All I want, all winter long, is a big bowl of body-warming, soul-soothing soup. And usually I want it instantly, with next-to-zero work on my part. Ramen is the magical concoction that satisfies both of these desires.
I make it a little differently every time, depending on what veggies and toppings we have in the house. It is delicious in its simplest form – broth and noodles – but I love it even more when we have greens, mushrooms, sprouts, soft-boiled eggs and other fixins to add for flavor and texture.
Feeling a little chilly and also a little lazy? Go fix yourself a steaming bowl of broth, noodles and veggies. You deserve it.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 3 T. white miso paste
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Soy sauce to taste
- Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
- 1 T. mirin, white wine or vermouth (optional)
- 1 tsp. 5-star spice (optional)
- About 8 oz / 227 g dried ramen noodles
- Dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 bunch Swiss chard or spinach
- Bean sprouts
- Green onions, diced
- Cilantro, chopped
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- 4 soft-boiled eggs
- Soak mushrooms in warm water until they soften (20-30 minutes); rinse and drain. Slice mushrooms.
- Heat sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and ginger for 2 minutes, then add miso and cook for another minute. Add broth, a splash of soy sauce and Sriracha, 5-star spice (optional) and mirin (optional).
- Stir in mushrooms. Bring the broth to a simmer and season to taste.
- While broth is heating, boil water in a separate pot and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with warm water; set aside.
- Add greens to the broth and cook for a few minutes until wilted.
- Put a serving of noodles in each bowl, ladle soup over the top, and garnish with toppings.
People have lots of opinions when it comes to chili. Texas style. New Mexico style. Cincinnati style. Kansas City style. (I’m from California, so I have no real loyalty to any one doctrine.) I love a big hearty bowl of chili when the weather cools down, but until recently, I was convinced that I didn’t much care for vegetarian chili. It seemed like most I tried were just poor imitations of the real deal – more like watery bean soup than something you’d have a cook-off over. But I’ve been trying to make more veggie-rich meals lately, and I’ve made it my mission to put together a vegetarian chili recipe that can stand up to the meat version. This is it. It has a good balance of earthy beans and sweet winter veggies, but for me, the success is in its satisfying spice and thickness. A few notes on this, in case the recipe looks annoyingly complicated:
- I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt, and I based my blend of dried chiles (and some other ingredients) on his Serious Eats recipe. This approach takes a little more planning and cook time than just throwing in some chili powder, but it makes for a really nice, complex flavor. If you don’t feel like doing this, you can obviously ignore me and use cayenne, chili powder and a couple chipotles in adobo sauce, and it’ll still be pretty darn good.
- The rest of the ingredients are also flexible and forgiving. Use fewer vegetables or different kinds of beans if you like. Leave out the bourbon or masa harina or whatever you don’t have on hand; as long as you have some beans, veggies, spices, tomato and enough liquid to tie it all together, you win.
Make this for a crowd, and no one will miss the meat.
Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies
- Chile puree:
- 2 dried mild to medium chiles (ancho, pasillo, Anaheim or mulato)
- 2 dried sweet chiles (New Mexico, ñora, choricera or costeño)
- 2 dried spicy chiles (chipotle or arbol)
- 2 canned chipotles in adobo (seeds removed)
- 2 cups water
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 small red bell peppers, diced
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. + 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 2 cans black beans (liquid reserved)
- 2 cans garbanzo beans (liquid reserved)
- 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 T. tomato paste
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 1 T. unsweetened cocoa
- 2-3 T. bourbon
- 2 T. masa harina or cornmeal
- Fixins: sour cream, cilantro, cheese, lime, hot sauce, tortilla chips, etc.
- Remove seeds from dried chiles. Saute them without oil in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Place them in a glass liquid measuring cup; add canned chipotles and 2 cups of water. Microwave for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or carefully pulse with an immersion blender.
- In the Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and bell peppers until they start to get tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in sweet potatoes, squash, beans and tomatoes. Add tomato paste and 1 cup reserved bean liquid. Gradually add chile puree, stirring and tasting for spice. Add soy sauce and cocoa powder, plus more water or bean liquid if mixture is too dry.
- Bring to a light boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water or bean liquid during cooking if needed. Stir in the bourbon and the masa or cornmeal. Garnish with your favorite fixins.
It’s the time of year where I’m simultaneously mourning the last days of summer and antsy to move on to the crisp fall weather. Barcelona has been skipping back and forth between seasons – sunny and balmy one day, cool and stormy the next.
During one of the fierce thunderstorms this week, I put the potatoes in our CSA basket to good use and made a simple, creamy potato-leek soup that hit the spot. Cozy up with a bowl – you won’t regret it.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 leeks (white and light green parts only), roughly chopped
- 5 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
- Olive oil
- Salt, pepper, dried thyme and other spices
- Handful of cubed pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 baguette, cut into medium chunks
- Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leeks and potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened slightly.
- Add broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are very tender. Add cream and heat through.
- At the same time, cook pancetta in a small pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and bread crumbs until crispy, about 8-10 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender (or work in batches in a regular blender) to puree until it is still lightly chunky, not totally smooth.
- Season with salt, pepper, thyme and any other spices you like.
- Serve topped with pancetta-crouton mix, with extra sliced bread on the side.