Tag Archives: SOUPCLUB

Answering Fan Mail: Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew

One of my loyal readers sent some fan mail with a question to the My Fake Food Blog Fan Club.

(Note: One of my existing, real life friends posted a comment on Facebook asking for me to share a recipe.)

Since I am so benevolent, I won’t disappoint the public. I HAVE to post for Micheal.

(Note: I already emailed her the recipe. But I thought if she wanted the recipe, maybe somebody else might.)

All y’all know I love soup. #SOUPCLUB

I like soup forever and always. I like soup in the fall, winter, spring and yes, even the summer.

I’ve had the Real Simple No Time to Cook app for a long time, but hardly use it. But I was bored with my usual sites for cooking inspiration and I remembered why I downloaded it in the first place. The app looks like this.

via Real Simple No Time to Cook app (Duh)

via Real Simple “No Time to Cook” app (Duh)

Just plug in what main ingredient you have and how much time you have and at your fingertips is a list of quick meal ideas.

With no ingredients in the house, I plugged in poultry and 20 minutes and came across this recipe for Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew. And then I went shopping for stew ingredients on an 80+ degree day.

But, it’s the kind of thing that you can eat all year long. The broth is light, but this stew is full of delicious, and frankly, healthy stuff. It has tons of kale, which is full of vitamins or whatever. (Actually, kale has calcium and vitamins A, C and K, according to WebMD.) White beans have a ton of protein and fiber. And bread has delicious, delicious carbs.



One thing to note about this recipe is it requires extra salt. Hardly any is called for and as we all know, food needs salt. Like Matt Saracen needs Julie, like Coach needs Mrs. Coach, like Jason Street needs his wheelchair (#spoileralert), this stew needs salt.

So, loyal readers, please. Go forth and make this stew. And download the Real Simple app. And be sure to write in your questions, comments, compliments whenever you have them.

My assistant will be happy to answer each and every one of them, just as soon as he’s done drawing my bath.

Bean and Chicken Stew, adapted from Real Simple


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 loaf country bread (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the beans, broth, and tomatoes and their liquid and bring to a boil. Add the kale and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve with the bread, if using.



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Split Pea Soup: The Creamiest, Hammiest, Splitiest, Pea-iest Soup Ever

And now, a dad joke.

What’d you have for breakfast?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for lunch?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for dinner?

Pea soup.

What’d you do all night?

Pee soup.

Get it? Cause…pea….and pee….it’s a homonym.

It’s literally a dad joke because my dad told it to me when I was like 10 or something. And I’ve cherished it all these years. I don’t know what that says about me/us.

After my New Year’s Easy Eve ham, I had a leftover hambone and a lot of leftover ham. So, the natural course of action was to make a split pea soup. HASHTAG SOUPCLUB

Hambone Burnett.

Hambone Burnett.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite soups. It’s thick and creamy, but without the addition of any dairy for the anti-lactites. It’s full of vegetables and has an underlying hamminess. And while that sounds ridiculous to type, it actually is true. The hambone flavors the background of the soup with the broth and the water, and then including actual ham reinforces that flavor and is just plain delicious. Don’t skip the lemon juice at the end; it really brightens the soup up.

I can’t tell you that this soup will help your comedy at all.

After all, it is a bit of a ham.

You knew it was coming.

Oh, don’t look so surprised. We all knew I was going to wrap up with a bad joke/ham joke. #selfaware

Split Pea Soup with Ham from MarthaStewart.com

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • Ham bone plus 2 cups reserved ham from the recipe Glazed Ham with Apricot-Mustard Sauce, cut into 1/2-inch cubes | I didn’t make this recipe, but I’m sure it’s delicious.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, celery, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, split peas, ham bone, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make croutons: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add bread and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Pay attention here, these mo-fos will burn. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Remove and discard bone from soup. Working in batches, puree only 1/2 the soup in a blender (don’t overfill); return to pot. Add ham cubes, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve topped with croutons.


Ahhh. Out of focus soup.

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Navy Bean Soup: Jowl What Now?

Happy 2013, fake food friends!

For my first meal of 2013, I had something SO un-blog worthy that I’m going to blog about it anyway. BECAUSE I CAN. 

I had a turkey sandwich (Boar’s Head, bitches. ON SALE.) with white cheddar cheese on toasted sourdough with Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard (WHAT WHAT) and Duke’s mayo (best mayo ever, y’all).

…the standards of this blog have really sunk, huh. 

My first REAL meal of 2013 was something that I tried over the holidays and it went over gangbusters. If you’ll recall, Mom was on a whole “I don’t want to cook ever” kick, so she suggested I make some sort of soup for Christmas day lunch. Problem is: my dad hates soup. (WHAT!!!! HOW CAN ANYONE HATE SOUP!?!?) So, we had the following conversation:

Me: Ok, I’ll make soup. But what kind of soup would Dad eat?

Mom: Well, he doesn’t really like soup.

Me: …Yeah, I know… well, ok. Dad. What kind of soup would you eat on Christmas?

Dad: Soup? I hate soup.

…Yep… We finally settled on navy bean, which is, I dunno, less soupy than other soups? I made the soup the day ahead, so all the flavors could meld and I could focus on dinner on Christmas day. And Dad made some grilled cheese sammiches. Because my dad makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches evar. 

I got back from my folks’ on New Years Eve and went shopping for navy bean soup ingredients on New Years Eve. In North Carolina. In the South. On New Years Eve. There was nary a ham hock to be found. And I couldn’t figure out why. And then I realized that I was in North Carolina. Which is in the South. On New Years Eve. And everybody had scooped up the ham hocks because they were making their collard greens. 

Sidebar: I grew up in Florida, but Jacksonville is not the deep south by any means. So the first time I experienced the black eyed peas and collard greens thing was when I was maybe 8 or 10 and we were over to a friend’s house. She told us that it was tradition to put quarters in the collards for good luck. Is that a thing? It seems like a choking hazard to me. And the ones who are lucky are the ones who avoid the quarters.

I asked the Lady Butcher at Harris Teeter if they had any ham hocks and she told me no, but asked me what I was making. So I told her. And she said “hold on a second.” I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And I started wondering if I imagined that she’d said “hold on a second.” Did I dream it? Am I asleep right now? Is this the series finale of St. Elsewhere? Did anybody get that joke other than my dad?

Anyway, she finally came out and said “yeah, we’re out of ham hocks but you can use jowl bacon.”

Come again?

Jowl bacon, I was told, would work in place of my ham hocks. It was smoked. And she often fried it up with eggs. And you could only get it at Harris Teeter in January. And she often bought a ton of it up and froze it. Even though you could get it at the meat market. I got a LOT of information from this woman in a very short amount of time. 

Sponsored by Paula Dean

The only thing that was troubling is that I didn’t know what exactly a jowl was. And then I remembered something.

My friend Sarah had a baby about 6 weeks ago. Her name is Lana and I love her. She’s got these amazing cheeks. In fact, I very recently decided to start calling her The Cheeks because of her very yummy cheeks. A couple weeks ago, Sarah posted a picture of Lana, saying that older southern ladies referred to Lana’s cheeks as ‘jowls.’

And then I realized: jowls are just cheeks, y’all.

 A quick Google search confirmed this. And noted that jowl bacon is a very close relative of guanciale, the Italian unsmoked bacon made with jowls or cheeks. And I love guanciale. So I’m sure to love good ole fashioned American jowl bacon.

Having not tried the stuff before and being far too lazy to fry up a piece, I made a guess on how much to replace the ham hocks with based on my vast fake food knowledge and more googling. And it turned out pretty well. 

This soup is easy breezy, y’all. Not a whole lot of work to bring this together. It’s creamy, without having any cream in it. It’s filling and sticks to your ribs without a lot of meat.

There are two main differences between the jowl bacon vs. the ham hocks. 1. Because the ham hocks have the bone in (that’s what she said), they give a much deeper deeper flavor. The jowl bacon still brought the smoky ham flavor, but I’d take the ham hocks in the end. 2. Ham hocks have a lot of fat and very little meat. And the jowl bacon has a lot of fat. But more meat. So, you have more meat in the jowl bacon soup. 

I got an extra special treat because my friends Jenny and Ben dropped off a gift of homemade pretzels and homemade rice krispie treats (not pictured, but very delicious). The salty pretzel paired perfectly with the soup, especially for dipping (I did not dip the rice krispie treats in the soup). You can find the recipe here on Jenny’s bread blog chronicling all of Ben’s breadventures. Pancussion: A Regular Hit of Bread Experimentation

I’m gonna try the jowl bacon with eggs. Like Overly Informative Lady Butcher said. I might even make a JBLT: Jowl Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. 

If jowl bacon ain’t your thing, let me suggest you make friends with Lana. Cause those cheeks are the kind that anyone would want to nibble on.

…see what I did there…?


Navy Bean Soup, from foodnetwork.com 


  • 1 pound navy beans, picked over, rinsed and drained | I’m not exactly sure what I’m picking over. So I took out any beans that were really ugly (I’m judgmental) or split open.
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large smoked ham hocks, about 1 1/2 pounds | Or about ¾ lb. of jowl bacon! Heavy on the jowl! 
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped | I did 2 garlic cloves. Cause I like garlic. And I didn’t invite any vampires over.
  • 8 cups of cold water
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter for garnish | I didn’t think that this was necessary. But then I tried it. Adding the butter adds a smooth creaminess. Don’t think, just do.

Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes; remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Drain and reserve. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine. 

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven combine the beans, herb bundle, hocks, onions, and garlic with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and adjust the heat so the soup cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans and hock are completely tender, about 1½ hours.

Turn off the heat and remove the hocks. Cool slightly. Remove the meat from the hocks, discarding the bones, fat, and skin. (If using jowl bacon, remove the fat as well. Cause it’s gross.) Cut the meat into small cubes. Remove the herb bundle and discard.

Puree about 3 cups of the beans with some of the liquid in a blender. (I used an immersion blender.) For a smoother soup puree all the beans. Stir the puree and diced meat into the soup. Heat the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Pour into heated bowls, place a small pat of butter on top of each soup, and serve.


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I love smiling. Smiling’s my favorite. An Elf Dinner Party.

The holidays are full of traditions. Some good, some bad. Some so bad they’re good. (Folgers incestuous brother-sister Christmas commercial, anyone? YOU’RE MY PRESENT THIS YEAR, INAPPROPRIATE BROTHER.) And some of them are phenomenal. This one is simply phenomenal. 

For the last 6 years, my friends J & B and I have gathered to watch Elf. We watch, exchange presents, decorate cookies and cry when Buddy saves Christmas*. BACK OFF, IT IS EMOTIONAL.


*Please note, J and I are the only ones who cry. B, being the man of the group, does what every man does when women are crying at Elf: makes fun of them for crying at Elf. 

This year’s party was in J & B’s awesome new house. New house, new Elf party. Why not incorporate a new twist? Let’s add some Elf themed food.

When I told my dad about this, he assumed that that meant we’d be eating spaghetti with syrup on it. A little on the nose, Dave. But the principle was right. 

J assigned each of us one of the Elf culinary staples. B got coffee (from the scene where Buddy congratulates the shitty diner on the world’s best cup of coffee), J got marshmallows (which Buddy puts on his spaghetti, along with pop tarts and other stuff), and I got maple syrup. Which was both exciting and terrifying.


I have to make another confession here on the ole blog: I don’t think I’d ever had true maple syrup before. I’m not a huge pancake fan. I’ll do a waffle from time to time, but it sure as shit better have a piece of fried chicken on top. I’ve always been drawn to the savory more than the sweet, so this may have been my first experience with maple syrup. Like, in the world.

Worst. Food. Blog. Evar.

But, I had a mission. To create an appetizer with maple syrup for our Elf party. Buddy didn’t let Santa down. And I was not going to let Santa down either. Or my friends. Since Santa was not attending this party.

I found a recipe on the Epicurious app for Very Simple Pumpkin Soup that featured maple syrup. Sidenote. The Epicurious app is an awesome cooking app, y’all. The functionality is amazing. The way I found this recipe is by searching by ingredient and then by course, weeding out the thousands of French toast recipes and only focusing on the things that were appropriate. Download the Epicurious app.


And before you ask, yeah right, Epicurious is not paying me. They’ve never even heard of me. I’ve barely even heard of me. Just a rad app for iPhone and iPad. 

Anyways, this soup is good. It’s easy because you’re using canned pumpkin. And it’s a bit sweet, because of the pumpkin and the maple syrup. But the Chinese Five Spice gives it some depth and spice (….5 spices to be precise…) without being spicy. Top with sautéed shitake mushrooms and you’ve got yourself a treat even Buddy might like. 


B brought the baking with a pumpernickel bread made with coffee. It was terrific. Really rich flavor and paired so well with herbed goat cheese and a creamy swiss.  


And J made an elegant smores bar, inspired by her some searching on Pinterest. She stepped it up by adding some bacon. Cause bacon makes everything better. We got to toast the marshmallows in their brand new fireplace.


It was an excellent night. And now, all I want to do is make food inspired by movies. Watch Midnight in Paris and make coq au vin. Watch Ocean’s 11 and make fruits de mer. Hell, I’ll even give Silence of the Lambs a go.


I would make LAMB with a chianti sauce and fava bean risotto. And tiramisu. Cause it has lady fingers. PUNTASTIC!

Very Simple Pumpkin Soup, from Epicurious.com


  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed | I do not have a presser of garlic. So, I minced. 
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder | * A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets. I thought I was going to have trouble finding it, but found these at Fresh Market. 
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced | These I found at Whole Foods. 

Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five-spice powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.

Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.

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