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Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

Last month, I spent a chunk of time caring for my mother, post surgery. This essentially consisted of me complaining how hot it was (115°F), cajoling her to do all her physical therapy, eating as much Mexican food as possible and cooking up a storm. I wanted to fill her freezer with easy meals that could be simply reheated in the coming weeks; healthy, comforting dishes that both she and other friends and family members could easily heat up for lunches and dinners without much fuss.

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I have three go to soups: chicken noodle, French onion and clam chowder. If they’re on the menu, I will order them. Always. I may stray now and again, but these are my constants. I was recently in a Cracker Barrel in a soupy mood and the two offerings of the day were: vegetable beef (never) and clam chowder (absolutely.) My friend asked the server if the clam chowder was New England (white), as opposed to the lesser known Manhattan (tomato based) or the even lesser known Rhode Island (brothy). We got a blank stare in return. Of course we did and we deserved it, the food snobs in a Cracker Barrel that we were.

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When the squashes start appearing in the farmers markets and grocery stores, I get a little twitchy. First, it’s a harbinger of fall. Summer’s over and the grey and cold where I live is inevitably on its way. After all these years you’d think I’d be used to this but I’m not. Second, the site of the first squashes and pumpkins make me want to cook warm, comforting, homey things. Then it happens: I’ll buy a bunch and they’ll sit on my kitchen table for weeks.

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Back in the days right out of college when I was scraping to get by, I survived on soup. It was easy to make, inexpensive and could be varied countless different ways. Meatless chilis, various vegetable concoctions and chicken-less chicken noodle were my standards. Soups were filling and they reheated beautifully in small office microwaves but more importantly, one could really stretch their dollar far with a pot or two. When you were saving any bit of extra cash to buy a few rounds of beer Friday night, this was important.

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I keep a strange schedule that follows no patterns. Such is the life of a freelance recipe developer – it’s a drought or a tsunami – and right now I’m drowning. Given that I’m cooking all day, when it comes time to actually make something for myself, I usually punt. Classic case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes, I tend to default to delivery, take out or nibbles here and there of leftover scraps from whatever I’ve made that afternoon. Sometimes it works out well, other times not so much. Case in point: my dinner the other night was a bowl of partially mashed edamame. That’s not even a thing. I spend a lot of time staring at the contents of my fridge and while I may shut the door and dial the number for Chinese delivery instead, I do get a lot of ideas this way. That’s how this post came together.

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It was a dreary day, typical of a Chicago spring, and I was looking for something to cook. I was tired of hearty soups, stews and pasta and was on the hunt for something light and bright. Something spring-like. Putzing around the internet for inspiration, going from one random link to another I came across something on the Eating Well website. Radish Soup. Was that a thing? The color caught my attention – a lovely shade of light pink. Curiosity piqued, I was about to find out if this was indeed a thing.

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Freezing rain always makes me want soup. Hot, hearty, comforting bowls of soup that warm from the inside out are just the thing for these times. I live in a very old apartment with unpredictable radiator heat. Over the winter my apartment is either blazing hot or a bit chilly and I monitor the temperature through a series of simple steps honed over years of experience – open the window a smidge, close the window, put on socks, take off a sweatshirt, hide under a blanket. It’s a little involved but I’ve figured out how to make it work. In these instances, soup works very well too. As does a good supply of comfy loungewear and thick socks.

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