Chicken tortilla soup

March 22, 2010

We traveled.  We came back.  We  experienced the same blizzard twice: once out west, for an entire day, and then again flying back into Chicago.  It was  really just one of those March snowstorms that only thinks it’s scary but can’t even make the snow stick for more than a couple of hours.  It did, however, provide us with some very turbulent moments over Nebraska (“I’m never-ever-ever flying again; you will just have to tell me what Spain is like!” was actually uttered, I’m afraid), along with a rather dicey landing at O’Hare.  We were ever so glad to touch down–but then, aren’t we, Mr. and Ms. Homebody, always speechlessly ecstatic to come home?  And what better way to celebrate than with a lazy day of coffee and naps and  movies and books and wine and soup?

Chicken tortilla soup

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lb frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • tortilla chips, avocados, cheese (I can’t possibly tell you how much you’re going to want)
  • oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  1. Saute the chicken and onion–with generous dashes of of paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper–for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add water and tomatoes; bring to a boil; simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  3. Toss in the corn, beans, and scallions (along with more spices, if needed).
  4. Serve with tortillas, cilantro, cheese, and chopped avocados.

You know what I just spent 74 minutes doing?  Chiseling ice out of a troublesome spot on our rooftop deck, prompted by a fresh ceiling stain on the floor below.   The endeavor involved a hair dryer, an extension cord, a towel, a broom, a pair of scissors, copious cursing, fingertips teetering on the very edge of frostbite, and a moist wind nipping at my arse three stories above a frozen lake.

So!  Now that you know all about my Friday evening, how about that soup I promised you in the title?

Leek and potato soup with a twist

  • 4-5 fingerling potatoes
  • 1 blue potato
  • 2 purple yams
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 leek
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • something pretty for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • any other seasonings you feel like (let’s see… I seem to recall some lemon pepper and oregano)
  1. Boil all the vegetables in seasoned water until tender (approximately 20 minutes).
  2. Add coconut milk.
  3. Blend in the food processor, or with one of these magic bunnies.

The end product was rather surprising to me, I must say.  It almost had a licorice-like undertone (purple yams, is that you?), but not to the point where a licorice-hater (moi) would be turned off.

And let me just say, on a final note, that I fully realize that my faint ceiling spot and my soup with fancy tubers are truly ridiculous compared to what’s going on in Haiti as I type.  My heart hurts.

Oh, I totally forgot to tell you about this.  That’s what happens when one packs two New Year’s Eve celebrations, one birthday, one large dinner party, and a wedding anniversary into a span of four days.  All that happiness makes a gal a touch daft!

Curried cauliflower + lentil soup
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils (or green lentils! surely that would any case, the curry will obliterate their color)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup buttermilk or kefir
  • 3/4 tablespoon curry powder
  • salt to taste
  1. Saute the onion and seasonings.
  2. Add the lentils and water.  Bring to a boil; simmer on low until soft (approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Add the cauliflower (and more water, if needed).  Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Blend in a food processor, or with the ever-so-amazing SmartStick.  (Thanks, Santa!)
  5. Add buttermilk or kefir.
  6. Garnish with something that will make you happy.

Have I mentioned how much I love my slow cooker, but resent the fact that it does just fine without me and actually seems to frown upon my frequent poking and prodding and stirring?  It seems to sternly imply that things were going just fine under its tantalizingly steamy lid until I came along with my big spoon to assault it.  And indeed, the slow cooker does turn the most unlikely ingredients into rather lovely dishes with so little involvement on my part that I can hardly claim any credit–especially if leftovers are involved.  Like in the case of this soup…

Turkey + rice + kale + sweet potato soup

  • turkey leftovers–whatever you have!  (I used just that drumstick in the picture and it was plenty, flavor- and meat-wise; however, a fistful of white meat or dark meat should work just as well, and so should a piece of the good old carcass)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 10 cups water
  • 1.5 cup rice
  • salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (may I recommend chipotle pepper, cayenne pepper, and some oregano?)
  1. Put everything except the kale into the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Add the kale and cook for another 30 minutes.

Kale + barley soup

November 3, 2009


While this soup did not bring that stolen hour of daylight back, it did make me feel a touch better.  Here, you try:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • ~7-8 cups of water
  • salt, pepper, parsley, tarragon, thyme to taste
  1. Saute the onion, garlic, carrot, and seasonings.  Add barley and swirl it around distractedly  for a minute or so.
  2. Add water; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for ~25 minutes.
  4. Toss in the coarsely chopped kale.  Simmer for another ~20 minutes, until it’s all soft and lovely.


Perhaps I should say that this started out as a butternut squash + leek soup:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 leeks

But then, somehow, these guys joined the show:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 potato

Why the random amounts?  Because that’s precisely how much of each of those things I had in my kitchen.  I am sure that more or less of any of the above would be just fine.

If you’re playing along at home, you will also need approximately:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

And then:

  1. Coarsely chop the leeks, carrots and potato.  Add them to the boiling water + broth and cook on low until soft (~7 minutes).
  2. While the vegetables are simmering, poke many a hole in your butternut squash and microwave it for 10-12 minutes.  Once it’s cool, peel it and remove the seeds.
  3. In your blender or food processor, puree the vegetables and broth in batches.  Toward the end, add the butternut squash.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  And while you’re at it, surely you will also want to toss in some crushed sage.  Look, pretty!
  5. Really, you want another step?