Lentils with Kale and Bacon

Lentils with Kale and BaconLentils?! Kale?!  What the…. ?!  Oh, phew, it’s ok: Bacon. 

That, right there, folks, was my thought process while looking at this recipe.  This is another recipe that falls under the category of not-quite-sure-why-I tried-it, but also the sure-glad-I-did one.  Whooee, that was a lot of hyphens.  Onward. [Read more...]

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Mushroom, Spinach, and Walnut Soup

Mushroom, Spinach, and Walnut SoupWhen I friend requested that I come up with a recipe for the soup she loved at one of her favorite restaurants, I was all, “Heck yeah!” I love a good challenge, don’t you?  The real challenge, however, is that this restaurant is in Arizona, where she lives, and I’m, well… in Illinois.  Illinois is in italics there to signify my annoyance that I live here in the cold, while she lives in the beautiful dry heat of the desert. Illinois doesn’t get annoyed italics in the summer, but in February, it certainly does.   [Read more...]

Corn, Green Chile, and Potato Soup

Corn, Green Chile, and Potato SoupI like to think of myself as adventurous in the kitchen.  Apart from my recent cooking rut, I usually like to try a variety of new recipes, use new ingredients, come up with variations on old recipes.  But there are some things that I always wind up making the same way, over and over again.  Because they’re good, and good is good.  Don’t fix what ain’t broke and all that.  Potato soup was one of those for me. [Read more...]

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea SoupI’ve come out of my major denial that fall is here. I know, it’s about time, seeing as in a few measly days it will be October.  October, for goodness sake.  The month of corn mazes and Halloween and apple cider and tall leather boots and chunky sweaters.  It’s time.  Split Pea Soup

I don’t know what my hesitation is all about- I love autumn.  I’m a sucker for apple orchards and pumpkin patches, loaf cakes filled with spices, warm cocktails, and sitting by bonfires wearing oversized sweatshirts.  It might even be my favorite season, if only it weren’t the harbinger of my foresworn enemy, Winter in Chicago.  Hell hath a name and that’s it.  So for me, fall is like one long Sunday evening… so relaxed and lovely, but still tinged with a fair amount of dread, knowing that Monday is nigh.  But I digress.  It’s still time for fall.Split Pea Soup

Nothing says fall to me like soup- but really, moreso, a certain kind of soup.  Soup that warms you up from the inside out, sticks to your ribs, makes a meal in itself. This split pea soup is the epitome of that kind of soup.  Rich, flavorful, flecked with bits of ham, and a few chunks of vegetables that don’t get whirled into the creamy broth by the immersion blender.  Every time I make it, I’m amazed that it has so much flavor, and so few ingredients.  And it manages to be incredibly creamy, even with a negligible amount of dairy.  I’ve made lots of version of split pea soup, and this simple version is my favorite.  It’s perfect in its simplicity, like all good fall staples should be.  It also freezes well, so even once fall has passed us by and we are in the death grip of winter, a bowl of this pulled from the freezer will remind you of happier days.Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

adapted from Bon Apetit

This is a great use for leftover ham bones after a holiday meal. Smoked hams are the best for this, but any kind will do.

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 1/2 pounds leftover ham bone, smoked ham hock, or something pork-y
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 1/2 cups green split peas
  • 8 cups chicken broth

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add pork and marjoram; stir 1 minute. Add peas, then broth, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover pot; simmer soup until pork and vegetables are tender peas are falling apart, stirring often, at least an hour and a half.

Transfer ham to cutting board or plate. Puree soup with an immersion blender until it's reached the consistency you like. (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender and do this part in batches.) Pull pork off of the bones and shred it at you go. Return pork to soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away or refrigerate overnight and re-warm to serve the next day.


Zucchini Soup

Zucchini SoupSometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve not longer got it.  Terrible grammar aside, this is a fact of life.  Especially in the case of zucchinis.  Mid-July, we are all bemoaning the pounds and pounds of zucchinis being hauled in from our gardens, searching for something to do with all the bounty.  Let’s be blunt: we all get very, very sick of zucchini. [Read more...]