When I started thinking about root vegetables, all the usual suspects popped into my mind. I considered a variation of my Roasted Parsnip Soup Topped with Candied Bacon; I really thought about redoing my Roasted Parsnip-White Chocolate Soup since that was done early in my blogging life and definitely needs to be rewritten!
I have always been enamored with the color of Roasted Beet Soup. And, while the root itself is unattractive, I love the creaminess of celery root in a bowl full of Cream of Celeriac Soup.
So, with all those favorites in mind, I decided to go a completely different direction. No surprise there, right? It's all about the adventure! I wanted to track down lotus root and make my version of a traditional Chinese Soup, Ling Ngau Tong which is a lotus root and peanut soup.
After some back and forth with friends who might actually have sourced lotus root before, I headed to an Asian market in a neighboring city.
Shiho had messaged me a photo of what a fresh lotus root should look like - white and firm. So, when I saw a box of faded lotus root - and an elderly Asian man pawing through those remnants - my heart sank. But I decided to ask if they had any more. The man with the box cutter on his belt assured me that he had more. No problem. So, he carried out a fresh box and placed it on the table next to me. I was carefully unwrapping one of the roots when the elderly man ran right over to my box and started shoving my hands out of the way.
"Excuse me!" I raised my voice. "I asked for these, you can wait your turn," I ordered, swatting his hands out of my way. I couldn't believe I was actually fighting over a root. But there I was. He snorted at me impatiently until I informed him that I was only going to take two.
Ling Ngau Tong
Lotus Root and Nut Soup
Serves 10 to 12
I made this soup with my battled for fresh lotus root and some pork from my nano share of a Berkshire pig that I had purchased from Wayne's Fine Swine. I love getting my foods from local purveyors!
- 2 pounds pork, cut into cubes
- 1 T butter
- 1 T oil
- 1 pound fresh lotus root
- 2 C raw whole almonds
- 1 C dried goji berries
- 4 slices fresh ginger
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and pressed
- 5 to 6 C stock (you can use chicken or beef stock)
- salt, to taste
- sesame oil for serving, optional
Place almonds and goji berries in a medium bowl and bring a pot of water to boil. Pour the boiling water over the almonds and berries and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and set the almonds and goji berries aside. Peel and cut the lotus root into thick slices and place in a bowl of cold water. They will oxidize if left on the cutting board.
In a large souppot or Dutch oven, melt butter in oil. Add the pork to the pot, letting the cubes brown on all sides. Add the lotus root, almonds, berries, ginger, and garlic to the pot. Add in the stock, making sure that the meat is completely covered. If it needs more liquid, add water until the meat is submerged by at least an inch of water.
Bring the liquid to a boil. Then, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let braise for at least 3 hours until the meat is very tender. Season to taste with salt. Ladle into individual bowls and drizzle with sesame oil if using.