My family and I are big fans of UCC (the Ueshima Coffee Company) for both their drinks and food. I in particular enjoy its Bacon & Sausage Curry Soup Spaghetti, which is a lovely marriage between a pasta dish and minestrone, with Japanese (given UCC’s origins) twists. Essentially, it is pasta with a soup instead of a sauce – or you could say a soup with an unusually chunky amount of pasta. O:) Yes, go ahead, bop me on the head.
My best friend and my brother, on the other hand, prefer the Japanese Seafood Soup Spaghetti, which has as one of its soup bases a mouth-watering lush clear tomato soup. I would eat it weren’t it for the seafood (I don’t like seafood; the only ones I eat are tuna and salmon sashimi or sushi); whenever I do order it, I give the seafood to my family.
Nevertheless, it was enough to inspire me for another Italian soup meal for the day. Earlier in the day, I had made minestrone alla Genovese, albeit with a Filipino twist in terms of the vegetables that went into the soup, as well as the stock itself. After going to the grocery for some pantry-replenishing, where I bought three cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in the process (believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve eaten it), I got excited and decided to use some of it.
While brainstorming, as thoughts of the UCC dish entered my head, I wrote down ingredients for what would become a tomato soup spaghetti with chicken, allowing myself to be inspired by my perennial favorite, The Honourable Nigella Lawson’s take on pollo alla cacciatore (which I love so much more than other versions as the chicken is chopped up, and the liquid is enough to turn the thing into a stew). In fact, the sauce-soup seemed to be a soupier version of said dish, sans the bacon, wine, and with much less chicken.
I wrote my list on a Boogie Board Jot 8.5, an e-writer that is the hand-writing environmentalist’s dream come true, which I’m breaking in – not that it needs to. It’s a hand-me-down from my brother – the full story, as well as a reflection on the product itself, shall be featured in an upcoming post so that I don’t digress here.
I first had prepared the pot of water for the spaghetti, which I then threw in said pot while I prepared another one for the soup. According to Nigella, her friend and contemporary the Italian food writer Anna del Conte says that the water pasta is cooked in should be as salty as the Mediterranean, but in my usual half-filled pot, half a tablespoon was just too much for my liking. I therefore prescribed for myself just a teaspoon, which is one-third of a tablespoon.
I also had some chicken prepared; I would have preferred it shredded, but it had already been diced as it was merely unused chicken from the last time I cooked pollo alla cacciatore, which was the previous week. Given my ingredients, I decided to call it my Italian Chicken Tomato Soup Spaghetti.
Italian Chicken Tomato Soup Spaghetti Ingredients: (1 tsp.) salt (4 oz.) spaghetti, uncooked (½ tbsp.) olive pomace oil (1-2) spring onions, chopped (1 clove) garlic, minced (½ tsp.) fresh rosemary or (¼ tsp.) dried (4 oz.) uncooked chicken, shredded (1 can) Campbell's Tomato Soup (1-2) tomatoes, diced salt, to taste (2 cups, or 500 mL) chicken broth/stock (1 tsp.) celery salt (1½ tbsp.) extra-virgin olive oil (1 tsp.) white pepper
I always love the olive oil-garlic-spring onion-rosemary combination at the start of making an Italian liquid-y dish. Both the garlic and scallion add simple but powerful flavors to the dish in their own ways (the brusque strength of the garlic and the silent-but-deadly [not literally!] force of the spring onion). Rosemary adds a fragrance in scent and taste to the overall experience.
After cooking the alliums and rosemary for a few moments, I added the chicken, then the chicken stock and tomato soup. Because I knew Campbell’s soups were generally high in sodium content and the chicken stock would surely be so too due to its extreme tanginess, I planned to use only half a can. I accidentally poured ¾ of the can into the soup – and, surprisingly, the taste was bland. But because I wanted to be thriftier on my canned soup, I just added ketchup instead, as well as an actual tomato (though I would add the latter regardless). I topped the mixture off with celery salt and waited for it to come to a bubble.
That was pretty much it. By this time, the pasta was ready. As usual – another del Conte teaching, which is actually the way of the Italians – I dipped a ¼ cup-sized metal measuring cup into the pasta pot and took out some of the starchy, salty water the pasta cooked in. Nigella always expresses the criticalness of this ingredient, as it is the backbone of all pasta sauces – it helps them stop being too runny, and helps (alongside or instead of butter) coat each noodle with the sauce. Well, I had soup for a sauce, but I got the pasta-cooking water anyway.
While I drained the pasta, the soup bubbled fiercely on the hob. This was good. This meant that when I brought the spaghetti back to the counter, I could simply chuck it into the soup and mix it for a few seconds before pouring it into my bowl. I added about half the pasta-cooking water (around two tablespoons, or 30 mL) into the pot as well.
To make it worthy of a picture, I really made the effort to look for a low, wide bowl to put the soup spaghetti in; I succeeded in finding one such implement. It was when the pasta was already in this bowl that I added the extra-virgin olive oil and white pepper. Had I had any coriander or parsley, I would have added it on top, too, but herbs are not a commonplace item in our household, unless you count those dried McCormick’s ones (which is why I always have rosemary on hand).
With the added ketchup and salt, as well as the numbingly stunning taste of the olive oil, the soup tasted luscious – and threw my imagination smack right into the Mediterranean. The soup and pasta complemented each other – the soup made the pasta taste interesting, while the pasta absorbed any excessive tanginess on the soup’s part. As I am a very slow eater, and I was eating in my air-conditioned room with my mother, I ended up drinking a clear gazpacho at the end of the meal, but it was all good.
So now I had about 1½ cups of leftover minestrone alla Genovese and ¼ can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup remaining. I think you now have an idea of what I ate the following day… 🙂