Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lucky Soup for the New Year

Tom chuet wun sen
Tom chuet wun sen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have fallen in love with soup-making, and it’s partly due to its magical ability to extend, revive and reinvent food. It’s an invaluable way to maximize leftovers and the usually neglected tops and ends of vegetables.
In honor of the upcoming New Year, and as part of cleaning out the cabinets, I researched symbolic meanings of certain vegetables and realized that, altogether, they would make a very delicious soup. I've stretched a few associations but it's all in good fun.

Cooked corned beef, eaten on St. Patrick's Day...
Cooked corned beef, eaten on St. Patrick's Day in 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Leafy greens, such as cabbage or kale, are considered symbolic of money in the countries of Germany or Denmark, and places like the American South. Round foods, like peas, or carrot slices, are said to represent coins. Pork is symbolic of wealth in many cultures, for example, pigs’ feet in Sweden, pork sausage in Italy, and roast suckling pig in Ireland. Interestingly, backwards-scratching chickens are considered by some to be unlucky, which is why the recipe calls for vegetable broth, and not chicken.  Beef broth would work well as Corned Beef was considered a luxury by early American Irish immigrants. Sadly, lobsters are also considered unlucky because of their backwards swimming. The Chinese actually used the chicken as a positive symbol.

Prosperity Soup

·       Any  amount of leftover ham or turkey (or both!) (wealth) - usually at least 1 cup

·       4 cups of vegetable broth (prosperity)

·       About 1 cup of cabbage (money)

·       About ½ cup of peas (money)

·       About ½ cup carrots, sliced into circles (wealth)

·       About 1/2 to 1/4 cup sliced onions (long life)
·       Salt, pepper to taste (salt for wealth, pepper for wealth, affluence)

·       A splash of red wine (for joy!)

Simmer together these 12 ingredients – one for each month of the New Year! - on a stove until piping hot. Serve with corn bread.

Here some optional additions with which you can personalize your spin on this:
Black eyed Peas (“Coins” - American south)
Celery slices (shaped like a lucky horseshoe – I made that up, but it works, doesn’t it?)
Corn (“Sustenance” – North America)
Lentils (Italy, Brazil)
Long Noodles (for “Long life” - China; or Soba Noodles in Japan. We can use spaghetti, too because it is a noodle and it is long. Apparently spaghetti works as a symbol of cheer in the Philippines, too.)
Rice (“Wealth” – China)
Shitake Mushrooms ( “Longevity” – East Asia)

Happy New Year!
Update: I've simmered my ham bone in the crockpot with a good amount of water for about 12 hours the other day. The water became a very delicious stock, without adding any broth, and the bone broke into pieces (which I removed, of course). I chilled the soup in the refrigerator because I intended on re-heating it the next day. The fat rose to the top and I skimmed off the white layer, to make for a clear-er broth, and I also removed some of the fatty meat that my daughter usually finds "disgusting". The soup is amazing!
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