From a Souped Up Lotus to a Lotused Up Soup

SoupedUpLotus

One of my boyhood fantasies was that I would have a “souped up” Lotus sports car when I grew up.  Although my dream of owning such a machine was not to be, sometimes when I get behind the wheel of my Honda Fit,  I find myself trying to imagine what it would be like if it had a v-6, 3.5 liter supercharger premium unleaded V-6 engine capable of 400 hp @ 7,000 rpm that could do 60 mph in 4.1 seconds – that is, until I step on the gas.

MyFit

Before I explain what a “souped up” Lotus has to do with this blog you need to know the source of the term “souped up.”  It actually didn’t originate with autos, but with horses. More specifically, it refers to the drugs (or “soup”) injected into a horse to enhance its speed – hence, a “souped up” horse.   The term has evolved to refer to a car with an engine modified for the sake of speed.   Since today’s blog is really about soup  (thank goodness it’s not about “urging the eradication of the male sex” as Ann mentions in her side of the blog), it makes sense that I discuss something related to soup. And, although I may never find a souped up Lotus in my garage, I am happy to report that I have found lotus in my soup.  And, if you haven’t already noticed, the logo for our blog is a rendition of a bowl of lotus root soup which makes discussing this dish almost imperative.

BLM Suzuki Image

Our Big Little Meals logo by Tomoko Suzuki

In shifting my focus from Lotus cars to lotus plants, I did a bit of research and came up with some fascinating tidbits. For example, in The Odyssey Homer writes of the “lotus eaters,” a mythical tribe that was addicted to the fruit of the lotus plant which induced  indifference to the worries and stresses of the everyday world (wouldn’t we all like a little of that!). Evidently, after Odysseus’ men took a couple of hits of lotus fruit he had one hell of a time getting them back onto the ship to continue rowing across the sea.  I wonder if it ever occurred to him that rowing was not a highly prized occupational choice in those days and the reluctance to get back on the ship may have been more of a rational choice than lotus-induced apathy. In any case, Homer’s epic tale included no recipes for lotus dishes, something I plan to remedy here.

LotusEatersBacktoBoat

Only by dragging his men back to the ship and locking them up can Odysseus get them off the Lotus Eaters’ island.

Odyssey Boat

With an encounter with the Cyclops to look forward to, who in their right mind would want to go back to Odysseus’ ship in the first place?

The lotus plant also has religious significance.  Buddha supposedly said, “As the lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by the mud and water, so the wise one speaks of peace and is unstained by the opinions of the world.” This seems pretty apropos advice for our own political day and age.

BuddaOnLotus

In case you are wondering, the Buddha is sitting on a lotus blossom.

In addition, the lotus plant is found in ancient hieroglyphics and even earlier forms of art. But more pertinent to my purposes here, as depicted by this graph from Organic Facts lotus root is a nutritious food.

Lotus root health benefits

But most of all, when prepared properly the lotus root is a delicious addition to many dishes.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that my first introduction to lotus root came when Ann and I were testing recipes for our daughter Sara’s Asian Vegetables cook book in which she includes recipes for Grace Young‘s lotus root salad and for a miso soup with lotus root.  The inspiration for the recipe I am including in this blog is from the Woks of Life (love that blog name!).   But Ann gets credit for the creative tweaks and embellishments that make this recipe so special, and which turned the recipe into a more Japanese-style soup.

We found the lotus root at one of our favorite Asian markets, Phnom-Penh Oriental Grocery (which I mention in a previous blog) and the pork ribs, already cut down the middle, at a local Mexican market, Lola’s (ask your butcher to cut them if they are not already).   The soup turned out great and is definitely on my to-do-again list.

LotusSoup pic2

Almost-Japanese Lotus Root and Pork Rib Curry Soup

Almost-Japanese Lotus Root and Pork Rib Curry Soup

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Print
Ideal for crock pot cooking. The vegetables included in this recipe are not set in stone. Be creative and go with what tickles your fancy.  For example, you could saute coarsely chopped okra, zucchini, green beans, kale, or mushrooms to add in the last few minutes to the pork and lotus root.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork spare ribs
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 generous T curry powder (preferable S&B)
  • 1 pound lotus root, peeled and thinly sliced (pop it in some vinegar water, if you’re keeping it for any length of time, so it won’t turn brown)
  • 6 thin slices of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon dried goji berries (optional)
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Fresno red chile, diced (optional)
  • 1 bunch broccoli florets – or broccolini which has been sliced into 3″ segments

Cover the pork ribs with water in a large pot and bring to a hard boil, then drain and rinse the ribs. Put them back in the pot and cover them again with water, add the salt, and place them on high heat until boiling.  Immediately turn the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for about 1 hour, skimming off any fat and residue while the ribs are simmering.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent (about 2 minutes).  Add the curry powder and saute for another minute.  When the pork has cooked for the first hour, add the sauteed onion and garlic and the lotus root, ginger, and goji berries to the pot with the ribs.  Bring it back to boil, and then immediately turn it to down to a slow simmer. Cover and let it gently simmer for another hour.  Add more salt – or soy sauce – to taste.

Use the same skillet in which you sautéed the onion and garlic, add a bit more oil and – over medium high heat – quickly fry the bell pepper, chile, and broccoli, stirring frequently,  until they’re almost soft.  Then add them to the pork pot 15 minutes or so before the soup is done (you don’t want the greens to lose their bright color).

Dish it up and enjoy.

This recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals.com and Andy and Ann.

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