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SOUP A PECK OF PORKY PEPPERS
“Great meals rarely start at points that all look like beginnings. They usually pick up where something else leaves off. This is how most of the best things are made - imagine if the world had to begin from scratch each dawn: a tree would never grow, nor would we ever get to see the etchings of gentle rings on a clamshell... Meals' ingredients must be allowed to topple into one another like dominos. Broccoli stems, their florets perfectly boiled in salty water, must be simmered with olive oil and eaten with shaved Parmesan on toast; their leftover cooking liquid kept for the base for soup, studded with other vegetables, drizzled with good olive oil, with the rind of the Parmesan added for heartiness. This continuity is the heart and soul of cooking.”
― Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
I have to admit that while I am emphatically in love with An Everlasting Meal and Tamar Adler and the philosophy she is pushing, I have yet to finish this book. The problem is that I listen to my books and her voice is just too soothing. It has me falling asleep with my face in a pot of red sauce. You could say I am paying homage to the premise by making the book… everlasting. Let’s go with that. This is all to say that I am living an everlasting meal right now. I am in an unprecedented groove with my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. It all started last Monday when I had to make a white cake for my coworker’s birthday. No one was holding a gun to my head, but you know what I mean. I had never made a white cake before, but it calls for quite a few egg whites. So here I am on Tuesday with a container of five egg yolks in my fridge—carbonara. Of course, the making and eating of pasta made me crave focaccia, so that happened. Leftover focaccia became many tomato sandwiches and eventually pizza to finish it off. I roasted a chicken for dinner which became a chicken wrap, and then a chicken quesadilla, and tonight its journey will end with chicken stock. My farm boy has been bragging about his peppers for weeks now and I couldn’t ignore him anymore, so I pulled a pork butt out of the freezer. A-soupin’ time she comes.
The story of this pork pepper noodle soup is simple and beautiful – it started in my brain and ended in my mouth. Is there a more satisfying route? Though a recipe story is never really over, it’s matured to a point where I feel comfortable sharing it.
BROTH - yields 2-3 quarts
2-3 lb. bone-in pork butt
2 yellow onions, cut in half
1 garlic head, sliced laterally
1 4-inch knob of ginger, sliced to expose flesh
1 lb. mixed sweet and hot peppers, tops only
1 handful of herbs – cilantro, thyme, and/or basil
Salt the pork butt—this can be done up to 12 hours in advance. In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, sear the pork on each side then place it fat side up. Add all the vegetables and aromatics and enough cold water to fully submerge the pork—around 3 quarts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer with the lid on for 4-6 hours. Remove the pork from the broth, and pull the meat, discarding the bone and any large portions of fat. Set the pulled pork aside. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer and set aside. Pork & broth can be made one or two days in advance. If you are making this in advance, store the pork in the broth.
PORK PEPPER NOODLE SOUP
2 small yellow onions, large dice
1 head of garlic, minced or grated
1 4-inch knob of ginger, sliced or grated
2 lbs. mixed sweet and hot peppers, sliced (use remaining bottoms from broth)
2-3 quarts pork broth
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 handfuls basil
2-3 packages ramen noodles
Preheat oven to 425° F. Arrange peppers on a sheet tray, drizzle them with vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast peppers for 40-60 minutes until the ends begin to char, turning the sheet tray halfway through. Transfer the peppers to a bowl with a lid or cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a Dutch oven on medium-high heat, add onions and sauté until they begin to brown, and some begin to char. Turn heat down to medium and add garlic and ginger. Sauté until garlic and ginger begin to soften. Add peppers and stir to incorporate. Add pork and broth. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Add rice wine vinegar and basil. When the soup is done, add two or three bricks of ramen noodles depending on how brothy you prefer the soup to be. Serve immediately. Top with more basil, cilantro, and chili crisp. If you are not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator and add the ramen noodles when you reheat it to serve.
This soup was made in a 7.5-quart Dutch oven and yielded 5.5 quarts of soup.
Don’t forget to salt every step of the way.
Ramen noodles can be subbed with rice or potato starch noodles, or other wheat noodles such as udon.
For me, I really like soup. Ever since I was told that soup was real it tasted good. But when I tried it with salt, everything changed. I love soup. Not everyone has to like it to be the best. Everyone just has to try it. Have a bite. I play a variety of games—scrabble, pickleball, never lava monster… yeah, mostly soup. I mean look at this thing! I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing. It’s soup! Because soup is awesome! A big wet bowl of food. It has the juice! It should cost one dollar. I hope everyone has a SOUPTASTIC day. If you or anyone loves soup, if you can come to me and I can tell you all about it.
Love you a lot
*more soup photos and videos on insagram @brothmonger