Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The final soup

For the final day of Eat More Soup Month, I ended up at Mimi's Cafe for some Vegetarian Vegetable. It was one of the prettiest little setups and you get a bread basket at the table... very nice.

The soup comes loaded with vegetables-- more vegetables than Jason's and a different variety. There was corn, potatoes and pieces of tomato in this soup-- which was all very nice-- but I missed the barley and that subtle celery flavor. So Jason's Deli Vegetarian Vegetable remains my find of the month.

So it's been a great month. I ate a lot more restaurant soup than I expected. That relates to my biggest "aha"-- that eating out can be very cheap but still filling-- and lots of fun-- if you focus on the soup.

I'm not sure what comes next, but I think I may take a few days off from soup. Maybe. I'll be interested to see how soon I crave it again.

Thanks to everyone who followed along. I'm thinking this blog may morph into something else, but I haven't figured out what yet. But for now, for soup, that's the end of the last one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The stock market may be my ticket to success

That's what the fortune cookie that came after the penultimate EaMoSuMo bowl of soup said. Emma and I went to Red Bowl .

Well, we sort of snuck there. Ron had to work hockey. Don't tell him we went without him!

I had chicken Tom Ka Kai soup-- a coconut ginger soup. It doesn't photograph well because both the chicken and coconut milk are white. It has the same problem the potato soups have that way, but this is a lighter and more flavorful soup.

Besides the coconut and ginger, there's another flavor there-- something tangy like vinegar. I'll have to research recipes and find out what that is. Whatever it is, I loved it. There were also some very lightly cooked slivers of red pepper and onion in there that were delicious.

I'll give it three spoons for love and comfort. I enjoyed it a lot. I'll say two spoons for nutrition. It had a lot of lean chicken in it-- so it gets points for protein, but coconut milk is a high fat ingredient-- and a little googling tells me that the nutritional value of coconut milk is up for debate. It didn't taste as rich as whole milk in this soup, but apparently some coconut milk is. This bowl of soup cost me $3.25.

Emma had the sesame chicken and I only stole a little. Seriously. Just a little. It was also something special. We'll be back-- they have six more soups to try!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wherein Mary plays with her food and makes embarrassing noises at Hibernian.

Emma and I stopped by Hibernian for what was supposed to be a late-lunch/mid-afternoon snack, but it was so peaceful there and the food was so yummy that we ended up hanging out until after dark and so it became dinner.

She had a codwich and I had a cup of Potato Leek soup. The soup was creamy and full of leeks and cubed potatoes, topped with cheese and bits of bacon. It was lovely and nicely presented with a slice of rustic bread.

Then we tried the curry chips.
A generous plate of "chips" came with a cup of yellow curry. The curry tasted a lot like Massaman Curry, which is just about my favorite thing in the whole wide world. So I was making the yummy noise with every bite. Emma would have been embarrassed if anyone had been around, but they let us sit at a big private table in the back. Thank goodness.
I ended up cutting the chips into pieces and filling the curry sauce-- Potato Curry Soup!

I give both soups 4 spoons for comfort. I don't think they bring much to recommend them nutritionally, but sometimes you've just got to have the comfort. Hey, the cups were small! And the setting is just-- wonderful-- good for the soul. The soup was $4 and the curry chips were $6.

Sorry for the phone pictures-- my camera died.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

With three days to go, I decide to stick with a classic

Today it was time for the other new tomato soup-- the Harvest Orange Tomato. To me this soup tastes closer to regular Campbell's Tomato.

I ate the entire bowl and enjoyed it-- I didn't make it through the entire bowl of Sun-Ripened Yellow.

It's slightly sweeter than plain tomato soup, but not distractingly so. I didn't taste the herbs that the label says are in there-- garlic, rosemary and sage.

I think the labels are very pretty and they're low calorie, low sodium (relative to other soups), low fat soups, so you can't really lose.

I had just hoped to find something new and exciting for tomato soup lovers like me. Given the choice between traditional tomato soup and these, I'd stick with the old dependable.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Four days to go and it's back to Jason's Deli

I was the only one at work today and so I got all caught up with the stuff I needed to do to close out period 11 on Monday. ALL caught up. And I was way behind. November has been kinda nuts really.

So I rewarded myself with another sampling from Jason's Deli-- Southwestern Chicken Chili this time. It's not a green chili, but was heavily flavored with green chile. Also cilantro and jalapeno. And it's chock full of chicken. It's a tasty soup, but I'm afraid I prefer my chili beefy.

Those are blue corn tortillas crumbled on top. It came like that, which struck me as odd. It tasted good, but just seems like it should be a do-it-yourself topping-- particularly for carryout soup.

Their website reports that this cup of soup has 116 calories with 4 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. If you do the math, that clocks in at 128 calories, but either way-- it has the best nutritional profile of any soup I've had so far. And I was full. It also comes very close to the target "zone" on the Zone Diet.

So I'm going to give it five spoons for nutrition-- because I've given lesser soups four-- it gets an A+. And two spoons for comfort and love. It's highly flavored and very filling, but it just doesn't say chili to me. I'm probably being narrow minded :) but there you have it.

I paid $3.59 for this cup of soup. It's under the premium soups with their beef chili, gumbo, beef stew, and chicken pot pie (soup?). I think it's worth it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My sister has a can of soup on her head

So she brought me two cans of Sun-Ripened Yellow Tomato Soup and two cans of Harvest Orange Tomato Soup. She also bought some for them to try at her house.

Her boyfriend, Brandon, reported that the yellow just tasted like regular tomato soup and that the orange tastes like Chef Boyardee.
I have only tried the yellow so far and I found it to be very sweet-- like a cross between butternut squash and tomato. I tried adding pepper-- my favorite addition to canned tomato soup-- but in this soup it didn't work at all.

It has a nice consistency though-- smooth like regular tomato soup. The yellow soup label lists parsley, cilantro and thyme, but I didn't taste them. The orange soup lists garlic, rosemary and sage-- which makes sense if the soup has an italian flavor. I'll try it soon.

We're afraid these soups aren't selling very well-- she bought these on sale for $1 a can (2.5 servings). They list 100 calories and 480mg of sodium per serving-- like regular tomato, the lowest of the soups I've had so far. They're all also very high in potassium (helps regulate blood pressure) and vitamin C, so I'll give them 3 nutrition spoons, but only 1 love and comfort spoon. I think it's hard anytime they change a beloved product just a little but not much-- it just ends up tasting off.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not my cup of... soup

Tonight was another journey into the unknown... McAlister's Deli at North Hills.

The only think that sounded interesting at all (in a good way I mean-- Cheese Bisque was also... otherwise... intriguing) was Chicken and Dumplings, but in this case it turned out to be the southern stew rather than a soup.

That qualifies under the terms of my challenge, but not so much so to my tastes.

It is thick floury noodles with chunks of chicken in chicken gravy. I liked Campbell's Chicken and Dumpling Soup much better, but it's a matter of individual tastes I'm sure. If your Grandma made you chicken and dumplings for Sunday dinner while you were growing up, I'm sure this would have been a little bowl of heaven. But not for me.

I also think it's a nutritional wasteland-- except for some protein from the chicken. I'll give it one spoon for the protein and that's it. I understand you might give it comfort points, but that's always been the case with each and every soup. This one is just not my cuppa.

Tomorrow we'll try some exotic tomato soups my sister found in Jacksonville-- probably for a snack long after turkey. I've been told I'm not allowed to make turkey soup-- my mother apparently has other plans for the leftovers, but we shall see.

When my parents lived in Texas and I made my own little Thanksgiving for just the three of us, I always made soup from the carcass. Or at least stock. And we always got tired of it before we ate it all.

Maybe I'll just steal a little something to make a few bowls while she's not looking.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to my go-to for to-go soup

I had to take off for a bit today and go run Emma around-- from school and to the movies. I thought we were going to have to deliver some stuff to the house too, but she came up with a great solution and suddenly I had a little time to find something to eat. (Things are nuts at work since we're losing a day.)

So we stopped by my new favorite go-to for soup-- Jason's Deli-- and got their Tomato Basil. It's completely different than regular tomato soup. It has pieces of tomato in there and there's a complex cheesiness to it.

It has melted cheese on top (mozzarella? fontina? not sure-- Oh, the website says asiago) but also parmesan in the soup itself (edit: the website claims not... then the asiago permeates this soup.) So it's a sort of a rich Italian soup. It's very satisfying, but rather salty, and doesn't hold a candle to their Vegetable Soup, in my opinion. And they were sold out of the Vegetable-- if that's any indication.

I paid $2.59 for this bowl of soup-- which came with crackers and mints. I wish they didn't charge so much ($7) for delivery-- I think I could talk my co-workers into ordering there fairly often. We've found nowhere else that delivers soup.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The one that came highly recommended

So I finally had Panera's famous Broccoli Cheddar and it's famous for a reason. It's delicious. It's a light cheese soup-- not "lite"-- just not heavy like a cheese sauce.

And it had nicer pieces of broccoli than I expected. It's a cream soup with pieces of broccoli and cheddar cheese in it, but not a cream of broccoli or a cheese soup. It really surprised me. It's very good soup. Thanks, Brenda, for the great recommendation! I should have known... coming from you... :)

So I paid $3.79 for this cup of soup. It came with a nice hunk of bread. The Panera at North Hills lists the calorie counts of their soups up on the wall. They had 180 calories listed for the cup of this soup. I find that hard to believe-- it's a cream soup plus cheese and very filling. But I don't think they're allowed to fib about stuff like that-- so there you go.

I give it 4 soups for love and comfort and 3 spoons for nutrition.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tale of Two Chilis

My mother made chili tonight and I couldn't help but compare it to Ron's. They're both good chili, but completely different.

My mother uses a McCormick's Chili Seasoning packet. The first ingredient listed is chili pepper. I think it must be smoked chili pepper because the chili ends up with a distinctly smoky flavor. Or maybe there's smoked paprika in there.

It's also a thicker chili than Ron's-- probably because of the liquid that comes along with the jarred peppers he uses. Otherwise, the ingredients are similar-- ground beef, canned tomatoes, canned kidney beans.

Her sweet peppers (red and green) and onion are diced much finer-- but then I make him cut his the way he does :).

To me, my mother's chili tastes like my childhood and the Midwest. 8 spoons.

I need to find something completely different next week. I can't believe there's only nine days left.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Returning to a new favorite

Emma's at her final performance, which should be starting right about now, and then the cast party. I came in to the office to finish up a few things and play trivia with Ana on irc because Ron and I were driving each other crazy at home :).

But then as soon as *I* got out of the house, he started running around town doing errands, so I made him run into Jason's Deli and get me some Vegetarian Vegetable.

It is just as good the second time-- even though the picture isn't. I didn't even bother to look at the few pictures I took before I inhaled the soup or I would have taken a better one, but I was feeling kinda puny and now I feel a lot better.

So there you go. It's a peppery little soup and I think now that the celery flavor comes from celery salt. I remember when I first started cooking it seemed like every recipe had celery salt in it, but I don't see it so much anymore.

The earlier (and prettier) review of this soup is here .

We seem to have a theme here.

Tonight the whole family went to the play and so went to eat after. I did eat the soup before midnight, so I'm just posting late.

The last few years Grandma has been taking us to Applebees after concerts, etc, so that's where we went.

I had the choice of Tomato Basil or French Onion. I picked French Onion because I had tomato basil equivalent last night. I shouldn't have.

The cheese was rubbery and much too thick for the amount of soup that was under it. And under it was sort of an onion marmalade. I got maybe halfway through.

My advice so far would be... for French Onion soup go to Red Robin. But Emma loved her ribs and Ron loved his pulled pork wonton tacos (Huh?!)

The play closes tomorrow. I liked it more the second time through, but I'm glad it's almost over-- this week has been nuts.

Meanwhile, here's Ron's forehead for your viewing pleasure. Sleep tight.

Update next day-- 0 spoons. This soup killed any craving I had for cheesy soups of any sort. The soup cost $2.99.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When is tortellini not tortellini?

The play went very well but ran longer than we expected. We didn't eat before, so Emma and I headed to Gypsy's Shiny Diner to get something quick so we could sleep. It's been one of our mother-daughter places since she was little enough to dance in the aisle along to tunes from the vintage jukebox.

I had what they called Tomato Tortellini-- but it had no tortellini in it. It was tomato soup with basil and shell pasta. And it tasted so good. I think I've now passed over from getting tired of soup to actually NEEDING soup to feel good.

Wait. Is that the definition of an addiction?

I'll think about that tomorrow. Now that there's warm soup in my belly, I can barely keep my eyes open. I paid $2.69 for this cup of soup. 3 spoons for comfort and 2 for nutrition. Sleep tight.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The show... and the soup... must go on!

Emma's play opens tomorrow and she was suffering from some related anxiety, so I took her out by herself for dinner at Red Robin. She had one of their famous burgers and I had a cup of french onion soup. And it was good. Too good. Cheesy good.
The broth was nice and beefy and full of sweet onions. A solid layer of melted cheese was suspended on a dense crouton. It's such a rich and flavorful soup, the cup is the perfect size.

I had my favorite raspberry limeade, but suddenly the restaurant was freezing, so ended up with a coffee as well.

Red Robin now serves cupcakes! We shared a "Freckled" Strawberry Lemonade cupcake. It was a nice treat. They also have vanilla and chocolate.

I can't get their nifty online nutrition tool to work on my mini laptop, but Livestrong.com lists the cup portion of this soup as having 188 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 15 of carbs... which all sounds good. And then it says 0 mg of sodium, which says to me that it's too high to admit to :). I'll find out for sure tomorrow.

So I'd give it 4 spoons for comfort-- the cup size keeps the guilt away. I like that the cheese brings some protein to the party, but I'm certain there's too much salt to give it spoons for that-- this is salty soup and soup is already salty food. So zero spoons for nutrition.

I paid $2.99 for this cup of soup. The cupcake was $1.99 and on the small side-- we should have gotten two. But the company was great!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The world out there is full of soup.

I had errands to run and vacation time to burn, so I took today off to run around town and almost did a soup three-peat.

First of all I slept late. But that was a given. Then I went to renew my driver's license. It only just expired in August, so that was pretty good.

Since I slept so late and hadn't eaten breakfast, I had an eye out and found myself near that Bruegger's again.

I did not get soup this time-- although that would have been soup #1 out of 3 if I had. I needed something faster than that, that I could eat in the car on the way to the DMV. Note to Emma: Do NOT eat while you're driving. It is bad and dangerous.

So I got a bagel with turkey and mustard and a tea... and it was $9! Maybe I've gotten spoiled eating soup, but that seemed like a lot for lunch.

I mean I can get a plain turkey sandwich delivered from Jimmy Johns for $4. Or $5 with stuff on it. Maybe December will be Eat More Sandwiches Month.

But anyway-- back to the soup-- I also had to run a shredder out to my parents' and that is where the Italian Wedding Soup leftovers live. I've been craving more since Sunday-- so I had a cup while I was there. It was even BETTER two days later.

Then I snuck a movie in-- "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest." There was no soup in it, but there was some salisbury steak. I did love the movie, which is the last part of a trilogy. I need to write about it and see the first two. Someday.

Finally, when I picked up Emma from play practice she had chinese leftovers with her and they smelled so good I went by Super Wok and picked up some Tom Yum soup, which is like Thai Hot and Sour. In tonight's version, I could taste lime, lemon grass and hot chili peppers. And there were big tender slices of chicken. Yum. Tom Yum!

Tom Yum gets 2 for satisfaction-- too spicy for me today-- and three for nutrition. So 5 out of 8 spoons. I paid $4.95 for the quart and Ron ate half, so about $2.50 for my portion.

Sleep tight. I'll try to write more cohesively tomorrow. Promise.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Owls have nothing to do with soup.

Yesterday's post was long, so today's will be short. That's my soup there with my owl. I saw an owl in flight a few months ago. It was breathtaking.

It flew at me, slowly, so I got a good long look at it. So owls are my new totem. We got this one at the aquarium and he just made his way to my desk-- I don't know why.

But owls have nothing to do with soup.

The soup is called Creamy Chicken & Dumplings and it is aptly named. It is very creamy. It says "dumplings" on the label, but on the ingredients list they list spaetzle. And even the spaetzle are creamy. It was a lot of fun to eat.

It was sort of like the best part of the potato soup plus the best part of the spaetzle soup, mixed together. And at a discount price.

It doesn't photograph well-- it's monotone. Project Runway would say it needs some color-- some contrast, some depth. But the flavor and aroma were great. Honestly, it tastes better than it looks. Good, simple, cheap, creamy soup.

Nutritionally it's second highest in fat and calories per ounce behind the potato soup. It's among the higher soups for protein at just over one gram per ounce. And it has the most sodium of any of the soups so far.

The 15.25 ounce container is 380 calories and 1780 mg of sodium-- almost 3/4 of the daily recommended amount of salt if you eat the entire thing. It is labelled as two servings.

I'm giving it 2 spoons for comfort and love, because even though I enjoyed it, I felt bad about what I had done afterwards. I've known a few men like that-- back when I was young. And I'll give it half a spoon for nutrition because of the protein. It would deserve more if it weren't for the salt.

This is another Campbell's Microwave soup, so it cost $1.50 or so. I did hear from Ron that there was a sale when he bought me all this soup. And yesterday there was a dollar off of four Progresso in the Sunday paper. So I'l be getting to that soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Ron and Emma both had to work all day today, so my mother and I decided to make soup.

I've been craving Butternut Squash soup, but it's such a bear to make. I mean not really-- it's easy to make, but the butternut squash is a bear to peel and cut up. I mean-- a bear would be harder to peel and cut up, but butternut squash is a challenge.

So I decided to make sweet potato soup. Because they are the same color. And sort of taste the same. And because Food Network has an easy sweet potato soup recipe:

Ingredients and Directions copied from here.

1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if desired)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk

(I used one large sweet potato-- microwaved.)

In a heavy saucepot, over medium-low heat, cook the flour and butter, stirring constantly until roux achieves a light caramel color. Add the broth and brown sugar, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Stir in the sweet potatoes and spices, bring to a simmer again, and cook for 5 minutes more. In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return to saucepot. Add the milk, and reheat soup. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.

And here is where it all fell apart. I forgot to add the milk. The soup was thick, but when I tasted it I thought it was okay. We photographed it with sour cream because it made a nice picture, but it did NOT work with this soup. The soup, at this point, was very sweet potatoey and I couldn't taste ginger or cinnamon at all.

Once I realized what I had done and added the milk, the soup got better. The sweet potato flavor was muted a bit and the spices popped. It was also creamier and more soup-like.

Meanwhile, Grandma began preparing her entry in the Soupapalooza-- Italian Wedding Soup.

The recipe she uses is here.

She made the meatballs first-- they must be refrigerated from 1 to 24 hours. We don't know why. She thinks so they hold together better.

And she pulled together her mise en place. This is what you do if you want to remember everything-- unlike me :)

I never realized how labor intensive this soup is. The meatballs have 9 ingredients and then there is the rolling and the frying. And then the soup itself involves a lot of chopping.

But the effort is certainly worth it. The meatballs are delicious-- my favorite part-- and the soup is complex and layered, packed with escarole and topped with salty sharp Romano cheese.

Her recipe makes a huge pot of soup. Mine makes 4 one cup servings-- one meal out of leftover sweet potatoes.

I think both are fairly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are one of those miracle foods the lists always recommend. Turkey is lean protein and escarole is a leafy green, rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber.

Today my soup was pretty much a miss, but an interesting experiment. I'm not going to rank it based on today. My mother's Italian Wedding rates 8 out of 8 spoons.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Evolution of a Chili

When we were first married, I made a simple chili that took one of everything-- so it was easy for me to remember. Here is the recipe:

1 onion
1 green pepper
1 lb of hamburger
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of kidney beans
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder

It works, but is fairly boring... particular after years of the same. So we came up with a major modification that we both love-- we add half a jar of "sweet and hot" peppers. Some brands call them salad peppers. It adds a vinegary twang. And a little sweetness. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but has become our signature and I miss it in other chilis.

And then somewhere along the line, we began having some chili discord. Ron likes whole tomatoes; I like diced or crushed. I like my green pepper in big bite-sized pieces; Ron likes them diced smaller. He likes to add garlic and three tablespoons of chili powder. I like garlic in my salsa, but not really in my chili.

Then one day, he decided that my chili sucked. I remember... he dumped a pot of my chili in the garbage.

So now, by royal decree of the Queen (you can call me "Q"), he makes all the chili.

And he's gotten really good at it. He learned to cut the peppers the right way, and we both now like a lot of green pepper and chili powder-- or cumin and cayenne if we're getting fancy. Today he put in three green peppers.

I "let" :) him use the whole tomatoes and the garlic, but he has to cut up the tomatoes some and crush and then dice only one clove of garlic. Sometimes he adds black beans. Sometimes he adds a fresh banana pepper or jalapeno if they show up in our Papa Spuds box.

But his chili must have those sweet salad peppers in there. Not that I would ever throw HIS chili in the garbage!

I've never figured out the nutritional value. I'm sure the meat adds fat and protein, the beans add fiber and protein, and the canned tomato and beans add (too much) sodium. I feel as if it's a fairly balanced meal.

I give it 4 spoons for love and satisfaction, since it is our chili and I love it and it has some history to it. I'm going to give it 4 spoons for nutrition too, until research proves otherwise. So with 8 out of 8 spoons, this makes my husband's chili the perfect soup. At least for me.

The entire pot cost about $13 and will last us about three meals. Making it the best value so far as well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When bad soup happens on Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

I took off twice this afternoon to run Emma around and so didn't get to think about soup until very late. Vickie e-mailed me that it was Chicken Soup for the Soul Day and I had this microwaveable Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle that has been scolding me from my desk drawer, so I decided to give that a go.

And so... I hope my soul liked it because otherwise it was a miss. I'd have a hard time calling it soup. It smelled like chicken soup and there were noodles and chicken in there, but otherwise... ummm... no.

The concept of diet soup seems ridiculous to me. There are certainly soups that are fat and calorie laden, but many many many that are not. (I really had to fight the udge to say WHO are not-- some of these soups are now my FRIENDS).

Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle Microwaveable is 14 oz. The label calls that two servings. It has 90 calories and 7 grams of protein per serving. I ate about 2/3rds of it.

When I plug it into my chart I get a surprising picture. It's in the middle of the pack on calories per ounce-- losing to tomato and hot & sour. It's at the bottom on fiber-- only the potato soup had less. It's among the leaders in least fat, but loses again to tomato. It's among the front runners in the protein race, with 1 gram per once.

But (and this is a big but)(and will apparently not keep you from getting a big butt) it's far behind even my least favorite (Bruegger's) in flavor and satisfaction. It has a very strong aroma, but there's something artificial to it. And there's a hint of something over-processed in the flavor.

So I'm giving it 0 love and satisfaction spoons and 2 spoons for nutrition, ONLY because of the protein and because there is nothing bad in there. This soup is watery and tasteless. I kept having to fight the urge to salt it. It's the lowest sodium so far, but not low enough so that it should need salting-- 19% of DV in a serving; 38% in the can.

This is one of the soups we bought before I knew I was going to report cost, but I'm sure it was $2. or less. And-- if you want one-- you can most likely always get a coupon in your Sunday paper or online.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oats, peas, beans and barley grow... but no oats in this soup.

What can I tell you about today's soup? It was an accidental choice.

Andy was going to go pick up lunch from Jason's Deli. Did they have a soup at Jason's Deli that's not too similar to soup I've had recently?

They actually have a few. They have Broccoli Cheese, but Brenda has been ranting about Panera's Broccoli Cheddar for years, so I'm saving that for the next time I go to Panera.

They have Tomato Basil, but everyone has Tomato Basil these days and I just had tomato soup yesterday. I will get to Tomato Basil eventually.

Their soup of the day was Potato. Potato soup is evile and definitely a weekend soup. Same with French Onion. I have had their French Onion at the office before-- too messy and complicated, not to mention salty.

So I settled on Vegetarian Vegetable, hoping the base wouldn't be a repeat of Bruegger's. And it wasn't. This soup was GOOD.

It's a tomato based soup, but it has a strong flavor of celery and pepper. I love celery flavor in soup. I believe that celery is a flavor enhancer-- like MSG-- it's always a pleasant addition.

My husband hates celery in anything. I have to stop him from throwing it out-- he doesn't even like seeing it in the refrigerator. I just don't get it.

The soup was also heavily peppered-- which I also love. Pepper perks up tomato based soups like nothing else. And this pepper tasted freshly ground-- although I can't believe it actually was.

The vegetables were rustically cut-- sugar snaps, peas and celery plus carrots and lentils. And there was pearl barley in there. It reminded me of a soup from my childhood, but I'm not sure what.

All I know is that I'm sitting here craving more-- and I've been eating soup every day for almost two weeks. It's good soup.

Websites around the world report that the soup is low calorie, low fat, medium carb (it had pasta in there too) and medium sodium. Unfortunately it is also low fiber and low protein when compared to other soups I have eaten recently.

It really hit the spot, so I'm going to give it 4 out of 4 spoons for comfort and satisfaction, and 3 out of 4 for nutrition. It's nutritious soup and probably provides some nutrients other soups are missing-- in the lentils and the barley :)-- but I missed the protein. It didn't keep me full as long as the higher protein soups.

So that's 7 out of 8 spoons. I paid $2.59 for this cup of soup.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A quiet, sad day

Many of my former colleagues have been following the final journey of Chad, who is the husband of Skye. Skye sold advertising with us back in the day. Chad first had seizures three years ago this coming Friday and was found to have two tumors in his brain-- "Grade 3 Mixed Glioma."

Skye has journaled every step that followed in great detail-- often pragmatically, always lovingly. It's been an amazing look at a heartbreaking journey that ended early this morning.

Skye and Chad have two daughters-- ages 4 and 6.

Besides showing the entire world how incredibly articulate she is, and allowing us to look deep into her wonderful marriage and her relationship with her children, she also provided an insider's look at hospice care.

It is surely one of the hardest jobs on earth, but seeing firsthand how much relief and comfort the hospice staff provided Skye and her family has now made me believe that is must also be one of the most fulfilling jobs on earth.

Today as far as soup goes, I'll have Campbell's Tomato from my office stash. I wish peace and comfort to Skye and the family and everyone who helped them at Hospice Home of Wake County. He suffers no longer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sippin' once, sippin' twice, sippin' chicken soup with... spaetzle?

I went to the doctor this morning to do all the usual things plus get a flu shot. That took me over into a neighborhood where I never go anymore and in that neighborhood is a Bruegger's. I used to eat at Bruegger's all the time-- there's one not too far from the old office. But now I'm never near one. And I remembered-- they have good soup.

(Oh, BTW, my doctor verified that I did have a horrible ear infection last November-- so bad that he put me on steroids. That was the last time I had a bad cold and THAT is the bad cold I hope will be halted in its little tracks by eating all this soup.)

So the Bruegger's soup I chose was Chicken Spaetzle.

My father goes on about spaetzle sometimes, but I don't know if I've ever had authentic spaetzle. I don't remember my German grandmother-- his mother-- making it. She liked fine dining. I think it must have been his father's mother who used to make spaetzle-- my great grandmother.

These spaetzle were buttery little dumplings. And they were good. The other thing I liked about this soup was that there was both diced and shredded chicken in it. The broth was not as thick as other chicken noodle-type soups (although you can't tell in my masterful photo), but the shredded chicken gave it body.

The odd thing was this-- all the way from Bruegger's to the office I thought I had made a mistake and would hate this soup. Maybe it was because the lab had just drawn a bunch of blood from me, but the soup had a strong vegetable scent that was making me a little woozy.

But one taste was all it took to cure me of that and then I practically inhaled it. I think it did have a vegetable stock base, but there was enough chickeny goodness in there to mask the flavor-- but not the scent.

This was the first chicken soup I've found on my quest that could pass for homemade-- so I have to give it credit for that-- it's homey. But I hate vegetable stock. If I can't use chicken stock in a recipe for some reason, I'll use water before vegetable stock. So I have to grade it down for that.

So I'm giving it 1 point for comfort and satisfaction. Maybe it would be 2 points on a day when I hadn't just had needles :). I'll give it 3 for nutrition because I think there were some cruciferous vegetables in its background somewhere. So 4 out of 8.

I paid $2.99 for this bowl of soup.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just another manic soup day...

I've decided that Mondays will be Campbell's Soup days because I am always late on Mondays. I mean, I'm always late-- but on Mondays it is even worse, so I can't really justify going out on a soup hunt mid-afternoon.

And I now keep the microwaveable soup in my desk (some of it was a present from my husband, awww) and I have the very plush breakroom in which to microwave and also pick up some fancy coffee while I'm in there.

So all in all it was a warm and fuzzy lunch today on an otherwise hectic and bizarre day.

I looked all over the web and can find no verification of this, but I feel like Chunky Sirloin Burger came out in the mid to late 70's. It feels like the soup of my hip and groovy generation. I remember it being very popular. I remember thinking it was an All American soup because it had little hamburgers in it.

Or maybe that was in the advertising back then-- what a strange thing to think of on my own!

The thing I really love is that it tastes exactly the same as it did back then. Or enough the same. It takes me back and it's hearty, beefy soup-- like nothing else I had this past week.

The other great thing about it is it will always be the cheapest. Not only does it start out being the cheapest, but you can always find coupons for soup.

And now, when we must have everything at our fingertips, you can ALWAYS find coupons... at campbells.com or chunky.com... there are coupons right there.

It turns out Campbell's has an Italian Wedding soup. I never knew. I saw it on the website and it made me realize-- I don't really explore the soup aisle. I grab what I need and what I know.

Even when I was preparing to do this-- I wanted my familiar favorites on hand to easily turn to when I was too poor or too lazy to do go out hunting soup. And isn't that what canned soup is all about, really? :)

Well, the month is marching on and I will need new things to try. I need to shop the soup aisle for real. Soon.

So... three out of four spoons for nostalgic (and economic) satisfaction (it loses a spoon to the really evil cheesy soups) and three out of four for nutrition.

It's right in the middle of my soups so far in carbs, fiber and fat. It's higher in calories and protein which makes it very filling. Higher in calories, but still just 280 for the entire thing-- which counts as two servings and is that filling-- so not high calorie in the world outside of soup.

Anyway, 6 out of 8 spoons for Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Burger.

I'm not sure what we paid because I didn't realize I'd be keeping track of that, but I think it's safe to say it was under $2. And then with the VIC card, who knows, and they were probably even two for one. Everything at Harris Teeter is two for one. I'll keep better records when I restock.

Sleep tight.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Looking for my lost shaker of salt...

We went to Mellow Mushroom to celebrate my mother's birthday. I had the Chicken Tortilla soup. Those are margaritas in the background-- because my mother's name is Margaret. No, not really. I mean her name is really Margaret, but we got them just because we like them.

The first soup they gave me was room temperature, but they brought me a hot one soon enough. The soup was great-- spicy and cheesy with just a hint of lime. Sour cream and avocado were a nice touch. The tortillas were lime flavored-- they were a bit much. The margaritas were the perfect cold foil to the spicy soup.

I'd give it 5 out of 4 spoons for comfort and love. I'm not sure about nutrition. I'll have to revisit this after the margaritas wear off. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

My father paid $3.50 for this bowl of soup-- a very good deal! Sorry for the lousy picture. I forgot my camera and had to use my phone. I'm SUCH a pro.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart

Both Ron and Emma were working all day today, leaving me on my own on a Saturday for the first time EVER. I mean-- seriously-- ever since she was born. After I dropped her off at work, I decided to head into Cary and let the Goddess of Soup lead me wherever she wanted and in the meantime take a leisurely look around town.

The first thing I noticed is that Kris Bailey, Judge, needs to get his campaign signs down. Of course this was this morning and it's only been a couple of rainy days since the election. This afternoon was nice, so maybe they're down now, but I was seeing them everywhere.

And then, Harrison Pointe Shopping Center is decorated for Christmas already. That makes the season seven weeks long, or 13.5% of the year-- and that's if they only just went up this past week. Come on! We can barely afford Christmas as it is this year-- we don't need MORE of it.

I don't go into Cary enough since we moved the office. It is seriously a boom town. So many new little places. I was driving and driving and wondering who had soup...

I ended up at Panera. I sort of knew that's where she was pulling me. I wasn't quite up for the Broccoli Cheddar yet, not after last night's cheesy soupfest, so I got the very saintly sounding Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean soup.

Or "saintly" so you would think. I did a nutritional chart of all the soups I've had so far and it fared only slightly better than the pack because it had the combination of lower fat, higher fiber and higher protein.

It has the highest fiber. Tomato soup has the lowest fat and a recipe I found similar to Food Factory's Chicken Orzo with Spinach had the highest protein (with Chick-Fil-A a close second). But black bean has the best overall profile nutritionally.

Unfortunately, it has two other strikes against it. At $4.59, it's expensive. It did come with a hunk of bread, but unlike last night, I didn't feel like I got my money's worth.

And then there was the cumin. I love black beans-- we put them in our chili and I make black bean quesadillas. But the cumin in the soup I ate today totally overpowered every good thing about black beans.

We like our black beans with shallots and red or green peppers. There were a few tiny bits of either tomato or sweet red pepper in the soup, but I couldn't taste enough to even know what they were. All I tasted was cumin.

And so-- it was a nice drive, but disappointing soup. I'd have to give it zero spoons for love and comfort, but a four for nutrition.

Friday, November 5, 2010

One potato, two potato, hot potato soup

My friend Jeff was in town this week packing up/cleaning out a storage unit full of stuff he left when he first moved to the west coast. A long time ago :). He's going back in the morning, so Emma and I met him at Texas Steakhouse for dinner because it was near his hotel out by the airport and because I had heard they have great Potato Soup.

Baked potato soup is sort of a strange concept, I think. It's like a loaded baked potato isn't enough of a treat-- we need it to also be a hot and creamy soup. And Texas Steakhouse puts all that in a bread bowl.

My bread bowl was a bit burnt tonight, but that was okay-- it kept me from eating the whole bowl.

It has to be the ultimate in soup decadence. Plus cheese and bacon. I had the soup plus salad just to lighten it up a bit. It was delicious.

Jeff and I reminisced about our days ruling Trade Wars on the old nando.net BBS-- about 15 years ago. And Emma demonstrated her ability to talk about anything. Seriously. I think maybe she should be on television-- like a talk show or local news. She's amazing.

We also got sauteed mushrooms to share and then stole Jeff's too. They're Emma's new favorites, which carries on a family tradition, but I'll talk more about that on Cream of Mushroom soup day, because the Baked Potato soup has put me in a soup coma.

So I give it 3 spoons worth of satisfaction and 0 spoons for nutrition... that's just 3 out of 8. The company was better than the soup.

Sleep tight. Love you. Mean it. I know I need to work on these photos for this blog. Today is the first one that's sort of in focus, but the food styling is a hot mess. *Sigh* :)

OH, guess what-- Emma drew me an icon for this blog. I'll have it up tomorrow. It's cute!

Saturday edit: It was $7.50 for soup and salad. It would have been $5 for just the soup. It may have been the company and actually eating in a restaurant, but that seemed like a fair price, even though it was the most expensive soup I ate this week.
There was no soup for lunch today, but there will be soup for dinner! I'll be posting later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some Like it Hot... and Sour

There are three places where I get Hot and Sour soup on a fairly regular basis-- often enough that I have come to conclusions about each and could recognize each out in the wild. There's our neighborhood Hot and Sour, my favorite Hot and Sour, and the other one.

Our neighborhood Hot and Sour comes from the Hong Kong restaurant in Plaza West off Western Blvd at Jones Franklin. It is one of those ubiquitous hole-in-the-wall places you can find in small shopping centers everywhere, with the same backlit plastic photos of menu items hanging above the counter.

Hot and Sour soup has been our go to soup for curing colds since Ron and I got married. We have lived in the same house for 22 years and so have been eating Hong Kong Hot and Sour for 22 years. We've been eating it since before Emma was born and that soup has never changed. It's the fullest version-- with lots of tofu and wood ear mushrooms. I believe it's the most authentic.

My favorite Hot and Sour comes from Super Wok in Cary. It's relatively new and the restaurant has gotten rave reviews.

It's one of those chinese take-out and delivery restaurants that also has a real dining room and the option of a menu written in Chinese with all authentic dishes.

It's what we get delivered at work. It's what I had today.

It has a much more intense broth and there is more broth with less tofu and more room for crunchy noodles, but the best thing is that they put in quartered white mushrooms. Yes, just good old pedestrian button mushrooms.

I'm sure that that breaks some rules of authenticity, but those mushrooms give the soup a nice bite. And button mushrooms are a blank palette-- like tofu, but not tofu-- so they absorb all the spiciness in the soup. And it is nice and spicy.

I also find that Super Wok has the best crunchy noodles.

The third soup, the other soup, is from Shanghai Express on the NC State campus. It's authentic like the soup from Hong Kong, but not so full-- there's room for more crunchy noodles.

The important thing about Shanghai Express has nothing to do with the soup. They are Emma's favorite Chinese restaurant. They have String Beans in Garlic Sauce on the menu, are inexpensive, and deliver to her school.

She's in the last three weeks of play rehersals at school-- the cast of the play has taken to ordering from Shanghai Express. She comes home fed, but reeking of garlic.

So anyway, today we found out that our boss is moving to another office :(. So he bought us all Super Wok :). Yes, I think that makes perfect sense! It was also a rainy miserable dark day-- a perfect day for Hot and Sour Soup.


Whoops-- I almost forgot. I give this soup 3 spoons for love and satisfaction and 4 spoons for nutrition-- because it's important for women my age to get some soy protein and this is my best source. So 7 out of 8-- nearly a perfect score. Today that feels fitting. I paid... I mean... Jack paid $2.50 for this bowl of soup. Amber got some too.

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