“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would look forward to winter, I would have adamantly denied the assertion. However, I must admit that this year I could not wait to buckle up my snowshoes and blaze trails in my backyard. Yet, I admit that this year during my first thirty minutes of heading out, I may have whimpered a bit. What a workout! Thankfully I have a spirited German Shepherd named Apollo who enjoys bounding through the snow with me. Since he spends a lot of time cooped up inside while we are at work, he depends on me to help him burn energy at night and on weekends. Apollo is the best personal trainer and nature is our gym!
One thing is for sure, I never regret a snowshoeing session. Especially at night when the moon is out and it is peaceful. I put one foot in front of the other – a primal rhythm – a magical blend of inertia and determination. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop.
It is easy to get lethargic in the winter and I need to move. Snowshoeing gets my heart pumping, but it’s probably more important for my head. It clears my thoughts and gets rid of stress. After all, self-care is supremely important for our health.
Yet, as much as I love snowshoeing I still love to curl up and be cozy in the winter. There is nothing better than a hot sauna before bed, a fire in the wood stove, and crawling under our electric blanket and flannel duvet.
Speaking of cozy, what is better for a cold winter day than a bowl of piping hot soup? Though, I am a soup girl (regardless of the weather) this recipe is one of my favorite winter warm ups. It is healthy, full of vegetables, and can be tweaked to fit your personal tastes.
My original recipe is plant-based, but you can use chicken stock and even add sliced chicken or pork if you want to. While I use thinly sliced cabbage to bulk it up, it is also wonderful when filled with rice noodles.
HOT & SOUR MUSHROOM SOUP
- 4-8 cups of vegetable stock (depending on how much broth you want)
- Two 8 ounce packages of chopped fresh mushrooms
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips (½ cup)
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped (or one bunch of green onions)
- 1 can of bamboo shoots
- 1 cup of cabbage, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil (you could also use coconut oil or your cooking oil of choice)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce would work as a substitution)
- Chili garlic sauce (to taste. I used two Tablespoons because I like my soup extra spicy. I find this sauce in the Asian section of the supermarket)
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
- 1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and lightly saute for approximately ten minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for thirty minutes. Before serving add a dash of rice vinegar, sesame oil (I highly recommend sesame oil since it imparts so much flavor), tamari, and chopped cilantro.
My advice to you is to make a pot of this delicious soup and head outside in the sparkling and beckoning snow. Whether your outdoor session includes snowshoeing, shoveling the driveway for a neighbor, or making snow angels — warmth will greet you when you come inside. While food may not be the answer to life’s problems, trust me, this soup comes close.