I wanted to take a break from desserts for a while. I decided I wanted to go back to food that would go well in a bento. In my default bento reference site, JustBento, I found an intriguing recipe for Mediterranean veggie soup concentrate. I said, why not? It seemed like a good idea because 1) I like soup! 2) it promises to store well when frozen and 3) it’s on JustBento.
The first thing that hit me was that it’s going to be using things that I don’t normally use: parsley, celery, tomato paste.. It even listed fennel, but I didn’t even bother looking for that. The second thing was that most of the effort on this dish was going to be in the chopping of the vegetables. I suppose if one had a food processor of some sort it’d be much easier. I had to rely only on my good old knife. The third thing was that this isn’t a fast dish at all. The reduction of the mixture would take some time, and it did. This is a dish that needs to be prepared way ahead of time.
It took me most of the morning to finish the soup. I tried a serving for lunch that same day. A serving, according to the recipe, would consist of 2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture plus a mug of hot water. Here’s the 2 tbs of mixture in a bowl:
Adding a mug of hot water give me this:
Very watery soup, tbh. I think a mug of soup is too much for just 2 tbs of veggie mixture. I added a tablespoon more mixture to balance it out a bit. What about the taste, you ask? It’s very interesting! I haven’t had this kind of taste before. The flavor of the parsley (or was it the celery?) is strong throughout the soup, but you can taste the rest of the vegetables. It’s certainly very healthy, and will conveniently give me a dose of veggies AND soup whenever I have baon. I’ll put in less water though, since I do want to keep the serving size to just 2 tbs.
To store the soup mix, there are two recommended ways. One is to freeze 2-tbs servings in a cling wrap, then put those in a freezer-safe zip lock bag. Here’s how it looks like when packed in cling wrap (not yet frozen):
Kind of weird, actually. But hey, it works. I took one for baon yesterday, put it in a small deep container, and by lunch it was already defrosted. I just added some hot water (I didn’t fill the entire container) and it was delicious! The other packing suggestion is to freeze cubes of it using an ice-cube tray. Unfortunately, my biggest ice-cube tray could only fit 1 tbs of the mixture, so I’ll have to remember to bring two cubes for my baon. Here’s how it looks like, already frozen and out of the tray:
Now that’s more like it! It’s definitely more attractive than a shapeless blob in cling wrap. Not to mention, it’s also environment-friendly since you don’t have to use all that plastic. I’ll be on the hunt for a larger tray so I can put in 2 tbs per cube.