. Malaysian Mutton Soup - Project Food Blog: Second Challenge Seriously Soupy

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Malaysian Mutton Soup - Project Food Blog: Second Challenge

First of all, a BIG thank you to everyone that voted and showed me some serious soupy support in the first challenge. I'm really excited to move on in the competition, and none of that would have be possible without your votes! Now on to the second challenge.... that might be better titled, "Am I really making a Malaysian Mutton Soup?"
Malaysian Mutton Soup - Seriously Soupy
Project Food Blog - Second Challenge: The Classics
As a part of the second challenge, contestants were asked to tackle a classic dish from another culture that is outside of our comfort zone -- while keeping the dish as authentic as possible. I immediately knew that the only challenging/out-of-my-comfort zone food that would make sense for me would be to cook some sort of meat. You see, for the most part, I don't really eat meat -- but sometimes I do. Confused yet? I have been a vegetarian on and off throughout my life; the times that I have eaten meat haven't been anything too crazy - maybe trying someones dish at a restaurant or in a sandwich. The times that I have I prepared it myself, it was something simple, like a baked chicken or meatballs. Cooking meat is something that doesn't come naturally to me, so I never really learned how to prepare, cut, or flavor it. BUT this blog isn't about what I eat. Plain and simple, I want it to be about soups -- ranging from meat to vegetable and everything in between (wait, what's between a meat and vegetable anyway...). You get my point. I want it to be about me trying new soup recipes -- specifically those that I never would have tried before. It's about the experience of trying something new and outside of my comfort zone -- much of which can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. The idea is that, there are all of these amazing ingredients and various types of soups from different cultures that I never would have tried if it wasn't for Seriously Soupy. 

So, not only am I getting outside of my comfort zone for the Food Buzz challenge, but this new recipe is helping me push myself as I learn more about a new soup (mutton) and a new culture (Malaysia) to be more adventurous with Seriously Soupy. 

Now, what soup?
Instantly, I thought of lamb for this challenge. Again, I never cooked with it, so it would be 100% new to me - the cooking, flavoring, and how to cut it. I decided to go with Malaysia as my country when I was struck by a mutton soup recipe - that was different to me for a lot of reasons. First, I have never (at least not to my knowledge) eaten nor prepared a Malaysian soup. As I learned more about Malay food, I was excited to try to make a soup that according to MalaysianFood.Net, "comes into its own late at night, when its valued for its restorative qualities." It was also interesting to learn that Malaysian food is strongly influenced by its neighboring areas and Hindu Indian fare. Typical cuisine includes beef randang (spiced coconut beef), laksa (tangy fish soup), and sup kambing (mutton soup).

Rack of lamb for the soup
Do I get a prize for cutting this?
Secondly, I would be using new spices and herbs that I have never heard of or cooked with like fenugreek and cardamom pods. I was immediately struck by how aromatic and fragrant these herbs were. As I was cooking, I was shocked by the smells. In this whole year of making soups, my kitchen never smelled this amazing and vibrant. I've been so accustomed to using key ingredients and herbs - mainly olive oil, garlic basil, oregano, etc that I have been cooking one way without even realizing it. Even the simple act of smashing the caradaomon pods was invigorating to me as I was cooking in uncharted territory and learning how to use this new flavoring.

New adventures with spice - caradaomon pods
Smashed caradaomon pods
Cooking with fenugreek - who knew!
Another new soup-making skill that I learned was how to make paste. The combination of onions, garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and chili peppers taught me a new way to blend ingredients together and flavor soup. A way to flavor without having chunks of onions and garlic was so simple but I never thought to try. Then, it was time for the lamb. It was strange to chop and dice the meat into small squares - I felt self conscious and awkward, not to mention bothered by the smell. All I kept thinking was, "Am I really doing this?" I wasn't sure it I didn't like it or I didn't like because I didn't really know what I was doing. As I placed the lamb in the pot, it felt strange to have completed something that I never really would have tried before. In a lot of ways it changed the way I will view soup and, to me, was exciting to try something so foreign and adventurous to me.

A cool technique for soup - a paste with onions, cinnamon, garlic, bay leaves, and cloves- Seriously Soupy
As the second challenge ends, I not only know a little bit more about Malaysian food, but I understand a new method of soup preparation, new spices, and now how to cook with meat -- an eye-opening experience that allowed feels refreshing and scary at the same time. Refreshing because it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and scary because I have no more excuses not to try soups that I am not familiar with.

Malaysian Mutton Soup
1 rack of lamb or goat -- approximately one pound
2 tablespoons of peanut oil, approx.
4 cups of water
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 ginger root, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick or 4 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of cumin
6 caradaomon pods, smashed
1 teaspoon of fenugreek
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
4 bay leaves
2 shallots, diced
dash of chili powder
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of tomato paste
fresh cilantro, about a handful
salt and pepper, to taste

Spices for the paste - cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves

Garlic for the paste
Onion for the paste
Ginger for the paste - Seriously Soupy
1. The paste - Mince the ginger, garlic and cut up the onion and place it in a blender, along with the peppercorns (or pepper), cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and chili powder. Mash together and place in a blender to make a paste. This step took a little getting used -- since dry ingredients were involved but placing my blender on liquefy.

2. Add peanut oil to a wok and let cook on a low flame with cumin, fenugreek, sugar, and the paste. Cut up the shallots and add, stirring periodically.

Cut up lamb for the soup - Seriously Soupy

Lamb cooking in paste

3. Cut up the lamb into small pieces and add them to pan, along with the bone (to enhance flavors). Cut up the tomatoes and add them, along with the tomato paste, bunch of cilantro, and cinnamon. Smash up the caradamon pods (I used the peanut oil canister) and add them to pot.  Let the meat cook on both sides.

Lamb cooking with water and tomatoes - Seriously Soupy
4. Add water and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a very low flame and cover. Let the soup cook for one hour. 

5. During the hour, taste and add any additional ingredients - I added some more ginger, a bay leaf, cinnamon and salt. Also, stir, stir, stir. 

6. Top with cilranto and serve with rice or crusty bread.

7. Breathe - You did it!

Again, thanks to everyone who supported and voted for me in the First Challenge. Let's continue the soupy momentum. Voting for the Second Challenge starts on September, 27th and ends on September, 30th. Think Soupy for Project Food Blog!

Seriously Soupy Serena


  1. Looks fantastic... I, too, had to use cardamom pods and loved the smell that was sent thru my home afterward!

    This looks great - I'll vote for you!!!

  2. You get a vote for cutting the lamb chops so nicely and making a great looking soup!
    Nicely done:)

  3. You have my vote because you made a Malaysian dish! But even by a Malaysian standard, it's pretty authentic alright so kudos on that :)

  4. OOOOOh I wish I could try this, then I can tell you whether it's "authentic" or not since Malaysian cuisine is something I dream nostalgically all the time. But "authentic" or not, I love that you ventured out of your comfort zone to try something you've never done or even tasted before. But I'll bet it still tasted great all the same. You're amazing!

  5. Gosh, this looks great. I think you've sealed the deal on this challenge.

    On a side note, now that cooler weather is here, I'll be seeking your site for lots of soup inspiration. Thanks!

  6. congrats on making it through to the 2nd round, and on cooking up a delicious looking soup. Sup kambing is very tasty, due to all the spices used.

    I'm amazed you used rack of lamb for this - quite an expensive cut!

  7. Yay!!! for making it through. :-) This dish looks delicious. You'll have my vote. Good luck!

  8. Mutton soup is definitely different! This looks great. Wishing you lots of luck in #PFB2010 and I hope we both advance to the next round!

  9. Wow - thank you to everyone for supporting me and soup in this contest!!! This challenge was definitely difficult so it really helps to have so many amazing people to support it. We should all have a virtual soup party - whether I move on or.

  10. Wow, this really looks amazing! Great job- you have my vote! :)

  11. Thank you Amy!

    Amybest 222, you have to be a member of Food Buzz and can vote through this link - http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/725 by clicking on the heart.

    Thank you again!!!

  12. This soup looks so fragrant! And props to you for tackling lamb :) You've got my vote!

  13. Looks wonderful! Good luck and you've got my vote!

  14. Great job with embracing the challenge - specially cooking with meat if you are a vegetarian - even if you are on and off. Great food shots and the combination of spices....mmmm! I just voted - Good Luck and hope to see you in the next round :)


  15. Your soup sounds amazing, I might even become a fan of lamb ;-)
    Sending some Foodbuzz ♥ your way. Hope we both make it to the next round ;-)

  16. Welcome to the wonderful world of cardamom! And well done on embracing so much that was new for you, that's what it was all about. Good luck with getting to the next round - I'll do my bit to help :)

  17. I just voted for you! I'm sure you'll advance! <3

  18. I love soup, and yours looks delicious. You got my vote and good luck!

  19. This does look great. And your borscht too! Love the colors.