I am sick.
It rarely happens, but this week I came down with the flu. All feverish and achy, I didn't each much on the first day. You know that feeling. But then I needed nourishment, and I kept thinking about this soup I had once while working at the restaurant in Philly. It was one of those cold, rainy days, and half the kitchen staff had a cold. Our boss had it waiting for us when we came in - his "feel good" soup, he called it. It was chock full of healing ingredients - garlic, ginger, seaweed, chiles, etc. These ingredients are said to increase circulation, build up immune systems, and reduce inflammation. The fresh chilis also opened up my sinuses, and the hot broth felt great on my throat. It didn't hurt that it was delicious.
So, I decided to make this soup for myself at home, but wasn't sure how to go about it. I found a recipe for "long life soup" in my Candle Cafe Cookbook, which seemed to have many of the same ingredients I was looking for. It was simple enough to make, and didn't take too long, which was important so that I didn't pass out in-process. It turned out to be hot, delicious, and just what I needed.
We all get sick sometimes, and I want to share this recipe with you all for when you or someone you love comes down with the "crud," as my grandmother would say. I made a couple changes to the original recipe, and added some frozen asian dumplings in at the end.
A note on the Candle Cafe Cookbook: I recommend this one for any vegan cooks our there looking for some really special dishes. Candle Cafe and Candle 79 are two of the best vegan restaurants out there, and they know what they are doing.
Enjoy, and feel better.
Feel Better Soup (Adapted from Candle Cafe)
1 oz. dried shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup arame seaweed*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 fresh chilis, cayenne or jalepeno, minced
2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
10-12 frozen vegetarian dumplings (optional)
1. Place the dried shitake mushrooms and the arame in 2 separate bowls and pour 4 1/2 cups of hot water over each. Let sit for 20 minutes each. Drain the mushrooms and reserve the water. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Drain and rinse the arame and discard the water. Coarsely chop the arame.
2. Heath the oil in a saute pan and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot and add the tamari, cayenne, vinegar, and sesame oil. Add the reserved mushroom water, mushrooms, arame, and an additional 4 1/2 cups to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes.
3. Place 3-4 dumplings in your bowl. Pour soup over dumplings and let sit for 1 minute. Top with sliced green onion and additional chilis if desired.
*Note: Arame is an ingredient you may not have worked with before. It is a certain type of sea vegetable that has a mild, sweet flavor, and a bunch of health benefits. One serving of arame contains 50% of your daily calcium needs, which is great for vegans. You can find arame at your local asian market, or at a health food store. I prefer the asian market because it is much more affordable. Don't be intimidated by sea vegetables - they are incredibly easy to work with, and so very good for you.