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Spicy corn soup

This has a definite Mexican flavor.

6 cups chicken broth

3 boned, skinned raw chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic minced

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1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

2 cups corn, either canned or frozen

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1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup hot salsa

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine in a large saucepan the broth, chicken, onion, garlic red pepper, zucchini and spices. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the corn, beans and salsa. Simmer again, covered, until flavors have blended, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Stir in cilantro and simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes. Serve with grated Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and toasted tortilla strips.

Hot and sour soup

10 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 1/2 cups boiling water

3 cans chicken broth

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One 6-ounce loin pork chop cut into thin strips

4 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup minced green onion tops

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Combine the mushrooms and boiling water in a bowl and cover. Let stand 15 minutes, then drain in a colander over a bowl. Save 1 cup of the mushroom liquid. Cut off the stems, then rinse and cut the caps into thin strips Combine 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid and the broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, pork and tofu. Lower heat and simmer 3 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid, the cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and peppers in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in onions and sesame oil.

Beef and noodle soup, Vietnamese style

This broth has to be prepared a day ahead.

5 tablespoons peanut oil

4 pounds meaty oxtails (ask butcher for them)

2 onions, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

3 stalks lemongrass, chopped

2/3 cup peeled fresh ginger

5 garlic cloves, chopped

7 whole star anise (star-shaped spice)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

12 cups water

7 cups canned beef broth (about 4 cans)

3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

One 12-ounce package udon noodles (or fresh linguine)

1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil

3 cups bean sprouts

6 radishes, thinly sliced

4 green onions, sliced

4 serrano chilies, thinly sliced

6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

6 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

6 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Additional fish sauce

Heat the peanut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the oxtails with salt and pepper. Add oxtails to the pot and brown on all sides, then remove from pot to a bowl. Add the onions, carrot, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, star anise and peppercorns to the pot. Sauté; until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Put oxtails back into the pot, add all of the water and the beef broth and 3 tablespoons of the fish sauce. Cover and simmer about 3 hours or until the oxtails are tender. Using tongs, transfer oxtails to a bowl. Strain the broth into another pot and throw away the solids. Take meat off the bones and add the meat to the broth. Refrigerate overnight. Spoon fat off the top of the soup. Cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain, return to pot and toss with sesame oil. Now bring soup to a boil. Divide noodles, sprouts and next 6 ingredients among bowls, then ladle soup into the bowls. Serve with lime wedges and more fish sauce.

Peanut soup

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

One 14-ounce can coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup mango chutney

1 tablespoons jalapeno chili, minced

Salt to taste

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Sesame oil for garnish

In a small dry skillet toast the coconut over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until onion and ginger are very tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, broth, peanut butter, chutney and jalapeno. Puree until smooth. If it seems too thick, add a little more broth. Transfer soup to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until heated through. Season with salt to taste. Meanwhile toss the coconut, green onions and cilantro. To serve, drizzle a little of the sesame oil and a mound of the coconut mixture over each bowl of soup.

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