Category Archives: Soups

Resurrection: Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash & Quinoa

Why hello there. Remember me? The whisk-wielding habitually hungry gal who used to ramble on about the allure of raw brownies and the sex appeal of kale? Yes, I remember her too. She’s back, baby. After high-tailing it into the shadowy hills of corporate America (the updating of this blog oh-so-coincidentally ceasing upon Day One of being a REAL adult aka being a gainfully employed college graduate), I am back. My last update… August of 2011. Yikes. How I wish there was a WordPress feature allowing me to switch off publication dates, thus allowing me to cover my deserter tracks.

I have been around the world and back this past year and a half. Both figuratively and literally. I have been blessed with an astoundingly exciting, creative job which I slipped into mere days after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Since then, I have wandered the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, Wuxi, Guangzhou, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Rome and London, after wrapping up my meetings for the day. Habitually hungry. Habitually curious. Always missing my kitchen but never being home in Chicago long enough to justify the leftovers a full-sized recipe would garner. But enough excuses. It’s time to get back into the kitchen!
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African Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup

Spring has been reticent here in Chicago. With each seasonably warm day comes a discouraging string of unseasonably dark, cold, and windy days. But we must make lemonade out of lemons! And so I’ve come to view the capriciousness of the seasons as a time to continue my hibernation, cooking up big vats of richly flavored soups, ideally full of my favorite winter vegetable – sweet potatoes!

This deceptively hearty soup is in actuality quite light and invigorating, with its abundance of vegetables, deeply layered flavor profile, and decisively spicy kick. It provides you with a cherry little bowl of nutrition, no matter how dour your climate may presently be. I also love it for its vibrantly orange color and ability to rally the spirits on a frigid, gloomy night in April where you find yourself wondering why you’ve chosen to live in a climate where such temperatures dare to show themselves past March.
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Butternut Squash Soup


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Vibrant Beet Soup with Beet Greens

So, I’m on a bit of a beet kick. Who isn’t at this time of year? This soup, adapted from Vegetable Soups by my favorite chef, Deborah Madison, uses not only the beets and their greens, but also their stems to make the stock. The bold jewel tone of the soup is breathtaking, but take care to wear a black shirt when eating this!


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A morning at Chicago Green City Market and a Carrot Soup

Quick Carrot Soup
Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2″ knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
a large bunch of carrots, greens removed, peeled, and roughly chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
greek yogurt, for serving
a few handfuls of cilantro, roughly chopped

1.) In a large pot or Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions for 10 minutes; until begin to turn golden. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minutes. Add carrots and saute for 2 minutes.

2.) Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender; 20-30 minutes.

3.) Cool slightly and puree in batches. Return to pot and stir in cumin and coriander. Serve garnished with a spoonful of yogurt and a large handful of chopped cilantro.

Spinach & Barley Soup with Fried Sage

A warm, invigorating soup for increasingly crisp fall evenings. The lemon juice is essential to the success of this recipe as it lightens the heaviness of the barley and the chickpeas. The final addition of fried sage leaves pleases both the palate and the eye.

Spinach & Barley Soup with Fried Sage
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 large sage leaves, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
14 oz can organic garbanzo beans
14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
8 cups spinach, washed and chopped
6 1/2 cups homemade vegetable stock
fine-grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice from 1-2 lemons, to taste

Garnishes
parmesan cheese
3-4 whole fresh sage leaves per person
olive oil, for frying

1.) Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Once very hot, add onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sage and cook for 8 minutes more. Add barley and cook for 1-2 mintues.

2.) Add beans and tomatoes and give everything a good stir. Add spinach, in batches if the volume is too great, and cook until wilted. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Check to make sure barley is cooked through (it should still retain some bit), taste for salt and pepper and season to taste.

3.) While soup is simmering, heat a glug of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry until crisp. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

4.) To serve, stir in red wine vinegar. Season to taste with lemon juice. Ladle soup into bowls, coat generously with shaved parmesan, adorn with sage leaves, and serve.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect soup for the sick. The chicken broth (go homemade for maximum restorative powers) literally makes this taste an Asian spin on the traditional chicken noodle soup. For something a bit more “authentic,” go with vegetable broth instead.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4

2 1/1 tablespoons canola oil, vegetable oil, or mild-flavored olive oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (slice almost all the way through lengthwise and spread open)
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers peeled off, halved lengthwise, and smashed
1 tablespoon ginger, grated/minced
2 tsp light brown sugar
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3-4 oz shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and quartered
6 oz whole grain dried udon noodles
1 small serrano pepper or Thai bird chile, thinly sliced crosswise
a large handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces, plus more for garnish
juice of one lime, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for serving
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced for garnish
1 medium carrot, cut into small sticks or grated on a box grater, for garnish
a large handful of fresh cilantro, for garnish

1.) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grab your big ol’ dutch oven and heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until swirling and hot. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side without moving it until it is nicely browned and detaches from the bottom of the pan with minimal prodding. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside. When cooled, break apart chicken into chunks with a fork.

2.) Heat remaining oil in dutch oven over medium heat. All shallots, sprinkle with salt, and cook 3 minutes; until soft. Add lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes; until very fragrant. Add broth and use your wooden spoon to scrape up any delicious little browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3.) Bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until soft; 5-8 minutes. Add chicken an cook for 2 minutes more; making sure that both mushrooms and chicken are cooked through.

4.) While mushrooms are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook until al dented according to package directions; 8-11 minutes. Drain.

5.) Discard the lemongrass. Stir in chile, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.

6.) To serve, divide noodles amongst four serving bowls. Ladle soup over the noodles and garnish with generous amounts of basil, scallions, carrots, and cilantro. Pass a plate of lime wedges and soy sauce around the table.