made from real food, is naturally gluten free, and vegan."

I think these Tomato & Basil Bruschetta that I made this week at Kahakai Kitchen would be great with Judee's shooters above! These little open-face sandwiches are simple, delicious, and a great way to use up the last of the summer's bounty.

Also taking part in the #soupswapparty festivities is Debra of Eliot's Eats who made the Italian Sausage-Zucchini Soup from the book. She said, "Since I have loads of zucchini and still have fresh herbs growing, I decided to try “Hope’s Italian Sausage-Zucchini Soup.”  This is truly a heirloom recipe..." ... This soup is adaptable to what you have on hand.   Use your choice of turkey or pork (or even chicken) sausage and canned or homemade chicken stock. The choice of herbs is yours as well."

Joyce from Kitchen Flavours shared Jacques Pepin's Chicken Jardinieri. She said, "This chicken stew is delicious. We love it. The chicken is tender and tasty, the veggies are soft and the soup slurpingly good. Great with white rice, but I've got to plan my bread baking earlier the next time (and read the instructions properly!), so that we could enjoy the crusty bread in time, with this stew!"

It was a two-soup week for me as I made Jacques Pepin's simple but delicious Garlic Soup with Croutons here at Kahakai Kitchen. This soup has 12 cloves of garlic, but with the leeks and potatoes, they mellow into a comforting and silky bowl of well-flavored soup. The crispy croutons on top add the perfect texture! 


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor popped in with BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches and says, "Behold my sandwich made with Jackfruit.  Don't you think it looks like pork?  It has a very similar texture to meat, and well....pork in particular. If you are a vegetarian (or a vegan ) and abhor the texture of meat, even TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) then you won't like this.  But if you routinely add a TVP, or like that texture, you may like this."

Finally Kim of Stirring the Pot shared Jacques Pepin's Onion Soup Lyonnaise (French Onion Soup) and said, "Now if you love French Onion Soup then hear me when I say this recipe is total and complete perfection. In fact, it's easily one of my favorite recipes I've made since blogging almost 8 years ago! Why? Well, the French Onion Soup we've all come to know and love is so delicious because it is topped with that crusty bread and melted cheese. That crusty bread and melted cheese is easily the pièce de résistance.  Now, how do we improve on that? By adding more cheese and bread, of course!"

A big thank you to everyone who joined in this week!

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I am so into noodles lately, swapping them with all sorts of veggies and some sort of Asian inspired sauce. I am look this up in the book now!

  2. Great choice of recipe from the book and lovely images. (I enjoy using the knife sharpener.)

  3. What a great package, that knife sharpener looks amazing. I need to check that book out of the library, looks right up my alley. Great soup!,


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