‘Get Better’ Chicken Soup

Last week, Noah wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to flex my chicken soup muscles and try making the ultimate “get well” food. There was no point doing it if not to do it well, so I started from scratch.

Just some water, a whole chicken, and veggies.

*full recipe below

First, I put a whole chicken into a pot with chunks from 1 1/2 onions and fronds from about 4 stalks of celery. I covered the chicken with cold water and set on the stove, brought to a boil, and simmered for slightly over 2 hours:

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After about two hours, I fished out the chicken from the pot and separated the meat from the bones/yucky stuff. After that long in the hot water, the meat was literally falling off the bones and the water had turned into a nice broth:

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To the chicken, I also added 3 chopped parsnips, 4 chopped carrots, 4 stalks chopped celery, and one bunch chopped parsley tops:

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I added the chicken and veggies back into the pot, brought to a boil again, and simmered for about 10 minutes until the veggies were all tender.

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The soup came out really well! The broth had a lot of flavor, and I left salt on the table to season to taste rather than adding directly to the soup. AND, it must have worked…because Noah isn’t sick anymore. 🙂 The soup made a huge quantity, so I ended up freezing about 1/3 of it and plan to defrost it in a week a two for more soup then!

"Get Better" Chicken Soup, serves 10
Ingredients
- 1 whole chicken, bones and all!
- 1 1/2 white onions
- 4 stalks celery, plus fronds
- 4 carrots
- 3 parsnips
- 1 bunch parsley
Method
- rinse chicken in cold water and set inside a very large pot
- cover the chicken with cold water and add onion (chopped
into large chucks) and celery fronds
- bring water to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours
- turn off heat and remove chicken from pot
- separate meat from bones and other yucky stuff
and place meat in a separate bowl 
- chop carrots, celery, parsnips, and parsley
- add chicken and chopped vegetables back into
broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes until
veggies are tender
- keep warm until serving

I served just with bread (challah, to be exact!), but you could definitely make noodles or rice on the side to serve the soup over.

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Sweet Potato Soup

On my latest trip to The Wedge, I picked up a couple sweet potatoes.

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When most people hear sweet potatoes, they think something like this:

Sweet Potatoes[source]

In reality, sweet potatoes come in several colorations and many varieties have darker skins with a cream-ish, almost white, interior. I bought some dark purple-skinned and cream interior sweet potatoes and ended up making a delicious soup. *full recipe below

When I bought these sweet potatoes, I wasn’t sure what would become of them. I had some extra beef broth in my fridge from the Passover brisket, so I quickly settled on a soup. This recipe was SO easy and came together in no time with very little prep work.

First, I roughly chopped a half onion and cooked for about 5 minutes in a small bit of olive oil:

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Next, I added 1.5 cups beef broth, 1 cup water, and 2 chopped sweet potatoes:

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I covered the soup, brought to a boil, and simmered for about 30 minutes until the potatoes were very tender:

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Once the potatoes were completely soft, I removed the pan from the heat and used an immersion blender to puree the soup. I made sure to get rid of all the big chunks, but I didn’t blend for so long that the soup lost texture.

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This soup didn’t even need any spices – the broth and vegetables made it so flavorful!

Sweet Potato Soup
Ingredients
- two sweet potatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 1.5 cups beef broth
- 1 cup water
- olive oil
Method
- heat olive oil in a soup pot
- chop the onion, add to pot, and cook over medium heat for 
5 minutes
- add the potatoes, broth, and water
- cover the pot and bring to a boil
- simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender
- remove pot from heat and puree with an immersion blender 
until smooth but still textured

How to ____ in the winter

Minnesota winters are often among the coldest in the country. This year’s winter, however, has really outdone itself. This is my seventh winter in Minnesota and by far the worst. Schools have been cancelled five times (often on government order) due to extreme temperatures, and there were 36 consecutive days where Minneapolites woke up to sub-zero temps. I’ve managed to still keep biking on some days when it’s above zero, but those days have been few and far between. What’s worse, we’re now into March and spring seems far from around the corner.

Having such a prolonged and extremely frigid winter has been a challenge to several typically-enjoyed activities. How can we Minnesotans keep up when it looks like this outside?!

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How to exercise in the winter

I have run less this winter since any time since I started running (about six years ago). Normally, I continue to run outside a few days a week during the winter and head inside to the gym for the occasional treadmill run on an especially cold day. This winter, however, I have only run outside once since December! I’ve been logging a few miles on the treadmill, but it’s also started to feel a little too much like the dreadmill…

The solution? Find new activities! Fortunately, introductory free weeks to fitness facilities abound, and I recently tried out an awesome gym called The Shed Fitness in Uptown (I know, it just sounds hardcore, right?!). The Shed offers a variety of classes including spin, circuit training, body pump, TRX, and yoga sculpt. I tried five classes during my intro week, and I definitely hope to go back for more!

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How to stay busy inside in the winter

Normally, if I’m not at work or another scheduled activity, I like to spend a lot of time outside – walking, exploring, biking, visiting friends, etc. The severity of this winter has meant a lot more time cooped up indoors in my apartment, needing to fill long periods of time. The best solution I’ve found is to do more cooking! Plus, the extra time means I can put more effort into elaborate recipes and dishes that require extra prep time. Some favorites from the last couple weeks include:

homemade ice cream

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roasted kabocha squash

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chickpea and red pepper soup with quinoa (recipe from Women’s Day magazine)

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and chilean squash (from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook)

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How to smile big in the winter

It’s no secret that weather is a large determinant of mood for many people. I’ve never considered myself to be highly impacted in this regard, but there have definitely been a few times where I feel a bit down or blue and think sunshine sure would help! In this long winter abyss, it’s been nice to take special notice of ‘the little things’ and to make an effort to do something fun/goofy every day.

feeling positive after finding this note stuck to a bathroom mirror

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enjoying an impromtu photo shoot

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Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Dandelion Greens Soup

My weekly trip to the Wedge Coop last weekend resulted in me coming home with several large sweet potatoes and a humongous bunch of dandelion greens. Now, nearly a week later, I still have both of those items in bulk. What to do? After flipping through a few cookbooks, the Gypsy Soup recipe in Moosewood caught my eye. The original recipe calls for sweet potato, tomato, onion, and green peppers, but Mollie Katzen says in her recipe notes that any orange and green vegetables will work. So, I modified the recipe heavily and made my own….

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Dandelion Greens Soup *full recipe below

To start, I chopped up three stalks celery and two sweet potatoes and added them to a large pot with a little bit of olive oil:

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I didn’t think they were cooking much since they were piled so high, so I added a little bit of water in the pot and let steam for about 5 minutes. After a few minutes, I added three cups water along with paprika, turmeric, basil, cinnamon, cayenne, a bay leaf, and some soy sauce:

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After simmering for about 15 minutes…

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I added a half bunch of roughly chopped dandelion greens:

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I simmered for another 10 minutes and then added some leftover cooked chicken. I used one wing, one breast, and three legs, but you could use whatever you have on hand!

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As soon as I added the chicken, I turned the heat off, stirred to combine, and left in the pot to heat through:

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I had the soup for lunch with a cheesy tortilla. I wasn’t familiar with dandelion greens before making this, and they were a little bitter – perhaps a sweeter green, like spinach, would be a bit better. Nonetheless, the soup was delicious with a good spice level. Plus, anything with sweet potatoes is fine by me.

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Dandelion Greens Soup, serves 4
Ingredients
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3 cups water
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- pinch cinnamon
- pinch cayenne
- half bunch dandelion greens (approximately 5 cups)
- leftover chicken (approx. three cups or whatever you have)
Method
1. Chop sweet potatoes and celery and heat in large soup pot with oil 
for approximately 5 minutes. Add a bit of water depending on size of 
the pot.
2. Add 3 cups water and spices and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Add dandelion greens and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Add chicken (shred or chop, according to preference), stir, and turn 
off the heat. Let sit until chicken heats through.

And…since I was in the kitchen I also made a batch of Tina‘s no-bake Almond Joy Cookies. I haven’t had one yet, but they look good!

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Roasted Tomato Coconut Soup

I made a very ambitious recipe this week. I found this recipe for creamy roasted tomato, garlic, and onion coconut soup months ago on Oh She Glows. I pinned it on my soups/stews pinterest wall, and have occasionally gone back to look at it since then, always thinking, “eh, that looks too difficult.” Not today though! I felt inspired to exert the time and energy needed, so I went to the store to pick up 5 pounds of tomatoes, 3 garlic bulbs, and the other necessary ingredients. I followed Angela’s recipe pretty much exactly so I won’t rewrite it, but here are my steps. I’ll put my notes at the bottom.

Part of why this recipe took so long was the time required to roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic before even starting on the real soup. The recipe called for 5 lbs of roma tomatoes. 5 lbs turns out to be a lot:

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As I prepared everything for roasting, I set the oven to heat to 400°. I cut the tomatoes in half, arranged on a baking tray, and sprinkled with salt.

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Like I said, 5 lbs is a lot! I also sliced the onion, arranged on a tray, and then drizzled with olive oil:

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Roasting the garlic was definitely the most educational part of this experience. I’ve never roasted garlic before, but it was pretty easy to follow Angela’s garlic-roasting tutorial. First, you peel off the loose layers of the garlic:

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This step was actually probably the most difficult for me since I wasn’t quite sure what qualified as a loose layer and what didn’t. Aren’t all the layers kind of loose?! Then, you cut off the tip so the cloves are exposed:

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Place on a sheet of tin foil and drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each bulb:

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Then, wrap up the bulbs and place in a small baking dish:

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Once everything was prepped for roasting, I stuck it all in the oven. The onions cook the fasted, and I took them out after 30 minutes:

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I cooked the garlic for about 15 minutes more (so a total of 45 minutes) and then removed them:

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You can know the garlic is done if the tips are golden. I probably could have cooked it a few minutes longer, but they looked pretty good to me. The tomatoes took another 30-35 minutes still, so they were in the oven for about a total of 75 minutes.

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I probably could have cooked them even longer, but I was getting a little antsy since already things were taking a long time.

My primary comment on the original recipe was that the quantities listed for the roasting stage were way too big. The recipe said to roast 5 lbs of tomatoes and three bulbs of garlic, yet the actual soup recipe only called for 3 cups of roasted tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of roasted garlic. There was A LOT leftover. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to eat it some other time. 🙂

To extract the roasted garlic, you basically just squeeze the bulb and and the roasted gloves will ooze out:

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Make sure to let the garlic cool before you do this step! I let the garlic cool for about 20 minutes, and squeezing it was still so hot I burned my fingertips a little bit.

After taking out the necessary 2 tablespoons garlic and 3 cups tomatoes, this is all of the leftover:

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I combined the garlic, tomatoes, and full roasted onion in a large pot on the stove:

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Added one can low fat coconut milk and 3 cups of chicken broth (this is an edit to the original recipe which uses vegetable broth):

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Add two tablespoons of tomato paste and two teaspoons of garam masala:

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Mix it all together, bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes:

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Use an immersion blender to puree:

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And enjoy!

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I served the soup with a side of black beans, cheese, and avocado. The soup was very good and definitely had a bit of spice due to the garam masala. There are six servings, which might start to feel like a lot for one person, but this could be a great dish to bring to a potluck!

Butter Bakery Cafe

I’ve had my eye on Butter Bakery Cafe for quite a while. I actually tried to go there for lunch once before, but I ended up at an abandoned storefront (they had changed locations and I was not aware). Their new location, and the one pictured here, is at 37th and Nicollet. I would describe the interior, briefly, as adorable.

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As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by a mouth-watering display of various baked goods:

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Some menu items are listed on chalkboards behind the counter, but a more extensive menu is also available on paper for you to look at:

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Added bonus…they love the earth:

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Butter describes their dishes as ‘extraordinarily ordinary,’ meaning they serve comforting old favorite dishes – but they do it extraordinarily well. After finally trying their food for myself (which – by the way – is all made from scratch and sourced from small and local farms/businesses whenever possible), I would say I agree with their description.

I ordered biscuits with mushroom gravy topped with one scrambled egg, plus a side of seasonal veggies. Unfortunately, we went in the mid-afternoon and they were out of their homemade biscuits, but they offered it to me on whole wheat bread. An offer which I accepted. 🙂

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My dad and brother got turkey sandwiches:

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And my mom got a small chicken salad with a bowl of thai chicken soup:

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Everything was fabulous. I will definitely be coming back here and might even go so far to say that I would make it a regular stop for when I go out for a quick and casual meal. My only regrets were 1) they were out of biscuits and 2) I wasn’t hungry for any of their award-winning and drool-inspiring desserts. Next time. 🙂

Matzah Balls

I know passover isn’t for another few weeks, but after making yesterday’s crock pot chicken soup, I couldn’t help wanting matzah balls to go with. For anyone who doesn’t know, matzah is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Passover, and matzah balls are basically soup dumplings made from matzah meal (group up matzah) and eggs. This was my first attempt making them on my on, and I can’t say I got it quite right. The matzah balls were a little dense, and they definitely didn’t have the soft deliciousness of my Mom’s (you make the best matzah ball soup, Mom!).

I set 10 cups of water to boil on the stove:

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Meanwhile, I beat three egg whites until stiff (tried to use my hand for this but quickly gave up and used the hand mixer):

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pre-mixer

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post-mixer

I folded in the 3 egg yolks and 3/4 cup matzah meal:

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I let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, and then formed into balls and dropped into the boiling water:

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I let the matzah balls cook, covered, for thirty minutes. Once they were done, I put them in a tupperware to serve with the chicken soup throughout the week:

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Like I said, they were a little denser than I would have liked. I think these particular matzah balls would sink better than they would float if you know what I mean.

Question: Any matzah ball makers out there? Do you have suggestions for me? I’m grateful for your tips in the comments section!