Shabu-shabu – planning vegetarian meals for the whole family

Today we have a guest post from vegetarian expert Nena.  Thank you Nena!

Planning vegetarian meals for the whole family can be easy by using a vegetable soup recipe that can be adapted to individual tastes. The idea that soup must be made with all the ingredients cooked together is one food philosophy that many Asian cultures don’t agree with. But how can a cook make a vegetable soup recipe that’s different for each person? The secret is not to create ONE single soup but to prepare ingredients and allow each person to build their own. Here’s how:

The Most Unique Family Vegetable Soup Recipe

Try the following method of making a fun family vegetarian meal:

1. Have an electric kettle full of boiling hot water or use a hot plate and set it in the center of the table with a large pot of water seasoned with bullion stock or any light flavor the family enjoys. It’s basically hot water with a little flavor.

2. Now, chop a variety of veggies, considering what the kids will like, including things like kernels of sweet corn, diced tomatoes, little bits of broccoli or cauliflower, funky little baby bok choy, finely diced celery, a variety of colorful sweet peppers, parsley, even bits of cooked beets to make someone’s soup turn pink.

3. Little squares of smoked firm tofu can also be used, as well as dried seaweed, and a variety of condiments – spicy chili sauce, soy sauce, a dribble of olive oil, and a dish of crushed garlic. The trays of pre-chopped veggies and condiments are placed on the table.

4. Each person can be served a little bowl of Indian Basmati rice on the side.

5. Each person has (along with the small bowl of rice) a large empty bowl for their vegetable soup. Each person chooses whatever veggies and condiments they want and adds to their own bowl, then ladles out a serving of broth or steaming hot water onto the veggies, or adds a veggie to the pot and when cooked, removes it with the ladle. Each person has a unique vegetable soup recipe that’s their very own creation, but everyone sits together, and the cook only had to chop the veggies on the trays.

6. Vegetarians who eat eggs, can add an egg to the boiling water, and meat eaters can add little bits of chicken or beef strips to the boiling water and cook for a couple minutes then add to their soup. It all depends what’s on the trays and who feels like eating what.

7. Planning vegetarian recipes that can accommodate family members who may be meat eaters can be done easily in this way without making anyone feel uncomfortable or left out. A plate of veggies can be accompanied by plates of thin chicken breast strips, very thin beef strips, fish, squid, clams, shrimp, prawns, and every possible assorted seafood variety. This will require a hotplate on the table and a pot so the seafood or meat can be dipped in the boiling water and cooked a couple minutes. It’s sort of like a fondue without cheese.

This is known in Asia as Shabu-shabu or hot pot. It’s one of the most popular ways for families to share meat and/or vegetarian meals together.

Coupled with a glass of fresh juice these customized vegetarian meals are perfect for the whole family, and lots of fun for guests – especially the little ones!

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