Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Spicy Beef Soup

A fiery, nose tingling soup makes perfect sense in cold weather. Something that sets my mouth aflame. Some days I long for soup with a kick, which would be like the incendiary Thai broths. Soups like tum yum are thin broths, loaded with fiery chile flavor. I ferret out dried red chiles, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and some beef from the fridge.  This is a quick soup. Thinly cut beef cooks fast as well as the sweet potato. Lime leaves give the soup a signature taste. And chiles give it zing. No stock needed, nor cream or milk, the broth relies on water to give a clean, fresh taste.  The soup doesn't want for much, but packs a real punch, enough to give you a sinus-clearing buzz. Enough to make you sweat a bit. The resulting beaded brow and nose is well worth the effort.

Serves 4

1/2 pound thinly sliced Beef (see note below)
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
2-3 dried Red Chiles or more if you like it spicy
4 Garlic cloves
3 Ginger slices
1 red Onion
1 Sweet Potato (see note below)
7-8 Kaffir Lime leaves, fresh or frozen 
2 tablespoons Fish sauce
1 teaspoon Palm Sugar or Brown Sugar 
1 Lime, juiced
5 cups Water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Stack beef and chop into thin matchsticks.

Chop garlic into small bits.

Slice onion thinly.

Peel sweet potato and slice into half moons.

Heat canola oil in a 2 quart saucepan.

Drop red chiles into hot oil.

Quickly add sliced onion, garlic and ginger. Saute onions till you have brown edges.

Add beef and saute till meat is lightly browned.

Pour water into pan.

Squirt fish sauce to the water.

Add kaffir lime leaves, sweet potato, palm sugar, lime juice and salt. 

Bring soup to a boil, lower flame and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes.

Remove kaffir lime leaves before you sip. Though this is purely optional.

Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!


In place of uncooked beef you could use any cooked meat cut into small pieces The same goes for the sweet potato as well. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes and you have a faster version of the above soup.

If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves use the green skin of one lime.

Zing zing zing goes my soup bowl! It singing with spice. Sweet potato cuts a bit of the fire. Hints of lime, garlic and ginger hover in my mouth. After a few bowls I am adequately rewarded by inspiration and perspiration!