Friday, January 8, 2010

Cold enough for you? Souper! -- Soup Therapy Volume One

Yes, it’s cold! We all know this, we all read the weather reports and are done, done, done with shoveling snow. I’ve come to realize that I don’t like the cold. But, I do like soup. Soup is the only redeeming thing about cold weather – and, for the most part, it’s in line with most of my feeble New Year’s Resolutions – which are hanging on by a thread, mind you. So, I’ve headed out to the store, stocked the pantry and am ready to commit to soup. I’m making one pot of soup each week. Some fancy, some vegetarian, some not so much but all warm,good and hearty.

There’s something that just feels very right about making a pot of soup. First of all, soup is chock full of simple, clean ingredients and Vitamin L (love,of course) in each earthy pot of goodness. Secondly, it smells pretty darn good as it cooks on the stovetop – at least much better than any Lean Cuisine that twirls around on my microwave carousel. Third, it’s the meal that keeps on giving. There’s no sense in making soup for one meal. So, it happily finds its way into lunch bags, passed on to friends and our freezer for a chilly day. Finally, it’s kind soothing -- it’s soup therapy. For me it’s very rewarding – choosing the recipe, the methodical chopping, stirring and of course there’s the eating.

So, I invite you to join me in this week’s session of soup therapy. Here’s what I made last week and, brother, it was darn good. Give it a try, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy and have a souper day!

Chicken Chili
Serves 6 – 8

This is adapted from the fabulous Ina Garten’s recipe, but made a little easier for those of us a little short on time and patience.


4 cups yellow onions (3 onions)
¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/8 olive oil
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/8 c. minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and large diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and large diced
1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 – 28 ounce can, diced tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves
One meaty, rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat removed from the bone or shredded

Suggested Chili Toppings: Chopped onions, avocado, rice, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream – or whatever’s kicking around in the pantry.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shred the rotisserie chicken or cut it into ¾-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Word from Our First Lady: Eat Your Vegetables!

A big shout out to the divine Ms. O. for taking it to the airwaves and encouraging Americans to eat their veggies. Admittedly, my new year’s resolution #3 is eat more fruit and veg and perhaps why that’s why I keyed in on this. For those who may have missed it, Mrs. O was on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” talking up the White House garden project encouraging Americans to support local farmers and eat better food. (She told Bobby Flay that her fave – sweet potatoes.) Is our First Lady becoming a little too accessible or commonplace for the wife of a sitting President? For goodness sake, she was on cable, right? In addition to her recent appearance on Jay Leno who can forget the big hoo-ha when she bared her gams on vacation this summer. Well, I say bravo and applaud her for keeping it real. What better way to bring the project to life? It’s an absolute demonstration to Americans that she not only walks the talk, by celebrating local food purveyors and setting up a garden in America’s backyard, but she’s talking to Americans where they’re listening...the Food Network.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Done and Done

Nothing energizes me more than making a list. Alright, so perhaps I’m a little bit of a control freak, but there’s nothing so satisfying than getting oneself organized to take on the world…or at least laundry, organizing the pantry, or plotting a new fitness regimen. It’s almost as if I’ve accomplished something by the mere act of making the list. So, at this moment I’m feeling wildly productive as I sit on the couch watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon on cable. Why? I’ve just put pen to paper around my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions. If it’s on paper, then clearly something has been accomplished, right? But, if it’s on paper, does it make me more accountable to achieve my goals? Am I bound and committed to succeed? Ah, yes. This is the best part of the list making obsession – if one doesn’t finish up a pesky, little tasker, then it simply rolls to the next day’s list. Herein lies the beauty of the list -- I’ve already got a list going, so I’m ahead of the game. It can be exhausting spending so much time rationalizing. But, there’s plenty of time between the commercial breaks. Back to Buffy!