Sausage, chard and lentil soup

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Sometimes, I think I should rename this blog, “Things I tried to feed my husband.” It’s a long list, and each item on it has been received with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Kil’t kale, for example, was immediately embraced and adapted to work with the metric crap-ton of chard I grew in our garden this summer. The white bean, ham and leek soup has been in regular rotation since the first time I made it, because it’s so easy, inexpensive, and hard not to like.

But a lot of other things I’ve made over the past few months since posting have utterly failed. I made a zucchini rice gratin from Smitten Kitchen that was delicious, but immediately rejected. I bought some amazing kielbasa at a farmer’s market only to realize that apparently the man I married has no Polish blood in his veins. None. (Who is this man?!)

All this is by way of halfway explaining why I haven’t been posting, because I have been assuming that if my husband doesn’t like something, you won’t, either. But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Mostly because I fell in love with this soup, while he pretty much refused to eat it. Lentils, apparently, not being an acceptable source of protein.    Continue reading

White Bean and Ham Soup

gluten-free ham and white bean soup 4
March and April are apparently “the hunger season,” when most of the cold storage crops are gone and nothing fresh has come out of the ground yet. It’s also the period in my life when I generally start feeling gloomy and sad, wanting it to either snow and be pretty again like December, or warm up and get sunny like spring and summer are supposed to be.

Really the only thing for this uncomfortable time is to make soup. Soup can make you forget how gross and gloomy it is outside, help you feel better about curling up inside with a book, and make you so happy to be using up the beans stored in your pantry that you almost forget how angry you are to not be wearing your favorite new spring flats. Continue reading

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)

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Guys. I promised you a vegetable. Here it is. 

I know, it’s not green. It doesn’t even look like a vegetable, really. What it looks like is what it is — an incredibly decadent, velvety, tummy-warming combination of butternut squash, spices and a little crispy surprise on top. 

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But…it’s all vegetables. I mean, there’s some stock in there, but that can be vegetable, too, if you want. There’s no dairy or gluten at all in this. In fact, it’s even Paleo if you leave off the chickpeas and replace it with, oh, shrimp instead. Which would be awesome, no kidding.

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This huge pot of soup also took me about 45 minutes and $8 to make. That’s like $1 a serving, which is amazing when you consider you’d probably pay $6 a cup for this little number at your favorite local restaurant. Good food on a budget? I am totally in. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)
 
Author: Kate Wutz
A velvety dairy-free and gluten-free soup with vegan and paleo options. Totally the solution to that cold front you’re about to get hit with.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 cups good-quality stock (bone broth, beef stock, or vegetable stock)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp oil of your choice
  • pinch salt, pepper, cayenne
  • red pepper flakes for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, curry, salt, turmeric, paprika and coriander and cook until onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add butternut squash, carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash mushes easily. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then dump them between two tea towels and gently rub until dry. Toss with oil, salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper, then spread onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy, tossing halfway through so they cook evenly.
  3. Once the chickpeas are done, use an immersion blender (or a regular blender, in batches) to puree the soup. I left a few chunks in mine because I find perfectly pureed soups boring…some people like them. It’s up to to you.
  4. Ladle into individual serving bowls. Top with chickpeas and a smattering of chili flakes. Serve.
 
Notes
To make it paleo, omit chickpeas and substitute cooked shrimp.

 

Missing People and Mushroom Soup

all hearts come home for christmas 

I miss everything lately. Maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s that I haven’t been back to my hometown since 2008. Regardless of the reason, I’ve been throwing myself a little pity party for the past week, thinking back with nostalgia on everything from the weird noises the heating system made in my old house to the easiness of hanging out at my old “local” in Dublin.

Mostly, I have been thinking about things I wish I had done with my family. I wish I’d gotten to know Grandpa Wutz better. I wish I’d learned Polish from Grandma Wutz. I wish I had spent more time with Grandpa Gallo down in his basement workshop, learning about things like pocket holes and jigsaws and how to turn scrap wood into anything imaginable.

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While I’m probably going to have to teach myself about pocket holes, I can take advantage of the things I did learn from my family. I can wear scarves like Grandma Wutz did, sew a new bed for my dog using skills Grandma Gallo taught me, and I can make Grandpa’s mushroom soup.

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This soup is the most traditional recipe I have — in fact, really the only one. If I was a recipe hoarder, I would hoard this one. It comes from my maternal grandfather’s family, and it’s a dish my grandmother made every year without fail as the starter to our Christmas Eve dinner. She always says it’s a meal in itself, and I agree — so much so that I started making it for Christmas Eve dinner four years ago, serving it just with some crusty bread and a little wine.

One bite and you’re transported to Central Europe. Who else would combine kielbasa, sauerkraut, ham hocks and mushrooms? I really am not positive how authentic it is, but reliable relatives tell me it dates at least to the turn of the 20th century (despite my grandma’s version containing canned mushrooms, which I think was likely a change made later for convenience).

One caveat: this is not exactly Grandma’s recipe. She always used a ham bone, and she used half the amount of sausage, along with the aforementioned canned mushrooms. I felt like I could make this my own, within reason, and I could never find a ham bone when I was looking for one.

Regardless, it’s something I did manage to learn from my family. And in a way, that’s enough.

Mushroom Soup
 
Author: Kate Wutz
My family’s traditional Christmas Eve soup, a medly of Central European flavors — sausage, ham, sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Ingredients
  • 4 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 lbs brown cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 lbs smoked kielbasa, cut in half and then sliced
  • 2 lbs sauerkraut, rinsed thoroughly
  • Brown gravy:
  • 4 Tbsp butter (or, um, bacon grease if you want to get crazy)
  • Flour
  • Water
Instructions
  1. The night before Christmas Eve, put your ham hocks in the largest stock pot you have. Fill the rest of the pot with water and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for five hours or so. The broth might not look too much like broth, more like ham water, but it’ll be fine. Remove the ham hocks and put in a bowl in the fridge overnight. Chill the broth in its stockpot overnight as well.
  2. On Christmas Eve, skim the fat from the top of the broth and bring it back to a simmer. Meanwhile, peel the meat off of the ham hocks, trim the fat, and add the ham to the pot. Throw your dog a little bite if you’re feeling festive. Add mushrooms, kielbasa and sauerkraut and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. While the soup is simmering, make the gravy. Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-heat, then add flour until the mixture is dry (you may, yes, use gluten-free flour or cornstarch here). Watching this like a hawk and stirring constantly, brown this mixture until it’s golden. Whisk in water slowly, beating out lumps, until you have a thick gravy.
  4. Add to the soup and stir to combine (see how much thicker and darker that broth gets? Crazy!). Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for a few days. The flavors get better with a little bit of time.
 

 

Balance (and soup)

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I am not a particularly graceful practitioner of yoga. My legs don’t straighten in Forward Fold, my high lunge is a little wobbly, and my Downward-Facing Dog is still a work in progress. Warrior II and Three-Legged Dog are better, but I still find myself collapsing in a heap on my mat sometimes, unable to have brought my knee to my nose in plank position while also inhaling deeply and pulling in my lower abdomen.

My yoga teacher is (as it seems all yoga teachers are) an incredibly beautiful woman who makes every single pose look easy and fluid. The trick, she says, is to approach each position with humility and patience, trusting in time that your body will find its own strength and balance.

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Balance can be difficult to find during the holidays. There’s so much to do, so much rushing around, so much stress and strife and pressure. There are trees to decorate, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, and carols to sing. Christmas means the joy of spending time with friends and family, but also all of the stress inherent in making sure everything is perfect.

Sometimes, there are too many cookies during the holidays. Sometimes, there’s not enough protein. Sometimes, you find yourself having Diet Coke for lunch at 3 p.m. because you got tangled up in Christmas lights.

That’s when you should stop, breathe, and make some soup. In the course of finding my own balance, I didn’t manage to come up with a new soup recipe for you all. But the point is that soup can be the most meditative of things to make — lots of chopping, lots of stirring, and lots of patience.

And besides, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something really good for your body when you make one of the soups in the following list. And, you know, maybe do some yoga — practice your tree pose — while waiting for it to simmer. It’s all good.

Chicken Quinoa Soup

Chicken, Chard and White Bean Soup

Southwestern Corn Soup

Mulligatawny

Kale and White Bean Soup (via Martha Stewart)

Chicken Quinoa Soup

chicken quinoa soup with lemon and dill gluten freeWelcome to Comfort Food Week! This week, I have three recipes designed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, even though it might be cold and sad and disgusting outside. 

Guess what, you guys? It’s cold and flu season. That means that we always have a can of chicken noodle soup in the pantry, ready and waiting for the moment someone in our house gets the sniffles.

I should say that most years we have that can of soup in the pantry. This year, I have plenty of this soup in the freezer, because it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and additive-free — unlike that can of condensed soup we usually buy. It takes a little bit of time, but not nearly as much time as you think, especially if you skip making bone broth, like I did, and buy good chicken stock at the store.

However, the bone broth does give this an extra boost of nutrition. With all of that good stuff in the broth plus the protein of the quinoa and chicken and the amazing flavor of the lemon and dill, you’ll be feeling better in no time. And if you aren’t, that’s okay too, as this recipe makes a ton. You’ll be well on your way to recovery by the time you get through this batch.

Chicken Soup with Quinoa
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 8-10 servings
A perfect sick-day soup. Keep this in the freezer for when the flu strikes.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 8 cups broth (homemade or carefully selected store-bought)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast chicken breast on a foil-lined pan for about 30 minutes. (You can also pan-fry, but I preferred to roast).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and sautee for about 10 minutes, or until the onions and celery are soft.
  3. Add broth (I strained mine directly from the slowcooker into the pot). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the chicken breast is done roasting.
  4. Shred cooked chicken breast with two forks and add chicken, quinoa, lemon juice and dill. Simmer until the soup is completely heated through. Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to three days or freeze, if desired.
 
Notes
For this recipe, I used bone broth that had been made in a slow cooker with a chicken carcass, about three center-cut marrow bones, a carrot, celery and several peeled cloves of garlic. No ginger, no fish sauce, no vinegar.

 

Chicken, Chard and White Bean Soup with Bacon

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This is one of those recipes that came out of nowhere for me. There I was, picking the leftover meat off of the easiest roasted chicken ever, wondering what I was going to do with the buttload of chard I had harvested from my garden, when it it me — soup. It’s finally soup season. And I could make some with chicken and chard, and I don’t know, white beans? Yes, white beans. Very Tuscan. Awesome. 

This soup is so good that it made me wonder why I hadn’t tried chard in soup before. The reason is simple: it’s a texture thing. I sort of expected it to cook down into a huge mass that wouldn’t blend well with the other ingredients, but it didn’t. It held its texture beautifully, softly wilting but not turning mushy as I had feared. 

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White beans, chicken and the chard combine with garlic and even bacon to make a soup that is incredibly hearty and filling without being too heavy. I brought it for lunch three times last week, and it heated up perfectly each time. Plus, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free — what’s not to love?

If you don’t have leftover roasted chicken as I did, you can use the meat from a rotisserie chicken or from about three cooked chicken breasts. And if you don’t have as much time as I did to cook beans, feel free to use two cans of cannellini beans or whatever white beans you can find.

Chicken, Chard and White Bean Soup
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 40 mins
Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried white beans, soaked
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 sliced bacon, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch chard, de-stemmed and chopped (both leaves and stems)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth (or bone broth, which is what I used)
  • cooked meat from half of a 5-pound bird, or about 3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. First, cook your beans. Bring soaked beans and 5 cups water to a boil, and boil for about an hour and a half, or until the beans no longer have a white dot on the inside when cut open. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bottom of a large stock pot, fry your chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but about 2 Tbsp of the grease, then return pot to medium heat.
  3. Add red onion and the stems from the chard. Sautee in the bacon grease until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add white wine, broth, chicken meat and salt and pepper to taste, along with the beans, chard and the reserved bacon (minus however much you want to use for a garnish). Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Serve, topped with crunchy bacon pieces.