When I was a kid, my mom used to make this amazing white chili. It was a football season/New Year’s Eve tradition for us.
My brother and I totally loved it, because we always ate this chili with a mountain of Cool Ranch Doritos (old school flavors are best, baby) and an avalanche of shredded cheddar cheese on top. I remember my dad crushing the chips into little shards with his big bear hands, like they were nothing, and piling them into our bowls.
One of the great tragedies of being a vegetarian now is that for years, I haven’t had that chips-in-my-soup experience.
Until I stumbled across a vegetarian recipe for tortilla soup!
This soup is so tasty, and it just gets better and better with time. I actually recommend eating it left over (is that weird?) because the flavors keep building.
Just like the nostalgia.
It’s a snow day, so you know what’s on the menu at my house: grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s the perfect comfort food!
I have so many memories of eating this meal as a child, especially after traipsing around in the snow on a winter day. My mother would stand at the stove and stir milk into the Campbells condensed tomato soup, expertly flipping buttery cheese sandwiches on the griddle. She had a special mug that was just for her tomato soup—because tomato soup should always be served in a mug.
We would sit at our old Formica table, slurping our soup and dipping our melty sandwiches, getting warm enough to go out for another round of sledding down the giant hill in front of our house.
But, of course, I have grown up a little. And as much as I still love the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup of my childhood, I also like to let my comfort foods grow a little.
And seriously, I dare you to find anything more delicious than goat cheese, nutmeg, fresh thyme, runny egg yolks, and balsamic vinegar. I dare you! This grown-up version of a favorite comfort food is just stunningly delicious. Thank you, snow days, for being so yummy.
This chili is stupendous. It really is. And I absolutely love that it’s basically a complete meal in a bowl! It’s got whole grains, protein, veggies, flavor for miles…
I’m not going to go on and on about it, because you should really just grab some pots and spoons and make it!
This pregnancy has definitely done something to my taste buds. For weeks I cringed at the thought of an egg (used to be one of my favorite foods). I suddenly find myself interested in eating Chinese food (one of Dave’s favorite things), and I have discovered a love of potatoes!
I have held a grudge against potatoes for a long time. It just gets my goat that people treat potatoes as a vegetable and neglect their brightly colored roots, fruits, and leafy greens. Potatoes don’t belong on a plate next to a slice of bread. Potatoes are starchy! They drive up blood sugar because the body treats them like carbohydrates!
But…I must admit…they are rather hearty for winter. And the body does need some starchy calories in addition to vegetable nutrients. And potato skins are actually quite full of things that are important to vegetarians, like vitamin B and potassium.
So when I found myself randomly craving potato leek soup, something I had only ever eaten once in my life before, I just went for it. I ate almost the whole batch by myself. And then I made another batch (with a few extra veggies, just because). I think I am hooked.
Leftovers are my kryptonite.
I never really know what to do with them! Sure, I sat down to plenty of “leftover nights” when I was growing up, but we ate a fairly meat-and-potatoes style diet, so even if the leftovers were mismatched, they still made sense together in their original forms.
Leftover nights around our house are a little strange. One person is eating two different kinds of pizza while the other person is eating a salad burrito. The side dishes are really my personal nightmare…I so often eat one-dish meals that when there is a leftover side dish, I hardly know what to do with it. What I need to learn is how to look at the shelves stacked with cooked veggies and baggies of extra ingredients and imagine what they could become…something else entirely.
My husband, on the other hand, knows just what to do with leftovers (when he’s not ignoring them, that is): turn them into soup. Which—after I yanked a bag of leftover boiled corn on the cob out of the fridge and declared, “We are never going to eat this! I am just going to throw it away!”—is exactly how this corn soup was born.
And it’s so good! It is exactly the kind of thing I would have planned specifically to make, gone to the farmer’s market to shop for…and then found myself wondering what to do with those two extra ears of corn I had to buy “just in case.”
Well. Baby steps.
The first time I ever tried paella, it was a very weird experience.
(Wait, are you blinking and scratching your head and scrolling up to see whether you misread the title of this post? Don’t worry…there is a connecting thread here.)
I had always avoided true, authentic paella because I don’t eat land critters. But shortly after Jake was born, I found myself sitting in a little restaurant in Williamsburg that offered a fish-only “seafood paella.” Boy was I excited!
And as soon as my bowl of soup arrived, boy was I confused.
The meal was delicious, spicy and flavorful, full of shellfish (and yes, a layer of rice at the bottom). But…it definitely was not paella.
I now know, thanks to Suzanne of Thru the Bugs on My Windshield, that I spent that strange evening enjoying a bowl of cioppino. Cioppino is a hearty seafood soup with a rich, winey tomato broth. And yes, you should go make a big bowlful for yourself right away!
I just realized that the Superbowl is only a few days away.
Not that I actually care about football. To be honest, I don’t even know which teams are playing! But what I do know is that Superbowl Sunday goes perfectly with a large pot of chili.
When I was growing up, my mom always made white chili for the whole family on Superbowl Sunday–this was, in fact, the first way I learned to appreciate chili, probably thanks to the mountain of crushed Doritos and shredded cheddar cheese I piled on the top before I dug in. Yum.
But this year, I think we should skip the ground meat (well, that’s a no-brainer for me) and load in a rather humongous amount of winter squashes. This recipe uses winter squash in two ways: one, pureed pumpkin is mixed right into the saucy, tomato-y broth; and two, cubed for texture and bulk in the soup. It’s so delicious with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and shaved pecorino romano on top!
When I stepped outside this morning it was cold.
And it smelled like snow!
So I made you some soup.
(By the way, this soup would be awesome for Thanksgiving. Cuz yeah, it’s that time of year already! And what the heck, make a pumpkin bowl! Use it as a vegetarian centerpiece. How much more festive can it get?)
The first time I ever had gazpacho, it was more like a mealy pureed tomato than soup.
I decided gazpacho wasn’t worth my time and promptly forgot about it.
But last week, with three cucumbers and one beefsteak tomato in the same CSA box, I got to thinking. When three more tomatoes and a bell pepper arrived this week, I knew I should probably give gazpacho another try.
I consulted my trusty New Best Recipe and read that the best versions of gazpacho aren’t pureed at all, but instead are full of finely diced veggies swimming in tomato broth. I made my peace with the two hours it would probably take me to dice that many veggies, and the resulting gazpacho was delicious!
In Spain, they call it liquid salad…it looks and smells of high summer, and is the perfect end to a sweltering day!
A few days ago, Jake and I wandered outside to drop a few things into the mailbox. My neighbor immediately came rushing over with an armful of mint, freshly snipped from her garden. (And before I made it back inside, I was also gifted a huge handful of oregano and sage! Yay for neighbors who share from their gardens!)
While I stood in my driveway chatting about fresh herbs (mmmmm), regretting my choice not to change out of my pajamas before my quick jaunt outside, my mind immediately began sorting through the myriad ways I could put the mint to good use.
You know what goes great with mint?
(Is it weird that my food choices lately have been influenced by what baby foods I am making for Jake? The kid loves peas, so I definitely have peas on the brain…)
I have always been a little curious about pea soup, so I did a quick search and came up with a recipe that sings out Spring to me. What a perfect way to wind down the season, with peas, spinach, and mint all in one bowl!