Currently viewing the tag: "soup"

chai tea latte | the vanilla bean blog
This week I took part in a ‘mini-cleanse’, which was much needed after weeks and weeks of baking and recipe testing. Recently the editors of Martha Stewart Living put out Clean Slate, a cookbook and guide focused on clean eating. The book describes clean eating this way: “Start with fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins; prepare them simply, and take the time to share and enjoy them.” It also involves “focusing on every aspect of our meals – turning away from our screens and devices and avoiding other distractions, so we can savor the process of cooking and eating.” I like this mindset, and while I do cook a majority of our meals from scratch, they tend to be focused on dairy and carbs, especially in these cold winter months.

The book has a great variety of recipes; everything you’d need to get through the day. It also has a 3-day plan for a ‘mini-detox’ and a 21-day action plan. I started with three days, although I must admit I cheated a bit. The book has a serious detox that involves the same meals for each day, but I knew without some variety I would quit early. So I made smoothies each morning for breakfast (blueberry-green tea from the book, and this strawberry-basil one), soup for lunch (a pot of this Buckwheat Noodle Miso Soup with Bok Choy was perfect all three days), and Ginger-Scallion Chicken in parchment was a favorite for dinner. Afternoon snacks were also a must! Chai lattes with almond milk were perfect alongside chocolate bark, and garlic-herb yogurt cheese was the best way to enjoy a little dairy. Overall I thought the recipes were great, and I also felt great eating so well.
clean slate cookbook

Bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in miso-lime broth | the vanilla bean blog

Ginger-scallion chicken in parchment | the vanilla bean blog

garlic-herb yogurt cheese | the vanilla bean blog

chocolate bark with cacao nibs + fleur de sel | the vanilla bean blog
The kind folks at Martha Stewart Living are giving away a copy of Clean Slate, as well as a bottle of the Martha Stewart Essentials Women’s Mutli-Vitamin and the Hair, Skin & Nails vitamins! To enter the giveaway: leave a comment with your name and email address below.

The Martha Stewart Everyday Entertaining Collection is available exclusively at Macy’s.

Although I was provided with a copy of Clean Slate, all opinions are my own.

chocolate magic shell
“But the kitchen will not come into its own again until it ceases to be a status symbol and becomes again a workshop. It may be pastel. It may be ginghamed as to curtains and shining with copper like a picture in a woman’s magazine. But you and I will know it chiefly by its fragrances and its clutter. At the back of the stove will sit a soup kettle, gently bubbling, one into which every day are popped leftover bones and vegetables to make stock for sauces or soup for the family. Carrots and leeks will sprawl on counters, greens in a basket. There will be something sweet-smelling twirling in a bowl and something savory baking in the oven. Cabinet doors will gape ajar and colored surfaces are likely to be littered with salt and pepper and flour and herbs and cheesecloth and pot holders and long-handled forks. It won’t be neat. It won’t even look efficient. But, when you enter it you will feel the pulse of life throbbing from every corner. The heart of the home will have begun once again to beat.” — Phyllis McGinley
sarah kieffer
My theme for this New Year is kitchen-as-workshop; I love the picture painted above: you and I will know it chiefly by its fragrances and its clutter…the pulse of life throbbing from every corner. Too often I find myself daydreaming about how to make my kitchen space bigger and better, ignoring the simple beauty in what my hands have put together on well-worn counter tops and aged appliances. The memory I hold to from my Grandmother’s kitchen is not of her posh center island or one-of-a-kind dishware, but of her long, wrinkled hands gracefully kneading bread dough on an old, wooden cutting board. There was soul in that wood, soul that just can’t be bought. The heart of the home will have begun once again to beat.
Almond Ring

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creamy carrot orange soup | the vanilla bean blog

It’s been cold here, colder than we’ve known. I’ve found myself hiding in layers of sweaters and socks and hand-me-down quilts. Our house creaks and booms as the wind tries to make it’s way in, but it cannot find us here. We all huddle close, eating popcorn and watching movies and losing ourselves in familiar books.

Soup and bread seemed like logical choices the past few days. After too many weeks of too many treats, my body begs for simple, clean foods: dug from the earth, and plucked from a tree.

‘The cold finds the skin but doesn’t find the heart. What I didn’t know then was that the cold constricts the blood vessels, which is important when one needs to staunch a hemorrhage, when one needs to stop the blood from flowing. So I’ll take my frosty windows and white world just as long as it pulls, pushes so the heart finds warmth and beats stronger, a fire, a flame, a Caribbean sea, a cup of coffee, you and you and you and me.’ – Melody Heide

A few things:

*I think this is my favorite part of Downton Abbey: if Downton Abbey took place entirely on Facebook. (spoiler alert)

*I received Tartine 3 for Christmas – it’s beautiful.

*My dear friend Melody wrote that paragraph above; the rest of her piece is here.

*Chia Lemonade! I love these photograph.

*I have a little interview in this month’s Spenser magazine, and also in the Huffington Post.

 

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To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

-Mary Oliver
I stare at my cutting board, chopping one red chile. Chop chop chop. A good chef never makes a sound with her knife a voice from my past whispers. Brushing it aside, I focus on the chile. The seeds have been scooped out; I can still feel their heat on my fingers, my thumb. I just barely remember not to rub my eyes and wash my hands viciously. The tiny white circles are set aside, there on a spoon, and I continue to dice. That small pepper is fierce, and begs to be thrown into the soup pot, to set fire to the corn, the lemongrass. I smile, knowing even a few months ago I would have omitted it, afraid of it. There is a small connection inside, some light peeking in a dark space. I ponder my expanding palate: the bitter and acidic and spicy, and wonder if it has anything to do with growing older, watching life give freely, and then take away. Sure of it, I confidently throw in the chopped red chile,
but not the seeds. They are still too hot. My husband is at work, but I hear him speak clearly, ‘Throw them in! Throw them all in, my Love. What are you afraid of? Why are you so afraid to burn?‘ But still I toss them in the trash, and they are sent outside with the rest of it. Somewhere, just out of sight, it is all piling; garbage heaped on top of garbage, groaning at the incalculable weight, unable to bury itself in the ground and make its peace with the earth. I imagine my fiery seeds tumbling between it all, itching to flame up and destroy the waste. But it is not their turn, not yet. Instead the seeds settle down far, they are waiting, watchful. For when I am ready I will have to find them myself, search through all the excess, this junk. I will dig with for them my own hands, then they will help me start a fire.
‘Harriet; I have nothing much in the way of religion, or even morality, but I do recognize a code of behaviour of sorts. I do know that the worst sin – perhaps the only sin – passion can commit, is to be joyless. It must lie down with laughter or make its bed in hell – there is no middle way…’ Lord Peter Wimsey Gaudy Night
It’s 4 days before Christmas and I am giving you a recipe for lentil soup. I’ve been back and forth about it all day. I wanted to post about caramels. Caramels! Those sweet tiny squares that gleefully exchange hands this time of year! Caramels with bourbon and fleur de sel and vanilla beans! But there is one batch in the trash another about to go in; too sweet and wow, too much bourbon. And I’ve found myself constantly craving lentils lately, my husband slightly horrified as I’ve been smashing them onto toast with red cabbage and sprouts, eating them for breakfast and lunch again and again. I’ve been eating them like this, sweet and so good, and I decided to try and turn this beloved recipe into a fabulous soup.
Of course, you noticed the word try right away. It’s one of those soups. I really like it, but will anyone else? And gosh darn, murky soup isn’t pretty. And well, pureed lentils? Just okay. But, pureed lentils with honey crème fraîche? Oh, so.good. It might be that I am just in love with the crème fraîche, but swirling it into steaming hot lentils and caramelized leeks is a mighty tasty lunch.
{Also, this very handsome Batman who insisted on dancing with me the entire time I was cooking, agrees that the honey ice cream, as he calls it, is perfect. He refused to try the lentils, of course. And would I please put his picture on my blog?}
But, in the end, I just decided to go for it, post it up. So put down those cookies and stop perfecting that candy, here’s something else for you; soup: sweet, yet not too sweet, warm and comforting and wholesome.

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‘As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness – just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.’ – Laura Ingalls Wilder
We’ve all been sick here [again], but this time around it’s been hot and stormy, with high humidity making me convinced of delirium. I know warm soup is usually prescribed for comfort in theses cases, but this kind of weather only drives me to gallons of icy water and frozen fruit in any form.
But then I remembered about chilled soups. A perfect meeting ground! Cold, vitamin C packed orange soup, completely comforting and cooling all in one bite. I’m certain I’ll be cured.

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Some days life seems an awful lot like soup – so many things thrown in one big pot, all simmering and stewing around together, sharing the same space. Some ingredients are spicy, some sweet, some bring out the flavor in others, and some are smooth and cooling. But they all mix together; they all need each other to make that soup evolve into something worth tasting, something worth sharing and giving.

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I’m back again with some citrus. This time it’s in soup form – a fresh, bright soup with just enough cream to keep you cozy in these pre-spring months. So while your heart is pining for chirping birds and bright colors in the garden, your mind will thank you for staying inside and eating a warm food, filled with all kinds of goodness: spinach, and mushrooms, basil, and wild rice. And of course, the lovely lemon.

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