If you are wondering why you have never heard of Japanese Wedding Soup, there’s a simple explanation – I made it up! It’s my take on Italian Wedding Soup which in itself is kind of a American mistranslation of minestra maritata (which translates as ‘married soup’ meaning the flavours go well together). My version uses a miso base, mushrooms and spiralized ‘zoodles’ which makes for an incredibly low carb soup that is also filling and mega tasty. But before we get to the soup recipe I wanted to express my love for my latest gadget – the Tefal Cook4Me*.
I was invited to a Tefal Cook4Me event before Christmas which I didn’t manage to attend – however they were kind enough to send me one to review at home. I have to admit that at first glance I wasn’t sure the Cook4Me was, well, for me. It is quite a big machine which demands a large chunk of counter space (or cupboard space if not constantly in use) – luckily my kitchen island still has a bit of capacity. Billed as ‘intelligent multicooker that cooks for you’, the Cook4Me comes loaded with 50 recipes from starters to desserts, more if you switch to the Australian or French recipe settings. Though the instruction manual is a bit confusing, using the machine itself could not be simpler. You select a recipe or ingredient, press the ok button and the instructions appear on the screen to guide you through the ingredients and steps.
The first recipe I made was the cider pot chicken – this used a whole medium chicken and so I was quite amazed when the whole thing was cooked in about 40minutes. Rice took another 11 minutes and we were sitting to a delicious family meal in just under an hour – a meal my kids declared ‘best ever’. This recipe, simplified to use chicken breasts making it significantly quicker, has become a firm favourite in our household – I now make it at least once a week.
Not all of the pre-programmed recipes appealed to me as many require store-bought sauces which I don’t normally use. But having now used the Cook4Me for about a month I have learned to adapt the recipes to my taste or simply go off-piste and do my own thing altogether. I have made steamed dumplings, ribs, salmon, Christmas ham, beef brisket… really the uses are endless. The huge advantage of the Cook4Me is that, since it is effectively a pressure cooker, it cooks really fast – salmon fillets take 5 minutes, 1kg beef brisket 40 minutes – and you only have to wash the bowl and (occasionally) steam basket. It is also fantastic for cooking healthily – use the steam basket to cook fish and meat without any oil or butter. The Cook4Me has taken permanent residence in our kitchen and is in daily use – I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
And now, finally, back to this soup. I have provided instructions both for the Cook4Me and the stove. The steamed turkey meatballs may look a bit anaemic (my husband dubbed them ‘ghost meatballs’) but they are very tasty on their own or with a bit of dipping sauce and excellent if you happen to be on a diet. If you use lean turkey mince then they are practically all lean protein. I should mention that this soup is best eaten freshly made – it doesn’t reheat well.
For the meatballs
400g | 14oz lean turkey mince
4 large chestnut mushrooms, stalks removed
3 spring onions (scallions)
3 tbsp oatbran
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
salt and pepper to season
For the soup
1.2 litres | 5 cups hot water
150g | 5.3oz mushrooms, sliced if large
3 spring onions (scallions), sliced into thin rounds
3 tbsp yellow miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp kombu seasoning (optional)
1 large courgette (zucchini), spiralized
200g | 7oz fresh spinach, sliced thinly
Japanese seasoning (Shichimi Togarashi)
1. Blitz the mushrooms and spring onions in a food processor or mini chopper until very finely chopped. Mix with the mince, onion, ginger and oatbran and season with salt and pepper. With slightly wet hands, form into small meatballs. Pour 200ml (about 7fl oz) in the Cook4Me bowl and line the steaming basket with baking paper. Arrange half the meatballs in the basket, placed slightly apart, and cook for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining meatballs, cover to keep warm and set aside.
2. Clean the Cook4Me bowl. Put the water, miso paste, soy sauce and kombu, if using, in the bowl and stir together. Add the spring onions and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
3. Add the zoodles and sliced spinach and cook for another minute.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and divide the meatballs between them. Sprinkle with Japanese seasoning.
To make on the stove
1. Pan fry the meatballs (in batches) with a little sesame or vegetable oil until lightly seared on all sides – about 2 minutes.
1. Add 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock, cover the pan and steam for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
2. Put the miso, soy sauce, water, mushrooms and spring onions in a large pot. Stir to dissolve the miso paste and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add the zoodles and spinach and stir them in. They only need about a minute or less as they cook really fast. Serve as above.
Items marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. I was provided with a Cook4Me for review purposes. All opinions are my own.