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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: soup

A new twist on leftover White Bean Soup. To stretch it I added chicken stock, then it seemed too thin so I added an extra can of white beans. It was a great way to make a small portion of soup feed four people. Served it with parmesan & hot sauce. John made salad & his famous garlic bread while I did the dishes which had breached the sink, overrun the counters and were suffocating the stove top.

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Last night I actually heard the sentence, “You didn’t make enough Brussels sprouts, Mom.” And it was true, I didn’t! The roasted Brussels sprouts and onions were definitely the star of the meal. I also learned how to spell Brussels sprouts finally, (capital B weird extra s at the end).

I tried to improve on the Tomato Soup recipe but it didn’t come off. I roasted the carrots thinking they’d be richer and sweeter and I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes thinking that would add depth too. I put in two bay leaves instead of one & added thyme. The result was a soup that was tangier but not more flavorful. Not what I was going for. Not sure how to get more flavor without making tomato soup into something that tastes like tomato sauce….

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Onion Soup w/french bread & salad. As exciting as the onion soup was, and it was exciting, I must write about the french bread. Because last weekend, at the tender age of 44 I finally learned how to cut bread. It was Porkfest and I was trying to cut the bread for the bacon jam. The slices, as always began to taper: fat at the top, thin at the bottom. My brother-in-law watched in horror. “You’re bent over like this,” he said turning his body into an upside down L. “Stand up straight.” I stood up at an angle I considered to be straight and kept cutting. The slices were still slanty. “Stop leaning over to see what you’re doing!” I didn’t believe him. How does one cut without seeing where the knife is going? “Trust it!” he assured me. “Trust it.” I stopped trying to see the bottom of the bread. When I did that a miraculous thing happened: the knife straightened. It was not just that I was behaving like a contortionist, it’s that because I was slanted the knife was slanted and therefore the bread was slanted. Keeping my eye on angle of the top of the knife, making sure it was parallel to the cutting board, I produced an entire baguette’s worth of evenly cut slices of bread for the bacon jam. And I did it again last night for the onion soup. And I can’t believe nobody every told me such a simple thing before.

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I almost did something crazy today. I almost renamed all the posts. I noticed something on WordPress’s website about the importance of a good title and it occurred to me that titling each post by the week and day of the meal was the least interesting way to look at the blog. When I think about the posts I like best, I like them because they’re not just about the food they’re about obsession or creativity or love or failure.

But the editor in me likes structure. The need for structure, the beauty of structure, is part of what keeps me meal planning in the first place. I know the benefits of an organizing principle. And so I balked.

Then it occurred to me, what about the tags? The cloud could include the ideas that interest me along with the food. I will remember that I once wrote something about Adam Gopnik, but will I remember we also had pasta for dinner that night? Why not put his name in there? Or how about divergent thinking? The cloud is a non-linear form of representation. I’m growing! So I went back an obsessively re-tagged everything.

Because I was obsessively re-tagging everything dinner was late. But I did manage to pass another salad off on the children. I thought it might be the vinegar that was causing the salad problem so I used a new vinegar that my friend Iana introduced me to this summer, White Balsamic Vinegar from Trader Joe’s. It’s very mild. Dinner was white bean soup from the freezer. I knew making the beef stew last night would be labor intensive so I purposely followed it with something easy. The little joys of meal planning – for someone who doesn’t like to cook, that constitutes the benefit of structure.

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My favorite time to make dinner is in the morning. The idea that it’s all over by 10:00 am! (Well, the hard part anyway)

I am very attached to my crockpot. I bought one when the kids were little and there was no question of being able to stay inside for four straight hours while a pot of beef stew simmered. This morning I used it to make something I call Simon & Garfunkel Soup. It is actually a recipe I made up. I’m unnaturally proud of it because it goes against every idea I have of myself as a rule-following recipe slave.

Here’s how I did it: I looked online at other white bean crock pot soups. I got the gist of them and added my own touch. Namely, I threw in some parmesan cheese rinds that I was storing in my cheese drawer because I have a hard time throwing anything out and because I kept thinking, “I can still get some cheese off that….” After I put in all the basic ingredients, beans, ham, vegetables, stock, I didn’t know how to season it. So I looked in my spice rack and that old Simon & Garfunkel song, “Scarborough Fair,” came to mind. It has that line, “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,” and I figured there must be some reason those spices were together so I added them and Simon & Garfunkel soup was born.

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Kids first day of school after break. Thought soup would help us recover from the holiday gluttony. I was kind of proud of this meal because I used leftovers from the fridge. Plus, there’s mushrooms in the salad. I always mean to check the fridge before I make my meal plan but in the five years I’ve been making weekly meal plans, I rarely manage it. Maybe this year’s the year. This meal I managed to use up a stray pepper, a lone carrot and six pieces of leftover garlic bread from last night’s meal.

The tomato soup is a recipe from O magazine that I’ve always been meaning to try. It was easy & great. Put the garlic bread under the broiler with some mozzarella cheese and since there wasn’t enough for everybody I got myself some pecan walnut bread instead.

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