3 Satisfying Soups for the Star Child

“She’s a soup eater.”

My daughter. The second one. The Star Child. She loves soup. She once double-spooned a bowl of crab corn chowder at a fancy restaurant and deemed it the best soup she ever had.

I made a big pot of black bean soup the weekend before this school year started. She took it for lunch the first day, and then every day after that for the rest of the week. She would have eaten two thermoses of soup if I would have given her two. I started to worry that, from that point on, my daughter would forever be the kid that brought the strange, black, sludgy-looking soup to school.

She isn’t. The Star Child is far more of a social butterfly than I ever was. The other kids don’t care what she eats. Or, that she likes to wear a school sweater that’s 2 sizes too small. Buttoned up.
 
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That soup is still a staple for us. I make a big pot and then put big ladle-fuls in jars to heat up when I pack the lunches in the mornings.

We’ve had quite a bit of soup, lately. I suppose it’s the never-ending winter of 2013. It makes me want soup. And bread. With butter.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few soups that are favorites around here. 

Black Bean Soup in progress

Black Bean Soup in progress

  • The first is that fantastic black bean soup. It’s from the blog most likely to make me cry. In a good way. Usually.

Black Bean Soup  – from Missy at It’s Almost Naptime. This stuff is not in any way vegetarian, so don’t let the name fool you. I suppose you could make it without the whole package of bacon, but that would just be silly.

Jools's Favorite Beef Stew - our way

Jools’s Favorite Beef Stew – our way

  •  Another recent staple is beef stew. We needed a delicious way to use the stew meat from the side of grass-fed beef stored in the chest freezer (possibly the best decision we ever made concerning our food buying).
Leek and Tattie - pre-tattie

Leek and Tattie – pre-tattie

Jools’s Favorite Beef Stew – I have not made a single Jamie Oliver recipe that we didn’t want to have again. This one doesn’t disappoint. I usually double the beef and add sweet potatoes. I always forget to look for jerusalem artichokes so we’ve never tried them. The resulting sop hollers out for crusty bread with butter, but is plenty filling on its own.

  •  Third is an easy potato soup. You can add all sorts of veggies to this and your pickier diners won’t notice. This recipe also introduced me to leeks. Surprisingly tasty! I’ve substituted onions and cabbage for the leeks if the market doesn’t have them. It’s a creamy soup that doesn’t require you to remember to purchase cream. In fact, there’s no milk in it at all!

 

Leek & Tattie & Whatever You Like-ie Soup
A milk-less but creamy potato soup with lots of possibilities.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 lb potatoes, chopped small (but not tiny)
  2. 3 large leeks, use the white and light green part, chopped
  3. *3 small carrots, chopped
  4. *1 sweet onion, chopped
  5. *1/2 head cabbage, chopped
  6. 8 T real butter (one stick)
  7. 1 c flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
  8. 8 c stock (chicken or veggie)
  9. salt & pepper
  10. *good cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish
  11. *bacon, for garnish
  12. (Ingredients marked with an asterisk are optional)
Instructions
  1. Fry all the chopped vegetables (including the potatoes) in butter in a big pot. I like to do the onions alone for a bit first if I'm using them, since I like them almost caramelized.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the softened veggies and toss with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Blend that stuff with a stick blender (or very carefully batch by batch in a blender), adding more stock or water if it is thicker than you like.
  6. Check seasoning, add garnishes, and serve!
Notes
  1. This makes a LOT of soup. It freezes well, but you may need to add water or stock when re-heating, since it thickens quite a bit. That's OK. It doesn't hurt the taste.
  2. It's great to toss in a crockpot for sharing at soup lunches. I made the original for a Scottish Reformation Celebration at church and have since made it 5 more times.
  3. The good, aged cheddar makes a world of difference. Ordinary cheddars just don't have the tooth to balance with the subtle flavors in the soup.
Adapted from Celtic Cookbook
Adapted from Celtic Cookbook
Queen Of None http://www.queenofnone.com/

Like soup? Share one of your favorite recipes in the comments!

 

The Great Fried Chicken Adventure

FriedChickenIn our house, Saturday is Cheat Day. It’s been this way for a couple years. The Man and I were pretty devoted to the 4 Hour Body Diet for a while and ever since then, Saturday has been our day to indulge in foods we know we really shouldn’t be eating.

In the beginning, this meant a day heavy on donuts, sausage gravy, burgers, french fries, milkshakes, and the occasional “cheat day buffet” at a friend’s house. Since we’ve since moved toward a daily whole foods diet, lots of that sugary, processed junk doesn’t even tempt us anymore. There are exceptions, of course. Like our great local donut shop. And french fries. And mounds of pasta. Who am I kidding? Saturday still is a bit of a free-for-all and I’m not ready to give it up completely.

That's one big chicken attacking our town.

That’s one big chicken attacking our town.

Great fried chicken wasn’t really a part of my Southern upbringing. Our fried chicken always came with 11 herbs and spices. In this part of the country, we give directions using giant fast food poultry as a landmark and guide.

This wasn’t true for The Man. His grandmother, Ma-Ma, provided him with fresh and homemade fried chicken on an apparently regular basis! Unfortunately, by the time we were married, his diminutive grandmother had been placed on a no-fat diet. When I came to visit we got Publix takeaway. (not that Publix makes bad fried chicken. If you get it fresh, it can be almost drool worthy)

So we kept on the lookout for tasty fried chicken to satisfy The Man’s primal urges. Here’s what we found:

FransFriedChicken

  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, Tennessee – I thought it was fantastic. Nice crunch and surprising red pepper flavor that didn’t singe my lips. For The Man, it lacked the honey/buttermilk flavors from his youth. This visit was part of the best anniversary ever.
  • Fran’s Chicken of Boca Raton, Florida – Now this is closer to home for him. His parents ate this chicken as newlyweds and took The Man back whenever they were in the area. I remember liking Gus’s better. We grabbed a box of legs to keep the family happy for the long drive back to the ATL.

(Neither of these fantastic fried chicken joints are anywhere near our actual home in the Atlanta suburbs)

So one Saturday I was thinking about lunch. I had just been to yoga and sweated off over 600 calories (so they say) and I was HAWNgry. The family picked me up and I said…

“We should go on a fried chicken adventure!”

We didn’t.

But the next week we did!

This kicked off a fabulous trend of fried chicken in the ATL!

I’ll add to this list as it happens, but here’s where we’ve been so far:

  1.  The Colonnade in Atlanta, GA – Currently in the lead. The chicken thigh was the best I’ve had ever. So far. The other parts were good, too. Great fried shrimp and slaw. Fantastic coconut pie. Everything I had was great except the sweet potato casserole. Way too much allspice, I think. 
  2. Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, GA – Good chicken. Not as crunchy as we’d like. But very juicy. Especially the breast, which surprised me. Pot Likker was a surprising treat, and the banana pudding was good. I even liked the meringue. I’m usually anti-meringue. But the best surprise? Tomato Pie! What the what?! Why had I never tasted this before? It’s a revelation!CarversFriedChicken
  3. Carver’s Country Kitchen in Atlanta, GA – My brother took me to this wonderful gem just in time for the owner to announce they were closing. I’ll have to be sure to visit as many times as possible before that happens. The chicken breast (no dark meat option on this day) was tasty, but a little drier than the others I’ve had lately. I’m sure it could have been an off day. However, it had the most delicious crispy crust of them all. So far. Plus, they offered cobbler as a vegetable. It was apparent that many people are going to miss this place. I was a bit morose and it was only my first visit!

 

Check back in for more updates as I eat my way through Georgia’s fried chicken, and let me know in the comments if you have a suggestion!