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.