Posted: January 25, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

One of my major concerns when I started training for my upcoming half-marathon was nutrition. I didn’t want to sacrifice delicious food for concerns about calorie counts, grams of fiber, and all the other things that runners worry about. I also didn’t want to make food that would be healthy for someone burning a ton of calories, but not so healthy for say, Jesse, who isn’t experience a sudden upswing in number of calories burned.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been just trying to cook like normal, adding in breakfast every day and making darn sure that I pack my lunch if at all possible; but in the back of my mind has been the concern that I’m going to have to start thinking about this shit soon. And that, my darlings, is where this soup comes in:

This is a runner’s minestrone. And it’s equally delicious if you think running is crap. Or if thinking about running makes you tired. Vegetarian? Check! Protein? Chock-full-of beans – Check! Carbohydrates? Tiny pasta pearls – Check! And the bonus? It’s just darn delicious.

Runner’s Minestrone
1. Put a large soup pot on the stove, over medium heat. Throw in a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Meanwhile, dice an onion, chop 2 or 3 celery stalks, and 2 or so carrots (mine were no-joke-jumbo carrots). Basically you want equal volumes and sizes for onion, celery and carrot, although if the carrot pieces are bigger, there is no problem.
Put the mirepoix in with the butter and oil, add a sprinkling of salt, and let the veggies start to get coated in the fat and release all their delicious juices.
2. Open and sorta-drain a can of beans. I had ecuadorean beans on hand, which are basically just small red beans. But cannelini beans, black beans, kidney beans, or heck, even chickpeas, would be great here. Add the beans to the veggies once they’re starting to soften, along with a good pinch of red pepper flake, and some oregano if you’re fancy. Stir, and let the starchy bean liquid bind together everything already in the pot.
3. Pour in a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, and stir. Then, add 4 cups of vegetable stock, and 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a simmer, and let the flavors become friendly.

4. This is where you can get creative. I had curly kale, zucchini, and green beans on hand, as well as acini di pepe, which are the little teeny pasta pearls. Acini Di Pepe means peppercorns, basically, in Italian. You could use ditalini, or pastina (the little stars) or even some other shape, as long as they’re SMALL. You want the veggies to be the stars here. Chop up basically any veggies you like and have on hand. Put them in the pot, and once the soup has regained its simmer, throw in a few handfuls of pasta. I probably used between a quarter and half a cup of acini di pepe, which are super tiny.
5. Let things simmer away until the pasta is cooked. Serve with a solid grating of some parmesan cheese, and you have a beautiful, beautiful thing.
This soup kept me full and full of energy and ready to go through my whole Saturday long run. It was delicious. And I foresee a LOT of this in my future.
I’m going to be adding a new tag called “Run Fuel”, full of my finds and foibles in a search for good running fuel that is also delicious and healthy to feed to Jesse. It’ll be an adventure. :)

Gourmet Soup

Posted: October 13, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

For those of you that don’t know, I live in Ohio, and while they say hell is full of brimstone and fire, I have to disagree.  Hell is NE Ohio between the months of October and May.  First it starts with rain, then moves on to freezing rain and sleet, then the full on snow (the words ‘lake effect’ will haunt me until I die) and then back to freezing rain and cold rain.  Now, I’m sure you are asking yourselves by this point, but surely the sun must come out some time….FALSE.  We go months on end with no sunlight.  Why, dear readers, am I subjecting you to this tirade on the weather in this tragic location?  Because I need to get you into the right mind set for todays dish.  This lack of sunlight came a couple weeks early this year, so for the past two weeks or so, we have had nothing but gray dismal rain.  I don’t know about you guys, but on days like that all I want to do is stay at home, curled up in bed or on the couch and read or watch TV…and I really want comfort food.  So this week when I was planning my meals I decided to pull out one of my ‘new’ recipes from Gourmet Magazine (RIP).  This recipe wasn’t new by any means, just had yet to be tested in my home.  It seemed like the perfect recipe for the weather and my mood: Cheddar Potato Soup with Bacon.  I don’t know about all of you, but anything with bacon and cheese HAS to be worth a shot, and I have always LOVED potato soup, but rarely eat it because I’m fairly certain my thighs would hold a record if they got any bigger.  This soup is perfect because it tastes like a really creamy potato soup, but doesn’t use any milk or cream at all, which still baffles me.  Even better, it was a recipe from Gourmet Magazine…also known as my amazing recipe bible, so of course it would be super tasty.  Luckily the recipe is at Epicurious, so you guys can link to it here.

What I really like about this was that it was super creamy and delicious, but didn’t make me feel like I had eaten a rock after half a bowl.  It was also pretty light, and really comforting in the rain.  The bacon is sprinkled on top, so it stays pretty crispy and you still get the bacony flavor.  I also liked it because if you leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken, it is an amazing vegetarian dish, so its super versatile (I’m pretty sure it could be converted to Kosher fairly simply as well, but I’ll rely on our resident kosher chick to help me out with that one, or tell me that I’m wrong :) ).

A few words of advice on this recipe:

If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to ‘over crisp’ bacon when you cook it like this (some people call it blackened, I call it ‘sh-t not f-ing again!).  The easiest way to avoid that it to not over crowd it in the pan, and make sure you cook it over medium heat.  I tend to get impatient and want to turn it up, but I fought the urge on this one and it worked in my favor.

I know I have said this in previous posts, but when you are using wine, or any alcohol in a recipe, make sure its something you LIKE.  A lot of people tend to use cheap ‘cooking wine’ but keep in mind that you aren’t getting drunk off it, so all there is left is the flavor, and if you don’t like that, then why are you putting it in food?  I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this.

When using cheddar cheese in recipes like this, I usually go for the super extra inappropriately sharp cheddar, because its my favorite.  However, I have discovered that the sharper the cheese, the chunkier it is when it melts, so what I have started doing is using half extra sharp for the flavor and balancing it out with a much less sharp cheddar to help keep the creamy texture rather than a grainy feel.

Finally…the chives add great flavor, they are not just a garnish, so if you love chives like I do…go wild!  I probably went through 3 times the amount of chives they recommended for my bowl of soup :) .

With the downfall of Gourmet Magazine, I’m trying to make sure I have all my recipes and back issues because I will no longer have a source for all those delicious and amazing gourmet recipes I have come to love.  Somehow, searching a recipe like this at epicurious.com just won’t feel the same…and unlike guys and Playboy, I really do like it for the articles too.  :(  If you are upset about the loss of Gourmet check out this blog even coming up to celebrate the magazine and mourn our collective loss.

As always, thanks for reading


Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.