When the first major snow of the year happens in Houston, Texas, you know it’s going to be a cold winter. To keep yourself warm and your tummy full, here are some comforting ethnic dishes to ward off the cold this season.
A Vietnamese dish with a fragrant and flavorful broth and lots of garnishes that can be added by the soup consumer, this is usually served up in a giant bowl at Vietnamese restaurants specializing in their own version of the comforting soup. Traditionally made with beef and/or chicken broth, fragrant herbs like star anise, cinnamon, peppercorn, ginger and cloves, the garnishes are served on the side for tossing in the soup: very thinly sliced pieces of raw beef (which cook in the broth after being added), thinly sliced onion, sweet basil, been sprouts, fresh cilantro, jalapenos and a squeeze of lime. The starch in the dish comes from flat rice noodles, and some people like to add hoisin sauce and sriracha hot sauce to their often mispronounced soup.
A Polish hunter’s stew, bigos is sometimes considered the national dish of Poland. Made with sauerkraut, mushrooms, onions, various meats including bacon or pork belly, Polish sausage, some form of tomatoes and caraway seeds, it is a hearty stew perfect for a snowy evening. It’s traditional to eat on the second day of Christmas (known as Boxing Day in some cultures), and only gets better after sitting in the fridge for a few days.
3) Hungarian Goulash
A soup in Hungary, contrary to the stew-like version we’re accustomed to here in the United Sates, it encompasses chunks of beef, red onions, vegetables and the Hungarian staple, paprika. It’s commonly served alongside egg noodles and sometimes has tomato sauce as the base.
The heavy root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots and parsnips, used in the dish with the rich meat and sauce will warm you all the way down to your snow boots.
4) Thai Massaman Curry
This is a fantastically spicy curry (if made similar to the Thai restaurant we order it from) made with different types of meat, coconut milk, roasted peanuts and all kinds of crazy, aromatic spices. It can leave you with that “brick in your stomach” feeling if you eat more than one bowl, but it definitely does its warm-you-up duty in one serving. It’s great when balanced out with a serving of the oh-so-spicy green papaya salad–just have the antacids ready to go.
Heading down old Mexico way will have you drooling over this pork and corn-heavy soup. Made with a soaked corn similar to hominy (the stuff grits are made from), pork, lots of red chile peppers, garlic and Mexican oregano, it’s an ancient dish recorded as early as the 1500s. It is also served on special occasions for celebration and good luck, so perhaps this December is a good time to hunt down the dish.
6) Braised Lamb Shank
A tradition in many cultures, braised lamb shanks are usually a given on any self-respecting Greek restaurant’s menu. Simmered for hours in a rich, heavy gravy with carrots, wine and potatoes, this Greek version of a Sunday roast is often the answer to a chilly day. To soak up all the delicious juices, use rice or orzo pasta. Crusty bread and a glass of red wine wouldn’t hurt, either.
Somewhat counterintuitive, this heavy meat and bean stew comes from a tropical country, although it does get cold there during our summers (think everything opposite, since they’re below the equator). Made from black beans, salt pork, salted beef, ribs and bacon, it’s an appetite crusher and fart-starter, but always delicious.
Traditional accompaniments include a tomato and onion concoction tossed with oil and vinegar and sometimes hot sauce, a green salad, toasted manioc (yucca) flour to sprinkle on top and rice.
We always want to be transparent and honest about our article content. From time to time, we may link to products and services that compensate us for the referral. This does not affect your cost, but it does help us fund future content for this site.