I cannot overstate how much I love soup. All soup. But I have a particular soft spot for East and Southeast Asian soups: Tom Kha, Miso, Pho, Wonton, Hot and Sour, Egg Drop.
I love these soups so much that I, a complete nincompoop in the kitchen, have endeavored to learn how to make almost all of these. And while I’ll never be able to fool a native or connoisseur, I have come as close as my limited RV kitchen, road resources, and iPhone-addled attention span can get me. Plus it’s fun!
But nothing beats the real thing made by people who really know what they are doing! While ethnic restaurants, of any flag, are not as hard to come by in small towns as they used to be, they are still a bit of a novelty when we travel, and a definitely welcome treat when we find a good one.
During an afternoon stroll in downtown Casper, Wyoming, we found a good one – Js Chinese Restaurant. We sat by the window and ordered the large Wonton Soup and a side of steamed rice to share. The soup had a deeply flavored beef broth base, and was full of beautiful home-made pork dumplings. Lovely.
We also met Rose. Her husband made the soup.
Rose met her husband Alex while both attended college in California. Rose is Taiwanese, Alex is Cantonese. Both were very, very far from home and looking for a community to belong to. They bonded over soup.
After classes, Alex worked as a cook in the family restaurant. Each night he was tasked with preparing the soup for the next day – a traditional Cantonese slow-cooked soup known for it’s healing properties. And each night, during the three-plus hours it took to nurture the soup, Alex and Rose talked on the phone and nurtured their growing relationship. The next day, he would bring her a sample of his healing soup.
Years later, now joyfully married, these two operate this lovely little place in one of the cutest downtowns we have ever visited.