One thing I like about ground meat is how it is such a budget stretcher. A little goes a long, long way. Even if a lot of vegetables are added, and even if the proportion of vegetables to meat is terribly lop-sided, no one really feels too meat-deprived because everyone still gets some meat with every spoonful.
Take this miso, chayote and spinach soup, for instance. Two hundred and fifty grams of ground lean pork, two large chayote, a handful of spinach and a heaping tablespoonful of miso paste were practically all it took cook the dish. Four generous servings but can be stretched to feed up to six persons. I didn’t even use broth and the dish still turned out to be so tasty because of the miso paste. And since, in Asia, a lot of soup dishes are main dishes often served with rice, well, you can imagine how inexpensive good food can be with some imagination.
- 250 g. of ground pork (with at least 15% fat)
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- a thumb-sized pieces of ginger, chopped
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 large chayote, peeled, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
- 1 heaping tbsp. of miso paste
- a handful of spinach leaves
- Heat a non-stick cooking pot. Add the pork and stir to break up any lumps. Cook over high heat until the pork renders fat and the meat starts to brown.
- Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant.
- Pour in about a tablespoonful of patis. Sprinkle with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the fish sauce has been absorbed by the meat.
- Pour in about six cups of water. Add the chayote cubes. Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chayote cubes are tender.
- Stir in the miso paste to dissolve. Taste the broth. Add more patis and pepper, if needed.
- Add the spinach leaves. Simmer for two minutes.
- Serve the miso, chayote and spinach soup at once.