Quick Comforting Dumpling Soup


Some nights are just not cooking nights. I come from work late, tired, perhaps after cooking all day, and the last thing I want to do is make myself a meal before crawling into bed with a glass of wine to watch Friday Night Lights. Sometimes I reach for leftovers, or homemade yogurt and granola, or just a hunk of cheese and some crackers, but I often reach into my freezer and pull out a giant bag of frozen dumplings. I buy my dumplings (vegetable or kimchi ) in giant bags at HMart, and sometimes they are a lifesaver. I usually fry them with garlic chips and make a quick dipping sauce, but sometimes I make a quick, comforting broth and put them in soup.

Obviously, this broth could be made more complicated (and have more depth of flavor) with the additions, but this recipe is meant for quickness! You can make this broth on the stove, then add the frozen dumplings and heat until they are soft, or package the broth in a mason jar and take it to work, frozen dumplings separate, for a quick lunch.


Dumpling Soup Broth

serves 4


I Tbs minced ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

2 shallots, minced

2 tsp. vegetable oil

4 cups water

1 cube porcini mushroom bouillon

1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1 finger of fresh lemongrass, sliced finely or smashed (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

3 dried red thai chilies, or 1/2 tsp. chili paste

dash of chili sesame oil

dash of rice wine vinegar


Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and fry the ginger, garlic, shallots and fry until golden. Add the water, lemongrass and bouillon, stirring until dissolved. Add the crushed chili peppers, or chili paste, if using, and whisk. Add the soy sauce, and then the frozen dumplings, and simmer until the dumplings are soft. Add a splash of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to finish. Garnish with chopped scallion, sesame seeds, or more fried shallots.



Little Quinoa Patties

I introduced my roommate to quinoa, and to these little quinoa patties for “Super Natural Everyday,” just a few weeks ago, and man, is he obsessed. So obsessed that there is always quinoa in the refrigerator, that he has ordered quinoa in bulk, and that these little patties make an appearance at least once a week. It’s true, they’re so delicious its hard NOT to make them all the time.

This recipe is a great way to use left-over quinoa, so make a double-batch next time and leave the rest in the fridge for later in the week. Salt, a beaten egg, garlic, and any kind of chopped vegetables that you have around (I think the above patties have lots of brussel sprouts in them), squeezed all together and fried in a skillet. Thought the cookbook calls these a “snack,” we’re more likely to make them larger, burger-size, and eat them alongside a fresh salad for lunch or a quick dinner. They would also be great as a veggie burger, but with the complete protein/carbohydrate package of quinoa, you don’t really need the bun!

Soba Noodles with King Mushroom, “Beef” and vegetables

Another meal made awesome by H-Mart. On my last trip I picked up a few basics – giant bottles of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil. Also soba and ramen noodles. And, of course, produce. I know its not seasonal or local, but its still kind of winter here and I was craving mushrooms. I bought these beautiful kind mushrooms – huge and meaty – along with carrots, a delicate green savoy cabbage, ginger, garlic and shallots. Some fake seitan “beef” strips, again not a usual for me but fun sometimes, came together will all the produce, the pre-cooked noodles, and a sauce of chili oil, soy, sweet soy, vegetable broth, sugar, salt, sesame oil and a pinch of flour to thicken. Nothing fancy, but a hearty, delicious, and quick meal.

Apple Whiskey Maple Tart

A little tart is one of the easiest deserts that you can make for a last-minute dinner party. If you have a good mixer with a paddle attachment or food processor, tart crust is just minutes away. Traditional tart crust has more sugar, and egg yolk, and vanilla or almond extract added, but you can always use a pie crust, too. Add a seasonal fruit, sliced thin, or pile on the berries, and then top with a jam or syrup. For this fuji apple tart, I combined equal parts of maple syrup and whiskey, the egg white leftover from my crust’s yolk, the tiniest pinch of salt, and poured it on the crust under the carefully arranged apple slice, then drizzled just a bit of maple syrup and whiskey on top.

* a few tart hints: prebake your tart crust for 10 to 15 minutes on 350, and make sure to prick it generously with a fork so that it doesn’t puff up everywhere! After adding fruit and before its final baking, cover the edges with tinfoil, so that they don’t burn.

Stuffed Frying Peppers

I love hot peppers, and these big fryers are just spicy enough to make a stuffed pepper with a lot of kick. I did these simply-style – black beans, fresh corn, some chopped tomatoes, fried onions and a little gargonzola. My kitchen was out of commission, but the toaster oven worked just fine with this quick, fresh dinner.

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Rice and Beans night

Every time I make brown rice or soak and then cook black beans I make extra and freeze the leftovers. It doesn’t really take any more time or energy to make more than you need, and then when you come home mid-week, ravenous and lazy and tired and not wanting to cook, a little quick defrosting will have you most of the way to a meal. I LOVE toppings and garnishes of all kinds, and rice and beans are so easily transformed into an exciting dinner based on what you have in the fridge. I got lucky on the night pictured above and had fresh avocado, pico de gallo green onions and cilantro available, along with two kinds of hot sauce, roasted red peppers and some cheddar cheese. On other nights I might add some quick-sauteed greens and garlic, leftover tomato sauce, and parmesan. O maybe some curry spice and the bottom of the bottle of mango pickle and some sweet chutney. It’s your quick and cheap dinner – go wild!