seasonal produce

Kale & White Bean Soup, or your new favorite weeknight dinner

In one of my very first posts, I mentioned how much I make soup this time of year. I don’t know if I emphasized it enough.

For the last 4 or 5 consecutive weeks, I’ve made one of my favorite go-to soup recipes the exact same way. The EXACT same. No modifications. And trust me on how weird this is – I don’t really like leftovers and I get sick of repeated meals. But every Sunday when we jot down our meals before heading to the grocery store, either Steve or I says, “…so, the kale soup again, right?”

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I found in 2013, I’ve tweaked a little over the last few years until I found my perfect version. That meant adding garlic, caramelizing the onions, and seasoning with smoky, spicy paprika. And guys. IT NEVER GETS OLD! On top of that, the ingredients are cheap, easy to find in stores, and très healthy. It’s too good to be true. And that’s why I have this garlicky, smoky kale & white bean soup every week.

Kale & White Bean Soup

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

28 oz. cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

up to 4 cups of chicken stock *

2 cups of water

1.5 lbs kale, rinsed and stems removed

extra virgin olive oil

salt

pepper

smoked paprika

optional (but let’s be honest, not really): freshly shaved parmesan and toasted slices of sourdough

*the original recipe calls for two cups of stock, 4 cups of water. unfortunately, most stock comes in 4 cup containers, and it doesn’t live in the fridge forever. I’ve started doing 2 cups of stock, 4 cups of water when I’ll be making this soup again soon, and 4 cups of stock, 2 cups of water when I just want to use the whole container. I’ve also found that 3 cups of each works just fine. Like most of my favorite recipes, you just can’t mess it up.

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How To Brunch At Home

One of my favorite ways to relax on the weekend is over brunch with good friends. I love checking out new brunch spots and going to the usual favorites too. I usually have a hard time deciding between eggy, savory dishes and sweet things that I never make at home like French toast. I never have a hard time deciding on a mimosa 😉

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In the interest of not having to make a reservation, saving a buck or two, and an excuse to use my new copper chargers from Crate and Barrel, I had two of my favorite ladies and their respective husbands/boyfriends over for brunch this weekend. It was super casual, but I did put more thought than usual into the food I chose. My favorite element of brunch is the lingering, taking our time and doing a little more talking than eating. I hadn’t seen some of these friends in a bit and I wanted us to have all the time we needed to catch up!

brunch menu

Before anyone arrived, I prepped the two plated meals — I sliced the grapefruits in half, separating the segments from outside peel and the thin membranes. I mixed the cinnamon and brown sugar. I chopped and diced the jalapenos, garlic, and onions for the shakshuka, and I hand crushed the tomatoes (apron on! I’ve learned that one the hard way 😉 )

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Gotta risk it for the brisket

One thing I like to do when planning a menu, for any kind of party, is to rely on familiar favorites. There’s no reason to experiment with something unknown and expensive under pressure – do that on your own time! I don’t mean to suggest that you should gravitate towards boring options, but I do mean pick dishes that you’ve served before, use techniques that you’re familiar with and have mastered, etc.

This just seems like common sense, and a good way to make sure you don’t make mistakes when your guests are arriving soon.

Right?

This is the story of how that principle didn’t pan out so well for me.

We had 12 friends over for dinner last Friday. Remember, I live in the D.C. area, where we were just slammed by Winter Storm (ahem, blizzard) Jonas. Everyone was planning to walk to our apartment, and the snow had been scheduled to start coming down thick around noon that day. Warm and comforting were top priorities for food.  

menu

Weird mix of Jewish, southern, and modern? I’m all over it.

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Sunday is for soup

You’ll soon find out that I eat an inordinate amount of soup in the fall and winter. My usual soup rotation consists of smoky kale and white bean soup, carrot tahini soup topped with spicy crispy chick peas, and chipotle turkey chili. And even though I usually hate leftovers, I never feel that way about those three!

For the first time in a while, I was inspired to branch out and try something new. Maybe it’s the cozy weather, maybe it was the excuse to slip in some cheese, I don’t know. But today I started thinking about broccoli cheddar soup.

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Sneak peek. Don’t mind my dirty stove.

 

It couldn’t be TYPICAL broccoli cheddar soup – the goopy creamy flavorless stuff that doesn’t taste like broccoli or cheddar. I looked at a few recipes and immediately decided, we’re doubling the broccoli and cutting the cream. We’re caramelizing the onions and, yeah, it’s weird, but we’re adding a carrot or two, and we’re roasting the broccoli first. I’m all about boosting flavor and keeping it fresh. So here’s what I got:

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Cheers to new pursuits

To ringing in 2016 with dear friends. To a new year, a fresh start, and a chance to try something different. To putting my KitchenAid juicer attachment (and all of its million pieces) to good use.

To all of that, I say cheers!

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The Pamplemint Punch with a fresh sprig of mint. Giving you all that bright light vitamin C… with a splash of bourbon!

This was the first year that Steve and I didn’t host a New Year’s party in a while. We had gone all out before, including a 90-person cocktail attire bash at his old rowhouse and a mimosa and waffle bar pajama party in our first apartment together.

That was a good one — Steve had so much Irish coffee over the course of that party that he was still energized by the time everyone left, and had cleaned the ENTIRE apartment (only 520 sq ft in total, but still) by the time I woke up. Meanwhile, I had just been congratulating myself on choosing a party theme that allowed me to wear cute PJs and be ready for bed at any moment. If your hubbies or roommates are neat freaks, I highly recommend caffeinating them during a big party. The payoff is great 😉

This New Year’s, right after planning a wedding and going on a honeymoon and traveling for the holidays, we were NOT up for hosting.

Luckily, one of my besties, Vida, was up to the task. She made a craft paper photo backdrop and a delicious spread of late night snacks (including melted bacon brie cranberry sandwiches, which were incredible) and all we had to do was BYO.

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