The Teochews like their soups clean and light, the Cantonese prefer them full-bodied, while the Westerners seem to favour thick, creamy soups.
I’m Teochew, which probably explains why I’m not fond of creamy soups and avoid ordering soup from a Western menu. I have to ask if cream has been added.
My friend is worse. She is allergic to chicken and will ask if chicken stock has been used – which is usually the case – in soups as well as other dishes.
This broth, which I discovered in an Italian restaurant, need not rely on chicken stock and does not use tomatoes, which is unusual for an Italian eatery.
But it is still a hearty soup, thickened with walnuts.
The nuts add flavour and nutrients. They are a much better choice than the usual corn flour thickener, which can turn out lumpy and does not add much to the taste.
These tree nuts have antioxidants and proteins offering a multitude of health benefits. But I merely like the richness and slight bitterness of the nut, which bring complexity to the pot.
Best of all, the soup does not use cream. But this is still a full-bodied brew, full of nutty goodness.
When I make it, I also use mushrooms for added flavour. They can be any kind, though the wild variety and porcinis, of course, are better. And, if they are dried, they turn out even more fragrant, as the drying process concentrates the flavour.
Not bad at all for a soup that does not use cream or chicken stock and has mainly two ingredients – mushrooms and walnuts.
And, of course, it is healthy, due to the mushrooms in it.
Dr Andrew Weill, an advocate for mushrooms, said they have anti- tumour, cholesterol-lowering, antiviral and immune-enhancing properties, in particular, Asian mushrooms such as the shiitake and maitake. He is the founder and director of the Arizona Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Centre in the United States.
For me, this is a soup to make again and again. As it is filling enough, it can even replace a meal on some days, which helps if you are counting your calories.
If you like a spot of green to liven up the looks, just throw in whatever baby greens you have – kale, water cress or spinach – and the soup will be nutritious and pretty enough to eat.
Get Sylvia Tan’s Walnut And Mushroom Soup recipe here.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her most recent recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.
Text: Sylvia Tan/The Straits Times / Photos: Kua Chee Siong/The Straits Times, Pixabay
Love food and cooking? Join our Domestic Diva Circle to get cooking tips, special invitations to culinary events and exclusive giveaways. Sign up here for free now!
Chef’s Secrets: Make This Comforting Spicy Mulligatawny Soup On Rainy Days
Chef’s Secrets: Learn How To Cook This Plate Of Traditional Teochew Steamed Mullet
Chef’s Secrets: Sprout Your Own Beans At Home To Turn Them Into Salads