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Along with the cold of winter comes the desire for a warm and comforting bowl of soup. Soup has many advantages for any cook. It can be made with a variety of ingredients that you find stored in your refrigerator or cupboard; it can make a complete meal; you can put together a hearty soup in a short period of time and it can be left to simmer in the slow cooker all day.

The long train shuddered through the middle of a cold winter night, somewhere between Mongolia and Siberia. The last car was ostensibly a dining car, but wasn’t very hospitable. Half-full of boxes, with blaring with techno music, only one table was occupied, with some babes playing cards and smoking. It wasn’t the kind of place where I wanted to throw down with the Russian Mob. But then, where is? And it definitely wasn’t the kind of place where I wanted to eat a bowl of borscht. But I did. Or at least, I tried.

I raided my dried pasta supply the other day and found some Japanese soba and udon noodles I didn’t even know were there. Funny how that works. I must’ve bought them who knows when, but when they turned up I thought, “Time for some soup.”