A chunky soup that turned out surprisingly well considering that I really didn’t have a clear plan on how I was going to make it when I started slicing, chopping and dicing. My original intention was to make a meatless soup for Sam — which I did — and because I try to stuff her with all the vegetables I can get my hands on when she’s home on weekends, I threw in upo (bottle gourd), kalabasa (squash) and spinach leaves, plus all the mushrooms I had in the fridge, into the pot.
Not wanting to cook another soup dish for the omnivores in the family, I divided the soup into two portions and added slices of cooked beef brisket to the larger portion. Both versions were delicious — colorful, filling and comforting.
The vegetables in the ingredients list can, of course, be substituted with ones you prefer. Even the mushrooms can be something other than shiitake. Go with what you think you’ll enjoy better. Just remember that a soup — any soup — always starts with good broth. I prefer homemade; if you opt for store-bought, I urge you to use the best quality broth that you can get your hands on and can afford.
- 2 tbsps. of cooking oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 6 shiitake mushrooms (caps only), thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 6 to 8 c. of broth, preferably homemade (I used beef broth; use vegetable broth if you want a vegan soup)
- 2 c. of diced upo (bottle gourd)
- 2 c. of diced kalabasa (squash)
- a large handful of spinach leaves
- sliced cooked beef (I used brisket), as much as you like
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Throw in the garlic, onion, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables soften a bit.
- Pour in the broth. Taste. Add more salt and pepper, as needed.
- Add the spinach leaves, diced upo and kalabasa.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste at this point. Depending on how well-seasoned the broth is, you may need to add more salt and pepper as the vegetables would have soaked up a lot of the salt in the broth.
- If you are cooking two versions of the soup, meaty and meatless, this is the time to divide the soup into two portions. Ladle into another pot enough soup for the meatless version. Continue cooking the meatless soup until the vegetables are done.
- To the remaining soup in the original pot, add the sliced beef. Cover the pot once more and continue cooking just until the vegetables are done and the beef is heated through.
- Serve hot.