Sopa de Pollo

Sopa de PolloEverybody has a favorite chicken soup recipe—until very recently, the Chicken Noodle Soup in the archives was mine. I still love that soup (I feel less affection for those horrible photos), but now that I’ve started making this Sopa de Pollo, it’s going to have to settle for being my second favorite.

It seems harsh—pushing aside a recipe I’ve loved for years in favor one that I started making on a whim last fall—but my version of this Mexican chicken soup is so easy, healthy, and deeply delicious that I’m only sorry I didn’t find it sooner.

Sopa de PolloThis Sopa de Pollo is adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe. I saw her version a couple of years ago and then totally forgot about it until I was standing in the produce section of the grocery store a couple of months ago with no idea of what I wanted to make for the week. A quick Google search for Mexican-style chicken soup recipes led me back to Molly’s recipe, and now I’ve spent two months tweaking it and serving it as much as possible. Really. I’ve made it twice at my day job, once for my parents, another time for my little sister, and three more times just for me. I may or may not have a whole batch in the freezer right now. That may seem a little extreme for something I just started making a couple of months ago, but it’s just. that. good.

Sopa de Pollo

So, what makes this soup so outstanding? Well, for one, it only takes an hour start-to-finish. If that doesn’t have you putting ingredients on your grocery list, I don’t know what will. Speed isn’t everything though—let’s talk flavor.

Sopa de PolloSopa de Pollo

The broth here is flavored with a 1/2 bunch of whole cilantro sprigs and a handful of fresh mint leaves, in addition to the chicken and a good pinch of salt. The herbs soften and add incredible depth of flavor as they cook. There’s no need to remove them after cooking either, but you absolutely may if you’d like; just tie the herbs together with twine before you drop them into the pot, and lift them out with tongs when you’re done.

Sopa de Pollo

This Sopa de Pollo is chock full of vegetables, too. You’ll find big chunks of carrot, celery, onion, and zucchini in this soup, in addition to crushed whole garlic cloves and chayote. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mild-flavored gourd that looks like this:

Sopa de Pollo

I find chayote at a regular supermarket, but if you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, feel free to leave it out. My sisters would tell you to swap it for corn. For that matter, you can add or subtract any vegetables you want here—make the soup you want to eat, y’all!

Sopa de Pollo

Take my favorite and make it yours.Sopa de Pollo

Sopa de Pollo
lightly adapted from Orangette
makes about 6-8 servings

3 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken pieces (I use chicken breasts, thighs, or a combination)
2 quarts chicken stock
4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium white onion, diced large
2 medium zucchini, quartered, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 chayote, peeled, seed removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch cilantro
leaves from 4 sprigs of mint
Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Combine chicken pieces and stock in a stockpot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, chayote, garlic, cilantro, and mint leaves. Once the soup returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove pot from heat and use tongs to fish out chicken pieces.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones and tear the meat into large pieces. Return meat to the pot. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.

Serve in shallow bowls. Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Sopa de Pollo

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsMy sister, Eliot, arrived at my apartment Wednesday morning, fresh off a flight from India. She was super jet-lagged (hey there, 11.5 hour time difference!), but stayed mostly-awake while I baked these Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits. Once I was done photographing them, I gave her one to try, and all she could say was “mmmm.” It could have been because all she’d eaten for the previous two weeks was Indian food or that all biscuits are wonderful or that she was half-asleep at the time…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…but probably not, because I was doing the exact same thing. These cheese biscuits, y’all. They’re my favorite soup side.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

They first came to be a couple of Oscar Nights ago when I made them to go with a batch of Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. Those biscuits (and Leo’s win!) were thebest things to happen that night, and I’ve been toying with their formula ever since. The resulting biscuits are flaky and buttery with a warm, salty, spicy, slightly-funky flavor that is everything you could want on a cold winter’s night.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Oh, and they’re super easy to make. I mean, if you turn on the oven now, you can have a batch of warm biscuits in about 40 minutes. Just combine some flour, cornstarch, a touch of sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…and add some freshly grated parmesan. If you don’t want to shell out for Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is less expensive and works just as well.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Cut in some cold butter and fold in buttermilk until a dough forms. Pat it out and fold it a few times to build some layers.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Use a round biscuit cutter or a sharp chef’s knife to cut biscuits. Place them close together on a parchment-lined pan and brush a little more buttermilk on the tops.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Then bake ‘em until they’re golden on top, light and tender in the centers, and singing you their cheesy siren song.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Trust me, you won’t be able to resist.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
3/4-1 cup buttermilk, very cold

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in grated parmesan. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.

Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary. For more tips on folding, see here.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.

Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupAs is my tradition, for the next three or four weeks, this baking blog will be a little light on the sweets and treats. It’s not that I don’t love making them anymore—that’s definitely not the case!—it’s just that I need to eat some non-sugary, non-flour-based food.

I mean, I ate vegetables over the holidays. But I also ate bread, cheese, chocolate covered pecans, a small slice of Chocolate Cream Pie, a not-small slice of Vanilla Layer Cake, my friend David’s wicked-good habanero cheese grits, a Bavarian Ham Sandwich that was basically the best thing I’ve ever eaten, a peanut butter cookie that was delightfully crumbly and tasted sort of like bacon (?), a Costco croissant that I enjoyed more than I’d like to admit, and fudge. So much fudge. Why did nobody tell me how good fudge is?!

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupUm…all that is to say, I need to eat some real food. That doesn’t mean a month of boring recipes though—boring doesn’t fly around here. Nope.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupFirst up is this Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. It’s a wintertime favorite of mine, and almost everyone I make it for asks for the recipe. I’ve made it three times since Thanksgiving and went to a dinner party where it was served. What I’m saying is that once you try this soup, you’re going to want to make it again and again.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupBeyond being hearty and full of vegetables, Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup is way easy and comes together in under an hour. Just brown the sausage and add some mirepoix (fancy French word for carrot/celery/onion) and garlic. Throw in some tomato paste, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and chicken stock before stirring in two cans of cannellini beans, some torn kale and a little parsley.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupThat’s it. Super easy. Pretty good for you too.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupSo easy and so good for you, in fact, that you’ll have time to make and batch of Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits and won’t feel too bad about eating two of them. That recipe will be up Friday!Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup
makes 3 quarts, 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into thin half-moons
3 stalks celery, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
4 cups chicken stock
2-4 cups water (as needed)
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cleaned, stems removed and torn into pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher or sea salt to taste, if needed

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. Transfer cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot.

Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until starting to soften (about 8-10 minutes). Return sausage to the pan, add tomato paste and stir to coat. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until tomato paste begins to darken. Add bay leaves, thyme, optional red pepper flakes, chicken stock, and enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Remove bay leaves. Add beans and kale and let cook 5-7 more minutes, until greens have wilted a bit. Stir in parsley. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve.

Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI figure you’ve all got your Thanksgiving menus nailed down by now, but can I just suggest one more thing? Just one?

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadOkay, good.

You don’t want to miss these Spicy Cheddar Shortbread. They’re the slice-and-bake cheese plate addition that you didn’t know you needed. But make no mistake, you do.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadYou may not need them on Thursday (because you probably have it all together and have already started making your cornbread and rough puff–you’re totally killing this Thanksgiving business 🙌🏻), but sometime between now and January 2nd, you’re going to be very happy you have this recipe in your back pocket.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI mean, these savory shortbread are basically cheese crackers for adults. They’re crispy and light-textured with a full-bodied cheddar flavor because, unlike the cheese crackers you can buy at the grocery store, these guys are made with real cheese. Oh, and on top of all that, the dough comes together in five minutes in the food processor.

You’re welcome.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThis dough really couldn’t be simpler. Start by grating half a pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadPut some flour, black pepper, cayenne, and salt in a food processor.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThrow the cheese in there and pulse everything into a rubble.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar ShortbreadAdd some cold butter and a teaspoon of mustard…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand process it until it’s dough.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadForm it into logs, wrap it in plastic, and give it a chill. Then slice…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand bake.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadMaybe serve them next to a big pile of apple slices, just to be extra seasonal. Or maybe put them on a cheese plate. I’m gonna do that for aaaallllllll the holiday parties.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadBut I’m also going to pile them in a jar and eat them by their lonesome because they’re so good, they don’t need any accoutrements. I suggest you do the same.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadHappy Thanksgiving, dear readers 💗

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar Shortbread
makes about 4 dozen shortbread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
8 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard

Combine flour, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter, cheddar, and mustard, and process until a dough ball forms. Divide dough in half and form into two 8-inch logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place at least an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden at the edges. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Shortbread are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

Palmiers, Two Ways

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers (you might know them as “Elephant Ears”) are a simple pastry made by rolling a thin layer of filling into a sheet of flaky pastry dough. If you’re anything like me, you spent way too much of the early 2000s watching Ina Garten make them on the Food Network.

Palmiers, Two WaysThe whole appeal of palmiers is that they’re stupid easy and make you look like you know things about French pastry. It’s super common to use frozen puff pastry for palmiers–Ina does it, and until a couple of weeks ago, that’s all I’d ever used too. After using a sheet of rough puff pastry leftover from making Maple Pear Tarts though, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using the packaged stuff. I mean, look at these layers 😍

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysYou can certainly use frozen puff pastry (preferably the all-butter stuff) for today’s recipes, but I encourage you to try your hand at making rough puff. Pastry is intimidating to many home cooks, but this one is about as easy as if gets. As I said a couple of weeks ago, it’s easier than pie dough.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysThe possibilities for filling are nearly endless. Since the pastry doesn’t contain any sugar on its own, it works well with both sweet and savory fillings. Basically, if it can be spread or scattered, it can almost certainly be rolled into a palmier. I mean, if you play your cards right, you can start and end your meal with these elegant little pastries.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysIf you’re looking for a way to spice up your Turkey Day hors d’oeuvres spread, look no further than my Spinach Artichoke Palmiers. They’re filled with a slightly deconstructed version of my mom’s Artichoke Dip: a slick of mayonnaise, some chopped artichokes, and grated parmesan. I added spinach to bulk them up a bit, but you can leave it out if you like. I might swap it for chopped green chilies next time.

Palmiers, Two WaysAs far as dessert goes, I love the idea of serving a plate of Pumpkin Palmiers alongside a pot of coffee. And pie.

Palmiers, Two WaysWhat?! It’s Thanksgiving. It’s a two-dessert day. Three, if you count the Apple Cider Coffee Cake that you absolutely should make for breakfast. Anyway…

Palmiers, Two WaysPumpkin Palmiers are filled with a very pared down version of pumpkin pie filling: a light brushing of butter, pumpkin purée, three tablespoons of light brown sugar, and some pumpkin pie spice. Mix everything up and spread it all over the pastry.

Palmiers, Two WaysRoll up the dough and give it a chill.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysSlice up the palmiers and give them a quick brush with milk and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.

Palmiers, Two WaysIf you’re making the Spinach Artichoke version, swap the sugar for parmesan–toasty cheese, y’all 🙌🏻🙌🏻

Palmiers, Two WaysNo matter which kind of palmiers you’re making, the baking process is the same. Let them go for ten minutes at 400F. Flip them over, brush them with more milk and sprinkle on more coarse sugar (or cheese). Let them bake for ten more minutes and then, well…

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysThis is the part where you pretend you know things about French pastry.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysAnd I mean, after making palmiers from scratch, you sort of do.
Palmiers, Two Ways

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysSpinach Artichoke Palmiers {Elephant Ears}
makes about 1.5 dozen small pastries

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the palmiers:
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 cup grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese, divided
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons milk

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the palmiers. Line a plate with paper towels. Drain artichoke hearts and transfer to a cutting board. Blog with paper towels. Slice them in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Place thawed chopped spinach in the center of a clean hand towel. Working over a bowl or sink, gather the edges of the towel and wring out all the excess water from the spinach. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Spread mayonnaise onto the dough, leaving a thin border on the edges. Scatter artichoke hearts and spinach over the top, followed by 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper. Working with one side at a time, tightly roll the two long sides of the dough toward each other until they meet in the middle. Carefully wrap the long tube of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Remove filled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and transfer to a cutting board. Blocking the end with your fingers or a bench scraper (so no filling gets out), use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough in 1/2-inch slices and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 10 minutes. Flip palmiers with a spatula, brush with more milk and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan on a rack before removing to a serving plate. Palmiers are best the day they are made.

Pumpkin Palmiers {Elephant Ears}
makes about 1.5 dozen small pastries

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the palmiers:
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I used turbinado)

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the palmiers. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together pumpkin purée, light brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Brush dough with butter. Spread pumpkin filling onto the dough, leaving a thin border on the edges. Working with one side at a time, tightly roll the two long sides of the dough toward each other until they meet in the middle. Carefully wrap the long tube of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Remove filled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and transfer to a cutting board. Blocking the end with your fingers or a bench scraper (so no filling gets out), use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough in 1/2-inch slices and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 10 minutes. Flip palmiers with a spatula, brush with more milk and sprinkle with more coarse sugar. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan on a rack before removing to a serving plate. Palmiers are best the day they are made.