The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry


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Simple Miso Soup with Salmon, Tofu, Mushrooms & Napa Cabbage

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Having lived in Japan for four years, I find miso soup comforting any time of day, any time of year. There is nothing quite like the earthy, rich flavor of miso and dashi combined with fresh vegetables and seafood. One spring during cherry blossom season, my parents visited me, and we toured around Kyoto, the old capital bursting with delicate pink petals everywhere. Chilled by the crisp spring air, we ducked into a restaurant specializing in nabe (pronounced “NAH-bay”), or hot pots of vegetables and seafood in a broth cooked at the table. We ordered a miso-based nabe made in the style of the northern Hokkaido region, and it came with a hearty and colorful array of salmon, shellfish, and fresh vegetables. It warmed and nourished us, and we still talk about that delicious lunch many years later.

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Boeuf Bourguignon, Tuscan Villa Style

IMG_6889I love the classic French Boeuf Bourguignon that Julia Child made famous in America, but with the six hours of prep/cooking time and the expensive bottle of wine it requires, it’s not exactly practical or budget-friendly for this home cook. My version here takes some shortcuts to get this flavorful, hearty, and elegant stew on the table in well under three hours, and I’ve also taken the liberty of substituting a smooth, dry Italian Tuscan wine (sacré bleu!) for the traditional (heavier) French Burgundy. It’s what I love to drink with a fancy dinner anyway, and there are plenty of great bottles for $15 or less. My favorite budget Tuscan is Nobile di Montepulciano, and it works beautifully here to create a stew fit for Tuscan nobles in their wintry villas. Buon Appetito!

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Spiced Carrot, Apple & Ginger Soup

IMG_6708Some days, a kind gesture means everything. After our recent six-night stay in the hospital with our little one, we came home and collapsed in a heap. I was too exhausted to even boil water. Seriously. And then, a friend stopped by with warm, velvety carrot soup. And warm biscuits to boot. I cannot tell you how utterly delicious it all was, how absolutely soothing and healing. It was a great reminder to me how a kind gesture like this — not to mention delicious home-cooked food — can make a world of difference to someone going through a difficult time. Thank you, Teresa!

I haven’t stopped thinking about that carrot soup, and now that we’re feeling better, I thought I’d try creating one with a bit of a kick from ginger and other warming spices from my pantry. I decided to add some sweetness from an apple too, and to keep it vegan (with veggie broth) and dairy-free (no cream or butter) for another healthful and soulful soup. Doesn’t that bright orange color just cheer you? Don’t forget some warm biscuits for dipping. Enjoy!

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Ginger, Lime & Cilantro Shrimp Noodle Bowls

IMG_6400This  holiday season, amidst all the shopping, the snow shoveling, the gift wrapping, and the party-going, why not sit down to a warm bowl of rice noodles with shrimp for a quick energy boost? This one contains lots of vibrant zesty flavors of fresh ginger, lime, cilantro & scallions. You can keep it basic or add in a mix of your favorite veggies (bell peppers and shiitake mushrooms would be great). Best of all, it’s ready in about 15 minutes. Continue reading


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Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

IMG_6295I remember a bowl of tomato soup I had once, in a little square called San Barnaba off the beaten path in Venice. I was cold, tired, and my life had just shattered. I suppose there is no better place to be heartbroken than in Venice. Every meal I had there, every bowlful of goodness, restored me just a little bit. The soup I had that day was served with a hunk of toasted crusty bread in the middle, soaking in the flavorful tomatoes and covered in a blanket of shaved parmesan cheese. By the time I got to the bottom of the bowl, the last morsels of bread had softened and thickened the soup like a rustic tomato-bread soup. Continue reading


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Thai Coconut & Lemongrass Chicken Soup with Fresh Herbs

IMG_4982In fall, my dutch oven resumes its nearly constant place on my stove to cook up roasts and stews and other foods that warm and comfort us through the cold weather. On a chilly, drizzly autumn evening, I can’t think of a more comforting one-pot meal than Thai-style soup, Continue reading