Monday, January 14, 2013

Soup for Comfort

I can't thank you all enough. For the condolence messages for Dale from all over the world, for the e-mails and virtual hugs and words of comfort. They all helped immensely and we are so grateful for it. Last week went by in a blur of sadness and sickness as all three of us one by one came down with seasonal coughs and colds.

A couple of weeks ago, we had made plans with friends to get together for a casual dinner last night. A Sunday night supper of soup and grilled cheese where three little girls could play together as we parents enjoyed chatting about this and that. I'm glad I went ahead with our plans because the home filled with the aroma of simmering soup and the sound of laughing kids and it altogether lifted my spirits.

This is what our menu looked like:

1. Two soups- Tuesday soup, a perennial childhood favorite and a curried sweet potato black eyed peas soup, something I put together just based on what I had in the pantry. I've posted the recipe for Tuesday soup here in 2005, OMG that was over 7 years ago.

2. Salad- I set out baby spinach and sliced red pepper, some olives from the olive bar and a bowl of homemade marinated mushrooms. Then I made a simple dressing by whisking together apple cider vinegar and olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper.

3. Grilled cheese- I read this great tip (originally from Cook's Country) for making grilled cheese sandwiches for a crowd and last night, got a chance to try it out. It is a clever tip and worked very well.
   I started with good quality sliced bread, softened butter (set it out a few hours ahead of time) and shredded cheese, a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack. 30 minutes before we wanted to eat, I preheated the oven to 375F. Then I set out a rimmed baking sheet and started assembling sandwiches on it (each slice of bread was lightly buttered on both sides). Once the sandwiches were laid out (I could fit about a dozen on the sheet), I placed the second baking sheet on top to weigh down the sandwiches and put the whole thing in the oven. 20 minutes or so later we had sizzling grilled cheese sandwiches- a whole tray ready at once- with perfectly golden crusts and melty cheese inside. Success!

4. Dessert was some homemade vanilla custard, and we folded in fresh berries that our friends brought over. This combination was light and enjoyable and the big bowl of custard was absolutely scraped clean.

I forgot to take a picture but here's an abbreviated recipe for the Sweet Potato Black Eyed Peas Soup. It turned out to be the surprise hit of the dinner for kids and grown ups alike.

1. Saute a chopped onion and several minced cloves of garlic in olive oil.
2. Season with salt, red chili powder, turmeric and cumin powder.
3. Add cubes of peeled sweet potato and soaked black eyed peas.
4. Add vegetable stock, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes and peas are tender.
5. Use a masher to mash down some of the veg/beans to make the soup thicker if desired.
6. Add lemon juice and plenty of minced fresh cilantro (and a dash of garam masala; optional).

Have a good week, dear friends. 

27 comments:

  1. Hi Nupur,

    I thought about you and your family everytime we sat down for dinner, wishing you lived nearby, wishing I could send some simple homemade meals over. We went through old posts of Dale and missed him some more.

    I love all the menus you come up with, this one is perfect for a wintery evening. I am going to try the soups very soon, they sound delicious!

    - Priti

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    1. You're very sweet and believe me, your kind words mean as much as a homemade meal would. We've been missing Dale too, talking about him every day and the goofy things he used to do.

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  2. I am glad you all are rallying.
    Sometimes it is better to have some distraction and what better than the innocent and pure laughter of little ones!

    Take care. Warm Hugs.

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    1. Thanks so much- warm hugs MUCH appreciated!

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  3. Didn't know about Dale's passing. Give yourself time to grieve, it passes faster that way.

    Waiting for our Atlanta lunch date... :)

    Lakshmi

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    1. Lakshmi- we should set a date, because otherwise my weekends come and go in the blink of an eye!

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  4. So sorry to hear about Dale. Hope 2013 is a great one for you full of new joys and no germs!

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  5. That's nice you had some laughter spilled in! How is Lila taking to it? :( Glad to see you are already hosting friends there!! We demand pics of your new kitchen, home, garden - just something..!

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    1. Lila once in a while looks around for "day day" as she called him but is too young to miss him in any significant way.

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  7. The comfort of food and friends. Nothing like it.

    Do you make your own vegetable stock? I find most of the commercial ones have a funny taste and are usually so orange (carrots I suspect) that they aren't useful in every soup recipe.

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    1. No, Angela, I've never made my own vegetable stock. I do like Better than Bouillon brand which is a paste, but I only like their mushroom base.

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  8. Having kids around is the best way to get over any grief...That soup sounds very interesting...I like how your come up with innovative things to do with sweet potato - I made the sweet potato hummus you linked up and it was awesome...Take care...More hugs coming your way...

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    1. Thanks so much- and I'm so glad the sweet potato hummus worked for you.

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  9. Really sorry to hear about Dale. Hugs to your family.
    -J

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  10. Heart slow cooker soups are my go to in the winter. Your soups sound delicious! I am glad life is moving on.....

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    1. Yeah, moving on slowly. I don't own a slow cooker but yeah, soups are a staple here too.

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  11. oh no- i just saw this. so so sorry to hear about your loss. Dale looked and sounded like the sweetest, darlingest and loveliest of dogs. He will be missed. much love.

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    1. Thank you Lavanya, yes, he sure was a sweet and darling dog.

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  12. Dale was so sweet. So sorry to hear about your loss...

    I often make soups during winter.

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  13. Love the idea of making that many GC sandwiches at the same time. I doubt I'll be able to use it anytime soon since I gave up cheese and dairy a while back ;) !!! Was so sorry to hear about Dale .. I'll always remember him as the sweet puppy I met in NYC!

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    1. Thank you Pragati. Yes, he was a wild pup back in those days, he mellowed SO much since.

      You could use this sandwich-for-a-crowd technique for cheese-free sandwiches too, maybe something with a samosa type filling- mmm.

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