Thursday, September 28, 2006

Matrimony Vine Leaf Soup with Wolfberry Fruits

This is a simple and quick soup and can be ready in 30 minutes. Yes, it is that easy. This soup does not qualify as a slow simmered soup as it needs a fast boil. Very suitable for moms who are home late and need to whip up nutritious yet fast soups.

This soup needs two major ingredients - matrimony vine and wolfberry fruits. Actually they are both from the same family! Matrimony vine leaves are the leaves from the tree which bears the wolfberry fruits (lycium chinense or L.barbarum). Wolfberry or "kei chi" or "gou qi zi" is a staple in many Cantonese homes/kitchens. I used to grow up drinking soups which contained these little sweetish red berries or what my yoga teacher calls "chinese raisins". They're also known as Duke of Argyll's tea tree. I wonder why!

Wolfberry fruits are usually dried, wrinkled berries which can be bought from any good Chinese medical hall or herbalist. Quality berries are large and plump, not shrivelled beyond recognition. To use them, grab a handful and soak in some water. They'll rehydrate in 5 minutes and you can put these berries into your simmering soup.

These berries are very good for eyes (though I still wear glasses!). Mostly they help with the Liver and Kidney meridians. That's why they're beneficial for remedying Kidney Qi deficiency which brings about problems like lower back pain, impotence, dizziness and tinnitus. It helps lowers blood pressure (just like hawthorn fruit), lowers blood sugar levels and lowers blood cholesterol levels besides acting as a liver tonic and nourishing blood.

Though they're full of goodness, don't overdo it. Particularly if you have excess heat or dampness. Just a handful in your soup will do.

Here's how you can prepare Matrimony Vine Leaf Soup.

1 bunch of fresh matrimony vine leaves (available at most wet markets)
1 handful of wolfberry fruits (soaked)
1/2 cup of minced chicken or pork
1 egg
1.5 liter water

First, peel the leaves of the vine/stalk. Soak the leaves in water for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain.

Next, marinate the minced meat with 1 tsp cornflour, 2 tsp soya sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp sugar. Leave aside for 10 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil. When it's boiling, put in the wolfberry fruits. Lower fire and simmer with pot partly covered for 10-15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, wet hands and make little balls of the minced meat and drop into the simmering soup. Add the matrimony vine leaves. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered or until the leaves wilt in the soup.

Add seasoning - I usually add pepper, salt, sugar and a little soya sauce. No MSG for me. Not even in these fast soups. I am after all a soup purist!

Finally, bring the soup to a quick, furious boil. Beat the egg and pour into soup quickly to make 'egg flower strands'. Cover pot and remove from heat. Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pinto Bean Soup

This week I made pinto bean soup because my vegetable-seller at the Lip Sin market told me that these beans were good nourishment for the back.

A small packet of the pinto beans cost RM2. I didn't know the name of this bean but a quick check online using Google and Google Images search did the trick.

These pinto beans are white but freckled and part of the kidney bean family. Pinto means 'painted' in Spanish which is quite accurate as the beans are white and mottled. These beans are a favourite in Mexican dishes.

Similar to other beans, the pinto bean contains iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid.

For me, I made these beans into soup. The soup is deliciously sweet and clear. The ingredients are:

1 packet of pinto beans (available fresh from your wet market)
5-8 dried longans
5-8 dried red dates
300gm of blanched meat/ribs
1.5 liters of water

Bring the water to a boil and add all ingredients into the pot. Boil furiously for 10 minutes. Lower heat, cover pot completely and simmer for 2 hours. Add salt to taste after about one and a half hours. Serve hot.

Find out more about the pinto bean (it's good for your heart!) right here