This gloomy weather brings out the comfort food in our kitchen. One of my classic favourites is Congee. I was introduced to congee when I was a Naturopathic student in Toronto. Up the road from CCNM was an Asian restaurant, that specialized in congee, called Congee Wong.
My classmates raved about this place. Was this soup, made out of overcooked rice, really that good? It certainly was. And this restaurant had about 50 ways they went about congee. Eating there helped me realize how something so simple could be so versatile, easy and delicious.
Congee is an ancient Chinese soup made from cooked down rice. The classic formula is 1 part uncooked rice to 4 parts water. Congee was, and still is, used to help nourish those who are not feeling well.
It all depends on what you add to it… for example:
– To settle the digestive tract the soup can be made with just the rice and some easy to digest, well cooked, vegetables like bok choy. Ginger can also be added (fresh or dried) to help reduce nausea.
– To help build the immune system, the soup can be simmered with chicken or turkey soup bones or soup broth. Garlic or ginger can be added for an antibacterial effect and to open the sinuses, respectively.
– To help provide nutrition, the soup be loaded with well cooked vegetables, beans, tempeh, lean protein, etc.
Congee is so easy to make!
There are probably hundreds of variations, but here’s and easy take on the the classic recipe:
1 cup uncooked Rice
4 cups water (or 2 cups water, 2 cups veggie or chicken stock)
Simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot. The rice should break down as cooking time elapses and create a “stew” like consistency to the soup.
Add any vegetables or meat cooked on the side. Season with sea salt to taste or Bragg’s soy sauce.
I had cooked rice in the fridge from a meal I made the other day. I decided I wanted to make congee with it. Here’s a great way to use cooked rice to make congee, too.
Dr. Laura’s Congee
This is a great gluten free, dairy free, vegan/vegetarian congee recipe. Whereas most congee recipes are made with some sort of animal product, congee can also be made with just plant-based ingredients and still be flavourful and enjoyable.
1 part cooked rice
2 parts water
a little extra water as needed
I put the cooked rice and water in a soup pot, put the lid on and turned up the heat. It came to a boil and I lowered the heat to simmer.
I kept stirring every 15-20 minutes. I cooked it until I got it to the consistency I preferred. This took about 45 minutes.
While the rice was cooking, I quickly chopped up:
A bunch of Swiss Chard
1 large carrot
The inner leafy part of a celery stalk
I added the veggies to a pan and sautéed them with a little olive oil, a little sesame oil, a little veggie broth and a little soy sauce. I essentially drizzled a little of each over the veggies in the pan. Eye-ball cooking at it’s best! 😉
The veggies where cooked down so they were tender.
When the Congee was cooked I added a little sea salt to it to taste. Then I topped it with the cooked vegetables.
It was delicious! The only thing missing that I knew would be so tasty added to this recipe was if I had some mushrooms as part of the vegetable medley. But this worked out really well. The cool thing about congee is that it’s so neutral, that you can add just about anything to it, and it makes for a perfect healthy comfort food!