Soups and Stews

Cream of two-celery soup

The celery root serves a dual purpose here, both thickening the soup and deepening the celery flavor. If you can find it, this is an easy first-course soup. (more…)

Easy beef stock

Beef stock is really quite easy to make, but it takes hours of very gentle simmering to extract the flavor from the meat and bones. I use a slow cooker so I don’t have to tend it. I also use beef shank, which includes a good piece of bone but also a lot of flavorful meat, because the traditional French method of making stock from only bones has great body but not much flavor. If you want more gelatin in your stock, you can add some extra bones. (more…)

Chickpeas with sausage

Pretty much what the name says. I have been buying big packages of kielbasa lately and storing them in the freezer, and then looking for ways to use them up. This has been one of the better ideas. It’s a pantry dinner, made up entirely of things I’m likely to have around on any given day, and it could be made in a slow cooker as well. (more…)

Golden sweet potato dal

This has become my standard vegetarian contribution to potlucks. It manages to be both comforting and (to American palates, at least) exotic; it always gets raves, and I have been asked for the recipe more times over the years than I can count.

The soup combines red lentils with sweet potatoes and a bloom of spices that will transforms a rich but otherwise rather bland soup into something utterly magnificent. I can say “magnificent” because the idea wasn’t mine: it comes from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine by Yamuna Devi, a wonderful book of Indian vegetarian cuisine. But I had some technical problems with her recipe, and I’ve made a number of other changes based on my own preferences and what ingredients I’m likely to have available. Devi’s version called for pumpkin, for example (it was “golden pumpkin dal” originally), I use whole butter instead of ghee, and I make this far thicker than she does, like pea soup where hers is watery. I won’t claim that it’s Indian at this point; it’s just good, whatever it is. (more…)

Fight the power cream of tomato soup

tomato soup

Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user shashinjutsu.

We twenty-first-century Americans are all, whether we like it or not, products of a certain amount of marketing. If we grew up with television, or even with magazines, certain notions of what we ought to eat and when are embedded in our brains, and half of them were invented out of whole cloth by Madison Avenue.

So, for example: it got cold this week, I left the windows open all night, and by lunchtime Monday the house was still cooler inside than most people would heat it in the winter — and felt even cooler than that from the shock of the sudden temperature change. And I felt strongly that I simply must have a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of cream of tomato soup. (more…)

Ten thousand year tomorrow corn chowder

It is summer, and corn is coming into season. I am not ashamed to admit that I have a corn problem: When I see corn, I have to buy it. I buy a dozen ears, even if I have no idea what to do with them. And though I do love corn on the cob, I have my limits. Sometimes, too, corn deserves to be more than a side dish, slathered with butter, gnawed in and flossed out. Corn deserves a little love.

And so, today, we are going to make corn chowder. We are going to take our time about it. Corn chowder is a simple thing, which means that it deserves to be made carefully, thoughtfully, attentively, because it has no ornament to distract the senses, no frivolity or luxury to excite the mind. Simple food can be only what it is, and so it must be all that it is and should be, else it is not worth eating.

We will make enough to serve eight, because, presumably, we can find some friends to help us eat it. (If not, there’s always lunch.) (more…)