This is the Rainy Day Soup You Need
Plus: Carbonara with Chelsea Peretti, Scott Peacock's Biscuits, and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.
It’s raining in L.A. and I’m loving it! I feel like Tim Robbins in the poster for The Shawshank Redemption, where he’s standing in a storm, drenched in his prison outfit, staring up at the sky in total awe. Only, I’m not standing in a storm; I’m cozy inside my apartment about to heat up some of the incredible soup that I made last week.
What’s this soup I tell of? Well, I almost called it “The Ultimate Veggie Soup” in the subject, but thought that sounded too healthy and also the word “veggie” creeps me out. So let’s just call this a Rainy Day Vegetable Soup with Parmesan to sex it up a bit.
It’s really as simple as this: chop up a bunch of veg (saying “veg” is ok) — you don’t need to measure the amount, because the more vegetables you add, the more broth you’ll add to cover, so you can make as much or as little as you want. That said, I chopped 2 onions, 4 carrots, 2 large stalks of celery, and the stems from one bunch of chard.
In my biggest Dutch oven, I glugged in olive oil (about 1/4 cup, maybe more), heated it, then added those veg. I sautéed with a pinch of salt until all of them were translucent, then I added a bunch of chopped garlic — about 5 cloves — and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Then in went a can of whole tomatoes, only I strained out the liquid and crushed the tomatoes in my hands, so the tomatoes could eventually take on some color. (Added salt at this step too: adding salt with each addition is important.)
I also added a bunch of fresh thyme leaves — about a tablespoon — and when the liquid was all gone, and the tomatoes were sizzling, I added two cans of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, then 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups of water, and another pinch of salt. I also dropped in a Parmesan rind. Then came the greens: 2 bunches of lacinto kale, stemmed and roughly chopped, and the chard leaves from that red chard from earlier, also chopped.
As you can see, I also added salt with them too (this is the trick to an amazing soup… season everything).
Once those wilted in, I brought everything to a boil, lowered to a simmer, and let it go, checking every so often, for an hour. (The house smelled so good.)
Here’s my beautiful soup, ready to eat:
To serve, remove the Parmesan rind, ladle into bowls, drizzle on more olive oil, sprinkle on grated Parmesan or Pecorino, add red pepper flakes if you like, and then broil some bread and rub with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. A dreamy dinner.
I made this healthy soup after eating a decadent Italian lunch with Chelsea Peretti, who I met through Instagram. She loves the Carbonara at Osteria Angelini, and so we met for lunch there and ate just that:
I’ve gotta say: Chelsea’s on to something. The Carbonara at Angelini is remarkable because of everything it isn’t: it isn’t gloppy, it isn’t heavy, it isn’t adulterated with cream or too much cheese. It’s simple, fresh pasta with pancetta, egg, black pepper, and cheese, and just enough of each. I’d gladly go back for another bowl right now.
On Saturday, I finally made Scott Peacock’s legendary biscuits, along with some eggs and bacon.
If you recall my Lunch Therapy session with Scott, his approach to biscuit-making is almost spiritual. It’s all about the feel, the mood you’re in, the vibe in your kitchen. I took all of this to heart, kept my butter very cold, and rolled out some pretty gorgeous biscuit dough (his recipe’s online, btw).
The secret’s not to pinch the butter too small — leaving some blobs in the mix — kneading it just until it comes together, using lots of flour so it doesn’t stick, and cutting them out without twisting.
I’d say my biscuits came out perfectly, except the bottoms turned black and set off my smoke detector in the 500 degree oven. I asked Scott what happened and he said my cookie sheet wasn’t insulated enough; another Instagram follower said my butter warmed up too much and melted too quickly, frying the biscuits on the bottom (I should’ve put them in the freezer first). Another follower suggested I make them in a cast iron skillet next time around, so I may give that ago. Still, once I cut off the bottoms, the biscuits — topped here with homemade Meyer lemon jam — were heaven.
As if I hadn’t had enough carbs over the past week, last night I was craving banana bread… probably because I had four ripe bananas ready to go in my fruit bowl.
So I referred to Erin Jeanne McDowell’s banana bread in the NYT, making one adjustment of my own: instead of using chocolate chips, I used hand chopped bittersweet chocolate. I did follow her advice to toast the nuts — in this case almonds — before chopping them and adding them to the mix.
The resulting banana bread was so good, not only did we have it for dessert last night, we had it for breakfast this morning.
This week’s Lunch Therapy guest is the bestselling cookbook author of To Asia, With Love, Hetty McKinnon.
We had the BEST conversation… probably because it became my own therapy session when she revealed that she put lettuce on a homemade bagel. (The lettuce triggered me!) But the resulting conversation was all about “authenticity,” how far you can stray from your cultural roots when writing a recipe, and how we’re all trying to recreate a sense of home in the kitchen.
CLICK HERE to listen. And if you enjoy it, please leave a nice review!
Now for the links that caught my eye recently:
Great NYT article about Bateau in Seattle, Renee Erickson’s pioneering new steakhouse (NYT);
The Guardian sings the praises of curly parsley, just like Scott Peacock did on my podcast… is it making a comeback? (The Guardian)
Besha Rodell on the design of Night & Market Song which, I have to confess, I never thought much about… but this opened my eyes (Eater);
Do you want a job for New York Magazine where you get to eat eat eat and get paid for it with a full expense account and everything? Then this job is for you (Vox Media);
Bill Clark’s newsletter (paid-subscribers only) has a great recipe for a pumpkin base you can use for pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, and pumpkin muffins (A Piece of Cake);
A candle that smells like croissants in Paris (sorry, they’re sold out) (Overose).
That’s all for this week, folks!
If you missed Thursday’s paid subscribers-only newsletter, I wrote about that New York Magazine job listed above and why I’d never be able to take it in an essay called “All You Can’t Eat.” If you’d like to read that, plus have access to my full newsletter archives, here’s a discount code to become a paid member. The discount applies forever!
Until next time….
Such a warming and comforting newsletter!