Category Archives: Soups - Page 2

Creamy Steamed Egg Soup

This is a sort of hybrid of an omelette, the steamed egg custards which are popular in Asia, and a soup.

It is a good for busy families because:

(a)    it is quick and easy to make;

(b)   it can be eaten at any meal – breakfast, lunch, or dinner; and

(c)    it can satisfy a diversity of tastes, since each family member can choose a personal set of ingredients and cook the meal in his own bowl.


Here’s a sample set of ingredients:  eggs, cream, and bone broth (for a great broth, get bones with as much fat and collagen attached as you can!); scallions, tomatoes, and shrimp.

The volume of the cream and broth should be equal to the volume of the eggs. Water or milk can be substituted for broth if it is unavailable. Other ingredients we frequently use are shiitake mushrooms, onions, smoked gouda or pecorino romano cheese, bell peppers, bacon, meats, and fish. Not shown are herbs and spices to taste.

Start by mixing the eggs, cream, and bone broth:

Pour these into a bowl through a strainer. This breaks the egg white up into tiny pieces, mixing it into the fat and broth and preventing chunks of uncooked protein from appearing in the soup.

Then, mix in the other ingredients and spices to taste:

While you’re doing that, start a little water boiling in a wok:

You’ll need a steaming tray to put in the wok; this elevates the bowls above the boiling water.

If you have a large pot with a steaming basket, that will work equally well. We used the wok because it has a glass cover and we can take pictures as it cooks.

It comes out looking like this:

And here it is served:

You want to cook just long enough – 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the bowl – so that protein is cooked.

We’ve tried cooking this in the microwave, but it doesn’t taste as good: the egg comes out tougher.

Buffet-style family dinners

If not everyone has the same taste in food, set out ingredients buffet-style and let them build their own meal. Here are a few alternative ingredients:

Our wok fits three soup bowls:

This is what the finished product looks like:

Individual bowls take about 5 minutes to cook, one large bowl about 10 minutes.


For complete macronutrients in one meal, potatoes or sweet potatoes with butter or sour cream, or rice with seasoned seaweed, and vegetables such as kimchi can be served alongside. We buy kimchi at an Asian supermarket on weekends and it relieves us from having to make vegetables during the week.


Steamed egg custards are very popular in China, Japan, and Korea, but they are generally made without cream or broth – just eggs, water, and salt. This particular version is our own invention, and we think the bone broth, the cream, and the delicate texture of the steamed egg make a delightful combination.

Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is a New England favorite, and it’s quite a treat when made properly. However, even in New England most restaurants take shortcuts and their chowder often disappoints. Luckily, it’s easy to make an exquisite clam chowder at home.


Part of the secret is to have fresh ingredients. Clam chowder made with fresh clams is much better than clam chowder made from canned clams. In Boston, live clams are readily available in supermarkets; those who are farther from the sea may be able to find seafood stores that carry clams. It’s worth trying at least once so you know what you’re missing!

Here are most of the ingredients: potatoes, celery, onions, butter, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 2 tbsp water to make a paste that dissolves easily in water.

Here are the clams we used. Soak them in salt water (1/2 tsp salt in the water) for a half hour or more to help remove impurities; discard the soaking water:

We also used 2 cups chicken broth, but forgot to take a picture of it.

Cooking the Clams

The object is to steam the clams while collecting the juice that comes out of the clams when they open. This clammy juice adds great flavor to the chowder.

We used a pot with 2 steaming baskets, a deep one and a shallow one, and a glass cover. We put a bowl in the deep basket to collect the clam juice:

We brought the water in the bottom of the pot to a boil, then added the clams to the top shallow basket and covered:

If you don’t have a pot with 2 steaming basket, just put the clams in the bowl in your single steaming basket.

After about 5 minutes, the clams open. Turn off the heat – they are now cooked.

Any clams that refuse to open are bad and should be discarded. Scrape out the open clam meat into a bowl. You can dice the clams if you like; we chose to keep them whole.

The juice that came out of the clams will look like this:

The clams have a surprising amount of liquid inside; we gathered about 1 cup. Note that you don’t need to extract the bowl from the steamer basket; when ready you can pour this liquid directly into the soup with the bowl still inside.

Preparing The Chowder

While the clams are being prepared, you can be working simultaneously on the chowder.

In a wok, begin by sautéing the onions in a half stick of butter for one minute:

Add the celery and stir another minute:

Then the chicken broth:

At this point dice the raw potatoes and add them to the pot. (It’s best to avoid exposing the potato to air for long periods of time. If you want to cut the potatoes ahead of time, store them in water.) The potatoes need to boil about 15-20 minutes; they should be cooked but not totally softened.

When the clam juice and clams are ready, add them too. It will look like this:

When the potatoes are cooked, add the cup of heavy cream, and salt and pepper and any other spices you like, and return to a near-simmer.

Gradually mix in the tapioca starch paste, tasting periodically until you reach a thickness you like. When the chowder is properly thick, warm, and well-mixed, you’re done:



Chowder that is made with tomatoes is called “Manhattan Clam Chowder.” This concoction is illegal in New England. If you make it and live in Massachusetts, take care not to post pictures on the Internet.

We predict you’ll love this chowder. Enjoy!

Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Pho is probably the most popular dish of Vietnam. Noodle soups are extremely popular throughout the Far East, but Vietnam is known for its distinctive flavors.

Beef Broth

To start, make a beef broth. You might want to refer back to this post: Ox Feet Broth, Miso Soup, and Other Soups. It’s not necessary to start from ox feet, any beef bones will do. It’s nice to choose bones that have a lot of collagen and fat, that makes a richer broth.

Beef bones are available at a wide range of stores these days. To make our broth, we picked up $3 of beef bones at BJ’s Wholesale Club yesterday and cooked them in water for 3 hours. Today, before dinner, we warmed up a portion. Here’s what it looks like:

Rice Noodles

You’ll also need some rice noodles. We discussed rice noodles in this post: Cranky Grouch’s Spaghetti. The chief difference from that recipe is that we used thinner noodles, so it took less than 3 minutes to cook the noodles. As before, it’s important to have the water reach a boil before adding the noodles, cook briefly, and then drain the water and cool the noodles in cold water to stop them from cooking further. Another difference is that we didn’t add olive oil at the end.

Here’s a picture of today’s rice noodles cooking:

Other Ingredients

The essential ingredients are thin-sliced beef, fish sauce, a lime, and basil leaves. (You can substitute cooked shredded chicken or shrimp for beef.)

Other standard ingredients are bean sprouts (which are legumes, but low in toxicity and more like a vegetable) and cilantro. We think red onions complement the other flavors.

Some spices may also be desired, but are not necessary. Chili sauce for those who like it hot, plum sauce for those who like it sweet. Black bean sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper are also commonly used.

Thin-sliced beef is readily available at Asian markets. It’s often labeled as beef for shabu-shabu, the Japanese version of hot pot:

Here is the fish sauce and chili sauce we used. We prefer lighter fish sauces, which are translucent in the bottle; stronger fish sauces are opaque.

Here are the ingredients we used:

The lime is cut into eighths, the beef thawed; that is fish sauce on the lower left.

Making Your Pho

You can arrange the ingredients to your taste in your own soup bowl. Paul starts with some noodles, onions, and thin-sliced beef:

The broth is added hot from the pot, and the thin beef slices change color to brown within seconds. Top with sprouts and basil, and it looks like this:

Add lime, fish sauce, and spices to taste, and you’re ready to go. Here Paul has lifted out a piece of collagen and fat from the broth – this adds great richness to the soup:

It was delicious! The lime and fish sauce flavor is unique to Vietnamese cuisine and makes a great change of pace from our regular cooking.

If Chef Anthony Bourdain had come to dinner with us tonight, he might have been even more delighted than he was in this video:

Ox Feet Broth, Miso Soup, and Other Soups

We’ve mentioned that we prepare a soup broth every weekend and have soup as the first course of dinner most days of the following week.

But we haven’t mentioned that it’s possible to have a slightly different soup every night of the week. Here’s how.

The Broth

One of our favorite broths is a beef broth soup made from ox feet. First, find an Asian supermarket and buy some ox feet:

The ox feet will have been sawed so that collagen and sinews are exposed and can dissolve in the broth.

The longer you cook it, the more nutritious the broth gets. Here’s what it looks like after 3 hours:

There’s some fat on the top, which is delicious! You can also add some dried anchovy to the broth — say 10 anchovies per gallon — which we think improves the flavor.

When you eat the soup, be sure to eat the gelatin off the cooked ox feet. According to Ray Peat, this is very good for you.

The broth can serve as the base for a wide range of soups. Here are some of the ones we make.

Miso Soup

Miso is a classic Japanese soup. To make it, you’ll need Wakame seaweed and miso paste. The Wakame seaweed can be purchased at (see our supplement page). 

Wakame seaweed expands about five-fold in water, so use the dried seaweed judiciously. Set some aside to soak and expand in water:

Here we’ve also put some kelp (kombu) in the water. That’s the brownish square on the right. Kelp is much less tasty than wakame, but has more iodine.

Put some of the ox feet broth with a few ox feet in a smaller pot for the evening’s soup. Here the broth includes some dried anchovies:

Put aside a small amount of the broth in a bowl and dissolve the miso paste in the broth. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed before returning it to the pot:

After the seaweed has expanded, add it to the soup and cook for half an hour. When it’s nearly done, add miso paste and scallions and cook another 5 minutes. It’s now ready to eat:

Other Choices

You can add any other ingredients you like to the broth to make soups of different flavors.

Here we’ve added diced potato, shiitake mushrooms, and scallions:

Here we’ve added egg, tomato, and scallion:

Here we’ve added sliced ribeye beef, enoki mushrooms, and cilantro. Since thin-sliced beef and enoki mushrooms cook very quickly, you can treat this like a Vietnamese “pho” and simply put the beef and mushrooms in a bowl and pour the hot broth over them:

The making of the broth is the only time-consuming part of this. After the broth is prepared on the weekend, new soups can be prepared in 15-30 minutes. Season each soup with salt, pepper, and your favorite spices.