Dill Pickle Soup – the Stuff of Childhood Dreams

The soup is still warm in the pot and is settling nicely into my belly and already I find myself writing about it. That is how much I love this soup.

As a child I grew up eating lots of soups that my mom made. Unfortunately for her, I never loved the ones with mystery meat (I would squeeze all the meat juice out and leave a dry meaty hockey puck on the roof of my mouth she would then have to scrape out an hour later. I see now why Mother Nature has given me a picky eater. Well played.)

Anyway back to my favorite soups from childhood – my mouth would smile and my heart would sing if I heard she was making chicken noodle, tomato or dill pickle soup. Those were the three favorites.

Today I take you down memory lane with dill pickle soup. Another Pinterest discovery, pregnancy craving turned delicious meal.

Please don’t doubt me.

Here is the magical recipe and yes, as usual, I eyeballed many of my ingredients – it keeps things fun!

20150228_152640 I modified – so here is what I used.

  • 4-1/2 cups chicken broth + 1 cup of water.
  • 5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (smaller dice) – I used 6 medium carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (smaller dice that’s about 60% of a Meijer 24oz jar of dill pickle spears. buy a second one, you’ll be short on pickle juice otherwise.)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter – yep.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water to mix with the flour and sour cream
  • 2 cups dill pickle juice* (saltness varies – taste the soup before you season more!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

The recipe calls for Old Bay Seasoning – since I was incapable of finding it I researched what it contained and mimicked it closely. This included:

  • a sprinkle of nutmeg
  • few dashes of paprika
  • few dashes of dried dill

But that’s okay it keeps things interesting.

First off you pour in the chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock, it will change the flavor a little. I am an omnivore so I don’t mind meat.), cut the butter into 4 pieces, drop in quartered potatoes and well chopped carrots.

I let it all boil for about 15 – 18 min.

Meanwhile I busied myself chopping up dill pickle spears. Make sure you leave 4 dill pickle spears for eating while you chop. My willpower is weak so I couldn’t resist. I love sour foods (regardless if I am preggers,) so I upped my quantity to 1 1/2 cup of chopped pickles.

20150228_155819

The house was starting to smell extremely amazing. I went ahead and checked my potatoes with a fork to make sure they were soft and dropped in my 1 1/2 cup of pickles.

Next is a step that made me a bit nervous. Sure the originator of the recipe said not to worry, but you still worry as you continue to boil a vat of soup and aren’t sure it will turn out. I mixed my 1 cup of sour cream, flour and 1/4 cup of water. It made a really thick scary looking paste.

I skipped the spoon (it was like scooping cookie dough) and used my fingers to plop¬† about 2 tbsps of scary flour mixture into the soup at a time while I whisked like a mad woman. Chunky, “globby,” this is hardly food I’d serve my family! Slowly the ingredients started to break apart, including the chunks of potato and mercifully the globs of sour cream/flour/water paste began breaking apart creating an impressive chowder like consistency. YAY!

Next up you will crack open your second jar of pickles and top off your pickle juice to equal 2 cups. You’ll then attempt to cram left over pickle spears from the first jar into this jar. You’ll be successful, though keep in mind anything you don’t fit, you will eat. Rule of cooking.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.12.46 PM

Taste your soup to see if it’s sour and salty enough. Then add in a little bit more seasoning. The cayenne pepper added a slight heat, but overall it’s very manageable even if you don’t handle spice well.

So much soup! Let it cook as long as you like, the ingredients have had time to get friendly and things are looking good!

Once you feel the masterpiece is ready, you ladle a bit in a bowl grab a spoon and enjoy. You can have it with crusty bread, but honestly, it’s such a rich, thick, comfort food experience bread isn’t needed.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.12.55 PMTuck in!

 

Advertisements

Italian Cooking Storm Strikes Again

It was a simple start. I had some left over ricotta and the idea of it going to waste was simply unthinkable. So with a quick trip for more spinach, some mushrooms and more mozzarella I was ready to strike again.

The recipe

This weekend’s feast was inspired by a ricotta and spinach stuffed shell recipe, once again hunted down on Pinterest (my food board of course). But I can never let a recipe be created without some tweaks, sometimes purely because I misread it. First of all, I read 24 oz of shells (that’s two large boxes worth.) Once I realized I had cooked a box too many of shells I knew something had gone terribly wrong. Yeah, I only needed 24 SHELLS. HAHA, so fun.

Modifications

Things I adjusted intentionally, I used fresh bagged spinach vs. frozen (simply because that’s what was available to me,) secondly, I wanted to infuse the dish which chopped mushrooms, so I only used half a bag of spinach and made it a go with 8 medium mushrooms. This time I had enough mozzarella, yay! I didn’t have Italian seasoning, but I found a delightful garlic & wild porcini seasoning blend from Spice Merchants at our wonderful Downtown Market.

So what did I do with a bowl full of unused shells? Well I cut up some crabmeat with a “k” (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this term it’s fake crabmeat) chopped up more mushrooms and stuffed as many of those as possibly could fit in my second baking pan. Both pans ended up with a thin layer of sauce, shells, more sauce and a generous drizzle of mozzarella.

I can follow directions

My two pans baked covered in foil at 375 degrees for 35 minutes (at the 20-minute mark I rotated the left pan to the right and the right to the left – keeping things interesting.) As instructed in the recipe, I uncovered both pans at the 10-minute mark.

The results were bubbling, sizzling and perfumed the whole house with Italian comfort food smell. I’d consider 4 shells a serving. We have many more dinners of stuffed shells ahead of us.

2015-02-22 21.53.26

Tuck in!

Culinary Creations for Cupid’s Holiday

What happens when your spouse has to work during the entire Valentine’s day weekend? You figure out other ways to be romantic. This time around I did the planning and it included a tasty late-night meal, a roaring fire in the old fireplace and a romantic comedy.

One of my favorite love languages is definitely food. If I feed you a good meal I am extending my love and care for you. From my heart to your belly. Especially now, while I am preggers, the need to find good, hearty meals has only escalated. No more queasiness, bring on the appetite and bring on the food ideas.

That’s why I’ve long since been a fan of Pinterest, it’s my favorite time-suck and free-time-absorber. Great for when I need a mental break from the usual, or as a fall-asleep aid late at night. But like so many people, I pin and pin but do I actually do?¬† This year I am striving to find more time for creativity and more time to focus on doing and not just pinning. Therefore, this weekend I did it, I made myself a promise that I needed to start diving into my food board and pulling up some tasty recipes.

I found three distinct winners, all heavy on pasta and cheese. Because you see the baby needs pasta and cheese, or so my cravings tell me. And my spouse, bless his heart, is willing to try what I make.

Valentine’s day winner: Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom pasta. Had I not been so hungry I would have taken some proper photos. But we will rely on those originally posted to Julia’s food blog.

Courtesy of Julia's food blog.

Courtesy of Julia’s food blog.

Why was this little carb marvel a crowd-pleaser? Because it combined a hearty pasta and a creamy flavorful sauce with seafood. I did learn that no matter how tempting the monetary savings of buying peel and cook shrimp, just do yourself a favor and buy ones that have already been prepped. Please, save yourself the frozen fingers and pile of exoskeletons in your kitchen. I would definitely make it again, though I need to find a better way to reheat it, let’s just say it turns a bit thick and clumpy, but ever delicious.

Gratuitous Valentine's Day fireplace photo.

Gratuitous Valentine’s Day fireplace photo.

Since Adam also worked on Sunday my cooking inspiration continued another day. The next recipe I tried was :

Creamy Parmesan Tomato Spinach Tortellini Soup

Yay, I remembered to take a photo before eating!

Yay, I remembered to take a photo before eating!

Not only was it easy to make, it’s quite delicious. Even Henry ate some, though he made sure to pluck off any seen bits of spinach. It definitely thickened upon standing (plus I couldn’t help but add more tortellini to the soup.) Hearty soup that just gets better the next day with simple ingredients: tomatoes (check), spinach (check), parmesan (check), tortellini (CHECK!)

And because I was on a roll I made one more meal during Henry’s mega nap (4.5 hours is unheard of, but it does allow me some creative cooking time. Thanks little buddy!)

The last recipe I tried is called:

Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups

Courtesy of the Tastes Better from Scratch Blog.

Courtesy of the Tastes Better from Scratch Blog.

This recipe was definitely a test in improvision. I reviewed all my ingredients. I thought through the cooking process. I just didn’t focus on the sheer volume of shredded cheese and parmesan this recipe required. Who needs 3.5 cups of shredded mozzarella?! (This recipe.) Who used up all of her parmesan? (This girl.) Luckily I also had some shredded cheddar to toss in for good measure, so my overall cheese quantities worked, even if my math was off for starters. I topped this lovely dish off with some spinach florentine pasta sauce and we devoured it like the other two recipes.

I can tell my food cravings are leading the charge in the kitchen, for it wasn’t until I was mostly done with the last recipe that I realized I was making all pasta, and two of my dishes used tomato, cheese, pasta and spinach. But no one is complaining.