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If you find yourself in a Thanksgiving bind, Ava has a time-saving turkey recipe for you.

Thanksgiving Day Turkey

by Ava:

  1. Get it from a turkey store.
  2. Stir it on a pot on the stove for 7 minutes.
  3. Then in the oven for 8 minutes.
  4. Take it out and sprinkle spices and little pepperonis on it.
  5. Put it on the table and eat it!

There you go, spicy turkey in 15 minutes.

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I love to cook. I don’t love to knock over every jar in my cupboard to shake out a little rosemary and thyme. And I am slight of stature, which make it difficult to see in the back spaces of upper cabinets.

For years, I tried different spice organization tips. I tried the stair-step tray. I tried the spinning wheel.  These both required either a step stool or arm extenders. Then a neighbor recommended stashing the spices in a drawer and taking a sharpie to their lids. That work fine until we moved to a home with too few drawers.

Two Decembers ago, I was peeling a Christmas clementine while staring at it’s crate. I don’t know what it is about those little wooden boxes, but I love them. I always want to find some good purpose for them.

Before I had finished spitting out all the seeds, I was loading cumin and coriander into the crate.

Now instead of trying to reach the unseen spices, the spice rack comes to me.

The spices are arranged alphabetically. So even if the name’s not written on the lid, they are easy to find.

Works for me!

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Today is Works-For-Me-Wednesday in reverse, which translates into Works-For-YOU-Wednesday.

Menu planning. How do you do it? Seriously, I want to know.

This is a project that I have been wanting to tackle for weeks, but I’m not sure which way to go about it. I have seasons of menu planning, but I’ve never found a method that I can stick to.

I love cooking. I even enjoy grocery shopping. Remember I have one child, and she also enjoys grocery shopping. However, I do not like planning out what we are going to eat days in advance. I have enough trouble coming up with a plan for that evening.

Far to often 4:00 rolls around and I realize that in one hour HungryMan is going to walk through the front door and I haven’t a clue as to what I’m going to feed him before he faints from hunger. At 4:15, I’ve settled on a meal, but realize that I’m missing two or three ingredients. I scoop up Ava and her three purses and dash out the door. We race in and out of the grocery store, and arrive panting at my front door thirty minutes later. I carry up the groceries praying with each step that HungryMan will be delayed in traffic so that I can finish this meal before he arrives. And somehow more nights than not, dinner is ten minutes away from the table when his car pulls up.

While my frenzied method succeeds in feeding my family. Daily grocery shopping and hectic cooking doesn’t appear to be the most effective or efficient way to go about things. That’s where you come in.

How do you do it?

When do you plan your meals? How far out to do you plan them? Do you have a rotating menu or do you come up with new menus each week? Do you shop by sales and seasons? Do you keep a pantry stocked with standard fare and come up the meals on the fly?

Please share you secrets! I have three hours before HungryMan arrives famished and dizzy. And no one wants HungryMan to faint. Believe me, he has a long way to fall.

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Have you ever crunched your teeth on a unwanted pit while enjoying a piece of a cherry pie? Or worse, have you ever tried to remove a pit from a cherry with only a knife and your fingers.

Your fingers look bloodied without so much as a scratch and the cherry looks like it’s been massacred. It’s neither aesthetically pleasing nor appetizing.

Enter the cherry pitter.

Slide a cherry in. Squeeze the handles together and presto: one edible cherry, two clean hands and one disposable pit.

It’s so simple, my four-year-old can do it.

Again and again and again.

What doesn’t work for me is having my camera switched from automatic focus to manual focus.

Again, so simple a four-year-old can do it.

(Edited to add: I bought my cherry pitter at Crate & Barrel. It’s very simple and works great. The OXO one pictured has great reviews and is available through Amazon).

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If you thought I was kidding about making a cherry pie, then you must be new here.

Our Depression Era status coincided perfectly with my mother-in-law’s birthday. Wait, no, that came out wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be a jab at my mother-in-law’s age. I was trying to say that Penny loves cherry pie, so it was actually a perfect day to make cherry pie. Phew. That was close.

And plus, my mother-in-law is hip. Literally she rocks, check it out:

She brings out the rock in all of us. Generally, I’m pretty quiet and reserved. But Penny, she gets your groove on.

Unless your Hungryman, then your groove is always on.

Hey Rock Star, the screen is the other direction!

So, what was I talking about before Rock Band hijacked my story much like it is hijacked my living room?

You try blogging to “Buddy Holly,” it’s rather distracting. And it has nothing to do with cherry pies or baking or birthdays or anything important really, but it does have one giddy man hitting sticks to its beat. Which is again, distracting.

You know what also is distracting? Forgetting to switch your camera from manual focus to automatic focus.

It kind of casts a whole blurry mist over my Auntie Em impersonation. I suppose it is in keeping with the whole old-timey theme of no cell phone, no land line, bright aprons and fresh cherry pie. Seriously if I don’t have a cell phone I clearly shouldn’t have a camera that automatically focuses.

What I did have was bowl full of cherries. Cherries with pits and stems.

Luckily I store a cherry pitter in my drawer for occasions such as this.

A Cherry pitter that can be fully operated by a four-year-old or who-ever-else you have on hand. Ava preferred to pull the stems off by her teeth. That mouth is always looking for chewing employment.

These sweet cherries are about to get sweeter. Hello Cherries, meet Sugar.

Okay, that would have been a very sweet shot had it been focussed. Blasted AF/MF button.

I know the preview screen on digital cameras is designed to prevent these sort of results, but I was too busy keeping small fingers from snatching up all the cherries to be monitoring pictures. And my Canon Rebel has always been so loyal and true, how was I supposed to know it would desert me the same day as the phones?

As you can see from Ava’s cheeks, I wasn’t able to keep those little fingers out of the dough. Their quick and nimble. In fact, I’m fairly certain their responsible for these less than crisp pictures.

Eventually HungryMan appeared on the scene bringing things a bit more into focus.

I do believe that his arrival coincided perfectly with the unrolling of the dough. It seems to me that some of the ends of those strips were prematurely snipped.

After an unexpected costume change and impromptu switch from sugar to glitter sprinkles, the pie was ready for the fire.

Because nothing says, “Happy Birthday” better than a bashful birthday princess holding a rainbow sprinkled cherry pie.

Except maybe a mouthful of the hot sweet cherries bursting in warm buttery crust.

Happy Birthday Grandma Penny, you’re every bit as sweet as a slice of cherry pie!

If you are wanting to play a 1930’s housewife, you will find the Fresh Cherry Pie recipe at Cooking Light. Ava and I followed the recipe to a “T,” except for the addition of colored sugar sprinkles. Or, better yet, come over and try some. There’s still a few slices left in the icebox.

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On Wednesday I spied a bounty of bright fuchsia at SuperTarget. And since my mind was still simmering in a world of soup, I was reminded of this delectable strawberry soup that I had enjoyed at a tea house last summer. I immediately thought that a sweet strawberry soup would be the perfect summation of a week of soups. If I couldn’t melt the snow, I could at least bring the sweet bounties of summer indoors.

I spent an unreasonable amount of time on Friday scouring the internet for the perfect strawberry soup recipe. Nothing seemed reminiscent of the liquid strawberries and lemon zest that I had so enjoyed last July. They were either overladen with dairy or not legally consumable by minors.

I briefly considered trying to make it up all on my own, but I’m simply not that talented. By the time our guests arrived Friday night, I was still flipping through online pages. It wasn’t until Nate opened up the freezer to serve our guests strawberry ice cream of all things that I gave up my quest.

Between catching up on LOST, heaps of sweet family time, the political controversy that has become our neighborhood school, and the random violence that unleashed itself on Nate’s car, the strawberries have remained untouched in the refrigerator. With no recipe on the horizon, they may very well comprise the better part of Ava’s afternoon snack.

Since I have no conclusion to my week of soups, I’m turning it over to you. What is your favorite soup recipe? And if you have a strawberry soup sans cream or alcohol, please do share.

If you post a soup recipe on your blog, let me know in the comments and I will put a link to your recipe on this post. You can also e-mail soup recipes to badgersontheloose (at) gmail.com.

Oh, oh, and I love hearing how your are enjoying the soup recipes. I’m eager to stir up a pot of yours, so send them my way!

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Despite all the pots of steamy soup brewing around here, it is still Ugg-weather. According to Fox News the current temperature is “0”. Not a lot of comfort in “0.”

As I was driving my frosty-breath preschooler to her class this morning, she looked at her window at the frozen world and asked, “Mama, why is God making it cold still? I want to see the flowers and the leaves!”

When I didn’t have a satisfying answer for her, she asked, “Do you think when the birds come back it will get warm again?”

I explained that it had to get warm again before the birds came back. She was sure her birds had gone to St. Louis because it “much warmer there” and wanted to know what her birds were up to down there. So if you live in St. Louis, could you please say “hello” to Ava’s birds? She misses them and the sunshine they follow.

Finally in exasperation, she turned to the window and shouted: “Get Warm!” Seeing that her words had had no effect on the street locked in gray, she turned to me and said, “It’s taking a long time!”

Oh girl, don’t I know it.

While I can’t control the elements that chap her cheeks, I do reign over the ones that warm her tummy. Butternut Squash is not only my favorite soup, it is a vitamin power punch. I have yet to find a recipe that touches the heavenly concoction over at Wolfgang Puck’s, but this is a close second. I love the rich golden color, smooth texture and sweet earthy flavor. It is the down comforter of soups.

I do realize this may be vegetable overload for many of you. I am almost embarrassed to show you the picture, because I paired the soup with a broiled beet salad. Upon hearing this, my dear friend, Mindy, who only ever says kind things, kindly said, “Oh, oh, I can’t go with you there.”

So this is a soup for the brave or the chilled-to-the-bone or the so-anxious-for-sunshine-that-they-will-make-a-bowl-of-it.

Butternut Squash Soup-Sweet Potato Soup with Herbed Cream Cheese

(adapted from American Bistro)

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Here’s what you need:

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(Sorry, more glare. I prefer to cook in sunshine.)

For the Soup:

  • 1 small Butternut Squash (obviously), about 1 1/4 pound, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 medium Yams/Sweet Potatoes (red, not yellow), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Onion, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 4 – 5 cups Vegetable Broth (I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand this time and used chicken broth. Big mistake. Don’t do it.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Swirl:

  • 1/3 cup of Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh Sage, finely chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat Oven to 425
  • In a large bowl mix together Butternut Squash, Yams, Onion, a tablespoon of Thyme, and a tablespoon Sage. Add in Olive Oil and mix until well blended.
  • Spread vegetables on rimmed baking sheet and season with Sea Salt and Pepper. Place in oven and bake until caramelized and tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Wearing long oven gloves, stir vegetables twice while baking.
  • Mix 1/3 cup of Sour Cream with teaspoon of Thyme and a teaspoon of Sage. Place mixture in a small plastic storage bag and press mixture down to one corner. Cut the tip of the corner and place bag aside.
  • When vegetables are very tender remove them from oven. Place half of the vegetables in a blender with 2 cups of Vegetable Broth (again, do not use chicken broth) and puree until silky smooth. Pour mixture in a stock pot over medium heat. Repeat with the other half of the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir soup and add more broth if needed (you may not need any more broth). Stir in Nutmeg. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into warm bowls, add a swirl of the herbed cream cheese, and ENJOY!

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Last night, Ava and I shredded, sliced, and stirred our way through another soup for you.

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Hoping to appeal to the non-soup eaters, we had made soup for the steak-knife. A hearty barley-beef soup with plenty of vegetables.

After putting the Sous Chef to bed, I pulled out my laptop and filled the screen with pictures and pointers. I was nearly finished with my post, when HungryMan came home from an over-extended day at the office. Having worked right through dinner, he was unimaginably hungry.

I pulled the stock pot out of the refrigerator and fired up the stove, quite eager to serve him a bowl of steaming steak and barley.

“Oh, you don’t have to make that right now. I’ll just eat this,” he said, holding up a take-out bag from P.F. Chang’s.

After devouring the one, not quite filling lettuce wrap, he began rummaging through the fridge. He found the three-bite portion of wild rice soup and placed it in the microwave while I returned to my laptop.

And then, when I wasn’t looking he ate Ava’s left-over mac’ and cheese. Mac’ and cheese, people. Nate doesn’t ever eat mac’ and cheese.

It was then that I knew the wet steak was a failure. It couldn’t even entice a man near-faint with hunger.

But could I really scrap an entire post, especially about a soup which had already created a double portion of drama?

You see while I love to cook, I am not keen on touching meat. I generally slice open the package and flip it in the pan without actually coming in physical contact with the meat. Today, while performing my well-practiced maneuver, the blotter, you know the the plastic sheet under the meat somersaulted over the steak, landed in the hot oil and immediately seared itself to the bottom of the pan. Frantic, I attempted to scrape it off with a spatula, but the blasted blotter shriveled and shredded into a multitude of plastic specks. Specks that were now seasoning my precious steak.

I pulled out a paper towel started trying to wipe the plastic off the steak while it was browning in the pan–brilliant, I know. Also a great example for the three-year-old watching my every move.

“Ava, look it’s completely safe to stick your bare hands into searing hot stock pot that is causing oil to sizzle and pop all up your arms.”

“Don’t do this at home,” doesn’t quite have the same meaning when you are doing it at home.

Miraculously, my hands exited the pot unscathed, but I can’t say the same for the steak. It is bespeckled in editable shiny white.

At that moment, I had a strong urge to turn off the stove and wash each individual piece of steak. And at that same moment, I knew that this was obsessive and wrong.

In the meantime, the self-starter that is my daughter had taken the carrots that she prepped for me to slice and pulverized them in the “grinder,” along with the celery that was set out for slices, not shredded bits.

The perfectionist in me wanted out. Or at least a fresh start. “This is ridiculous. I’m not scrapping a soup over a dash of plastic. I can will roll it. I can roll with it.”

So I persevered and added in the beef broth and now very chopped onion, carrots and celery. The plastic seasoning instantly rose to the top of the broth like an unsinkable salt. All I could think about as I stirred the plastic around the bits of onion and celery was how this wholesome soup was going to poison my family. And then I kept hearing my mother-in-law saying, “It’s fine. Rachel, it’s fine”–her typical common sense reaction to my neurosis.

Ridiculous as it was, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I knew in an hour we would all be sitting around the dining room table and as soon as Ava lifted the spoon to her lips would scream, “don’t do it!” And it would be Anne Shirley, Miss Stacy and the poor drowned mouse all over again.

So I pulled out my slotted spoon and removed every last piece of steak. I carried my reproachable concoction to the sink and individually scrubbed away the plastic (and flavor) of each and every piece of cubed steak.

It’s true.

By this point, Ava was anxious for another job. So I handed her an onion and we started over.

So I hardly need to tell you that this was a hard-earned soup post, and I didn’t want it to meet the fate of the doomed plastic bits. But Nate didn’t even know that I had rinsed out all the flavor and he wasn’t eating the soup, so how could I possibly recommend it to you?

So I consulted a bag of Brussels. Somewhere between bites two and three, I realized that the soup was forgettable. Even apart of from the cooking fiasco of 2008, this soup had nothing unique and compelling to commend it.

I went to bed tossing and turning over what I could possibly share with the splendid, soup-loving readers whom I had promised a week’s worth of soups too. Okay maybe I tossed once.

And while I won’t admit that I had actually had soup nightmares, I will share what awoke me with the solution: the soup I turn to when I’m in a jam. It’s everything a soup should be: simple, savory, and soothing. And best of all, you can make it in a snap.

This is my friend Alice’s signature soup. She makes it with red potatoes and it’s beautiful. Since I turn to this soup when I’m in a tight spot (like now) and never have red potatoes on hand, I whip it up with regular baking potatoes. It’s still delicious, but not quite as pretty.

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(don’t look in the bowl cause that’s not what your getting)

If you are still reading this ridiculously long post, here is your reward:

Alice’s Warm You Up Potato Soup Wonder

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Celery
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • Saute in large stock pot until soft (about 5 minutes)
  • Add:
  • 3 cups peeled cubed Potatoes (if red, don’t peel) Shortcut: the smaller you cube them the faster they cook.
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/2 tsp Marjoram
  • Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 10 minutes)
  • Add:
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 – 4 tbsp Cream Cheese
  • Blend (I use a blender wand that I put right in the stock pot. If you have an actual blender, then blend the soup and the dairy in equal portions.)
  • Ladle into warmed bowls and ENJOY!

Nate Needs Meat So We Add This

  • 1 Kielbasa sliced into coins
  • Saute over medium-high until until slightly browned and crisp on the edges
  • Add directly into finished potato soup or serve on the side.

Since the tortilla soup didn’t manage to melt the snow (though it was heartily devoured and enjoyed by the HungryMan), I can offer you this scrumptious bowl to wrap up in. Enjoy!!

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Today we are going to pay soup homage to my hometown, but before we start mincing up jalapenos let me share of few soup tips and answer your questions. First, I just have to say that I’m so thrilled to hear how much you love soup. I feel like I’m blogging among kindred spirits.

And if that is too Anne of Green Gables for you and you find soup to be a poor excuse for a meal then this is not the week for you. Don’t despair, there are more badger posts on the horizon.

For the rest of you, the soup-lovers, this is my number one weapon of choice. When it comes to making soups, there can be a lot of chopping and that can be intimidating not to mention time consuming. This baby, however, can knock out an onion without shedding a tear.

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It came wrapped up for my birthday two March’s ago and has revolutionized my kitchen. Best of all, it can be completely (and safely) operated by this baby. So much so, that she considers the “grinder” her domain.

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This little kerchief-donning Sous chef is as speedy as the Chopper. If I don’t give her a supervised task, she will quickly come up with her own unsupervised task. She is quite the secret weapon.

Of course these soups can be made without an “adorable, kerchief-wearing, long-haired, 3-year old chef-ess.” However, you will be missing a lot of “what can I do next?” and “I need another job, please.”

The wild rice soup (as well as the soup recipes to follow) freezes wonderfully as long as you don’t add the cream/milk before freezing it. I like to freeze soups in single servings for a quick lunch. This is quite helpful if I’m making a batch of soup that Nate isn’t particularly fond of. Speaking of freezing things, I make wild rice in large batches and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup portions.

Now here’s a 1 1/2 cup portion of where we are headed today:

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Chicken Tortilla Soup with Guacamole–a soup guaranteed to take the chill off. Which is great if the clouds above have opened their doors and blasted your house with a fresh pile of snow. It’s true. Two more inches and more on it’s way down.

My first encounter with tortilla soup was ironically just outside an airport. This time it was across the Mississippi in El Paso, Texas. My family was returning home from two weeks in Minnesota, and we needed an immediate infusion of Mexican food.

We pulled directly into Jackson’s where they served piping hot bowls of tortilla soup instead of the standard chips and salsa. Having rarely strayed from the righteous path of freshly made enchiladas laced with the New Mexico red and green chile that grew across that street from our house, we were unfamiliar with the liquid burrito. The first bite was like coming home, and it has been a family favorite ever since.

Serve it with a box of tissue. Green chile and jalepenos are loaded with Vitamin C and are known to make your nose run.

Here’s what you need:

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(Please excuse the glare. I didn’t have the courage to shut the shade. We have to get all the sunshine we can around these parts.)

  • 4 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut up into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 Celery stalk with leaves
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 10-ounce can diced Tomatoes with Green Chile
  • 1 15-ounce can Black Beans, rinsed up nice
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn
  • 1/3 cup Cilantro (if preferred)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (if tolerated)
  • Sea Salt and Ground Pepper, to taste

Here’s what you do:

  • Bring Chicken Broth to boil in a medium saucepan. When it’s nice and bubbly throw in the chopped up Chicken Breast and boil for 6 minutes. Take a slotted spoon and fish out the cooked Chicken and set both aside.
  • Throw the Onion and Celery into your food chopper and let it do it’s thing. Don’t put the Red Pepper in the chopper, it will basically juice it–not what you want at all. Cut the Red Pepper in half, clean out the ribbing and seeds. Then roughly chop up the Red Pepper.
  • Warm up Olive Oil in a large stock pot and add Onion, Celery, Red Pepper, and Garlic. Saute them until soft, about 8 minutes.
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  • Shake in the Cumin and stir it about for 1 minute.
  • Stir in Chicken Broth, cooked Chicken Black Beans, Tomatoes with Green Chile, and Corn, and bring to a rolling bowl. Cover your soup, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the cilantro. Salt and pepper to your taste.

Now everyone knows you can add tortillas, cheese, and sour cream to tortilla soup. The best thing, the absolute best thing to top off your home-made tortilla soup is fresh guacamole. And with the handy chopper, it’s a breeze to make.

Here’s what you need:

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(Look at that. The sun went down. No glare.)

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 Jalapeno, minced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar (not pictured)
  • 2 tablespoons Red Onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup frozen Corn, slightly thawed (don’t heat up)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Sea Salt and Ground Pepper to taste

For those of you who aren’t fluent in Avocado, here are some tips. When choosing an Avocado to be used that day, pick one that makes a small indentation when pressed lightly by your thumb. If your grocery store only has firm ones, stick the Avocado in a brown bag to speed up the ripening. Once you slice an Avocado you must eat it that day.

Ava learned this lesson yesterday when she poked her finger straight through our avocado. She had finished chopping up the carrots and celery for the wild rice soup, and was looking for a new occupation. She got one. With our avocado poked through, we had to store the wild rice soup in the refrigerator and whip up the tortilla soup in record time. Oh, but it was so tasty and you are about to see why.

Okay, here we go.

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the Olive Oil, Lime juice and Sugar.
  • Carefully mince the Jalapeno (keep or omit seeds depending on your heat tolerance) and add them to the mix.
  • Stick the Garlic cloves into a handy little press and squeeze them into the mixture as well.
  • Fire up your chopper and throw in the Red Onion and the Cilantro (separate batches of course). Stir them and the Corn into the liquid mixture.
  • With a clean knife and cutting board (not one that touched Red Onion, Garlic, or Jalapeno) cut the Avocado crosswise rotating the knife around the pit. Twist the sliced Avocado until they come apart into two halves. With a large spoon carefully scoop out each half of the Avocado. Slice the Avocado into small chunks and carefully stir them in.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste. Throw on the top of your Chicken Tortilla Soup and dig in or just eat it right out of the bowl. Either way, ENJOY!

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It is not a secret that I love soup.

It’s true. I do.

I love the savory steam rising up to greet my face. I love the medley of flavors and the blend of textures in each spoonful. I love how it warms me straight through. I love the satisfying feeling of an empty bowl and a body full of good things.

I remember when this love affair began. I was just old enough to read a menu and order for myself, but young enough that this was a new experience.

My parents, little brothers, and I were at the Boston airport returning home from visiting my New England grandparents and there must of been some sort of delay. Since airport security was a mere futuristic fantasy, my family decided to forgo airport food in the hopes of enjoying something local.

It was a damp New England morning and it was just starting to drizzle as we dashed across the street and slipped into a corner cafe. By the time we took our seats, the rain was cascading down the windows in rapid succession. It was there with a new menu in my hand and the rain playing percussion that I realized the what I wanted most to warm my little chilled self was a steaming bowl of soup.

When the server returned, my parents ordered an array of hot sandwiches for themselves and my brothers and then looked to me to place my order.

“I’ll have a cup of clam chowder, please.”

My parents exchanged surprised looks, but they allowed the order to stand.

I have never forgotten that bowl of clam chowder. For years it was my favorite soup. And still when the air is heavy with the moisture that hints at a storm, my mind starts wander to the mellow chowder with soft bits of potato and squeaky bits of clam.

For most of my life, March was the month that the ground thawed and daffodils raised their brave heads. In Minnesota, March means more snow and lots of it. So in hopes of bringing a bit of warmth to you wherever you are, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite soups with you this week.

And since, I now call Minnesota home it is only fitting that I start with my version of the state soup. This has been our family’s favorite comfort soup for that past three winters.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Cranberries

Here’s what you need:

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  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 finely chopped carrots
  • 1 finely chopped celery
  • 1 small, finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup half-and-half or milk
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 3 1/2 year-old sous chef

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil. Add cut up chicken breast and boil for six minutes. Remove cooked chicken from broth and set both aside.
  • In a large dutch oven melt butter over medium-low heat.
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  • Stir in the carrots, celery, and onion. As Ava is kindly demonstrating, we believe in the power of the food processor. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add in the chicken broth, continually whisking to avoid lumps. Turn up the heat and continue stirring until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes.
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  • Add in the cranberries, wild rice, and cooked chicken breast. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the cranberries are full and soft.
  • Remove cover and add in sherry, half-and-half, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring until the soup is hot and ready to serve.
  • Pour into your favorite bowl and enjoy!
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