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Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

butternutsweetpotatosoup6I was gluttonous this weekend. Like the many other people in the US, I spent Sunday night watching TV and eating classic Super Bowl foods. I had a chicken finger sub, nachos with sour cream and guacamole, potato chips, and tall silver cans of Sixpoint Sweet Action. This would have been a fine exception to my usual diet, but on Friday, I had a meal at Do or Dine that involved deep-fried deviled eggs and a foie gras doughnut (a classic sugar doughnut from Dough filled with fruit preserves and foie gras).

The weekend was worth every bite, but my body is sluggish and swollen. I need to clean up my diet with home-cooked meals that cut down on dairy and bread, and I’m starting with a butternut squash and sweet potato soup that’s full of pureed vegetables. (Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds.) I made a big pot of it Sunday afternoon before Super Bowl festivities began for quick, healthy dinners this week.

butternutsweetpotatosoup1The squash and potatoes are naturally sweet, and once they combined with carrots, celery, onion, and a quart of low-sodium vegetable broth, they simmered into a rich, dairy-free soup. Continue Reading →

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Fall Vegetable Soup

In an effort to save money, I’ve made a bold commitment: I’m cutting out restaurants for the rest of 2012. Exceptions will be made for social engagements, cheap lunch salads, and a standing Takeout Thursday tradition, but gone are the days of dining out. I can’t justify spending $70 on dinner for two at a local Mexican place (although margaritas may constitute half the bill) while produce rots in the fridge.

It’s easy to bring myself to cook on weeknights when I’m still in work mode, but weekends are tough. Saturdays and Sundays used to be a series of takeout lunches and restaurant dinners, but now I’m making soup. One large pot of soup on Friday night will last Ramsey and I through lunch on Sunday with supplements of bread, crackers, or grated cheese along the way. We don’t need to worry about cooking again until Sunday night.

I made a Fall Vegetable Soup this past weekend with butternut squash, parsnips, zucchini, carrots, spinach, and onions with a few sprigs of thyme. It only cost $23 for supplies (including two boxes of store-bought vegetable broth), so if you estimate $10 per person for lunch and $25 per person for dinner throughout the weekend, that’s a savings of $117.

It was cheap and it taste pretty damn good. Continue Reading →

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Miso Soup with Tofu and Soba

We have entered soup season. It runs from December to late March —not quite coinciding with winter — and overlaps most of hot tea season, which, as we all know, runs from November until the rainy end of April. Once the sun comes out, so do the ice cubes.

Soup season is a time to slow down and gather your friends, because really, are you going to eat an entire pot of soup alone? You could freeze it for later, but it’s not as fun. One of my favorite soup memories is a miso and tempura party at my friend Allie’s house in late high school (or was it early college?). We got together in her kitchen one afternoon and chopped up mountains of vegetables, mixed up tempura batter, and took turns tossing carrots and mushrooms into a hot wok. Sarah kept an eye on the oil temperature and cooled the tempura batter with ice cubes while someone prepped a big pot of miso soup on the stove. Teamwork.

I didn’t have any extra sets of hands when I made a quick pot of miso soup last weekend, but I did share it with Ramsey when it was done. Before I share the recipe though, let me fess up to something: Continue Reading →

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A Return to the Kitchen: Beef Stew

I’ve abandoned this blog and my kitchen for far too long. The spring and summer were a blur of wedding planning, work, and social events with little time left for making interesting meals from scratch. I was also trying to drop a few pounds for my wedding day, so I spent most of May and June eating salads, lean proteins, and not much else. They didn’t make for prime blogging material. “Bake the chicken breast at 350° for thirty minutes and you’re done! Pair with a lightly-dressed salad and repeat all steps, every night until you might strangle the next person you see with a burger and fries.”

With wedding planning over and most food groups reincorporated into my diet, I’ve returned to the kitchen inspired by a boatload of new kitchen gadgets and cookware from our fabulous wedding guests and a desire to improve my rusty cooking skills. The first major dish I made was a beef stew based on Alice Water’s recipe in The Art of Simple Food. I spent a Sunday afternoon chopping carrots and potatoes, browning beef, and taking swigs of the red wine that would be used to deglaze the bottom of the pan. The apartment was filled with the glorious smell of slow-cooking meat and I was reminded of everything I’d been missing for the past few months. Continue Reading →

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Recipe Rookie: Carrot Soup

carrot1

After a weekend of parties, movies, and a trip to Teddy Roosevelt’s house in Oyster Bay, I spent Monday winding things down and preparing for the week. As I was cleaning items out of the refrigerator in the morning, I discovered that I had a pound of unused carrots on the bottom shelf. I turned to the New York Times’ Recipes for Health, where recipes are broken down by main ingredient and, as the title of the website section suggests, they’re good for you.

A pureed carrot soup looked like a perfect option. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and other than peeling and chopping two pounds of carrots, preparation was simple. You can find the recipe here and some photos from my adventure after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Leftover Dumpling Soup

I did some dumpling-related freelance writing recently and was left with an abundance of the pork and mushroom variety when I was done. After enjoying a dozen dipped in soy sauce, I decided to make a simple dumpling soup with shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and scallions. This is a perfect meal to make if you have leftover dumplings that you’ve made yourself or that you have in the fridge from your most recent Chinese food delivery. The best part is that it only takes fifteen minutes to make. Continue Reading →

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Sunday Soups

I’ve spent the past two Sundays making variations on Alice Waters’ Minestrone Soup, outlined in her invaluable book The Art of Simple Food. It’s a straightforward recipe that gives you the freedom to improvise based on what’s available at the farmers’ market that day. Making soup from scratch also serves as a wonderful escape on a cold Sunday afternoon. Putting on headphones and catching up on podcasts while cutting vegetables lets you forget about impending elections and financial chaos for a little while. Continue Reading →