Apparently, the worst is behind me.
While my homies in Canada relish in local winter squashes, apples and other fall delights, Houston is experiencing its autumn as well. Last weekend as Rob and I went out for our weekly cronut ride, wherein we no longer buy cronuts, almost overnight, after the torrential rains had abated, there was a bit of a nip in the morning air. Of course, this is still Houston. It is all relative. Translation: It was only 20C (68F) that morning but I was cold in my sleeveless shirt and shorts. My parents are battling frost warnings at night, and their highs are still our lows. A few days later and a few degrees more, we are back in summer mode. As I write this, at 6am on the last Saturday in September, it is 25C, feels like 36C (77F and 97F respectively). Five degrees short of the day’s high. Woe is me. I am really looking forward to this “winter”. Perhaps this could entice more people to come visit me?? :)
While I have not yet been craving kabocha squashes, I spotted a stalk of Brussels sprouts at the grocer. With a cute tag that exclaimed “We’re back!”. In Ontario, I’ve associated Brussels sprouts as fall/winter vegetables and ate my weight in them last year. I broke down and carried the huge stalk home with me, almost cradling like a baby since I did not want to damage them.
I ended up combining a ton of Asian goodies (thank you Viet Hoa) with the Brussels sprouts to create this very nice rendition of Vietnamese pho. The ingredient list is daunting, but it is a fairly simple soup to whip up. The abundance of vegetables creates a flavourful soup without too much of a soup base. The broth is nicely flavoured with ginger, star anise, tart lime juice, salty tamari and aromatic toasted sesame oil. Fresh mint adds a beautiful brightness. For the vegetables, seared Brussels sprouts, baby bok choy and meaty mushrooms make up the bulk of the soup. In addition, I added sliced water chestnuts, julienned bamboo shoots and baby corn (the latter all canned). I haven’t cooked with them before, but the bamboo shoots were akin to short noodles and the water chestnuts added a neat crunch. Definitely recommended. I used a mix of Asian mushrooms (shiitake, Portobello and enoki) but feel free to use just one.
The soup made a ton and filled me up all week long. Leftovers were just as good, if not better. While this may not seem like a fall-inspired recipe, this seems like a Texan fall-inspired meal. A light veggie-filled soup perfect during the hot weather. Hannah told me she may stop to read my blog during the winter, as she lives in Toronto, missing her warm Aussie winters. Please don’t hate me for the abundant heat! :)
Have you fallen for fall veggies yet?
Brussels sprouts done before:
Wild Mushroom and Minted Brussels Faux Pho
Adapted from Crazy Sexy Kitchen
2 tsp coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
300g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
5 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp grated ginger
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stemmed and sliced
200g enoki mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped (165g)
3 heads baby bok choy, chopped, leaves and stems separated (375g)
400 ml can of baby corn, drained
8 fl oz can of sliced water chestnuts
8 fl oz can of julienned bamboo shoots
1.5 tbsp low-sodium tamari
1 star anise
3 limes, juiced (3/4 cup)
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1. Heat coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Once hot, add in the onions and Brussels sprouts and sear for 1 minute. Add in a small amount of broth to steam.
2. Stir in the ginger and all the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add remaining vegetable broth and cook until the mushrooms are cooked through, around 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the bok choy stems, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and tamari. If you have a tea ball, place the star anise inside it for easier removal. If not you’ll just have to fish it out later. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add water if necessary.
5. Remove from heat. Stir in the baby bok choy leaves and allow to wilt. Remove the star anise. Stir in the lime juice, mint and toasted sesame oil. Season to taste. Serve with your favourite noodle, if desired.