I used to make this soup for my late-father except that they’re cut into smaller pieces and they’re cooked longer with white rice instead of brown rice and with some animal protein. Actually, this is what I serve him for lunch and dinner every day for about 2 1/2 years or until he could no longer eat solid food. The only thing that I need to change is the type of vegetables and protein that I used. Here, I’m using asparagus, sugar snap peas and frozen peas. Frozen? That’s right, it’s frozen. It’s the only peas I could find. For as long as it’s not frozen carrots, it’s alright. If you can find edamame, fava beans and broad beans, add them as well. They will provide substance and texture plus some protein.
This dish is so simple that it doesn’t need a recipe but to me this soup is full of heart and soul. This is not your stick-to-the-rib type of dish but if you ate and drunk too much the night before or if you feel you’ve eaten too many sweets, this dish will bring you back into balance. Chicken, vegetable or dashi stock can be used.
The other day, I was browsing Heidi Swanson's cookbook entitled Super Natural Cooking and I found a similar recipe to this soup except that she started with uncooked brown rice. She calls it her Spring Minestrone with Brown Rice. Although I am not vegetarian, her cookbook Super Natural Cooking is exactly what I wanted to do. It’s also the kind of food that I would like to prepare and serve if I have my own restaurant. I had the idea years ago but she brought it into reality before I did. I guess we’re thinking the same thing during that time. We think of vegetarians as being healthy and that’s not true all the time because they also used a lot of processed and refined foods and sometimes meat substitute are made with mediocre ingredients. And it's not about tofu all the time.
Let’s talk about the soup again. You don’t need to cook a fresh batch of brown rice to make this dish. Leftover brown rice is actually wonderful and the combination of the vegetables and whatever stock you use is light and comforting. It’s uncomplicated and nourishing as well. But if you do like to start with uncooked brown rice, use about 1 cup of brown rice to 7 cups of liquid. Cook the garlic first in olive, then add the rice and followed by the stock. When the rice is already cooked after 40-45 minutes, you can add the vegetables.
Spring Vegetables and Brown Rice Soup
2 cloves garlic 12 spears asparagus 1/2 cup sugar snap peas 1/4 cup frozen or fresh green peas 1 spring onion 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil pinch red chili pepper flakes 1 cup cooked long-grain brown rice 2 cups chicken stock or rich vegetables stock unrefined sea salt
To prepare the soup, first peel the garlic and finely slice the garlic. Then snap the ends of the asparagus, cut into three or four pieces on a bias. Next, trim the sugar snap peas on both ends, and rinse and drain the frozen peas. Then finely chop the spring onion and set aside.
In a medium-size soup pot, heat oil, garlic and chili flakes over low-medium heat and cook until the garlic has soften. Then add the cooked rice, stock and the green peas and bring to simmer. Add the snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the asparagus 1 minute later and cook for another minute. Season with salt to taste.
Serve into 2 serving bowls. Garnish with chopped spring onion and serve.