Szechuan Miso Bok Choy Soup w/ Tangerine (Gluten Free, Vegan)
I went for a walk through the snow yesterday. In the middle of a field I can look around and feel that I'm the single actor in a drama the size of a small universe. Standing on a blank canvas. There's absolutely nothing that exists except for the sky and sun, the tree line, the sheath of ankle-deep snow. Nothing but my own thoughts and imaginings, dreams that paint the canvas as an ocean, a desert, a white marble floor. I'm an old man in a peeling turquoise boat, a young woman traversing hot whipping sands, a dancer entering the foyer of my lovers home.
Hands in pockets, my hood pulled close down over my head, my thin boots starting to soak. I finger a ten-dollar bill in my pocket and, looking out at that field full of diamonds, breathe in cold air, breath out in a sigh. Releasing whatever magic the place holds and moving on to the market to buy chocolate and kombucha. As one does on a frozen day.
I collect citrus, gathering it into my arms and spilling it out over my wood block counter. Breaking apart thin noodles with a crunch. Chopping peppers and bok choy and sipping coffee, looking out at my backyard that's collected a layer of untouched snow. My bike is wearing a coat of it. I think about the garden, how I need to put down the black plastic Logan's dad gave us. I need to kill the grass over the plot I want bursting with chamomile and bergamot and thyme and tiny orange tomatoes that taste like sunshine.
Miso soup and I have become good friends. Especially this winter. When I'm really chilled (or just don't feel like eating yogurt to get my probiotics) I'll heat up water, whisk in some mellow white miso, and sip on it like tea. It makes me feel nourished and vibrant. Every once in a while I like to take it to the next level. Add greens and onion and aromatic spices; noodles if I'm craving comfort food.
This soup is all about balance. Nutty-salty-sweet miso, acidic hard cider, aromatic fennel and Szechuan, sweet tangerine, pungent garlic/onion. I like how bright it is, despite being very much so a winter soup.
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup dry cider or dry white wine
- 1 large purple bok choy or 2-3 small bok choy, washed and sliced thinly lengthwise
- 3/4 cup super firm tofu, cubed
- 2 cups water (or unsalted vegetable stock)
- 1 tangerine or sweet orange
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, ground in a mortar
- 1/2 teaspoon szechuan pepper, ground in a mortar
- brown rice pad thai noodles (I used 1/4 package, or two servings worth. It's about the size of a packet of ramen)
- 2 tablespoons mellow white miso
- *more fennel seed and szechuan, for garnish
- Heat a soup pot over medium high heat, adding the coconut oil.
- Once the oil has melted and the pot is rather hot, add the onion. Sautee 5 minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent.
- Add the garlic and yellow pepper and sautee 2 minutes more.
- Pour the cider or wine over the onions and garlic, and cover to cook just a minute or two more.
- Add the thinly sliced bok choy, tofu, and water.
- Peel the tangerine, discarding the rind. Juice half of the tangerine, discarding the pulp, and add the juice to the pot of soup (I crushed the tangerine with my hand straight into the pot). Reserve the other tangerine slices for serving.
- Add the tamari, crushed fennel seed and szechuan and cook on low heat until the bok choy is tender.
- While the soup is cooking, cook your noodles according to package directions in a separate small pot until tender. Drain and add to the pot of soup.
- Remove from the soup from heat and, once the soup has cooled to a palatable heat, stir in the fresh miso paste (this is important for preserving the beneficial probiotic qualities of miso).
- To serve, spoon soup out into two bowl and top with the reserved tangerines.
- *Optionally: Top each bowl with a pinch of fennel seed and szechuan peppercorns.