Of Soups & Stews


One of the few saving graces of the arrival of the colder seasons is the opportunity for comfort foods. The downturn in temperature practically demands it, and it’s the one instance where I’m happy to oblige. This is the time of the year when I enjoy cooking. It’s cozy to be in a kitchen warmed by simmering stews and soups or a tray of winter vegetables roasting in the oven. I’ll attempt a chicken at some point in the coming months, but for now it’s just soup, as evidenced by the feature photo.

This one is a bowl of Won Ton soup, procured at a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown. Suzie and I ducked in just before closing time on a late September evening a little before midnight. The winds were starting to bite, and we were only about half-way back to the condo, so we took refuge in the almost-empty restaurant. A novice to the Asian noodle scene, I vowed to make this the fall and winter in which I sustain myself with their heat-miser magnificence. I chose one of the first soup entries on the menu – something with pork dumplings and scallions that sounded plain enough to enjoy as an entry-way to more extreme bowls down the line. It was amazing.

The broth was light but flavorful, and the pouches of pork dumplings were like pungent little pillows, providing their spicy protein in puffs of perfectly-puckered pulchritude. Scattered with scallions, the soup was layered with several levels of flavor, even as the main broth was relatively clear. The noodles were just the right amount to sustain without overfilling, and substantial enough to be more than satisfying for a full meal. Up until recently, I’ve always considered soup to be s starter or an accent, not the main course, but I’ve changed my mind. With noodles and/or rice, a soup can be a hefty dinner unto itself, and this fall I’m making it a staple dish in the seasonal repertoire. Stay tuned for more soup tales…

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