Life

Hetty Lui McKinnon's Baby Bok Choy and Rice Vermicelli Soup proves how simple it can be to make a superb meal

This recipe from her latest cookbook Tenderheart comes together easily and can be customized in so many ways.

This recipe from her latest cookbook Tenderheart comes together easily and can be customized in so many ways

A bowl of soup with vermicelli and baby bok choy. It's sitting on a wood surface with a pair of chopsticks in the background.
(Photography by Hetty Lui McKinnon)

This recipe for Baby Bok Choy and Rice Vermicelli Soup proves just how simple it can be to make a fantastic meal — even when you're short on time. It comes to us from Hetty Lui McKinnon’s latest cookbook, Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds, and is inspired by dishes her mother used to make for her. You'll see that on top of the soup being easy, there are so many ways to customize it to your needs and tastes.

Baby Bok Choy and Rice Vermicelli Soup

By Hetty Lui McKinnon

This is a clean broth with hints of anise, inspired by the quick noodle soups my mother made for lunch during my university days. Mei fun, or rice vermicelli, is quick to cook, with signature thin strands that allow a satisfying mouthful. I love the simplicity of noodles with baby bok choy, it feels cleansing and restorative. If you’re looking for a hint of protein, add some cubes of firm tofu.

Gluten-free and vegan

Substitute • rice vermicelli: thick rice noodles, mung bean vermicelli

Vegetable swap • baby bok choy: other Asian greens, broccoli, snow peas

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 ¼ cups (1.25 litres) vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Sea salt
  • 9 oz (250 g) rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 10–15 minutes
  • 14 oz (400 g) baby bok choy (or tatsoi), washed and patted dry, stems trimmed and halved lengthwise

Spicy green onion oil:

  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 jalapeño or Thai green chile, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) neutral oil

Preparation

Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sesame oil, along with the ginger, garlic and star anise, and sizzle for 15 seconds, until aromatic. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce or tamari and season with sea salt until you achieve your preferred level of saltiness. 

Meanwhile, to make the spicy green onion oil, place the green onion, jalapeño, and sea salt in a heatproof bowl. Place the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. To test the readiness of the oil, place a wooden chopstick or spoon into the oil and, if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Very, very carefully, pour the oil over the green onion and chile, standing back as it will sizzle and splutter. Set aside to cool.

Drain the vermicelli and add it to the broth, along with the baby bok choy. Cook for just 1-2 minutes, until the bok choy is bright green and the noodles are tender. Using tongs, fish the noodles and greens out of the broth and divide among four bowls. Ladle the soup over the top and finish with the spicy green onion oil.

Serves 4 


From Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds. © 2023 by Hetty Lui McKinnon. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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