WHEN there are days you are hankering after simple yet tasty one-dish meals, then this nourishing soup promises to warm up your belly and conjure memories of home-cooked dishes. Opt for variegated or purple spinach if available since it is a good ulcer-fighter and also prevents urinary tract infections.
Total Time: 1½ hours
Serves: 3-4 persons
A: Soup Stock
1 chicken carcass
1 large onion, peeled
5 cloves garlic, smashed
5 dried red dates
50g dried anchovies (ikan bilis), washed
1 tablespoon wolfberries
B: Ingredients for Soup
450g spinach, washed, deveined and cut
3 salted eggs, shelled
3 century eggs, shelled
3 litres water, divided
1 large muslin bag, optional
170g minced pork
100g fish paste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1.For meatballs: In a medium mixing bowl, combine all C ingredients. Mix well. Chill in fridge until ready to cook.
2. Bring 1 litre of water in a medium pot to a rolling boil on high heat. Add in carcass. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove carcass, rinse under running water. Set aside. Discard water.
3. Bring remaining water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Place A ingredients and chicken carcass into saucepan or muslin bag, if using.
4. Reduce heat. Let stock cook over medium heat for at least 1 hour. Bring up the heat.
5. To prepare eggs, use separate knives to cut them into wedges: use a normal knife for salted eggs and a ceramic knife for century eggs to prevent a metallic aftertaste.
6. Using a metal tablespoon, shape meatballs into quenelles, resembling egg shape. Drop each meatball gently into soup. Allow them to cook for 5 minutes until they float. Using a wire mesh, scoop meatballs up and divide them between 3-4 bowls.
7. Let stock come back to the boil. Cook spinach for 2 minutes.
Add in goji berries. Switch off heat.
8. Divide egg and spinach between the bowls. Using a ladle, scoop soup into bowls.
9. Serve immediately with rice. Alternatively, add glass noodles into soup when heat is turned off.
TIPS: Local spinach (bayam in Malay) comes in multi-coloured cultivars. Choose from (clockwise from top): spear leaf green, round leaf green, variegated and purple spinach.
TECHNIQUE: Cook spinach stems first, followed by leaves. Switch off heat after 2 minutes and let spinach sit for 30 seconds. Residual heat will continue to cook the tender vegetables.
Photos: Rebecca Lee