Archived entries for soup

Invent-A-Soup Sunday: Spicy Chicken Avocado Soup

I’ll admit, new posts have been a bit thin on the ground around here lately; chalk it up to Shiv and I trying to slog our way through The Winter That Refuses To Die™. However, today managed to surprise me with some morning sunbeams through my window, at which point I rolled out of bed in a panic and flung myself outdoors in an effort to catch a ray or two before they disappeared again. I am pleased to report that I had a solid 20 minutes of bona fide basking, and in my newly re-energized state, I decided that tonight would be a good night to invent a soup!

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When it comes to cooking something that I have not planned for in advance, I usually have trouble. This is because of two things: 1) I never seem to have anything to eat in my house aside from condiments, and 2) I live in a weird area where decent groceries are nowhere nearby, and the last thing I feel like doing on a lazy Sunday is schlepping on a subway down to Whole Foods. So, impromptu cooking? Not the easiest prospect, even though Invent-A-Dish is one of my favorite games in the world. Undaunted, I took stock of what was in my cupboards (some spices, some chicken stock, a can of corn, and some frozen chicken breasts from a trip to Costco a month ago) and walked a block over to a place that, although it has no meat or bakery or whatever, does tend to at least have some very basic produce (onions, garlic, an avocado, a handful of limes, some random dairy). Long story short, after blocking the aisles for far too long trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, I came home with exactly what I needed to invent a spicy soup that absolutely made my night.

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I will be completely modest at this point and just say one thing: this soup absolutely blew me away with awesome. The end result does what my favorite foods all do — hits flavor notes all over the place. Spice from the cayenne and chili, a deeper warmth from the cinnamon and cloves, a little salty, creamy, hot, cool, a little crunch, a citrus bite. Added bonus: it’s gorgeous. It also is a great example of what’s amazing about soup; the recipe is, at best, a suggestion. Sure, in this case it’s a strong suggestion, because yummmz, but you can swap anything in or out as you like, and chances are, it’ll still be pretty damn tasty. Another great thing about soup is that I totally have enough to store away for tomorrow…and you know it’s always better the next day.

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Baby, it’s cold outside: French Onion Soup

So, after merely toying with us for weeks, throwing in the odd tease of a cold day here and there, Mother Nature has decided to lower the boom: it’s flippin’ COLD outside in New York. It’s clear and sunny and bright, but cold. Of course, it’s December, so it’s to be expected (honestly–the tree at Rock Center goes up, the temperature goes down), but it seems a bit sudden. I was caught not unawares, but certainly unprepared.

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Note: I am always caught unprepared by winter, as my frozen toes, chapped lips, and frizzy hair will always attest. Also my sunny disposition.

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Fortunately for the aforementioned body parts and the population of the greater metropolitan area, with the cold winter comes a hero: soup. Delicious, hot soup of the sort that stitches body and soul together after a particularly unpleasant altercation with a biting wind. The sort of soup that I put together the other evening, in a fit of pique and fury at the frigid, mocking air. A soup that looks at winter with a knowing, Errol Flynn laugh; a soup that would probably make your stomach churn if the weather WEREN’T so cold. A perfect, sweet, French Onion soup.

It’s easier than you think! It’s also sweet, complex, and a wonderful way to spend a cold, cold afternoon. So the next time Mother Nature decides to get cranky, I highly recommend that you grab a chair and a good book, set up camp at your stove, and whip up a pot of this stuff–between the cozy afternoon and the bellyful of goodness, even a temper tantrum from Mother Nature won’t be able to get you down.

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I’m in it for the soup

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner last weekend. Well, half of it, at least: a huge bird (done simply, with butter on top and riesling in the pan) and a giant tray of stuffing studded with mushrooms and apples, crumbled cornbread, onions, and sage. It was for a series I’m writing for Serious Eats, and it was the first time I’ve entertained since starting my new job over there.

I have to say, as good as that turkey and stuffing was (and it was, especially the stuffing), I’m really in it for the soup. I started a huge stockpot full in the morning, tossing in a few extra turkey necks and legs, then adding the neck of the turkey I was roasting, and then, ultimately, adding the carcass of the roasted turkey to simmer away while we ate dessert. The secret to good stock is time, though I have discovered I also prefer it with a fair amount of celery and carrot in the mix.

Once I was stocked up with stock, I was armed for this week’s dinners. This easy, healthy soup is exactly what I needed (and exactly what we’ll all need post-Thanksgiving.) It’s as much greens as soup, with a shower of Parmesan on top. You could add white beans, or shredded leftover turkey, but it was wonderful without them.

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A Freezer Full of Soup: Pasta e Ceci

Fall gives us our kitchens back, makes us glad again that we can putter over our dutch ovens. When I was growing up, my mother made huge batches of soup to tide us over during the week, and to freeze for busy evenings. It’s such a good plan: homemade dinners in a snap, taking advantage of the time-economy of scale.

When things got busy for me this week, the answer was clearly soup. I made this recipe from Jamie’s Italy once before, and it’s hearty and satisfying, robust in the way you want fall food to be without being meaty. Homemade stock makes a difference—I guess it’s time to haul out the stockpot. Have any of you had success with slow-cooker stock?

Serve this soup with crusty bread and a salad full of bitter greens. If you have leftovers and don’t feel like more soup, you can cook it down a little and toss with pasta. A sprinkle of good grated parmigiano and a few twists of the pepper mill take it all the way home.

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Roasted tomato soup; or, Twitter is surprisingly useful.

I love my stand mixer.

I love it so much, I will go ahead and do something I almost never do, which is name-drop: Big Blue is a Kitchenaid. And I love it. I love it so much, that when the time came for me to invest in a food processor, I decided to stick with a name I knew, and buy a KitchenAid. Not blindly, mind you–I did my research, and ended up with a model that seemed to have garnered good reviews. I hemmed, and I hawed, and I gave in to the madness. And there was much rejoicing…

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…until I discovered that the dratted thing leaked like a motherfucker. By which I mean the whole business was not sufficiently substance-tight to make breadcrumbs, much less sauce or anything else interesting, without taking down the whole kitchen. Which I didn’t think was a particularly big deal (I have never been accused of being terrifically fastidious), until I tried making tomato soup for someone I was hoping to impress.

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Generally speaking, when I’m cooking a meal, I’d rather not wear it–nor do I want it to end up ALL OVER my worktop. Which, naturally, is exactly what happened, to my eternal chagrin and Peter’s sympathetic amusement. By the end of the night, I was mentally composing the hate mail I was going to write to KitchenAid chronicling the event–a letter that was probably far too satisfying to write. Then, after penning my email, I did what any self-respecting social media fiend would do: I tweeted it.

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Now here’s where it gets interesting. Not an hour after I posted that charming little message, I got a shout out from none other than @kitchenaid, inviting me to direct message with a customer service rep. Wholly unconvinced, I did as they suggested, figuring I had nothing to lose while waiting for a response from whomever ended up with the email I wrote. Imagine my surprise, gentle reader, when the mysterious person on the other end of that Twitter feed turned out to be both personable and genuinely helpful. By the end of the day, the lovely Cheryl had determined that it sounded like my bowl was, in fact, faulty, and that another one would be dispatched to me posthaste. It was amazing, particularly when compared with the utterly useless response I received to my email three days later, which was impersonal, kind of rude, and made it clear that my message hadn’t actually been read properly.

When I think about it, it makes perfect sense to use Twitter for customer service purposes–the public nature of it makes it easy to spot who is SERIOUSLY disgruntled (who else is going to bitch about their processor in that forum?), and equally easy to have the brief exchange necessary to sort out these kinds of problems. I’d just never seen it in action before. And I’ll say: I was impressed. I was impressed that KitchenAid had thought of this, and impressed that they actually decided to have useful customer service reps–the kind that ACTUALLY SOLVE PROBLEMS–manning the feed. Brilliant! And so, KitchenAid, I salute thee…at least until I need to avail myself of the system again.

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