Steaming-Hot Miso Soup

Who doesn’t love a steaming-hot miso soup?  And if that’s just your reason to dine in a Japanese restaurant (me: miso soup, teriyaki beef, california rolls and fried rice…that’s all for me!), then it’s time to make this “bit salty, bit fishy” soup at home.   Turning Japanese-ah in this post and you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a good miso soup.

This ain’t your authentic Japanese Restaurant-served miso soup.  Dashi or fish-based stock (dried fish flakes added to boiling water and then strained) is absent in this recipe but still this soup is delicious with patis or fish sauce added to the stock instead.  If you’re feeling fancy, add some cooked clams in shells and garnish with parsley or cilantro.  Only one thing to remember about cooking with miso — “Don’t overcook miso,


4 cups water
2 chicken stock cubes
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce or patis
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 sheet roasted Nori, cut into strips
4 tablespoons mild miso (soybean paste, Miko brand I use)
1/2 cup diced firm tofu (would normally leave this out, only if available)
2 to 3 blanced baby bokchoy, roughly chopped

In a medium or large saucepan, boil water with chicken cubes, fish sauce and red pepper flakes.    Measure miso in a liquid measuring cup and add about 1/4 cup of hot stock, whisking well to dissolve and soften miso.  Lower heat to simmer and add nori strips and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in softened miso and turn off heat.  To serve, divide blanced baby bokchoy and diced tofu in serving bowls.  Pour steaming hot miso soup over and enjoy!

Optional ingredients:
canned button or straw mushrooms, drained
eggs, hard-boiled, poached or scrambled and cut into strips
cooked rice noodles
cooked fish fillets
cooked pork slices
canned bamboo shoots
canned asparagus


Stacey Fokas’ Pulled Chicken and Apple Butternut Squash Soup

I roasted chicken legs in the oven instead of the boiled chicken breasts.  Love this nice addition of pulled chicken (for that added texture), making this an outstanding butternut squash soup…Stacey, you have my 2 thumbs-up on this one!

(Excerpt from Freshalicious by Stacey Fokas with special credit to Photographer Mike McColl-Photos with Sauce for the fabulous photos)    For more info, pls visit,

2 sliced chicken breasts
1 medium butternut squash, 6 cups chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 peeled large Empire apples (not available in Chicago, and got an ok from Stacey to use a substitute)
1-2 teaspoon ground sage (didn’t have one, so I used pumpkin pie spice)
Sea salt to taste
2 sliced scallions
drizzle of sunflower oil

Peel the squash, cut into cubes, and set aside.

Toss the whole chicken breasts into a small pot of salted boiling water and cook until the pink is gone from their centres.  Remove them from the water and set aside.   Pour the water from the chicken into the large pot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.   Peel and chop the apples and toss into the soup.  Add the butternut squash, keeping 2 cups aside.  As the soup is cooking, add sage and sea salt to taste.  Cook the 2 cups of squash separately in fresh water in the small pot.  Boil for about 10 minutes or until the squash is soft – it must stay firm enough to retain its cube shape.  Drain and set aside.
Blend the large pot of soup until creamy.  Pull the chicken apart, ripping it so it has texture and the pieces are small enough to fit on a spoon.  Add it to the soup along with the separately boiled squash.  Serve in soup bowls.  Garnish with chopped scallions and a drizzle of sunflower oil.

Serves 4 – 6.

Here’s the empire apple image that Stacey sent me….

Steak Fajita Soup

When temp’s plunges down to the 10s, you gotta think hot soup…and after checking my fridge and pantry for possible soup ingredients, I had a pack of inexpensive charcoal steak saved…voila, a steak fajita soup!

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pack (1/2 lb) charcoal steak, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoons homemade fajita seasoning mix (make your own, it’s cheaper! — see recipe below)
1 tablespoon Goya Cilantro Cooking Base
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups water
1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 calamansi (native lemon) or juice of 1/2 lemon
1 heart of romaine lettuce, washed and cut into chunks (Recently bought a pack containing 3 hearts)

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, green peppers; saute until onions are softened.  Add the  sliced steak and fajita seasoning, stir-frying until steak is no longer pink on the outside, about 3 minutes.   Add cilantro base, diced tomatoes and water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, add corn and pinto beans, and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.    Add salt and pepper to taste (ok, hot sauce too if you like).   Stir in lemon juice and heart of romaine.   Ladle generous amounts of hot soup into large bowls or mugs, top with tortilla chips, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro and sour cream…even shredded cheddar cheese!


Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix
Two tablespoons of this mix equals 1 store-bought seasoning packet.

1 chicken bouillon cube, finely crushed with back of a spoon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Store in plastic container, and seal tightly.

Soupin’ it up with Almondigas

You don’t have the time to cook a pot of soup?  And rather open up a can of high sodium instant soups — oh no, stop.  Perhaps you’d try my recipe of “love this always” Almondigas soup.  Few preps and you’d be off to boiling the flavorful stock.  Almondigas are meat balls, you guessed it right, of Spanish origin.  Chinese educate us to enjoy filled wontons in wonton soups, Fisherman’s wharf have us screaming for more clam chowders…well, starting today, when you make this recipe, you’d be making almondigas the next best thing (but promise not to tell your friends the secret ingredient, which I’ll identify boldly in the recipe).   For many Filipinos, classic almondigas is soup of pork balls and misua (very fine rice vermicille).  So you need a pack of ground pork (you’d only use half for this recipe, but you can always double the recipe to consume the whole lb package), carrots, celery, shrimp-flavored Ramen soup (use only the seasoning packet to flavor the broth or stock), and patis (or fish sauce, adds that special flavor in addition to its saltiness, but salt is fine).  The rest are staples…onions, minced garlic, salt and pepper, eggs and all-purpose flour.

Glenn brought this to work…and his co-workers (all Americans) tried and loved, loved, loved it….I made a double batch…and all consumed.   Here’s the recipe and photos too…enjoy!

When nights just get colder, a warm soup comes first in my mind.  Here’s a favorite soup of mine, so easy, and is delicioso.  Misua is fine vermicilli you buy in oriental stores.

For Broth:
1 – 2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (divided: add half to broth and half to pork balls)
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 pc carrot, finely chopped (divided: add half to broth and half to pork balls)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped (divided: add half to broth and half to pork balls)
1 Shrimp-flavored Ramen Noodle soup seasoning packet (if misua is not available, then use the ramen noodles instead) SECRET INGREDIENT
6 cups water
few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes
patis (fish sauce), salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 bundle of misua

For Pork Balls:
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
half of finely chopped large onion
half of finely chopped carrot
half of finely chopped celery stalk
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For Pork Balls – Mix all ingredients in a bowl and form into small pork balls.

For Broth – Heat cooking oil in a wok.  Add  the onions, garlic, carrot and celery to hot oil and saute until the onion is soft.  Stir in ramen seasoning packet.  Add water and crushed red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.   Lower the heat and drop in the pork balls.  Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Add beaten eggs and stir gently.   Add patis, salt and pepper to taste.  Add misua, turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes.  Transfer to individual soup bowls and may top with fried garlic or chopped green onions.  Serve hot!

“Autumn in the Bowl” Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash was such a bargain last time we did our grocery shopping, so I grabbed 3 nice -sized pieces.   I love butternut squash  — for soups, for chili, even for lasagna.   Already took care of one by adding butternut squash chunks to ground beef, diced tomatoes and green beans — no recipe needed, it’s all sauteing and cooking until veggies get tender.   Now it’s time to make my pure and simple butternut squash soup.

Starts with butternut squash  — I separate the neck and the base, it’s much easier that way to peel away the skin then, by knife or by peeler (I use knife).  Remove the seeds (discard them if you are not  a pepitas lover) and cut into nice-size chunks.

You’ve seen this “magic seasoning” in most of my recipes — Sazon Goya (con cilantro y achiote), love it love it for flavor and color.  Use a packet and sautee along with chopped onion, minced garlic and variety of aromatics — ginger, nutmeg, and “go easy on” curry.

This usually is a thick orange-colored soup that I prefer the butternut squash flavor stand out and not masked by a pear or an apple.

This is super easy, simple and just a great tasting creamy soup….so go ahead and double the recipe.   Goes great with simple mixed greens salad and cornbread or baked biscuits.    You may want to garnish top with a drizzle of extra cream, fried garlic, or croutons.

Here’s the recipe….


1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks
1 tablespoon oil or butter
1 sachet Sazon Goya seasoning
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups water or chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons cream or half and half
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the oil, Sazon seasoning, chopped onion, minced garlic, brown sugar and spices in a large pot for 2 minutes.  Add squash chunks, continue sauteing for 5 minutes.  Add water or broth and let boil.   Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for about 30 to 4 0 minutes or until squash is soft.  Use an immersion blender and process the ingredients until smooth.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.    Garnish and serve hot.   Yield:  4 servings.

Chilly Hearthy Chili

I’ve seen chili recipes cooked for 2 hours, really now!   When winter’s almost here, we just want a quickie chili that tastes like it’s cooked for 2 hours.

Always start with browning the ground beef and drain off the fat from the meat…this step ensures we only eat the healthy beef.   Then give the chili that bright red eye-appeal with a packet of Sazon seasoning you sautee with garlic and onion.   I go easy on the chili powder, but you can always add a tablespoon more or two.

Serve this really hot with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese and chopped fresh cilantro.  Gotta have cornbread with chili — am sure you have a favorite recipe already.  I like my cornbread a bit sweet, it just makes the chili a stand-out and tastes like you momma cooked it for hours.

Here’s the recipe:

Chilly Hearthy Chili

1  lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 tablespoons oil
1 packet Sazon seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (16 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Topping: grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat oil and Sazon seasoning in a wok or skillet.  Add minced garlic and chopped onions and saute until chopped onions soften.   Add rest of ingredients and bring to boil.   Lower heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 10 minutes.  Serve hot in bowls with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese.  Serve with your favorite cornbread, cut into wedges.

Corn Chowder Extraordinaire

I love this soup; it’s easy, fast and really creamy good.  Ready in less than 30 minutes, this simple homemade soup will always be a hit.

Corn Chowder Extraordinaire

1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 can tall evaporated milk plus enough water to equal 4 cups
1 pack Ramen chicken noodle soup
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream-style corn
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans vienna sausage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a stockpot or large saucepan, saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in butter over medium high heat.  Add crushed red pepper and parsley flakes.  Pour milk mixture and let boil.  Add Ramen noodles and contents of seasoning packet.  When noodles are almost tender, add whole kernel corn, cream-style corn, cream of chicken soup and chopped vienna sausage.   Heat through; add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in instant mashed potato flakes and grated cheese.  Yield:  4 servings.


Butternut squash looks like a vase, it has a neck part and a base. I created 2 recipes out of one butternut squash. The neck part is peeled and chopped in chunks and roasted along with granny smith apple and sweet potato for a wonderful soup. The base part is also chopped, but thinly, roasted also, and transformed into a yummy quesadilla.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:

neck portion of 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

1 granny smith apple, seeded and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, cut into chunks

1 thumb-size fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half

1 star of anise

1 bayleaf

4 cups water or chicken stock

1/2 cup whipping cream

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange chunks of butternut squash (neck portion), sweet potato and apple in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt, chili powder and black pepper. Toss to coat well. Cover with another piece of aluminum foil and bake in preheated 400 F oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a wok or soup pot, saute in 2 tablespoons butter: minced garlic, chopped onions, celery chunks, fresh ginger slices. Add roasted vegetables, 4 cups water or broth, star of anise and bayleaf. Boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard ginger pieces, star of anise and bayleaf. Puree with stick blender or add in batches in blender to puree. Return to heat, add 1/2 cup whipping cream. Adjust salt and pepper.

Butternut Quesadilla:

base portion of 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper

4 or 6 pieces flour tortillas

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup grated cheese (Karoun smoked cheese, cheddar, swiss, or mozarella)

choice of canned tuna (drained) or canned vienna sausage (sliced)

Arrange slices of butternut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well. Cover with another piece of aluminum foil and bake in preheated 400 F oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Set aside.

Arrange 4 or 6 flour tortillas on a foil-lined baking tray. Spread melted butter on top side of the tortilla. Layer over half of each tortilla: roasted butternut squash, grated cheese and canned tuna/vienna sausage. Fold each tortilla over and press gently to form a half-circle. Bake at preheated 400 F oven for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve hot with salsa or sour cream.




Time to unpack those hood jackets again, summer heat is definitely gone and chill is going to be here for awhile. So to welcome the fall or autumn season, how about FALLing in love with my “Welcome to Fall” soup. This is a fall favorite of mine…and it is loaded with OKRA.

Go ahead and substitute smoked sausage with chunks of leftover roasted chicken, or cooked pork.

And if you haven’t used sambal oelek or chili paste in your cooking, and like your food spicier…then keep a bottle or a jar always in your fridge. Sambal oelek is great on just about everything…yes, everything!

Lastly, just a reminder, go easy on the Chinese 5 spice powder which is packed with bits of star anise, cloves, black peppercorns, fennel seed and cinnamon.

1 tablespoon cooking oil

3 pcs smoked sausage, sliced diagonally

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies

2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth

1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel sweet corn, drained

1 package (1 lb) frozen cut okra

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder

1 teaspoon sambal oelek

Patis or fish sauce and black pepper to taste

Lightly brown sliced smoked sausage in hot oil; then transfer sausage to a bowl and set aside. Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil until onion is translucent. Stir in remaining ingredients, including the sliced smoked sausage. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Correct seasoning to taste with patis and black pepper. Serve immediately.


Soup season is here — and spinach soup is just the next best thing!


6 slices bacon, chopped

6 tablespoons butter, divided

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cans chicken broth (plus enough water to equal 4 cups)

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup 2% or whole milk

2 bunches fresh spinach, washed well, stemmed and sliced into ribbons

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon NUTRIFIT Lemon Garden Spice Blend

Salt and pepper to taste



In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, fry bacon slices until brown and crisp. Remove and transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towel. Reduce heat to medium, add 2 tablespoons butter, chopped onions, minced garlic and julienned carrots to the bacon grease, and saute until onions are soft. Stir in chicken broth and heat until boiling. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add milk and spinach, cover and cook until spinach is just wilted, about 2 minutes. In a small bowl, blend remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup flour together using a fork. Stir flour mixture to broth to thicken. Add heavy cream and continue cooking until just heated through. Add 1 teaspoon NUTRIFIT lemon garden spice blend and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of reserved crispy bacon slices. Yield: 5 servings

It is fall perfect too!