home away from home soup

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Today has been one of those rare perfect days. 

I’m writing this from a picnic table in front of an old stone farmhouse in the Portuguese countryside. There’s a flawless blue sky overhead and a lazy breeze rocking the eucalyptus trees nearby. This morning, Beau and I walked to the beach where we watched the comings and goings of a flock of seagulls and listened to the waves roar in.

Later, we hopped in our rented station wagon and bobbed over country roads flanked by groves of cork oak trees. Our destination: a little restaurant housed in an old schoolhouse where we ordered a pile of fried fish and a bottle of crisp vinho verde to wash them down. Back at our guesthouse, I spent the afternoon lazing by the pool reading magazines and floating in and out of a delicious sleep. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It’s days like today that keep me yearning to travel. To discover more serene beaches and locals-only restaurants nestled along country roads. 

But of course, travel is not always as idyllic as this sun-kissed day in the Portuguese countryside. I’ve been on the road for over three weeks now and it’s had its inevitable ups and downs. In Paris, I led a culinary tour with my friend Rachael that was fantastic. And exhilarating. And a lot of work. Navigating a group of ten through Paris traffic is not exactly a walk in the park. And pinning down tour logistics with the maddeningly noncommittal French has it’s own set of unique challenges. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

As soon as the tour ended, Beau and I headed to Porto and Lisbon to explore, see friends and do research for my next Portugal tour. Until today, this trip has been a whirlwind of seeing and doing and eating and trekking through different cities. Somewhere along the way, I started to feel pretty frazzled. There’s something about being away from the rituals of home, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, eating strange foods, navigating foreign languages, that leaves me a little unmoored. A few days after we arrived in Portugal, I started waking up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented and anxious and longing to book the next flight home.

Luckily, I know what to do when I feel the travel blues coming on. I make this soup.

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It is decidedly un-fancy. A few humble vegetables cooked together in a bit of water to make a savory broth with some chicken and/or sausage thrown in for good measure. It’s restorative powers lie in this simplicity. After days (or weeks) of rich fare and exotic ingredients, it’s exactly what I want to eat.

I first made this soup a couple years ago while staying at an Airbnb rental in Paris. I’d just finished leading a culinary tour and couldn’t imagine eating one more eclair or croissant or charcuterie plate. I stopped in at the corner market beneath my apartment and threw this together with what I found there. A bowl of this simple, homey soup cured my malaise. Now it’s my go-to remedy when I’m traveling and feeling out of sorts. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Of course, you don’t need to be in a foreign country or fed up with French food to enjoy this soup. It will right your ship on a grey fall day or chill winter night. For me, this home-away-from-home soup (as I like to think of it) is a touchstone of sorts. A small ritual that anchors me when everything around me feels foreign. A brothy comfort that restores body and soul as only a warm bowl of homemade soup can.


Home Away From Home Soup with Cabbage, Kuri Squash, Linguiça and Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil + additional for drizzling
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • Sea salt
  • ½ medium head savoy or green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 medium kuri or kabocha squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 small turnips, tops and tails removed and cut into ½-inch thick wedges
  • 6 medium tomatoes or 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes (drained), roughly chopped
  • 6 oz linguiça or Portuguese-style cured chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken

*Note: Pretty much everything in this soup is optional or adaptable. If you don’t have a leek, use a small onion. If you don’t like cabbage, use kale or another green you prefer. Sub potatoes for turnips if you want. Leave out the chicken and sausage (and maybe add a small handful of green lentils) for a vegan version. The version here is the one I first made and the one I always come back to. But feel free to experiment and make this soup your own.

- This was the first time I added sausage to the soup. In the past I've always made it with chicken. But since we're in Portugal, I threw in some sliced linguiça we had in the fridge. I think the smokiness of the sausage adds delicious depth of flavor the soup. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and a sprinkle of salt and cook for a few minutes until the leek is starting to get soft. Add the cabbage, squash, turnips, tomatoes and sausage along with 4 cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the red pepper and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes or so. 

Add another cup or two of water if you like your soup on the brothy side like I do. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Continue to cook the soup until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. Sometimes I like them tender-crisp (this yields a prettier soup) and sometimes I like them super-soft (which is not as bright in color, but more comforting somehow).

Serve soup hot with a nice drizzle of olive oil over the top.

Makes 4-6 servings.

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley

Hello!

I’m writing to you today from one of my favorite Paris coffee shops. I’m a little loopy from jet lag and an unsuccessful attempt to drug myself to sleep with cold medicine last night. And coffee. Lots of coffee! (In retrospect, I can see this maybe wasn't my best plan ever.)

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley on millys-kitchen.com

Anyhoo. I’m just popping in with a quick recipe for you today. I don’t know what it’s like where you live but it’s hot as satan’s attic here in Paris. I was a little sad to be leaving summer behind when I boarded my flight in Seattle last Sunday. But my fears were unfounded--summer has accompanied me across the Atlantic and is still in full swing. 

So. I have another easy-peasy summertime recipe for you this week: Grilled Zucchini with Ricotta, Honey and Toasted Barley. 

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley on millys-kitchen.com

You might recognize this from my post on the pop-up dinner I hosted with my friend Kyle a few weeks ago. This was my favorite dish of the night. It’s fitting that I’m sending it to you from Paris since it’s my adaptation of an amazing dish I had here at Au Passage last May. The beauty of this dish--like everything served at Au Passage--lies in its simplicity and first-rate, seasonal ingredients. And it hits all the right summer notes with its smoky grilled squash, creamy ricotta, chile-spiked honey and nutty toasted barley. (Whatever you do, promise me you won’t skip the barley! It makes the dish.)

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley on millys-kitchen.com

Alright. I’m off to wander the streets of Paris in an over-medicated, over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived daze. It should be an interesting day!

I’ll be back soon with some of my favorite things to do and see here in Paris. XO!

Olaiya

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley on millys-kitchen.com

Grilled Zucchini with Ricotta, Honey and Toasted Barley

  • ½ cup hulled barley (not pearl barley)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 6-8 small pattypan squash, halved (yellow summer squash works, too)
  • 3 cups best-quality ricotta
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
  • Juice from ½ a small lemon
  • ¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves

*Note: The toasted barley and aleppo honey can be made several hours in advance. 

grilled zucchini with ricotta, honey and toasted barley on millys-kitchen.com

Place the barley in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water to remove the excess starch. Place in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Drain the barley and place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Toss it with olive oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast, stirring often, until the barley is golden and crunchy, 25-30 minutes. To determine if the barley is done, take a grain out and taste it; you want it to be crunchy like a partially-popped grain of popcorn. It will seem like the barley is never going to cook through, then in the last few minutes of roasting, it turns crunchy and delicious. So watch it carefully. Set aside to cool. 

While the barley is roasting, make the aleppo honey: Place the honey and aleppo in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the honey has loosened, 1-2 minutes.

Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Place the halved squash in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil to coat and salt generously. Cook the squash, turning as needed until it has nice char marks, and has softened a bit. The exact time will vary depending on the size of your squash, but 5 minutes is a good starting point. The pattypan squash will take a little longer than the zucchini. You want the squash to remain firm, so be sure not to overcook it. Set aside to cool slightly.

To assemble, cut the zucchini on the bias into 2-3 inch pieces. spread the ricotta onto a serving platter and salt lightly. Arrange the squash over the ricotta. Salt lightly and squeeze a little lemon juice over the squash. Drizzle with some of the honey and sprinkle with the barley. Tear the mint leaves if large and scatter them over the top before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings. 

the high noon: golden watermelon, ginger, basil + tequila

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I just got home from 5 days spent camping on Orcas Island with my mom.

I briefly thought about just posting the outdoorsy, pacific-northwest-perfect highlight reel of our trip: sleeping under a twinkling night sky, hiking along crystalline mountain lakes and watching baby harbor seals frolic in the bay. (True story.)

But in the spirit of realness I try to bring to this blog each week, I figured I should also tell you how I arrived on the island so tired and tense that I promptly got in a mega-argument with my mom, during which I behaved like a total ass! And how for the first two days, I felt an overpowering urge to check my phone despite the complete lack of signal at our campsite. I kept reaching for my back pocket and my useless phone--a digital phantom limb that refused to stop itching. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I should also probably disclose how at the soaking tubs perched above a peaceful, wooded cove, I listened to a group of twenty-somethings drone on about the hipness of their lives and how “tight” Copenhagen is until I wanted to rip my own ears off. When their conversation turned to spontaneous human combustion, I decided I couldn’t take it any longer and proceeded to lecture them on the finer points of spa etiquette like a deranged schoolmarm. (I fully expect to look back on that day as the line demarcating the beginning of my old age.)

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

But the good news, and the point of this post, is that I eventually I stopped checking my phone and wanting to argue with my mom over nothing and lecturing millennials for not properly appreciating the glory of the Pacific Northwest landscape. And when I did, I found myself able to slip into the easy, camp-side spirit I’d been craving.

I was thrilled to be dressed in my coziest clothing. I skipped wearing makeup and didn’t attempt to corral my curls into any sort of order. I swam and picnicked and played cards. Mom and I explored the villages on the island. We bought tomatoes and tiny, sweet peaches at the farmers market. We watched the full moon rise and set over the bay. 

At the 11th hour, one week before I pack my bags and head back to Europe to lead another culinary tour, I found my way to that carefree, summer state of mind. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’ve created this cocktail to help you reach the same state of summertime nirvana. It’s called The High Noon, both for it’s sunny color and to evoke the pleasure of basking in the August sunshine. It’s origins are accidental: I was trying to buy a regular old red watermelon to make cocktails for my pop-up dinner earlier this month and discovered I’d brought home a golden watermelon instead. When I saw that Sherrie from With Food + Love was organizing another #drinkthesummer event this year, I knew my contribution would involve that gorgeous yellow melon!

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I know I posted a salted watermelon cocktail last year. But I can’t help it--salty watermelon is one of my favorite summer flavors! So I’m back with a cocktail featuring watermelon, a ginger-basil simple syrup, a splash of tequila and a chile-salt rim to keep things interesting. It’s sweet, sour, tangy and a little spicy. Just like summer.


golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’m thrilled to be part of the #drinkthesummer event! I loved tinkering in the kitchen to create this cocktail recipe. But I’m even more excited to try out some of the other recipes created by the bloggers participating this year! 

Here is a list of all the summer party people. Check out their seasonal cocktails and mocktails--hopefully you’ll find a new favorite blogger or two to follow! 

Boozy
With Food + Love | Basil Fig Smash
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum's Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Downshiftology | Limoncello Prosecco with Blueberries and Thyme
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler

Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
The Green Life | Spiced Plum, Fig & Kombucha Cocktail
Hummingbird High | Watermelon and Mint Agua Fresca
Floating Kitchen | Peach Sun Tea and Bourbon Cocktail
Beard and Bonnet | Melon Mojito

EGD | Backyard Peach Sweet Tea
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil and Black Pepper Gin Sour
Vegetarian Ventures | Garden Tonic Punch
Nosh and Nourish | Mango Margaritas with Chile Lime Salted Rims
Domesticate ME! | Watermelon-Basil Mezcal Margarita

The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
my name is yeh | Choose Your Own Adventure Bloody Marys
Sevengrams | Cucumber, Gin and Chartreuse Cocktail
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin and Tonic
Eat Boutique | Sbagliatos and Homemade Sweet Vermouth

Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Pina Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeño Watermelon Cooler
HonestlyYUM | Watermelon, Fresh Herbs, & Sotol Cocktail
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey

Salted Plains | Frozen Honeydew Daiquiris
The Broken Bread | Honeydew-Ginger Apricot Mojitos
Fix Feast Flair | Ginger-Berry Splash Cocktail
Turntable Kitchen | Summer Cooler Cocktails, Two Ways
Foolproof Living | Blueberry, Dark Cherry and Calvados Cocktail
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush

 

Non-Boozy
Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
TENDING the TABLE | Raspberry and Fig Hibiscus Cooler
Snixy Kitchen | Lavender Earl Gray Blackberry Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
The Bojon Gourmet | Vanilla Rooibos Peach Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
Gratitude and Greens | Hong Kong Style Crushed Watermelon Ice 

My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Bean, Plum Shrub
Feed Me Phoebe | Watermelon-Cucumber Kombucha Coolers
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda

dolly and oatmeal | Cold-Brewed Shiso & Hibiscus Tea Iced Latte
happy hearted kitchen | Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Fennel, Orange + Cardamom
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Tasty Yummies | Fig Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Let's talk evergreen | Iced Earl Grey Yuanyang With a Hint of Rose

Kale & Caramel | Emerald Beaut Green Spritzer
Earthy Feast | Watermelon Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Now, Forager | Sparkling Plumcot and Purple Basil Shrubs
The Pig & Quill | Brown Sugar Blueberry Pie Shakes
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea

Sweetish Co | The Best Frozen Hot Chocolate
holly & flora | Spiced Pineapple Shrub Sparklers with Black Tea + Coconut
Pure Ella | Fresh Mint Tea

A huge thanks to Sherrie from With Food + Love for organizing. Now jump on into this virtual cocktail party and shake up some seasonal, boozy (and non-boozy!) goodness. Drink responsibly and #drinkthesummer!


golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

Golden Watermelon Cocktails with Ginger, Basil + Tequila

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
  • ½ cup loosely-packed basil leaves
  • ¼ to ½ small seedless golden watermelon (or red watermelon)
  • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chile flakes (I used Portuguese piri piri)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup silver tequila
  • 4 small stems fresh basil, to garnish

*Notes: Unless you plan to make a lot of these cocktails, you’ll have some simple syrup left over. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about a month. Use leftover syrup to flavor lemonade, in sorbet and popsicles, or stir a little bit into a fruit salad to kick it up a notch.

- Straining the watermelon is optional. It makes for a clearer cocktail, but you can skip this step if you like.

- The watermelon juice will keep, covered, in the fridge for 4-5 days.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

First, make the ginger-basil simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, ginger and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Set aside to steep for at least 30 minutes. Pour the simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to get out as much liquid as possible. Discard basil and ginger and set syrup aside to cool completely. 

While the syrup is cooling, make the watermelon juice. Cut the rind from the watermelon and cut it into chunks. Puree in a food processor or blender then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Do not press on the solids with a spoon or you’ll force them through the sieve. Repeat until you have 1 ¼ cups strained watermelon juice.

Next, stir the salt and chile together in a small bowl and set aside.

To assemble the cocktail: Pour some of the honey simple syrup into a small, shallow bowl or a small plate with a lip. Transfer the salt to a similar plate. Dip the rim of 4 8-oz cocktail glasses into the simple syrup then place the rims the glasses in the chile salt and turn to coat evenly. Set aside

Shake the golden watermelon juice, ¼ cup of the simple syrup, the lime juice and the tequila over ice for 30 seconds (you will need to do this in 2 batches unless you have a large shaker). Strain into the prepared glasses. Top with ice to fill the glasses. Garnish with the basil and serve.

Makes 4 cocktails.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com