Soup of Cannellini Beans with Pasta and Rosemary


Well if the banner says it’s autumn, it’s autumn. So let’s make soup.

Soup really tests your cooking prowess because there’s always a way to make it taste better. Even if you’re not crazy about the results, you can fix them. For example: when Gina DePalma taught me how to make her lentil soup (which Smitten Kitchen featured on her blog) the key step was sizzling garlic in olive oil and stirring it in at the end. That’s the ultimate soup fixer-upper. Today’s soup comes to us from Chez Panisse Cooking and there’s a lot of flavor introduced up front so it doesn’t need much fixing at the end.

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Avocado Soup


A confession: If I do a dinner recipe on the blog on a Friday? It’s usually my worst one. Not necessarily because it doesn’t taste good, usually it’s because the picture isn’t good. It’s the post I didn’t want to blog on Monday or Tuesday and then Wednesday came around and by Thursday I was like, “Do I even bother?” But this morning I thought about it and decided to post this avocado soup because it really is a good one. It’s just an ugly picture (especially since I mutchkered with it—“mutchker” is a Yiddish verb my mom uses to mean “mess with”–and over-saturated it). Ignore its green slime quality and let me tell you how to make it.

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Creamy Creamless Cauliflower Soup


Sometimes it takes a person’s wild enthusiasm to get you to try a recipe that doesn’t immediately jump off the page. Take, for example, Paul Bertolli’s cauliflower soup. After I declared my love for cauliflower in this Cauliflower Casserole post, a commenter named Eliza said, “If you love cauliflower, you should try Paul Bertolli’s Cauliflower Soup, especially with the spring crop of cauliflower beginning to show up in the farmers markets. This soup is rich, creamy (without any cream) yet fresh tasting. Only 4 ingredients – olive oil, onion, cauliflower and water – make magic.” The recipe didn’t sell me, but Eliza did. So I tried it.

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Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese


Sometimes I write recipe posts where I share a recipe at the end and other times I write recipe posts where the recipe is embedded in the post itself. There’s a reason for that!

Recipe posts where the recipe’s at the end are the kinds of recipes where specific amounts matter; recipe posts where I just write a recipe as part of a larger narrative are recipes where you can just wing it. So, Sam Sifton’s Pear Cobbler? You need to follow those instructions. But my Butternut Squash Soup with Whiskey Ginger Cream? That’s a totally improvised recipe and I wanted to give you the power to improvise your own version. If I’d written that with specific amounts, chances are you would’ve just replicated what I did instead of doing it your own way. The soup will taste better if you do it your way.

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Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Whiskey Ginger Cream


When I got back from my book tour, all I wanted to do was cook cook cook. Comfort foods, mostly. That first night it was my ultimate comfort food dish of fusilli with homemade tomato sauce and a Caesar salad to start. The next night, though, I wanted a different sort of comfort food. I was thinking: “Butternut Squash Soup.” I’d serve it with a salad made with radicchio, fennel, apples, toasted walnuts–olive oil and lemon juice for dressing–a hunk of blue cheese on the side and maybe a hunk of bread to round things out. No recipes were used in the making of this dinner. I just winged it. And the results totally hit the spot.

How do you wing a butternut squash soup? Easy….

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Ribollita (Italian Cabbage and Bean Soup)


I’m kind of digging this L.A. winter. I was worried it’d be too hot and that I wouldn’t be able to cook my cold weather comfort food. Instead, it’s just cold enough to make a big pot of soup–like this Italian cabbage soup called Ribollita–and to feel good about it. Served up with lots of Parmesan cheese and toasted bread rubbed with garlic, this makes for a cozy, cheap and relatively healthy weeknight dinner regardless of your coast, east or west.

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Roasted Squash & Fennel Soup


Dealing with expectations is a tricky endeavor for every cook, whether at home or at a four-star restaurant.

Granted, the four-star chef has a harder time: diners at a four-star restaurant expect impeccable service, pristine surroundings, and food at the cutting edge of what food can be. At home, things are a little different. You don’t have to make a streak of sauce on the plate with the back of a spoon, you don’t have to scrape crumbs off the table with a crumb-scraper, but if you’re going to serve something familiar, as I did recently with Butternut Squash Soup, it better be the comfortingly sweet version that everyone knows and loves. Sad to say that this one, which comes from one of my favorite cookbooks ever, Suzanne Goin’s “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” isn’t.

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