This is the soup that saved me after my dad came home from the hospital recently. I made the first pot on the fly, loading it up with all the things that make me feel good (beans, pasta, kale, turmeric), and seasoning it just the way I like it with a broth that is nuclear spicy (cayenne, ginger, garlic). All the ingredients went into the largest pot I could find, one of my dad’s pasta pots, so there would be enough soup to portion out and freeze into meals for days. It’s the kind of soup I never get tired of, and the kind of thing I needed to have on hand to keep myself going at a terrible time. For any of you who missed what has been going on with me between my past post and now, I posted more details here and here, but the short of it is that my mom died unexpectedly, and my dad has also been very sick.
But the soup has helped. The soup does the job. And somewhat shockingly, my dad also loves it. He lost nearly fifty pounds in a short time period while he was in the hospital and acute rehab. Swallowing was hard, and radiation treatment to his throat caused all sorts of problems. I wasn’t sure if he could tolerate this soup, because spicy foods can be trouble when you’re not eating much and/or getting radiation treatment to your neck. At any rate, he asked to try it and now he requests for bowl after bowl of this, preferably with a dollop of sour cream on top or a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. He calls it, “that spicy soup.” My English brother-in-law saw how much chopped kale is added, and nicknamed it “hot salad.” Laugh/cry. We make a big pot every week.
Any short, substantial noodles will do here. I started by using farfalle pasta (butterflies), and when those ran out, I switched to egg noodles – the kind you might use in a kugel. I wouldn’t hesitate to use gemelli or fusilli.
My preference is cranberry beans. I made the first two pots of this with these. But don’t get hung up if you don’t have cranberry beans. Chickpeas are also a win, you could try a favorite white bean, or a blend it also good. I always cook up a pound of dried beans before making this soup, but you can certainly make it with canned, and I’ll leave notes in the recipe to reflect this.
My advice here is to roll with what you have on hand. You likely have much of what you need. The objective? An assertively spicy, balanced broth. I call for cayenne pepper here, but I’ve also made this soup substituting an equal amount of Szechuan pepper, and it was all good. If you’re concerned about the soup being too spicy, scale back a bit on any ingredient you’re nervous about, and salt and season with more toward the end of cooking. This way, the seasoning will be exactly to your liking.
Use a Big Pot:
The main thing to know is you need to use a very large pot here. This recipe makes a lot of soup. I make it in a big pasta or stock pot. Just keep in mind, in addition to all your ingredients, you’ll add 14 cups of water. If you don’t have a large enough pot, cut the recipe in half (or do 3/4 of the recipe) to be safe.
Stretching Out Leftovers:
You’ll have leftovers for days with this recipe. That’s part of the magic here. Keep some refrigerated for the coming day or two, and freeze the rest in smaller portions. You might want to add more water to the soup upon reheating – it tends to thickens up. Be sure to pre-season with more salt and cayenne before serving, after re-heating.
Please enjoy the soup. It takes a good amount of chopping, but the payoff is rich. And I wanted to extend another heartfelt thank you for all your notes, support and condolences. I’m looking forward and hoping for more bright spots for all of us in 2021. -h