Category Archives: Soup

a cure for darkness

Red Lentil Soup
I have to warn you. I’m a little addicted to soups these days. It isn’t necessarily the cold, since we had a bit of a heat wave in Chicago this weekend (yes 70 degrees in November is hot) but I think its the early darkness. I get asked all the time why I would choose to move from Texas to a place with many months of winter and I respond that I don’t really mind the cold, just the dark. Come February when you leave for work when its dark and come home when its dark since its pitch black at 4PM, it can get a tad depressing. You can always put on a thicker sweater or an extra pair of socks to get warm, but there is nothing you can do about the sun. Continue reading

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cheese + crunch

When I first moved to Chicago, I created my gmail account under “Whitney in Chicago” because it was just felt like such a change for a Texan like me moving up to the cold Midwest.  It was only logical that I would name my blog the same thing.  Although I will forever remain a Texan at heart (Texas Pride is indoctrinated early on in elementary education-Yellow Rose anyone?), I have enjoyed making Chicago my new home.  However, this means that I must make my own Tex-Mex favorites at home (and fill suitcases to the weight maximum with good salsa).  Tortilla Soup might not be strictly “Tex-Mex” per se, but it was always one of my favorite things to order at Pappasitos when I wanted a light lunch and I can’t remember the last time that I had a satisfying bowl. Continue reading

feelings of fall

Today was the first day in Chicago that really felt like fall.  I had a bowl of warm oatmeal rather than my greek yogurt/granola combo of summer.  Suddenly shorts and a tank are no longer suitable running attire and sleeves are necessary.  The sidewalks are laced with the first fallen leaves and the sun begins to set at 6:30 rather than closer to 8.  Although I really was jipped with a summer (bar exam, few “warm” days), I am looking forward to the change in seasons. Continue reading

refreshed

Well I am finally back. Both physically and mentally. As you probably know, I took a 10 day (very) much-needed post-Bar trip to Texas. I attended one of my favorite sorority sister’s wedding; drove over 1000 miles between DFW, Austin, Houston and various places in between; ate my body weight in salsa, queso, tortilla chips, tacos, BBQ and Blue Bell Ice Cream; continued the 100 year celebration by trying every imaginable incarnation of Shiner; in sum, I basically decompressed from the Stress of the past 3 years and specifically the past 2 months. It was just what I needed. But even as I was enjoying sleeping in to 8:30 AM [yes, 8:30 is now sleeping in for me; I am officially OLD] I was somewhat anxious to get back home to Chicago. I have missed 10 days of the farmer’s markets and I don’t know which fruit slowly slipped out of season or if Nichol’s has started to fill their yellow tubs which every type of little tomato imaginable. Needless to say, I am ready to get back into my summer routine. Thankfully this half will be without the added bonus of 28 pounds of blue BarBri books but rather a large stack of library books (including New Moon, Garlic and Sapphire, The Girl She Used to Be and much more). Continue reading

Venetian Bean Soup a la Rancho Gordo

After receiving 3 bags of the famous Rancho Gordo beans from Dave for Valentine’s, I had to search out a recipe that was worthy of one of the bags. Continue reading

A Bread Success

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This weekend was wonderful. Even though it was (really) cold, it was bright and sunny, not dreary and gray. School isn’t too busy yet (and probably wont be..3Litis much?) so the weekends are actually something to enjoy. My toe is almost healed so I was able to workout on both Saturday and Sunday (and I went for a run OUTSIDE tonight and FROZE but it felt great). I also cooked and baked up a storm. On Saturday, Julia suggested that we take the boys to a FREE wine tasting and then they came over while I made Mexican Meatball Soup. Wonderful recipe but I didn’t take any pictures (whoops!). I am excited because I have two portions frozen for a quick weeknight dinner, one of which we heated up tonight. YUM! Then I baked up some Snickerdoodles really quick to take to an apartment warming party. I don’t like to show up empty handed 😉 But the real accomplishment this weekend was baking bread. Real sandwich bread.

I can’t believe how easy it was to make a real homemade loaf of sandwich bread and how few ingredients are involved.

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Mix 2/3 bread flour with 1/3 wheat. Don’t you love my flour canisters? I really do. I have 4 of them and kinda wish I had a few more.

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It is true that you can only buy powdered milk in massive quantities (at least this was true at Treasure Island) but I hear there are other good recipes (granola at Homesick Texan to name one) to use some of it up. Anyone in Chicago need some powdered milk? I can hook ya up ;-P

After Ethel (my KitchenAid) did the mixing and kneading, you let it rest for and hour or so until it doubles. Then comes the fun part of stretching it out into a rectangle…

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…then shaping it and rolling it to the proper loaf shape.
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After a 2nd rise and 45 mins in the oven…out came a loaf of bread!
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I was a little concerned because it felt rock hard on the outside, but really the “crust” layer was perfect. It made a wonderful sandwich yesterday and I enjoyed a slice tonight with a little melted sharp cheader to go along with the leftover soup.

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And the best part about it? I know EXACTLY what went into it. No partially hydrogenated this or xanthan gum that. Just flour, yeast, salt, sugar, powdered milk, water and a little time. Amazing.

Give it a try for yourself. It really does give you a feeling of triumph and accomplishment.

The recipe can be found here. Now I have another cook book to add to the endless wish list 🙂

13 Beans

Over the past few months I have wanted to place an order with Rancho Gordo (and buy his book) for some interesting heirloom beans. I did appreciate the quality of the fresh black beans that I was able to purchase this summer at GreenCity, so I have been wondering if they are worth the premium (and the shipping cost). I think I will decide on a few varieties to try in the next few weeks. Anyone try them out or have an suggestions on which of the many tempting varieties I should try? For now, I was just tempted by a bag of 13 Bean Soup that I found at my trusty Treasure Island. Aren’t all the colors wonderful?

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The beans do take a little planning because they need to be soaked over night but the result is wonderful. Warm, hearty, soothing. Perfect for a cold winter weekend. I didn’t get a good picture of the final product, but believe me, it is worth trying. Mine turned out a little thick, so I would not really call it soup, it was more like a thicker stew or veggie chili.

13 Bean Veggie Chili
Recipe adapted from the Bob’s Red Mill Bag

2 Cups of 13 Bean Soup Mix
1 Ham Hock
1 Medium onion; chopped
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s Fire Roasted diced w/Garlic)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Aleppo Chili Peppers (optional, I thew some in since I have them; crushed red pepper flakes would also work for some spice)
2-3 Cloves of garlic; minced

Wash and soak the 2 cups of beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and bring 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water to boil in a large dutch oven or pot. Add the beans and ham hock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

Add chopped onion, tomatoes, spices and garlic. Simmer for 30 mins. (Be careful towards the end because it will thicken and I did burn a little of the bottom of mine).

Serve in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread. Would also be good over white rice.