Restorative Ginger-and-Turmeric Noodle Soup
Growing up, my Chinese mother devoutly served tong (soup) every night; it was an ever-changing concoction formulated to treat whatever “afflictions” she believed were ailing her family. These ailments weren’t necessarily sicknesses—sometimes just minor complaints such as a sniffle, a cough, a headache. The prime tenet of Chinese medicine is to restore the balance of yin (cool) and yang (hot). Having a cold signified too much yin in our bodies, so my mother would prescribe a soup to restore the yang forces. Her healing soups usually contained a mélange of meat, vegetables, fruits, ginger, ginseng, gingko nuts, goji berries, jujube dates, and more. They were often sweet, sometimes pleasingly savory, and at other times, intensely bitter. As a child, my mother would bribe me to drink bitter soup by offering me a small piece of candy with each sip; needless to say, it took me a long time to drink that particular elixir.Nowadays, the principles of Chinese medicine remain strong in my life. When I’m feeling poorly, ginger is my go-to. Ginger is a yang food and is thought to aid digestion and restore balance in the body. I love to steep freshly sliced ginger in hot water for a quick pick-me-up or add copious amounts to my everyday foods. A bowl of ginger fried rice is as delicious as it is restorative.During the winter months, this bowl of noodle soup is like a hug. The garlic oil adds an extra layer of aromatic flavor, a great way to bring cohesiveness to this curative bowl of soup. It’s bolstered by a robust ginger and turmeric base, which offers deep, earthy flavors along with anti-inflammatory prowess.That ginger-and-turmeric curry paste is vibrant in both color and flavor and is a great recipe to add to your repertoire; I like to think of it as my “universal curry paste,” as it can be used in so many tasty ways in addition to this soup. Whisk a tablespoon or two into eggs before scrambling, stir into Greek salad to make a memorable salad dressing, or use as the base for a Thai-style curry, chickpea stew, or a fragrant lentil soup. The paste can also be frozen, so make a double or triple batch to ensure that you always have some on hand for a quick meal.