Category: Soup/Stew


I guess you could really just call this a stew, but that’s not really telling of what kind of awesome goes inside. You know what you’re getting into when you say gumbo or jambalaya. This is just like both of those, taking the great things about them, stewing them in a pot and pouring them over rice.

The spice is going to creep up on you quickly depending on what you go for in terms of sausage and how much cayenne and creole seasoning you use. The hotter the better for us, as usual. I like to blow my nose during the meal. Super classy, right? The rice soaks up all of the tomato juice and helps mellow the kick. I picked up the okra in the freezer section and finally grabbed a jar of filé powder. It’s a gumbo necessity. I don’t cook this stuff often, but ever since the cajun cooking class I’ve been meaning to get some. It adds a bit of flavor and is a wonderful thickening agent. I’ll even throw it on a bowl of curry every now and then if it’s particularly watery.

While you could use chicken breasts for this, I really really really advocate for thighs here. They have so much more flavor and stand up to cooking for longer periods without drying out. The shrimp is optional, but again, I highly recommend it. It’ll add another layer of flavor to this quick dish. It’s not going to benefit from long cooking time. It needs all the help it can get. You do sacrifice a bit of flavor for the sake of time if I’m honest, but sometimes I don’t want to wait. This is perfect for my impatience.

Inspiration: The Cozy Apron


  • Olive oil
  • 1lb andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1lb chicken thighs [or breasts], cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, small dice
  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 large bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2lb okra, sliced
  • 28oz can of tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1/2lb cleaned and deveined shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • rice, for serving


Heat some oil in large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the sausage. Let it sit for a minute or two so the oil starts to release from the meat and it starts to brown. Stir accordingly until all sides are heated. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel covered plate. Add the chicken to the pot. Brown it in the oil on all sides. Remove it to the plate with the sausage. Now add the onion, celery, and bell pepper [aka the holy trinity]. Stir occasionally until tender. Add the bay leaves, creole seasoning, cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine in the oil and vegetables. Add the garlic and stir quickly so it doesn’t burn or stick. It should smell heavenly. Add the tomato paste, stirring for about a minute or two before adding the stock, okra, tomatoes, chicken stock, chicken and sausage. Stir and bring to a boil before turning down to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Finally add the shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes and they get color. Sprinkle the parsley and cilantro on top before serving. Oh and remove the bay leaves. Service over rice.

Spicy Kale and Pork Noodle Soup

And just like that the holidays came and went. Well, we still have NYE, right? I’m already writing 2015 at the office, and just like I wrote it now, I had to go back and fix 2014 to say 2015. My finger and brain are just not ready to coordinate in that fashion.

The holidays were full of good people and good food as they always are and always should be. That’s all I care about. The Christmas Eve feast of sandwich fixins and chips and dips outdid itself. My parents found a new-to-us Bavarian deli called Edelweiss, which yielded some new meats for the table. They also carry European specialty foods. I need to check this out. I made some parker house pretzel rolls based on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. I didn’t get a photo as I was running out of the house to get over to my parents’, but they’re just as good as they sound. I had to make the dough the night before, let it do its first rise, shape them, and then let the second rise happen in the fridge overnight. Since it was Christmas Eve, and I was working, I didn’t know when I’d get home. I wanted them to be freshly baked, so this was my first attempt at slowing the rise down like that. You don’t have to bring them back to room temp before baking. I let them sit out while the oven preheated and I boiled the baking soda mixture to ‘pretzel’ them, but that was it. They baked just fine, and I wouldn’t have known I had them in the fridge overnight. I also made the reuben dip again, in honor of Grammy, but the Thousand Island dressing I picked up really wasn’t my favorite. It was too sweet for my taste, but there was plenty of other food to make up it.

Christmas Day was the usual Mexican food feast since repeating Thanksgiving got old a few years ago. Crockpots full of meats, rice, and beans coupled with tamales, chicken enchiladas, taquitos and a table full of all kinds of toppings — fajita veggies, salsas, guacamole, more cheese, etc. It was heavenly. I avoided tortillas and chips just so I could mound my plate with a “taco salad.”

I hope your holidays were equally awesome.

I also wanted to leave you with this simple little soup if you’re not in the mood to cook or eat leftovers anymore. It’s really, really, really simple and has a whole bunch of greens if you feel like you’ve been missing that in your life the last few weeks. The “spicy” is relative to your tastes. Ramp it up or down depending on who is doing the eating. Feel free to use the already grown versions of these spices. I just happened to have them on hand and went with it.

Inspiration: Eat, Live, Run


  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 3/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce [plus more to taste]
  • 8oz dried rice noodles


Smash together the ginger, peppercorns, chili flakes, cumin seeds, and garlic. I used a spice grinder because I’m lazy. Add the spice mixture to the ground pork in a bowl and mix together until incorporated. In your soup pot, heat the oil and medium high. When a drop of water sizzles in the pan, add the ground pork. Let it sit for a minute before breaking it up. Any caramelizing on the bottom of that pan is a good thing. Break it up into small bite sized pieces while it cooks.

When the pork is no longer pink, add the chicken broth, scallions, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Bring the whole thing to a boil before turning it down to a simmer for 6-8 minutes. Add the kale [in batches if necessary] and allow it to cook down. Allow it to cook another 10 minutes or so.

In a separate pot, cook your rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and run cool water over the top. To serve, add some noodles to the bottom of your bowl and then add the soup on top. Add more chili flakes or fish sauce to taste.

Sardine and White Bean Stew over Couscous

I’m back. Well, I’ve been back since Thursday night.

I’m currently craving cheap espresso, fresh seafood, all things ham, and vermouth. I could absolutely go back to Portugal or Spain. I loved them both.

The recaps are in progress, I promise. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on a lot of sleep and easing back into normal routines, whatever those are supposed to be. Between busy season at work and the vacation, I’m not sure I know anymore. Coming home to a three-day weekend was pretty awesome. I grilled because it’s Memorial weekend, and I’ve been dying to cook. The latest issue of Bon Appétit came in awhile I was gone, and it has a whole section about food and drink in Barcelona. Perfect timing. I was excited to see my favorite little bar of the whole trip was mentioned in it.

Since I’m clearly on a seafood kick, let’s eat some sardine and white bean stew. I’m always amazed by couscous whenever I actually decide to buy some. I eat it so infrequently, and you hardly ever see it in restaurants, that I forget how quickly it cooks. I don’t think I’ve ever screwed up a batch either. Is it possible to over/undercook it? I don’t think I have ever done it, not that I’ve tried.

Well, it’s a good base for pouring this sardine stew over the top of it. It’s not a heavy stew, and is totally brightened up by the fennel and white beans. The sardines are broken down within, so you only get hints of salty flesh here and there. It’s not overbearing in the slightest.

Inspiration: A Thought for Food


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 small fennel bulb, think sliced
  • 15oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 14oz can white beans, drained
  • 4oz sardines packed in oil, drained
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped parsley
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper


Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Cook the bread crumbs for a few minutes until it’s golden brown and smelling toasty. Set aside.

Add another two tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet, and lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic, carrots, fennel, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add the tomatoes, beans, and sardines with a pinch or two of a red pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to breakdown the sardines into the vegetable mixture. It will thicken as it cooks. Taste for additional salt.

While the vegetables cook, bring a pot with the cup of water, oil, and salt to a boil. Add the couscous, turn off the heat, and cover. Allow it to cook for three minutes, absorbing the water. Fluff with a fork when it’s done.

Layer the stew over the couscous and top with the parsley and breadcrumbs before serving.

Cheese Tortellini Stew with Sausage

I’m still here. Promise.

Tax season is in full swing, so I’ve been spending 60 hours a week at the office and eating a lot of catered meals. I purposely go out to eat for lunch because a break from the computer is welcome. In other words, I’m not cooking.

I’ve been missing it, though. A lot.

In my lack of free time, we booked our flight to Spain and Portugal. Nearly three weeks there. I couldn’t be happier. It’s coming up quick, too, which makes it even better. There isn’t much worse than booking something so far in advance that it doesn’t even feel like it’s happening. Couple the quick timeline with a super busy work schedule, and I’ll be on that flight soon enough. Any suggestions? We’ve got a loose schedule of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Lisbon, and Porto. Anything else is extra. I’ve definitely learned that I can’t try to bake too much into the trip or I’ll be left exhausted and disappointed. The only things we’re trying to make happen is a ton of wine and a FC Barcelona match. I’m not a huge Barca fan, but I can’t go all that way to not see one of the best teams in the world. I’ve been working on my Español via Duolingo. I’m surprised at how much I remember. Seriously, though, suggestions. I need ’em.

This stew was random and made weeks ago in a fit of lusting after carbs and cheese. That’s normal, right? It all resulted in a famous “let’s throw everything in the pot, and see what happens.” Tortellini are one of those things that I can’t ever see myself making. It seems like way too much effort when there is are perfectly good pre-made ones at the store. Spinach, canned tomatoes, and Italian sausage round out the rest of it. It’s hardly a bad combination. Oh, and garlic and chili flakes. Lots of them, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from me. Shaved pecorino came later. And during. And before. That goes for the wine, too.


  • 8oz frozen tortellini
  • 15oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 10oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1lb spicy Italian sausage, sliced [mine was precooked]
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
  • pecorino cheese, for serving


Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil and wait until it starts to shimmer. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, browning it on a few sides. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Don’t let it burn. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, juice and all. Bring it to a boil and add the vinegar. Add the chopped spinach and tortellini. Bring to a simmer, and stir occasionally. Taste the tomato broth for salt and pepper. Add chili flakes to your heart’s content. The tortellini will be cooked through after about 10 minutes. Serve into bowls, and top with fresh shaved pecorino.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

Valentine’s Day wasn’t nearly as awesome/awkward as those gone by. A delicious burger and fries from Killer Burger and baked brie with fig jam for dessert at home washed down with one of the most complex and incredible Brunellos I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. AKA – dinner. We followed up the following night at Mextiza. I was a tiny bit skeptical. Fancy Mexican food. It was totally worth it in the end. The flavors here are incredible. Molotes [fried dumplings, stuffed with black beans and spicy chicken, topped with cream and avocado chile sauce], enchiladas blancas [wild boar and spinach stuffed enchiladas, simmered in a spicy almond cream sauce, fried garlic and pickled onions], and cabrito [slow roasted goat, roasted yellow potatoes, grilled onions, served over a chile vinegar sauce, and pinto beans]. Yum. I highly encourage washing it down with a house margarita.

Did I mention that I have a copy of Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller? It’s a killer Christmas present [thank you!], and was originally suggested to me by my lovely friends at Radar. They make some of my favorite food in the city, so if they start suggesting things, I listen. The book is a lot little intimidating. These are mostly time commitments and have multiple parts, but are totally worth it for the finished product. I really really really really want to make the braised beef short ribs for the stroganoff, but when do I really commit myself to something that I have to start the previous day? I’m lazy. Someday, though.

In the meantime, I did make the Chicken Soup with Dumplings. It’s stellar. There is seriously something magical about making your own dumplings for the soup. I’d never done it before [I usually cheat and just use gnocchi or something], and it does make all the difference. The other part about straining out your vegetables that sweat together for nearly a half hour and then bathe in the stock for another half hour from your stock is something that’s so “duh” but not done enough. You’ve literally cooked out all the flavor from those vegetables. They’re shells of their former selves, and are just mush. Get ’em out of there and add fresh for the finish. Huge. Difference. The only thing I couldn’t really get right was the thickness of the soup. I don’t exactly know what I did wrong, but it wouldn’t stop me from eating it again, if only to try and perfect it. It’s not a bad problem to have. Oh, and prepare to use every single pot and pan in your kitchen. It’s one of those.

Inspiration: Ad Hoc at Home (pg. 122)


[this is list broken up into the order that you’ll use things]

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup leeks, coarsely chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup roux [4 tablespoons butter melted into 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour and cooked until nutty brown]
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • flat leaf parsley for garnish


Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and leeks. Add a healthy pinch of salt, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly with a little stirring for about 30 minutes. The vegetables will be super tender. Turn off the heat if you’re not done with the dumplings yet.

To make the dumplings, fill a wide, deep pot with salted water and bring it to a simmer. Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Combine the water, butter and a teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. On medium high heat, bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat a little and add the 2/3 cup flour all at once. Stir quickly with  a stiff spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. The pan will be nice and clean when you’re done. It’ll be smooth but moist still. Now you’ll work your arm out. For another 5 minutes, continue stirring the combined dough around the hot pan so it can dry out. You don’t want the dough to brown, so keep stirring. Once it starts to stick to the bottom or sides of the pan again, you’re good. Transfer the dough to the bowl of the mixer, and add the mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix for a few seconds so the heat can disperse. Add the eggs one at a time while the mixer is on the lowest speed. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chives and mix. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Shape the dumplings using two soupspoons to make a quenelle shape. It took a bit to get them actually into that shape, but I ultimately did. Drop the dumplings into the simmering water. Cook them in smaller batches, like five or six, to avoid crowding. Cook they rise to the surface, it takes about five minutes for them sot cook through. This takes a bit, but again, worth it.

To finish the soup, add the chicken stock to the vegetables you cooked earlier, and bring it all to a simmer. After 30 minutes, strain the vegetables out. Cut the remaining stalks of celery on the diagonal. You want about 1 1/2 cups of celery. Blanch the celery until tender, and submerge in an ice bath. Cut the carrots into small pieces until you get a cup and a half. Cook them in a small saucepan with the honey, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with cold water and cook on a simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Drain the carrots. Bring the chicken stock back to a simmer, and stir in the roux a little at a time until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming often. I never thought that was a big deal, but it’s pretty gross. Add the dumplings, chicken, and vegetables to the soup so it can cook through. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.