This is the soup that saved me after my father recently came home from the hospital. I made the first pot on the fly, loaded it up with all the things that make me feel good (beans, pasta, kale, turmeric) and seasoned it the way I like it with a broth that was nuclear hot is (cayenne pepper, ginger garlic). All of the ingredients went into the largest pot I could find, one of my father’s pasta pots, so there was enough soup to portion and freeze into meals for days. It’s the kind of soup I never get tired of and the kind of things I needed to have on hand to keep myself going during a terrible time. For each of you who missed what was going on with me between my last post and now, I’ve posted more details here and here, but in short, my mom died unexpectedly and my dad was very sick too.
But the soup helped. The soup does the job. And somewhat shocking, my dad loves it too. He lost nearly fifty pounds in a short period of time while in hospital and in acute rehab. It was difficult to swallow and the radiation on his throat caused all sorts of problems. I wasn’t sure he could tolerate this soup because spicy foods can be problematic if you don’t overeat and / or get radiation treatment on your throat. In any case, he asked to give it a try, and now he’s asking for bowl after bowl, preferably with a dash of sour cream or some grated parmesan. He calls it “that spicy soup”. My English brother-in-law saw how much chopped kale was added and called it “hot salad”. Laugh cry. We make a big pot every week.
All short, strong noodles are sufficient here. I started using Farfalle noodles (butterflies) and when that ran out I switched to egg noodles – the kind you could use in a scoop. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Gemelli or Fusilli.
I prefer cranberry beans. I made the first two pots out of it. But don’t get hung up if you don’t have cranberry beans. Chickpeas are a win too, you could try a favorite white bean or a mix of them as well. I always boil a pound of dried beans before making this soup, but you can certainly do it with cans and I’ll leave notes on the recipe to reflect this.
My advice here is to roll with what you have on hand. You probably have plenty of what you need. The goal? An assertive, spicy, balanced broth. I’m calling for cayenne pepper here but I also made this soup which replaces an equal amount of Szechuan pepper and it was all good. If you are concerned that the soup may be too spicy, cut down the ingredients you are nervous about and add more salt and flavor towards the end of the cooking process. That way, the spice will be exactly how you want it.
Use a large saucepan:
The most important thing is that you need to use a very large pot here. This recipe makes a lot of soup. I do it in a large pasta or soup pot. Remember, in addition to all of your ingredients, you are adding 14 cups of water. If you don’t have a large enough saucepan, cut the recipe in half (or make 3/4 of the recipe) just to be safe.
Stretch out leftovers:
With this recipe, you’ll have leftovers for days. That’s part of the magic here. Keep something in the refrigerator for the next day or two and freeze the rest in smaller portions. You may want to add more water to the soup as it warms up – it tends to thicken. Make sure you’ve pre-seasoned more salt and cayenne pepper before serving and after heating.
Please enjoy the soup. It takes a lot of hacking, but the payoff is rich. And I wanted to thank you once again from the bottom of my heart for all of your notes, support and condolences. I am looking forward to it and hope for more bright spots for us all in 2021. -h