Have the spring blues seized you? It's still chilly, still cold, and warm weather is still a ways off.
But cheer up — I have a cure for your blues. It's soup weather, and I want to share one of my favorites: a rich, savory turkey (or chicken!) broth, spiked 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 right now.
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 something sour. I threw in almost every warming, refreshing ingredient I crave in the winter, and amazingly, it all worked. 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; 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 three 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 & Sour Soup with Mushrooms, Cabbage, and Rice
Serves 8 to 10 (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
3-inch piece ginger, grated (or 1 tablespoon ginger puree)
1 to 3 limes, zested and juiced
8 cups chicken broth (or turkey or vegetable)
1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari, if gluten-free), 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. Stir the mushrooms after 5 minutes and cook for 5 more minutes, or until well-browned. Add the diced peppers, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 5 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 and simmer for another few minutes, or until cabbage is hot. Taste and add more lime juice, soy sauce, or other seasonings to taste.
Serve with extra soy sauce, lime wedges, and kimchi or chili garlic sauce.
This recipe originally published December 2008.