Every year I watch the Academy Awards. Translation: every year I fall asleep while making fun of the oscars. So why do I watch? Why does anyone want to watch overpaid celebrities parade down a piece of red carpet, stuffed into sparkly gowns and tuxes while the paparazzi clicks away and scary Joan-Rivers-types ask “What are you wearing?” Do I really care about who wins best actress- or even worse, best dressed? Nope, not at all. But I put it on anyway because I somehow feel like I’m skipping christmas if I don’t. It’s ridiculous. This is similar to how I feel about 99% of the Olympics. I like to watch the equestrian show jumping, which is minimally covered (or sometimes not at all), so in the end I usually see more of Michael Phelps than horses. Or even better, I get the privilege of watching a Ryan Lochte interview.
But I digress. Back to the glitz and glam of the oscars. Oh I’ll be watching, decked out in my finest yoga pants and hoodie, hoping that my girl crush, Jennifer Lawrence, picks up a golden statue. But the best part is, while I sit on my couch with my furry children snuggled up next to me, I can indulge in the ultimate winter comfort food…vegan chicken noodle soup. Don’t worry, there isn’t any weird vegan chicken in this recipe, but sadly, I didn’t think that “miso noodle soup” would bring back as many golden childhood memories as “chicken noodle soup”. In this recipe, I omit the dead bird and add delicious ingredients like collards, miso, and ginger. This is the perfect winter soup, and even better for those days when you’re feeling under the weather. Ginger and garlic are a match made in heaven, not just for their taste and good looks, but for their antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that will kick that sickness right out of your body. This recipe is gluten free, soy free, nut free, animal free, and guilt free…hooray!
Not Your Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled & thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped (I use the side of my knife to smash the garlic, or you can use a garlic press)
1 inch knob of ginger root, peeled & grated
1 bay leaf
4 cups stock (homemade or Imagine No-Chicken Stock) + 2 cups water
1 small handful of spaghetti noodles or noodle of choice, broken into thirds (I recommend Jovial brown rice spaghetti)
1 handful or about 4 large collard leaves, ribs removed and leaves stacked, then chiffonnade into thin ribbons
2 T dark miso (I recommend South River Miso 3 Year Barley)
Sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste
In a soup pot, heat oil over low to medium flame and add onion. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes, or until soft. Add carrots, celery, garlic, grated ginger, & bay leaf. Stir to incorporate ingredients, then pour in stock and water. Raise flame and bring soup to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 2 minutes, then lower flame to a lively simmer and add collard ribbons. Allow soup to simmer for another ten minutes, or until noodles are cooked (cooking time will depend on what kind of noodles you’re using). Turn off flame. Dip a glass into the soup and remove a little bit of broth. Combine miso with the broth and mix until miso has broken down and become incorporated. Pour miso mixture into soup, stir, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve to 4 overpaid unicorns wearing Stella McCartney gowns and Neil Lane diamonds.
After ranting on about how hysterical people are about the weather, I’m feeling rather humbled. A Nor’easter in October is all I needed to realize why those nutters (translation: Americans) buy so much bottled water whenever there’s a storm prediction. And speaking of no power, it’s amazing how different your life suddenly becomes when you don’t have it anymore…
Day 1: When it first goes off, it’s kind of exciting in that “hey, this is an adventure” kind of way. You grab a flashlight and pull out all of your candles, then tell the unicorns that they’re not allowed to open the refrigerator door (or any door for that matter) unless absolutely necessary. “We have to keep it cold,” you say with authority, “and we need to keep the house warm”. Then you converse about the last time you lost power and make predictions for when it’s going to come back on. Ten minutes later, you’re already missing it…
It’s 4:30pm and dark, there’s no internet, no TV, no music, no comforting droll of running machines, and you realize that being a pioneer isn’t fun at all. There is really only one thing you can do: read. Reading is fun when you want to read, but not when you have to read. It’s like when you’re at school and your professor tells you that you have to read fifty pages of a book. You instantly feel like reading anything other than the book assigned (and it doesn’t help when the book is Chaucer’s Canterybury Tales…let’s just say that middle english didn’t last for a reason). Luckily, there’s an old issue of Us magazine with Brangelina and her brood on the cover…
Another hour passes. Then another. Then it’s dinner time. You decide to eat all of the perishable food first (translation: one big-ass salad), but it’s so dark out that you can barely see the knife while cutting vegetables…
Another hour passes, and you think, “is it too early to go to bed?” You look at your phone and it says 8:05, so you reorganize a bookshelf. Then you pile the magazines on your coffee table by date, oldest on the bottom, newest on the top. Then you play a game of checkers with your unicorn friend. And then you give up and go upstairs.
Day 2: You wake up to the sound of a distant generator, and look out your window at your neighbor’s house. It’s lit up like a christmas tree and you decide that you never really liked them anyway. Outside, it looks like a war zone and a branch is lying over your car. “Great,” you mumble before walking down the stairs. Suddenly, a cold gust of wind blows into your face; you reach the kitchen and find a branch jutting through one of the windows. This is about the time when you let out one of those high-pitched crazy person laughs and your unicorn friend looks at you with concern.
Day 3: The house is 50 degrees, the refrigerator smells, and you’ve developed a cold. The best part of the day is when you win a game of Words with Friends on your iphone.
Day 4: You’ve finally broken down and have begun reading a book, while dressed in a puffer coat and wearing two pairs of socks. Your hair is in a braid, a dog is in your lap, a candle burns on the table beside you, and you suddenly realize that you’re Laura Ingalls from A Little House on the Prairie.
Day 5: You spend half of the day trying to move a paperclip after reading a short book on telekinesis.
Day 6: Your unicorn friend wakes you up after you fall asleep with a half eaten can of beans in your hand. You mumble something unintelligible and fall back asleep.
Day 7: The most glorious, stupendous, unimaginable feeling of joy washes over you when you hear the noise of a machine. “Ssshhh!” you yell at the unicorn, “Do you hear that?” He perks his ears forward and nods his furry head. Then you see a light on in the kitchen. It’s too good to be true. You leap and twirl in the air like a madman and feel positively euphoric as you do laundry and dishes…
Day 8: internet and cable still don’t work and the bliss of having hot water, heat and light is already wearing off. Simple creatures with simple needs? I think not…
Since I’ve been cold for about a week, I’m craving something warm and comforting. Solution? Asian ginger noodle soup. This is like mom’s chicken noodle soup, minus the dead bird. Ginger is anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, and a great thing to eat when feeling a little under the weather or nauseated. The best part? This takes less than 30 minutes from prep to finish.
Asian Ginger Noodle Soup
4 scallions, chopped
1 package or 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 heaping tablespoon of peeled and grated ginger (I use a microplane grater)
2 cups (1/2 bunch) of collards, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons
1/4 cup mirin (I use Eden brand)
2 cups stock (or water) + 1 cup water
1 large handful of thin brown rice noodles (I use Annie Chung’s)
1 can navy beans (or bean of choice) (I use Eden Organic…no bisphenol-A in lining!)
1 T + shoyu or tamari (naturally brewed soy sauces)
2 tsp. brown rice vinegar
A few shakes of Gomasio as a topping, optional (Gomasio is a delectable combination of sesame seeds and sea salt that is absolutely delicious! I use Eden’s garlic gomasio)
In a soup pot, heat oil and add scallions and ginger. Cook a few minutes, then add mushrooms and collards. Deglaze with mirin and allow to bubble for a few minutes, then add stock or water + additional water, cover with a lid, and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, add noodles and cook until soft, about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low, add beans and allow to simmer, partially covered for a few more minutes. Season with rice vinegar and shoyu, then serve in bowls with gomasio sprinkled on top. Serves 3 unicorns suffering from Vampire Diaries withdrawal…