If we can trust the weather-divining skills of Nibbles, the Western North Carolina Nature Center's prophetic groundhog (whistle pig is my preferred nomenclature), Asheville still has to slog through a few more weeks of winter chill before fresh, green goodies like spring onions, sugar snap peas and ramps find their way to local tables. To help fend off the cold at winter's bitter end, Xpress is celebrating spoon-friendly, warming nourishment: homage to soups and stews.
When it comes to soup, I guess I am a tomato person. When I feel run down, or sense a cold coming on, the first place I head is the Noodle Shop on Pack Square for a steaming bowl of tomato-and-egg noodle soup. There's something about its rich and slightly sour vegetarian broth — especially with a healthy dash of hot chili oil — that makes me feel like I'm getting a big, healing hug. The soup seems to instantly wake up my immune system.
I also admit to an unabashed fondness for Chef Daniel Wright's tomato soup. Raised on the flat-tasting Campbell's canned variety thinned with water, I always thought I hated tomato soup, so my discovery of Wright's bright, multifaceted recipe during his days at Tomato Jam was a true culinary epiphany. I was close to panic when Tomato Jam closed, thinking I'd lost my supplier, and I breathed an audible sigh of relief when Wright announced he was cooking again at Loretta's.
Lucky for us, Asheville is blissfully awash in wonderful soups, and everyone has a favorite. Read on for what some readers have to say on the topic, including several inventive recipes that may inspire your own kitchen experimentation.
• MAHEC’s white bean and spinach stew