Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Potato Leek Soup

Happy December, friends! I feel like the super-late date of Thanksgiving has caused December to sneak up on me even more rapidly than usual. For me, December usually equates to a significant uptick in baking, candy-making, and gift-crafting that keeps me in the kitchen late into the night breaking up toffee and tying ribbon around pretty little boxes of mulling spices before packing them gently in bubble wrap and shipping them to friends and family across the continent.

And as much as I might like to convince myself that I can survive on party mix, mini cheesecakes, and pomegranate salsa, I work really hard to make sure I also have some real food in my fridge to sustain me. Something, warm, easy to prepare after late nights of baking, and filling enough to get through the busy days. To keep cooking to a minimum, I often turn to soups.

I had a bit of a soup explosion last fall and posted A LOT of them on the site: Butternut Squash Soup, my Favorite Chili, Sweet Potato Soup, Colorado Cape Cod Chowder, and more. This year I’ve been repeating many of those soups, but I did discover a simple potato leek soup recipe that I HAD to share with you.

Simple ingredients
Like so many soups, this one has fairly humble components: potatoes, leeks, and an onion make up the base, and a little butter, salt, pepper, and cream bring it all together.

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Cozy January meal

Let me begin by saying that I realize the title of this post doesn’t make sense. Colorado is home to neither capes nor cod. I know.

I also know that I cooked this meal in North Carolina and cooked this meal using East Coast cod.

In addition, I have no idea what chowder from Cape Cod actual tastes like. No idea what the recipe is. So despite the fact that both my mom and grandma have been making “Cape Cod Chowder” (as is written in my grandma’s hand on a splattered recipe card) to ward off the chill of January in Colorado for my entire life, I couldn’t really call it that for fear of the wrath of proper Cape Cod residents with their own opinions on what is or is not Cape Cod Chowder.

It’s rather dizzying.

Chowder time

But I adore this soup. I look forward, each winter, to the stick-to-your-bones warmth provided by this hearty meal composed of relatively simple ingredients.

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I’ve talked rather a lot in the last few months about the wedding in early October for which I traveled across the continent, stood up as a bridesmaid, and baked the groom’s cake & wedding cake. What I haven’t talked quite so much about is the wedding I attended the week after as, quite blissfully, simply a guest.

Just a few short days after I returned from my whirlwind week in Colorado, Brad and I headed north to Washington DC for wedding #2. Though we stayed in the city with a friend who was also on the guest list, the ceremony itself was about an hour outside the city at a quaint little vineyard nestled in the rolling hills of Northern Virginia. It was a beautiful, clear evening, though the chill of autumn had definitely arrived. And while the wedding party raced against the sun to capture all their photos, the rest of us took advantage of the occasional & delicious delivery of appetizers throughout the cocktail hour.

Our favorite? Shot glasses full of brilliant orange sweet potato soup. Since we were shamelessly stalking the catering staff for more and subsequently tilting each glass back to drain every last drop, I knew I must try to recreate it at home.

This soup is another super-thick, veggie-packed, warm and filling delight. Its the latest installment of my recent obsession with soups (I’ve made no less than five large batches of soup this fall) and it’s certainly one I’ll make again. It begins, of course, with sweet potatoes, and is supported by a smattering of other vegetables.

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This Halloween is a bit odd for a huge swath of the U.S. A deep cold has arrived much earlier than normal due, in major part, to the massive storm that walloped the Eastern seaboard early this week and continues to wreak havoc as it churns slowly west. Durham was spared much of the power of the storm, but for many cities with transit systems shut down, widespread power outages, hugely destructive flooding, fires, and heavy snows, it is a bit of an understatement to suppose that many a trick-or-treater’s plans have been marred or cancelled all together.

This chili, based on my mom & dad’s recipe, is normally something I strongly associate with winter. I didn’t particularly care for it much as a kid, and yet there was nothing I wanted more after a day outside in the snow. Thick, warm, and hearty, I’ve come to favor it earlier and earlier in the season every year.

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With both colder weather and a bothersome chest cold arriving in the last couple of weeks, I’ve craved almost nothing but soup. I know many of you live in areas where it’s still a bit too balmy to day dream about tiny basins full of steaming soup, but bear with me. Your cooler weather will arrive soon enough, and when it does, you need to be ready to make this incredibly incredible soup featuring a vegetable almost as synonymous with autumn as king pumpkin: the butternut squash.

I won’t lie to you. Butternut squash is only something I’ve come to appreciate very, very recently. I don’t remember eating it much as a kid; we tended to favor summer squashes in my house. So when a friend brought me a bowl of butternut squash soup (in the worst days of my cold) I admit: I was a bit nervous. But after one spoonful, I became keenly aware that I may have been missing out on a vegetable that is practically given away at the farmers market, easy to store for long winters, and downright delicious.

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Spring has most definitely sprung in North Carolina. And from the looks of Facebook statuses from friends across the country, it has sprung in many other places, too. It’s a time for swapping socks for flip flops, coats for t-shirts, and huddling in a blanket for lounging on the balcony.

But I also love the rainstorms. The thunderheads that roll in over the afternoon and burst into lighting and rain as night falls.

These nights call for cozy. These nights call for soup.


Soup is pretty easy cooking. Some of my meals literally seem to use every one of the dishes in my kitchen, but soup pot’s got my back. It’s totally cool with me spending the rest of the evening watching West Wing instead of cleaning up from dinner. The cutting board, on the other hand, gets quite a workout.

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Yesterday was dreary. And lazy. I got up at 11:30 and did approximately nothing until 4:30. Nothing. It. Was. Glorious. Lazy days like this come rarely. I can normally talk myself into doing something moderately productive, even on the weekends: errands, cooking projects, editing photos, planting seeds, writing posts. But yesterday, for five surprising hours, nothing.

I crave soup on days like yesterday. Something warm, something filling, something that simmer and bubbles on the stove while the gray sky presses down outside. I have some old standbys, yes, but my friend Sara brought this one to my attention a while back, and let me tell you: it’s perfect for a dreary, lazy day because it’s super easy and comfort food to the max.

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I’ve been making a lot of soup lately. I crave it when it gets cold, when it gets cloudy, or when I just want to eat the embodiment of warmth and comfort.

Do you know the story of Stone Soup? An old folk tale that varies from culture to culture, the story centers around a traveler who arrives in a small village seeking food. At every door he is turned away as the villagers attempt to protect their meager pantries. The traveler then asks, quite simply for a stone and a kettle so that he might prepare a delicious soup.

Curious, the villagers slowly emerge from their homes and begin to offer small ingredients that will improve the soup: a bunch of carrots, an ear of corn, some grains of pepper. In no time at all, a hearty, filling soup feeds not only the traveler but the entire village, and the modest contribution of each villager yields an excellent meal for everyone.

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I hate getting sick. Stuffy head and achy muscles and sore throat. No fun.

Less fun two weeks after seeing Contagion. No joke. Have you seen that movie? Scary.

But as much as being sick makes me not want to cook, I crave soup like crazy when I have a cold.

And there’s nothing quite like homemade chicken noodle soup.

Sans chicken.

I don’t want to mislead you. This soup has lots of chicken stock, yes, but no chicken meat. Why? Because I don’t like it in there. I don’t know why. Never have. My mom used to strain chicken noodle soup so that the little pinkish chicken pieces got caught in the strainer and I was left with warm, savory broth. Am I the only one?

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