the curried persimmon soup of cultural dissonance

The past week has been a challenge, but I’ve decided to stop being a hermit, make a batch of soup and then write about it.

I will start by saying I have had a cold (most likely sinus infection) for over a week and a half now. This, of course, has not slowed down my hyper-sonic Korean pace, and slowly, one mucinex tablet at a time, my cold is subsiding. That being said, while sauntering to work the other day, I had an extreme craving for a warm cup of tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and laying in bed all day. When I mentioned tomato soup at work yesterday, a co-worker reminded me that “there wasn’t exactly a Panera around the corner.” Truth be told, most soup in South Korea is full of hearty meats, seafood or potentially both. As I don’t eat either, it has made soup-eating out a challenge. Also- my meagre kitchen rations included one small pot and a giant spoon. I did, however, have onions, garlic, curry-ish stuff and cumin. I figured a quick shopping trip would be the perfect remedy.

My Saturday started with the laying in bed until almost 4 p.m. (not that much of challenge since my schedule has been turned around by working 1-10 p.m.). However my laying around consisted of finishing “Freedom,” playing Words with Friends, coffee and talking on the phone. Admittedly, I haven’t really been hungry all week, but I feel like I should eat, so I decided that today was the day for tomato soup.

Around 5 p.m. I pulled on some jeans and decided I would go get my bangs trimmed, buy tomatoes and then I stop at the dollar store around the corner from my apartment (OK, it’s not really a dollar store, but everything is relatively cheap) to buy a pot large enough so I could make my soup. Meanwhile, I was downloading a season of Doctor Who, so I had some time to kill.

As an aside, haircuts in South Korea are so cheap. My first cut, which I was later told was a “typical middle school girl” style, cost me 7,000 won. That place was closed today, but I managed to get what I needed for 3,000 across the street. I think I will go back to this place in about a month for another trim.

Next, I walked about a block to one of the many grocery marts that line the streets. I walked in and saw what I thought were tomatoes in a huge styrofoam carrier for 10,000 won. I thought it sounded like a pretty sweet deal as smaller bags of tomatoes were all at least 5,000 won. From there I carried my large box to “DC Mart,” which is the proper name for the store. I wandered around, found a large enough pot and then some storage containers because I knew I would have enough left over to freeze. I came home, sautéed some onions, garlic and ginger and set about washing my “tomatoes” in a strainer. I left the strainer in the sink, added 1.5 liters of water and a curry tablet (the closest thing I’ve found to curry powder) to my pot. Next, I began to chop the said fruits into quarters, which proved challenging as the first bit squished under the dulled blade of my inherited knife. One bite proved my suspicions:  I bought a box full of persimmons. Now, in my defense, the box was right next to some particularly ripe tomatoes. But I had already begun my project, and I figured the persimmons were a close enough consistency to tomatoes to make it work. A quick google search confirmed this, so I covered and let boil. However, since I hadn’t peeled the fruit, I knew the only way to make the soup good would be to puree it. I have been meaning to buy an immersion blender here, so I quickly ran out to the Samsung store around the corner, which turned out to be having a grand opening sale, found a blender and ran home to blend. I was a bit shocked at how pricey the blender was; the one I bought at home was half the price. Upon using it the first time, I could tell I got what I paid for. This high-powered Phillips marvel of a machine pureed my soup in no time. In fact, I’d say it created a whirlpool in the pot, perfectly blending in all over-ripened chucks into smooth, tasty spoonfuls of soup.

I conclude that it was a mistake that worked out in my favor.

Here is the recipe:

10 very ripe persimmons

1 large onion, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 tsp ginger

1.5 liters of water

1 tab of curry powder

2 tsp salt

Several shakes of cumin

A few twists of the pepper mill

2 tbsp oil (I had grape seed on hand)

Add oil to pot. When warm, add chopped onion, ginger and garlic and sauté. After 5-10 minutes, add the water and curry. Meanwhile, wash and chop the persimmon. Once water is almost boiling, stir in persimmon.  Boil until the persimmon is tender with a fork, or about 5 minutes. Then use an immersion blender (or transfer into a blender, which I have always found too dangerous), to puree to perfection. Add salt and pepper. Serve warm.

One thought on “the curried persimmon soup of cultural dissonance

  1. Hello Virginia Carrot!!! Sounds yummy. Perfect recipe to warm up a chilly November NW afternoon. Hope you are feeling better. *-*

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