Saturday, February 27, 2010

"i've got a pocket full of pretty green"

the food: Soup of the Week! Ribollita
the song: "Pretty Green" Mark Ronson & Santigold

A few weeks ago, Heidi from 101cookbooks posted a recipe for something I'd never heard of...a Tuscan stew called ribollita. The way I like to cook- or at least the way I do cook-is to never trust just one recipe (even coming from Heidi). I suppose that's a result of the internets; you can research all kinds of things from the comfort of your couch. So the first thing I did was google ribollita. The jist of this stew is hearty greens and white beans plus some type of bread. It is peasant food, filling and warm, cheap and simple.  Interestingly (to me at least), the word ribollita translates to mean "reboiled." So essentially, this is just a vegetable based soup that has had time to marinate served over day-old bread. Seems easy enough.

From the five or so recipes I consulted for ribollita, the green used varied from cabbage to kale to spinach. In the comments, people seemed to turn their nose up at spinach...kale was the more traditional green for the stew. It seemed that the real issue, though, was finding a green that would hold up to the half-hour of cooking.

Allow me a quick spinach tangent. Sadly, most people's "spinach" is the baby variety that comes in a bag. In that case, please buy a bunch of kale if you plan on making ribollita. Baby spinach would disintegrate in this stew. If you are going to use spinach, get the good big leaves and chop them up yourself. It's really not that much work...I'll show you in a second. For a limited time at Central Market, you get my favorite spinach EVER- this triple washed full grown real spinach from Oak Hill Farms in Poteet, Texas. When it's available, we go through a bag a week in our house- I saute that stuff, eat it in salads, whatever. I guarantee, you'll be a spinach convert after you eat the real thing.

Ok, thanks. As I was saying, ribollita calls for a green that can hold it's own. Just say the name to yourself (here's help with pronunciation). This is strong, sexy, rustic food. So give it the respect of some real greens. I decided to do a combination of greens found in my garden and supplement spinach as needed.

You know that campaign to eat your colors? It is posted all over my school right now. In my garden, I found purple cabbage, green collards, and dark red swiss chard. So spinach would not be needed for this soup after all. I'm not sure exactly how to measure these greens, but that brown bowl is a salad bowl, and you can see it's filled to the brim. Keep that in mind when you're gathering your ingredients.

I got them in, filled up my sink and gave the greens a little bath. I always try to avoid garden creatures that may have come inside with the past, I've fished a spider, a lady bug, and a little green winged guy out of my sink during this step. If you're using your own or getting your greens from the Farmer's Market, you might have to play lifeguard, too. Swish the greens around in the water, rinse them once more, then put them on a clean dish towel to dry. My cats LOVE greens, so I cover them with another towel as to not tempt the kitties.

I let them sit there on the counter until I was ready to chop. No need to refrigerate something that just came out of the ground. Chopping greens is not that hard. The taste more than makes up for the time it takes to chop versus opening a bag. When you're ready to chop, lay each green on your chopping board and remove any bad spots (again, more of an issue if you're using home growns or Farmer's market variety.) Then, fold the leaf over the stem and remove the largest, toughest parts of the stem. Once your leaf is ready, lay it flat to the side of your chopping board. As you repeat the process with the other leaves, stack them up flat to the side. Once you have a good stack, roll them up like a cigar, like so.

At that point, slice down the cigar at your desired size. I'm not so good with measurements but I usually do it about the width of my index finger. The key is not too small and not too big for your tastes, so really just cut them whatever width you want. Repeat the process until all your greens are chopped.

Now, onto the soup. It is very simple, and comes out tasting earthy and rich. Do not skip the parmesan rind. I didn't have any rind, so I substituted 1 small cube of hard salty cheese (I think romano). You could also just throw in some shredded parmesan, but do it when the recipe recommends and let it melt into the soup. It is oh-so-good. And I almost forgot the "reboiled" part. We were pretty hungry when I made this, especially when the smells of this soup started filling our kitchen, so I did not let the soup completely cool then reheat it in true ribollita fashion. What I did do what let the soup rest for about 20 minutes before we ate it. We just ate our salad first. I'm not sure if that had the same effect, but it did taste good. I'll let you know if it is wildly better served as leftovers.

When I first tasted the soup, without the bread at the bottom or cheese and oil on top, my reaction was "it tastes just like every other soup I make." So don't skip the bread and toppings! It makes this soup something special. If you have truffle oil, I can't recommend it enough. It really brings out that earthy taste I was talking about. If no truffle oil, olive oil would work great, too. Oh, and while you're eating it is probably best to not say the name of the soup (with varying degrees of rolled r's and a bad Italian accent) more than once or twice. About half-way through the bowl, my overzealous pronunciation prompted the husband to suggest "let's just call it soup."


olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper to taste
splash red or white wine
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted, my favorite for soups)
1 (15 ounce) can canellini beans (Any bean will work- garbanzo or kidney would both be good)
1 large bunch hearty greens-swiss chard, kale, cabbage, collard greens, big spinach, or a combination
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3 cups vegetable broth+3 cups water (use whatever combo you see fit- the goal is about 6 cups liquid)
1 bay leaf
1 3 inch parmesan rind OR 1 inch cube parmesan
1/2 not-fresh ciabatta loaf, torn into bite sized pieces
grated parmesan, for serving
more olive oil OR truffle oil for serving

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, pepper, and salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer for a few minutes more. Add tomatoes and minced garlic and stir. Add the greens, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss your bread bites in a little olive oil. Toast in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until toasts are golden brown.
If you want to let your soup rest, now is the time. I'm not sure it is completely necessary. When you're ready to serve, fish out the bay leaf and parmesan rind. Then place a few of the toasts in the bottom of serving bowl and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with parmesan, drizzle with oil, and eat!


Friday, February 26, 2010

"this is why i'm hot"

I went out this morning in search of something cute to wear for the big weekend. Instead, I bought a 6 1/2 quart Calphalon soup pot for half off.

I'm so ok with that.


p.s. the song I'm referencing is by Mims, and you can learn more about him here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"all you need is the thing you've forgotten"

the food: Blood Orange Quick Bread
the song: "Learn to Live With What You Are" Ben Folds

Wow! To quote the husband, it snowed "like a movie" in Austin today. As soon as I heard "90% chance of snow," I knew my Tuesday needed to include baking. 

I had leftover raspberries in the fridge from our Valentine's Day meal, and my plan was to use them to make Blueberry-Oat Quick Bread. I've made this recipe before (using double the amount of berries) and it is so delicious- perfect for dessert and breakfast. I loaded up an episode of This American Life, opened the blinds so I had a good view of the snow, and started pulling out ingredients. When much to my despair, I found moldy raspberries. 

This upset me a little bit. I had just gotten back from the grocery store, where I had a second carton of berries in my hand and had decided instead to just make due with what I had. I started thinking...what can I bake? The cold day was begging for the oven! I thought about oatmeal carrot cookies (also good dessert/breakfast), but I really had my heart set on that bread. 

Ingredients with a ticking clock are my favorite. They inspire and present themselves at just the right time. The delicate little raspberries didn't make it, but my remaining Valentine's Day blood oranges were sitting quietly on the counter waiting for just the right moment. A few google searches later, I sat down and wrote out this recipe, working to use what I had on hand. 

What I really like about this recipe is that it was made entirely with ingredients on hand. A while ago I ran across this kitchen challenge from the now defunct A Mighty Appetite food blog. The challenge is called Eating Down the Fridge, and it basically encouraging people to use what they have instead of buying all new things each time you visit the grocery store. This has influenced my menu planning to no end. It has also saved us quite a bit of money (I'm proud to say our grocery bill was less than $50 this week...that includes feeding a friend one night, and the sweet treat that is the topic of this post.) Planning meals based on what you already have lurking in the back of the fridge is immensely rewarding and I highly encourage it. 

The bread turned out really nice. The orange is subtle and not too sweet. This is definitely a bread, though, not a cake (the above linked quick bread blurs the line a bit.)  It would be delicious with dried cranberries or cherries thrown in to add a little more sweetness and texture. But it turned out quite good on its own, too. My bread came out a little dry, so make sure you watch it closely after that 45 minute mark. I cooked mine closer to an hour, and it could have used less time. We'll mostly eat the bread for breakfast as is, but a little butter on top a slice of warm bread never hurt a thing. 

Blood Orange Quick Bread 

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
juice from 2 blood oranges
zest of 2 blood oranges
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)
1/4 cup almond slivers
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, almonds, and salt. In a seperate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, orange juice and zest, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla or almond extract. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir gently. 
Bake in a lightly greased loaf pan for 45 minutes at 325 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

"i never listen to my better judgement"

the food: Soup of the Week! Gumbo Z'herbes
the song: "I Changed My Mind" Lyrics Born

It seems like I am always a little behind on my special occasion meals. Maybe one day I'll get on top of my game enough to actually post suggestions for the upcoming holiday rather than just telling you what I did. But for now...

Tuesday was Mardi Gras, so I made gumbo. This gumbo came about completely by chance. I was searching for soup recipes and came across a recipe from 2007 for Gumbo Z'herbes, a traditional vegan gumbo meant to be served during Lent (when, traditionally, a lot of people give up least on Fridays). I had a ton of beet greens left over from our Valentine's Day dinner, plus Fat Tuesday was right around the corner. This gumbo was meant to be.

As a side note, don't you just love traditions that involve food? For a brief moment on Ash Wednesday, I actually considered giving up something for Lent because of this thread on Serious Eats.

Anyway, back to the gumbo. I have to first say that I will make some changes next time around. In fact, I considered not even posting the recipe and just talking about how cool it was that there is a traditional Louisiana style gumbo that's intended to be vegetarian. I give my gumbo a B. Having said that, I have only myself to blame. I did not follow any one recipe...I just kind of made it up based on a few different ones. I'm sure any one of the recipes would be great had I followed it, but I couldn't resist the urge to tinker (maybe not the best idea, considering I'd never made gumbo before.) My gumbo had great spicy flavor, but it turned out too thick. Next time I'll reduce the roux by half. After testing it out, I added a handful of diced mushrooms quickly sauteed with a big splash red wine. I think this was a good addition that added depth to the flavor, so I've included it in the recipe instead of as an afterthought. I warn you, this picture is possibly the ugliest picture ever posted on a food blog. But it tasted pretty good.

Gumbo Z'herbes
adapted from several recipes: here, here, and here are a few good ones.

Three large bunches of greens, cleaned, stems removed, and chopped  (suggestions include collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, beet tops, cabbage, and turnip tops.)
1/2 cup oil, plus 1 tablespoon for greens (vegetable, corn, olive. I used olive and vegetable.)
1/2 cup flour*
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 bell pepper, medium dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
6-10 mushrooms, roughly chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

First, prepare your greens. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped greens and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until greens are beginning to wilt. Set aside.

In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. When it is hot, slowly sprinkle in flour, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to prevent any lumps. Reduce heat to medium low and cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is a nutty brown color and emits a toasted aroma**, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic into the pot. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes

Add vegetable broth and stir well. Increase heat and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in salt, Cajun seasoning and bay leaves and simmer, stirring often, until gumbo base is soupy and thick and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop your sauteed greens once more***.  Stir in chopped greens and red wine and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice with fresh French bread.
*Next time I'll reduce this to 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup flour. I think this will give it more of a stew like quality and make the texture more appetizing (especially as leftovers. Gumbo leftovers were seriously ugly, but tasted good.)
**I've never made a roux that didn't have butter as the base. When I was making this, the husband peeked over my shoulder, took a whiff, and said "Wow, it smells nutty." He had NOT read the recipes I consulted that described that exact smell. Kudos to Chow for the perfect description of oil based roux.
***Some recipes recommend actually pureeing the greens. It might help with appearance (a pretty, green gumbo sounds appealing), but I didn't do this.

Sorry for all the footnotes. I warned you, this soup needs work. It may not have been the best soup I've made this year. But hey, we had gumbo on Fat Tuesday, and that was really the point. Sometimes the tradition behind a "good meal" can bump it up to the "great meal" category.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"you make me smile with my heart"

the food: recipe for a perfect Valentine's weekend 
the song: "My Funny Valentine" Frank Sinatra 

I'm home today recovering from some mystery bug that I was very worried was the flu. Fever last night, achey muscles, chills, no appetite...but today I'm feeling much better. Hmm. I'm puzzled, but grateful. Anyway, before Valentine's Day is too distant a memory I wanted to share a few images from our fantastic weekend.

Woke up Saturday morning to the loves of my life. The husband was there, too.


Went to the Farmer's Market to gather things for our fancy Valentine's dinner.

Discovered and fell in love with something new (to me). Whip In kind of blew my mind. No, scratch that. It completely blew my mind. I'll be revisiting our meal at a later post, so I'm saving my food pictures for that. I'll also be revisiting this place as soon as possible, so maybe I'll have even more food/beer pictures to share.

Valentine's morning with something familiar. Despite attempts by Austin Marathon street closures to keep us from our chips and salsa, we made it to Trudy's which has been our Valentine's tradition since college. What can I say? This is our 10th Valentine's together. We like what we like.

For Valentine's evening, we enjoyed beautiful (mostly) local, slowly prepared food and amazing beer. We had Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad and raw milk Texas brie with rosemary ciabatta from Texas French Bread. It has also become a tradition that we drink Red & White on special occasions, so we had that too.

And, of course, a little something sweet. Vanilla ice cream with raspberries and a splash of Fort. Hmmm...lots of Dogfish Head there. Can you tell we're getting geared up for April's Off Centered Film Fest

 I hope everyone had a Valentine's Day filled with things you love.


Friday, February 12, 2010

"i'm changing my ways"

the food: Soup of the Week! Roasted Garlic Potato Soup
the song: This is Not a Love Song- Nouvelle Vague

It's Valentine's Day weekend and that can only mean one thing. It's time to plant potatoes! This will be my first year to try potatoes. I hear they are tricky little things, but I'm excited to see how they do. 

Potato Valentine via Lovelypetal (plus the sweet story behind it)
In honor of potato planting day, I want to share with you a killer secret on how to step up your potato soup without a major fat boost. You may not want to actually make this for Valentines, though, because the secret is roasted garlic. Unless, you know, you're into that kind of thing.

This soup was so good that we didn't get a picture of it. I wish we would have, because I know that seeing is believing with these recipes. But it was late and we were hungry and all those smells were just too enticing for us to wait one more minute. So you're just going to have to trust me on this one. It has changed my life. Never again will I make potato soup without roasted garlic. It is adds an amazing rich flavor and makes all the extra fat and cheese usually added to potato soup unnecessary. For instance, the last potato soup I made had a tub of cream cheese in it. Delicious, but you don't walk away from that one feeling good. But this soup is different...complex without being heavy. Really, it just takes an extra 30 minutes or so- just enough time to prep your vegetables and make a salad. 

To finish off our bowls of creamy goodness, I added a few diced sun-dried tomatoes. Bacon would (of course) have also been very good. Since we don't do that, though, the sun-dried tomatoes provided a little surprise. They had the salt and the chew of bacon, but the flavor added a nice zing to the dish. We ate this with Ceasar salad (pre packaged from Central Market...I just can't get enough of it), bread, and white wine. My senses were so happy during this meal and I didn't feel stuffed afterward. 

Again, I apologize that I don't have a picture to share. But try the soup and you too might be reformed. I'm a roasted garlic girl and I'll never go back. 

Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup
adapted from the Kitchn 

1 head garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
1 inch cube parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk (optional)
chopped sun-dried tomatoes (for topping)

Slice the top off your garlic and drizzle with a little olive oil. Wrap in foil, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, until garlic is golden brown and very soft. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins and mash lightly with a fork.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a saucepan. Add onion and thyme to saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the stock and potato. Add mashed roasted garlic cloves and parmesan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potato is very soft.

Blend the soup in batches until creamy with a few chunks. Return to heat and stir in the milk if you like. Cook until just heated through. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Divide between bowls and top with sun dried tomatoes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"these kids today they're swimming in computer land"

the food: straight from the dirt
the song: "You Kids Don't Know" Orange Mothers (Ethan Azarian)

Saturday I attended a fantastic training on school gardens, hosted by the Austin School Garden Network.  It was an extremely encouraging day and I left feeling proud of my fair city for having so many organizations coming together that really get it. Not to mention the attendees- educators, parents, and school volunteers- that devoted their entire Saturday (the first sunny day we've had in a week!) to learn how we can teach our children possibly the most important thing we can teach them. It gives me hope we are moving in the right direction.

 Beginnings of our daycare garden bed, March 2009

In real life, I'm the director of a small daycare for infants and toddlers at an elementary school in Austin. Last year after attending a teaching the garden training, we adopted two 4x4 raised beds to plant with our kids. We planted lettuce, squash, tomatoes, and herbs- all of which I got for free from the Sustainable Food Center (really) and a like-minded parent.

Our basil flourished, even after a summer away, October 2009.

I'll never forget the day I came back from a meeting to see all 8 toddlers sitting around the table sharing a salad from our garden with my coteacher. I was so proud to see them enthusiastically eating lettuce, raw basil, and tiny tomatoes. Given the opportunity, toddlers can be quite adventurous eaters.  Up until this last freeze we still had lots of basil, and used it earlier this year to make very potent fresh pesto. Our campus has a huge organic garden maintained by the PTA, and we harvested bag fulls of banana peppers at the beginning of the year. It sounds impossible that two year olds would eat a pepper straight off the vine, but I've seen it first hand. It just goes to show the impact it makes when children see where their food comes from.  

Making time to enjoy greenery around our campus, October 2009.

I'm not going to's been a tough semester for our little daycare. We have a young crowd this year (our oldest just turned 3) which means there's a lot of physical caregiving in our day. We've also been facing some changes for next year, which has caused stress among the staff and parents.  For whatever reason, we missed the fall planting season. But this training was just what I needed to get re-motivated. My coteachers even had the brilliant idea to expand our garden space to include a butterfly garden and path. I'm excited to share what I know and watch it take off in the hands of enthusiastic and adventurous toddlers.


P.S. Along with the awesome organizers of the Greening Our Schools Conference, big props go to El Milagro, Thundercloud, Whole Foods, and Thunderbird Coffee for feeding us during the training. I always concentrate better on a full stomach, don't you?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"i should be grateful. i should be satisfied."

the food: Soup of the Week! Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup 
the song: "Sister Winter" Sufjan Stevens 

The blog started with a pile of cilantro. It's only fitting it returns with one. This cilantro went into an amazing vegan soup, but we'll get to that in a second. The satisfying soup, along with a gentle guilt trip from my mom ("I check it everyday, you know") and plenty of time inside because of the cold means I'm ready. No, things aren't perfect and yes there are still things I want to do to make this site prettier. But why sit around and wait? For better or worse I'm back. When I get ready to tinker, you'll just have to watch me do it. So let's get to it, shall we?

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. Six more weeks of winter await us and people are not happy about it. Me neither. I'm a spoiled life-long Texan, and I expect sunshine and dresses and patio margaritas. The cold makes me fussy and anti-social. I've gone for weeks without seeing good friends. We've watched more tv (albeit really awesome tv) in the last month than we did all summer. My pajama pants will be well-worn by the time this is all over.

But winter has its benefits, too. For instance, the cold weather inspired Soup of the Week in our house. While the husband and I were eating leftover roasted butternut squash soup on New Year's Eve, he suggested we include one soup each week in our cooking plans. I love the soup resolution. Soup always leaves me feeling good, full, and healthy. If I plan it right, we have leftovers for the week that actually improve after a few days. While the weather is dreary and I'm less than inspired to do something complicated, soup of the week has become a welcomed and satisfying ritual.

This butternut squash tortilla soup was hearty and delicious. There are a few vegetables in this world that make me think I could go vegan and this soup contains two of them-- avocado and butternut squash. I'll admit I was a little skeptical of the flavor combination here. We're passionate about spice and we're also pretty attached to butternut squash. These feelings aren't to be toyed with. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided the possibility of the combination was too tempting to pass up. I'm glad I took the risk, because this soup was just wonderful. 

I served this with a black bean salad, but honestly the soup stands alone. The flavors are perfect, mingling in just the right way like any good soup should. This one is definitely going into the rotation. (By the way, I'm sorry if this doesn't look appetizing. Soup is a difficult subject to photograph.)

Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup
adapted from the Kitchn

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
olive oil

6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 diced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

For topping:
ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
tortilla chips 
salsa or hot sauce

First, roast your squash. You can do this several hours or even a day or so ahead of time. Place your cubed squash in a pan large enough so they are not crowded. Give them a good splash of olive oil and toss to lightly coat. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes, until the squash pieces are very soft. Transfer squash and any oil to a bowl and use a potato masher or fork* to make a smooth puree. Set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and chopped tortillas and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Stir in cumin and cayenne and sauté for another minute.

Add butternut squash puree, tomatoes, and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then to help the squash combine with the broth. After 45 minutes, turn the heat off and let the soup rest for about 15 minutes. When you're ready to eat, top with preferred ingredients** and enjoy!
*My first thought was to use a blender to puree the squash. But that just dirtied up my blender. If you've cooked your squash long enough, it should be no problem to get the right consistency with a fork or masher.
**The winning combo for me was a dollop of hot tomato-ey salsa, avocado, and chip crumbles. Despite the jalapeno and cayenne, the soup wasn't all that spicy so I liked a little extra heat stirred in.

The important thing to remember with this recipe is that it, like all soups, is easily customizable. Next time I might add another jalapeno to boost the heat. You might like less spice (or not be from Texas- ha), in which case you can start with a smaller amount of cayenne or leave out the pepper all together. You can always taste the soup mid-simmer and add as you see fit.

So there it is. Soup will undoubtedly help me get through these next six weeks. But we're throwing a cookout at the first signs of spring. No pajama pants allowed.


Update: I just received word from the husband that this soup gets much spicier after a few days. So watch out for those leftovers!