Baby it’s cold outside

15 Dec

Brrrr! As I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s been freezing in Oakland the past few days, and apparently it’s supposed to get even colder this week.

I have a love-hate relationship with cold weather. I love cold weather clothing (it’s so nice to finally get to wear sweaters), food that’s warming (mmm, soup), and I love the rain. But when it gets really cold and windy and I find myself waiting for the bus for a half hour, I start to wish it was a bit warmer. (I also wish the buses were more reliable, but that’s another story.)

My favorite way to warm up is to cook so I thought I’d share some recipes that can help get you through this cold week.

Greens & Mushrooms

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots cut into thin strips
  • A bunch of greens cut into wide strips (I made this with beet greens last night, but kale and chard work equally well)
  • 1/2 pound or 1 pound mushrooms (maitake are my favorite, but difficult to find; trumpet or shitake are good substitutes)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Poached egg(s) – optional

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until somewhat translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes. Add greens and season with salt and pepper. Cook until greens become soft.

I like to make a large amount of this so I can have leftovers. When you’re ready to eat it, just heat it up, and add a poached egg to the top. It’s delicious!

And here are a couple of soup recipes I shared last winter:

Creamy Purple Cauliflower Soup

This can be made with white cauliflower, but purple cauliflower makes this soup a beautiful lavender hue.

  • 1 head purple cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups liquid (can be vegetable broth, water, milk, or any combination of these)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spices or herbs (I prefer Indian spices, such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala)

Heat a tablespoon of oil or butter in a wok or pot. Add in the chopped cauliflower and saute for about 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook until cauliflower softens.

While this is happening, make your roux by combining the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil or butter with the flour and cooking over low heat in a pot. Stir until combined – it should be a light brown color. Add your 4 cups of liquid to the roux and stir until combined. This can sit while the cauliflower cooks.

When the cauliflower is ready, combine with the liquid. Blend half of the mixture and then combine this back into the soup pot. Season with salt, pepper, and anything else you like. Enjoy!

Spinach Soup

(Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables) This recipe calls for a LOT of spinach, but it’s well worth it and is surprisingly satisfying and filling.

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 pounds spinach
  • Agave or honey
  • Salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot (I use the biggest one I own). Add the carrots, onion and garlic, saute for a minute, then cover and cook until onions are translucent.

Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat.

Add the spinach. If your pot isn’t big enough, add it in small chunks, stirring. It should shrink down pretty quickly.

Blend half of the soup and return to pot. Add a small amount of agave or honey to taste (it rounds out the flavor), as well as salt and pepper.


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