Saturday, August 8, 2020

Tori's Chinese Comfort Soup: Guest Post and Recipe by Tori Eldridge

Tori Eldridge:
Tori’s Chinese Comfort Soup 

Everyone who’s read The Ninja Daughter or the upcoming The Ninja’s Blade (out September 1st) are instantly hit by two things: the fast-paced action and Lily Wong’s obsession with food. This ninja heroine has a foodie’s palate and a sumo wrestler’s appetite that will have you dreaming of sizzling garlic shrimp, barbecued pork tamales, and Gruyère-potato beignets. And if you think your stomach growls through these books as a reader, imagine what it’s like for me as the author, writing about my favorite Chinese comfort foods like chow fun, congee, and crispy-skin roasted duck.

In books one and two, I sent Lily to foodie paradises in Los Angeles like République, Tokyo Fried Chicken, and my fictitious Pacos Tacos for the best tamales in the city. Now that I’m writing book three, I can salivate over comfort foods I ate in the cha chaan teng (tea restaurants) in Hong Kong and five-star restaurants I wish I had visited.

Just writing this article has me craving the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and Kurobuta pork sticky rice wraps from my favorite dim sum haunt in Glendale that I haven’t been able to visit since the social distancing began.

Are you getting hungry? Because I am.

So, after whetting your appetite, I figured the least I could do is share my easy-to-make Tori’s Chinese Comfort Soup. It features boneless chicken thighs, sweet green cabbage, and loads of fresh ginger and garlic. Sometimes, as in the photo below, I even add cubes of butternut squash.

I make this soup a couple times a month and eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. To me, a good Asian-style soup is an anytime food, especially when it’s homemade, low in sodium, and gluten free.

Why so health conscious? Because unlike my ninja heroine—who burns thousands of calories zipping around town on her racing bike, sprinting across rooftops, or fighting members of the Varrio Norwalk 66 gang—I actually have to monitor my sugars, fats, and calories. Go figure!

I hope you enjoy this healthy and delicious soup. And because I rarely follow a recipe without adding my own embellishments, I’ve included a couple of variations. Please feel free to add and delete as you please. The measurements are estimates, so mince and pour as you will.

Tori’s Chicken Cabbage Soup (with variations) 

2 frozen boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon (or as needed)100% pure Asian-style sesame oil
1/2 cup sliced sweet onion
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 1/3 cup sake
1 32-oz box low-sodium or unsalted beef or chicken broth
1/3 green cabbage shredded

Option: 2 cups cubed pre-cooked butternut squash
Option: 2 eggs swirled with broccoli and sliced mushrooms
Option: pre-cooked wonton dumplings
Option: low-sodium soy sauce and chopped scallions

1. Coat a pan in sesame oil and brown one side of the chicken.
2. Turn the chicken over and add onions, garlic, and ginger. (If using mushrooms, sauté here.)
3. Add sake to deglaze pan and chop chicken with metal spatula or knife.
4. When sake evaporates, add beef or chicken broth and bring to boil.
5. Add cabbage and simmer.
6. Add optional squash or pre-cooked wontons with extra water if desired. 7. Serve with low-sodium soy sauce and freshly chopped scallions.

Tori Eldridge is a Honolulu-born writer, a 5th degree black belt ninja, and a former actress, dancer, singer on Broadway, television, and film. She writes action-packed, culturally-rich thrillers and mystically intriguing suspense, empowering non-fiction, and has taught ninjutsu and empowerment across the country. She is the author of Ninja Daughter and The Ninja's Blade (coming in September)