To be completely honest, the situation is very annoying and kind of ridiculous. I’m not sure how the mailman does it, but he somehow bundles the mail in such a way that it gets into the box, but then I can’t get it out. It takes me like five minutes of pulling on random envelopes and pieces of paper to extract everything, and by the end I’m usually frustrated, a little sweaty, and holding a pile of bills and catalogues that I didn’t even want in the first place. Like I said, annoying and ridiculous.
The only time that the mail struggle is worth it is the day that my Bon Appétit arrives each month. (It’s 1/12 as exciting as SI Swimsuit day!) When I finally manage to yank the magazine from the midget mailbox, I do a creepy silent cheer, which luckily is only witnessed by the strange Asian man that apparently lives in my lobby (a story for another time). Then I giddily run upstairs to examine the goods in detail.
As you may know, BA is basically foodie porn, and I can always count on its editors to provide me with solid recipes, beautiful photos, and some insider tricks/fancy food knowledge. They never let me down. For this reason, I am very attached to my issues of BA, which I keep stacked on my bookshelf, in the kitchen, and on my coffee table because I am a hoarder for inspiration.
My roommate tried to throw out some of my old BAs that were “cluttering” the living room when cleaning for our Cinco de Mayo fiesta, but naturally I couldn’t let that happen. I believe my exact words were, “NO!!! I NEED THOSE!!!” Logan tried to remind me that they were very old and I never made anything from them, but my inner hoarder had already started to panic. PLEASE GOD DON’T TAKE MY MAGAZINES. I let him throw out some ancient copies of Food Network Magazine (my guilty pleasure) as a compromise, while I smuggled all of the BAs to my office.
I’m very glad I did because when I sat down to work yesterday and had a year’s worth of BA issues staring at me, I felt inspired. Truthfully, Logan was right. I never actually make anything from the pages of my beloved food magazines. I read them over and over and think, “Serena, you should try xyz. It looks delightful, and you’ve always wanted to bake your own bread/experiment with pickling/make 8-hour Bolognese/etc.” But then I don’t. (I’m easily distracted.)
That’s about to change.
I perused hundreds of pages of BA yesterday morning (productivity!) and picked out a handful of recipes that I’m going to whip up in the coming weeks (I swear). I’m pleased to report that one of them has already made an appearance in my kitchen, and it was glorious. BA magic came to life at lunchtime in the form of January’s cover recipe: Brown Rice Noodle Soup with Spicy Pork and Greens.
The fine folks at Bon Appétit really killed it with this one, friends. I mean, pot of GOLD. I knew it was going to be good from the moment the pork hit the pan and my kitchen was immediately transformed into a garlic-ginger paradise, and things only got better and better over the next 20 minutes.
The epic deliciousness begins with the pork, which is perfectly seasoned with a blend of cumin, garlic, chili flakes and ginger. The meat gets lightly browned with a tiny bit of sesame oil before being simmered with chicken stock, lacinato kale, scallions, tamari, and a splash of Thai fish sauce that adds a little je ne sais quoi in the flavor department. The greens melt perfectly into the soup becoming deliciously tender while infusing the broth with a glorious vegetal depth, and the slightly nutty brown noodles round everything out. It’s warm and spicy heaven.
I also love that this noodle soup is intensely comforting, yet still surprisingly light, which makes it one of those fabulous recipes that’s able to transcend seasons. While I’d be happy to slurp this soup in a Snuggie after a day of skiing, I’d be just as excited to eat it in a tank top on a cool summer night. It’s versatile like that. Plus, each bowl is packed with protein, fiber, and all the magical nutrients of kale, so you should probably eat it as much as humanly possible. Oh, and you could also try turkey in place of pork to make things even healthier. Just a thought.
Yes, the flavor profile of this soup will rock your world, but the simplicity of the recipe is equally thrilling. The whole thing takes about half an hour, and there’s only one pot involved, which is rare when it comes to BA’s fancy recipes. (If you’re going to split hairs, there are technically two pots involved, but one is for cooking the noodles and doesn’t require any clean-up, okay?) The soup also keeps fabulously in the fridge, so you could easily make it in ahead of time and re-heat for easy weeknight meal consumption or sassy desk lunches.
Full disclosure, I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I substituted ground cumin for cumin seeds because I figured most of you do not own the latter. Second, I used lacinato kale instead of mustard greens because that is what they had at my local market. That said, you can use mustard greens, beet greens, or pretty much any other greens that float your boat. Finally, I halved the quantity of noodles because the original amount was mildly psychotic for a soup. However, if you’re looking for a straight up noodle bowl, feel free to use the full 8 ounces. No judgment.
Bon Appétit claims this soup serves 4, which leads me to believe that a.) the editorial staff enjoys practical jokes, or b.) the recipe was written by the woman responsible for Gwyneth’s cookbook. You could maybe eek 4 lunch portions out of the pot, but realistically, it serves 2 very generously. So, if you’re feeding a fam, I strongly recommend playing it safe and doubling the recipe. Cool? Cool.
Brown Rice Noodle Soup with Spicy Pork and Greens: (Serves 4 according to Bon Appétit, 2 according to Serena)
½ pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
4 cups (about 1 small bunch) lacinato kale, center ribs removed and leaves torn into medium pieces (You can also use mustard or beet greens if you prefer.)
4 scallions, whites and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc mam)
Fresh ground pepper
4 ounces brown rice noodles
Preparing your Brown Rice Noodle Soup with Spicy Pork and Greens:
-Place the pork, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper and cumin in a medium bowl.
-Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the seasoned pork. Cook, stirring with a spoon to break up the meat for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. (Don’t break up the meat too much, peeps. You want to have some sizeable pieces in the soup.)
- ½ pound ground pork
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 4 cups (about 1 small bunch) lacinato kale, center ribs removed and leaves torn into medium pieces (You can also use mustard or beet greens if you prefer.)
- 4 scallions, whites and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 4 ounces brown rice noodles
- Place the pork, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper and cumin in a medium bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until well combined.
- Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the seasoned pork. Cook, stirring with a spoon to break up the meat for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. (Don’t break up the meat too much, peeps. You want to have some sizeable pieces in the soup.)
- Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Remove the ribs from the kale and tear it into medium pieces. Add the kale to the soup, along with the scallions, soy sauce and fish sauce, and cook for 6-8 minutes until the greens are wilted and tender. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- While the greens are wilting, cook the brown rice noodles according the package directions.
- Divide the noodles among bowls and ladle the warm soup over them. Bon appétit…