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I’ve been under the weather for a few days now (where did that saying come from, anyway? aren’t we always under the weather, literally?), so warm, brothy soups have been calling my name. 101 Cookbooks is always my go-to source for inspiration along those lines – healthy, veggie-filled soups. So I turned to this green curry broth recipe, and made it my own. And without my camera on hand, I turned to trusty instagram to make a crappy iPhone photo. If I can’t take a good photo, at least I can take one that looks self-consciously retro!

I managed to squeeze in cooking this soup before another insane spring-before-winter day tomorrow — 60 degrees! I was looking back at photos from last winter, and found some from right after one of the heavy storms hit. There were feet of snow, covering cars, turning  front stoops into slippery stairs of death, glittering white everywhere. It made me a tiny bit sad. I do love to traipse around in the fluffy stuff, for the 10 minutes during which it’s actually beautiful, before it’s blackened and slushy. But this winter has certainly lacked snowy romanticism! Just week after week of the unsettling feeling that this whole climate change thing is happening all too quickly.

But back to my soup. Here’s my method. If you look at the original recipe I’ve swapped or modified a significant number of ingredients, based on what I had available and what I could find at the store. You should feel free to do the same. Recipe after the jump.

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I don’t think anyone would argue with the statement that it is soup weather in New York. Everyone’s freaking out, preparing for this next bout of snow. So I’ve been having an intense craving for brothy noodle soups. And gumbo. Opposite end of the soup spectrum, but equally delicious. So I made both!

Saturday night was a chicken and sausage gumbo, accompanied by a friend’s delicious salad with blue cheese, apples and walnuts, and some incredibly tasty (and dangerous) tequila cocktails.

Tonight was brothy noodle night – I saw a delicious-looking recipe on 101 Cookbooks and went to buy all the ingredients only to find that the nice grocery store in my neighborhood was out of vegetable broth. Not believing this to be a neighborhood-wide epidemic, I went to the crappy grocery store in my neighborhood and guess what? NO VEGETABLE BROTH. I was not in the mood to concede and buy Swenson chicken broth instead, nor did I want to trek to another store in the impending storm, so I bought a few items and harumphed my way home, cursing the city.

But this is why I always have miso paste on hand. A soup can be had! I then discovered that I had two cups of frozen homemade vegetable broth too. So here’s what I did. Vegetable broth + 4 cups of water + several coins of ginger + 1/2 finely diced jalapeno + dried shitake mushrooms. Simmer for 10 minutes, fish out the ginger. Add 1 T. miso paste and stir in, plus a couple tablespoons of soy sauce (taste after adding the miso to make sure it’s not already too salty). Add 1/4 package of angle hair pasta or other thin noodles, cook until just shy of al dente (a few minutes). Turn off the heat. Add a few big handfuls of baby spinach leaves, a generous squeeze of lime juice, and some cilantro. Enjoy!

 

OK time to freak outttttt! I’m back! (and just in time for Thanksgiving).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cooked something in the past few months and thought “I should take a picture of this” and just didn’t. I didn’t have my camera for about a month, but that’s no excuse, since I do have my iPhone camera after all. I also no longer have a computer at home, which complicates things…but I’ve just gotten a new work laptop that I think I’ll have with me a lot more (mostly because I have to work more, but let’s just pretend it’s because I like the computer). All that to say, no more excuses, I’m going to try to post at least a couple times a week. I mean, it’s baking season and Thanksgiving season and I’m drooling just thinking of all the pies I’m going to make and I hate just leaving this thing languishing out there in the vast internet wasteland.

So what started out as “I’m sick, I’m going to make soup” turned into a fall feast — don’t worry, this was a couple weeks ago, so not totally competing with Thanksgiving’s feastiness. When Gemma and I cook, we COOK if you know what I mean. I made a tomato fennel soup (a variation on one I’ve made many times before), and she made a fall panzanella salad from smitten kitchen, and then I made a sweet potato buttermilk pie, also courtesy of Deb. Seriously, when I feel too crap to go outside, sometimes whisking is the only thing that makes me feel better. This pie is incredibly light and fluffy, like a souffle. It’s tart and not too sweet thanks to the buttermilk, and the spices hearken back to my favorite of all pies, pumpkin. This is a great option for Thanksgiving, and the lightness would be an added benefit on a day when your stomach usually feels like it’s full of bricks by the time it’s all over.

I also FINALLY just watched Julie & Julia, so I am feeling a bit more motivated to blog (look, I’m under no illusion that Amanda Hesser is going to come knocking on my door any time soon, or that I’ll be in the New York Times, but a girl can dream about a book advance right?). I’m also not going to be deboning a whole duck either, but that’s ok. I’ve actually returned (mostly) to my vegetarian roots lately for a plethora of reasons that I won’t go into here, so this entire meal is vegetarian. And, did I mention, totally awesomely delicious?? The garlic parmesan croutons in the salad alone are enough to make me weep with joy. Recipe for the soup after the jump, salad here and pie here.

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For 5 hours Friday evening and for 12 hours Saturday I was working on a short film shoot with some friends. With some help, I built a robot and a time machine out of cardboard, tinfoil and duct tape, and then I was a hair assistant. It was like being in college (or elementary school?) all over again. And, if you’ve never worked on a film shoot, it was exhausting. Even sitting around for hours can take it out of you. So the ladies producing this short made a delicious pot of chili for us for lunch — and it hit. the. spot. It was super delicious, and because a few folks on set are veggies, it was also meat-free. Vegetarian chili is actually my preferred form of chili, which I believe some people don’t even consider chili. All I can say is, they are missing out.

So last night I decided to semi-recreate the chili (mine didn’t have beer in it) and serve it with brown rice and lots of yummy toppings. I realized as I was uploading my pictures that my toppings have all but obscured the actual chili here. I guess that’s ok. You know what chili looks like, and frankly, it ain’t pretty. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to cook this for 5 hours to make it tasty. You can definitely make this in the time it takes to cook the brown rice, about 40 minutes, and it’s GREAT for leftovers.

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I can’t believe I haven’t done a post on Tortilla Soup before. It is absolutely one of my favorite soups on the planet. A bit spicy, a bit tangy with lime juice, tomatoey-chickeny broth…and all my favorite toppings, including tortilla chips. This soup is great with or without the actual shredded chicken, but use the best quality chicken broth possible, homemade if you can. You don’t want to compromise this because of funky chicken broth. The best part is that it’s really, really easy to make. You can simplify even more by adding the corn straight to the soup (or not at all) and just topping with avocado instead of making a relish (or salsa? what’s the difference?), but I figured I’d have a little fun with it. If that’s not your idea of fun, well, I get it. I’m a weirdo.

Like most soups, this gets even better a day or two later, so make a big batch and take it for lunch. Recipe after the jump.

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Last Friday, my friend Melissa came over for a mellow ladies’ night in. It was a definite change of pace after our first week back at work after the holidays. We made some delicious fennel, tomato and white bean soup with gremolata and crusty bread with fontina melted on top. And for desert, an apple galette! ‘Twas delicious. We had a bottle of wine (though we could have easily drank two) and just listened to music and geeked out.

Recipe for the soup was improvised, and the galette recipe is courtesy of Alice Waters. The dough isn’t sweetened, the apples have no spices on them, and yet, it is so delicious. Something to be said for her simple approach. Recipes after the jump.

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It hasn’t really gotten that cold yet. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I was walking around yesterday without a coat on. There’s something unnerving about that, partially because if I think about what’s happening to the polar bears I might cry, and partially because it might mean that the winter will be especially terrible.

Despite the dearth of frigid temperatures, I’ve been drawn to soups. They are so homey and make your house (and by house I mean tiny one bedroom New York apartment) smell amazing. I saw a recipe for sweet potato soup on The Kitchn, adapted it slightly, and away we go. The only thing with soups is that, even with such a rich, thick texture as this one, unless I have something to pair with it — some crusty bread, crackers, what have you — I feel a little unsatisfied at the end of the meal. Since somehow crusty bread seemed like the wrong accompaniment for this particular soup, I decided to pair it with some mango coconut rice. Yum!

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corn

The thing I miss most about summer produce once it’s gone is fresh corn on the cob. I think it is one of the world’s most perfect foods. It’s too bad we’ve made mutant corn the staple of our diets (I’m of course talking about high fructose corn syrup, and other freaky genetically modified corn products lining the shelves of pretty much every grocery store in the country) because it gives the corn I love a bad name. Corn straight from the grill with herb butter, or a squeeze of lime, or queso fresco. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

So when I was thinking up uses for the tomatillo salsa I had left over from the other night, I went to Eugenia Bone’s book Well-Preserved. She includes a tomatillo salsa recipe specifically for canning, and with it, three recipes to use said salsa. The beauty of adding something like a pre-made salsa (in this case, still home made) to a soup is that you get the complexity of that flavor added in one spoonful. You’ve done all the hard work making the salsa already, now you get to capitalize on the tangy, slightly spicy, salty note it adds to the dish.

It’s sort of funny that I seem to keep doing stews and soups despite the season — yesterday was the first miserably hot day here, and I’m hoping it was a fluke. Frankly, I’ve been enjoying not sweating profusely all day long. But I guess that was too much to hope for. Luckily, I made this before the 10 ton brick that is “summer” in New York hit us.

cornsoup

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These days of summer, walking through the farmer’s market, it’s almost unimaginable that mere months ago all that could be had were a few scraggly apples. The July market is the definition of bounty. I have a very hard time limiting myself to “necessary” items when I’m greeted with such incredible freshness but I have to remind myself that there are only two I’m cooking for, and one of them doesn’t like greens.

Incredibly, I was able to pass through and purchase only what I needed on Wednesday — dill for my pickles, carrots and tomatoes for my soup. There are so many amazing variations on carrots and beets, I just want to make rainbow salads of them. The only loose carrots I could find (since I did not need a whole bunch) were golden. A lovely pale gold. Do I sound like I’ve been drugged? Given happy pills? A little over the top, maybe, but it’s no exaggeration to say that food made from farm fresh ingredients is pretty much unbeatable. And, to the detriment of my budgeting, worth the extra money.

I got a few golden tomatoes to go with my golden carrots and set off for home with my vegetables.

As a kid, I never ate tomato soup at home. It just wasn’t something on the menu. When we ate soup with grilled cheese, it was always lentil soup — that combination still brings me directly back to childhood. I had an iffy relationship with tomatoes for a very long time. I didn’t mind tomato-based things, like spaghetti sauce, but put a tomato in my salad? Yuck. So tomato soup was out of the question, with its cloying sweet tomatoeyness, eerily smooth texture, unnaturally red color. I still can’t go anywhere near V8.

This tomato soup is completely different. You could make it with canned tomatoes, but at this time of year, why would you?

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So, official Day 1. My daily allowance for 2 people is $7.14 to equal $50 for the week.

Breakfast: Brown Bread = $.23 x 2 servings = $.46
Lunch: Leftover Arroz con Pollo = $1.58 x 2 servings = $3.16
Snack: Orange (already accounted for cost in scone recipe)
Dinner: Black Bean Soup = $.74 x 2 servings = $1.50

Total: $5.12

The Arroz con Pollo recipe, which I made for dinner Sunday, was supposed to serve 4, but definitely came out to 6 servings (and I think I put in 1/2 the chicken it called for!). So that brings my per meal price down significantly. Here are the recipes and prices:

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