If ever there was a time and a place for comfort food – this Minnesota February is surely it! As we dig ourselves out from under yet another snowfall, the allure of a steaming bowl of soup, a hot baked dish or a refreshing cup of tea beckons us into the kitchen. Though we reach for the familiar and safe recipes out of habit, this is the time to embrace international flavors that offer not only the heat of temperature but also the warmth of spices.
Middle Eastern, Indian, Mexican and Asian recipes use combinations of spices that warm us from the inside out and offer additional health benefits as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and more.
Scope your spice pantry and determine which combinations might appeal to your palate. Let your curiosity lead to meals that are interesting and therefore more satisfying. Cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and ginger combined can take your taste buds to India, Iran or Morocco. Even if you are stuck in the Minnesota winter, your palate can travel all over the world. Let the exploration begin! Asian Chicken Soup
8 cups chicken broth
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce, optional
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 medium chicken breasts, roasted and sliced
1 cup carrot, diagonally sliced
½ cup zucchini, diagonally sliced
1 cup cabbage, sliced
½ cup broccoli florets
½ cup snap peas
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup fresh basil
1 small chiles, sliced thin (optional)
In a soup pot heat broth, add garlic, lemongrass, onion, and ginger and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), sliced chicken breasts and simmer about 5 minutes longer.
Add carrots, zucchini and simmer till vegetables are tender.
Turn heat off. Add broccoli, snap peas and cover with lid for 5 minutes.
Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, basil and chiles (if using) and serve hot.
Here are a few other links to get you started as well: