August 27th, 2007


A shortcut to "Almost The World's Best Soup"

There used to be a restaurant in Palo Alto that served a "hot braised beef wonton soup." This wonderful soup had a strong beef broth flavored with star anise and hot chili peppers. This soup went away, alas, when the restaurant closed.

Recently I was scouring the Internet and found a recipe for a "Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup" where the broth recipe sounded about right.

Today I was at work, feeling a bit feverish, so on the way home I decided to make a "cheater's version" of this soup. I went to Piazza's, a small, local chain that has lots of esoteric ingredients not carried in The Big Stores and picked up some boxed beef broth, star anise, and a few fresh chilis. The store didn't have frozen wontons, but it did have frozen kreplach. "Even better!" I thought. Kreplach is "Jewish comfort food" or the Kosher equivalent of wontons.

I went home, simmered the soup with three stars of anise and two split chilis for half an hour. I then reconstituted the soup (which was nearly evaporated), removed the chilis and anise stars, and boiled the kreplach in it.

The end result could've used a tad less pepper, a tad more star anise, and a bit more beef flavor, but hey, it was quick and easy and close enough to hit the spot. Even cooler, it was Kosher! :-)

Sometime I'm going to try the recipe I found on the Internet and see if it comes close. Meanwhile, I just want to feel better.
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