My family and I had Soup Sunday last weekend and it was a great day filled with lots of comforting food, toddler cousins playing, snuggles with grandma and overall awesome family time.

I made two different kinds of soup; ham and cheddar chowder and lentil soup.  The ham and cheddar chowder recipe is from my sister in law, Nikki, and it is one of her favorite soups.  It’s rich and cheesy and super yummy.  I found the recipe a little tricky, I’ll explain below.
I served our soup with Alexia Sweet Potato rolls and Ancient Grain Rolls.  They are super delicious and convenient.

Ham and Cheddar Chowder (recipe via The Bank Gift Haus Tea Room cook book)

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups potatoes, diced
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar, shredded
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups ham, diced

Preparation

Bring to boil water, potatoes, carrots and celery.  Cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In saucepan, melt butter and saute the onion.  Add the flour to make a smooth paste.  Add milk and cheese.  Heat slowly, stirring often until cheese is fully melted and incorporated.  Do not boil.  Low heat is important.

Slowly add the water and vegetable mixture to the milk and cheese sauce.  Stir to combine.

***My notes: add the shredded cheese slowly and be sure to fully melt and incorporate it before added the water and vegetable mixture.  I didn’t do this and it slightly changed the texture of the cheese and after that it would not fully melt.  I believe this happened because the temperature of the water/veggie mixture was too high.  Most of the cheese had melted but the amount that had not refused to ever melt.  Super weird but it has something to do with cheese science/chemistry.  Yeah, I spent way too much time googling why I couldn’t get the remaining cheese to fully melt.
My mom and sister don’t eat ham so I made a separate soup for them.  My sister loves lentils (and so do I) and I thought this recipe looked great.  It was.  The leftovers taste awesome. 

French Lentil Soup (recipe via Epicurious)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery stalks plus chopped celery leaves for garnish
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, lentils, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves.

***My notes: I didn’t puree the soup and just left it chunky and rustic.  It was totally fine this way.  If you choose to puree an immersion blender would work well, don’t fully puree, just a couple cups.  

  After we ate soup, we hung out and watched Juliet and her cousin play and be little cuties.

My sweet girlie is wearing a pretty dress from her Grandma Karen.  After lots of playing we changed Juliet into some comfy jammies.  She loves snuggling with her Grandma Connie.
Here she is playing with her wooden shopping cart.  Juliet adores this cart, it’s from Pottery Barn Kids but unfortunately it says no longer available on the website.  Bummer!  Lots of people on my Instagram (@eatdrinkpretty) were asking where to get it.

Juliet’s daycare is closed this week for spring break so Juliet is being taken care of by both grandmas (on different days) and I’m staying home with her tomorrow.  Yay!  A whole day with my sweetie pie.  I can’t wait.

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{Photo credits: Martha Stewart}

I was feeling a bit uninspired this evening so I texted my sister and asked for blog post ideas. She just started Weight Watchers back up again after a bit of a hiatus over the holidays and her response was “how about a healthy recipe round-up”?

It was a great idea so here you go. Six delicious kale recipes to get you on the right track for the New Year.

Kale and white bean soup
Whole wheat pasta with kale and fontina
Cannellini and kale soup
Sausage and kale soup 
Crostini with kale and parmesan 
Kale with tomato, garlic and thyme

I am obviously NOT on a diet because I’m pregnant. Actually, this is the first time in about 10 years that I haven’t been on a diet for the New Year. Guess how much I love being pregnant right now? A lot.

No dieting.
No worrying about counting points.
No feeling guilty for eating chocolate muffins for breakfast or grabbing handfuls of Skittles for a snack.

Ok so I know I should still be eating healthy, and I am, for the most part. But man…I DO NOT miss the D-word at all. 

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I attended another Whole Foods cooking class yesterday, this one was called “Cooking with Quinoa”.  I don’t have a lot of experience with quinoa other than I’ve eaten it a few times at restaurants and it’s delicious. I had never cooked with it until yesterday. In case you don’t know, quinoa is a whole grain with a lot of protein, iron and fiber. Plus, it’s gluten-free and super easy to make.

My favorite dish of the class was this quinoa corn chowder. It was not as creamy as you may expect, it’s very thick, even thicker than a stew. It’s hardy and delicious. My favorite part was the tempeh “bacon”, which gave the soup a smoky flavor (you can find this at Whole Foods for about $3.50).

Quinoa corn chowder (recipe by Ani Loizzo of Whole Foods)

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
4 ears worth of corn kernels, or 2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
6 slices tempeh “bacon” chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Saute “bacon” until crisp, set aside. Add onion and red pepper and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalepeno and potatoes, saute 5 more minutes. Add paprika, broth and quinoa and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, add corn and simmer 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with green onions and reserved “bacon”.

Serves 4 as a meal, 8 as a side dish.

This recipe is gluten-free and vegan.

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If you follow me on Twitter you know that I was cooking up a storm last weekend for Erik’s birthday. Seriously, I should have moved a cot and slept in the kitchen I was in there so much. I made knoepha soup, homemade sloppy joes, mac n cheese and bacon-wrapped meatloaf over the course of three days.

Erik loved all the food (what dude wouldn’t?), especially this knoephla soup. Knoephla soup is a traditional German soup that Erik grew up eating in North Dakota. The soup is creamy and full of carbs, the comfort kind. The photo is very simple and you may be wondering why I didn’t at least add a pinch of parsley for color. That’s not what this soup is about. It’s about filling you up; stomach and soul. It’s simple, heart-warming soup and I now love it as much as Erik does.

Knoephla soup (recipe adapted from many sources: Taste of Home and Erik’s mom’s cookbooks from Napoleon, ND)

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, grated
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 cups water
7 chicken bouillon cubes

Knoephla

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
5 to 6 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a large skillet, melt butter; cook potatoes and onion for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Add milk, cream and heat through but do not boil. Set aside. In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, bring water and bouillon to a boil.

Meanwhile, combine first four knoephla ingredients to form a stiff dough. Roll into a 1/2-in. rope. Cut into 1/4-in. pieces and drop into boiling broth. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potato mixture; heat through.

Please don’t be discouraged by having to make homemade dough/dumplings, it is really quite easy. I promise. We lapped the soup up with this homemade bread I made a few days earlier. Yeah…you don’t get much more of a carb overload than this!

Quick shout-out to my mother-in-law. Happy birthday, Karen! I hope you have a wonderful day and I have you to thank for Erik’s love of hearty German food all the wonderful cookbooks you have given me!

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I have a confession to make. I am a huge loser on Friday evenings. It is likely that by 6pm I am in my pj’s and in bed by 9pm watching movies on Netflix or reruns of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. I can’t help it. By Friday evening I am wiped out, exhausted. The thought of putting on eye liner, brushing my hair and going out for cocktails is the furthest thing from my mind.

I get a lot of crap for this from my hubby and friends. They all know better than to try to get me out on a Fridays. Yup, on Fridays I am known as “lame Jenna”. 

And so when Erik was up for a lazy evening with me last Friday I was thrilled. I had my eye on this chunky tomato soup ever since the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine showed up in my mailbox a week ago. I love making homemade soup but sometimes they can be a bit fussy and time-consuming. Not this soup. You simply chop up a few veggies, open a couple cans of whole, peeled tomatoes and bam, delicious tomato soup. Erik and I had this with a bacon, cheese, tomato and avocado panini.

A perfect meal for my perfectly lazy Friday evening.

Chunky tomato soup (recipe adapted from Food and Wine)

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
4 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups water
Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes—drained and finely chopped, juices reserved

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, fennel and thyme and cook the vegetables over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and fennel are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the water and the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes. Discard the thyme.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot.

I imagine that you are all a lot cooler than me on Fridays (and probably in general).  What did you do this weekend?  And do you have today off?  I do!  Minnesota got a nasty snow storm yesterday so I am most likely going to be hanging out all day, maybe baking a thing or two and hanging with my kitty. 

Happy Monday!

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{Photo credits: Martha Stewart}

While sitting on the train on my way to work yesterday, I could barely turn the pages of the Bon Appetit magazine I was reading because my fingers were frozen. It’s damn cold in MN. Negative temperatures cold. Unbearably cold. And it’s not even “officially” winter yet. Wow.

Though there is little chance of warming up until March, I figure I could seek some reprieve in the kitchen with a Dutch oven and boiling, heart-warming soup. There is something really special about making (and eating) homemade soup, don’t you think?

Click for recipes:

French Onion Soup
Pureed Butternut Squash Soup
Sausage and Kale Soup
Chicken-Tortilla Soup
Borscht
Vegetable Soup

Stay warm!
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