Category Archives: soup

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupOver the past couple of years, I’ve learned that a shocking number of people I know and love don’t know how to make one of the simplest recipes in the wide world: Grilled Cheese. It’s not because they’re incapable in the kitchen—it’s just that nobody ever taught them how to make it so that the bread cooks and the cheese melts at similar rates, and the butter doesn’t blacken and smoke up the house.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupLuckily (maybe?), they’re friends with me, a person who will make them a grilled cheese in the moment and then spend four months dwelling on the (non-)event until the middle of January when she decides to write a blog post about the whole (inconsequential) thing. And that’s how we got here. Luckily. Maybe.

Anyway…Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupI make Grilled Cheese for dinner at least once a week because a) it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it too hard, and b) I always have sandwich bread, butter and some sort of melting cheese (usually extra sharp cheddar). It only takes a couple of minutes to butter two pieces of bread and layer cheese in the middle. You’ll notice I don’t use sliced cheese here—that’s simply because I prefer to buy the brick and slice it myself. Do whatever works for you, with the exception of pre-shredded cheese because it’s coated in an anti-caking agent that prevents proper melting. You do not want to impede proper melting on a Grilled Cheese!Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupAs far as cooking goes, I think it’s a pretty human thing to want to cook crispy foods over the highest heat for a couple of minutes, but when it comes to Grilled Cheese (and so many other things), it’s best to ignore that thought, turn down the flame and take your time. Whereas 3-4 minutes over high will yield cold cheese between burnt slices of bread, 7-8 over medium-low will give you perfect melted cheese and buttery, golden edges every time. Those extra four minutes make all the difference in the world.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupBoom! That’s all you need to know to make a basic Grilled Cheese. You can change up the cheese and bread depending on your mood, but as long as you butter the outsides of the bread instead of melting butter in the skillet and cook things low and slow, you will always have perfect Grilled Cheese.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupAnd what’s Grilled Cheese without Tomato Soup? This combination is a classic for a reason—the tang of tomato pairs perfectly with the rich, cheesy, crispy sandwich, making for a simple, satisfying meal.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupAs with Grilled Cheese, my go-to Tomato Soup recipe is easy as can be. Whole peeled tomatoes are crushed by hand, then simmered in vegetable stock with carrots, onion, garlic, tomato paste and spices before being puréed until velvety smooth. Easy peasy.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupTwo things to note:

• I prefer to use canned whole peeled tomatoes instead of fresh. This is for a few reasons, but mainly because canned tomatoes give consistently delicious results. I love fresh tomatoes, but they are only in season for a few months of the year and January isn’t one of them.
• You’ll notice I like to add a pinch of baking soda at the end of cooking to neutralize some of the acidity, but you may also use a teaspoon of sugar or honey. Whatever works for you.Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupSo there you have it—one of the simplest meals in the world, explained. Maybe you knew all this or maybe you didn’t. Either way, I hope you treat yourself this weekend. I know we could all use some comfort. No “maybe” about it.Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices sandwich bread (I like Dave’s Killed Bread White Bread Done Right)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
small pinch of salt, if using unsalted butter
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar or other melting cheese, thinly sliced

Spread 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter over one side of each piece of sandwich bread. If using unsalted butter, sprinkle butter with a small pinch of salt.

Turn 2 pieces of bread plain-side-up. Lay sliced cheese evenly over each plain side. Top cheese with remaining pieces of bread, buttered-side-up, so that the buttered sides of each slice of bread are on the outsides of the sandwiches.

Heat a medium-large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add sandwiches and let cook, without moving or squishing, until they are golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and let cook, without moving or squishing, until they are golden on the other side, about 3-4 more minutes.

Serve immediately, with tomato soup (recipe below), if desired.

Tomato Soup
makes about 4 servings

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-large Spanish onion, diced
3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled & sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or a pinch of ground cayenne)
4 cups vegetable stock (I use Better than Bouillon)
small pinch of baking soda or teaspoon of sugar, optional
chopped parsley, optional

Place tomatoes and any liquid in a mixing bowl. Use your clean hands to crush the tomatoes. Set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and pinch of salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes, until onion is starting to turn translucent but nothing has browned. Add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until starting to darken.

Stir in red pepper flakes, hand-crushed tomatoes & their liquid, followed by vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 20-25 minutes, until carrots have softened.

Purée soup with a hand blender. Alternatively, let hot soup cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a high-powered blender and puréeing. Be careful, as hot liquids expand during blending.

Taste soup and add salt as desired. If soup is too acidic, stir in a small pinch of baking soda or a teaspoon of sugar. Garnish with parsley and serve, with Grilled Cheese (recipe above) if desired.

Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato SoupGrilled Cheese & Tomato SoupGrilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}

Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}Although I have never publicized it this way, I have privately referred to this time of my blogging year as “Savory January” for some time now. You see, every January since starting this site, I (mostly) switch focus from sweets to weeknight meals, sides and other savory pursuits. It’s not for weight loss, “cleansing” or any reason beyond keeping things interesting—I cook as much as I bake, and those recipes deserve their moment in the blogging sun, too. Is switching up my blog POV for one month a year weird? Sure. But I like variety, and also this is my website and I can do what I want.Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}Pasta e Fagioli has been one of my favorite recipes for years and years. At its most basic, it’s a vegetable soup with pasta and beans, but it’s so much more! It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s hearty, and it’s dang delicious. Oh, and it’s vegetarian—vegan without the cheese, gluten-free depending what kind of pasta you use. Yesssss.Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}I made this Italian staple all the time when I first moved to NYC, but moved on to other things because that’s just how cooking goes for me. I make something regularly for a few weeks/months/years and then I completely forget about it for a few more weeks/months/years. In this case, I remembered Pasta e Fagioli on the last night of our Maine trip this past October. We had some produce to use up, and we had some tomato paste, beans (aka fagioli), pasta and cheese ends lingering…and well, when life gives you lemons, you know.

Long story short, I used up ingredients, was able to feed my people in under an hour start-to-finish and also became obsessed with Pasta e Fagioli again. We’ve been back in Brooklyn for three months and I’m still over here making this every couple of weeks. The heart wants what it wants.Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}Making Pasta e Fagioli is super simple and you probably have most of the ingredients already. The method is nearly identical fo the way I make Sausage, White Bean & Kale Soup because why fix what isn’t broken?

Start by cooking the mirepoix (French term for carrot, celery & onion) for about ten minutes. You’re not going to get any color on it, but this is where the flavor building begins. Add some garlic, and then coat it all in tomato paste and let it caramelize for a few minutes. Add some herbs (fresh or dried), vegetable stock and water, and let that all simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft. Finish it all off with a couple of cans of white beans and a bunch of kale (or any hearty green) and let them warm through, then combine the soup with cooked pasta in individual soup bowls. All that’s left to do is grate some parm over the top and call it dinner.Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}If you’re wondering why I cook the pasta separately from the rest of the soup, it’s because I’m a single lady who eats a lot of leftovers and hates mushy pasta. I do this with chicken noodle soup as well—by keeping the two components separate, the pasta doesn’t overcook or get waterlogged and sad. If you have a group to feed or will otherwise not have leftovers (or maybe like your pasta really soft?), feel free to toss it in the pot with the beans and kale.

Pasta e Fagioli takes less than an hour start-to-finish and keeps like a dream. I made a big pot on Sunday night and have been reheating it for quick dinners when I get home from work. Let me tell you, it’s taking the edge off the post-holiday blues.Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}

Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}
makes 4-6 servings

For pasta:
water
Kosher or sea salt
splash of olive oil
1 1/2 cups small pasta (farfalline, ditalini, elbows)

Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into thin half-moons
3 ribs celery, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 medium-large yellow onion, diced small
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale or chard, stemmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 15-ounce cans cannelini or other white beans
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
grated parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Fill a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil. Salt well and add pasta, cooking according to the package directions. Drain pasta and return to the pot. Drizzle lightly with olive oil to keep it from sticking together whil you prepare the soup.

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and a pinch of salt to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until starting to soften (about 10 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 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, vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are soft (but not mush).

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.

For serving, place about 1/2 cup of cooked pasta in each bowl. Top with soup and stir together. Garnish with Parmesan, if desired.

Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}Pasta e Fagioli {Italian Pasta & Bean Soup}

Butternut Squash Chili

Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}I am psyched for today’s recipe, y’all! This vegan Butternut Squash Chili is so good and good for you—perfect for the Super Bowl this weekend or any wintry night.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}It’s made with loads of good stuff. We’re talking the standard onion, garlic and red bell pepper, of course, but also a whole butternut squash (duh), meaty mushrooms, and pinto beans. YUM!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}I know that being Texan means I “shouldn’t” like beans in chili, but here I am, putting them in there. No regrets. I almost always go for pinto beans in chili because that’s what I like, but if black beans or red kidney beans are more your style, by all means, switch it up!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Small amounts of cinnamon and cocoa powder set this chili apart from the rest. They add a little nuance to the standard seasoning combination of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne. Minced chipotles in adobo are stirred in before serving for a touch of smoky heat.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili requires a couple of long browning steps—you want maximum flavor from those onions and mushrooms—and a simmer, but comes together surprisingly quickly overall. The batch pictured clocked in at just under two hours, which gives you just enough time to whip up some Cornmeal Biscuits to go alongside!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}As with most soupy, stewy things, this is a meal that will get better with time. It’s delicious the day it’s made, but is particularly spectacular after a day or two in the refrigerator. Basically, if you want to eat this while you watch the Super Bowl, make if Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Love a make-ahead main!

As stated many times over the years, I’m not a fan of football, but this chili? That’s a “super bowl” I can get behind.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}

Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}
makes about 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced small
2 red bell peppers, diced small
1-1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, 1/2-inch diced
1 3 lb. butternut squash, 1/2-inch pieces (8-ish cups)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock (I use seasoned vegetable Better than Bouillon)
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained & rinsed
2 chipotles in adobo, minced

Garnish:
avocado
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions
grated cheese (vegan or dairy)
crispy tortilla strips
crushed tortilla chips

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, red bell pepper and a pinch of salt, and sauté until very soft and gaining color (about 15-20 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned (about 15-20 minutes). Don’t rush it!

Return onion mixture to the pan, along with butternut squash. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, just until it begins to caramelize (it will ever-so-slightly darken).

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook 20-25 minutes, or until squash is cooked through and tender. Add pinto beans and minced chipotles in adobo and let simmer another 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste for salt and adjust to your preferences.

Divide chili among bowls and serve with desired garnishes.

Leftovers will keep very well for up to 4 days. Flavors will intensify over time.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}

Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight Meals

Hey there! I hope you’ve been enjoying my annual post-holidays savory food content. While I love baking desserts and am ready to get back to it, I thoroughly enjoy changing it up for a month every year. I still have one more savory recipe coming your way this month, but it’s more Super Bowl-centric than balanced, nutritious, and delicious.

Before we start talking about cheesy dips and chili and guacamole and brownies though, I want to take a minute to acknowledge some of my favorite cold weather weeknight meals from the archives. After four Januaries (Januarys?) as a blogger, I have a lot of them. For this post, I’ve narrowed the list down to the five that I make most frequently. Three of them are soup—depending if you are a #soupseason person or not, I’ll either say “you’re welcome” or owe you an apology…in the form of a big cookie.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsSopa de Pollo

My iPad keeps autocorrecting “sopa” to “soap” de pollo, which sounds very gross. But this soup is the exact opposite of that—it’s delicious and nourishing with a decidedly Mexican flavor. Oh, and it’s dead easy; the prep takes all of ten minutes. Just put a bunch of vegetables, herbs, bone-in chicken and stock on to boil. Forty minutes later, remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the pot. And um, well, that’s literally it. Easiest chicken soup ever.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsEveryday Cassoulet

This might be my favorite weeknight meal on this site. I’ve been making it for eight years and it always hits the spot. I mean, who doesn’t like sausages baked with tomatoes, pearl onions, and white beans?! Like Sopa de Pollo, this meal takes one hour start-to-finish and most of it is hands-off. Everyday Cassoulet is hearty without being heavy, and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. While it’s perfect for any weeknight, I’ve made this recipe for multiple dinner parties to rave reviews. Love that versatility!Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsSausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

If you love the flavors in Everyday Cassoulet, this soup is for you! In this one-hour recipe, Italian sausage, white beans, mirepoix (fancy French word for the combination of carrot, onion, and celery), and kale are simmered together in a tomato broth. This is the kind of good & good-for-you comfort food that I love, especially when it’s paired with cheesy Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits!Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsRoasted Cauliflower Soup

I am the sort of person that generally doesn’t care for cream soups or savory dairy-based things (except for this), but this Roasted Cauliflower Soup is so good, it may well change my tune. Made by roasting cauliflower florets until golden and then puréeing them with aromatics, butter, stock and half-and-half, this vegetarian soup is one of my favorites to make and eat. I’m not alone in this—I make it at work at least once every two weeks and it always disappears quickly.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsPasta Bolognese

Now, you may not think of bolognese sauce as a weeknight meal because it takes a while to prepare, but if you simmer a pot on the weekend and then chill it, you can get at least two family-of-four-sized meals out of it. If spending three hours making sauce sounds daunting, just know that most of it is spent letting the sauce bubble away. When all is said and done, the final product is rich, delicious, meaty magic that will have you wondering why you didn’t make a double batch! I like to keep this stuff in the freezer for when the big-bowl-of-pasta mood strikes. And while I have not yet tried it, I imagine this sauce would make killer lasagna.Friday Favorites: Wintry Weeknight MealsHave you made these or any of my other weeknight meals? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsI love January on this blog. It’s not that I’m not into making desserts all the time—and you know I can’t quit baking completely—but it’s really fun to share recipes that are part of my everyday life. The sorts of things that I make on the weekends and then delegate as lunch or dinner for the next four days. #singlelady Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsI’ve been making this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup for the last few months and I can’t get enough. It’s super simple to put together and very wholesome and comforting.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsDid I mention that it’s made almost entirely of vegetables and contains zero dairy? This soup’s creamy, velvety texture comes from one unsuspecting secret ingredient: a turnip.* It’s diced up and roasted with the butternut squash until everything is golden and sweet. Yum.

*Yes, the turnip pictured is comically large. That’s what I get for shopping ten minutes before close on a Friday night.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsThe roasted vegetables are then combined with some softened aromatics and stock (chicken or vegetable, whatever you have on hand), simmered for a few minutes, and puréed into a thick, rich, nutritious soup.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup provides a great blank slate for any number of garnishes. I was tempted to go with crispy bacon or even a wintry pesto, but decided instead to make something out of the seeds from my butternut squash!Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsWhile the vegetables were roasting, I rinsed the seeds to remove the fibrous squash innards. Then I toasted them in a dry pan just until they started to pop. After that, I added some olive oil, maple syrup, ancho powder, cayenne and salt, and stirred until they were brown and crispy.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsThe results are spicy, salty, sweet Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds, perfect for garnishing soup. Or eating by the tiny handful while you wait for your subpar Chinese takeout to arrive, which is exactly what happened to these. Ah, well.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
makes 4-6 servings

1 2 lb butternut squash
1 large or 2 medium white turnips
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 small Spanish onions, 1/2-inch diced
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

Peel butternut squash and use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut it into 1-inch chunks. Reserve seeds for Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds (recipe below).

Peel turnip(s) and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place turnip and butternut squash pieces on 2 dry rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each pan with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) olive oil and toss to coat vegetables. Roast 50-60 minutes, tossing every 25 minutes. They should be soft and caramelized in places. (The roasting time is a good time to make Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds.)

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 6-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened. Stir in roasted vegetables. Add stock, water, and bay leaves. Turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Discard bay leaves. Use a stick-blender to purée soup. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve soup with butternut seed garnish. Leftovers will kee in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds
makes about 1/3 cup

~1/3 cup butternut squash seeds (from 1 butternut squash)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho, chipotle or other chile powder
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

Place squash seeds in a small mixing bowl and cover with water. Use your fingertips to remove pithy squash innards from seeds, discarding them as you go. Pour seeds through a colander and remove any remaining pith.

Place seeds in an even layer on a clean, dry kitchen towel (or double layer of paper towels). Blot dry with another kitchen towel (or paper towel).

Heat a medium heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add squash seeds and toast, stirring every minute or two, until they start to pop. Do not burn.

Reduce heat to low. Stir in olive oil. Return heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to darken and pop again. Do not burn.

Mix in chile powder, cayenne, salt, and maple syrup. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until the seeds clump. Remove from heat.

Transfer seeds to a plate and let cool completely. Serve with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut SeedsRoasted Butternut Squash Soup with Maple-Chile Butternut Seeds