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Two Soups, Three Sick

Everyone in my one bedroom apartment is sick. I’m still a bit in denial about my own illness, as I’m going out to see some friends tomorrow and there’s a twelve item list of things I need to make to avoid the whole fridge reeking of rot by Tuesday. (It’ll be Monday in, like, half an hour ago. I’m in the weeds. And who the hell’s gonna eat all of it?!)

I currently have too many carrots, a butt-load* of broccoli, a mixed pound of blood oranges and tangerines, mint, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers and several other vegetables that are on the brink of… grossness.

This is the newly shortened list. See, yesterday, when I still felt like a human, I made two pots of soup. One giant, one appetizer sized because I realized halfway into the giant pot, that I was craving something richer and starchier than the brothy lentil concoction I had simmering away.

Given that last night, I took my hair out of it’s bun and upon discovering that it was caked with soup spent a good two minutes debating whether I needed to wash it then or could just deal with it in the morning**… well, I think it’s safe to say I’m about as functional as a chicken in a plastic bag. (Is that a thing anyone says? No? FEVER.) This stuff isn’t gonna get done.***

Anyhoo, lentil soup is the soup of my family. Normally we make it all stew like, full of tomatoes and chunky business. But, for the sake of sickness, I went a much brothy-er route, using a little tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes and half a potato instead of… well, many more.

At some point I’ll take notes while I make lentil soup and give you a legit recipe, but for now I’ll just tell you that I made vegetable stock and cooked some french lentils (’cause our old pantry beans are secretly fancy), combined the lentils and stock and threw in sauteed onions, mushrooms and garlic and as many carrot and celery hunks as seemed necessary for me to be into eating the mess. (Plus, pepper, tamari, cayenne and lemon.) It was meant to be hot, sick person nourishment and it hit that nail on the head, though it wasn’t the most exciting soup ever.

As for the potato soup… well, for starters, sexier words were never written… except for most of the other words.****

Potato soup is kinda like the sweatpants of the soup world.*****

Also, let’s be real, if soup had a clothing line it would consist of onesies, nightgowns and, for the unfortunate bland disaster, track suits. (Onesies are sexy.) (As long as they don’t have butt flaps.) (So, not baby onesies. Ew.) (Do babies eat soup?) (Oh wait. Don’t actually care.)

I would buy so many shares in this clothing line.

Guys, remember how lentil soup is the soup of my family? Well, I meant to say my immediate family. My father’s side of the family eats… pork soup? Yeah, that sounds right. And I don’t know what people eat/ate on my mother’s side beyond my grandmother, who made potato leek soup like nobody’s business.

I’ve been searching for ways to feel connected to her ever since she passed. Food seems like my best bet given that I don’t really feel like having a fucked up relationship, being crazy, or drinking too much.

Her soup probably came from Moosewood or Julia Child. I didn’t bother to search her dusty cookbooks for the words she’d scratched in, saying to add more dill or cook it longer.

I went on instinct, aiming for a salty, sweet, slightly spicy, rich but creamless concoction that I might have been proud to share with her. (I kinda nailed it.)

Anyways, enough of this long, silly post.

Potato Soup

Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as an entree

Sautee over medium heat 1/2 large yukon gold potato, skin on, eyes out, chopped into small cubes (about 1/2 cup) in

1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter

Cook for 2-3 minutes until there’s a little color on there.

Add in 1 leek, diced small (about 1/3 cup)

1 tsp minced garlic (1 big clove)

1 medium zucchini, 1/2 peeled if you’re deranged, like me, chopped small (about 1/2 cup)

Cook for 1-2 minutes until leeks are translucent

Salt and pepper

Add 2- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (chicken would be extra delicious if you’re into that)

Increase heat and cook for 5+ minutes until things are tender and some of the liquid has evaporated/things have starchened.******

Add 1/8 tsp each (to start) dried dill (more if using fresh), smoked paprika and cayenne.

Taste, adjust and serve with buttered bread (I threw some awesome smoked salt on top. Delicious), Greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon.

Or serve it plain. It’s truly good either way. I’ve even been told it’s good cold.*******

Eat it. It’s a piece of cake… soup… I’m gonna go to sleep now…

*I’m sorry I’m like this. Though butts are funny. Don’t deny it.

**Did you imagine Liz Lemon, only less cute? Gold star! I looked like the big latin version of Liz when Floyd calls her a crone.

***Ok, I made a caramel burbon bottomed apple crisp and baba ghanoush. Whatevs. Still, like, 10 things to make.

****I don’t mean it. Nothing’s sexier than potatoes. Maybe boobs that prevented potatoes from sprouting and turning green, while frying bacon.

*****Easy to put on, hard to… keep… out of your mouth? Yeesh. Um… how to salvage this… I like my women like I like my soup: consisting largely of water.

******Totes a word. Like thickened. But with starch. Obvs.

*******Gross. But it is like eating a wet buttered potato. Which also sound gross. Dammit.

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Beer Bread

The other night, I realized halfway through my second beer that I was in a rotten mood. Down in the dumps. Grouchy. Depressed. So, I, being my mother’s daughter, stopped drinking it. Coming from a family of alcoholics lead me to become a very cautious drinker. Partly because I know I can’t support an addiction. I can’t really afford much of anything right now. See, part of my crabs ridden mood that night was a result of my complete unemployment. Ok, I pick up enough side jobs to not be completely doomed, but I definitely don’t get a steady paycheck or collect unemployment (do not pass GO*). I’m working on fixing that but it’s slow going and a bit demoralizing to be bashed over the head with rejection.

I figure I’m gonna need something positive to balance things out.

So I’ll be here turning half empty bottles of beer into bread and telling you about it.

*I hate that Monopoly is in my mind. 

Beer bread!

This beer bread habit of mine began when I was sorting through different brews and stumbling upon plenty that I didn’t care for. The cast off’s either went into bread or something stewed. Or cake. But we’ll get into that some other time.

Beer bread is like Irish soda bread… minus the baking soda… and with a totally awesomely rich flavor. I tend toward dark beers in general but especially for breads because they add a bitter caramely-ness that I really like. Plus they’re pretty. But use whatever you’ve got around. It’ll all be good once it’s toasted and buttered.

Recipe!

Drink 6 oz of your, like, fifth favorite beer while the oven preheats to 375.

Grease a small loaf pan and melt 2 tbsp unsalted butter.

Sift together, or cheat and fluff with a fork, 1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry but all purpose or a whole wheat/a.p. mix would work too- if using self rising flour, omit salt and baking powder)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Stir into the dry ingredients the other 6 oz of beer and 1 tbsp of butter. (If your beer didn’t start out as 12 oz… sorry… go open another one! Or add water, milk or buttermilk- if going with the latter, add a pinch or two of baking soda.)

The batter will be thick and a bit wet. Press into loaf pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pour the remaining tbsp of butter all over the top.

Bake until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean- about 25-35 minutes (I rotated the pan halfway through, but that’s because my oven’s a butt. Know your ovens, people). Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then eat fat, toasted slices smeared with butter, cream cheese or broiled with a hunk of cheese on top and a bowl of soup.

P.S.- Quick breads are super versatile. Need to cut the sugar, salt or fat? Still tasty bread. Don’t want to use beer? Use, like, any other liquid. Quick breads are boss.

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