Tom Yum Noodle Soup

When you're living the way are at the moment sometimes packet food is a blessing. I was planning on making a coconut soup until I realised we didn't have a can opener and as we are skin flints presently we decided to order one from ebay because we have a paypal account with a bit of money in it - unexpected foresight can be a very good thing! I'd hoped it would arrive in time for my coconut soup dinner but alas no. We had to go into town anyway because we needed batteries for the doorbell and on our way back we decided to use a different route, which to my delight led us right past an amazing mini Chinese supermarket. The lady inside could not have been sweeter - she was actually closing but stayed open for us to have a quick browse. Luckily for me I didn't have any more time in there otherwise I'd have bought the entire shop, which would not have been good for our budget! Anyhoo, Chinese supermarkets are great for vegans because they're not big into dairy anyway and whilst they do love their pork and seafood there is still an array of delicious goods to choose from. The main attraction was the range of noodles. Noodles are a hard one for me because they are my ultimate comfort food (up there with spaghetti, which, let's face it is an Italian noodle) but supermarkets mainly stock the egg noodle sort:( So yesterday was a minor triumph for me and I stocked up on fine wheat vermicelli noodles and some fabulous buckwheat ones. I don't know if you've ever seen the film Ponyo but I like to think this is the exact face  I pull when presented with a bowl of steaming hot noodle soup (minus the ham, of course).

I'll not bore you with the other purchases although there was one special sweet treat that I plan to do a post on but for the moment I'm keeping schtum. Whilst we were paying I noticed a stand full of soup pastes. I hurriedly picked up the tom yum one, glanced at the ingredients (it was a 'may contain' product but that's cool with me) and decided it would solve my soup/can opener problem.

For those of you not familiar with the 'may contain' business it is probably something only people with allergies or special diet requirements notice. If a product does not contain a certain ingredient yet was made in a factory that does use it in another product by rights they have to put this on the packet - mainly to cover their asses should anyone have some weird reaction. As a vegan it doesn't bother me because these machines have to be thoroughly cleaned etc before embarking upon the next batch of whatever product. Plus it means I get to still enjoy Jammie Dodgers, Hobnobs and the like - all 'may contain' products. I know some vegans are more strict and even limit themselves to only vegan brands but I think this can be a little counterproductive but each to their own as they say.

Away from the food for a second and onto photos. The space we are living in is pretty much like a studio come gallery - the entire place is painted white including the floor boards, yikes! Luckily I like cleaning, eh? It makes for a perfect place to take photos and even though we recently bought a fancy schmancy flash to combat my late night cooking/photographing problem - so many problems;) - I have not had to use it once in our new flat, the light is THAT good! This makes me a very snap happy girl:)

tom yum noodle soup

1/2 fennel

4 large chestnut mushrooms

1/2 bag stir fry veg (carrot, cabbage, broccoli etc)

handful beansprouts

1 large spring onion

2 nests flour vermicelli noodles

1 large clove garlic

small piece of fresh ginger

1/2 mild chilli

soy sauce

1 packet tom yum soup paste (ensure it contains no fish sauce!)

Heat a little oil in a wok.

Chop the fennel as finely as possible and add to wok with a little seasoning. Mince the garlic, ginger and chilli and add to wok, giving it a good stir and not allowing it to colour.

Chop the stir fry veg as finely as possible (it makes the soup much easier to eat!) and add to wok. Season with a little soy sauce.

Slice the mushrooms, add to wok, stir fry for a few minutes and fill the wok with cold water - not to the brim as woks can be a little unstable making it dangerous to move later. Bring to the boil and then add the tom yum paste (if you've made your own even better!).

Gently simmer for a few minutes before adding the noddles and beansprouts. Stir the noodles encouraging them to seperate - a few minutes and they should be soft enough to serve. I lift the noodles into the bowl using a fork first and then pour/ladel over the broth.

Finely slice the spring onion and arrange on top. I think a spritz of lime would work brilliantly to finish off the dish but my husband disagrees - he says  it would mess with the hot and sour.

soup, veganAine Carlin