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Hamburger Soup: Redux

When I talked to my mom over the weekend, she said they had a cold snap back in Pennsylvania and that she was planning to make Hamburger Soup – a dish that immediately takes me back to my childhood. There’s something that seems a little low-brow about it, but I can’t figure out why; all the ingredients are pretty standard healthy, whole foods. I guess it is because it’s simple and you can throw it together in a snap, but aren’t so many great recipes like that? There’s absolutely no trick to this soup and it never fails to make me happy.

I made a few minor upgrades from mom’s version: ground chicken/turkey instead of beef, fresh vegetables wherever possible (instead of canned or frozen), and chicken stock instead of plain water. Feel free to add seasonings as you like – I use some dried oregano and basil, but I think paprika, a little chili powder and any seasoning salt blends you like would be welcome here. Think of how you want your perfect vegetable soup to taste and go with that inspiration.

In my opinion, this is the perfect soup to transition from summer to autumn. Make extra; it always tastes better after sitting in the fridge overnight.

Heat 2-3 TBSPs of olive oil over medium-high heat in a big soup pot until shimmering, but not smoking. Add 1 pound of ground chicken, turkey, or beef and cook/stir until brown an crumbly. Add 1 medium onion, diced; 2 medium carrots, diced; and 3 stalks of celery, diced. Stir to combine, season generously with salt, and saute until vegetables begin to soften. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste, along with any herbs/seasonings you like. Next, add a large can of diced tomatoes, along with all the liquid, and 4+ cups of chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (homemade, if possible); just add enough to bring it up to “soup” consistency. Again, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. At this point, I add fresh or frozen corn and lima beans because that’s what my mom always did, but you can add any vegetables you like. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or longer, if you aren’t in a rush. This is the kind of soup that I tend to let sit out on the stove for awhile to cool after I eat, but I always go back for a second (or third) helping.


Hey, there. I think I am back.

I know it’s been awhile, but I think I am ready to come back. The last few years have been a bit of a whirlwind of changes for me and there’s been a deep, deep lull in my creative output; well, at least in comparison to where I was when I was blogging so much.

But don’t get me wrong. I still love food. Maybe even more now than ever. But it’s just a different kind of love.

This new chapter in Shallots Web is exciting because, well, I have no idea where it will lead. All I know right now is that is starts here. Thinking ahead, though, here are some thoughts about how I hope to turn the page:

  • In the months and, with any luck, the years to come, I hope to bring on guest cooks, writers, and friends to share their culinary adventures, memorable food experiences, and any inspiration that keeps them coming back to the kitchen. I’ll do my best to do the same.
  • I have a new camera, so let’s hope I can manage to use it properly and provide some fancy new images for your eyes to feast upon.
  • Finally, I may end up abandoning recipes; I don’t feel that I am very good at writing them, and I like to write the way that I cook – a little of this and a little of that, edit along the way, assess the final presentation, and then enjoy. If anyone out there truly wants to see measurements and steps and directions, I will most certainly oblige – but I hate the thought of writing down something that no one will ever make.

As a sort of final punctuation, I encourage your feedback. I love hearing from anyone who isn’t a spam robot or who wants me to send them money or check out some new computer virus. I love genuine human beings who love to cook, love to eat, and enjoy the company of the same. Here’s to the next chapter.



Brussels Sprout Salad


Believe it or not, it was the food from Lollapalooza that inspired me to make this salad. I had a version of this dish from the Franks n’ Dawgs stall that was one of the best things I ate all summer. As a born-again sprout lover (like most kids, I hated them), I am always up for inventive ways of utilizing this ingredient, and this one really delivers. The uncooked sprouts lend a great texture to the dish, and I think you can certainly play around with the dressing. I used a more vinegar-based version than the one I ate at Lolla, so I say go with what you like best. Not sure I’d want to shave the sprouts with a knife (I don’t trust my knife skills), so I used a  cheap ceramic mandoline slicer and the work was done in no time.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
About 20 small-medium sized Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced on a mandoline
2-3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced on a mandoline
1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons of white wine or cider vinegar (or to taste)
1 generous pinch of Kosher salt
A few grinds of fresh white or black pepper
A few good splashes of olive oil

Mix to combine and coat the vegetables with the dressing. This can be done up to a day in advance, and you can use a creamy dressing similar to one you might use for coleslaw – the flavor profiles of cabbage and sprouts are very similar.

To serve, I topped with toasted shaved almonds and shavings of Parmesan cheese.