Category Archives: Soup

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon-Egg Soup)

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon-Egg Soup)

Waking up to the sound of rain on the window makes mornings that much harder. I think I see a 150% increase in the number of times I hit the snooze button if it’s raining outside. On the other hand, when it’s snowing, I jump up to look outside my window at the peaceful white blanket on the world. Navigating the sidewalks outside has been a nightmare the last few days. First snow, then a thick layer of ice, then 1-2 inches of water on top of the ice layer. On my long walk home from campus, all I could think about was a bowl of soup. One that wouldn’t take too long, but would leave me satisfied through a long Sunday night of homework.

This Greek lemon-egg soup brings all of the comfort of a rich and creamy winter soup with a bright pop of lemony sunshine that reminds me of warmer days! It starts off as a simple chicken soup… you know, carrots, celery, onion, chicken, rice and broth. All the good stuff that makes your kitchen smell wonderful. Then, adding the lemon-egg mixture at the end suddenly transforms the soup into this luscious, silky broth packed with flavor. I thought half a lemon would never be enough to flavor the entire pot, so I could hardly believe the flavor of that first bite. I still couldn’t get over it after the third bowl.
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White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Back to school… back to school…

Today is the first day of my last quarter at Northwestern. While the very thought of this sounds like it should provoke deep philosophical insight about the brevity of college or profound resolutions to “live it up!,” I just find myself feeling tired of classes, exams, the inconsistent scheduling, the piles of homework preventing free time on weekends.

I’ve been in school for 18 of my 21 years of life. I’m ready for something else. While I’m going to miss the many easygoing aspects of my life right now, I know I’m fortunate that I feel ready for the next chapter of my life. It was the same way with leaving high school; I was never homesick or lonesome during my first quarter because I spent the 6 months leading up to college knowing that I was ready to be there. Now, I’m spending the 6 months leading up to graduation knowing I’m ready to be in the real world. I’m waiting for it. Anticipating it. Getting excited and even more ready for it. I’m very fortunate for my capacity to change.

White Chicken Chili

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Black Bean, Tomatillo and Poblano Soup

Black Bean, Tomatillo and Poblano Soup

Some people pair food with wine. Others pair it with a perfectly complementary table setting. I pair food with music. I’m constantly seeking out new flavors in food, and I’m on a parallel journey to discover new sounds in music.

I’ve decided to share music pairings with each recipe. A song whose spirit captures the spirit of the dish. This song by Cayucas is sunny, etherial, bright, and poppy. It feels like lazy days in the beachy sunshine, eating tacos from a street vendor. This hearty Mexican soup is like a winter remedy for missing that moment of summertime.

Black Bean, Tomatillo and Poblano Soup

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On Vegetable Stock

Last year I did a silly thing. I bought vegetables to make vegetable stock. I measured out water. I meticulously chopped. But with the big bags of carrots, I ended up with MORE vegetables than I started with. This year I learned an important thing. Something every grandmother knew but we forgot. Never buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. Save (almost) all of your scraps – every little bit – and soon you will have everything you need for vegetable stock. FREE vegetable stock.

One of the greatest benefits of homemade vegetable stock is the nutritional value. The more vegetables you use, the wider range of vitamins and nutrients your stock will have. And since it’s salt-free, you can determine how much salt to add while you’re cooking. It is also a great way to mellow out a recipe that is over salted.

It takes me 3-4 weeks to fill up a one-gallon freezer bag of scraps, and the 6-8 cups (~2 quarts) of stock I get out of it usually lasts me until the bag is full again. Maybe it won’t last me as long now that the season of soups is upon us, but it’s certainly working out so far.

Since onions, carrots, and celery make up the backbone of vegetable stock, it is important to have a good amount of them in your freezer bag when you go to make the stock. If I’m using carrots or celery in any recipes during the month, I try to chop up 1-2 of each and put them into my freezer bag for when it comes time to make stock! That way, I don’t have to go out and buy a big bag of the two and get stuck with leftovers and nothing else to use them in.

If you’re going to use the vegetable stock within a week, keep it in the fridge. Longer, keep it in the freezer. I freeze my stock in 1- or 2-cup amounts in tupperware containers, then pop them out and put them in a big freezer bag. It takes a couple rounds to get all of the stock frozen, but it saves a lot of containers from filling up my tiny freezer!

Vegetables to use: Onions, carrots and celery are the basic ingredients for stock, but the more vegetables you use, the greater the flavor and nutritional value. Save any scraps (roots, stalks, leaves, peelings etc.) from other vegetables like leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus. You can even add corn cobs, winter squash skins, beet greens and herbs. Vegetables that are wilting (but are NOT spoiled) are perfectly fine to use.

Vegetables to avoid: Bitter vegetables are overpowering in the stock and better off avoiding. You don’t need to save cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, or artichokes. You may want to avoid beet roots and onion skins, because they turn stock dark red/brown. Don’t include anything that has spoiled.
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Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

My latest batch of soup comes from my latest batch of inspiration from Tamar Adler’s book An Everlasting Meal. Her book is filled with chapter after chapter of vibrant prose that feels like her ingredients are leaving the page and entering your own kitchen. She writes eloquently about understated ingredients like cabbage and anchovies, which I believe would inspire any obstinate eater to give them another taste.

For me, I had a sudden urge to cook cabbage. How many people can say that they crave cabbage? Rabbits aren’t people, so they don’t count. The giant cabbage head I bought at the farmers market cost me a whopping $1. Combined with leeks and potatoes from the market and my vegetable stock made from scraps, this recipe came to a grand total of… $3. Economical, graceful, and delicious. That’s what Adler’s cooking is all about. That’s what my kitchen is all about.

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

This recipe requires a little patience; the soup has to cook for at least an hour to get its savory and deliciously melty flavors. But it doesn’t need much watching. I went down the street to get some more coffee beans and talk to a few friends while it cooked. Double win.

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