Neitzche wrote "One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Evidently, the same applies for delicious pork soup. The day was crazy. The mother's helper, who comes once a week, like an angel descending to our house, couldn't make it. The kids were wild with disappointment in a such a way that only kids can be.
Between breaking up fights at night I was able to follow as best I could Gloria Bley Miller's recipe for Basic Soup With Pork (Quick-Cooking) and add my own spin. I also had a glorious duck roasting in the oven. I may have yelled more than usual at the kids and some ire may have gotten into the pot.
Since I was only serving the soup for dinner, I doubled the amount of meat to 1/2 lb. I used pork tenderloin. When you bring it home from the grocery, rinse the meat, dry it, cut it into fourths and freeze it in freezer bags or containers. When you want to use it, simply, take it out and use a very sharp cleaver to slice it very thin. Keep your knives sharp the old fashioned way. It's fun! I like to call this shaving a pig. It will look and taste lovely in the soup.
Miller says to add one tablespoon of sugar, one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt to the marinade for the meat, but I doubled the measurements, since I had doubled the meat. This probably made my soup a little sweeter. Let meat sit, turning occasionally, for half an hour.
When you bring stock out of the refrigerator, skim fat before using. Boil stock. While stock is getting hot, cut scallion in a pretty manner. I halve them lengthwise and then cut in sections. They look like green streamers. Add scallions to pot and t hen simmer covered 3 minutes. If you plan on adding vegetables later, I would add scallions afterwards, so all the flavor doesn't cook out of them.
Add pork and marinade. Simmer covered five minutes. The soup can be ready now or you can add vegetables if you choose. I like a fuller soup with more variety, so this is what I did. If you are adding veggies, don't chop them at this stage, have them ready and waiting, so the rest of the ingredients don't over-cook.
Fresh water chestnuts are also called horses hooves. The outsides have a lovely rosewood polish. Slice off ends and peel with the edge of your very sharp cleaver then slice prettily. Presentation is very important, since the soup will be a floating world.
I had forgotten how much I don't like cloud ear mushrooms. For some reason as a child, I thought they were actually the chopped up ears of elephants. The texture and sweetness reminded me of that disagreeable association.
I handed warm bowls of soup to the hungry, grouchy, wiggly children. They seemed to settle down as they began to eagerly slurp the broth. "This is delicious!" my nine-year-old, notoriously picky, exclaimed.
I thought the soup was too sweet, the pork a tad overdone and the cloud ears made me think of earless Asian elephants. Still, it was nourishing and soothing after a long day of negotiations between the small nations of children.
The duck was roasting. My daughter was descending that interior staircase to sleep and the timer had gone off. I didn't want to put her down till she was safely gone. The duck was a tad over done, but tasty.
Warning! Never attack a roasted duck with voracious hunger! Small bits are more satisfying since the meat is indescribably rich - a dab o' duck will do you.