When I was growing up, we ate several dishes that I thought were really unusual and unique to my mother. Macaroni soup was one of them. Small pasta shapes swimming in chicken or veggie broth, flavored with shiitake mushrooms, peas, carrots and ham. Sometimes Spam was also in that bowl. To me, this didn’t feel like a distinctly Chinese dish, so I assumed it was just something my mum made when she was short on time. I continued to think it was a family recipe until a very recent trip to Hong Kong, where I saw it on the breakfast menu at McDonald’s and practically every other cafe and cha chaan teng menu. I was shocked. Only then did I realize it was actually known as “Hong Kong–style breakfast”; it dawned on me that I still had much to learn about my family culture.
At a cafe close to my hotel in Hong Kong, I ordered a variation of this dish—tomato soup
brimming with macaroni pasta, topped with scrambled egg. My love for this dish was instant, inspiring a childlike wonder for a bowl full of textures and childhood memories, just with a little twist.
10½ ounces (300 g) dried elbow macaroni (or other small pasta shape)
4 large eggs
1 scallion, finely sliced
Sea salt and white pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 (28-ounce / 800-g) can diced tomatoes
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
¼ cup (60 ml) ketchup
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt and white pepper
Canned tomatoes: fresh tomatoes
Use gluten-free pasta for gluten free
Omit the egg
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente, about 5–6 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water.
For the tomato soup, heat a drizzle of oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 1–2 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes and stock and cook for 4–5 minutes, until the mixture is simmering. Season with sea salt and white pepper. Using a stick blender (or regular blender/food processor), whiz until smooth. Stir in the ketchup and sugar, then taste and season again if needed.
Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat well. Season with sea salt and white pepper. In a frying pan over medium–high heat, add a drizzle of oil. Slowly pour in the egg mixture and cook, gently stirring occasionally, for barely 60 seconds, until the egg is just set. Break up the egg into chunks and set aside.
To serve, place some macaroni in a bowl and cover with hot soup. Top with scrambled egg and scallion.
Printed with permission from To Asia With Love by Hetty McKinnon. Copyright 2021, Prestel.
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