White bean and pasta soup

White bean and pasta soup | Me & the Moose. This soup is quick, easy, wholesome, and a surefire way to get my toddler to eat beans and bone broth. It’s also a warming lunch for these cold days. #soup #whitebeansoup #recipes #meandthemoose

This soup is a metaphor for how I’m feeling about this holiday season. (As always, to skip this meditation on holiday blues and just get to the damned soup already, scroll to the next photo!)

As you can see, the dry pasta is vibrant pink and white adorableness. But when cooked, it loses some color and is a rather bleh peach and cream. It still tastes good, but doesn’t live up to the promise of the shiny and bright dry version. I feel that way about the holidays: The idea is one thing, but the experience is another.

I have the holiday blues. They came early this year, which is probably because Thanksgiving was so early and now we’re officially in the holiday season even though Halloween was 10 seconds ago and it’s all going too fast and increasing my seasonal ennui.

But if I’m honest, I always have the sneaking suspicion that everyone else is more engaged in life and more present in their lives and more, I don’t know, successful at life than I am. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Unsurprisingly, I have to take social media with a HUGE grain of salt and constantly remind myself that these idealized versions of life aren’t the whole picture. So, I guess this is my friendly reminder to all of YOU that ‘tis the season of matching jammies and perfect cookies, which are fun and pretty and inspiring, but also staged and only a sliver of someone’s day.

White bean and pasta soup | Me & the Moose. Alphabet pasta is a perennial favorite in our home, but the snowflakes are a seasonal contender for favorite pasta shape. #soup #whitebeansoup #recipes #meandthemoose

Anyway, make this soup! Seriously though, one way I try to combat the holiday blues is to be mindful about what I’m eating. This soup is more nutritious if you use a whole grain or grain-free pasta (or skip it entirely). However, M’s soup consumption increases dramatically if there’s a fun shape in there.

And if you can, make the broth yourself. It’s light years better than the stuff in paper cartons from the store. And you can make a lot at a time and freeze it for later. And the chicken can be frozen for later meals too!

White bean and pasta soup | Me & the Moose. This soup is quick, easy, wholesome, and a surefire way to get my toddler to eat beans and bone broth. It’s also a warming lunch for these cold days. #soup #whitebeansoup #recipes #meandthemoose

White bean and pasta soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried rosemary, minced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups herbed chicken stock (recipe below)
1½ cups dried pasta, cooked in separate water
Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat the olive oil over a medium low flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the white beans and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

While the soup simmers, cook the pasta separately. When the pasta is done, add it to the slightly cooled soup.

Top with cheese before serving.  

Yield: 7-8 cups soup, about 4 big bowls  

Herbed chicken stock

1 chicken, cut into pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks), skin and bones included
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large carrot
1 stalks celery
2 sticks rosemary
8-10 sticks thyme
10-12 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
10-14 cups water, enough to cover the ingredients
1 Tbsp salt

Add all of the ingredients to a large stockpot and stir to distribute the salt. Cover with water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 1½ hours. If a lot of the water evaporates, add more to maintain the original level of water.

Let cool. Strain the broth with a fine mesh sieve. Remove the bones and skin of the chicken, but save the meat in a separate container for other meals.   

Yield: About 12 cups of stock; one entire chicken, dark and light meat

White bean and pasta soup | Me & the Moose. This soup is quick, easy, wholesome, and a surefire way to get my toddler to eat beans and bone broth. It’s also a warming lunch for these cold days. #soup #whitebeansoup #recipes #meandthemoose

Purple carrot soup with za'atar

Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is a warm, hearty, and healthy lunch or light dinner. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan

Is purple my new favorite color? I don’t know. Maybe. I seem to be drawn to purple foods lately. Maybe they feel kind of witch-y and seasonal. And that’s primarily what I aim for in my cooking.

Anyway, I find purple carrots endlessly intriguing and therefore, have used them in this soup. Unfortunately, the end product doesn't stay purple, so if your kiddo might be put off by the initial color, rest easy. This soup is also delicious made with orange carrots.

Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan
Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is a warm, hearty, and healthy lunch or light dinner. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan

And added bonus: carrots are a great base for introducing new flavors to your kiddos. Carrots are familiar, mildly sweet, and almost entirely inoffensive, so they’re not intimidating when you mix in some za’atar and tahini, two things that, on their own, might prove too much for a developing palate.

Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is a warm, hearty, and healthy lunch or light dinner. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan

I like swirling it with yogurt and sprinkling on some za’atar, which is a spice that should earn a spot in your repertoire.

If za’atar intimidates you, take heart. I was also a bit hesitant at first, but it’s a simple mixture of thyme, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac, which is a common middle eastern spice that has a bright, citrusy flavor. I feel like it’s the cumin of the middle east.

This soup is also a good way to introduce some new spices and flavors while incorporating an old favorite. M even requested a bowl of this with his dinner the other night, so I, obviously, felt extremely smug.

Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is so easy to make and a great way to introduce new flavors. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan

Purple carrot soup with za’atar

2 Tbsp olive oil, butter, or ghee
1 medium onion, minced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 ¼ lb carrots, peeled and diced into small pieces
4 cups low sodium stock (vegetable or chicken)
3 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
Za’atar

Heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Add the spices and ½ tsp of salt and cook for one more minute, until fragrant.

Add the carrots and cook for one or two minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and add the tahini, lemon juice, and the other ½ tsp of salt.

Yield: 6½ cups or about 52 oz


Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is a warm, hearty, and healthy lunch or light dinner. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan
Purple carrot soup with za’atar | Me & The Moose. This carrot soup is an easy way to add interest to your kids’ lunchboxes while serving up some veggies and introducing new flavors. #meandthemoose #carrotsoup #purplecarrots #za’atar #glutenfree #vegan




Gnocchi clam chowder

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This here is the tastiest, fastest, easiest, most comforting clam chowder you may ever eat.

I start with Jasper White's legendary New England clam chowder recipe, but I use canned clams, a bottle of clam juice, and gnocchi instead of fresh clams, homemade clam juice, and potatoes. I'm sure the original, fully-handmade version is delicious, but who has the time? I also change up the technique so that this soup comes together in minutes, but tastes like it simmered for hours.

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I also make this recipe using milk instead of cream because we NEVER have cream in the house. And when we do, I only need a tiny bit and then the rest goes bad because we don't use it. Instead, I use a little more butter when sauteing the aromatics to add richness.

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Just a note, this chowder is a soup-y chowder. Some people like their chowder to have a thick gloopy consistency, but I prefer a slightly thinner soup. The gnocchi is soft, so you do get a hint of a thicker soup, but with more broth. Win-win, I think. If going gluten-free, either look for gluten-free gnocchi or swap in diced potatoes for the gnocchi and cook the soup until the potatoes are fork tender.

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Gnocchi Clam chowder

2 6.5 oz cans of chopped clams (use brine to make up the 2 cups of clam juice)
2 cups (8 oz) bottled clam juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large shallots
1 large clove garlic
1 large stalk celery
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup milk
1 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 lb potato gnocchi (1 package)*

Open the cans of clams and drain the water into a measuring cup. Add more clam juice until you have two cups of liquid. Set aside the clams and the juice. 

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots and celery until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Transfer the sautéed shallots, celery, garlic, and thyme to a blender or food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth.

Return the milk puree to the large pan with the clam juice, water, thyme, and gnocchi. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or according to package directions.

Add the reserved clams and cook for 1 minute more.

Remove the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 53 oz, or about 6 cups

*If making ahead of time, make the soup liquid up to the point where you add the gnocchi and boil. Instead of adding the gnocchi, combine the liquids and canned clams, transfer to storage container, and chill for up to 2-3 days. When you want to eat, transfer the liquid back to a pot, bring to a boil, add the gnocchi, and cook for 3 minutes, or until gnocchi begins to float.

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Mujadara soup

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Well, we closed out 2017 with a bang. And by "bang," I mean, trip to the emergency room. Someone had horrible stomach pains that looked like appendicitis or a hernia because someone has been holding it rather than going in the potty. I was like, "Ethan, come on. You're an adult. just poop in the damned potty." So, I was more than glad to welcome 2018 this morning. (Did we think for one second I was making it to midnight last night? That's hilarious.)  

In honor of a more auspicious start to this year, I'm posting a lentil soup recipe that combines two of my favorite mujadara recipes from Deborah Madison and Madhur Jaffrey. (I've also seen it spelled moudjendra or muhjadarrah.) My dad and I ate this dish a lot when I was a teen. I went through a vegetarian phase and he went through an only-eating-lentils-because-heart-disease phase.

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There is something so warm and comforting to me about this Middle Eastern dish. While it's usually eaten as a side, it's hearty enough to eat as a main course or, as I've done here, to turn into a one-pot soup that makes a great lunch with a piece of crusty bread or toasted pita.

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And, of course, eating lentils (or any round bean, really) is supposed to be good luck for the new year and eating anything green (the color of money) ushers in a prosperous new year.

You know what else this soup has? Lots and lots of fiber. So if your New Year's resolution has anything to do with gut health, potty training, weight loss, overall health, or home cooking, here's a soup for you. If you didn't make any resolutions and this is just another day, then make it "just another day" featuring delicious soup. If this straightforward, but somewhat time consuming dish isn't your bag, check out last year's lentil recipe.

 

Mujadara soup

2-3 large onions (4-5 small ones), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds or half-moons
1 Tbsp salted butter, olive oil, or ghee
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/4 cup green lentils
3/4 cup long grain brown rice (basmati is great)
10 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade if possible)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch lacinto kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale)

Heat the butter and oil over a medium flame. Slice your onions and chop your garlic. Set garlic aside. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions and salt. Saute the onions until they are a rich brown color, about 20-30 minutes.

While your onions are caramelizing, measure and rinse your lentils and rice and set aside. Check the onions every few minutes and adjust the temperature as needed to avoid burning them.

Once the onions are browned, add the garlic and saute for one minute, or until fragrant.

Add the lentils and the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the rice, cover, and continue simmering on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, wash and chop your kale.

After 30 minutes, check the rice for doneness. I, personally, like a bit of bite left in the rice, but if you like it done more, cook for another 5-10 minutes, or to your liking. (Bear in mind that the rice will cook more upon reheating the soup as well.)

Add the kale and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir. Taste for seasoning and thickness and add more salt or stock as needed.

Yield: 64 oz or about 8 cups of soup

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Black Bean Soup

Guys, I'm ALONE. Not in the despair-filled, we're-all-ultimately-alone-in-this-life sense, but in the literal, concrete sense. I spent my first night away from M and E last night and it was glorious and bittersweet in equal measure. After a good 45 minutes of looking at pictures of M on my phone and missing him ferociously, I spun around The-Hills-Are-Alive style in my room before falling asleep in my hotel bathrobe at 10:30.

It's a funny time to be away and probably a good test of my anxiety coping skills. After M's injury last week, I'm feeling more protective of him than ever, so this is forcing me to deal with the lingering fear that SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN. Because something will happen eventually- it always does. Although last week I felt panicked realizing that I can't always protect M, I'm trying to remember that I AM protecting him by giving him life skills and resilience and by not hovering and sending him the message that I don't trust him and that the world is filled with danger. Also, his dad is the greatest, so I really need to chill out. 

Anyhoo, this is my first post in some time that wasn't interrupted by a small person with constant demands OR exhaustion from addressing said small person's constant demands. So without further ado: Delicious black bean soup!

A few notes: 15 minutes is a long time for onions to start a soup, but the caramelizing really enhances the flavor of this simple dish. Also, this soup is of a medium thickness. If one wanted a thicker soup, reduce the liquid by 1 cup. Similarly, to thin the soup further, add 1/2 to 1 cup more liquid. I like the textural difference of some pureed and some whole beans, but one could also puree the whole thing for a uniform consistency. Other ways to add texture: Set side some caramelized onions for later topping; add in a small can of poblanos or other roasted, chopped green chilis; top with crushed tortilla chips, cojita cheese, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, etc for faux nachos on top.

Black bean soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp cumin
1/8-¼ tsp cayenne
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken stock
S/P

Heat olive oil and butter over a medium flame. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add 1.5 cans of black beans and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, and using an immersion or regular blender, puree the soup. Add the other .5 cans of beans, salt and pepper to taste, and heat through again.

Yield: 50 oz or about 5 cups