As a child growing up in snowy New England, I reveled in sledding, snow ball fights, and snow angels. But the best part of snow days was coming in from the cold, peeling off the eighteen layers of tights, sweatpants, t-shirts, sweaters and socks from underneath my enormous, one-piece snow suit, and defrosting with a hot bowl of soup. The soup preceded hot chocolate from a packet–the kind with the teeny tiny dehydrated marshmallows that puffed up and felt slippery on the tongue when mixed with hot water or milk. The marshmallow-y hot chocolate warmed my bones as I coerced my mother into playing no fewer than ten games of Skip-Bo and twelve games of Uno. (My mother was…still is…a saint.)
As a grown up, a snow day is a rare thing. But it still holds magic. Sure, there are emails to reply to, work to be finished, but doing these normal, everyday things with the bright whiteness of snow swirling in the air just on the other side of the window, brings a bit of excitement to the day. Friday, I had a legitimate snow day. I woke up, checked my texts for those magical words, “The offices are closed today.”
After a few hours of work, I shoveled my very short walkway and breathed the frigid, white-cold air. When I came inside, I wanted something to warm my bones, but seeing as this snow day was unexpected and my mother wasn’t around, my cupboards were quite literally bare. Lucky for me, my husband bought four cellophane-wrapped packages of Ramen noodles at the grocery store last week. (You know the kind, and for the record, I protested the whole business.)
So here I am, snowed in with nothing to eat but crunchy Ramen noodles and local turkey sausages. But with the addition a few simple ingredients like beef broth, mushrooms, carrots, and onions, the Ramen turned into a richly flavored, perfectly pleasing one-pot meal.
Instead of hot chocolate, I think my soup will be followed by a nice glass of wine; I am a grown-up after all. But I wonder if Mr. Rache wants to play Uno….
Snow Day Ramen Noodle and Sausage Dumpling Soup
Cook’s note: This soup lists a lot of ingredients but requires very little time to prep and cook. The broth has that lovely umami flavor due to the mushrooms, beef broth, and soy sauce. Most importantly, it’ll warm your bones on a snow day.
For the Dumplings:
1 pound mild Italian turkey sausages, removed from their casings (you could use pork or chicken sausages as well)
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 small red onion, grated
For the Soup:
1 red onion, diced (large dice)
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 16 ounce package baby bella mushrooms, sliced (or whatever mushrooms you have around)
2 carrots, peeled and diced (large dice)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 quart beef broth
2 cups water
2 bricks Ramen noodles (throw the flavor packet away!!!)
Cilantro, for garnish
Make the dumplings: Once the sausage is removed from the casings, place in a medium bowl. Add the chili sauce, ginger, curry, and red onion. Using your hands, mix well (like you’re making meatloaf). Form into 18 round “dumplings.” In a large soup pot, brown the dumplings over medium high heat on all sides. Once browned, remove from the pot and set aside.
Make the soup: In that same soup pot, add the onions and cook for two minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and two pinches of salt. The mushrooms should release a lot of liquid, allowing you to scrape all the meaty goodness the dumplings left in the pot, which will add another layer of flavor to the soup. Once the mushrooms have cooked down (about four to five minutes), add the carrots, ginger, ancho chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Stir to combine and cook for one minute. Add the soy sauce, the beef broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then add the two bricks of Ramen. Simmer until the noodles are cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Ladle into a large bowl and garnish with cilantro (or better yet, bean sprouts, if you have them).
What’s your favorite childhood snow day memory? Or how do you spend snow days with your own children? Oh, and ‘fess up, when was the last time you ate Ramen noodles?