But cheer up — I have a cure for your glum January blues. It's soup weather, and I want to share again my January soup tradition: A rich, savory turkey broth, spiked up with spicy chili peppers and lime juice, stocked with mushrooms, fragrant rice, and melting strands of cabbage. It's hot and sour, delicious yet simple, hearty yet light — everything you want in January, and more. I first made this soup a few years ago, when it came straight out of odd ingredients in the fridge and an instinctive craving for cabbage, rice, something spicy, and a little sour. I threw in almost every warming, refreshing ingredient I crave in the winter: peppers, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and rice. Amazingly, it all worked, and it's become a yearly tradition ever since.
When the weather gets cold and the other sort of cold descends, I pull turkey broth out of the freezer and make a big pot of this soup. The spiciness clears out the sinuses and the lime juice perks everything up. My husband and I slurp this up by the quart in January; it's the best winter tonic I know.
It's vegan-friendly too — just use vegetable broth. Use the best stuff you can — whether it's turkey, chicken, or veggie. This soup needs the deep flavor of a good stock.
And balance the different elements according to your own tastes. Some might like it spicier so add all the peppers, and serve with a big spoonful of chili sauce (realize though that this soup does get spicier as it sits in the fridge; by day 3 it will really burn — in a good way!). And if you want it saltier or more sour, just serve with soy and lime.
Happy soup-eating — it really is that time of year.
Hot and Sour Mushroom, Cabbage, and Rice Soup
Makes eight to ten 1-cup servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 ounces cremini or shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
One 3-inch lump ginger, grated (or 1 tablespoon ginger puree)
1 to 3 limes, zested and juiced
8 cups broth — turkey, chicken, or vegetable
1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to serve
1/2 small head green cabbage, cut in half and shaved thin
Chili garlic sauce or kimchi, to serve
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Toss the mushrooms after 5 minutes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until well-browned. Add the diced peppers, garlic, and ginger and cook for about five minutes or until fragrant and slightly softened.
Add the lime zest and broth and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is just barely soft. Add the shaved cabbage, lime juice, and soy sauce to taste and simmer for another few minutes or until cabbage is hot.
Serve with extra soy sauce, lime wedges, and kimchi or chili garlic sauce.
(Images: Faith Durand)
Recipe originally published December 10, 2008.