When the first of the year rolls around, many people are in need of a nutritional reboot. After weeks of holiday meals and treats, it can be hard to return to healthier eating habits.
This year, I was in serious need of some post-holiday magic to help put the skids on celebration meals. We had holiday visitors and reasons to celebrate on top of the traditional treats, including the 60th wedding anniversary of my husband’s parents, just after Christmas. Throw in a looming milestone birthday and a nagging head cold, and you can see why I might have been succumbing to the leftover treats a little too often.
Maybe that’s why this soup felt so magical?
Quick-to-fix and offering serious flavor for minimal effort, this Spicy Turkey and Mustard Greens Soup will be a go-to meal at my house. Those days, the kids will have to fend for themselves; they thought it was too spicy.
The recipe is originally from Bon Appetit magazine, and I put it in my file of recipes to try after a friend raved about it. It called for ground pork, but I substituted ground turkey because it is what I had on hand.
Delicious, economical, easy and packed with good-for-you ingredients, I like to imagine the garlic, ginger and greens giving the germs in my stuffy head a triple shot of antioxidants. I ate it for both lunch and dinner because it made me feel so good.
It is so versatile that I wouldn’t hesitate to substitute tofu or mushrooms for vegetarians. Just be sure to use vegetable broth, as well. The rice noodles make it an appropriate choice if you can’t or don’t eat gluten.
The greens will pile up as you cut them – if you cut them. I just grabbed a bag of the Southern Greens blend from Trader Joe’s, which included mustard and turnip greens, as well as collards and spinach. It will look like too much, but stir them into the soup anyway. They cook down quickly.
If you don’t normally cook with fish sauce, buy some anyway, then look for excuses to use it. It will last for a long time in the refrigerator. It has a pungent smell straight from the bottle but lends a depth of flavor and complexity to this soup and other dishes that you should not miss. (Remember, we said we were going to challenge you to try some new things in this column.)
Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper when you’re cooking if you don’t like things to be too spicy. If you don’t normally have Sichuan peppercorns or cumin seeds on hand, buy just a little bit from the bulk section. Or, substitute coarsely ground black pepper and about half the amount of ground cumin instead.
Spicy Turkey and Mustard Greens Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit. The original recipe by Alison Roman calls for ground pork instead of turkey, otherwise it appears here unchanged.
1/2 pound ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated, peeled ginger
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch of mustard greens, torn (about 4 cups)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
8 ounces wide rice noodles
Mix turkey, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, red pepper flakes and cumin in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add turkey mixture; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8 to10 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mustard greens, scallions, soy sauce and fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 5 to 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package direction; drain.
Divide noodles among bowls and ladle soup over.