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Posts tagged as aunt mary

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:36am

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds

Happy New Year! It’s time for vegetables! I know that I don’t really need to explain why, given universal post-holiday puffiness and such. For me, all sorts of high-carbohydrate, gluten-free grainy flours made their way into my diet and while festive, I certainly noticed how 1) tired, and 2) starving it all made me feel.  Sometimes it takes little reminders that what works best – and for me that’s not just gluten-free, but primarily grain-free eating – is exactly what works best. Hey.

As a bonus, all of the foods that make me feel and look like myself – high quality meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, nuts, fats, and small amounts of dairy and fruit – are all of my favorite foods anyhow.

So 2013, let’s lead off with soup! I’ll confess I didn’t plan this one out, it sort of made itself out of the fridge. I’m quite sure that you could use vegetable broth, and skip the chicken, and enjoy this as a vegetarian treat. Dried porcini mushrooms make the broth – and everything – delectably meaty, for very little effort. When you’re making up a soup, keep in mind that the most satisfying soups are texturally layered – this version is brimming with tender chicken, chewy mushrooms, crisp broccoli, with crunchy nuts to finish. That’s how I like it! Kablam!

I hope you all enjoyed holiday time with family and friends. We hosted Christmas Eve here with my mom and sister Stacey. Escargot, beef stroganoff, braised cabbage with caraway seeds, and baked lemon pudding made up our holiday feast and uff da, it was indeed a feast.

Christmas Day we made our annual trip out to my aunt Mary & uncle Bruce’s lovely farm west of Willmar. More beef – rib roast, yes! – snuggled up against mashed potatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts salad, topped off with my aunt Marge’s famous cheesecake for dessert. More uff da. So worth it. So much sparkly, cozy fun!

I’d say the tree is put away and everything is back in its usual place, but…hell no. We also hosted a New Year’s Eve party, and my birthday is tomorrow, so sometime this coming week will have to do. In the meantime, here’s to a delicious and healthy 2013! Fresh Tart turns 7 years old tomorrow, pretty crazy, thank you so much for reading along with me for all these years!

xo Stephanie

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 4

I’ll confess that I gilded the lily by adding fried sage leaves as a garnish along with the pumpkin seeds and mushrooms. Totally not necessary, but if you’re as crazy about fried sage as I am, fry it in the butter you toast the pumpkin seeds in (sage leaves first, remove them, add the pumpkin seeds, toast away) until a little bit browned. Killer.

1 c. + 1 quart chicken broth
1-6 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms
5 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled & chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
sea salt
1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
handful arugula leaves (optional)
1 c. broccoli florets
1 c. bite-size chicken pieces (I pulled apart a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat 1 c. chicken broth until steaming. Remove from heat and stir in porcini mushrooms. Soak for 30 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Scoop mushrooms from broth with your hands, squeezing liquid back into the pan. Chop mushrooms and set aside. Strain broth through a coffee filter into a small bowl and reserve.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat until melted and foaming. Str in onion, carrot, celery, garlic, dried thyme, and a pinch of salt. Stirring occasionally, saute vegetables until beginning to soften, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and quart of chicken broth. Simmer broth and vegetables until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.

While soup simmers, in a small skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat until melted and foaming. Stir in pumpkin seeds and toast seeds, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden brown. Transfer seeds to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp. butter to skillet and return to medium heat. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and a pinch of salt and saute until starting to crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a blender, puree vegetables and stock in batches with arugula leaves (if using), returning pureed soup to the saucepan.

Heat the pureed soup over medium heat until simmering. Add broccoli and cook for 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender-crisp. Stir in cream (if using) and chicken and heat for a couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve hot with toasted pumpkin seeds and sauteed porcini mushrooms, topped with several grinds of black pepper.


Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Mar 7, 2010 at 7:42pm

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love visiting my aunt Mary and uncle Bruce’s farm in west-central Minnesota.  If you’re a new reader – welcome! – and here’s why:

Beauty.  Stillness.







Warm, buttery scones with softly scrambled eggs and browned sausages.

Made by Mary, not me.  (Yes.)

Fun and games.

Vegetable soup loaded with chicken, leeks, turnips, kielbasa, beans, and fresh thyme.  I craved another bowl within 15 minutes of leaving their house.  You would have too.

Made by Mary, not me.  (Yes.)  Recipe below.

Cool cold beer(s).







Pretty things.

Funny, sweet, very polite dogs.  Hi Cody.  (He did not get a sandwich.  But I did.  Sorry man.)  More in the gallery, below.

Vegetable Soup

Mary Felt

Serves 10-12

3/4 lb. Polish sausage, sliced

1 broiler/fryer chicken (2-3 lbs.)

8 c. water

2 leeks, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

1 large turnip, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 c. shredded cabbage

2 c. cooked navy or great northern beans

In a skillet, cook the sausage until done.  Drain on paper towels; set aside.  In a large Dutch oven, cook chicken in water until juices run clear.  Remove chicken; let cool.  Strain broth and skim off fat.  Return the broth to Dutch oven.

Add leeks, carrots, turnip, onion, potato, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from bones and cut into bite-size pieces; add to the Dutch oven.  Add cabbage, beans, and cooked sausage.  Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Ohhhhh, hi Shep.


Steak, ham, Swiss, & lettuce sandwiches. Made by Mary, not me. (Yes.)


Not-big-city light.

More pretty things, inside…

…in corners…

…and out.

Full-on winter…

…and signs of spring (melt snow, melt!).



…and texture.


…and function.

Taking pictures outside in my bathrobe. (Yes.)

Reality – the shed’s roof collapsed from snow, just this week.

Asian Chicken Soup Bowl

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:44am

What?  I didn’t know what to call this…sort of had the concept of hot pot in my mind, but since each person builds their own version, it’s more a bowl thing than a pot thing.   Anyhow, whatever it is, it’s delicious, and fun for a crowd.  As I’ve mentioned too many times before, I make rather deconstructed food on Wild Wednesdays to accommodate the varying tastes of the family.  Beef stroganoff, sauce on the side.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, meat on the side.  Chicken Parmigiana, cheese on the side.  I often throw a chicken soup in there, chicken and vegetables on the side.

But last night, since my aunt Mary & uncle Bruce were joining us for dinner, I decided to innovate a bit and add an Asian twist to the soup concept.  I loosely had in mind Japanese udon soup, or a Chinese soup with little meatballs or wontons, so I riffed on that.  I also wanted to create a healthy-meal-in-a-bowl, and something I could prepare ahead, so that we could eat right away and fly out the door to get the kids to religious school.

So here’s what we had: a fragrant, lightly spicy chicken broth, with optional pork meatballs; thinly sliced tofu, chicken, and vegetables (cabbage, scallions, shitake, bell pepper, and snow peas); and thin noodles.  It was delicious, and pretty (photo above doesn’t do it justice since it didn’t include the noodles – the vegetables and meatballs piled on top of the pasta are gorgeous), light-yet-filling…and fun to build and eat.  Bonus: the leftover noodles in broth blow away any version of packaged ramen you’ve never had (photo right, with a squirt of sriracha); I plan to have them for lunch (meatballs and veggies are gone…shucks).  Recipe here.

For dessert (we had guests; I pretty much only make desserts for guests), a chocolate cake with killer chocolate sauce – a pre-Valentine’s Day sweet-for-the-mostly-sweet.

Yes, I Am Alive

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 10, 2009 at 8:20am

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas!  Apparently an entire month has disappeared in a puff of puppy, bronchitis, travel, guests, 8th-grade basketball, and holiday decorating, shopping, and planning.

You can probably tell that I didn’t host Thanksgiving dinner this year (given detailed posts in years previous, a snapshot overview here), but I did bake no-knead bread (crusty, delicious, beyond easy) and reprised the fantastic brussels with pancetta and dried cranberries that I tried for last year’s feast.  The key to the deliciousness is the pulled-apart brussels, which result in a pile of tender leaves that cook quickly and lose any bitterness.  The result is so good, I’ve been asked to make it again for Christmas. Keep it in mind if you’re itching for a new vegetable dish on your holiday table (it’s pretty to boot).

I brought the bread and brussels out to Willmar for Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt Marge’s lovely home.  We had such a beautiful meal – turkey, sage dressing with sausage, mashed potatoes/gravy, sweet potatoes with fresh cranberries, brussels (above), wild rice salad with pine nuts and orange dressing, and bread.  For dessert my cousin’s wife Amanda made pana cotta with cinnamon apples, a delicious and light end to the feast.  Puppy Louis and I spent two nights in Willmar, in fact, hanging with the fam, eating leftovers in the form of Marge’s killer panini sandwiches, and spending Friday night at the farm (aka my aunt Mary’s lovely home – my aunts have beautiful homes, what can I say?) for another gorgeous meal, this time green salad with pears and mustard vinaigrette, pork chops with cherry sauce, polenta, and green beans, with warm apple cake for dessert.  Uff.  Da.  Clearly not a weekend of moderation, but that’s Thanksgiving, and so it goes.

Right before Thanksgiving, John and I had a fabulous time in NYC, in town to celebrate our friend Bartley’s birthday.  We hit several favorite food highlights – the Gotham salad at Bergdorf Goodman, mushroom barley soup at E.A.T., truffles from La Maison du Chocolat, H&H everything bagels on our way to the airport.  New tasties included hand-crafted drinks at the Surrey Hotel’s chic new Bar Pleiades and a literal feast (crispy prawns, velvet chicken, orange beef, Peking duck, and totally craveable shrimp spring rolls) at Chinese hot spot Philippe.

Somewhere in there I got a nasty case of bronchitis which cut my cooking down to zero, other than scraping together a quick soup here and there.  I’m coming back on line, however, slowly but surely.  I made my first pot of New England clam chowder of the season a couple of nights ago, my goodness it tasted good.  I make the Cooks’ Illustrated version which is brothier and lighter than the typical, and more delicious (I think), I recommend it highly.  I also bought a couple of hundred pounds (literally) of high quality beef from my stepmom’s nephew Jay Taylor (thank you to my dad for driving it from Montana to Minnesota) and we’ve enjoyed tenderloin steaks already.  And oh, John and I are hosting an open house for his partners on the 20th, part of which I’m having catered, but part of which I’ll prepare myself.  Stay tuned for menu ideas and recipes as I get my, um, stuff together.

And oh again!  I’m not one for much holiday baking, but I am toying with the idea of trying the Star Tribune’s 2009 cookie contest winner, Almond Triangles (photo at left by Tom Wallace for the Star Tribune) which I’ve heard several raves about already.  They look decidedly un-moderate yet delicious and best of all, easy – yes!  Perhaps for the open house.  I’m also getting pressured by Nathan to bake cutout sugar cookies this year – most years he can take ‘em or leave ‘em (peanut butter kisses are his thankfully easy fave), but when he makes the request…I’m happy to step up.  The trick is finding the time to actually prepare them, hmmm, perhaps Sunday afternoon.  If we end up with anything interesting, I’ll post some pics.

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift idea, check out James Beard Award-winning, Minnesota Monthly food columnist/editor Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s new book, Drink This: Wine Made Simple.  If you don’t read her column, and Dear Dara blog, you should because not only is she smart and hilarious, she knows food and wine, big time.  She was on MPR last week with Rick Nelson (Star Tribune), hosted by Kerri Miller, respresenting an hour of laughs and info generated by three of the smartest, coolest people in Minnesota.  Good stuff.

For now, the tree is up, my shopping is more than half done, and I’m feeling unusually on top of things (BIG knock on wood).  Which is good, since Puppy Louis needs some extra TLC for a few days – he was neutered yesterday and is stuck wearing the cone of shame for the next week, poor little guy.  Hope your holiday plans are falling into place better than Louis’…  Good luck stealing some peace (and moderation!) amidst the cooking and baking and wrapping and partying and the general running around like crazy that happens to us all at this time of year.  Stay warm!


view from john’s dad’s office

lovely central park

john walking under bridge in the park

serving forth

wild rice salad, brussels

mashed potatoes, turkey

cooper ready for the feast />

marge’s dog and louis’ new buddy – puppy rosie

dinner at the farm – pear salad

pretty table

greenery inside…

…and out

mom & baby

bucky badger!

puppy louis’ last day of fertility