Sunday, January 30, 2011
Fusion-Style Creamy Noodle Stew
I have a tremendous fondness for bowls of brown mush. You know, the sort of comforting foods made of veggies, warm broth, rice, tofu, and pasta, which all mix together to form, well, brown mush. Nourishing, comforting, elemental brown mush.
A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with asthma. Coughing, wheezing, and unable to breathe lying down, I wandered sheepishly into the doctors office after two previous weeks of what I had thought were cold symptoms eventually turned into me gasping like a fish at inopportune and inexplicable moments. With an oxygen saturation of 89% (not so good), and apparently lungs that didn't sound too fantastic either (along with some other droll and uninteresting medical history), I was informed that I have adult onset asthma, with acute exacerbation upon exertion.
Actually, my diagnosis is a blessing. My symptoms are manageable, and over the past few weeks I've happily learned - as a patient, rather than a nurse, which is a remarkably different position to occupy - how to deal with this new adventure for the rest of my life, thankful that at least we now know the issue and the plan!
Still, after a few weeks of wheezing embarrassingly in front of friends and strangers alike, I've felt in need of some culinary comfort - flavorful, healthful, delicious "brown mush..."
Fusion-Style Creamy Noodle Stew
1 lb lean ground beef OR 1lb seasoned TVP (such as Morningstar Farms or Quorn brands)
1 sweet vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp chili oil
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables (I used Trader Joe's Harvest Hodgepodge, an 8 vegetable blend we adore)
A big handful of slender noodles, such as rice noodles or sweet potato starch noodles (which is what I used, since I had them handy)
~ In a large soup pot over medium heat, brown the lean ground beef or the Morningstar Farms TVP crumbles. If you're using the ground beef, just coat the soup pot with cooking spray. If you're using the TVP, add 1 T olive oil. Season the ground beef/TVP with salt and pepper while it's browning.
~ Once browning has been achieved, add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute until the onion is limp and translucent. The aroma will begin to approach heavenly heights at this point...
~ Pour in a good amount of broth, with the precise quantity depending on just how much broth you like in your soups.
~ Stir in the lemon zest, chili oil, and soy sauce.
~ Stir in the mixed veggies.
~ Cover the pot, bring the soup to a simmer, then decrease the heat to maintain a simmer for as short or as long as you like. Personally, I don't simmer this soup for very long - just long enough to cook the veggies.
~ Stir in the noodles, adding more broth as needed to have enough liquid to cook the noodles nicely. Increase the heat as needed to maintain a nice low boil to cook the noodles. For my sweet potato starch noodles I maintained a low boil for 10 minutes, but naturally feel free to adjust this accordingly to your own particular noodles. This is a very soothing, fuss-free, personalized soup...
~ Here comes the interesting part - once the noodles are cooked and you feel like you have the right amount of broth in your soup... Puree the soup, noodles included, using an immersion blender or a food processor. The noodles will give your soup a gorgeous, creamy texture... and I guarantee a comforted sigh will follow the first spoonful... and the second...