When I was meal planning for Italian week I knew I wanted to make a soup because we were expecting a cold front that week. I’m weird in that I prefer to eat soup when it’s cold outside. Eating soup when it’s warm or hot outdoors makes me feel really gross because I feel like it heats my insides to match my outside and yes, I know it’s crazy, but that’s how I feel. And don’t even get me started on cold soups. I don’t care how many great cold soups there are out there and how you think I’m missing out, I don’t buy it. Soup should be hot. End of story. Well, my story, at least. If you want to incorporate cold soup into your story, go for it, you’re the author. I’ll just skip that chapter when I’m reading your book.

So anyway, we were expecting a cold front that would lower the temps into the thirties so I knew it was perfect soup weather! Googling “Italian soup” brought up a lot of what I’ve seen at Olive Garden or soups with sausage but I was craving something veggie so when I found the recipe for ribollita, I was really happy! Ribollita, which roughly translates to “reboiled,” is another peasant dish that originated in Tuscany. It’s main ingredients are leftover bread, cannellini beans, and kale; preferably you would use Tuscan bread and kale but, yeah, use what you can! It’s also best eaten after it’s been sitting out for a couple of days but I obviously didn’t go that route. I had some the next day for lunch and I don’t think it was any better than the night before. Probs because I didn’t use Tuscan anything…

Since I knew I’d need days old bread, it gave me an excuse to bake my favorite loaf of bread, an Italian crusty bread. I first made this bread about four years ago and I found the recipe on some survivalist website. Don’t ask why I was on that website…Anyway, I bookmarked the recipe on my phone and always meant to print it out but never did. Then I got a new phone and lost it! I searched and searched and couldn’t ever find the exact recipe I used before but I did find one that was pretty close and have used it since. I love this bread mostly because I don’t have to knead it. I HATE kneading bread because I have zero upper body strength and I’m impatient. Kneading bread requires both strength and patience. So yeah, no kneading but you do need time because it has to sit and proof for twelve to eighteen hours before you can bake it. The recipe I now use is a little tougher than the first one but it makes the bread perfect for soups. So I baked my bread about two days in advance and then got to soup making!

It doesn’t get any easier than this recipe but it is time consuming. Thankfully it doesn’t require much attention so much of the time spent is just letting the soup boil but if you’re looking for a quick fix, this is not the recipe for you. I didn’t include chard like the recipe suggested but I doubt it made a difference. I also added cheese to my soup because I read “This soup is traditionally served without Parmigiano-Reggiano” as PUT ALL THE CHEESE ON YOUR SOUP.

This soup was perfection! It was so very cold that day and this soup warmed up the house and us and we were all so happy after eating it! Yeah, the girls even ate this! The four year old pulled out every piece of kale and mostly ate the beans, bread, and carrots but she ate it and that’s what counts! It was a little creamy and I think that was due to the pureed beans and the soft potatoes. It had a slight buttery flavor which, again, I’m putting on the beans and maybe even the kale. The kale really softened up and lost all of its tough texture, which was nice. I will definitely make this again and if I am on a time crunch, I’m gonna buck tradition and use canned beans. I’m sorry but, c’mon, how often do I have four and a half hours to make dinner???

Recipe, Recipe


Shakshuka and Jerusalem Bagels

Sorry for the Instagram picture repeat. I typically try to upload different pics to my IG account from the ones I use on the blog but I guess I forgot to take one for the blog. My bad. In my defense,we were trying to wrangle the girls for breakfast while also trying to not knock our food off our tv trays. Up until yesterday, we were eating in the living room off tv trays because we got rid of our old dining set and were waiting on the new set to be delivered. Adding to the frustration, I decided to pull out the Persian rug that James’ stepdad gave us a few years ago. He got it in Iran(q?) over twenty years ago and gave it to us a few years ago when he and James’ mom were moving from San Antonio to Austin. We pulled it up when we decided to potty train the oldest because I did not want to hear “it” if she accidentally peed on an authentic Persian rug.  We were without a table for ten days and let me tell you, with two kids who still manage to get food everywhere, it was not a fun ten days. Having to pull out their play table and our tv trays and then watching what they dropped on the rug, it was annoying.

I know, I know, I lead such a hard life.

Shakshuka and Jerusalem bagels.

A few different people recommended shakshuka to me when they learned about my little project. All I was told was that it involved eggs, tomatoes, and it was really yummy. Reading up on it, I learned that the dish actually didn’t originate in Israel but in Tunisia. However, with the influx of Tunisian Jews in the 1950s, it quickly became a very popular dish in Israel. The recipe I used was from Smitten Kitten. I probably could have used a more authentic Israeli site but the recipe followed all the others I read and I really like Smitten Kitten.

The preparation was really easy and fast. Aside from the feta cheese, I think most people have the ingredients for this meal in their fridge and pantry so you could probably whip this up tonight. And yes, even though it does have eggs in it, you don’t necessarily have to eat it for breakfast; apparently it’s also eaten for dinner in Israel. In flavor, it reminded me of Huevos Rancheros because it’s basically the same thing! Huevos Rancheros obviously doesn’t have feta and uses cilantro instead of parsley but other than that, everything is the same. It was delicious though, I even went back for seconds of just the sauce. The baby ate the eggs and the oldest licked it and asked for crackers. Ugh, that kid…

That kid, annoying as she can be, was pretty helpful when it came to making the bagels. I chose Jerusalem bagels because they are baked, not boiled. For some reason the idea of boiling bread intimidates me, probably because it involves a bit more attention than just chunking something in the oven. The recipe I used was about as straight forward as can be so it made the whole process a less daunting. It took about two hours total but a lot of that time involved the dough rising.

At first the baby was helping me roll out the dough but when the oldest saw she was having fun, the baby got kicked out of the kitchen. I didn’t really mind, she was trying to eat the raw dough and I was getting tired of pulling out wet, sticky dough out of her mouth. Although, when I was cutting the dough into six balls and saw she needed to be entertained, I gave her a bit of dough and showed her how to roll it in her palm. I had a flashback to “helping” my grandmother make tortillas and her giving me my own ball of dough tokeep me out of the way. Thank you for showing me the way, Grandma Lupe.

Anyway, these bagels are hayooge! I am not exaggerating when I say they are as big as my head. They’re also tricky. At first bite, they seem really light so you end up eating an entire bagel. Ten minutes later, your stomach feels like it’s expanded by a few inches and you have problems buttoning your pants. We had a birthday party later that day and even three hours AFTER eating the bagels, we were penguin walking down Rainey Street from being so bloated from the bagels. I actually gave the birthday girl a bagel because I figured it would be a great way to soak up booze after an afternoon of day drinking. Aside from the bagel bloat, they were good. They were sweeter than traditional bagels but, duh, they’re sprinkled with sugar so that was expected.

Out of the three meals we had for Israeli week, I think this was my favorite. Yeah, it was even better than the shawarma. It was kinda like a comfort food and I just loved the ease of the entire meal. I love easy.

Because, like I said earlier, my life is so, so hard.

Black Bread

I normally post the recipes and then work on my blog post but this time, the recipe ended up being both. The experience making the bread was that entertaining. At least for me. Hop on over and read about it.