Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This is an entry for February's "Soup's On!" food event. What a great excuse to make soup!

I'm very proud of my tortellini soup. The recipe never stays the same. In fact, each time I make it, it's a bit more complicated than the last. It's fabulous because anyone can make it. Not only that, but it's crazy-delicious.

Basically, tortellini soup is tortellini cooked with spinach in chicken broth. But that's never all the ingredients. Like the big rock in stone soup, the tortellini is a base. It's an exercise in creativity and foodie adventurism. And because it uses up lots of leftovers, it's a great way to clean out the fridge.




two boxes of chicken broth
a zippy bag bursting with tortellini
one box of frozen spinach
garlic (to taste)
Parmesan cheese (for on top)

These are the additional ingredients I threw in this go-round:

a half-palm of chopped ginger
half a can of water chestnuts (chopped)
half of a small turnip (chopped)
half of a white onion (chopped)

two bunches of green onions (chopped)
one can of sweet corn
one can of diced tomatoes
one medium bell pepper
one jar of roasted red pepper
three packs of Easy Mac noodles
several handfuls of Goldfish crackers, whole and crushed

(As you can see, the recipe is pretty flexible. Substitute, subtract, and add to your greatest pleasure. With this batch, I would have loved some spicier peppers. But my friends don't like onions and peppers, so I had to keep them on the down-low.)

1) Pour a bit of olive oil on the bottom of a huge pot. Throw in your veggies (except for the spinach). Throw in the garlic.

2) After letting them sizzle for a bit, pour in the chicken broth. Crank the burner up on high heat.
3) Wait for the broth to boil. This takes a while, because you should be using a huge pot.
4) Let it boil for about 10 minutes or so.
5) Throw in the pasta.
6) Let the soup boil again for about 12 minutes.
6a) Throw in the spinach around the 7-minute mark.
6b) Start tossing in Goldfish crackers and Parmesan cheese.
7) After the soup's done boiling, check for taste. If it's missing something, chuck it in.
8) Enjoy!

The soup is incredibly thick. The next day's left-overs will be stew, as all the moisture will be sucked up by the ingredients.

Got any other ideas for crazy ingredients I should throw in? Let me know!

I ate at an amazing Indian restaurant a few weeks back.

I think the picture speaks for itself.
Recently, my college buddies and I went downstairs to the kitchen and rustled us up a crazy feast.

My suitemate created some amazing "bruschetta." They were cheesy, salty, light--everything you could ask for. The tomatoes were delicious, even in the winter; the mozzarella melted to a perfect consistency. And of course the herbs were a perfect foil to the food itself.

She made the bruschetta assembly-line style, enlisting her roommate for help.

The bruschetta quickly disappeared.
Does anyone else in the food blogosphere hate mayo as much as I do?

If so, beware of Atlanta Bread Company. The last time I went there to buy a pesto chicken sandwich, the pesto sauce was mixed in with mayo! I was horrified.

I just wanted to warn my fellow mayo-haters.

Go to Fatz, if only for the poppyseed rolls. The rolls are small and light, and servers provide cinnamon butter for dipping.

I inhaled these.
For an adventurous foodie, my school's cafeteria can be a bit of a bore. But occasionally, the food can be pretty good.

Every Wednesday is "Fried Chicken Day." As you can imagine, I now have a burning apathy towards fried chicken. Generally, I'd avoid the cafeteria on Wednesdays and eat in my room. But there are a few choice goodies that appear on Wednesday that I can't seem to resist.

Take the potatoes, for example. For instant mashed potatoes, they are fantastic! I think the gravy is what really makes it worth the while. I don't know the gravy's ingredients--for all I know, it could be an industrial size pack of those little seasoning packets you can buy at Food Lion. But who cares? The potatoes are awesome.

They also serve collards on Wednesday--and collards are really good with a little hot sauce.

My complaint about the cafeteria stems from the fact that there's hardly any variety. Students clamor about what they like, and we end up eating fried chicken or omelettes every few days.

At least they mix it up sometimes.

This is officially the best soup in the cafeteria. The days they serve it, there's always a long line at the ladle. It's cheddar broccoli--a thick, creamy soup filled with veggie bits and lots of cheese. It has a delicious warmth.

It's my goal to make this soup on my own.

These lemon bars are my favorite dessert, but they can be hit or miss. The first few I had were superb. (I ate more than one per visit, of course.) Lately, however, they've been overly gummy and taste somewhat of flour. For my last one, I ate the insides and left the shell.

The bar is filled with a thick lemon paste that's filled with granulated sugar. Outside of that is a thick shell. I always want to take a spoon and whack it a few times to break the crust--but generally I just devour it.

If anything, the cafeteria does have a soft-serve ice cream machine.
I love peppers on everything. I love them on pizzas, in soups, by themselves. College taught me to love them in a new way: on my salads.

Of course, I knew that pepperocini taste fabulous in Greek salads. But jalapeƱos? I had no idea!

My cafeteria's salad bar helpfully provides a bucket of jalapeƱos. One day, I said, "What the heck!" and put some on my salad. It was amazing. Italian dressing melds so perfectly with the vinegared heat. (Even raspberry vinaigrette tastes nice when paired with the peppers.)

Now, a salad sans peppers is just too mild. I need the heat that only a pepper can give me.
As promised, here's a quick peek at du Monde's goodies.

I really don't like coffee. It's too strong and earthy. I've tried it with cream, chocolate, flavored syrups... the coffee taste still remains.

That's why, instead of going with the traditional coffee and beinets at du Monde, I decided to get hot chocolate. It was really nice--very rich and creamy. The temperature was just right, too. It was a nice, warm retreat from the cold outside.

(I will say that, in the name of foodie exploration, I did try a sip of someone else's coffee. It wasn't great, but I didn't hate it. That's a testament to the power of du Monde's coffee!)

I've never had beinets before. They were fabulous! They reminded me of Chinese donuts--only lighter. My favorite part was the thick layer of powdered sugar. It was delicious, but dangerous! I had someone take a picture of me biting into the beinet in rapture. While the beinet was in my mouth, something made me laugh and powdered sugar flew everywhere. The sugar wouldn't come off of my coat--I looked like a druggie for the rest of the day! The picture, needless to say, didn't turn out.

We definitely popped by for beinets more than once.