I'm sick of winter. Mother Nature's latest snow dump really sealed the deal: I'm done. I want warm. I want sunshine. I want color.
Saturday night, after a day of tromping through the slush (I was determined to spend time outside wandering), I decided I wanted to concoct something cheerful and bright. I had some stock and bok choy in the fridge that I absolutely had to use, so I thought I'd try making a soup with bright, crunchy vegetables, rather than the often cooked-to-death vegetable soups that are generally the hallmark of winter.
I took the Asian route and used the remainder of some Panang curry base I found in the freezer (who knows how old it was, but whatever). Into 3 quarts of stock I popped about 2 tablespoons of the curry paste, 1/2 cup shredded chicken, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, a tablespoon of chili garlic sauce, and a few dashes of Maggi seasoning. After bringing the stock to a simmer and allowing the garlic to mellow (about 10 minutes), I added two bundles of bean thread noodles, 1 cup of leek greens and a bunch of asparagus, which I'd cut into 1-inch pieces. I let that cook for about 2 minutes, added about 3 cups of baby bok choy and a roughly-chopped red bell pepper, then turned off the heat and covered the pot until the greens wilted, about another minute or two.
Everything stayed beautifully crunchy and bright green, and was probably the most cheerful-looking soup I ever made. Served with a dollop of mystery roasted chili paste from Chinatown, it seemed like a wonderfully healthy, fresh soup. Unfortunately, even though the leftovers were still bright green when I put them in the fridge, they were on their way to brown the next day (though still totally crunchy). So, I'd say this is a "serve immediately" kind of dish if you want to dazzle your guests with bright, fresh happiness.