Zha Choy Alphabet Soup

Rainy cool monsoon season has settled in and it’s getting pretty nice and chilly in the evenings these days. I still live in Malaysia, in case you’re wondering. Heavy thunderstorms have been a near daily affair every evening and I keep wanting soup soup soup. In with the scarves & soups!

I figured since I am making soup, I may as well turn it into a meal. Cool weather kinda makes me want to hibernate and do as little as possible. One pot meals are perfect for this . :-P I’d throw in some cubed pumpkin if I had some (obligatory mention of pumpkin being pumpkin season now). Jayne’s version of the more traditional Chicken Noodle Soup.

In my mish-mash sorta Asian soup, I used Chicken Broth, Chicken Thighs, Preserved Mustard (Zha Choy), Garlic, Mushroom, Water Spinach (Kangkung), Baby Carrots  & Alphabet Pasta! Yeah, I forgot to include the veggies in the pic. Noodles work too but I had some alphabet pasta lying in the cabinet so let’s make some cute soup.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 1

After washing off the preserved mustard, it looks like this! Like a brain-like thing. Love the salty spicy crunch.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 2

Cut into strips & soak in water for 10 minutes to rid it off excess salt.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 3

I threw a lot of things in a pot. Including still frozen broth.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 4

Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 5

When the chicken is cooked through & tender, the soup is about done.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 6

Fresh ingredients go in at the very end. I don’t wanna boil my veggies to death. 
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 7

A heap of alphabet pasta is thrown into the broth. 
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 8

And there we have the laziest soup meal ever made!
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 9

This pot holds the key to warmth & comfort on chilly nights.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 10

It fed us super well for 2-3 meals.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 11

Swap out with whatever meat, veggie, mushroom or noodles you have on hand and you’ll still get the same cozy deliciousness in a bowl.
Zha Choy Alphabet Soup 12

 Hibernation powers, ACTIVATE!!


“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” {Colossians 3:15}

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Zha Choy Alphabet Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 5-6
  • 2 Chicken Thighs, chopped to bite size pieces
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Preserved Mustard (Zha Choy), washed, cut into strips & soaked in water for 10-15 minutes
  • 1 6 oz pack Mushrooms (I used long Shimeji), roots trimmed
  • 6 oz (170 gm) Water Spinach (Kangkung), washed & cut into 4 inch stalks
  • ½ cup Baby Carrots
  • 6 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup Alphabet Pasta
  • Pepper
  1. Place drained zha choy, chicken pieces, water, broth & garlic into pot. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer. Cook until chicken is done & tender.
  2. Toss in mushrooms. Simmer for about 1-2 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through.
  3. Add water spinach, baby carrots & pasta. If you're using slightly larger pasta shapes like macaroni, pasta first and boil till al dente (more water if needed), before adding veggies.
  4. Once pasta is cooked through, season with some pepper.
  5. Serve immediately!
Substitution options:
Broth: Vegetable, Chicken, Beef
Mushrooms: Any variety; thinner ones like enoki should be added with veggies as they take less time to cook
Vegetables: Any variety that's not too strong in flavour to prevent overpowering soup; adjust cooking time accordingly
Pasta: Small shapes; may need to add 1 cup water if shapes are larger & take longer to cook. Can swap out with noodles, potato or pumpkin.
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Linzer Torte

You would have heard about my first encounter with linzer torte some months ago and I had never forgotten it. Love at first bite. Sighhhhh… Buttery cookie crust encasing jam. Everyone SHOULD eat them for dessert at least twice a month. Okay, maybe thrice.

I was on the search for a good recipe when I chanced upon a recipe that used corn meal. I have a bag of corn meal sitting on the counter. I looked at the bag, the bag looked at me. We had an unspoken agreement. It was a done deal. By the morning, we’ll have torte on the breakfast table.

The crust isn’t very complicated at all. No rolling out of the base, not fussy at all! It requires flour, corn meal, sugar, eggs, baking powder, mixed spice & butter.
Linzer Torte 1

 Brown sugar gives the crust a very nice nutty flavour and lovely mahogany colour.
Linzer Torte 2-3

 I think the egg & egg yolk differentiates this from regular pie crust by enriching it quite a bit. Adds some crumbliness too.
Linzer Torte 4

Dry ingredients!
Linzer Torte 5

Little flecks of yellow in there.
Linzer Torte 6

The dough is quite soft and  squidgy. It benefits A LOT from chilling out in the fridge. Overnight is great! I should have done it for that long so the corn meal gets plenty of time to hydrate and soften.
Linzer Torte 7

Nice firm pat of dough with all the needed tools.
Linzer Torte 8

The best tool is your hand, really. I like that this is a press in dough. Rolling out pie dough stresses me out too much in this weather.
Linzer Torte 9

Linzer Torte 10-13

Egg wash ‘em all! Makes the top all pretty & glossy.
Linzer Torte 14

This is like a a large jam cookie!
Linzer Torte 15

My slicing skills are so subpar. (See here for comparison).
Linzer Torte 18

I used mixed berry jam that had no additional sugar and the slight tartness cuts through the rich cookie crust perfectly!
Linzer Torte 16

On the way to its destination…. with a slice missing.
Linzer Torte 19

Saved a slice for my parents :-)
Linzer Torte 20

 So if you see a slice missing from future desserts, I’m saving it for someone. :-D


“The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” {Hebrews 13:6}

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Linzer Torte
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-12
  • 9 tbsp (110g) Butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100g) Dark Brown Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Ground Mixed Spice or Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 large Egg Yolk (reserve whites for egg wash)
  • 1½ cups (190g) Flour
  • ½ cup (70g) Cornmeal or Polenta
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1¾ cups (450g) Jam (I used mixed berry)
  • 2 tbsp Coarse Raw Sugar
  1. Beat together butter & sugar until well-combined.
  2. Mix in the egg, egg yolk & mixed spice powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal & baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients, just until the mixture comes together.
  4. Pat dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill it. It can stay in there overnight.
  5. Remove dough from the refrigerator.
  6. With the heel of your hand or fingers, press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom and sides of an unbuttered removable bottom tart pan (one that’s 9″ or 10″, 24cm), or springform pan, patting it evenly.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  8. Roll the remaining dough into a round. Lightly flour surface of table/board. Roll out dough into a ¼ inch flat circle. Cut into 1 inch strips. Lay strips on jam surface in a lattice pattern. If this is too complicated, you can cut dough into 2 inch circles & lay over jam surface.
  9. Brush top gently with reserved egg white.
  10. Top with coarse sugar.
  11. Bake until the pastry is golden brown for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Let cool before serving, and serve at room temperature. Leaving overnight after baking helps flavours to meld even better.

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

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