I first got introduced to this tasty liquid concoction back inn my college days at my girl, Rebecca's house. Her mother, also named Rebecca, is a beast in the kitchen, and many a happy tummy moment has been had in her house. I remember having this soup for the first time and wondering what she did. She very simply explained the steps to me, I locked them in my brain, and took it home with me. The next day, I was at the store, shopping for ingredients to make my own sopa de fideo, which means, loosely translated, "noodle soup." I've made a few changes over time, and I have to say, I have never made the same sopa de fideo twice. Today, I prepared it, as I do many times, to help me fight of the onset of a cold. Because this recipe has a tomato base, it makes the broth a great source of vitamin C. When combating a sore throat, the way I am, the best thing to do is consume liquids that are room temperature and warm to soothe the vocal cords. Interestingly enough, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) often talks about the importance of consuming warm foods in the winter time to create a warming effect inside the body so as not to throw of the internal balance of yin and yang energies. For me, this translates into foods chock full of heat, such as curries, berbere (an Ethiopian spice), cayenne, and of course, jalapeños. If I'm going to get rid of a cold, there needs to be some sweating and sniffling going on, and I'm going to share one of my favorite variations of sopa de fideo in the following recipe:
2 large cloves minced garlic, preferably fresh
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small potato, cubed
1/2 cup each frozen peas and carrots and corn
2 medium size vermicelli nests (these are mostly found in the Hispanic grocery section)
2 tbsps olive or canola oil
1 6 oz. can tomato paste, preferably organic
3 cups of water (more or less can be used depending on preference of broth consistency)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cumin
4-6 jalapeños sliced lengthwise (it will say "rajas" somewhere on the can or jar)
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, and all the vegetables. Cover the pot and allow to sautee over a low to medium flame for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Separate and add the vermicelli nest to enhance the flavor of the pasta and stir around for a minute before adding the tomato paste. Once the tomato paste is incorporated into all the ingredients, slowly add the water while stirring to smooth out any tomato paste lumps. Simmer for about five minutes while occasionally stirring to prevent the starchy pasta and potatoes from sticking to the bottom. After five minutes, add the salt, cumin and jalapeño slices, taste after stirring. If there is not enough fire in the soup for your taste, feel free to use some of the escabeche (jalapeño juice in the jar or can) to turn up the heat. Allow to simmer for an additional 3-5 and serve. Feel free to garnish with a sprig of cilantro for presentation and flavor. The addition of a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of queso fresco is also welcome as long as the soup is being eaten while healthy. This recipe serves 2-3 people.
One of the major concerns that people have when sick is the abundance of mucus production. I have always noticed that if I go vegan while sick, it can shave a few days off my recovery time. Dairy products and eggs have a tendency to create more mucus than usual, and being sick really drives this point home. This vegan recipe is certainly a step in the right direction, and I'd be willing to bet any amount of money that Mama Rebecca's sopa de fideo trumps Bubbe's chicken noodle soup any day, and I'm Jewish!