Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Roast Pork Soup

What to eat that is filling, warm, comforting, low-carb, and low fat? How about some terrifically delicious soup with roasted pork?

Roast Pork Soup: As Beautiful as it is Delicious!
There are several tricks that we chefs use to make first-rate soups. We start by jamming as much flavor into the soup stock as possible. And then we cook each of the garnishes separately so that they are at the peak of goodness. And everything is assembled at the last second before going to the table to preserve freshness of and prevent muddling of flavors. This soup is an exercise in just that.
Garnishes for the Soup
This soup has both raw and cooked garnishes, which you see in the photo above, staged for cooking. The cooked garnishes are the pork in the foreground and the green plate in the background. The raw garnishes are the cilantro, snow peas, and pickled mustard stems on the right of the photo.

Just before serving dinner, I quickly sautéed the nappa cabbage, shiitakes, carrots, pressed and spiced tofu, lop cheung sausage, and Chinese chives with finely minced ginger and garlic. After just a minute in the pan, I divided these among our deep soup bowls. Over this, I scattered the snow peas and the mustard stems. On top, I placed three small slices each of roast pork and then over all, I ladled on boiling soup stock, garnished with fresh cilantro, and rang the dinner bell.

Stock, the Key to any Great Soup
While I was prepping vegetables, I put together a stock, starting with a base of chicken stock. Into the stock I put several slabs of ginger, six lightly crushed cloves of garlic, a bunch of cilantro stems from last week, the bulb ends of a bunch of green onions from last week, the stems from the shiitake mushrooms, and the pièce de résistance, four or five fresh double kaffir lime leaves. I hadn't planned on adding lime leaves, but when I saw fresh ones in the market, I couldn't resist. Who can resist their unique and haunting citrus flavor? The stock simmered away while we watched a movie.

Hoisin-Agave Roasted Pork Loin
Early on in the afternoon, I rubbed a piece of very lean pork loin with hoisin sauce, agave nectar, and black pepper and let it sit on the counter to warm slightly before cooking. I roasted it at very high temperature for about 25 minutes to an internal temperature of 135F (knowing it would carry through to 145 or slightly higher while cooling).

All these steps and separate cooking or not of garnishes, really, is arguably a lot of fuss for a bowl of soup. But I'm a chef and this is what we do. And the results? You can't argue with them.

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