Thursday, December 2, 2010

Veggie Might: Fast, Easy Soup for Sick Vegetarians

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, Gentle Readers! Hope your festivities were fun and delicious. Mine were joyous and pie-filled, just as I dreamed they would be.

My body is reacting to all the friendship and gratitude by purging any built-up toxins through my facial orifices. Translation: I have a cold. And this cold wants soup.

A while back, reader and all-around good sort Chris wrote in to ask “When vegetarians/vegans are feeling under the weather, what sort of comfort foods do they like? I would love to learn how to make a flavorful broth (maybe something with ginger and onions, good for colds?) to help my sick veggie buds.”

Chris, first let me apologize for taking so long to get to your request, but as they say, necessity makes us get off our arses when we’d rather lay on the couch and watch Mythbusters reruns. Secondly, you’re a good friend.

I’ve found that most people (and plants) don’t like to eat much when they’re feeling peaked, and, as your spokesveg-in-residence, vegetarians and vegans are no different. A no-fuss soup of broth is soothing on a sore throat; noodles and one or two vegetables add a little substance.

If you are nursing someone else, like to prepare ahead for emergencies, or are strong enough to chop through the rheum, make your own Homemade Vegetable Stock for a healthy, inexpensive recuperative concoction.

If you need sustenance immediately and haven’t the strength for washing carrots, go canned broth or bullion. There is no shame, only sodium, which drinking lots of fluids will take care of. Since this cold hit right after a major holiday, my freezer was empty, and I reached for vegetable bullion cubes.

You may have noticed from articles past that I like spicy food, especially garlic. Good news! Garlic is great for colds. My favorite snorky-sinus soother is a garlicky broth soup with noodles and a green vegetable like broccoli, bok choy, or kale. These crucifers are high in vitamins A, C, and K and minerals manganese and folate—just what a recovering immune system needs.

Toss in a little ginger, crushed red pepper, or hot chili paste for sinus-clearing heat, and you’ve got a fast, easy soup that will put you or your favorite vegetarian/vegan back on the path to mixing with the general population.

Thanks, Chris, for writing with your query. Readers, do you have any favorite soup or comfort food recipes that pick you up when you’re feeling down? If so, sing out in the comments. And give us a shout if you have any questions or post ideas. The suggestion box is open 24-7, including holidays.

Now rest up and get healthy. The holiday food onslaught coming.

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If this post floats your boat, paddle on over to:
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Fast, Easy Garlic and Chili Soup with Broccoli
Makes about 3 servings


4 cups cold water + 2 vegetarian bullion cubes (“not chicken”, etc.)
OR
4 cups rich vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp hot chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups broccoli, chopped (frozen or fresh)
2 oz. Korean style somen noodles (or thin noodle of choice)

1)  Pour stock or cold water into medium saucepan and set heat to high. Add garlic and bullion (if using) to pot and bring to boil.

2) Add broccoli to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Add noodles and stir in hot sauce. Continue to cook on high heat for 3 minutes, until noodles and broccoli are tender.

3) Ladle into soup bowls and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, breathing in the spicy broth. Feel the relief in your sinuses.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
126 calories, 2.17g fat, 4g fiber, 4.6g protein, $.52

Calculations
2 vegetarian bullion cube: 60 calories, 6g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.62
3 cloves garlic: 12 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
1 tsp hot chili paste: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.02
2 cups broccoli: 82 calories, 0g fat, 10g fiber, 8g protein, $0.66
2 oz. Korean style somen noodles: 225 calories, 0.5g fat, 2g fiber, 6g protein, $0.21
TOTALS: 379 calories, 6.5g fat, 12g fiber, 14g protein, $1.55
PER SERVING (TOTALS/2): 126 calories, 2.17g fat, 4g fiber, 4.6g protein, $.52


Fast, Easy Garlic and Ginger Soup with Bok Choy
Makes about 3 servings


4 cups water + 2 vegetarian bullion cubes (“not chicken”, etc.)
OR
4 cups rich vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2” piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 cups bok choy (about 1 small head), washed and chopped
2 oz. Korean style somen noodles (or thin noodle of choice)

1)  Pour stock or cold water into medium saucepan and set heat to high. Add garlic, ginger, and bullion (if using) to pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 5 minutes to allow ginger time to infuse broth. Return heat to high and bring again to a boil.

2) Add bok choy to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Add noodles. Continue to cook on high heat for 3 minutes, until noodles and broccoli are tender.

3) Ladle into soup bowls and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, breathing in the fragrant broth. Take relief in your renewed breathing capabilities.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
109 calories, 2.17g fat, 1.3g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.50

Calculations
2 vegetarian bullion cubes: 60 calories, 6g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.62
3 cloves garlic: 12 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
2” piece fresh ginger: 12 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.12
2 cups bok choy: 18 calories, 0g fat, 2g fiber, 2g protein, $0.52
2 oz. Korean style somen noodles: 225 calories, 0.5g fat, 2g fiber, 6g protein, $0.21
TOTALS: 327 calories, 6.5g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein, $1.51
PER SERVING (TOTALS/2): 109 calories, 2.17g fat, 1.3g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.50

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7 comments:

Kristin said...

When I had intestinal upleasantness recently, I improvised a miso soup with rice noodles as a vegetarian alternative to chicken soup. I used 2 Tblsp of white miso, a pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water for one serving of rice noodles.

Chris said...

Hey that's me! I'm "the" Chris (all around good sort). Thank you so much for answering my question. I'm sure I will be making lots of garlic broccoli soup this winter for my friends.

LH said...

Favorite soup when under the weather is "Mama's" soup, where the secret ingredient is love. See also "very good friend" soup.

2nd secret ingredient is individual-sized containers. Because when one is sick, sometimes the prospect of a whole pot is a little too much. If the soup is going into the freezer, rather than storing in the fridge, consider that cream soups sometimes unfreeze with an odd texture.

When the nose is stuffed up, nuances of flavor are a bit lost, which is why garlic, salt, soy, and curry are part of many "feel better" soups. When the illness is more digestion-related, blander soups may be preferred.

Nick said...

Ah, there's nothing like a hot bowl of soup when you're sick. Except for maybe a hot toddie. Thanks for the recipes! I'll have to try them out next time I get a case of the vapors.

Anonymous said...

When I feel horrible I make my five minute "I'm sick and feel like sh*t soup"- I cheat, bust open a can of annies organics tomato soup, add a ton of fresh grated ginger, fresh lemon juice and a handful of arugala/spinach/greens in the bottom of the bowl that wilt when you scoop the soup ontop. Its fragrant and comforting and sooths my sore throat/upset stomach/holiday party over indulgences......

Brittany said...

Egg drop soup is a good slurppy vegetarian soup--1 c. broth of choice, 1-2 TBSP of finely chopped onion. Bring to a boil, let the onion soften a bit. Make a slurry with 1-2 TBSP flour and water, whisk into broth/onion mixture to thicken. Rinse out flour bowl, whisk 1 egg. Add egg to boiling broth, stirring slowly 2-3 times to make the "noodles." Add lots of ginger, to taste. Take fewer than 10 minutes to whip up.

Another favorite is what I've dubbed may spicy faux-asian soup: 1 inch piece of chopped ginger, add to 1 1/2 cups broth (I generally use beef, because I'm only mostly veggie), bring to a boil. Throw in (cooked) rice or (cooked or uncooked) pasta if wanted. Add mix of veggies--broccoli (good use of the stems), green beans, peas, and maybe spinach (the latter three I usually have on hand frozen). Add a few shakes of soy sauce. Once the veggies/pasta/rice are cooked to your satisfaction, turn off the heat. Add 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic. Let sit a minute or two in the heat. This softens the garlic a bit, but retains all it's super-spicy sinus-clearing power.

Rachel said...

You may try Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (ninjiom-hk.cwahi.net). i know alot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it's effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it's still good to use on not so serious scratchy throat.