I was told that musicians can be moody, a little dark, that they wear their emotions on their sleeve. Anthony, a concert pianist, is reserved, annoyingly positive, extremely logical, and exceedingly difficult to read. The first year or so of our relationship, I studied his music hoping I might unearth a few clues as to what drove this man I was falling so in love with. I had no luck—the man was inscrutable. When his father got really sick, it was a horrible time—I wanted to cry 24 hours a day, but couldn’t because Anthony wasn’t crying at all, and I felt it wasn’t right for me to cry if he didn’t. He was laser beam focused on preparing for the concert he had committed to—Bach’s Goldberg Variations—his favorite piece. One day, he took a short break from hospital duty to practice. He began playing. The aria opened invitingly, probingly, and I looked up to watch the hard planes of Anthony’s face, watched them soften and then crumble as he pushed through Bach’s perfectly perfect notes, clung to them as rungs on a ladder that would allow him to emerge from his grief, intact.
I came up with this soup because it was really cold and I wanted something that would keep me warm and full with minimal work. I took whatever ingredients I had on hand–the nub of a leftover cabbage head, the wilting sheath of a once gorgeous leek, some dumplings I’d made the day before, my very last shallot, and, of course, the frozen rice cakes that had been sitting in my freezer for the past half year–and basically dumped it all into a pot with some salt and pepper and a little vegetable broth.
One thing to keep in mind: the rice cakes will absorb a TON of liquid. So, while you may have a lovely “soup” the first time you serve it, in a few hours, you will have more a thick sauce. Quick fix is, of course, to just add a cup or two of water until you achieve the consistency you want. OR, of course, to just eat it like that, because it still tastes amazing.
Ricecake and Dumpling Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot (julienned)
- 2 scallions whites (chopped)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup leek (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup cabbage (chopped)
- 1 potato (chopped into matchsticks)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cups rice cakes
- 6-8 cups vegetable broth or water
- 10 frozen dumplings
- 1 tbsp fresh jalapeño (thinly sliced)
- 2 scallion greens (chopped)
- When oil is shimmery, add shallot, scallion whites, leek, garlic, cabbage, and potato. Add salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent (around 3 minutes).
- Add rice cakes (either frozen or fresh) and stir until incorporated into the vegetables.
- Pour in vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer until the potatoes are tender (around 12 minutes).
- Add the frozen dumplings, jalapeno, and scallion greens and cook until dumplings are cooked (around 2 minutes).