Two Cheese-Broccoli Soup

Staffordshire CALICO blue plate and bowl

Sometimes I know a couple of weeks ahead what’s coming up on the blog. Occasionally I even cook, write a recipe, take photos, and keep a post for the next season. For the last year, however, I have mostly begun working on the next week’s food within a day or two of the last post, photographing, writing, editing, and rewriting right up until my usual, but occasionally fluctuating deadline. In this case, the “Frozen Bailey’s Mochaccino” (Did you make it?!) wasn’t dry on the page before I was making this soup. I was interested in and then thoroughly inspired by a post of Nigella Lawson’s, “Broccoli and Stilton Soup” on twitter. (I’ve just looked back at it and see she’s even encouraged readers to use whatever cheeses they have on hand — just as I do here! Great minds think alike ūüėČ ) There was literally and figuratively a bunch of broccoli in the fridge and broccoli cheese soup of some sort, if not totally blue-cheesy, was sounding good for Meatless Monday. Well, the soup was grand if I do say so myself. I even had the recipe written and some decent photos in the can. I did, however, forget to note a couple of key elements like the weight of the broccoli, for instance. Hello, honey!! No choice: I re-ordered the ingredients, made the soup a second time (now as a first course before mushroom pork chops on date night), followed my own recipe weighing everything, and got it all straight for you.

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Tomato-Chickpea Salad

If the goal of feeding folks in the summer is to keep the cooking and the heat at a minimum, I’m in. As my friend Jodie says, “I turn into a troll when the temperature gets above 65 degrees F.” Even it it’s not terribly hot outdoors — or is, in fact, lovely — my house seems to turn into a hot box on June 1 every year. Of course that’s just one reason Americans grill (the contemporary version of the separate summer kitchen) and eat outdoors anytime we can. The other is we’re inordinately attached to kicking back for three months every year. Or we say we are anyway.

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INSTANT POT: Cream of Pea Soup with Mint, Scallions, and Sharp Cheddar

                   Stove top version included in the printable recipe below.

A few years ago, next-door neighbor Mike brought over a big dish of peas with pearl onions and fresh mint for the Easter potluck (he did that again this year as peas and mint–mushy or not– are a standout comfort spring bonus with lamb) and Easter Monday I discovered he’d left a big bagful in my fridge. It seemed time for some sort of pea soup and you’ll find that post here.  I loved that soup to death, but had sort of forgotten about it in the interim. It wasn’t split pea, though it might have been its third cousin twice removed.  Not dark and smokey with bacon, nor a homey thick, tummy full soup you’d want in the thick of winter, this was pea soup gone light and bright–and it was a gorgeous hue. (What are mushy peas?)

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Pasta Primavera Soup (Spring Vegetable Soup with Pasta)

If you’re lucky enough to live in places where spring vegetables were planted weeks ago, you could already have a crop of spinach or green onions or asparagus. Our past-frost date in Colorado Springs hasn’t yet arrived; it’s June 1 – June 10. For the first time, I’ve snuck a few things in early, but am nightly ready to rush out to bring pots in or run into the yard like a crazy woman throwing blankets over newly-planted beds. ¬†(We have upcoming lows of 32 F this week, for instance.)

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Meatless Mondays: Lentil and Wild Rice Salad with Poached Eggs

Despite the fact that I’m a vegetable-crazy person,¬†I often forget to put up a post for Meatless Mondays. ¬†I nearly always eat vegetables with eggs or, more often with egg whites, (the dogs get the yolks) for breakfast…

Above: Sauté spinach a minute or two in a teaspoon or two olive oil in a small, nonstick skillet with a little red onion or shallot, crack egg whites only (2-3) evenly on top, season with salt and pepper, and cover, cooking until whites are opaque. Garnish with salsa.   

…but rarely write a recipe or post as the meals seem so simple–like the egg white and spinach omelet above.

Here are a few I have written and posted:

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Late Summer Vegetable Tortellini Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

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As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply¬†makes this meal. Continue reading

Puy Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad with Mustard and Thyme

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Yesterday as I thought about what dinner might bring, I kept going back to some salmon fillets I had squirreled away in the freezer. ¬†The weather had warmed up — no snow except on the Peak — and grilling was back online. Note sun on the lentils….

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There was also a pound of fat asparagus waiting for its dip in the olive oil bath before grilling (contrary to popular opinion thicker asparagus has more taste than the skinny variety), but as good as all that sounded, I thought there was something missing. ¬†A bed for the protein to rest in, so to speak. We were hungry, for goodness sake. ¬†We needed something that would make for another night’s meal all by itself or for a couple of lunches, but that would cushion the blow of the salmon on the plate.¬† Continue reading

Spinach Omelet with Tomatoes, Mozzarella Balls, and Olives… … … … … … … …Or A Baker’s Dozen Egg Dishes for Fast Dinners

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If I had to come up with a cooking mantra from friends, family, students, and neighbors, it could very well be,

I just don’t have time to cook.

Sometimes that makes sense to me. Like I’m in the middle of cleaning out closets, in a frenzied rush to pack and leave for a trip, or between a deadline, picking someone up from the airport, and a trip to the movies. ¬†Ok, I’ll have some cheese and crackers. Tuna out of a can. Slice an apple.

But when I take this little meme and run with it, I come away with the knowledge that includes visions of lives running and running on empty or on the fast track without a centered vision of what it means to live in a home. ¬†Kind of like we run around a lot because we can. ¬†We watch cooking on tv, talk “Chopped” with our spouses, and then refuse to grocery shop because it takes too much time. ¬†Don’t set the table and, instead, eat standing up dropping cracker crumbs in the sink.

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Do we really have so much to do that we don’t want to feed ourselves well and healthily? ¬†It’s a question for which there’s no answer. Work triumphs. Health and emotional well-being suffers. Soccer, tv, and the computer win. ¬†Laughter, easy talk, difficult conversations, and connections around the table are lessened. Rather sad. Continue reading

Butternut Squash-Wild Rice Soup

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above: soup without half and half

If you’re a soup cookbook writer, you¬†probably love soup. I love soup.¬†I’m seldom happier than when I’m heating up a kettle while chopping a big pile of vegetables. ¬†Perhaps I’m happier at the table with a hot bowl and a cold class of wine or driving home knowing there’s a big pot of soup in the fridge making me feel rich. I don’t know. ¬†

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above: Vegetable soup was a puréed delight at a street cafe in Dubrovnik, Croatia last month

Coming up with a new soup happens in one of many different ways. Maybe there’s ¬†something on sale I drag home or someone somewhere has a special dietary need. I might be watching my weight. Perhaps someone leaves garden bounty on my front porch. ¬†Could be my sister’s in town and I’m cooking for her. More than once a freezer’s had to be cleaned out and some meat has to be cooked. Whatever happens, however it happens, a big pot of goodness somehow takes shape and comes to the bowl making us happy, healthy, and wondering where it came from. It’s a gift. That’s for sure.

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above: my Guacamole Soup with Grilled Shrimp from the soup book–made for my sister’s visit

Come fall, I’m nuts about winter squash. I’m always looking for something to do with it. Something new. Or old again. I also have a heart for wild rice–which is not really rice, but a water-grown grass– having lived in Minnesota. ¬†Somehow, last week, needing a big pot of vegetarian soup for a church meeting (someone else was making a soup with meat), I kept thinking of butternut squash and I kept thinking of wild rice. I wasn’t sure how the two would come together, but I knew somehow it would work.

While this soup is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free for Meatless Mondays, it’s easily vegan (see notes to the sides of ingredients in recipe) or made with meat (cook’s notes.) Make it how you’d like. It’s good with or without half and half and, if you’d like a little smoother soup, pur√©e a few cups and add them back into the broth at the end of the cooking time.

WILD RICE INFO:

Wild Rice is actually an acquatic grass and is the official state grain of Minnesota. Please buy Native-American grown, hand-harvested rice to support this important mid-west and Canadian industry. If it’s not available in your grocery, drive to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, or Canada and buy some! It’s worth the trip. Or ask your grocer to carry it. Why not? ¬†Otherwise,¬†order on line. ¬†

What Native-American rice growers say…

‚ÄúManoomin, or wild rice is a gift given to the Anishinaabek from the Creator, and is a centerpiece of the nutrition and sustenance for our community. In the earliest of teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food which grows upon the water, the food, the ancestors were told to find, then we would know when to end our migration to the west. It is this profound and historic relationship which is remembered in the wild rice harvest on the White Earth and other reservations-a food which is uniquely ours, and a food, which is used in our daily lives, our ceremonies, and our thanksgiving feasts.‚Ä̬†¬†From¬†www.saveourwildrice.com.

Wild rice is a nutritional bonanza:

Wild rice¬†is also a great source of folate, manganese, zinc, and iron, which is great for¬†gluten-free¬†eaters and grain-free¬†eaters who don’t get those nutrients in typical grains like oats, rye,¬†wheat, and other types of grains like brown¬†rice.

onegreenplanet.org

IMG_1962above: soup with half and half Continue reading