It’s 5 o’clock, and you’re leaving the office in search of some post-work libations and snacks before dinner. You could go the traditional happy hour route — where you’re limited to a few drinks and small bites within a short window of time — or you could up the ante and visit a Japanese izakaya.
When I’m weary and sick I want chicken soup. I don’t care if it’s fancy. Heirloom turnips and herb pistous are not necessary. Just chicken soup, please — nice and brothy with big chunks of chicken and minimal vegetables. Rice, pasta or matzo balls are all fine as long as the soup is homemade.
I’ve created a few easy-to-make soups that can be made in less than ten minutes from foods most of us have on hand in our freezers and pantries. As any working mom can tell you, quick and easy is essential for a week-night dinner, and these recipes are both; yet I also love how these homey pantry soups are made almost entirely of vegetables, making them just as nutritious for my family as they are tasty.
This month, I had a reason to make minestrone for the first time. A few days before my mother-in-law flew out for Thanksgiving, I recited the contents of our Mariquita Mystery Box to her over the phone. As soon as she heard we were getting butternut squash, baby leeks, and chard, she told me I should think about making Alice Waters’ fall minestrone from The Art of Simple Food. She even brought me a Ziplock bag of the necessary sage, rosemary, and bay leaf fresh from her Virginia garden.
Some might say that lentil soup is an odd thing to prepare in the summer. That would be true in Sacramento (where I live). But in the Bay Area, where it is often cold and foggy, a lentil soup is just the thing to be enjoying on a back patio. I learned this basic recipe at Oliveto, one of many perks of working as a galley slave (intern).
Corn is at its best roasted on the grill where that direct intense heat makes the kernels sweeter. After eating our fill of grilled corn a few weeks ago, however, I wanted to try something a little different. Soup. Yes, I know. Soup is not a summer standard. But we live in the Bay Area, where hot days are followed by cool, foggy ones, so soup is an every-season dish as far as I’m concerned.
One of my favorite culinary mash-ups of recent years is the Vietnamese-Chinese-Cajun crawfish boil served with rice or garlic noodles. Following the arc of families moving from Vietnam to New Orleans to Southern California to, finally, San Jose and San Francisco, mud bugs have taken a garlicky turn and shown up, of all places, in Little Saigon’s across the country.
Sometimes, when it’s cold outside and you’re bundled in bed incapable of cooking and yet you need some food that feels and tastes homemade, but your mom is maybe 1,500 hundred miles away, it’s time for the smart shortcuts.
That’s when you call for an order of pai gwat, those savory little tidbits of pork spareribs that dim sum houses and any decent, neighborhood Cantonese restaurant list on their menus. Then you dig around in your vegetable bin for any possible hint of vegetables, preferably a not too wilted head of mustard greens or a bunch of watercress or even, in desperate times, a well-rinsed bag of baby spinach already past its prime.
Indian Summer indeed! Global warming is alive and well when it’s pushing 100 degrees in San Francisco in September. Not wanting to make anything that involved getting near a stove, I called my friends J & J and asked if I could come over to their uber swanky and air conditioned kitchen and whip something up for us for dinner. When I woke up yesterday morning and it was 82 degrees, all I could think about was cold gazpacho soup with some thick crunchy crusty bread.
It’s that time of year. Farmer’s Markets are exploding with great spring fruits and vegetables. My favorite among them is cherries. If this were prime time television, the cherry would be a superstar, hosting its own variety show in the best time slot possible. Like a Saturday night bookended by very special episodes of The […]