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Though temperatures reached above 50 degrees today, soup remains the perfect seasonal supper. For one that eats like a meal, complete with loads of fresh vegetables, you can’t go wrong with creamy chicken noodle. ♫ What do I care how much it may storm? I’ve gotta this soup to keep me warm. ♫ With much respect, and sincere apologies, to Dean Martin.

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
2
 cups dry medium egg noodles
1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized chunks
Olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot
1 large sweet onion
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
handful of mushrooms (about 6), sliced
generous handful of baby spinach
1 box Kitchen Basics chicken stock (32 oz.)
1 sprig rosemary
a few sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh parsley to garnish

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil–turn to medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Saute till tender and you start to build some color at the bottom of the pan, about 15 minutes, then add garlic and saute a minute longer.

Meantime, bring a pot of water to boil to cook the noodles. Ideally, the noodles will be finished cooking by the time you’ve finished the soup.

Back to the soup: add mushrooms, continue cooking and stirring for the next 5 minutes. Add chicken and salt; saute about 7 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay leaves and season with pepper to taste. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add flour and cook, stirring constantly till flour has browned a bit, about 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add in milk. Then whisk in cream, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when it begins to bubble

Remove thyme and bay leaves from soup. Pour milk/cream/flour mixture into soup; add spinach just to wilt. Add cooked noodles. Garnish each bowl with fresh parsley. Stay toasty and enjoy!

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roasted butternut bisque with sourdough toast and fresh chive chevre

Falling temps, falling leaves–what better time of year to roast something delicious to warm your bones and your home? I’ve got just the thing. Let’s grab some butternut squash and get cookin’!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE

2 butternut squash (4 pounds total), halved, seeded, cut in cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 medium-large sweet onion
3 carrots
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon additional Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt–toss squash to coat.

Spread out evenly over a roasting pan or baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then toss and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat, add carrots and onion, cook about 7 to 10 minutes till tender. Add chicken stock, squash, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon more Kosher salt, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add cream and nutmeg, blend with an immersion blender.

butternut squash stick blender

Enjoy a taste of fall!

My mom, a.k.a. Janey, had a bad case of laryngitis this past week. We come from a long line of chiacchierone (chatterboxes), so imagine what it’s like NOT TO TALK–not even whisper! Apparently, that makes it worse. It’s almost like trying to speak while sitting on your hands (another genetic affliction, HA HA). I thought it would be a good time to make some pasta fazool, or pasta e fagioli, if we’re being proper and not speaking in the dialect.

Mine is a riff on one of Giada’s recipes. Funny sidebar about Giada while we’re talking about my mom: you may have noticed “Jane” isn’t an Italian name. So, Poppy’s parents, who emigrated here in the early 1900s, called my mom “Giadi”–rhymes with Marie.

Little Giadi

Little Giadi had that touch of mischief in her then, and still displays it proudly now, at age 77. I’m happy to report her voice has returned today. Was it the magic of my pasta fazool? I’ll never know. What I do know is we both really like this recipe. So, andiamo–let’s get cookin’!

PASTA FAZOOL (PASTA E FAGIOLI) ALLA KATTY

4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots (4 if they’re smaller, as the organic ones often are), crinkle-cut…this is how we roll in ma famiglia!
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 pound chicken sausage (local folks, please try the sun-dried tomato version at Lino’s Market in Durham)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
5 cups chicken stock (my current favorite is Kitchen Basics stock in a box)
1 cup Meridian chardonnay or dry white wine (I very much like to cook with Meridian and don’t mind drinking it, either!)
2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed—my fave are small white beans from Goya, cannellini beans are another good choice, just a little bigger
1 cup of your favorite small-bite-sized pasta, uncooked: I used Sclafani cavatelli, but like Barilla pipette, too
Freshly ground black pepper
½ – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I frequently use Aleppo pepper)

You’ll want to have some grated Pecorino Romano on hand for serving, too.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute till the onions are tender, about 3 minutes. Add sausage (casings removed), cook and break into small pieces as you go.

Once the sausage has cooked, add broth, wine, beans and herbs–just toss the sprigs of thyme and rosemary right in there with the bay leaf. You’ll remove them after the flavor has cooked in a bit. Bring to a boil over high heat, add pasta and then decrease the heat to a simmer for the amount of time the pasta needs to cook. See package directions based on the shape you choose. Discard the herbs.

Add freshly ground black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve with Pecorino Romano.

Poppy, Janey and Nanny (1979) at 216. My mom in this picture is the same age I am today.