Sometimes a thank you card isn’t enough.
A mobile soup party, however, goes a long way to express your full gratitude.
Case in point.
Our insurance broker has spent countless hours trying to find the right health insurance plan for us for the new year, and I wanted to find a way to thank him and his crew. There’s s been an endless stream of phone calls, research and tireless assistance given to us in the past couple weeks, and his capable navigation means we’ll be paying a lot less in the future. And with better benefits, too.
Time to show a little gratitude.
He has a small office, so whipping up a mid-week soup party was no sweat.
I’ve been craving lentil soup, but wanted to mix it up a bit, so I first called over there to find out if there were any dietary restrictions I needed to know about. None? Great.
I grabbed some butternut squash, carrots and broccoli as well as a beautiful shallot and lots of garlic.
Soup making time.
I simmered the lentils for 20 minutes or so in chicken stock (with lots of cumin, fennel, oregano and fresh chopped garlic), and while that was cooking, I sauteed the shallots in a little olive oil, and then added those and the squash and carrots to the pot.
I then crisped up the prosciutto bits, and added them in, too.
In twenty minutes I noticed it was all cooked through, so I adjusted for spiciness and salt and added a fair amount of Meyer lemon juice and zest and the broccoli (adding this vegetable at the end, of course, ensures crispness and color).
Five minutes later it was done.
I put the pita in the oven to warm them through, and then ladled the soup into the to-go cups.
Time to hit the road.
The office knew I was coming, and boy were they ready to eat — and I heard later that they loved it (even asking for the recipe).
I enjoyed a bowl myself, and I appreciated how the prosciutto and lemon added both smokiness and freshness to the end result. All the vegetables turned an otherwise drab soup into a colorful offering while also giving it heft and added nutrients; it seemed like a multi-vitamin masquerading as a soup.
Such a virtuous lunch made me all the more ready for dessert (which I had made the night before).
Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps.
Now this is a Martha Stewart recipe and I’ve found her recipes can be hit or miss, but this one is a keeper.
Imagine if a brownie and a sugar cookie collaborated.
You’d have these to show for it.
Intensely chocolate-y with a slight coffee undertone (I used half the espresso in the recipe below) and delightfully crispy at the edges, it’s moist and exceedingly rich in the middle.
I made two batches. The first one I didn’t take care to roll twice in the confectioner’s sugar which meant that I didn’t see the gorgeous cloud-like separation of the powdered sugar in the end result.
No matter — I’d found a use for this.
These French vanilla sugar packets were a recent splurge from my latest Seattle trip, and my covetous shopping expedition at this Parisian style grocery store just below Pike’s Place Market.
I sprinkled the highly aromatic sugar on top of the cookies to give them a more polished exterior.
They were so tasty, and I loved the vanilla sugar, but for the next batch I wanted the classic snow cap pattern of sugar, and this time the extra trip through the bowl of powdered sugar paid off.
I also tucked in some chocolate chips into the still-warm cookies for an extra boost of chocolate flavor.
Let’s face it — powdered sugar, vanilla granulated sugar, or even crushed peppermints on top — there’s really no way to go wrong with this cookie.
The only problem with this cookie is you never seem to make enough.
It’s a chocolate lover’s reverie.
So thank you Stuart and gang for all the hard work you’ve done for us — and rest assured, you haven’t seen the last of my grateful mug yet.
- ½ C. all purpose flour
- ¼ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tsp. instant espresso (I used half that because my kids wouldn't like such a pronounced coffee flavor)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temp
- ⅔ C. light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4 oz. bittersweet or semi-=sweet chocolate , melted and cooled
- 1 Tbs. milk
- ½ C. confectioners sugar, for coating
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt.
- With an electric mixer, beat sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well combined. Mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add in dry ingredients. Beat in milk until just combined.
- Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape into 1 inch balls. Prace confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; working in batch, roll balls in sugar twice.
- Palce balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12-14 minutes (cookies will still be soft to the touch). Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.