I loved Yewande Komolafe’s most recent column on the foods she makes when the floor starts to feel cold under her feet, and she wants to feel warm and nourished by the food she cooks. She calls this large family of broths, soups and teas her ‘restorations’ and builds them up quickly, from simple ingredients.
I’ve had my eye on her smooth red curry with lots of wobbly silken tofu and soft spices on top. Yewande uses jarred pasta to speed up the process, so I think I’ll be making it tonight with the rest of the red curry paste I frozen from another recipe a while ago.
Home cooks often have a few sets of ingredients or recipes they turn to when they want to feel cozy and recovered. For me, nothing beats hot rice and a bowl of broth-like rasam when I need something to keep me steady – spicy with tamarind, or roasted with garlic, or mouth-warming with black pepper – the variations are endless. This quick garlic rasam, from Usha Prabakaran, calls for 10 cloves of garlic, but when I really feel it, I make 20.
Hetty McKinnon’s comforting noodle soup with dumplings also seems to fall into this category. I almost always have an open bag of dumplings in my freezer, and this recipe turns a few of them into a complete, cozy dinner with broccoli and boy choi and a miso-fortified vegetable stock.
And Tamar Adler often makes large batches of what she calls health soup because it freezes really well, adding rice or noodles to the servings she’s heating up. To make it vegetarian, skip the bonito altogether and use a vegan fish sauce—there’s so much flavor from the miso, mushrooms, and kombu already.
Restoratives can be meals, but they don’t have to be! Yewande also makes a sunny citrus tonic with oregano and turmeric. You can make a batch ahead of time and dilute it with hot water if you need something soothing. It reminds me a bit of my grandmother’s chai, which I drink in the morning, both for the vibrancy of the aromas and the caffeine: lots of fresh ginger, chopped lemongrass and mint leaves boiled in water with black tea, cardamom, milk and honey.
Dumpling Noodle Soup
Go to the recipe.
One more thing!
February is a funny in-between time in Los Angeles: There are garlic veggies and strawberries at the farmers’ markets! My own garden still seems so quiet and sleepy, but one of my dahlias is in bloom early, the chives and onions are coming back nice and juicy, and the sweet peas are climbing a little higher every day. I’m very excited about all the volunteer nasturtiums, which have popped up out of nowhere, and plan to eat some of them soon, while waiting for the rest of the yard to be picked up.
If you’re gardening too, tell me what you’re growing now and where you are!