soup » Wonderland Kitchen
Browsing Tag


A Pot o’ Gold: Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup


When it comes to culinary heritage, I claim the closest affinity with the Slavs thanks to the maternal side of my family tree. With a name like Molly Marie Sheridan, I don’t feel too obnoxious trying to get in on a little of that luck of the Irish as well, however, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Exercising an American flexibility when it comes to culture is useful like that.

My celebration of the day here in Baltimore is a far cry from the festivities put on at my last address. Instead, this year I went the monastic route and turned to my copy of Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, pulling out a recipe for Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup from the “March” chapter. Despite the name, at first I hesitated, not generally being a fan of dishes that hide their vegetables under cheese. But if it was good enough for the monks, surely it should be good enough for me, no? Plus, I had buttermilk in the fridge that was crying out to be turned into a fresh soda bread as accompaniment, so ahead full steam I charged.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup recipe

Vegetable sizes being so variable, I added more carrot and potato than the recipe called for but which seemed to suite the 6 cups of broth. Having taken no religious vows, I also got crazy and doubled all the seasonings aside from the salt, which I omitted entirely (the strategic penance of a once-Catholic?). The cheese and broth seemed to provide plenty of taste-popping sodium on their own.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup ingredients

As I swallowed my first taste of the finished pot, the memories of every terrible bowl of broccoli cheddar soup I had ever eaten melted away–a Saint Patrick’s Day culinary conversion.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup
based on a recipe from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups

2 leeks, sliced
6 small potatoes, cubed
6 thin carrots, sliced
4 T butter
6 cups vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1 cup milk
5 oz. grated Kerrygold Irish Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste (like I said, mine needed no additional salt, so be sure to taste before adding)

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup ingredients

Melt butter in a stock pot. Add vegetables and saute for several minutes. Then add broth, garlic, and seasoning, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors merged, about 30 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and puree.

Add milk and cheese and continue stirring until cheese has melted. The soup should still be plenty hot enough to do so, but return to heat if necessary, taking care not to allow it to boil.

Serve hot with a hearty bread. This one is excellent and speedy, if a suggestion is needed.

Yes, This Is Just Soup (No Lunchbox Edition)


I’m really getting into soup for lunch, especially now that I’ve started just drinking it out of a Mason jar. When I need to travel, I pop a lid on it and toss it in my bag; when I’m working at home, that still means less silverware to wash. Either way, my computer keyboard remains un-sticky and crumb-free.

Plus, it’s winter (ostensibly), and I’m a girl who loves her roasted root vegetables and her immersion blender. Lately, I’m also loving buttermilk for baking and salad dressings, so a little of that goes in the pot as well. You see how this works?

Soup is one of the few cooking areas where I feel safe stirring without a net because while I’m sure you can complicate soup, you can generally make it simply out of what’s around, keeping things interesting. With that in mind, here are two of my recent “what’s in the ‘fridge” weekend concoctions, all made as a way to use up ingredients from other meals I had planned to cook but then never got around to producing. I feel weird calling these “recipes,” since really they could both be reduced to your basic: Add a little fat to a pot and saute some onion or garlic or leeks and/or herbs and spices. Then, add some veggies (roasted when it suits) and broth or water. Simmer to combine flavors and soften up any ingredients that need it. Then puree and add some creaminess (milk, cream, yogurt, cheese) if you like. Garnish if you’re feeling fancy and serve hot!

However, for those who would like a little more in the way of measurement (my husband hates it when I say, “You know, just put in a little!” and yet I continue to say this kind of thing all the time), here are the specifics (more or less).

No lunch box required!

Baked Sweet Potato Soup

3 large sweet potatoes
2 T olive oil
1 cup white onion, chopped
2 tsp. Vindaloo seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika (Mine is quite hot, so this added a nice spice punch to balance the sweetness of the potatoes without me resorting to cayenne, which I’m starting to admit I really just don’t like.)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup buttermilk
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash and prick sweet potatoes with a fork and set on a foil-lined baking tray. Roast till quite soft, about 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and set aside. Mine popped right out of their skins with very little effort. Discard peels.

Heat oil in a soup pot and saute onion until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add spices and continue cooking about 1 minute. Then add reserved sweet potato and vegetable broth. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree soup. Add buttermilk and salt, adjusting seasoning and consistency to suit your tastes.

Roasted Celeriac and Parsnip Soup

1 large celeriac, peeled and cubed
4-5 parsnips, peeled and cubed
4 T olive oil, divided
3 leeks, washed and sliced
2 tsp. curry powder (I used a grocery store one I have that is much tamer that others I use, which I felt suited the soup)
5 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup buttermilk
salt to taste
pomegranate molasses to garnish (totally optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a baking tray with foil and pile cubed vegetable on top. Drizzle with 2T olive oil and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with salt if desired and roast for about 40 minutes, stirring partway through to prevent burning. Vegetables should be somewhat browned and caramelized.

In a soup pot, heat the remaining 2 T olive oil and sauté leeks until softened. Add curry powder, roasted vegetables, and the stock or water and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree soup. Add buttermilk and salt, adjusting seasoning and consistency to suit your tastes. I feel that a little drizzle of pomegranate molasses, if you have a bottle taking up space in your refrigerator as I do, makes a nice accent.

The Things We Ate (Christmas 2011 Edition)


The Christmas week here at Wonderland Kitchen annually includes three or more solid days of feeding six adult people. Sure, we get a restaurant meal in one evening and nosh on plenty of cookies along the way, but a little cafeteria strategy keeps us from going hungry without someone spending the entire holiday in front of the stove.

This year, my plan was homemade soups and breads, rounded out with some store-bought meats and cheeses for sandwich-making, so that a variety of meal combinations could be patched together to match the widest variety of tastes and dietary requirements.

To that end, I started researching options that might make a dent in the supplies offered by my (previously!) over-stocked pantry, and we ended up with some real winners. I wasn’t planning to post these dishes, so I didn’t take the usual series of process shots, but some of the recipes I discovered were just too tasty to horde for myself.

The Breads:

I made these both pretty much exactly as outlined in the linked recipes, no real adaptation or tweaks required.

Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Filled Pane Bianco
from Dianna Wara/King Arthur Flour

Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Filled Pane Bianco

Looked like such a challenge, but it really wasn’t (so perfect for entertaining!). I admit I was skeptical about using scissors to cut open my loaf before shaping, so at first I tried using a serrated knife. That was a fail. Just use the scissors. The good people at King Arthur Flour know what they are talking about without my interventions.

New York Deli Rye
from Smitten Kitchen/The Bread Bible

New York Deli Rye

The only switch up I employ here is to form the loaf into a batard shape and slash it deeply across four or five times. I bake it with the ice/steam method suggested.

The Soups:

(Absolutely the Best, Most Awesome) Cream of Tomato Soup (Ever!)
from Smitten Kitchen/The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

Cream of Tomato Soup

I skipped the brandy and the cayenne pepper, because I worried it would scare off my family, and I didn’t think the soup needed any additional salt. I immediately ate two bowls.

Gypsy Soup
from The Yellow House/Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook

Gypsy Soup

This seemed like a great dish to keep warm on the back burner and feed to arriving family members after their long drives to our house. It made a huge amount, and yet it seems to have disappeared. I’ll be keeping this one in the winter rotation.

I swapped potatoes/sweet potatoes for the squash (that’s what I had), used swiss chard for the greens (my preference in most cooking cases), and mixed a spice combination of 1 tsp. hot curry, 2 tsps. garam masala, and 3 tsps. sweet Hungarian paprika (in place of the turmeric, paprika, bay leaf, and cayenne indicated in the recipe).

Baby, It’s Cold Outside


So, the next time I’m standing outside in a snowfall at 8 a.m. staring at the Waverly market mushroom stall and wondering why I want a couple of those reasonably priced boxes of sliced portobellos and shiitakes so much, I must remember this. Basically, if you have dried mushrooms (you know, the ones you bought in Queens in 2006 and always wonder if you should throw out when you re-discover them in the pantry, but then see that chemical pack in the plastic container and know that science prevails!) and, and, oh, right, the point…get a mixed pound of fresh at the market, you can make a half order of this, which will melt all hearts within radius. I always use milk–since cream would require going outside (again!) in the cold–and it’s still super lush. It’s also supper, in under an hour.

Only slightly related: Goodbye, holiday season 2010. It’s time to pack it up…

Kale Soup for the Sick (with a Side of Mostly Whole Wheat Bread)


I’m the kind of person who likes to crawl into their man-cave when sick. The down side of this is that when the fridge is empty, the only path to sustenance is to drag one’s self from said cave to either the kitchen or the grocery store. I decided that combing my hair would be more work than chopping veggies, so I opted for culinary duty. Plus, all those market veggies had come to the party last Saturday and had yet to get a worthy invitation for a good dance dish.

Now, I’m not normally a broth-based soup person. I like it blended or stewed, but not with bits of things floating in admittedly tasty almost-water. However, two weeks into a hacking cough, hot water with honey was getting pretty boring (even if the menthol cough drops had deadened most of my taste buds) and I wanted something with enough liquid that I could dip in for a ladle or two of hot liquid in between meals. As I had fresh navy beans, kale, and even a parmesan cheese rind on hand (I really think that part is essential to a broth worth sipping–do not skip!), I made a small vat of this soup, making it a vegetarian version by skipping the sausage and substituting vegetable stock for all liquid (though at less volume than indicated in the recipe–probably about 7 cups total). It was super tasty and perhaps the most effective medicine I’ve tried so far. Plus, half went into the freezer and I’m now prepared for the next time I am either too sick or, more likely, just too tired to cook.

I was also out of bread, so this morning I fired up Sir Mix-a-Lot again. B has asked me to work on a 100% whole wheat loaf for him, and since my parents had brought me a bag of whole wheat flour from a local Ohio source, I decided to give this King Arthur version a try. As this flour was a pretty course grind, I erred on the side of caution and did half-and-half with some white unbleached bread flour, and kicked in some vital wheat gluten for good measure. Since I wanted this to be the simplest (read: neatest) making of bread ever, I vowed to only do a mixer knead–not a pinch of flour on the counter. In the end, the dough was beautiful and the rise amazing. I think this household is primed to go 100% on the next venture!

Keep safe and stay healthy out there, everyone! I’m sure trying to leverage a holiday bird one-handed is no fun at all and you certainly don’t want to get caught by family members coughing on the turkey.

Eggplant Endgame


So, I don’t stalk the Smitten Kitchen exactly (ahem), but the growing season being the growing season, I also happened to have three small eggplants that needed to be put to a good use tonight (okay, probably two nights ago–it’s been a long week!). So at the end of the workday, into the oven they and the tomatoes and garlics and onions went. Roast, roast, simmer, simmer, blend, season, and BAM!–there was soup.

I swapped Penzeys sweet (2 tsp) and hot (1 tsp) curry powder for the thyme, and tahini and lemon for the cream. It ain’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but it is dee-lish. Promise.