Smoky Pepperjack Potato Soup

I know, I know. This is another “smoky” soup that owes it’s flavor to smoked paprika. What can I say? That shit is awesome and I just can’t get enough of it. I intend to make regular old soups, but then remember that everything is better after you’ve added smoked paprika. I have spice jars in my cabinet that have remained full for over 5 years, but I’m on my 3 bottle of smoked paprika this year alone. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t be upset if Santa put some in my stocking.

Speaking of spices – I cleaned out my spice cabinet this week and threw away anything that I knew had been there for too long. The determining factor was if I could remember having bought the spice in college, and I’m not going to say how long ago that was but it’s enough time to make me feel old. And to want to throw those spices out stat. I’m struggling to remember why I bought cumin seeds (the bottle is so full it’s almost overflowing), and I also cannot comprehend why I have 2 bottles of ground ginger and 3 bottles of curry powder.

Until I can figure out what to do with all that ginger & curry, please enjoy this soup from the Smoked Paprika files.

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Veggie Noodle Soup

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of my family collectively groaning and lamenting that this recipe would be so much better if I would just add the chicken back into it. Sorry everyone, but I don’t eat chicken anymore, and my life has continued on just fine.

That being said, I have been on a quest for this soup since meats have disappeared from my diet. Chicken noodle soup used to be one of my favorite comfort foods, and it’s one of the only things that I really missed. Sure, there are vegetable noodle soups, but most of the ones you see in restaurants are catch-alls for cooks that are trying to use up vegetables that are about to go bad. Nothing I’ve ever seen has been the kind of soup that I want to curl up with on a cold day in winter.

The key to creating a great noodle soup, and the element that has caused me the most frustration, is in the broth. Most vegetable soups incorporate tomato which tends to dominate the taste and is nothing like the simple taste of a basic chicken broth. However, once I discovered Jennifer Perillo’s corn broth, I had finally found a simple base for a delicious veggie noodle soup. I made a big pot early one afternoon and ended up eating it all day long – I absolutely couldn’t get enough. It completely embodies the comfort food I’ve long been missing in the winter months, and is the perfect companion for a chilly day.

Bring it on winter. Bring. It. On.

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Super Simple: Feta Potato Salad

Ya’ll, I had planned on writing a post about how I had this feta potato salad at The Corner Kitchen in Asheville last summer and it totally rocked my world and I had to come up with my own recipe and so I made this and it was awesome and I hope want you all to enjoy it too. But then I found out today that I have to have a ROOT CANAL. TOMORROW. And so instead of an entire post you just get one really long run on sentence because I can’t focus on anything else.

This is totally lame and I should be able to focus better and write what I had originally planned. And I actually am feeling better now that I found out I’m going to have to pay less than I originally thought, because when the girl this morning gave me the itemized list of my expenses she left out a period, and so instead of one item reading $24.20 it read $2420. Punctuation counts kids, stay in school.

Of course, maybe someone who knows more about dentistry would know that an item that should only be $24.20 couldn’t possibly cost over 2 grand, but I don’t know this and so basically every time I go to the dentist I feel like a prime candidate for financial rape. Like, if she had told me that it would cost $10,000, and if I got it to them in cash by this afternoon they might be able to save my life, I probably would have been screaming at a bank teller within the hour. Same goes with my car – I can’t help but feel violated every time I leave my mechanic. I mean, how can a fucking battery cost $400?? But then of course they make me feel like if I don’t pay the insane cost they’ll give me back my defective car, and my breaks will probably fail and I’ll end up killing some poor pedestrian or myself and it will all be because I didn’t pay the $200 ransom for the battery. So I pay. Every time.

(This is probably not something I should be writing on a public site. It’s like I’m asking for it. Like, in a financial sense I have just put on a skimpy red dress and left my drink unattended at a party. A party filled with my future dentists and mechanics)

Sorry, this has absolutely nothing to do with feta potato salad. But this potato salad is really good and you should totally make it. And please don’t associate it with root canals. It’s probably best if you just look at the photos and forget this post ever existed.

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Vegetarian Gumbo

I really wish this gumbo was prettier.

If this dish was a person, it’d be the kind you would describe to someone as having “a really great personality” when you tried to convince them to take him/her on a date. Seriously, I get it. You’re looking at some darkened vegetables swimming in a murky tomato broth and thinking “there’s no way I’m going to make this, I wish she’d posted a recipe for cookies instead.”‘

The thing is, I’m not a big fan of vegetable soups myself. Whenever I inquire at a restaurant about their soup of the day, I’ll normally jump on it if it’s something like “corn chowder” or “broccoli cheese,” but tell me it’s “vegetable stew” and I typically go with a sandwich instead. I’ll admit, I can be a bit judgmental.

But this gumbo breaks the mold. First of all, it has okra in it, and okra always makes things better. Always. Second of all, it is absolutely DELICIOUS. All that stuff about it having an amazing personality? In this case, it’s 100% true. You NEED to give it a chance; just take it out for dinner one time. I promise you’re going to fall in love.

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Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions

To anyone that is curious about some things I said in my last post, the family member in the hospital is one of my sisters and she is doing much better now. I therefore have now returned to breathing normally for the time being. To everyone that has written me kind words of encouragement – I know you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we might be friends for life. Thank you, for reals.

That being said, I need comfort food. I want pasta, cookies and chocolate. And cheese. Lots of cheese. If anyone hands me a salad I’m going to throw it right back at them. This has not been the kind of week that raw vegetables can fix.

This sandwich is just what I need. It has onions that have been slow cooked until they’re brown and oh so sweet, paired with sharp Gruyere cheese. If you think Gruyere is an expensive cheese that only snobs buy, don’t worry, I used to secretly believe the same thing. Until I found out how delicious it is and then I realized it was one of those things in life you can’t skimp on, whether you’re a food snob or not. Sometimes delicious is just expensive.

BTW – this bread was baked by my stepfather’s good friend who retired and decided to pursue his lifelong dream of being a bread baker. This entails getting up insanely early (like, 3:00AM)  3-4 days a week to bake bread in his custom built oven. As awesome  as this sounds, I have to say one thing: there are a lot of things I dream about doing one day, but NONE of them involve getting up before the sun rises. Ever. But I’m glad he feels that way, cause his bread is amazing. Almost as amazing as this delicious grilled cheese.

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Best Potato Salad

When I first started writing for A Cozy Kitchen I wrote a post about how I hated mayonnaise. So much so, in fact, that I came up with a potato salad recipe that was mustard based instead of mayo. Although I still stand by that recipe and would eat if for breakfast, lunch and dinner if people wouldn’t look at me like a crazy person, I have to rescind my earlier mayonnaise comments, cause I have just discovered the BEST potato salad, and lo and behold, it is covered head to toe in mayonnaise.

I mentioned this as a suggestion for the 4th of July, then I took my own suggestion, then congratulated myself on being so smart to suggest this. It was a good day. I can sum up why this is so delicious in five words: pickles, whole-grain mustard, fresh dill. I’m pretty sure if you put that combo of ingredients on anything it would taste delicious. Even ice cream. I stand by that.

Well… I can at least say with 100% certainty that if you mix all of that into some mayonnaise and pour it over potatoes it is HEAVEN. I think you should give this a try. Like, now.

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