Aunt Josephine’s Cold Cucumber Soup

ASoUE Cucumber Soup cut

“Soup’s on!” Aunt Josephine called from the kitchen. “Please come to dinner!”
“Oh good,” Violet said. “There’s nothing like hot soup on a chilly evening.”
“Actually, it’s not hot soup,” Aunt Josephine said. “I never cook anything hot because I’m afraid of turning the stove on. It might burst into flames. I’ve made chilled cucumber soup for dinner.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

Adapted from an awesome Korean cucumber soup recipe from Robin Ha’s “Banchan in Two Pages”!

Aunt Josephine’s Cold Cucumber Soup

  • 1 Long Hothouse/English Cucumber, sliced & matchstick-cut
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic, crushed/minced
  • 1/4 Small Onion, julienned very thinly
  • 1 Green Onion, green part only, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 Packed Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Mint
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds (optional) for garnish
  • Ice Cubes (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss the matchstick-cut cucumber with the soy sauce & let sit for 10 minutes. Toss in the rest of the ingredients excluding the sesame seeds & ice cubes, & chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Serve in individual bowls with a sprinkling of sesame seeds (optional). You can also plop a few ice cubes into each dish, but it’s not necessary. Note: If you’d like a little color & spice, thinly slice (& discard the seeds of) a red chili & toss it in with the other ingredients before chilling for 15 minutes.

ASoUE Cucumber Soup aerial
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 54: A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Turniphead Cawl

When brainstorming a dish for Howl’s moving castle, I thought Welsh Cawl might be a nice choice – is the national dish of Wales from whence hails Howl, and although Sophie hates turnips she has somewhat affectionately named the stalky scarecrow Turniphead. I carved little faces into my turnips, so Halloweeny (keep Halloween in your heart all through the year).

Recommended, do the meat and broth step the day before so it has time to cool and you can spoon off the fat.

Turniphead Cawl

  • 1.5 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • flavorless oil
  • salt & pepper
  • herbs (I used several sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rosemary)
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into half moon
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled, halved, and carved into faces
  • handful parsley finely chopped

Salt and pepper the meat and heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high in a large soup pot. Brown in two batches, then add 6 cups water and the rest of the meat into pot, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits. Add herbs, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for an hour.

Cool completely in the fridge. Scrape off fat and discard. Strain the meat out to a plate, and strain the broth.

In the soup pot, gently heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add leaks and carrots to the pot and gently stir to coat, cooking several minutes until wilted and soft. Add broth, meat, and turnips. Bring up to a simmer and simmer until turnips are soft and can be easily pierced with a paring knife, 10-15 minutes.

Arrange in a bowl and serve hot, garnished with parsley.

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Jack Skellington Cabbage & Shirataki Soup


Jack Skellington Cabbage & Shirataki Soup

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 Vegetable Bullion
  • 1/2 Small Red/Purple Cabbage, outer leaves removed, chopped
  • 1/2 Large Red Onion, julienned
  • Shirataki Noodles
  • Seaweed/Nori Sheet

In a large pot on high, bring the water & bullion to a boil. Add the cabbage & keep on high until it comes back to a boil. Cover & turn down to a simmer. Cook until the cabbage is just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add in the onions & cover again, simmering until the onions are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain the shirataki noodles & rinse them under cold water. Spoon some of the soup into a serving bowl. Place a small mound of the noodles on top, then gently spread them out a bit to flatten the top of the mound, adding noodles if needed to cover any gaps.

Cut eyes, nose, & mouth shapes from the seaweed/nori & place them on top of the noodles (tweezers can help with the placement of the tiny pieces).

Now it’s ready to serve! Let the person who is eating it fold the noodles into the soup & watch the noodles gradually change color! It looks like Ooogie Boogie’s insides! (Haha, blek! But it’s tasty ;). )

Great served with buttered toasty bread. If you have black sesame, poppy, or chia seeds, sprinkle some onto the bread for effect.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 47: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Sally’s Poisonous Soup


Day-in day-out Sally tries to poison the Evil Scientist using herbs from her quaint little garden of deadly herbs. On this particular night, she uses her deadly nightshade masked by frog’s breath and worm’s wort.

My version swaps ingredients for each of these – instead of deadly nightshade, an edible nightshade (green pepper), seaweedy dashi for the most pleasant interpretation of frog’s breath, and mirin, a sweet alcohol for the worm’s wort (wormwood is sweet and the main ingredient of absinthe). For the gruesome green shade I added a little matcha.

What was originally a poisonous soup translated to a lovely restorative broth.

Sally’s Poisonous Soup

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 2×2 inch square kombu
  • 1/2 a green pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 pinch bonito flakes
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon matcha

Put water in a sauce pan and soak the kombu for at least 30 minutes. Add the green pepper and bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add bonito flakes and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain, and gently warm, stirring in mirin and matcha.

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Holmes’ Stew-on-the-Moor

Sherlock stew

“Now let me see what meager refreshment I can provide.”

In the Granada Television production of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, there is a wonderfully cute scene when Watson discovers that Holmes has been camping on the moors, and Holmes invites him into his cozy little cave and offers him some stew. This is not in the book, but is so spot-on, I believe, for the characters. (The scene starts at 4:45)

Wanting to make something hearty and stick-to-your-ribs to fortify against the danger and damp of the moors (as well as look somewhat similar to what we see in the film), and trying to imagine what a local boy might plop into a sack and haul to a mysterious man in a cave, I thought; a potato, a carrot, a leek, some meat like bacon and, of course, a long sausage, a loaf or round of bread, and a little jug of milk. It wouldn’t be hard to toss in a dried bay leaf and, uh, a tiny tin of ground sage, and why not some salt and pepper? I’m sure Holmes would have requested a few particulars, I mean, he did mention clean collars…


  • 2 Strips Bacon, chopped
  • 1 Long Smoked Sausage, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Leek, chopped, white only
  • 1 Potato, peeled & diced about 1/4″ bits
  • 1 Carrot, sliced into 1/4″ thick discs
  • 1 Cup Water
  • Dried Bay Leaf
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Crumbled Bakery Bread Loaf, no crust
  • Dash of Ground Sage
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cut half of the sausage into bite sized pieces & place them in a large pot along with the chopped bacon. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink & then remove to a bowl until needed.

In the same pot, melt the butter and toss in the chopped leak & cook for a few minutes. Third & quarter the carrot discs & then add them to the pot along with the diced potato. Pour in the cup of water & drop in the bay leaf & cook until the carrots & potatoes are just tender.

Soak the bread in the milk & then add it to the pot. Plop in the meat, & then cover the pot & reduce the heat to a low simmer & cook for about 10 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf & sprinkle in some salt, pepper, & ground sage to taste. Serve with the other sausage half (optional). I promise this is not disgusting as Watson mentioned in the film, but it is best served warm. You may even enjoy it so much you’ll be saying “moore-stew please!”

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 19: Sherlock Holmes

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Mushroom, Asparagus and Spinach Soup


No one pretends that Sherlock and Watson would have been doing much cooking, but this is a simple and elegant soup I could easily see Ms Hudson whipping up, or it being served as a first course at a city restaurant.

The original recipe comes from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, the closest thing England had to an official cookbook of the Victorian and Edwardian eras (we also talk about it on our Downton Abbey episode). It was made with beef and pale ale, but I decided to make a lighter version with mushrooms and Madeira.

Mushroom, Asparagus and Spinach Soup

  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Madeira
  • 32 ounces beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (or dried herbs of your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1 large handful spinach, sliced

On medium heat, heat olive oil and cook mushrooms until they are browned and mostly cooked down. Raise the heat and add Madeira, then cook it off. Add beef broth and Herbs de Provence. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add asparagus and cook 4-6 minutes until soft. Add spinach and stir in, cooking until just wilted. Serve hot.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 19: Sherlock Holmes

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Scarlet Witch’s Brew


For our Avengers: Age of Ultron episode I wanted to come up with something for my favorite, character, Scarlet Witch. Borchst seemed perfect – vibrantly red (ok, magenta), with eastern European roots, and lots of witchy herbs.

I’m a big fan of beets, and often roast a bunch on the weekend and use them throughout the week in salads, soups, pilafs, etc. I talked about it on the podcast, but the easiest way to do beets is to wash, trim, drizzle with olive oil then wrap them in foil to roast whole, then peel off the skin once they are soft – it’s way easier than trying to peel/chop/grate them raw, which is a miserable pain that will thoroughly dye your hands and cutting board.

A few of the correspondences of ingredients that might be interesting to Scarlet Witch – I mentioned some on the podcast, but here they are plus a few more:

  • Beets – beauty, love, rebirth
  • Celery, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Carrots – psychic powers
  • Onions – protection
  • Cabbage – luck
  • Garlic, Thyme, Dill – strength, courage
  • Rosemary – memory
  • Butter – reconciliation (hmm, maybe that could help her becoming an Avenger!)

Referenced: Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs as well as this list on Kitchen Witch Corner.

Scarlet Witch’s Brew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bunch (3-4 medium) beets, cleaned, trimmed, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped, or one can
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • your choice of herbs, fresh or dried – definitely recommend bay leaf and a handful of finely chopped dill! I also used a good sprinkle of Herbs de Provence which I usually have on hand, it has a mix of herbs like thyme, basil, marjoram and oregano – this is less “borschty” but more witchy 🙂
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sour cream, more chopped dill to serve

Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook onion until thoroughly golden (but be careful not to burn). Add garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for a minute or two (until garlic looses its raw smell), then add cabbage and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until cabbage is very soft. Add beets and tomatoes, the paprika, and another sprinkle of salt, and cook until tomatoes have completely broken down, are reduced and somewhat jammy.

Puree the whole vegetable mixture in a blender with a cup of water or chicken broth (you will likely have to do this in batches). Return to the pot and add the rest of the water or broth, plus the herbs. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 14: Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Raspberry Soup

BOF soup

“Butler Lee, this soup is awesome!” Says Gu Jun Pyo, minutes before his older sister pushes his face into it for being his usual jerky self. Yes, it’s a good thing it was cold soup. (“Boys Over Flowers” episode 7)

BOF soup on face 2 shot

Raspberry Soup

  • 4 Cups Fresh Raspberries + a couple set aside for garnish
  • 1/2 Cup + 1/4 Cup Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar + more to taste
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt + a little more for garnish
  • Pinch of Salt
  • A Few Leaves Fresh Mint
  • Small Amount of Milk (for garnish)

In a blender or food processor, pulse the raspberries, 1/2 cup of cranberry juice, & 1/2 cup of sugar until the raspberries are broken down & blended but the seeds are still intact. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl & pour the raspberry mixture in. Use a spoon or spatula to stir the mixture around to help with the staining process. Once much of the mixture has strained through & you’ve got a thicker mess of seeds & pulp, pour the 1/4 cup of cranberry juice into the strainer & stir again to help get as much of the raspberry mixture out, leaving the seeds behind.

Rinse out the blender or food processor & then pour the strained contents of the bowl into it. Add the cup of yogurt & blend until thoroughly combined. If you’d like to add a little more sugar to taste, do so now. Throw away the seeds from the strainer & then rinse it out. To serve, hold the strainer over the serving bowl & pour your desired quantity of soup through the strainer & into the bowl (pouring through the strainer helps to diminish the bubbles).

To add garnish, cut 1 raspberry in half per bowl of soup (I used kitchen scissors for this) & float the 2 halves, cut sides down, in the center of the soup with 2 small, fresh mint leaves. Spoon a little bit of yogurt into a small bowl & stir in some milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth, pipe-able consistency. Scoop this mixture into a baggie & snip off a corner to make a small opening. Pipe a design onto the surface of the soup; swirls or dashes or dots, etc., optionally using a toothpick to add details (I made a ring of dashes & gently dragged a toothpick through them to create the heart/leaf effect). Serve the soup, enjoy, and dunk your obnoxious brother’s face in it!

BOF soup w cup

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 10: Boys Over Flowers

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Minty Split Pea Soup


In The Prince and the Large and Lonely Tortoise the Tortoise, in her lovely human form, attends the feast and pours rice swollen in butter over her hair, which turns into pearls, and a thick green soup which turns into emeralds.

This reminded me of a Middle Eastern soup I’ve made several times, this elegant soup with split peas and mint. I feel that it’s pretty representative of the region, with the ubiquitous lentils and very common mint. It’s perfect for this wintery weather, but you could make it with fresh peas come spring.

Minty Split Pea Soup

From Artichoke to Za’atar: Modern Middle Eastern Cooking by Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • salt & white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups split peas
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 handful fresh mint, chopped
  • salt & white pepper
  • whipped yogurt and chopped mint for garnish

In a soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped butter lettuce and saute until wilted. Add mint, a generous pinch salt, and a sprinkle white pepper, and stir well.

Add split peas and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until split peas are soft. Add mint, and cook another 3 or 4 minutes.

Puree in a blender (hold a tea towel over the top so it doesn’t explode) and pour back into the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning (add more salt) if necessary.

Serve hot with a dollop of whipped yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped mint.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 9: ARABIAN NIGHTS

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