Chicken and Bottle Gourd Soup



I looked around for the English translation of this commonly used vegetable in the Philippines which we call “upo” and  almost identified it as winter melon.  Apparently, the winter melon is  “kundol” back home.  This vegetable pictured above is a bottle gourd.  It’s a light and delicately flavored vegetable we often use sauted with pork and shrimps or dried fish. 

A Chinese friend of mine said that a winter melon is a good vegetable to “…keep you cool when you’re heaty” and I found that description to be so accurate.  Just like the winter melon, which is actually a gourd and not a melon, “upo” makes a great soup in the summer or the tropics and perhaps does lower your body temperature, though I have no proof of that.

Continue reading “Chicken and Bottle Gourd Soup”

Lentil, Chorizo and Spinach Soup

It’s getting cooler in Colorado!  Autumn officially arrives tonight (as of this writing), the 22nd of September.  But we’ve been getting some cool days for quite a few weeks now.  Today was a particularly cold and wet one. 

A thick soup sounded perfect for lunch so I scrounged around my pantry and freezer to see what I could put together.  Luckily, I had leftover diced ham, frozen chopped spinach, some Goya chorizo links and dry lentils.  Sounds like the start of a good soup…. Continue reading “Lentil, Chorizo and Spinach Soup”

Mami: Philippine Chicken Noodle Soup


I finally made a Chicken Mami that satisfied my craving for this very common Filipino dish.  The noodles were always the key, for me anyway, and it so happened that I found a good brand of noodles at the Filipino Sari-Sari Store today.

Chicken and noodles go so well together every country probably has its own version.  In Southeast Asia, the chicken noodle soup you’ll find is most certainly Chinese in origin.  Mie is the Chinese word for noodles.  So in Indonesia, Malaysia  and Singapore, this dish is called Mie Ayam or Chicken Noodle.  It’s only the Philippines where there came a slight change.  Continue reading “Mami: Philippine Chicken Noodle Soup”

French Onion Soup


From the first time I had this soup years ago at the old Bistro Burgos in Makati, I fell for it.  The last time I had it was at Johnnys Cafe in Omaha which was sometime last year when Spouse and I were on a business trip there. Steak houses should have the best onion soups since they have all the ingredients to make the perfect beef stock.  Johnny’s is an institution in Omaha, having been around since 1922 – that’s a lot of experience churning out steaks and onion soups.  They are located right in the middle of where the old stockyards used to be and have this 1950’s, stepping back in time feel about the place.  If you watched Jack Nicholson’s “About Schmidt”, you might remember the restaurant where Schmidt’s retirement party was held – that was Johnny’s Cafe.  They serve fantastic, perfectly aged steaks and the best onion soup I’ve ever had – before this one of course. Continue reading “French Onion Soup”

Portugese Sopa de Grao



I’ve always been a soup person, and it’s a real surprise for me to find that not everyone is. Soups can be a whole, heavy meal in itself or a light lunch or in-between snack.  This soup of Portugese origins is a meal all by itself, light enough but substantial depending on how you make it.  Best of all, I think it’s pretty healthy.

The soup is called Sopa de Grao which translates to Cork-Stripper’s Pottage.  As you know, Portugal produces most of the world’s cork.  Cork is produced by first stripping the bark from the cork trees and hence the need for Cork-Strippers.  I can just imagine cork-strippers working under  the glare of the Portugese sun, while a big pot of Sopa cooks by a wood fire nearby.  Or do they have them delivered to the workplace these days?  You know…like that Soup Peddler on a bicycle from Austin, Texas… Continue reading “Portugese Sopa de Grao”

Kale And Italian Sausage Soup

As kids, we probably were all subjected to the same, endless spiel about how you’re supposed to eat green, leafy vegetables. I heard it at home and in school…on and on and on….

Kale is one of those leafy, green vegetables loaded with numerous vitamins and minerals that’s all good for your health. You can classify this vegetable into the “worth eating” category of vegetables. But, it would fit well into the “great tasting” category too.

Kale has a pleasing, earthy flavor that satisfies my craving for the green, leafy Ilocano vegetables my mother used to have around all the time.

I was copying a soup called Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden, minus the heavy cream for a lighter version. The greens in their soup is something called “cavolo greens” which I found comes from the same Brassica oleracea kind of vegetables as Kale. I have difficulty sourcing Italian vegetables and greens (even flat-leaf parsley!) here in Colorado Springs, so I substituted Kale for my soup.

It’s an easy and quick dish that’s perfect for a light lunch. I’ve made this soup a regular at our home, both for the health benefits from the Kale and for its flavorful goodness.

Try it with cream, and try it without…either way, this is a good and healthy soup everyone will like. Continue reading “Kale And Italian Sausage Soup”

Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup


Lovely weather we’re having in Colorado…light snow and single-digit cold since yesterday and into the middle of next week!  Perfect night for a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup.

My recipe is based on Jeff Smith’s Chicken and Noodles from “The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American” cookbook.  It’s a lovely, comforting soup with thyme and sage.  Like a lot of old-fashioned, good recipes, this one will take a lot of time to prepapre and cook.  If you have the energy, make a double batch of noodles and keep it in the freezer.  It will take almost as much time to make half a batch or double the batch. Continue reading “Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup”

Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Sop Buntut is one of those favorite Indonesian dishes of mine, which I have never tried to cook before.  Now that I have this blog,  I thought it would be a good idea to to try cooking Indonesian dishes.  I lived for a very short time in Jakarta years ago and experienced real culture shock soon as I stepped out of the plane.  Even if I was in still in Asia, things were so vastly different from the Philippines.  The sights, the smells, the food….ohhh the food.

Several countries, have their own version of an oxtail dish.  Most of them are heavy, rich stews.  I’ve tried the South African Oxtail Potjie which my mother learned from a friend.  The Italians have several versions.  Then of course, there’s the Philippine Kare-kare, another rich stew with vegetables and a ground, toasted rice and peanut sauce.  Sop Buntut is different in many ways, it’s a soup and not a stew for one thing.  And it has aromatic spices like nutmeg and cloves that gives it different layers of flavor. Continue reading “Indonesian Oxtail Soup”