Back to School

September 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

In high school I absolutely dreaded this time of year.  The last few days of summer always came too soon and the thought of having to wake up before 7 am five days a week again was just the worst.  Now though, I absolutely love the month of September. Fall signifies such a fresh start- an even fresher start than the new year, in my mind.  That never made sense to me.  What sense of renewal does January and the dead of winter bring? Fall is far superior.  As my friend Kate brilliantly stated last week, “It brings boots and soup!” What more could you want?

Here are some boots and soup I’m hoping to incorporate into my fall.  What’s on your list?

{Brown on Black}

{Shades of Gray}

{Blue Suede}

 {Corn Chowder- Recipe Here}

{Butternut Squash Soup- Recipe Here}

{Lentil Soup- Recipe Here}

Photo Credit 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

March 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

I make lots of lists.  I make lists of people I need to call and email. I make lists for books I’ve read and books I’d like to read.  I make lists to remind me to do things like buy draino and drop off my dry cleaning.  And I make lists of things I want to cook.  My “to cook” lists reminds that I want to make soft pretzels from scratch, that I have a leftover basil and I should make pesto with it, and that I should make particular dishes before a season ends.  If my OCD side has not yet been revealed to you, then there you have it.

On my list for a few weeks now has been a cream of wild mushroom soup from Smitten Kitchen.  I adore a decadent creamy soup, but am intrigued by any recipe that manages to make a soup rich without including a stick of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream.  Deb seemed to be on the same page in her post, so I was set on making her version.  Though the recipe calls for a cup of cream, with 6+ servings in one pot, I’d say that’s pretty lean.

With all the damp weather we had while I was home this weekend, this soup was the perfect antidote. We served it along side a roast chicken and simple salad.  I always opt to serve soup as the main course with bread and cheese on the side, but the roast chicken just felt so right.  Using the herbs the soup called for in the chicken too brought everything together.  One thing to note though, this soup is approximately 10 times better the next day. If making, I highly recommend making a day in advance and storing covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

Black Bean Soup Two Ways

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

My dad was raised (mostly) in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  To this day, there’s pretty much no place on earth he’d rather be than the desert, as he refers to it. Because of his career, he’s spent his adult life in NY, but he makes a point to get out west every year. Since we were babies my brother and I have tagged along, and subsequently have gotten to know this part of this country quite well. Along with that, has come an affinity for Mexican food.  

I’m slowly expanding my experience in Mexican cooking.  Black bean soup is an perfect place to start because it’s not too challenging, yet as a dish it still hits all the traditional Mexican flavors. I’ve made the following recipe twice.  The first time with canned beans, and the second with dried beans. Dried beans will create a thicker soup, and you can simply add more broth to thin it out. However, when serving this soup as leftovers, I found it had thickened even more, so I served it more as a thick bean stew over polenta.  Both versions are wonderful.  The second is a bit more time consuming, while the first can we whipped up in minutes for a easy weeknight meal.

Black Bean Soup with Cumin and Jalapeno adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 chopped jalapeño chile with seeds (makes a spicy soup, use less to decrease heat)

2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained

1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp salt

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, corn, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, serve with grated sharp cheddar, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime.

Polenta Version:  Rinse 2 cups dried beans, cover with water, and soak overnight.  Drain the beans, return to pot, cover with 2 inches of water.  Add in 4 whole cloves of garlic and 1 tsp salt.  Simmer beans partially covered over medium low heat for an hour to an hour and a half, until tender.  Drain beans and set aside.  Commence recipe outlined above. While the soup is simmering, bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Once boiling, pour in 1 cup cornmeal, whisking continuously so clumps don’t form.  Cook polenta over medium heat, whisking consistently for 6-8 minutes. Season with 1/4 milk, salt, and pepper.  Spoon polenta into bowls, pour serve over, and garnish with cilantro, extra jalapenos, and crumbled feta (cheddar would work too).  Serve immediately.

Clam Chowder

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, I was pulling open the curtains in our bedroom, and realized one of the panels was stuck to the window.  It was actually frozen to the window.  What?? How?? Where was the water coming from? I proceeded to feel around the window, only to discover the entire ledge at the bottom of the window was encased in ice.  The truly crazy part of this whole situation is the fact that our apartment building was built in 2007, and this is the kind of insulation we get?

So yeah, it’s definitely cold.  But I really shouldn’t complain, as my mother informed me yesterday morning that it was  -10 degrees in NY,  so this 25 degree weather we’re getting in DC is quite balmy in comparison.  I don’t mind the weather too much, it just leads me to spend most of my time holed up in my apartment.. being rather antisocial.  So instead of getting out I’m staying in, lighting candles, jacking up the heat, and making soup- chowder to be exact.  This was a first for me, and quite a success.  Brandon deemed it to be one of his favorite dishes I ever made.  I can’t take all the credit though, it’s a Ina dish of course.  But I did make a few small tweaks which I think add great flavor to this chowder, I strongly urge you to incorporate them.

East Hampton Clam Chowder from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves 6-8

I followed Ina’s recipe to a T, but made the following additions:

  • Begin the soup by sauteeing 2 slices of diced thick cut bacon for 5 minutes, until slightly crispy.  Then add in the onions and 1 T butter.  Due to the bacon fat, I omitted 3 T of butter.
  • To finish the soup, add in 5 dashes of Tobasco and 2 T of Worcestershire sauce
  • Serve with a sprinkling of parsley, adds great color and freshness

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