Food & Drink

Your Best Friend’s New Year Resolution – Bright Light Ginger Sausage Soup

Happy New Year! It’s resolution time and, as a food guy, it’s hard to get through the start of January without an article, a blog post or a TV appearance or two without talking about healthy eating. However, I’ve become cautious over the years about doling out advice when it comes to changing habits.

See, I quit smoking almost 9 years ago. This fall I made some changes that have lost me about 45 pounds. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about receiving advice on how to change habits. So, before you start giving your friends some helpful support this season, I’ve got a couple of thoughts to share with you.

First, your friends don’t need more information. Imagine you’re a smoker and I say, “did you know that smoking could take 10 years off your life? You should quit.” Is your first thought, “Why yes, I did know that. What rock do you think I’ve been living under?”

Secondly, your friends don’t need advice. Let’s say you’re trying to shed a few pounds and, while sharing dinner together in a restaurant, I say, “you know, you can’t lose weight if you eat after 8pm.”  Is your first thought, “what?! Wait, that’swhy I’ve struggled to lose weight for the past 20 years?”

I made you laugh, right? The reality is that these changes are simple, you just need to change some habits: stop smoking or change your diet. But they’re not easy. Change is hard. So this new year, think about skipping the advice for a little support. Offer to skip the bar and hang out at home together to watch a movie – without the cocktails. Or go for a walk around the block with your coworker when they’re really jonesing for a cigarette. And who knows? You may just find that you’re changing a few habits yourself.

Bright Light Ginger Sausage Soup

Serves 4

This is a great soup to start the new year! The light, bright flavors are exactly what I’m craving after weeks of hearty holiday meals. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but read the directions – it’s not much work.


  • 7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch cilantro (apx. 12 stems)
  • 1 tbs Szechuan or black peppercorns
  • 1” ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 4 chicken sausages
  • 1 tbs peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 pound snow peas
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 4-6 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 baby bok choi, quartered
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce


  • Place stock in a 3-4 quart saucepan along with 2 stems cilantro, peppercorns and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, warm peanut or vegetable oil in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and slice.
  • Divide snow peas, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms, bok choi and sausage between 4 bowls. Top each bowl with 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil and 1/2 tbs tamari soy.
  • Season simmering stock to taste with salt and pepper. Return stock to a boil.
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling stock over each bowl. Let soup rest for 3-5 minutes before serving so vegetables are tender.

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Photo of Jonathan by Martha Fitzsimon

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Jonathan Bardzik

Jonathan Bardzik is a DC-based storyteller, cook and author of three books inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients he finds in the garden and at farm markets. Self taught, Jonathan seeks to inspire home cooks with the belief that life can and should be lived well, something we can do everyday by preparing and sharing simple, delicious food with those we love. Find over 250 recipes and short stories, Jonathan’s schedule of live appearances and his books at