Roasted Red Pepper Soup

It’s hard making friends after college. The pool of new people drastically decreases, there’s usually a lack of liquor conversation, with the majority having more interest ‘pinning’ a cookie that’s inside a cupcake that’s inside a pie, than attempt to fill the awkward silence.

It’s not like you can knock on people’s doors to see if they want to be friends. That’s how you get your pic trending under #creeper on Twitter.

Which may explain my desperation behavior at my new job.

Ohmygod. I love Rihanna too!”

Lindsay turned around and removed her earbuds. “What? I couldn’t hear you.”

“I said, ‘I love Rihanna too.'”

“Ok.”

“We should be friends.”

Let’s be clear, I don’t walk around my neighborhood, trying to hear what’s playing on strangers’ iPods. Instead, I’ve convinced myself that a new job is like college, but with paychecks. You know, an absolutely proper place to make new friends.

“Do you do yoga?”

Amy took a sip of her tea. “Sometimes.”

“I noticed that you wear leggings a lot-”

She set her mug down on her desk. “You’ve been noticing…what I’ve been wearing?”

“I do yoga too!”

“Um-”

“We should be friends.”

I’m surprised I haven’t been reported to HR. ‘Noticed what you’re wearing?’ She looked at me like I said, ‘it puts the lotion in the basket.’

“You had soup for lunch yesterday?”

“Yeah it was leftovers.”

I pulled two Tupperware containers from my purse. “I brought you some soup I made last night. It’s roasted red pepper.”

“Oh…I already ate.”

“It’s 10 a.m.”

“Like I said-”

“You eat lunch at ridiculously early times too?”

“Uh-”

“Be my friend.”

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Corn Chowder

Dear Young Singleton,

Perhaps you came across this page, hoping to find some nekid pics of Liz Lemon.  Sorry to disappoint, but while you’re here, can we talk about a couple things?  Like, what not to say to girls¹.  I can’t exactly tell you what to say, but if you avoid the following, you may be able to avoid another night alone Googling ‘What’s under Liz’s shirt.’

1) Are you really going to wear that?

I was, until you looked at me like I was rolling around in cheese. Now I hate clothes. All the clothes.

2) Don’t you have enough shoes?

THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH SHOES! (wipes drool from side of mouth)

3) Are there going to be any guys there?

Yes. It’s actually brothel. And you’re so not invited.

4) You should definitely get a gym membership.

Now I’m just going to spite-eat these cookies while picturing your face melting off. In yoga pants of course.

5) Are you going to eat all of that?

Yes, and so should you. It’s delicious. Asshole.

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Mushroom Soup

“Someone fell on me on the train today.”

“So they knocked into you? Doesn’t that happen all the time?”

“No. Someone fell on. to. me.  I was on the ground face up, with them on top of me.”

“What?”

“He was too busy eating a delicious looking lemon poppy seed cake out of one hand and a drinking a coffee out of the other to hold the rail.”

“Well obviously it was because of his delicious looking cake. I mean, lemon poppy seed? Screw. that. rail.”

“Really?”

Roo looks up from his iPad, “Are you ok babe?”

“I cried.”

“Cried and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought?”

“No, this isn’t an episode of HIMYM on what makes a Real New Yorker. This is real life. ”

“Meaning -”

“The anger cry.”

“I know that cry. It’s kind of…confusing.”

“Yes, a snotty nosed, yelling to getoffofme, anger cry occurred as soon as I realized he was on top of me…And that he was still holding his coffee and cake.”

“Not a drop spilled?”

“Not a single drop.”

“He must have gone to UMass.”

“So not the point Roo. So not the point.”

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Tunisian Soup

The house is strangely quiet tonight.

Roo left an hour ago to meet up with a friend from college at a local bar.

It’s just me, the cats and the sound of rain.

While it would be tempting to have dinner with the tv blaring, staring vacantly at whatever program I happen to come across, I’d rather just sit.

And listen.

Taste.

And enjoy the quiet company that I have.

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Mushroom and Wheatberry Soup with Kale

Some New Year’s resolutions may be to lose weight this year.  Others may want to quit smoking.  And maybe a few would like to spend less money.

I on the other hand, would just like to keep the crew from Hoarders from showing up at my apartment doorstep.

My kitchen cupboards are full, full of pantry staples like flours, dried beans, sugars, canned tomatoes and the like.  Unfortunately, it goes beyond that.

Various dried mushrooms? Shitake, porcini and woodman’s blend (whatever that means…)

Hijiki? Shacking up with arame.  They’re besties.

Dates? Sure, but to get to them you gotta push aside the dried cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, apricots, dried cherries…hold on a sec….where did these cacao nibs come from!?

And with the cupboards being filled to the brim, some items have found “homes” in re-usable grocery bags on the floor.  It just needed to stop.

Soup, was the answer.

The flux of warm, re-circulated, dry air in the lab to a drastically different, wet, cold and sometimes windy Boston side-street, has brought on sniffling noses, stiff joints and knuckles begging to be cracked.  Perhaps it’s a lingering bug, but I’m convinced that the constant change has left my body tired and hungry; hungry for warm bowls filled with hearty ingredients and dunkable broth.

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Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup

I’ve been living with Roo for over a year now, and I feel like I have enough data to say that he’s probably a serial killer.  Or an alien…but better looking than Powder of course.

*The fact that I mentioned Powder and “data,” should be far enough evidence to prove something’s wrong with him for staying with me.

Anyways…

1) When I discovered a few grey hairs and told him about it, he said, “I bet you’d look hot with salt and pepper hair.”

Who says that?  No one wants a 30 year old female to go gray.

Except for serial killers.

2) He always tells me I’m beautiful when I wake up in the morning, despite my insisting that I more resemble a Kraken.

Let me state, I am not “beautiful” when I wake up.  My face is oily, my hair that I put in a bun to keep myself from choking on it in my sleep is all mussed up and sitting on the top of my head, and I have the. worst. breath.  Hence, Kraken.

3) When I come home from the yoga studio, always after a practice where I sweat with such ferocity that it goes into my eyeballs (probably the worst thing to experience since you go both blind and your eyes itch), he’ll hug me even tighter saying that I “just smell like Lys.”

What does that even mean?!

I’ll tell you, it means he’s trying to memorize my scent so when he’s hunting me in the woods he can track me better.

4) Whether we’re sitting on the couch in private or at a bar amongst friends, he always has to have some part of his body touching mine.  At first I thought it was sweet when we were first dating, but now I know it’s just to make sure that when his head is turned he knows I haven’t fled the scene as he can feel me beside him.

Oh, I’m onto you Roo.  But for now, I’ll make you a pot of vegetable and pearl barley soup on this windy December day, insisting that it was made with love, despite my hand rattling the ladle against the bowl.

Chunks of potatoes and carrots, amongst the tender chew of pearled barley, net in by sweet kale makes this soup fit for winter.  This dish has hints of earthiness from the addition of rosemary, only to be paired with two other favorite herbs of mine: thyme and bay.  Adding a big hunk of bread to your plate will practically leave little else to be desired for supper.

Except for my freedom from a serial killer.

Roo is not really a serial killer or alien but a really good boyfriend despite my being a giant pain in the ass.

Adapted from Orangette

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, diced

Half cup of pearl barley

4 stalks of celery, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

4 potatoes (about the size that can fit in the palm of your hand), peeled and cut into one inch cubes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of dried rosemary

Quarter teaspoon of chili powder

6 cups of low sodium stock (I used homemade)

2 – 3 bay leaves

1 bunch of kale (about a pound), leaves removed from stems and torn into easily edible pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

A very large pot (or a dutch oven)

Add the olive oil to your large pot or dutch oven and place on a burner over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and pearl barley.  Stir the ingredients together, coating them with oil.  When the onions start to soften, and the pearl barley starts to brown, add the celery, carrots and potatoes.  Stir the ingredients together so that they’re well combined.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until they are softened.  Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and chili powder, stirring them into the other ingredients till well combined.  Cook them for about about a minute, till well fragrant.  Add the stock slowly, just a little at first, to allow the brown bits to come off the bottom of the pot with a spatula.  Scrape them off the pot’s surface, then continue adding all the stock.  Add the bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil.

Once at a boil, reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a simmer.  Cover the pot and cook for about fifteen minutes, then add the kale, stirring it into the liquid.  Continue to simmer the ingredients for five more minutes, then check to see if your barley and potatoes are cooked through.  The potatoes should be soft to the touch (be able to poke a fork through easily) and the barley should have a little bit of chew to it.  Season with salt and pepper if desired, then serve.

Veggie and Dumpling Soup with Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Roo and I live in a part of the city where many college students sublet apartments throughout the school year.  By living in an area heavily populated with undergrads, we have easy access to many locally run restaurants within walking distance.  However, one of the businesses across the street from our apartment is a chain restaurant.  And this particular chain loves to receive deliveries at 4 in the morning, with the semi-truck right parked in the middle of the road, complete with the engine running for the entire time.  The truck is usually there for 30 minutes to an hour, complete with hissing from air being released from the brakes and sometimes if you’re really lucky, a blast of the air horn, to let the employee stashed in the back know that they’ve arrived.

Usually Roo and I can sleep through it, as after living on a busy road for a while, little wakes you up.  But this morning was different, as the truck driver decided to use a cart to move items in and out of the restaurant.  Clickity clack clack clack, is what I woke to at 5 a.m.  As I rolled over to whine to Roo about the noise (because whining is totally appropriate couples’ communication when you’re pre-coffee and the sun isn’t up yet), I found that he wasn’t there.

Where was he?

When I turned the light on in the living room, I found Roo asleep on the couch, and Evil Monkey, obviously caught red-handed in some sort of master plan.

(Seriously, she’s an evil genius.)

I asked him what happened, and apparently I told him in the middle of the night, “stop coughing or get out.”

Wow.

I know what you’re thinking, because I am too: he’s so lucky to have. all. this. (crazy.)

All joking aside, I felt incredibly guilty that I forced Roo into exile, and knew I had to make it up to him.

When I’m sick, all I want is a warm, hearty soup that I can eat while wrapped in a blanket and my feet tucked up under me.  (Spooning a soup bowl is like my hobby when I have a cold. That and using every conceivable paper product in the house to blow my nose.  Really.)  I knew Roo wasn’t a fan of brothy soups, so I decided to do an adaptation of an old favorite of mine: chicken and dumplings.

While Roo and I are now eating plant based meals, I felt that that was no reason to stop eating the comfort foods we had grown up with.  There is always room for adaptation.

Simmering in my dutch oven, were flavors of woodsy thyme, onions, practically melted into the olive oil, with chunks of carrots and a peppering of celery throughout, all enveloped by a rich and creamy soup.  What I especially loved was that the oven roasted cauliflower placed at the bottom of the bowl, gave a slight crunch, from the caramelized bits that had cooked up against the baking sheet, only to end with a smooth and silky taste, coupling perfectly with the soup.

This meal does well as leftovers, as overnight, the flavors truly meld together, and make a lunch all your co-workers will be jealous of.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For the oven roasted vegetables

1 – 2 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets (*if you don’t like cauliflower – gasp! – you can always roast broccoli)

1 big pinch of fine sea salt

For the soup

3 to 4 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

6 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 ribs of celery, thinly sliced

Half teaspoon of red pepper flake (optional)

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

Quarter teaspoon of tumeric

Five and a half cups of low sodium stock/broth (I used homemade vegetable)

2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (this adds to the creaminess of the soup)

Half cup of apple cider (apple juice also works if that’s all you have)

2 tablespoons sherry

Half cup of unflavored unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

Half cup of water

Half cup of all purpose flour

For the dumplings

One and a half cups of all purpose flour

Half cup of cornmeal

1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder

Half teaspoon of fine sea salt

Three quarters of a cup plus 2 tablespoons of unflavored unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

2 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil

Equipment

A sharp knife

2 medium sized mixing bowls (can hold about 4 cups), or you can wash out the mixing bowl and use it again

One to two cookie sheets with (optional) parchment paper to line

A large dutch oven or a large pot with lid

A spatula

A blender or immersion blender…you may be able to get out the lumps when mixing the almond milk/water/flour with a whisk/shake a lidded jar

A whisk

A tablespoon (to scoop the dumplings with)

Place the oven racks to the middle and lower position in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 425F.

In your first mixing bowl, add the cauliflower florets, olive oil and big pinch of sea salt.  Toss the ingredients together till the cauliflower is well coated with the olive oil.  Place the cauliflower on one to two (optional, lined with parchment paper) cookie sheets, depending on how much cauliflower you have.  If using only one cookie sheet, place it on the bottom rack.  Otherwise, place both cookie sheets on individual racks in the oven, and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, switching position of the sheets halfway through.  Roast the cauliflower until it is tender and the outside is beautifully browned (it does not have to be browned all over, if leaving it in the oven for too long makes you nervous about burning).

Pour 3 – 4 tablespoons of olive oil into your dutch oven/large pot and place over a burner on medium heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the carrots and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has browned.  Add the red pepper flake (if using), thyme and tumeric.  Stir the spices into the ingredients until combined.  Cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Pour in the broth/stock slowly.  Using your spatula, scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of your dutch oven/large pot (this is the good stuff).  Continue to pour in the broth/stock and stirring the ingredients.  Add the nutritional yeast, stir till combined.  Add the apple cider.  Stir till combined.  Add the sherry.  Stir till combined.  Cover the dutch oven/large pot and simmer the ingredients while you make your dumplings.

In your second (or cleaned) mixing bowl, add the all purpose flour, cornmeal, 1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder and half teaspoon of fine sea salt.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Add the almond milk and olive oil.  Stir the ingredients together, being careful not to over mix.  The dough should be slightly damp.  If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour.  If it’s too dry, add a little bit more almond milk.  Set aside.

In a blender (or if using, an immersion blender and bowl, whisk and bowl, or jar with lid, maybe?), add the half cup of almond milk, half cup of water and half cup of all purpose flour.  Mix the ingredients together until no longer lumpy.  Add the almond milk, water, flour mixture to the dutch oven/large pot.  Stir till combined.

With a clean tablespoon, spoon out the dumpling dough and drop it onto the soup.  Continue adding dollops of dough into the soup until you run out.  Partially cover the dutch oven/large pot and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Check the seasonings and add salt if needed.  Let the soup sit for about 10 minutes before serving.