Recipe: Stupidly Easy Tomato Soup

Photo: vmiramontes

I love tomato soup, but it’s hard to find for me as a vegetarian.  Luckily, it’s stupidly easy to make, and you can make yourself a lazy man’s dinner that’s comforting and satisfying by just opening a can of crushed tomatos and following the recipe below.

Stupidly Easy Tomato Soup

1 cup water (about 250 mL)

1 vegetable bullion cube

1 can crushed tomatos (should be about double the amount of water)

1/2 cup milk (about 125mL)

2 tbsp butter (optional) – I just cut a chunk that doesn’t make me feel too guilty…

basil (optional)

pepper (optional)

**I love recipes that can easily be adapted and don’t require measuring.  To be honest, I just eyeball how much of everything I toss in, so don’t be too obsessive about the amounts!

1.  Boil the water and dissolve your boullion cube in it to make a broth.

2.  Add the can of crushed tomatoes to the broth.

3.  Toss in some milk to combat some of that canned-tomato acidity!  Want to add more milk? Go for it.

4. (optionally) Toss in a chunk of butter — less is healthier, more is oilier.  You choose your quantity.

5.  If your boullion cube didn’t provide enough season, toss in some basil and pepper.  Feel free to experiment with other spices as well.  I’ve been successful with a little cinnamon and nutmeg.  Spices are magic.  Use them.

That’s all.  You’re done and you’ve got yourself a totally fabulous and pretty healthy soup!  Make a dinner out of it by adding a side of toast with cheese on it.  Truly the lazy man’s dinner — with easy clean up, too!

Familar Products with Unfamiliar Names

The blog post “Familiar Products at Japanese Supermarkets” has a lot of great tips for kinds of food from home you can buy in Japan.  I’d like to point out some household and health items that are subject to the language barrier; that is, not only are their English and Japanese names are different, but the packaging also doesn’t give coherent visual clues in the same way a bottle of Coke does.

Although I’ve studied Japanese for several years, my vocabulary of household items is still rather low.  Whe I first arrived, I went to the store to buy some hydrogen peroxide, which I use as a stain remover and general household/wound disinfectant.  I had been told it was hard to find in Japan, and  since I live in a rural area, I didn’t have high hopes. I decided to give it a shot anyway and headed to my local drug store.  The first hit on my denshi jisho for hydrogen peroxide was 過酸化水素 (kasankasuiso), but that’s actually the chemical name for the substance (H2O2).  The commercial/household name for hydrogen peroxide in Japan is oxydol or  オキシドール (okishidouru), and you can find it in the drug store by the bandages and medical disinfectants.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

It’s about 498 yen for a 500 ml bottle, whereas in the States, you can buy the same amount of a generic brand for about $1.

Acidophilus bifidus is another household staple for me.  It’s a probiotic that promotes healthy bacteria for digestive- and women’s health.  Acidophilus bifidus is in yogurt and is available in pill form in the US.  In Japan, there is a similar product referred to as ビヒズス (bihizusu) or ビヒダス(bifidasu), which both refer to Lactobacillus bifidus, a bifidobacterium from milk that has the same beneficial qualities. You can buy Morinaga ビヒダスヨーグト(bifidasu yo-guruto).  It’s a plain yogurt and is delicious when sweetened with fruit.

Morinaga Bifidus Yogurt

Morinaga Bifidus Yogurt

You can also buy Glico yogurt with  プロバイオティックス (probiotics).  The flavor is a little sweeter, but the consistency is runnier.

Glico Probiotic Yogurt Glico Probiotic Yogurt

There’s also Yakult BL, a box of concentrated ビヒズス (bifizusu) powder packets.  You mix one packet with a glass of water and drink it; the mixture has no flavor. You can find this in the drug store with other vitamins and supplements.

Yakult BL (Lactobacillus bifidus powder)

Yakult BL (Lactobacillus bifidus powder)

A person over the age of 15 can have three whole “sticks” a day.  Be careful, though–too much healthy bacteria can cause an imbalance.  Also, if you are allergic to milk products, do not use Yakult BL since it’s derived from bifidus in milk.

Are you looking for food or health products from home?  Have you found any products with vastly different Japanese names? Let us know!

Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and wants to make sure you, the reader, are full of healthy bacteria.

Familiar Products at Japanese Supermarkets

Before I came to Japan, I didn’t know anything about what could be found in Japan, let alone in whatever small town I was ending up in.  To educate the masses, and alleviate some of those smaller questions that might be in the fact of your brain, I’m going to do a little mini series on what you can find in Japan that you can also find at home.

Feel free to think of this as a list of what you probably don’t need to bring.  Or think of it as a reminder that Japan may be far away, but it’s not completely foreign.  There are plenty of things you can find at home, too.

To start this series off, I went to my local supermarket.  The one that is 5 minutes away, on foot, from my apartment.  It’s a chain supermarket, but it’s a typical one.

Here’s a small sampling of items that remind me of what I’d find back home (which, for me, means the U.S.):

Coca ColaYou’ll find an ample supply of sodas you recognize: Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Mountain Dew.  If you’re a huge fan of root beer you’ll have a little more trouble though — most Japanese people find it disgusting.

A Variety of Teas

Love tea? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of non-Japanese tea to be found.  Of course, it may not be the same quality you’re used to.  I’ve noticed that Starbucks sells Tazo, though. (Starbucks is everywhere).

Instant coffeeAh, instant coffee.  What would work be without you? Japan also has some fabululous pre-flavored instant coffee mixes. Very convenient!

(See more foods under the cut)

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