What goes into a good soup? First, and most important, fearlessness! Open the refrigerator door and look around. Grab some protein (leftover cooked chicken, or sausage or tofu or hamburger meat), last night's vegetables or scraps a heartbeat away from the compost pile, some homemade broth. Root around in the pantry for canned beans, hot peppers, spices. Chop an onion. Toss everything into a pot, let it simmer for a while, and taste. Adjust with more of one ingredient or another. Have faith, because everyone can make great soup. My favorite soups come from countries where the weather is hot, and the food is hotter. In this recipe inspired by dishes I've enjoyed throughout Mexico, black beans, chile peppers, and lime take center stage. If... Read more →


Lentil soup spans all seasons, but it will forever remind me of this time of year. When we lived in the log house, warm winters like this were rare (or maybe nonexistent); in March, along with late-season pruning of the pear trees, we spent plenty of time shoveling snow and breaking up the ice on our driveway and porch roof. After we all got warmed up by hard winter work, we collapsed into the Adirondack chairs on the front porch with a cup of something warm and steamy, like this lentil and caramelized onion soup packed with dark leafy greens. Lentils don't need a presoak, as so many legumes do, and you can't overcook them. If they cook until they fall apart into the stock,... Read more →


In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, there's a street closed off to traffic, lined with shops and filled with people enjoying drinks with friends at small tables set up here and there. Along that street, the name of which I can't remember, we found a wonderful bookstore café that had a large selection of cookbooks, including one with English translation. And in that cookbook was a recipe for lambe-lambe, the kind of un-fancy shellfish and rice dish you'd eat while sitting on the beach at sunset, with your toes in the sand. Part travelogue, part love letter to Brazilian cuisine, Caiçara Cooking: Flavor Between Mountain and Sea (published in 2007) features mouth-watering photos plus recipes in Portuguese, though the translations leave a bit to the imagination. This... Read more →


I have to be honest with you. In real life, this white bean and leek soup looks like dishwater. Looks like it, but does not taste like it. (And because it's hard to photograph dishwater and make it look appetizing, I've added some bacon garnish, though it's absolutely not necessary to this otherwise vegan soup.) What makes this simple bean soup great is the technique of reserving a third of the main ingredients to add after the initial cooking and blending of the rest of the soup. Puréed beans and leeks form the "creamy" base, and every now and then, your spoon will find a whole bean or two to awaken your mouth. If you are vegan, omit the optional garnishes (bacon or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano... Read more →


Winter salads can be a challenge, but really, there's so much available as long as you stay away from rock-hard, plastic-looking pinkish tomatoes, overpriced asparagus, and other foods best eaten when they're in season in the summer. This meal-in-a-bowl began as a color study in reds and greens, with a handful of farro thrown in for texture (you could use barley or medium-size couscous instead). Instead of spinach, try kale, or a mix of lettuces and dark leafy greens. Swap dried cranberries for dried cherries, if you wish. This dish filled with fruits and vegetables couldn't be easier, or more satisfying, either as a side salad or a meatless main course. Healthy red and green meal-in-a-bowl salad, with spinach, berries and farro {vegan} From the... Read more →


I'm grateful to slow cooker manufacturers everywhere for not actually building the airtight appliances they intended to build. Nothing makes me happier than the house filling with the aroma, escaping from under the lid, of whatever is gently cooking in the pot for many hours. A recipe like this Tex-Mex chicken and rice, with corn and black beans tucked here and there, can cook on the stovetop, but in the slow cooker, the flavors have a chance to intermingle on their own (without tending by you), and the musky scent of cumin warms up the kitchen as it cooks. You'll find jars of sofrito in the Spanish foods section of your supermarket. If you use converted rice, you can cook rice right in with the... Read more →


When you set out to create a new recipe, where do you start? Seasonality of the ingredients? Color? Shape? Texture? Sweet versus tart? All of the above? In the case of this easy pan-made farro with butternut squash and pears and dried cranberries and feta, I began with pears so ripe and ready for action that they practically jumped into the frying pan. I diced and sautéed those pears along with a bit of leftover peeled butternut squash, added some of my new favorite ten-minute farro, and the dish began to come together. Tart feta cheese balanced the sweet fruit, and some acidity from the dressing brought everything together. Intended as a side dish, it became an irresistible main course, perfect for a meatless lunch.... Read more →