Tag Archives: soup

What’s Been Cooking? Early 2020 edition

I was hoping to publish this earlier and now it’s almost March…where have the first two months of the year gone?! The time is flying scarily fast, especially as Baby E grows and develops just as swiftly. In the kitchen, F and I are focusing on more vegetarian dishes (not that we ate a lot of meat beforehand, but we’re now really only buying meat from the market every other week or so. We do regularly eat canned tuna) and thus have tried some great new recipes this winter to add to our already pretty good arsenal of vegetarian meals. Here’s what’s been cooking:

What have you been cooking so far this year?

What’s Been Cooking? Maternity leave, weeks 3-4

Swedish cardamom buns

In Germany, expecting and new mothers have the advantage of a legally protected, essentially “no work allowed” time for 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after their due dates. So now I am on Mutterschutz (maternity leave) and working my way through some cooking and baking projects to keep me from getting too stir-crazy at home and to try and stock the freezer with easy winter meals to reheat when our tiny human arrives.

You can catch up on what I made in my first two weeks off here. Below, see what I’ve gotten up to in my second fortnight off:

Week 3 – bread week, with a bit of soup

By chance, I seemed to settle on a few bread-making projects this week, so in the spirit of The Great British Bake Off, I dubbed Week 3 my personal “bread week.”

On Monday, I made traditional challah from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. It didn’t go quite to plan but was a fun process anyway. Read all about it here.

After the challah failure, F requested that I try my hand at a classic sandwich bread. After some sleuthing, I settled on smitten kitchen’s oat and wheat sandwich bread – it looked tasty, straightforward, and we happened to have all the ingredients at home. So on Wednesday, I put my bread-head back on and got to work. We only have one loaf pan (make that had – I just bought another one!), so I halved Deb’s recipe. The dough came together quickly with some whisking, dumping, and stand mixing (or hand-kneading, but to be honest I’m glad not to have to do that anymore thanks to investing in a stand mixer). I added two extra tablespoons of flour, as the dough was quite wet, then turned it out, plumped it into a ball, and popped it in a bowl for its first rise.

The first rise went a bit longer than Deb’s recommended 60-70 minutes, but I trusted her when she said this was a forgiving recipe. It proved nicely and shaping it into a log roll for the loaf pan was not difficult, although I should have made it a bit shorter, as I think the second rise might have been impeded by the crinkle in the middle (see picture above). Despite the crinkle, the bread baked up wonderfully and, if a bit low-to-the-ground, tasted great. If you don’t believe me, ask F, who said: “It could be a bit bigger but I actually like how dense it is and it tastes really good.”

On Thursday, I took a break from bread and made F’s delicious Hokkaido (aka “red kuri/kari”) squash soup with ginger and coconut. We’ve made it three or four times this fall, which I thought definitely merited its own blog post, so head over here for the newly posted recipe!

On Friday, I went back to bread – this time sweet, in the form of Swedish cardamom buns from NYT Cooking. The whole process took 4-5 hours, but most of that was hands-off time. I think I managed to roll and knot the buns kind of correctly, but some of them split apart in the oven. They also turned out a bit dark (and dry on the second day); I wonder if mine were actually smaller than the recipe intended them to be, although I made 16 as recommended. The cardamom buns did taste good, though! Quite sweet, but countered nicely by the cardamom. Friends professed their enjoyment after dinner on Friday, and a (flexible-ish) vegan friend even ate an entire bun! I’d make these again, perhaps with a shorter baking time and/or slightly lower temperature.

Week 4

I wasn’t feeling super inspired this week, but I ended up doing a bit of baking and cooking anyway.

oat & wheat bread, take 2

On Tuesday, I made smitten kitchen’s oat and wheat sandwich bread again, this time the full recipe. I used the rest of my bag of whole wheat/wholemeal flour, which was 540g, then topped up to the required 635g with spelt flour. I also used olive oil rather than sunflower oil in the dough (Deb says you can use either). The first rise was good again, and instead of dividing the dough I shaped and plopped it all into our new, very large, loaf pan. The bread turned out well – taller than last time – and tasted just as good as the previous loaf, with a nice crust. I froze it in two halves and we thawed it later in the week. The only unfortunate outcome of the freeze-thaw is that the bread dried out a bit and the slices were very crumbly. I wonder if adding a little more water to the dough would also help?

tofu noodles

For Tuesday lunch, I cracked open Anita Bean’s The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook, one of our favorites for easy, vegetable-forward, pantry-based meals. I made her tofu noodles: a tofu, noodle, and vegetable stir fry, simply seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and lime. It was quick to put together and tasted great, with enough leftovers to cover us for dinner on the same day.

For Friday lunch, I made baked potatoes (aka jacket potatoes for UK readers) using this method (brine then bake at a high temperature), as recommended by The Kitchn. I can’t say the potatoes turned out differently from usual (I usually smear them with oil and salt, then bake for about an hour at 400F/200C), but they were certainly delicious with nice crispy skin. I topped mine with butter, sour cream, baked beans, and cheddar. F made a tuna-sweetcorn mixture for his. We devoured them too quickly to get a picture!

The autumn apple crop continues to put in a strong showing at our favorite fruit and veg stand at the Wochenmarkt around the corner from us. So for a Friday treat, I made these oatmeal brown sugar baked apples from The Kitchn. The apples split a bit towards the end of baking, but that didn’t put us off. Oats and walnuts added nice additional textures, and F proclaimed, “I love this!”

I’ve discovered Junior Bake Off (it’s quite sweet! And some impressive young bakers) and watched an episode this week where they had to make Viennese Whirls. I was inspired (and by “inspired” I mainly mean “developed a strong craving”…blame it on late pregnancy?), and on Saturday tried my hand at Mary Berry’s recipe via The Candid Appetite. Let’s just say that piping was attempted and quickly abandoned, so these became “buttery sandwich cookies” instead. Delicious, although almost too sweet, even for my taste.

Stay tuned for my next edition of “What’s Been Cooking” in a couple of weeks…

Recipe: Hokkaido Squash Soup with Ginger & Coconut

Hokkaido squash soup

One of the reasons I love fall/autumn cooking is the abundance of squash. I love squash’s versatility: you can roast it, stuff it, boil and mash it, add it to curries, and puree it into soups. We’ve already done all of the above this fall, mainly with vibrant Hokkaido (aka “red kari/kuri”) squash, a relatively new discovery for F and me but a squash variety that is readily available here in Germany, and often cheaper than Butternut squash. Hokkaido has another advantage in that it doesn’t need peeling: the skin is thin enough to eat once cooked.

We often oven-roast slices of squash (season with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds) as a staple side dish, but F has also made this delicious Hokkaido squash soup three or four times in the past couple of months. We love it, and it has already become one of our go-to easy lunches or dinners.

This Hokkaido soup with ginger and coconut has a short ingredient list and lots of vitamins to keep you healthy through the winter (although you should also get a flu shot – herd immunity, people!). The recipe can be as flexible as you want: use more ginger, leave out the turmeric, use water instead of stock, add celery root – or not! I wouldn’t recommend leaving out the coconut milk, though; one can gives the soup just the right amount of coconut flavor and enhances its silky-smooth texture.

Hokkaido Squash Soup with Ginger & Coconut (F’s original recipe; makes 4-6 portions)


  • olive oil, or neutral oil of your choice
  • 1-2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • “a hefty amount” (2in/4-5cm) fresh ginger root, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small-medium Hokkaido squash, washed, de-seeded, & cut into medium-large chunks (you could use Butternut squash instead if that’s easier to find where you live)
  • optional: 1/4 – 1/2 celery root, peeled & cut into medium-large chunks
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1 can (400mL) coconut milk
  • to taste: salt & pepper


  1. Prep onions, garlic, ginger, and stock. Cut up your squash and celery root.
  2. Heat a few generous glugs of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they soften and start to brown.
  3. Add turmeric and stir for a minute or so.
  4. Add squash and celery to the pot. Pour in enough stock that it just covers the vegetables (or use more liquid for a thinner soup).
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to an active simmer. Put the lid on and cook until the vegetables are soft enough to puree, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat and use an immersion blender (or transfer carefully to a standard blender) to puree the soup until smooth.
  7. Stir in the coconut milk. Do not return the pot to the heat – the coconut milk may split.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with crusty bread.


What’s Been Cooking?

Hello, everyone — long time no blog. Apologies for my blogosphere absence; I have been lacking in motivation recently, still a bit burnt out from last fall’s DELTA course (I passed all three modules on the first go, thank goodness). I’ve also been wondering what the point is of re-blogging recipes that I haven’t changed all that much. And, if I do continue blogging, in which direction I’d like this blog to go. More musical? More sporty? More education-related? I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about my blog, so please leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to see more of.

Now to today’s topic: what’s been cooking in my kitchen? I’ve tried some great new recipes lately (okay, in the past six months…) but haven’t modified them much, so I’ll just link to the original recipes below. Here are some highlights:

parmesan, kale, & white bean soup + tortellini

parmesan, kale, & white bean soup + tortellini

  • Parmesan Broth with Kale, White Beans, & Tortellini (smitten kitchen). F and I collected parmesan rinds in the freezer for an entire year before we had enough to make Deb’s soup. It was worth the wait — umami-salty, warming, and satisfying. We added tortellini for some extra heft.
  • Miso-Coconut Chicken Soup (i am a food blog). I made this one way back in September. Unfortunately, F was sick that weekend so I ended up eating most of it myself, but I loved it and look forward to making it again at a time when we can both enjoy it. Creamy but not too rich, great over rice.
  • The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (i am a food blog). These. are. SO. good. Crispy edges, moist and chewy insides. F dubbed them “maybe the best cookies I’ve ever had.” Now that’s saying something! Use whatever chocolate you want (I used extra dark) and don’t leave off the sprinkling of sea salt on top. I passed this recipe onto J, whose family devoured them in no time.
lemon poppy seed muffins

lemon poppy seed muffins

  • Double Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (Cookie +  Kate). In my mind, it is hard to beat the combination of lemon and poppy seeds. Let’s be honest, lemonanything is pretty great. I had combined lemon and poppy seeds before in pancakes but not in muffins. This recipe presented great flavors, although the muffins were a teensy bit dry for me.
  • Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze (Bon Appétit). F was away last weekend and I wanted to surprise him with something tasty upon his return home. He loves lemon cake, so I tried out this one, which had been sitting in my “make this” bookmarks for ages. It was fantastic, remaining moist for a couple of days. I took a bunch to work and four of us devoured it pretty quickly. F’s only comment was that it could be even more lemony, so next time I’ll use the zest of 2 lemons in the cake batter.

Of course, those aren’t the only things I’ve been cooking. We’ve done many of the usual dinner rotations, like pizza and roasted root vegetables and various stir fries. I reprised chocolate beet cake for dinner with friends last month — this time adding a tasty pink cream cheese frosting — and whipped up an apple dutch baby pancake for a Sunday brunch.

What have you been cooking up recently?


Recipe: Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup)



While I was visiting my parents in Rochester, T invited us over for Sunday brunch on the cozy back patio (S was away hiking). As usual, T provided a delicious spread: blueberry cake, salmon quiche (have to get that recipe!), and this incredible kholodnyk. It’s a traditional Russian/Ukrainian/Polish cold buttermilk and beet soup — it made a delicious first brunch course on a warm morning. I immediately asked T for the recipe, which she said came from epicurious and was really easy. She was right — this takes 10-15 minutes to whisk together and makes a vibrant, healthy summer soup. It works well as a brunch accompaniment, as we enjoyed it, or as an appetizer before dinner. It received full marks from F when I made it back in London. I went heavy on the beets and forgot radishes — it still tasted great. Feel free to take this recipe as a base and modify ingredients and amounts for a chunkier or thinner soup.



Do you have a favorite cold summer soup? Share it in a comment below!

Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup) (adapted from epicurious; serves 3-4)


  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups (~250g) grated pickled beets
  • 1/4 cup beet liquid (if not using pickled beets, use 1/8 cup water + 1/8 cup white wine vinegar)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups English cucumber, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped radishes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, & salt.
  • Stir in the grated beets, beet liquid, cucumber, radishes, & dill.
  • Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes, then serve cold as an appetizer or light main course.


Recipe: Chicken & Dumplings


Oh man is this good comfort food. On a Friday night after a long week with a cold, this was just what I was hoping for: warm, wholesome stew topped with fluffy-chewy dumplings. F gave the chicken and dumplings a “this is really good” rating and has already requested that I make the dish again, just a few weeks later.

Chicken and dumplings is (are?) actually pretty healthy for comfort food. Veggies, chicken, and stock make up the stew part, and dumplings are just delicious — I don’t really care what’s in them. I was inspired to try my hand at this dish when I remembered that one of my housemates from senior year of college would sometimes make chicken and dumplings. It didn’t seem that difficult (it’s not) and doesn’t require any out-of-the-ordinary ingredients — you probably have almost all of them in your house already.

Chicken & Dumplings (adapted from Simply Recipes; serves 4-6)


  • Chicken & Vegetables:
    • 3 chicken thighs OR boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 3 tsp butter or olive oil, or a combination of both
    • to taste: salt & pepper
    • 4-6 cups chicken stock
    • 1/4 celery root, chopped finely OR 2-3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 2 onions, roughly chopped
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1-2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
    • 1.25 cups frozen peas, thawed
    • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Dumplings:
    • 2 cups all-purpose or cake flour (I used AP, but Simply Recipes says cake flour makes fluffier dumplings)
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    • 3/4 – 1 cup milk
    • optional: 1/4 cup minced fresh chives


  • In a medium pot, heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer.
  • In a large pot, heat the butter/olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it with some salt, then brown the chicken pieces in the pot on both sides (start them skin-down, if using thighs). Remove the chicken from the pot and turn the heat off.
  • Get rid of the chicken skins and pop the chicken into the simmering stock. Cook for ~20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. When it is ready, take the chicken out of the stock and set aside until cool enough to shred into pieces.
  • Moving back to the large pot, turn the heat on to medium-high. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme. Sauté the vegetables until they’re soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock by ladleful to the flour-vegetable mixture, stirring well after each addition. The broth should eventually come together nicely. Add the chicken meat, peas, and parsley to the pot. Turn up the heat and let simmer while you make the dumplings.
  • While the stew simmers, make dumplings: whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the chopped herbs, if using. Pour in the melted butter and milk, then mix with a wooden spoon until everything just comes together (don’t over-mix).
  • Drop large spoonfuls of dumpling dough into the stew (they’ll float on top). Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, ~15 minutes (do not uncover the pot during this time!).


Recipe: Roasted Parsnip & Cauliflower Soup

Roasted parsnip and cauliflower soup is perfect for a quick mid-week dinner. It’s warming, filling, and healthy — plus, it comes together in about an hour. It can serve as a full meal on its own but it also tastes great along with some German sausages and a good baguette.


I adapted this soup from Spoon Fork Bacon; my changes mostly included ingredient ratios, like adding another parsnip and increasing the garlic, cumin, stock, and sour cream (when in doubt, add more spices). The sweet, earthy parsnip flavor dominates the dish in a wonderful way, and sour cream adds a pleasant tang to the final product.

Roasted Parsnip & Cauliflower Soup (adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon; serves 4-6)


  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I go light on this because I’m sensitive to it; feel free to add more to your taste)
  • to taste: salt & pepper
  • 3-5 cups vegetable stock (start with 3 cups and as more once you start pureeing)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for serving


  • Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Combine the cauliflower, parsnips, shallots, garlic cloves, thyme, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper in a large baking dish and toss until the vegetables are coated with olive oil and spices. Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are soft enough to puree.
  • Just before the vegetables are done, bring stock to simmer in a medium pot.
  • Add everything from the roast vegetable pan to the stock. Puree with an immersion blender or in a blender covered with a towel, adding more stock or water as necessary.
  • Stir in the sour cream and bring to a simmer, then serve with more fresh thyme and sour cream.


Recipe: Celeriac, Potato & Apple Soup

This soup may look monochrome and uninteresting, but it has a lot of flavor, thanks to earthy celeriac and fresh thyme. Inspired by one of Martha Rose Shulman’s “Recipes for Health,” the soup was a handy way to use up a huge celeriac bulb that we got in a freebie Abel & Cole delivery (thanks, Sarah!). Throw in some potatoes, onions, garlic, and apples, and you have a well-rounded, silky smooth soup to enjoy on cool autumn evenings. It’s great with German sausages, too — mix them in or eat them on the side.



Celeriac, Potato & Apple Soup (inspired by Martha Rose Shulman; makes 4-6 generous servings)


  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions (or 1 large), roughly chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 large celeriac bulb, peeled & diced
  • 4-5 potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & diced
  • 5-6 cups water or stock of choice
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • to taste: fresh thyme sprigs (I used 7-10)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • to taste: salt & pepper


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften (5 minutes or so).
  • Add the celeriac and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, another 5 minutes or so.
  • Pour in the water/stock, and add the apples, bay leaves, thyme, celery seeds, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let the soup simmer until the vegetables are tender enough to blend, 40-60 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat and blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender). Return the soup to low heat for another 5-10 minutes before serving.


Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Mustard Croutons

UPDATED 6 Oct 2019: We’re still making this soup six years later! I play crouton master and F usually makes the soup. He’s taken to using the pressure cooker to speed up the process – I’ve updated the steps below. And we’ve discovered that it really matters what kind of potatoes you use: go for less starchy ones that break down easily so your soup turns out silky but not slimy. This recipe easily scales up or down and we don’t usually measure the soup ingredients very closely. I would, however, recommend doubling the crouton recipe, as you may find them highly addicting!


Original post, Feb 2013: Winter is a good time for soups, no matter how cold it actually is where you live. It’s certainly damp and gray enough here in London to make a nice warm soup hit the spot. F sent me the recipe for this soup last week, so I suggested we make it on the weekend. Make it we did, roughly doubling the recipe because we had lots of broccoli and no time to cook again until Wednesday. The soup turned out well, though F thought it was a bit starchy and suggested roughly mashing the potatoes next time before blending them. Or we could just use one less potato. That said, it’s a silky-smooth soup with great flavor from the broccoli and mustard. Don’t skip the croutons — they totally make the dish!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Mustard Croutons (adapted from this recipe)


  • Croutons:
    • ~3 cups (6oz) of white or whole wheat baguette, cut into chunks
    • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp whole grain or dijon mustard
    • to taste: sea salt
  • Soup:
    • olive oil
    • 2 onions, diced
    • 3-5 medium-sized potatoes, cubed
    • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3-5 cups water or vegetable stock
    • 2 small-medium heads of broccoli, roughly chopped
    • 1-1.5 cups cheddar cheese, grated
    • Optional: 2-3 tbsp whole grain or dijon mustard


  • Make croutons: Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Mix the liquids with the mustard in a bowl, then add the bread cubes and mix until the bread is coated. Spread the bread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake 10-15′ or until slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Make soup (use a normal large pot, or a pressure cooker to speed up the process)
    • Saute the onion in olive oil until it begins to soften.
    • Add the potatoes then cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften (5-7′). Add the garlic and water, then bring to a boil. If using a pressure cooker, seal and cook on high pressure for ~10 minutes.
    • When the potatoes are nearly cooked, add the broccoli and continue simmering (or pressure-cooking) until everything is soft enough to blend.
    • Remove the pot from the heat and add half the cheese and mustard (if using). Blend partway with an immersion blender, then add the rest of the cheese and mustard and blend until smooth.
  • Serve bowls of soup with croutons on top and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper.