Classic Minestrone

This is nothing more comforting on a rainy, mid-February Monday than a bowl of steamy Minestrone. It’s the vegetarian’s chicken soup.

From the cook’s perspective this soup is made for a kitchen clean-out. You can vary the ingredient list depending on what you fine languishing in the crisper: kale, cabbage, chard, parsnips, turnips, celery root — you name it, practically anything will land happily in the pot.

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With loads of leafy greens in our winter garden, we’re constantly searching for creative ways to incorporate them into our meals. Look no further than Colcannon — creamy comfort in every forkful, just made for the dreary, mid-winter evening. This traditional Irish mashed potato dish is dressed up with fresh kale or cabbage and leeks (that onion cousin that looks like a giant scallion). In most recipes the ingredients are boiled then mixed together with all sorts of good stuff like butter and cream. We like to sauté the greens and leeks in the butter instead of boiling them — it adds an extra level of flavor.

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Carrot Leek Soup

Over the years, I’ve discovered a sneaky way to get all sorts of vegetables into my kids: a bowl of soup. What makes soup so universally appealing? Perhaps it’s the intoxicating aroma that permeates every corner of the house when a pot of soup simmers on the stove—or maybe it’s the buttery potato chunks that are often involved. I don’t ask questions, I just stir up enormous, steaming potfuls as often as possible. The leftovers keep well in the fridge and freezer for school lunches or an easy dinner when time’s in short supply.

Use the sweetest carrots for this soup—or add a tiny bit of honey to taste, if you like.

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White Bean Spread with Leeks

This is a favorite in our household (especially with the head cook when she’s had a hectic day and needs a truly simple menu). We often enjoy this spread on toasted crusty bread accompanied by a bowl of hot soup.


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek (2 medium), white and lightest green parts, carefully rinsed to remove any grit, and thinly sliced cross-wise
  • 3-4 generous cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans white beans, well rinsed and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste


  1. Warm oil in a medium-sized skillet, over medium heat. Add leek and garlic and sauté until leek is very soft (about 5 minutes). Stir frequently to prevent the leek from turning brown or crisp.
  2. Add beans and about ¼ cup (or more) water. Stir and simmer gently over low heat until beans become soft and a bit squishy. Add some salt and pepper to taste after about 5 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and mash the beans with a wooden spoon until partially smooth, or use a handheld immersion blender and partially blend. Leave some beans whole or partially intact so the spread has texture.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice on top, to taste and stir to mix. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

This classic soup gets an modern reworking and deeper flavors from roasted potatoes. You’ll love it.

Leeks are notorious for harboring sandy grit from the farm field.  To clean, lop off the tough, dark green tops, then slice the entire leek in half lengthwise (white and lighter green parts).  Fan out layers and rinse under running water, until all the dirt is removed.

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