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.”

Continue Reading for Recipe

Advertisements

Potato and Leek Soup

Woah, did everyone else barely survive Tuesday after the long weekend?

One of my colleagues is interviewing at medical schools until later this week so I’ve had to cover for her a bit.  There wasn’t much to do this past week, but at the end of today I opened my inbox, to see it full of emails from my boss asking if I could take care of a few things for her before I left.  Needless to say I ended up leaving late, which always results in a snowball effect when commuting from Boston.  I.e. the later you leave, the worse your commute back home is going to be.

I usually leave work at half past three to avoid the crazies of “I’m going to sit on you despite that you’re a person,” or “hey, that’s your face? Let me get you right in the eye with my overstuffed Coach bag,” or “I’m going to thrust my crotch in your face even though the train isn’t moving. At all.”

At half past four I left the research building, but unfortunately, it’s the same thing as leaving at rush hour.  (Rush hour for Boston is from four to seven.  Seriously.)

Forty five minutes later, I got to Kenmore, but I was relieved that I knew that my commute was halfway over.  All I had to do was board the 57 bus, get through the mayhem that is BU, and I’d be home.

Instead, the bus caught on fire.

As we pulled up to the St. Mary’s stop, a strange smell that I can only describe as metallic and cooling, like a Vicks Vapor Rub gone carcinogenic, started coming from the back of the bus.  When I turned around, I saw smoke coming from the rear engine.  In good timing, the bus failed to move any further, so we slid to a stop.  However, with the engine dead, the power to the doors was also shut off.

Well…I found out this afternoon that I really don’t do well in “I think I’m going to burn to death in this smelly old bus,” situations.

When one of the passengers was told by the driver (at the front of the bus) to manually open the rear door by using the “emergency latch,” she had an absolute mental fail. She proceeded to tap the glass with her hand and say, “wait, I don’t get it.”

The glass box read, in all caps, “SMASH GLASS AND TURN RED HANDLE.”

As the smoke started to creep in on us, I completely lost my marbles.

“It says smash glass and turn red handle.”

Girl taps glass again and looks around. “Wait, but, it’s not working.”

“It says to SMASH it.”

Girl starts to pull on box.

“OH MY GOD, IT SAYS SMASH GLASS AND TURN THE RED HANDLE. SMASH IT! SMASH THE GLASS!”

The driver ended up climbing over people to take care of it.

I’m not proud of that moment.  In fact, when I finally arrived home (in a non-flammable bus) all I wanted to do was eat a bowl of hot carbs and tell Roo how horrible I was to another human being.

Thankfully Roo (who is way too good to me) just laughed and said no one is good in those situations.

Still not feeling exactly good about myself, I was in dire need of comfort food. I thought about just chopping a bunch of potatoes, tossing them in olive oil, and roasting them in the oven for dinner.  (If you haven’t tried oven roasted potatoes yet, you must.  It’s so good.)  But when I went to grab some wine out of the fridge, I eyed a few leeks that I hadn’t used yet from our CSA.

What resulted was a potato and leek soup, that almost, almost made me forget about this afternoon.  The sherry just adds that “little something,” that I felt was lacking when I first tasted it.  Though it’s not completely necessary, as some don’t wish to cook with alcohol, I feel if you have it, use it.  It’s lovely.

Also, while the browned leeks and potatoes go against the usual mantra of potato and leek soups, I felt it really boosted the flavor.  As I’ve said multiple times in the past, I absolutely love caramelized onions.  Leeks are onions, right?  Sure.

The thyme and rosemary warmed the dish through, making me relive memories of baked potatoes my mother would pull out of the oven on cold winter nights.  She’d then split them open, seasoning them generously with salt and pepper, serving them alongside a rosemary and thyme oven roasted chicken.

While Roo and I are eating a plant based diet this month, I feel you can still have meals that leave you feeling satisfied without having an animal protein on your plate.  All the flavors were there in this little bowl of soup: warming thyme and rosemary, creamy potatoes, with rich caramelized leeks.  An addition of chili powder perked up our taste buds, making the dish feel not too heavy.  And lastly, the sherry just pulls everything together.

The weather forecast for the rest of this week is going to be rain, so I’ll be looking forward to having this as leftovers for lunch, with a thick slice of toasted artisan bread of course.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Serves Four Generously

Ingredients

3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 leeks, white and light green parts sliced then washed very very well in a colander

Five medium sized potatoes, the size that can fit inside the palm of your hand, diced

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced

5 cups of low salt vegetable broth (I used homemade) plus an extra cup or so, in case you’d like to thin it out at the end

3 tablespoons cooking sherry

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Half teaspoon dried rosemary

Half teaspoon chili powder

Half cup soy milk

Equipment

A large pot

A sharp knife

A spatula

A ladle

A blender

A tea towel/a few paper towels

Add the olive oil to your large pot, and place on a burner over medium heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add your sliced leeks and cook, stirring occasionally.  When the leeks become translucent, about five minutes, add the diced potatoes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and leeks become golden brown.  Add the minced garlic, and stir into the ingredients.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the vegetable broth, sherry, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and chili powder.  Stir the ingredients till combined.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat down so that the soup is at a simmer.  Add the soy milk, and stir till combined.

Cook the soup until the potatoes are soft/fork tender.

Working in batches, ladle some of the soup into a blender, making sure to not fill it more than halfway.  Place your tea towel over the blender’s cover, and puree the soup.

I like my soup to have some texture, so I only puree half of the batch.  If you’d like to have a super smooth soup, then puree away.

Return the puree back into the soup pot, and stir till combined, working till you get the texture you want.

Add more vegetable broth to you soup also, if you’d like to thin it out more as well.

Spicy and Hearty Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup

Hoo boy, it is definitely October here in Boston!

Rainy cool days followed by the sun setting no longer at eight (goodbye summer solstice), have actually been welcomed here in our little apartment.  While some mourn the loss of their last heirloom tomato, I’m welcoming the leaves turning various shades of precious metals.  The squirrels are becoming even more active, skittering back and forth across the telephone wires that face the back of our kitchen, trying to collect the last of their bounty before cold, cold winter makes our way into the Northeast.

With the recent season change, I want nothing but to bake, eat loads of crusty bread, and dunk said bread into soup.  Lots of soup.  With our recent diet change to a plant based diet, I’m finding that soups are making the transition quite easy.  I love that this particular soup can easily be made on a work night and can last for an entire week’s worth of lunches….if you don’t mind that kind of thing!  And what I especially love about soup is that its flavors get even more complex the next day.

Incredibly warming from the red pepper flake, caramelized onions adding body and depth, with a variation of textures from the kale, cannellini beans, and potatoes, this soup is a cool weather favorite.  If you’ve never tried kale before, this is a great place to start.  The kale is tender, not bitter, and complements the creamy potatoes and cannellini beans.  I love grabbing a bite of everything, and how the kale picks up loads of broth on its leaves, giving me even more of a zing as it goes down.

Spicy dishes are great to remind you that even with summer ending, you don’t have to let go of the heat.  Ladle a serving or two of this soup into a bowl for you and your loved one, and sit a little close to one another on the couch.  Literally break some bread, and eat some love.

Serves Four To Six

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients

3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

3 to 4 medium potatoes (I used Russet), peeled and chopped to easily edible pieces

4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced (love love love garlic)

Half a tablespoon of red pepper flake (if you’re heat sensitive, start with a teaspoon…I LOVE heat, so the more the better!)

2 bay leaves

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

1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (I used Trader Joe’s brand) *again, if you’re heat sensitive, you can use just plain diced tomatoes so you can control the heat

4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth

Equipment

One large pot

A sharp knife

A spatula/tongs

Pour olive oil into your pot and place over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions turn golden brown (it may take more than five minutes depending on your burner), add the potatoes.  Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on your onions, and make sure you stir occasionally as you want them to caramelize as they cook with the potatoes, but not burn.

Add the garlic and red pepper flake.  Cook until fragrant, about thirty seconds to a minute.

Add the kale in batches, starting to wilt it in the hot oil, onion, garlic mixture.  Turn the kale over, to fully coat it (and even spoon some of those ingredients over the kale) with the hot ingredients in the pot, to help it wilt.  Once the first batch starts to wilt, add the second.  Continue turning the kale over, coating it with the hot ingredients, until all the kale starts to wilt.

Add the bay leaves, beans, tomatoes and broth to the pot.  Stir to combine all the ingredients.  Bring the ingredients to a boil.  Decrease the heat back to low/medium (my burner is extremely strong and it has to be set to very low to keep the ingredients at a simmer and not boil over) and simmer the ingredients for about ten more minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Pancetta, Rosemary, Potato Frittata

It’s 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday and Roo and I have been up for an hour.

“Are you the elderly?” you ask.

No, we’re cat owners.  I mean, he’s the cat owner.  And today we woke up to the cries of Stinkee (she’s the black cat in the header), pawing at our door.

At first I thought it would stop, but the cries eventually became distressful.  The pawing sounded like she trying to claw her way into the bedroom, and like a horrible good girlfriend, I shook Roo awake to have him see what was wrong.

“Love. Love. LOVE!”

{inaudible mumbling into pillow}

“Love, there’s something wrong with Stinkee.”

mew mew mew paw mew paw paw paw mew mew

Roo opened the door to find Stinkee, like a mentally-challenged Lassie, circling outside.  We eventually figured out that this was her trying to tell us that Evil Monkey was trapped in the guest bedroom.

Just as an aside, here’s another example as to how “helpful” Stinky can be.

(“Helpful” as in helping Evil Monkey finding her way into my oven.)

With all of us being awake so early, I felt that there was enough time to make one of Roo’s breakfast favorites: frittata.  Why not start our day with kitty drama, only to indulge in eggy, cheesy goodness with a crunchy potato-pancetta-pseudocrust.

I guess I can forgive Stinkee waking us up so early.

Ingredients

9 large eggs

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup swiss (I used Jarlsberg) cheese grated

1/4 cup cheddar grated

1/4 cup low moisture part skim mozzarella grated

1/4 lb pancetta (two 1/2 inch wide slices, cut from the round you get at the deli counter at the market)

4 potatoes (I used red russet) peeled and diced

2 tbsp dried rosemary (I love rosemary, you may not like it so…herby.  Start with 1 tbsp)

4 cloves of garlic minced (I love garlic, you may not be such a huge fan.  Start with 1 clove)

1/3 cup of flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) salted butter melted and cooled

3 tbsp olive oil

Equipment

1 very large saute pan (I use a 12″ pan)

Whisk

1 large sized bowl

Potato peeler

Sharp knife

Spatula

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.

Peel potatoes and cut into a medium dice, about 1/2 inch wide.  Pour olive oil into saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add potatoes.  Stir potatoes occasionally so they do not burn.  While the potatoes are browning, add eggs to the large sized bowl.  Whisk until homogeneous.  Add ricotta, swiss and cheddar.  Add melted butter and stir to combine.  Add flour and baking powder in two increments, stirring till just combined.  When potatoes have browned, add garlic and rosemary.  Cook till fragrant, about 30 – 60 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Pour contents of the large bowl into pan, over the potatoes.  Immediately place pan into oven and bake 50 – 60 minutes.  The frittata should puff up, middle firm to the touch, with the edges slightly pulled away from the pan.  When a knife is inserted in the middle, it should come out clean.