Monday, December 08, 2008


A 'Bright' Soup for Barbara
picture photograph image ALT 2008 copyright of sam breach

On Sunday, when I posted a virtual hug for Barbara, I promised to follow up with a recipe for her, something she might be able to manage to eat whilst going through Chemotherapy. Let's be clear, I really have no idea about what somebody who has to endure this kind of treatment might be comfortable consuming. But what I do know is that when I am feeling under the weather, soup is a food I often turn to for warmth and comfort. And if I am feeling nauseous then I tend towards the clean bright flavours of a thin, spicy soup.

There is a recipe in Matthew Drennan's book Simply Sensational Soup for 'tom yam gung' that I often turn to as a guide. I can't claim to understand how much of an authentic Thai soup the recipe makes and after I have chopped and changed the ingredients around to suit what is in season and what I have to hand, I doubt it is anything close to an original soup from Thailand. But what I do know is that I have liked this recipe enough to riff on it many times and enjoy the results. In a helpful comment on this post someone pointed out that spice might not be the most appropriate thing for a Chemotherapy patient, in which case I recommend using only the mildest of chilies for colour, or even experiment by replacing them with a little ginger. This soup is so packed full of other fragrant flavours, leaving out the spice component shouldn't damage it too much. Either way, without further ado, this is the version I made, yesterday, in Barbara's honour...

4 cups Duck Broth [Fatted Calf]
1 Tablespoon Peanut Oil
1 Bag Tofu Puffs [Hodo Soy Beanery]
1 Tablespoon Chili Jam [Tierra]
Grated zest & juice of 1 lime [Bernard Ranches]
1 shallot, minced [Dirty Girl]
1 Garlic, minced
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves, shredded [Bernard Ranches]
2 red chilies, one minced, one shredded
1 lemon grass stalk, diced [Chue's Farm]
1 punnet Shiitake Mushrooms, halved [Far West Funghi]
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Green onion or Scallion, to garnish, shredded [Catalán Family Farm]
Salt & Pepper

- In a heavy saucepan bring the following ingredients to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes: Duck Broth, Peanut Oil, Chili Jam, Lime zest, Shallot, Garlic, Kaffir Leaves, Minced Chili and lemongrass.
- Strain the stock into a clean pan and add the mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, shredded chili and sugar. Simmer for 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are just cooked. Add the tofu puffs and simmer for a further minute to heat them through. Season to taste and serve garnished with shredded green onions.

Serves four, probably

Made with lots of love for Barbara and her family...

2005 | David Lebovitz - Will this be the man I marry?
2004 | The Start of My love Affair with Hangar One

© 2008 Sam Breach


  • At 9/12/08 06:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This looks lovely for someone nursing one of those more-than-a-cold things that's going around. Saturday I flew home with a congested head and the first thing I wanted was Tom Yum soup. This looks so, so much better than the take-out I ended up with.

    Spicy soup might be a little irritating to battered insides, though. When I've fed chemo patients they've seemed to want comfort food if anything. Custard/Flan is always a hit -- bland but nourishing. Bet you've got a wonderful recipe for that.


  • At 9/12/08 07:13, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks susan - as per your comment I adjusted the post and suggested mild chilis.

    cheers, sam

  • At 9/12/08 16:22, Anonymous EB said…

    How incredibly thoughtful and sweet

  • At 9/12/08 20:50, Anonymous Ross said…

    From a former chemo patient: it's a sweet thought and it sounds lovely for a cold but apart from the spice there are two other issues. A highly scented soup might be intolerable - I couldn't be in the same HOUSE as a cooked onion - and it's a bit short on calories. My nutritionist told me to EAT FAT because the day might come when I wouldn't want to eat anything. Fortunately that day never came. Anyway, your kind wishes to your friend will have been appreciated.

  • At 9/12/08 22:51, Blogger Barbara said…

    Actually Sam this is pretty perfect. I can't eat highly spiced food but I have been craving Tom Yum Soup and have been getting soup from our local Thai made with ginger and coconut milk. I do eat a lot of custard and jelly in the middle of the night. It helps with the nausea but it doesn't satisfy my tastebuds. Fried onions I love with a pork sausage and mashed potatoes and is one of the few things Bryan can cook without me standing over him. Funnily enough the smell that effects me the most is wine and I can smell Bryan's glass when he pours it in the kitchen. Some nights I make him sit on the balcony and drink it so I don't have to smell it. Thankyou for this delicious soup.Ilove it.

  • At 10/12/08 07:13, Blogger ChrisB said…

    That looks quite delicious Sam-Beccy and I have just come back from lunch at M&S Deli.

  • At 10/12/08 10:37, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    What a nice idea Sam! I think it's hard to know what any one person would want to eat in this situation. When I'm nauseous or recovering from being ill, all I can eat is bananas - but when I'm not, I don't even like them (except in banana cream pie!) so go figure. Still think it sounds great and looks beautiful!

  • At 10/12/08 15:56, Blogger Barbara said…

    Sam I awoke in the middle of the night and realised I didn't actually say thank you for this fabulous recipe. So a belated thank you and a big big virtual hug right back at you.

  • At 27/12/08 14:52, Anonymous Carolyn Jung said…

    I love how this soup made for a sick friend is made with ingredients from other friends. It's like a whole community coming together to nourish an ailing soul. There can be no better tonic than that.


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