This adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe had us licking the bottom of bowls the other night.  I was trying to think of a way to make her white bean soup a little bit more “manly” for the Hubby and the result was wonderful.  With a little crusty bread, you’ll have a full blown meal on your hands.

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 hot italian sausage links, casing removed

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it up wiht the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 min).

Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste, as well as the sausage. Serve hot.



In my new section “Eat Your Veggies,” I’ll be exploring recipes in my favorite food group (save for those years of childhood ignorance).  Spring is on the horizon and I’m already itching for all of the wonderful produce it brings.  Last night I made a quick (about 35 min total) and hearty Asparagus soup.  Served with a little homemade Ciabatta bread (the second go around was much  more successful, thanks for asking), this soup was a bowl of comfort on a rainy springy day.  This recipe was from Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook  At Home, which I’m completely loving.

2lb asparagus, woody ends removed
olive oil
2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and copped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
2 quarts good-quality chicken or vegetable stock, preferably organic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 small very fresh free-range or organic eggs
8 slices of ciabatta bread
a knob of butter
extra virgin olive oil

“Chop the tips off your asparagus and put these to one side for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks. Get a large, deep pan on the heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for around 10 minutes, until soft and sweet, without coloring. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer. Season the soup bit by bit (this is important) with salt and pepper until just right. Put the soup back on the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes until the tips have softened.

Just before I’m ready to serve the soup, I get a wide casserole-type pan on the heat with 8 to 10cm of boiling water. Using really fresh eggs, I very quickly crack all 10 into the water. Don’t worry about poaching so many at the same time. They don’t have to look perfect. A couple of minutes and they’ll be done, as you want them to be a bit runny. Toast your ciabatta slices. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the poached eggs to a plate and add a knob of butter to them. To serve, divide the soup between eight warmed bowls and place a piece of toast into each. Put a poached egg on top, cut into it to make it runny, season and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.”

**So here’s what I did differently:  I added a fresh chopped red chili, a splash of white wine and a little garlic.  It just punched it up a bit.  I hope you enjoy and eat your veggies.


I really wanted to find a good use for some of the Poblano Chilies I’ve been eying at the market and some of the sausage our family recently made.  After taking a recipe from Epicurious and changing it around to my liking, here it is: seriously spicy, but with amazing flavor, this chili will warm you heart and soul.

2-3 lb. Poblano Chilies, charred, peeled, and de-seeded (a how-to show here by the wonderful Pioneer Woman) (I used on of these left over for the chili in my guacamole…amazingly good)
1/2 lb pork sausage, taken out of the casing
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, juice and all
1 can, 15oz, black beans, rinsed
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 T. flour
2 t. cumin
2 t. oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bottle beer
2 Qt. chicken or veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste

In the base of a stockpot over med heat, brown pork and onions together (about 10min), breaking up the chunks of pork with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add flour and cook 5 more min.  Add beer to deglaze (get all the fun tasty brown bits off the bottom of the pan).  Add chilies, spices, tomatoes with juice, lemon, black beans, and stock.  Allow to simmer over low heat for 30 min.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Top with some shredded cheese and you’ll be in Poblano heaven.  Be careful: this only gets increasingly hot as the days go by.


Wait…this isn’t your blah what-the-hey-do-I-do-with-all-my-thanksgiving-leftovers soup.  Usually the leftovers are eaten in a matter of hours, not days, so I don’t have to think about this too much.  Gramma’s wonderful rolls seem to make for irresistible sandwiches.  Yet, one husband, 42 rolls, and about 3 days of my personal limit for cooked poultry in the fridge don’t really add up.  So, with a scratchy throat coming on and the weather finally turning a bit more (well–at least for California), here is my throw-it-all-in-there Leftover Turkey soup.

2 large onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped

1 Cup (or so) of white wine

1 Tsp each: Thyme, Rosemary, Cayenne, Parsley

2 boxes Chicken Stock (or if you still have your carcass boil it with some leftover veggies in water)

1/2 lb Pasta (shape of choice)

1 small package of dried mushrooms

2lb or so shredded turkey (if you like it more meaty, go ahead, add more)


Place mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water (per directions on the package), set aside for 10-15 min.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Meanwhile, in a stockpot saute onions, celery, and garlic with about a tablespoon olive oil (or butter, or whatever fat you like…heck…leftover bacon grease if you have some) over med-high heat for 5-10 min, until clear and soft.  Then add wine, turn down heat to med.  Add stock, spices, mushrooms (and the water they were in), and the cooked pasta.  If you don’t have enough liquid at this point (like me, as I only had about 3/4 of a box of stock on hand), then use some of the pasta water to make up the needed liquid.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Let simmer 20 min or so.  Easy, and done in about 35 min.  The best part is I had all of this left over and needed to use it anyway.  Enjoy with some of those rolls you have left over.

If my Lemon Cake was my final goodbye to summer weather, then this soup is my welcoming in the fall. Don’t let the combo of ingredients deter you. The cider mellows out the curry and leaves only a warm spicy background for the sweetness of the squash and apples.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups good apple cider

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.

Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.

Vodka, Removable Noses, and Blustery Days….Here’s the key word: Potatoes. Whether they are making Vodka, being the face of a childhood choking-hazard toy (read: Mr. Potato Head), or being used in a savory soup to complement a blustery day, Potatoes seem to have the chameleon thing down. I thought I would experiment around with a few recipes for Potato-Leek soup I had and see what I could come up with. So here’s another offering from this Culinary Pilgrim:

Potato Leek Soup

Chop, Chop, Chop

..and Chop

and sweat…

and simmer…

and puree…

and ENJOY.

2 Large Onions
3 Large Leeks
4 Cloves Garlic
4 lb. Red Potatoes
Olive Oil
1/2 t. Cayenne
2 t. Chopped Rosemary
3 Q. Chicken Stock
1 C. half and half

Preheat oven to 425F. Chop potatoes and garlic, place in a casserole dish or cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven 30min. Meanwhile, chop onions and leeks and drizzle with a couple tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. Cook 10-15min over Medium heat, until onions are translucent. Dump roasted potato mixture into stock pot with other veggies. Add 1 tsp. salt, 2 t. pepper, cayenne, rosemary, and stock. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer 30 min. In a food processor (working in small batches), or if you’re lucky enough to have a stick immersion blender, puree the soup. Return soup to pot, add cream, and season to taste.

*** I happened to have a small handful of mushrooms that we going to go bad if I didn’t use them, so I chopped them up and threw them in as well. A nice savory touch, but optional.

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannellini…

Ok, so maybe the famous line from the Godfather was about dessert and not beans. Nevertheless, I believe that these Italian gems could pull off the job as an ambassador of peace just as well. Here they are thrown in Chicken Chili to add a light creamy texture (not to mention fiber and protein).

(empty bowls: a very good sign)

2 lbs. Chicken (chopped into bit size pieces)
1 T. Olive Oil
1 Onion, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
3 Cans Cannellini Beans, rinsed
32oz Chicken Stock
1 Small Can Green Chilies
1 Jar (or 2 cups) good Salsa
1 Handful Chopped Cilantro (or Parsley)
1 tsp. Cumin
8oz Light Sour Cream
8oz Shredded Cheese (whatever you like…cheddar, jack, or a blend)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Corn Chips

In a large stockpot over med-high heat, cook the chicken and onions in the olive oil for about 5 min. Add the garlic and cook 10 more min. Add the beans, stock, chilies, salsa, cumin, salt, and pepper . Simmer 25 min. Stir in the cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. Serve over crushed corn chips.