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Ways to Use Miso

I first got into miso after reading Mark Bittman’s Food Matters cookbook when it came out in 2010. It’s since become one of my kitchen staples. This fermented soy product has a smooth texture and warm, salty flavor. A little goes a long way in adding a salty, “OMFG—what is that umami amazingness” note. Does anyone even say “OMFG” anymore? No matter.

What I love about miso is how versatile it is. I recently published an article on Tabelog sharing some of my favorite ways I love to use it.mushroom miso soup

It makes a great soup base, but I also love to mix it with tahini to make a dressing. It’s great in marinades (like in this salmon) but you can even use it to make your own fake meat. I haven’t made a seitan log in ages, but it’s super-simple.

Do you ever use miso paste? 

Chicken and Cabbage Soup

Good morning! Hope you had a great Saint Patrick’s Day—or are at least recovering well if you celebrated in the traditional way. I once went to Hoboken to visit a friend who’d just moved there, not knowing it was their St. Paddy’s Day celebration (which happens earlier in the month each year), and I was so confused when I saw everybody in green on a seemingly random day in March. That was a long time ago. I barely know anyone who lives in Hoboken anymore. All my rowdy friends have settled down, as the song goes. I like Elliott Smith’s version the best because I’m not emo at all.

Growing up, my mom used to make corned beef and cabbage every year on March 17th, but the holiday is just not on my radar. This is about as close as it’s gonna get. I love shredded cabbage in soups because it lends a hearty texture and subtle flavor but with minimal fuss. It’s also wicked cheap and bulks up a meal (and adds a potent dose of vitamins and minerals) without breaking the bank.

I made the chicken in a pressure cooker, but you can use any leftover cooked chicken you have on hand. Even store-bought rotisserie chicken would work here.chicken cabbage soup

Chicken and Cabbage Soup: For when you and your rowdy friends are settled down Read More »

Thinking Out Loud: Show yourself some love

Regardless of whether you adore or despise the holiday, Valentines Day brings love into focus during February. There are different kinds of love: romantic love, yes, but also love for friends, family, pets, and—the one we usually forget to add to the list—love for ourselves.

A few years ago, I wrote a post listing 10 ways to show yourself some love in February, though it’s always important.  Here are a few of my favorites from the list that I’ve been putting into practice in my own life this month. Read More »

What I Ate Wednesday #253

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. The mid-way point of the week seems to get here quickly, no? Pros and cons. Time flies when you’re busy…being busy? I think it’s time for some coffee.

I’ve talked on here about how I actually enjoy working weekend shifts at the hospital because it gives me more time during the week, but it was really nice to have a weekend to myself for a change. Though I did carve out time to see friends and catch up on work/life stuff, I mostly soaked up the relaxed vibe (and a long, slow yoga class Sunday morning), since I knew I had a crazy week ahead. I also took a little extra time in the kitchen. Here’s a look at what I ate Saturday:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with flax, pumpkin puree, egg white, and cocoa powder cooked in. I added a half-tablespoon of peanut butter on top and a garnish of mini chocolate chips.

chocolate pumpkin oats

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Gnocchi Chicken Soup

I think I go through a soup phase every winter. Couldn’t call it unexpected, I suppose. Since learning the value of dressing for the weather, I don’t hate winter nearly as much as I used to, but I’m certainly no stranger to the “OMG when the f*** will this end” blues.

A lot of people panic about carb cravings in the colder, darker months, but they’re actually a normal response to lack of sunlight and blah emotions. Carbohydrates play a role in serotonin production, so when we experience a dip in serotonin levels and start feeling bummed out, our body starts begging for carbs to help make more.

The good news is that working nutritious sources of complex carbohydrates into your diet with a balance of protein and healthy fats can give you the energy and mood boost you need without sending you into a food coma. Pasta is a common carb craving, and there’s no reason to take even white pasta off the menu completely either. Portion is key. Of course, you can also go for whole grain and bean-based varieties as well. Here’s a way to enjoy a little of what you’re hankering for in a soup that also provides plenty of protein and veggies. Enjoy! gnocchi chicken soup

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Thinking Out Loud: Cooking My Feelings

Happy Thursday! First week of February, how did we get here? I haven’t done a proper brain-dump thinking out loud post in a while, so here’s a small collection of random.

*We all have our ways of dealing with emotional situations. I’ve been cleaning a bunch and cooking my feelings lately (so what else is new?). Apparently my feelings are ancient grains and sautéed mushrooms & shallots. How did I manage to go so long without eating farro? Crispy chickpeas with greens and fried egg have also been on the menu.

And so. Much. Soup. gnocchi chicken soup

The other night I made a chickpea pancake and topped it with leftover greens, some avocado, and nutritional yeast. That was good too. Why don’t I do it more often?


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What I Ate Wednesday #252

I’ve been joking recently about descending into a life of workaholism. Since taking a legit day off is still a skill I’ve yet to master, as I was writing on here recently, I’ve taken to finding little ways to fit in “me” time, whether it’s a favorite workout or yoga class or even just cooking myself a nice meal. For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I thought I’d share a look at what I ate on a day I worked from home.  Read More »

White Bean Potato Soup (vegan)

So apparently there is a right way to lock the lid on a Vitamix so you don’t end up with a soup or smoothie explosion all over your counter. Totally winning at adulting over here. Anyway, with this newly acquired knowledge handy, I proceeded to make a blended white bean potato soup the other night. Success! And no mess to clean up. Win-win situation.

This makes a delicious (and super-easy) dinner on a cold evening and also happens to be vegan. You’ll get a hefty dose of fiber, protein, and potassium, plus some vitamin A. You can also make it gluten-free if you use a gluten-free broth.

White bean potato soup


  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic. Sautee until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add rosemary, potato, beans, and broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer until potato is soft.
  3. Allow soup to cool about 10 minutes and then blend either using a stick blender or by pouring in batches into a standing blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour soup back into pot and heat until desired temperature or pour into a storage container and place in fridge for later use.
  5. To serve: pour over steamed kale, garnish with hemp seeds

(serves 2)

What’s your favorite cold-weather meal? 



Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup

Time is a funny thing. While looking through blog archives, I saw that this time 4 years ago, I was writing about vegetarian mac & cheese and drinking wine at karaoke nights with fellow grad students. Said grad school friends and I are very much not in school anymore and super-busy and often working weekends. However, when karaoke does happen? Whiskey all the way, baby. Wine makes me way too sleepy—not conducive to staying up past 9 pm.

Haha that said, it’s been months since I’ve been anywhere near a karaoke machine. January sends a lot of us into hibernation mode, and for better or worse, I am no exception. Once upon a time, I used to stay up late on the regular, and though it still happens on occasion when I have a good reason, I am totally okay with going to bed at grandma o’clock on a cold weekend night, especially if I’m clocking in at 7:30 the next morning.

I made this soup on a night when I was way more in the mood to chill in with Netflix and writing projects than to swipe on some smoky eye makeup and make first-date small talk over a $12 glass of wine. Some things are worth the headache, and some just aren’t. I think you know when you know, and staying home and making this soup instead was totally the right move that night.

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup

So this soup. It’s great for when you need (or want) to clean out the fridge or freezer. I used a bag of frozen grilled veggies from Trader Joe’s and some leftover red quinoa, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I added turmeric for color and to add a little cold-kicking action, but feel free to leave it out if you just can’t wrap your head around Italian-style seasonings and turmeric in the same bowl.

If you prefer to make the meatballs in a frying pan, go right ahead, but since finding out how easy they are to bake, I’m never doing it any other way again. Less cleanup = happy Jess. You can make them any size you like, too, just know that the cooking time may change. Adorable meatball scoopers like this one my sister gave me for Christmas are optional but totally encouraged if you want your meatballs to be uniform in size. meatball scoop

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup
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What I Ate Wednesday #249

Happy  What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a great week so far. I can’t believe we’re already getting into mid-January. Like, what the what? I can’t even. Am I still allowed to say “I can’t even” in 2016? I really hope so.

Anyway, for this week’s food diary-style post, I thought I’d share what I ate  last Friday, when I spent a day off traveling to the suburbs to have lunch with my mom and get my hair done. Is it weird that I still like to go to the same person who did my hair when I was in high school? She also does my mom’s hair and my sister’s and I think one of my aunt’s? I’ve gone through phases with people closer to home, but sometimes that comfort level is important when so many other things in your life are in flux. Totally worth the trip.

Haha wow—did not expect to get all philosophical about hairstylings, but hey. How about we get to the food part of this post?  Read More »

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