April has arrived and per the adage she brings with her showers. A week’s worth at least according to the forecast and in taking full advantage this week is all about seeds that can be broadcast at our house. In areas tedious to mow and bordering to the woods, I have broadcast all my favorite wildflowers, a few dozen types from indian blanket and lupines to black eyed susan and coneflower, almost all native and all capable of reseeding themselves. Low maintenance is nice. But with still more old overgrowth to clear, the busiest gardening month arrived, and the house’s interior to finish, unfortunately the fencing projects and our chicken coop have to be put off, for now.
Most days are gray and cloudy lately, but just enough humidity hangs and just enough warm sun comes through to spur on the baby bok choy. It probably doesn’t help having planted a bit too much to keep up with, but I adore fresh bok choy. The cool rain inspired soup cravings, so I opted to make a sort of play on some favorite Asian soups, mixing and melting flavors from various recipes in order to make good use not only of all this bok choy but also snap peas and some gorgeous mushrooms I found at the market. Udon noodles paired with a single egg per bowl gives this soup a hearty, filling quality that cannot be beat, although if you would prefer a ligher soup, the noodles can easily be replaced and the egg can be swapped for shrimp or tofu.
BABY BOK CHOY UDON BOWL WITH POACHED EGG
1 tbsp canola oil
4 cups vegetable stock
2 whole star anise
1 stick whole cinnamon
2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
7oz udon noodles
4 baby bok choy
2 cups sugar snap peas
6oz mushrooms of your choice
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Chili sauce and fresh lime, if desired
In a large Dutch oven or other soup pot, warm the oil over med-high heat. Add the cinnamon stick and star anise and cook stirring constantly about 3 minutes or until the cinnamon stick begins to uncurl and the spice becomes fragrant. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the broth with the spices. When finished, remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Add mushrooms and light parts of the green onions to the infused broth and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add bok choy and noodles and stir to submerge them. Crack the eggs into separate bowls or cups and slip them into the simmering broth, one at a time. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add snap peas, careful not to break the egg yolks, and simmer for another 1 minute, so the peas are just cooked but still bright green and crisp. Off the heat, gently stir in the soy sauce (to taste) and remaining green onions. Divide the soup between two bowls, garnish with lime and/or chili sauce if desired and eat immediately. Makes two servings.
If you want your egg yolks completely set, add the eggs before the bok choy and noodles and let them cook for a minute before adding the later two or increase the cook time of all three by one minute. Do not increase the cook time of the snow peas or they will become soggy.
For this batch I used shiitake and oyster mushrooms, but many kinds are excellent.
Garden photo guide: 1. Very happy potatoes 2. Cabbage 3. Spinach 4. First & second (soon to be thinned) kohlrabi plantings 5. Old spinach seed that in theory wouldn’t produce much. 6. Cauliflower 7. The onion bed from previous post 8. E’s strawberries 9. Previously container grown blueberries 10. New grape plants, hopefully not drown by spring’s end 11. Apples in the orchard 12. Baby peaches coming on.