M’m, M’m Good!

2b5427b55d53a46fc07ace42fd6af19bCampbell’s must have revered Andy Warhol when he helped create and advance the ‘pop art’ movement with this painting in 1962. It is just one of the many soup paintings he is famous for.  I have no doubt that soup sales skyrocketed after this! In fact, Warhol reported that he, himself, ate Campbell’s soup every day for 20 years… and that was just one of his many quirky habits in a very colorful life.

My mom was an incredible cook, but when she needed a fast and easy weekend lunch for her four daughters, nothing was simpler than heating up some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. And I’m sure many of you can agree, that a bowl of smooth, tomato soup paired with a gooey, grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food of our childhood!!

But soup was something I left behind when I left home. I never ordered it in a restaurant, and making homemade soup seemed complicated and a mystery to me. As my interest in food and cooking has grown over these past years, I’ve really become a soup lover again and now make it at home and even order it when dining out year round. It’s actually a perfect food in my book for many reasons:

  1. It can be light or hearty; an appetizer or whole dinner (or even breakfast in my world!)
  2. Many soups are quick and easy to make (not as complicated as I thought!), and leftovers are delicious
  3. Recipes double and triple easily to serve a crowd
  4. Most soups freeze well, so double the recipe and stock up
  5. It’s filling, which helps manage weight
  6. Soup, salad, and bread is a great meal to take to a friend in need

As fall is upon us, and winter is around the corner, you might want to try one or two of my favorites below. I hope they warm your body and soothe your soul on these cooler and shorter days ahead!

Sicilian Sausage Soup I typically double the sausage, using half sweet, half hot, and cut the orzo in half to save on carbs. Also, use whole tomatoes instead of diced. The skins are icky (that’s official chef lingo!!).

Shrimp Soup  It’s called Brazilian Shrimp Soup, but it needed more punch, so I usually add chopped jalapenos and some red curry paste. Making it for friends tomorrow… hope they love it!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup  This one gets raves and couldn’t be easier  to make as it sits in the slow cooker all day! I’ve done it with and without browning the chicken and both work, if you want to save a step. I add the peppers with the mushrooms, otherwise they get too soggy.

Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder  This soup is my latest and greatest find!  A good food processor is a must-have to make it easy to make. And it is a ‘chowder,’ so it won’t be super smooth. Instead it’s hearty and delicious! I’m sure broccoli would work well, too, just haven’t tried it yet. Ooohhh… I wonder about eggplant…?

Italian Meatball Soup  This soup is so simple, it’s not really cooking.I found this when I started celebrating National Soup Day in my classroom. Some of the groups of kids chose this recipe to make and it was delicious. I’ve made it several times since. You can also add other veggies obviously. I’ve added spinach in the last 30 minutes or so and it really ups the nutritional value and flavor.

French Onion Soup I’ve tried about five different recipes and this is the very best!! It is a bit more time consuming, but well worth the effort! My mouth is watering as I think about it. And I bought these crocks from Amazon. Great for serving this soup, or any other for that matter.

Soup’s On!  ENJOY!!


There’s No Place Like Home

“Home is the comfiest place to be.” ~Winnie the Pooh
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~Maya Angelou
“Where we love is home — that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

This concept of home has been rattling around in my head and heart lately. We are very blessed to now have two houses, so where then is ‘home?’

When Pat went to Idaho in April to pick up our keys and get some things set up in the new house, I asked him on the phone if he still liked the house. I wanted reassurance that we had made a good choice, the right choice for us. His reply was, “It will take a lot of work to make it what we want.”  This honestly freaked me out a bit!  I was instantly full of doubt and concern about our decision. He further explained that it felt cold and castle-like due to the concrete floors, adobe type walls, and stonework, and that it will take a while to feel like a home. As we spoke, I knew in my heart that, with time, we could create a warm and loving space up there, just as we did here in Oceanside over the past 24 years. It would just take time.

Upon our arrival in late June, for our first long stay in the house, we were equipped with two mattress sets and some camping chairs. And Pat was accurate, it did feel cold and empty. It echoed.

But none-the-less, the house was beautiful and just our style.  Over those first few days, our main focus was setting up the kitchen and bathrooms. And as I walked through the house during that first week, organizing one thing or another, a feeling of home unexpectedly washed over me. It was that intangible warmth that settles one’s soul.

Pat was wrong… but don’t tell him I said that!! Because even though physically, the house was still cold with just concrete, adobe, and stone, we had already quickly made it a home by sharing our love and excitement and dreams for the future there.

As the summer progressed, and we added rugs, couches, and chairs, the space warmed up tremendously and became a cozy sanctuary for us. We also welcomed five sets of visitors and bringing in family, friends, love and laughter definitely added to the feeling of home.

I write this now as I sit ‘back home’ in Oceanside, and despite my joyfulness about reconnecting with loved ones, I’m honestly struggling a bit with being back. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”

I couldn’t agree more.