Friday, May 21, 2010


Soupies we have moved here:
Please visit us! And change us in your google readers and what not.

Thanks for ladling us into your bowls,
Alayna & ML

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Veggie Soup for the Meat-Eating Soul

That's not soup, foo, that's rhubarb crisp! Okay. So Alayna and I have been discussing this and as we note time and time again we're both Virgos, so we're anal about details. That and we've been doing this blog for almost a year and a half and we also have this other neglected blog, Friday's Dinners, which I like in theory but as we have since realized we should just have a one-stop shop with all our recipes. Also, as Alayna and I expand our cooking reach into the delicious far corners of the kitchen (I made strawberry chili preserves this weekend what what!) we want to include those recipes here. More than soup yes, but the theme is to highlight that we shouldn't be afraid of soup OR cooking. And all our recipes fall into that theme.

So what to do? Basically for some dumb reason we decided to create this blog on blogger, which I think is far inferior to wordpress. I want to transfer platforms but I'm not sure how to do that easily without hand plucking all this content. Dos Mios! Does anyone have tips? I need to re-structure this monster so it's more easily searchable. I need seperete pages. I need so many things. But what don't I need? Soup. This soup is wonderful, as always. So make it, then tell me how to re-do this blog.

Thanks for coming to soup Lindsey!

Veggie Soup for the Meat-Eating Soul
  • In a separate pan, heat olive oil and cook six boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) cut into bite-sized pieces until done and turn off, reserving juices
  • while chicken is cooking, use a clean cutting board and knife to chop up six cloves of garlic and saute with two sprigs of fresh rosemary and some generous shakes of red pepper flakes in your soup pot
  • when the garlic is fragrant/opaque, add in a chopped whole yellow onion
  • when onions are translucent, add on bunch of broccoli rabe, also chopped, including everything except the very bottom of the stems and cook covered
  • next add two yellow squashes, cut into slices then quartered, and one bunch of swiss chard torn into bite-sized pieces, covering back up
  • when squash is mostly done, add two cans of drained black-eyed peas to the pot, along with the chicken in it's juice and cover the rest with broth
  • bring to a simmer and serve with mary's delicious carrot bread!
Rhubarb Crisp
  • Take about one pound of rhubarb and strip the stringy parts of off the rib of the rhubarb by pulling them off with a paring knife (if you were a really particular child, you may remember doing something like this with really stringy celery, but i promise it's easier than that was). When you're done, the ribs will look like naked rhubarb and kind of green.
  • Cut into bite-sized pieces and put into a bowl
  • Add one pound of strawberries, halved or quartered and one can of drained cherries (or more rhubarb or more strawberries... I just had a can of cherries)
  • Squeeze about a tablespoon of orange juice onto the fruit, grate some zest onto the mix and then stir in half a cup of white sugar, then place into a buttered square brownie type dish
  • in a food processor or with a hand mixer, take six tablespoons of cold butter, add some cinnamon and salt, then half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of flour, half a cup of rolled oats and half a cup of almonds or pecan, and pulse or mix until there are pea-like sized balls. it's important to use cold butter so it doesn't just melt!
  • put the topping onto the fruit in chunks and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes until the top of the crumble is browned
  • enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dark & Stormy Mushroom Soup

Sometimes Alayna and I surprise ourselves. I feel like here, bathing in soup bowl #64, we are still making some pretty awesome soups with unique and rich flavors. The thing that's particularly wild about that is that they are all so simple. We were discussing how we've never incorporated tools beyond a blender, oven and stove. This attests to both our zen and lazy personalities.

Further, with each passing soup bowl ladled and served I feel more like ... I'm feeling heady so excuse me ... but soup as a way of life. (WWYSBD = What Would Your Soup Bowl Do? ... well, probably just sit there.) I have been making a point to utilize local farmer markets more and more and make and use our own broth-- the idea of knowing exactly what I'm putting in my bowl (the bowl that Alayna made in pottery) and that it's good and simple is quite the rarity in these fast, strange New York City times.

So as I sit back at my desk at work, sipping a Diet Coke, a product I have no clue what it actually is, where it came from, or how long it can last, though I have a feeling an awfully long time-- the fact that I am totally aware of the stuff in my soup bowl is a delight.

To think Alayna never saw a purple potato before!
  • cut up about a handful and a half of baby potatoes into bite-sized pieces (we used multicolor ones) and put into a separate pot to boil
  • fill a medium sized bowl with water and about two ounces of dried porcini mushrooms and microwave for five minutes, letting the mushroom steep until needed
  • saute 6 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil with one sprig of fresh rosemary and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, adding half a yellow onion when they begin to be fragrant
  • when the onion is translucent, add six chopped carrots (the skinny kind or two of the fat kind) to the pot and cook covered
  • wipe off 3 portobella mushrooms and chop into bite-sized pieces, adding to the pot and stirring
  • cook until the portabella mushrooms are done all the way through, then add the porcini juice (straining out the mushrooms) and potatoes (strained), topping off with bouillon cubes and water
  • when broth is heated, add a bunch of chopped chard and cook five more minutes until done
  • serve with Gouda and/or Swiss cheese

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Asparagus and Pea Soup

Yup, that there is a bowl of spring if I ever did see one. This Monday Alayna and I had a soup party. Friends as far as Vermont came for a bowl of blended vegetables and artichoke leaves, or rather, another vehicle to melted butter. "People ask me, what's my favorite food? And I always say lobster of course," Alayna tells the group. "But I really just mean butter."

P.J. might have said it best- "Peas are so hot right now." Peas ARE hot right now. Do you guys utilize a pack of frozen peas as often as you should? Those things are like popcorn. I love when they are still a little bit frozen in the center so they sort of burst in your mouth like a veggie-gusher. I swear, that tastes good.

If you live in NYC, which you probably don't because my Google Analytics say you're more likely to live in Canada or Dubai, you'd know it's been a hot week. Probably not as hot as Dubai right far flung soupettes? This is a great soup warm but I can imagine would be wonderful cold with a dollop of yogurt. Okay friends, enjoy!

Asparagus and Pea Soup
  • in a medium saucepan, put 4 chopped medium red potatoes in water to boil and take a bag of peas out to thaw. you don't really have to thaw them if it's warm enough outside that they'll melt (they also make a delicious cooling snack in the meantime)
  • chop and saute one large yellow in olive oil on medium low heat
  • add 3-4 leeks, white part only, also chopped and half a bag of baby carrots (or 2-3 large carrots)
  • cook covered until onions are translucent
  • add two bunches of asparagus, also chopped, bring heat up some and cook covered
  • when asparagus is bright green, add the thawed peas, and min
  • when asparagus is easy to poke through with a fork (about five minutes) add potatoes in their water, a handful of parsley and top off with as much more as you need, adding vegan bouillon
  • voila! vegan soup
Delicious artichokes
  • cut the stems off your artichokes
  • cover with cold water and bring to a low boil
  • boil for 35-45 minutes.. when they are done, you should be able to easily poke through the bottom with a fork and pull leaves out of the center
  • drain and serve with melted garlic butter (microwaved or stove melted butter with two cloves of chopped garlic)
  • TO EAT: pull the leaves off, dip them in butter and scrape them with your teeth to get the meaty part, discarding the rest. the further in you go, the more tender the leaves will be. when you get to the tiny leaves, grab a spoon and scrape the babies leaves and the thistles (which you do NOT want to eat b/c they hurt when you swallow them, so clean thoroughly) to get to the HEART, which you can just cut into bite-sized pieces of butter dipped heaven and eat

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garden Soup

If you're a regular Monday's Soups reader you'll know there is nothing Alayna and I like more than discovering a new vegetable or ingredient. To the point that after our first "meeting" we often refer to it with a surname and sort of suggest that we have just made a new friend. (Ernst the Eggplant, Mr. Kale, Ms. Swiss Chard, etc.) So today, gang, it's time to say hello to little Ms. Dandelion Green.

We have been saying we should use dandelion greens for some time, Alayna even went as far to say they're trendy. I mean, that seems lofty, but they are healthy. Did you see that counter picture I took? That's like vegetable porn. Oh my gosh, SOUP QUIZ! From left to right list the greens on the counter, the winner will get a jar of soup.

Alayna was a little late coming to my apartment so I started making the soup. Taking a sip of it I discovered it was essentially like drinking garden water. Alayna even casually mentioned maybe I ought to clean the vegetables better. Let me just say I did scrub those guys, it's just that I bought it all at the farmer's market and they really have that just-pulled-out-of-the-ground feel. So you know, sometimes I miss a pocket of dirt and you get a little crunch in your bite. Big deal. Anyways, Alayna worked her magic by adding salt, lemon and a bunch of cheese, and suddenly our garden water tasted a little more like dinner.

Okay, enjoy friends. With a post like that, how aren't ya'll salivating at your desk?

Hello cross-promotional plug. Book Club meets this Sunday!
Garden Soup
  • Heat olive oil in your soup bowl
  • Add 2 leeks chopped, let them simmer for 5 minutes on medium to low heat
  • Add 4 to 6 big cloves are garlic, heat until fragrant, about one minute
  • Add handful of finger potatoes chopped
  • Add a bay leaf
  • Add greens. You can really add any greens, these are the greens we added: 3 heads of Dandelion greens, 1 bunch of beet greens, 1 bunch of yellow chard greens
  • Add six or so cups of chicken broth (mine was homemade, what! what!)
  • Let cook on low for 20 or so minutes
  • Add the following to taste: 2 generous pinches of sea salt, 3 sprigs of thyme, a sprig of rosemary, 3 generous squeezes of lemon and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Persian Lentil Soup

I love when Mo is in town because it makes Monday's Soups feel like a whole lot less work (uhm, maybe just for me) and a whole lot more wine. Mo introduced us to the mung bean, explained how to make our own yogurt, and told us about how wonderful sour cherries are from her uncle's trees in Iran. That all sounds nice doesn't it?

It especially sounded nice on red wine bottle number 2.5. This soup might win for overall bulk. See picture below. Not even that time we used an entire Halloween pumpkin have we filled the soup pot so high. This soup took longer than normal to cook, because we had to soften all those beans, but that was fine by me. We ate Alayna's baba ghanoush, I realized I need to buy a small food processor, and we talked about how stupid the Atkins Diet is and my new obsession with potted herbs and how maybe putting them all on my bathroom windowsill isn't the smartest idea. A few hours later I walked home, all 30 blocks north, with the heaviest giant pickle jar of soup I've carried yet. So many lunches. So exciting.

  • saute one large yellow onion in olive oil with a generous bit of turmeric until soft
  • add three cups of mung beans and cover with water and bring to a low boil
  • after the mung beans have been simmering for about ten minutes, add about two cups of green lentils, one cup of rice, and about 3/4 a stick of butter (butter is delicious), adding more water if necessary, and get back to a simmer for another 30-40 minutes until all parts are soft and mushy
  • at this point you can also chop 2-4 carrots and throw them in (optional)
  • chop up two bunches of chard (red or swiss) and put them in about the last ten minutes, as well as a generous handful of parsley
  • adjust turmeric, salt and pepper flavoring as necessary
  • serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream

Friday, April 16, 2010

Martha Stewart = My Hero

Alayna doesn't know this yet but what did I go ahead and do? Applied to get tickets for Martha Stewart's show for food bloggers! That's right soup lads & laddles, hope Alayna isn't busy May 5th because we're headed to the Martha Stewart TV Studios in midtown!

How can anyone say no to my request? My Martha Stewart submission is pasted below:

Tell us about yourself and the guests with whom you'd like to attend the show. Are you crafters, food enthusiasts, gardeners, or part of a school group? The more details, the better!

We are soup enthusiasts! Alayna and I have a maintained a weekly soup blog for over a year. Monday's Soups; Don't be afraid of Mondays and Don't Be Afraid of Soup! In addition to making soups, which we believe sets a solid foundation for cooks of all levels, I would also like to add here that I have been a fan of Martha Stewart's since the age of 9 when my friend (Alison Smith) and I would make videos of ourselves cooking. I pretended to be Martha, while Alison was "Nartha," Martha's evil sister. She would try to ruin Martha's perfect plans to make everything beautiful and just-right. Don't worry, Nartha never succeeded. When I was 11, Martha came into a small lobster restaurant where my family and I were eating in Maine near Bar Harbor. My mother encouraged me to go over and say hi as that whole summer I would wake up at 8am to watch her early show. But instead, overwhelmed, I couldn't breath and had to rest my head on the table for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Calabash/Calabassa Soup

Annnnd I'm back! I am back from the jungles of Guatemala. I come back with new parasite friends, wall to wall hand woven carpeting that looks ridiculous in my apartment, and the new ability to carry laundry on my head.

It was exciting to see Alayna because it's been weeks. Or months, I swear. We talked boys and soup and then went to Back Forty, best bar ever. Best bar because they make delicious cocktails and it's perfectly situated between my apartment and Alayna's. Lovely Mo was there and taught us the ways of the Texan belt. Texan belt? Did I just make that up?

In other news, Alayna's moving. I know we've been touching on her grad school application process over the last few months but somehow I never put together that applying to grad school in different states means, you know, you will probably then move to a different state. Horror of horrors, I know.

So we're figuring out how Monday's Soups can not only go on, but can prosper, as we report live from two different states. Don't fret folks, the principal of everything you need to know about cooking, which is soup... will go on. Suddenly Celion Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," just started playing in my mind. And I like it.

This meal was da bomb. Roasting stuff and then cooking it and then blending it always makes for deep rewarding flavors. Or, what we say in the biz, "RCB'ing." I mean, no one says that but I'm going to start right now. Oh, I also wanted to shout out that I had the best black bean soup of my life in Antigua. I think it's because it was filled with pig lard. And let me tell you pig lard is delicious. And so is this, sans lard.

  • Take 3 half calabash (this is how they're usually sold at the market... no idea why) and roast them at about 400 for 30-40 minutes by punching some holes in them with a fork, putting a splash of water in each and covering in tin foil
  • when your squashes are pretty soft, roughly chop one white onion and saute in olive oil until opaque, adding a few shakes of cinnamon and chili powder
  • add one zucchini, chopped, and cook covered, stirring occasionally until mostly cooked... at this point if your squash are done, you should take them out so they have time to cool off a little
  • add two cans of drained sweet corn
  • scoop out the innards of the calabassa and add to the soup
  • top off with veggie broth and blend
  • Delicious with avocado on top!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Almost Summer Soup (Porcini and zucchini soup with walnut basil pesto)

So, we're having a warm snap in New York right now and I LOVE it. Windows open, sandals on and air drying my hair instead of bundling up on the way to work (and having SUNSHINE when you leave for work instead of freezing cold darkness and/or snow and rain) is pretty amazing.

We're a day late because Mary had to catch up on work after her vacation, but don't worry, this soup is worth it. It's vegan, but surprisingly filling. Sounds complex, but is really simple to make. And it straddles that line between a hot day and a cooler night quite well. It's also delicious and I made up the recipe, so I'm feeling super proud. SO:

Almost Summer Soup (Porcini and zucchini soup with walnut basil pesto)

  • THE SET-UP (things to do while you're doing other things)

  • Chop up 3 red potatoes and bring to a boil in a separate pot until you can stick a fork in them easily, but they aren't too soft

  • Throw about half a cup to a cup of walnuts onto a cookie tray and put in the oven at 250 for 5-10 minutes until toasted, then set aside to cool

  • microwave about 4 cups of water for about 5 minutes and put in an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms to soak, re-heating as necessary


  • Chop about 5 cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a few sprigs of fresh thyme

  • Add half a white onion and the white and light green parts of three leeks, chopped and cook covered to reserve liquid

  • Once fragrant, add two zucchinis, chopped and cook covered

  • When the zucchinis are starting to cook, add 4 portabella mushroom caps, chopped and cook covered, stirring occasionally

  • PESTO BREAK! Now you have time to make the pesto! Take a big bunch of basil, take out any bad leaves, and rinse thoroughly. In a food processor, layer in the basil first, then add some walnuts, then parmesan cheese and 2 cloves of garlic with a generous amount of olive oil. You may have to do in batches as things get copped up and move down. Adjust flavoring to your taste (I love garlic) and put in the fridge for later.

  • By now your veggies should be cooked through, so add your potatoes (drained) and your porcini juice (with the mushrooms strained out and squeezed for juicy flavor)

  • Blend (taking out your rosemary and thyme stems) and serve with a dollop of pesto in the middle.

  • YUM!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Light Leek Soup

First, lets start with a pretty picture of ingredients so that no one loses faith in me as a cook:

Rosemary, thyme and garlic

I'm not going to lie. Soup night was BIT of an adventure last night.

Mary is in Guatemala this week with some college friends (jealous!) so I decided to meet up with my partner from Amigos in 2000 (that's right, a DECADE ago) for a drink before soup night. But I also had some dried chickpeas and homemade chicken broth, so first a ran home and threw them into the dutch oven on low so they would be ready when I got home.

When I got back, I was greeted with this:

my apartment

Oh yeah, that's a smoke filled apartment.... and some really burned chickpeas.

The mystery is that I really DID leave the stove on very low. Dutch ovens don't need much heat, that's the whole beauty of them! So I'm blaming the cat. Although I probably shouldn't have left the apartment with the stove on. Safety first!

LUCKILY, I was still able to make a delicious soup.... just not as chickpea-y as I expected. And yes, I am that girl who rescued as many chickpeas as she good and likes the taste of lightly burned (or, in my mind, toasted!) things. You may want to stick to canned though.

separating the weak from strong

And yes, my apartment DOES still smell like burned chickpeas. So does my hair. And my hands. I had to scrub my dutch oven for about 45 minutes to get all the burnt parts off after soaking it overnight. Don't drink and dutch kids. Or don't dutch and then just step out for one drink because you might end up smelling like a Mediterranean market and not in a good way.

On the plus side, my mom always told me eating burned things would make my hair curly.... cheap perm, here I come!

Without further ado....

A Light Leek Soup

  • saute 6-8 roughly chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

  • add the roughly chopped white and light green parts of 3-4 leeks and cook until they're getting a little floppy

  • add one bunch of broccoli (include the thin parts of the stem too, and if you want to blend, the whole stalk)chopped into small pieces/florets

  • add one large zucchini, sliced and quartered, and about 3 tablespoons of butter, sliced around the pot and stirred in

  • cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is bright green and zucchini is mostly soft

  • add chicken (or veggie) broth, barely covering veggies and about 1.5 cups of cooked "toasted" chickpeas.... or just an unburned can of chickpeas

    • note: I used a broth that I'd already infused with lemon, which was GREAT, but you can also just squeeze the juice of 1-2 lemons in at this point

  • simmer a little while until veggies are done all the way through and serve!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Garlic Soup Two (Electric Boogaloo)*

Last night Mary was spending quality time with Gavin for his birthday, and guest-of-the-blog Jocelyn called out sick with a fever. With my roommates nowhere in sight, I souped alone. I thought I would hate it, since I'm kind of a social person, but here's the thing:

For the past six months, my life has been a little bit of a whirlwind. In September I started studying to take the GREs and putting together a fundraiser for AMIGOS. Test-taking and fundraising segued pretty quickly into applications and the holiday season, and in the new year it's been financial forms, catching up with book club and helping a certain someone plan a wedding (yay!). Now, because I'm me and love a full plate, I've put together a (long) list of the things I want to do in NYC before I head off to school (like actually see all those museums) and have signed myself up for a ceramic show at the beginning of the summer. It makes for a busy schedule, especially when you also want to see your friends and have people coming in to visit.

So souping alone? It was a nice break. I went to the gym, did some prep for a dinner party on Wednesday and even cracked a non-bookclub book. And the soup was great. Light, easy, delicious and, most importantly, did not involve a trip to the store.

Garlic Soup Two (Electric Boogaloo)*

  • In a medium sized sauce pan, bring some chicken broth to a simmer along with three crushed or grated garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme (I used some lemon chicken broth I made the week before, so add some lemon for extra flavor), and salt and pepper to taste
  • Once the broth is fragrant (about 5 minutes of simmering) add on zucchini, thinly sliced, and a handful off soup pasta (I used egg noddles) and cook another 5-7 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and mix in a few handfuls of spinach
  • In a separate bowl, beat one egg with a fork, adding in a few generous spoonfuls of pecorino or parmesan cheese and some ground black better. Add a spoonful of the hot broth to the egg bowl while still mixing, and then put the whole thing back into the pot
  • Enjoy!

* I only made two servings of soup since my fridge is full of produce for the dinner party and I'm running out of tupperware. I also made a HUGE amount of food on Sunday night for no discernible reason.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ham Hock Soup

Look at Toaster pretending she is a lion who is gnawing on a freshly slaughtered gazette.* 2 lb. Toaster cat actually pulled that ham bone out of the trash and carried it with her tiny teeth across the apartment. Alayna and I squealed in delight and immediately started snapping pictures like we were in Animal Kingdom.

Ham bone explanation, probably one month ago my mom bought a ham. I have been prying for this ham bone ever since. Finally I was able to snag it when I went home for a wedding last weekend. I texted Alayna excitedly that I had the bone. The big, big bone. And thus we were able to make our first ever HAM SOUP.

This is a southern comfort and while it simmers it basically smells (and tastes) like bacon soup. Mmmhmm. Go pigs. This was also the best soup ever because right when the soup was done Alayna found out she was accepted into Georgetown for grad school. I was so excited I called my parents before Alayna called her parents. My parents are really excited.

So we enjoyed this soup. Talked about Georgetown, talked about our future summer canning plans, I completed my census Alayna texted her friends with the good news, we realized we are very prude and awkwardly squirmed our way through Gossip Girl and then we split a tart. Great soup night, great ham bone. Enjoy, but keep away from cats and other wild beasts.

*This just in, allegedly gazettes aren't animals.

Ham Hock Soup!
  • Pour 10-12 cups of water in pot, 1 lb. of pinto beans, ham bone, 3 bay leaves, black pepper, 3 big carrots, 5 stalks of celery (both chopped), 1 onion and extra cubed pieces of ham if not a lot of ham on the bone (2 cups)
  • Allow water to boil, once boiling bring to a simmer and cover with lid. Let simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
  • Add swiss chard, taste broth, add vegetable bullion if desired.
  • Pull out ham bone, pull meat off the bone and throw back in soup. If the beans taste cooked, start eating!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sweet (Potato) Thai

Sawadeekah. Alayna had a hankering for tom kha gai soup. But since we made a similar soup in the past we decided to do something wild and add scallops, sweet potatoes and carrots! Alayna's creative twist resulted in a genius outcome. The broth is really, really good. Really good. PJ, our new soup buddy for the week, thought so too. Thanks for coming PJ!

The big coconut milk cans were on sale so I bought two of them instead of three smaller cans. Alayna poured in one big can and then asked for the other as I skimmed the Nutrition Information. I paused to consider how one cup of coconut milk had 254% of my daily intake of saturated fat. And thus began The Coconut Milk Mystery.

I am one of those sorts who believe that any fruit or vegetable or natural, minimally processed grain is probably pretty good for you and pretty much eat all of that stuff blindly. So I was very confused how the natural milk of a coconut had the nutritional value of a Big Mac. Twist! Coconut Milk has no cholesterol, which adds to the mystery as saturated fat and cholesterol go hand in hand. BUT obviously this isn't an animal product.

Let me share with you an article I found brilliantly titled: "Coconut Nutrition... Controversy Abounds"

Some scientists argue that it is high in cholesterol, whereas others argue that because of the combination of fats contained in coconut milk, it reduces rather than raises cholesterol in the human body. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are both necessary to good body function, and the balance between them is key in determining whether we have high or low cholesterol. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. Saturated fat is one of the bad fats known to raise LDL levels and consequently cholesterol levels. However saturated fat is now being disputed in the medical and scientific communities as more cultural diets are studied. As an example, Polynesians, who consume a diet rich in coconut milk, a rich source of saturated fat, do not suffer widely from high cholesterol. Scientists do not understand why that is so.

You know why I think that is so? Because plants are always good for you. I mean, I'm not going go guzzling coconut milk, and I am going to say, Alayna, I think one giant can of coconut milk is fine for tonight, but I'm not going to avoid our big-ball hairy coconut friends either.

This brings me to my last piece of news. I joined a CSA. My dream of all dreams. I can already visualize the soup blog post of me visiting my farmer friend upstate. As if this farmer is one of those children in India you give money to and put their picture on your refrigerator. I want to put a picture of my farmer on my fridge. And I want to be his penpal. And I want to eat his turnips. Well, thankfully the latter I am guaranteed to do.

Sweet Potato Thai
  • roughly dice about 8 cloves of garlic (maybe less if you're not sick and/or trying to keep away vampires) and saute in olive oil with some dried red pepper
  • once garlic is fragrant, add one chopped yellow onion and about 3 inches of peeled and chopped fresh ginger and cook covered for about 5 more minutes until fragrant
  • add 4-5 chopped smallish sweet potatoes and two large chopped carrots
  • Add a 25.5 ounce can of coconut milk, about two can-fulls more of chicken broth and the juice of five limes
  • Bring the heat up and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are soft enough to put a fork through, but not too mushy
  • in a separate pan, lightly saute about 3/4 lb of bay scallops in olive oil until they look opaque
  • add the scallops to the soup (with the heat off) and let sit for a few minutes to cook the rest of the way, topping off the pot with a handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Smoky Tomato Soup

Consider yourself lucky if this is the first time you are hearing that I've been sick. I can't stand when I'm sick and I have tendency not to be able to talk about anything else. I also am highly suspicious of medicine. So I often avoid it, which you could argue, might be why I'm still sick. But I swear gurgling warm salt water and eating a strange amount of brussels sprouts is working and really, tomorrow I think I'll be totally fine.

And the reason I'm sick? Soup. I know, I know.

Gavin came home sick early last week so I decided to make him soup after work because I'm 27 going on 60. I wasn't worried I'd get sick because I believe I have a superior immune system. I was so not worried that when he didn't finish his bowl of soup I finished it for him. I even had a passing thought that this probably wasn't brilliant but was so egotistical about my soup strength that I didn't care.

Sniffle sniffle cough cough. And that is why I had to miss this soup night at Alayna's. And I'm souper sad (can't help it) that I did because how good does this soup look? Roasted tomatoes. Amazing. When I'm stronger I will recreate this masterpiece in a bowl and I'll never be sick again.

The Soup!

  • Cut 6-7 very ripe tomatoes in half and put face down on a baking sheet with half a head of unpeeled garlic (or whole, I only had half) with the top cut off and a little olive oil sprinkled on. Put in the oven at 375 for about 30-40 minutes, until the skin easily comes off the tomatoes and the garlic is soft
  • Put 3 dried chiles pasillas and 2 dried chiles anchos on a different baking pan and put in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until they are puffed up. Take out and let cool.
  • Once cool, cut the stems out of the peppers and take out the seeds. Put all the other parts into the blender
  • When your tomatoes and garlic are ready, put them into the blender as well. The garlic should easily squeeze out of it's casing. You will want to wait a little bit for your tomatoes to cool so that the lid doesn't fly off the blender, so in the mean time....
  • .... chop one yellow onion and saute in olive oil
  • Once translucent, add one large can of diced roasted tomatoes with juice and slowly heat
  • Blend your chile/fresh tomato/garlic mixture thoroughly and add to the pot
  • Top off with chicken broth and like, simmer about 30 minutes
  • In those thirty minutes, cut up an avocado, grate some sharp cheddar cheese and heat up a pan of oil to cook up some tortilla strips.
  • When all the elements are in place, serve yourself with avocado, cheese and tortilla strips on top

  • Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Mushroom Soup with Parsley Dumplings

    So Alayna had a board meeting and in a strange swing of ambition I decided that I'd tackle a hard soup all by myself. And tackle is exactly what I did. I feel like this soup and I had a love hate relationship for the entire 2.5 hour cooking process. Maybe it was after going to the food store and spending $35 mostly all on ingredients (dried mushrooms, $8- actually you can remove this step if you want and just add 2 more cups of broth- it is less of an earthy taste but I mean, I'm cheap and sort of regret it, so just sayin.' Also, note I bitch that I spent $35 on soup supplies, which is way more than we normally spend, but still I have 6+ meals out of it. Not bad.)

    Or maybe it was getting home, exhausted with 5 bags in my hands from work/gym/grocery store (this is essentially my gym/tan/laundry only it ends with a book in my bed and not a makeout in the bar) and the prospect of starting this big cooking process seemed daunting.

    But I knew if just gave up and put veggies and lentils in a soup pot again and called it a different soup because I added say, both kale and chard, Alayna would kill me. So I embarked.

    Note in this picture how I'm using all my burners. Then note how the cabinet above my stove which holds pots is totally empty. God bless dishwashers. All in all this soup was really good. I sort of butchered those dumplings because I never used an electric mixer or processor and instead did it all with fork and bowl. So they were eh, a little lumpy. Whatever, I'd eat lumpy dumplings over washing two more things any day. This soup was souper good though. At 10:30pm when I finally sat down with my bowl of mushroom soup and dumplings I was pretty proud of myself. Soups up laddles!

    • 2 cups water
    • 3/4 ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 teaspoon thyme
    • Fine sea salt
    • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
    • 1 big onion
    • 3 thinly sliced leeks
    • 4cups vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
    • A big pinch of cayenne pepper
    • a couple handfuls of carrots
    • 1/2 bag of spinach

    Parsley Dumplings

    • 3/4 cup (scant) low-fat cottage cheese
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature, divided
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • 1 cup all purpose flour, divided
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • Pinch of ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley



    • Bring 2 cups water and dried mushrooms to boil in small saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Put aside (with liquid)
    • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add baby bella mushrooms and thyme; sprinkle with sea salt and sauté until mushrooms are browned, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add wine; stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Set mushroom mixture aside.
    • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until translucent and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add leeks and carrots reduce heat to medium, sprinkle with sea salt, and sauté until vegetables are soft and golden, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
    • Bring broth to simmer in large pot over medium-high heat. Pour in reserved mushroom cooking liquid, leaving sediment behind. Add all mushrooms, onion mixture, and cayenne. Add spinach. Keep this pot simmering while you make your dumplings, occasionally giving it a stir.

    Parsley Dumplings

    • Puree cottage cheese in mini processor until smooth. Using electric mixer, beat 3 tablespoons butter and eggs in medium bowl. Add cottage cheese, 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and nutmeg; beat on low speed just to blend. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, cheese, and parsley.
    • Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Using teaspoon, scoop piece of dough about size of cherry. Holding spoon just above boiling water, use second spoon to push dough into water. Working quickly, repeat about 10 more times. When dumplings rise to surface, simmer until cooked through, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to large plate. Repeat with remaining dough.
    • Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, add dumplings to skillet. Cook until brown in spots, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
    • Bring soup to simmer. Divide dumplings among wide shallow bowls. Divide soup among bowls and serve.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Split Pea Soup

    New York has had a series of disappointing snowstorms in the last couple of weeks... the kind that make you sit inside because instead of sticking to the ground they just melt and slush on impact. Last week some people even had a snow day (which pretty much never happens), although I'm pretty sure that was out of jealousy over Washington D.C. since it barely even snowed and trains were delayed less than they are when it rains. I never thought that living in New York I'd be wishing for snowstorms like they have in the South, but stranger things have happened, right?

    Anyway, Mary went off to her skiing in Vermont and I had a not incredibly productive but very relaxing weekend in the city, hanging out with coworkers, watching terrible movies, throwing some pots at the studio and finding a new (to me) speakeasy in my neighborhood. After a visit to the MOMA Monday, split pea soup, a kitten on the lap and a few hours to get work done were just what the doctor ordered. And the best part about this soup is that it only involves about ten minutes of actual work, then two hours of cooking, so you can wander off and cozy up until you get hungry. So without further ado...

    Split Pea Soup
    • Warm up your dutch oven (or regular soup pot) on low heat.
    • Saute about five finely chopped cloves of garlic in a little olive oil, adding one chopped white onion when they are getting translucent.
    • When the onion is translucent, add three chopped leeks (white and light green parts only) and one or two large chopped carrots
    • Add 2lbs of dried split peas and fill the pot with broth to about 2 inches below the rim (I used home-made broth from a chicken I roasted earlier in the weekend, this time with the addition of LEMON which was phenomenal, but if you're not using home-made broth, at this point I would also throw in a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme and oregano, and one whole lemon, cut in half)
    • Cover and let simmer for about two hours, adding water if necessary, until peas are mushy and delicious
    • After about an hour and a half, add in the leaves of one bunch of swiss chard, torn into bite sized pieces.
    • Season with salt and pepper and serve!

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Chunky Veggie Barley

    Look how big my new soup pot is! It's the size of my torso!

    In Michael Pollan's new book, "On Food Rules," he separates "food products" from "food." When did feeding ourselves become so complicated? Pollan's main thesis is to "Eat real food, not too much of it, and more plants than meat." Alayna and I discussed this while eating our soup last night.

    The thing I can't wrap my head around is the fact that I am 27 years old. I have a graduate degree. For most of the last decade I've had a moderate interest in eating well and yet I still don't feel like I'm close to mastering it. I've spent years thinking about this and reading books and articles. I feel like I have a strong basis about the world of marketing tricks and how food marketers get you. Yet I still fall for traps (sugar free jam with fiber anyone?) So how on earth do people who aren't neurotic nutbags like me even stand a chance?

    It is a rare day when I can confidently say nothing I ingested was processed. Even last night we had pearl barley in our soup, which is more processed than hull barley. But I don't even know where to find hull barley. The thing that annoys me about Pollan is that he makes me feel like such an idiot for having these moments. He makes it sound so simple. But it's not. I've been working on my cooking for a solid two years and I still feel like I'm at the very, very beginning of it. The crest of the wave (of soup!).

    Maybe it's because unlike Alayna, I didn't grow up in a cooking household. My mom claims it used to be a cooking household when I was young, but as I often bring up, when I was 11 my mom gave up cooking for Lent and then never looked back. No one yelled at me for drinking Cokes in the morning and Oreos after school (Eileen and Jessica, please confirm). I know there are some underlying issues here, like how it wasn't even an option that my dad would ever pick up the cooking slack for my mom, but my point is I didn't have a strong cooking mentor growing up, so for much of this I feel like I'm learning things for the first time now.

    I like Pollan's idea of eating in moderation. That feeling of can't-move-full is obviously not a healthy feeling. It's akin to putting ourselves into a comatose state. We aren't alert. (But have you noticed eating too much homecooked food is a different feel entirely from eating too much processed food?)

    But I get uncomfortable when his stuff starts to sound like deprivation (i.e. eat sweets on days that start with an S) I like saying, "Hara Hachi Bu," mainly because it's funny to say outloud but also because it means "eat until 80 percent full." A cultural habit, practiced on the island of Okinawa; the healthiest place on earth. Pollan highlights an old wive's tale: If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you're not hungry.

    I actually just ate an apple and I'm still hungry.

    Clearly folks, I have issues with Micheal Pollan that perhaps I should just keep in the closet. Maybe I just want more of a gold star from him and less of a long sigh and shrug that I have so much left to do. I don't know. I'm interested in your thoughts. Are your current eating habits reflective of how you were raised? Do you often to cook for yourself? Do you even care? What are your food rules?

    Chew on that and then go ahead and chew (and slurp!) on this...

    Chunky Veggie Barley OR Ain't got no Gout Soup
    • in a separate pot, cook one cup of barley as suggested (should take about 45 minutes)
    • roughly chop 3 cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil with herbs des provence
    • add one onion, thinly sliced, and saute until lightly browned
    • add two parsnips (chopped) and a handful of carrots (chopped) and cook covered until they begin to get soft, adding more olive oil if needed
    • add two bunches of chopped brocollini and stir, then cover again until brocollini are a little cooked through (2-3 minutes)
    • add a handful of kale and stir and a box of chopped mushrooms
    • once kale, brocollini and parsnips are mostly cooked through, add the barley with it's hot water to the pot, filling the rest with water and chicken boullion for flava
    • bring to a simmer, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Greek Wedding Soup

    Sit down folks. Today marks the first day that we cooked soup with ground beef! I think Alayna and I are going to become mega carnivores now. Like Acrocanthosaurus-type carnivores. Because meat tastes good. I also discovered some weird satisfaction from the feeling of rolling the meatballs in my palm.

    Which was when, actually, Alayna said something casually like, "Who doesn't love the taste of raw meat?" I was taken aback as I had already washed my hands 3 times because of my close proximity to raw meat which I assumed if I didn't continually clean myself I'd obviously, you know, die. I probed further and Alayna admited that though she wouldn't eat "a whole raw meatball" she would "lick her hands afterwards.*"

    Just like a cat. Which makes sense because for the first half of this soup I read Alayna's cat behavoir book outloud. We learned all sorts of helpful tips about what cats are trying to say when they bunt your hand and turn back their ears. I also began to feel super guilty that Toaster is an indoor cat and had a moment where I vowed I'd buy one of those cat climbing towers for her.

    That'd just be awesome. Little meaty Mary with that cat climbing tower in her apartment. What a prize I'm becoming.

    Anyway, this soup is really good. I know I say that every week. But this week I really, really mean it.

    I love meatballs!

    *Editorial Note: Alayna would like to point out that it is perfectly acceptable, even FANCY, to eat your steak practically raw, and that it's all cow anyways. Also, sushi.

    Greek Wedding Soup!
    • Bring about three quarts of chicken broth to a boil, then down to a simmer (we used a combo of leftover real chicken broth from last week and water/fake broth)
    • In the meantime, combine about a pound of ground beef or lamb, two eggs, a handful of finely chopped parsley, about four finely chopped garlic cloves, 1/3 a cup of breadcrumbs, 1/4 a cup of crumbled feta cheese and 2-3 sprigs of finely chopped oregano into a bowl
    • Use your hand to mix up the ingredients until smooth, and then roll up 1 inch balls and set aside on a plate
    • Once your broth is boiling, add the meatballs and about a mug and a half of orzo to cook for about 8 minutes
    • Bring down the heat and add any leftover parseley, a handful of roughly chopped mint, the grated rind of one lemon, one large grated carrot and a box of arugula. Let cook another five minutes and serve!