The kind of cold that makes you just want to hole up like a bear and head into deep hibernation.
When you check your fingers every few minutes to make sure they are still attached - because you stopped feeling them sometime back in mid-December.
Where you make sure you have your fuel oil delivery guy on speed dial (because there is no hook up to a natural gas pipeline and its seemingly never ending supply) - because when the tank runs dry, the house gets cold. When the house gets cold, pipes freeze. When pipes freeze, well, we don't even want to think about that.
It is this part of the winter that makes me question my sanity for living in Upstate NY.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself why I love where I live.
My 34 mile commute to work is generally hassle & traffic free.
Unlocked doors are not a thing of the past around these parts. You can't get away with much - because there is always someone around who knows your parents, or your aunts and uncles.
In three hours, I can be in Canada. In three hours, I can be in New York City. In less than two hours, I can be at the base of one of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks or I can cross the state line and spend the day in Vermont.
I can see the stars at night. The air is fresh. I can walk to the lake.
Farms - lots and lots of farms. There is nothing cuter than baby cows and lambs in the spring.
Seasons. If I lived somewhere else, I think I would miss all the distinct seasons.
Spring - where everything comes to life. The smell of new grass and budding plants.
Summer - the warmth of the sun. Summers that are tolerable - you are able to go outside and enjoy it (most of the time).
Fall - foliage, apples, cider donuts and pumpkin picking. Need I say more?
Winter - freshly fallen snow. The crackle of a fireplace. And soup. Lots and lots of soup.
One of my favorite soups this time of year is Mulligatawny. A curry soup is both spicy (gently so or not - your choice) and hot - doubly comforting when the temperatures begin to drop.
I've made it a few different ways over the years, but this is the version I am currently drawn too.
Celery, onions, carrots and ginger are cooked until just tender and blended with stock and coconut milk and a healthy dose of seasonings. Chicken, rice and corn are tossed in at the end to add substance and texture.
Hearty enough to fill. Light enough not to slow you down. Chapati or another flat bread on the side would not be remiss.
Stay warm, my friends. Stay warm.
Not Quite Mulligatawny Soup
Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s The Baking Sheet (Winter 2013)
6 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup onions – ½” dice
1 cup celery – ½” dice
1 cup carrots – ½” dice
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbs curry powder (mild or spicy, whichever you prefer)
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup coconut milk powder (you can substitute 1 ½ cups coconut milk, just cut the stock back by 1 cup)
6 cups chicken stock
T Tbs honey
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp ancho chili powder
½ tsp galangal powder (optional, but adds a mysterious note that I enjoy)
1 ½ cups cooked basmati rice
½ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 – 1 ½ cups cooked chicken, shredded
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
2 Tbs lime juice
1-2 thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
In a large, heavy bottomed pot (I like to use my 5.5 qt Dutch oven), melt the 6 Tbs of butter. When melted, add onions, celery, carrots, ginger and salt. Saute for ~5-7 minutes over medium heat – until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the curry powder and sauté until the curry becomes fragrant - ~1 minute.
In a small bowl, combine the coconut powder (if using), with the flour. Add ~1/2 to ¾ cup of the stock to the flour mixture and whisk well – until no large clumps appear. It should have the texture of a loose paste – if the mixture seems too thick, add a little extra stock. Pour flour-stock mixture into post with vegetables – stirring well to make sure vegetables are coated.
Slowly add in stock (and coconut milk, if using) – ½ to 1 cup at a time. Be sure to whisk well between each stock addition to ensure no “flour lumps”. Add in the honey, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder and galangal (if using). Stir well. Bring mixture to a simmer and hold at simmer for about a half hour. Using an immersion blender (or very carefully transferring to a blender), blend the soup until desired smoothness is reached. Return to a simmer and add corn, rice and chicken and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in heavy cream (if using) and lime juice. If needed, adjust seasoning with additional salt and/ or chili powder. Yields ~3 quarts.
To serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with sliced scallions. Pair with your favorite crusty bread and call it a meal…