I woke this morning to the sound of torrential rain pouring out of the sky and hitting the hard, draught-ridden, clay-like ground outside. As I lay in my cozy bed, covers pulled up tight around my body, it took me a moment to recognize what the sounds was. Coming from the Pacific Northwest you spent about nine months deep in the trenches of a wet and soggy reality but since moving south, that once familiar and comforting sound has become a thing of the past.
A smile broke across my face as I realized what this meant. First and foremost, San Diego was getting a good dose of some much needed rain. Coming off the tail end of one of the worsts draughts in history this barren city needs weeks worth of rain to even begin to scratch the surface and fill the now almost empty lakes, rivers and streams. However, this also meant something special to me; a lazy day doing one of the things I love most; cooking warm comforting foods.
I knew when I moved here that this time of year could be a little challenging for me. Growing up in Seattle and with my short four years in Oregon, I always waited patiently for the beginning of the impending seasonal change that is just following my brother's birthday (August 22nd) and right before my own (September 6th). It's subtle but it's always there and it's a race between my mom and I to see who can call the other first and shout into the phone, "fall is in the air!" It's just our special thing.
So, I love this time of year. The smell of decomposing leaves wafts through the air as earth begins to ready itself for a long winter's sleep while bounties are waiting patiently to be harvested and preserved for later use.
It's during this time the morning and night air turns crisp and cool yet the days still linger with the hope of one more warm day. And then theres the moment when we happily tuck away our shorts and tanks for our Hunter Boots, chunky sweaters and puffy Northface vest. Anyone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest understands the significance of these days. As much as we complain about the weather, these are secretly the days we lived for.
Don't get me wrong, living south comes with its own beauty, I just love a good rainy day. Its kind of like the comfort of going home to your parents house and curling up in your mom's arms. It's peaceful, its familiar, it soothe your soul.
After lying in bed a little longer then normal, I finally peeled back the covers, jumping up to grab a sweater before the bite of the crisp morning could nibble at my skin. This is quite the contrast from the previous months when I found myself regularly stripping down to my bare skin, desperate to escape the heat.
I opened the blinds and peeked out the window to meet the early morning dark and grey sky and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, get cozy and make soup.
While living in the countryside of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I was met with some of the rainiest days I've every seen. We'd have days upon days where all it did was rain and you'd find yourself wondering if you'd ever see the light of the sun again. This soup, sans the chicken at the time, became a regular. It is the perfect combination of comfort and heat. Now that I eat meat again the chicken thighs add a depth I had not yet experienced. It kind of reminds me of my youth, when I'd eat Top Ramen for days, but with more sophistication.
The greatest thing about this mock version of ramen is it's so versatile and you can add or eliminate almost anything. It really is the perfect soup on a day like this.
And days like these really are the perfect days.
I hope you enjoy.
Curry Chicken 'Ramen' with Roasted Honey-Miso Delicata Squash
1/2 pound chicken thighs
2 quarts beef broth (or you can use veggie or mushroom)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 table spoons rice vinegar
3 table spoons coconut aminos OR Bragg's Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 small bok choy
1 carton shitake mushrooms lightly chopped
1 medium onion diced
3 large carrots, julienne
1 medium jalapeño, thinly sliced
1 package rice noodles or if you can eat gluten, ramen noodles
1 large delicate squash or 3-4 small ones. (Recipe below)
Green onion for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
How to make:
1. In your soup pot, add one tablespoon coconut oil and heat up. Add in chicken thighs, turmeric, cayenne and smoked paprika. Cook until each side is a deep brown, about 4-5 minutes, then remove and set aside. They don't need to be cooked all the way through because you will add them to the soup to continue to cook.
2. On med-high heat the rest of the coconut oil in soup pot and add in your onions. Cook for about five minutes then add in mushrooms and continue cooking.
2. Add rice vinegar, liquid aminos, bok choy, carrots and jalapeño and continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes, turning heat to medium.
3. Add in coconut milk and beef broth.
4. Shred chicken by using two forks and gently pulling each thigh apart. Add chicken to pot.
5. Cover with lid and turn to simmer, allowing to cook for about 10 more minutes.
6. Add in whatever kind of noodles you like and cook until noodles are tender.
7. Portion out a serving and garnish with delicate squash, cilantro, green onion or whatever else you may like.
Roasted Honey-Miso Delicata Squash
1 large delicate squash or 3-4 small
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp white miso
1/4 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
How to Make:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash down the middle and remove seeds by scooping out.
2. Cut in 1 inch slices or cubes (however you prefer)
3. In a roasting pan add squash, coconut oil, honey, miso and salt/pepper and mix. Place in over (once heated). After a few minutes stir squash to combine all the ingredients.
4. Cook for 25 minutes. This is also dependent on your oven. You want your squash to be soft and tender.