It's convection-oven hot outside, yet I am craving a warm bowl of soup. That might have something to do with how I began eating in 2017, during a month-long staff challenge. (I followed a soup diet.) But is it strange? Nah.
A 2012 ergonomics lab study mentioned in Smithsonian magazine showed that, yes, you can cool down on a hot day by drinking a hot beverage. A nutrition expert was quoted on Epicurious.com a few years back, saying when "we eat or drink hot foods and beverages, it raises our body temperature, which in turn signals our body's systems to cool us down to take effect - we start sweating as a result. As our sweat evaporates, it cools our body down." Koreans, we're told, "fight fire with fire" by slurping hot broth on hot days.
My soup o' the day does not contain the kind of heat that prompts a cold sweat. It offers more of a warming sensation, with slivers of fresh ginger and a mild chile pepper. The weight and silkiness of a good brand of coconut milk are lighter than that of a dairy cream, and the rice noodles cook right in the broth in a few minutes. Matchsticks of carrots and the cilantro retain their texture and color, and round out the flavors.
Full disclosure: I live in air-conditioned comfort, so this is the kind of summer meal that works for me.
CARROT AND CILANTRO NOODLE SOUP
Serve with steamed dumplings on the side, or garnish with a few slices of cooked chicken sausage.
Adapted from "Fresh: Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make You Feel Energized," by Donal Skehan (Sterling Epicure, 2017).
• 2 cloves garlic
• One thumb-size piece fresh ginger root
• 1 mild red chile pepper
• 2 large carrots
• 3 cups no-salt-added chicken (or vegetable) broth, or more as needed
• One 14-ounce can low-fat coconut milk
• 8 ounces dried rice noodles
• Leaves from 2 or 3 stems cilantro
• 2 limes
• 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil