National Fig Week – Gettin’ Figgy With It

National Fig Week – Gettin’ Figgy With It

National Fig Week is November 1st-7th, which falls between the summer and fall harvest seasons. Unfortunately for us in Phoenix, that means no fresh figs in the grocery store. Fresh or not, figs are a fascinating fruit! Or are they…? Turns out figs are actually inverted flowers! Each fig is basically a sack filled with tiny flowers. Figs have been considered an aphrodisiac food since ancient times, due in part to their, umm, resemblance to a certain anatomical part that I will leave to your imagination (this is a family-friendly blog!), plus the fact that they are filled with seeds. Let’s not forget the world’s original lingerie: fig leaves. We’ll discuss this more later.

If all this fig talk is revving your engine, grab your closest hungry friend and get figgy with it!

Figs are packed with potassium and iron to keep you pumped up during your favorite fig frolicking. We’ve got the most delicious Fig, Blue Cheese, and Honey Crostini to kick off the festivities.

Fig

Tips before starting:

  • Taste all of your ingredients.  Grab a chunk of baguette, a blob of blue cheese, a piece of fig, and a couple drips of honey and try them all together. This will give you a great starting point for how to assemble your toasts.
  • If your cheese is super pungent, go easy. If it is more mild, though, slather it on.
  • Dried figs are going to have more concentrated sweetness than fresh.
  • I prefer a good quality, local honey.  The stronger your blue cheese, the more honey you can use.
  • A lovely alternative to honey is a balsamic reduction. Reduce balsamic down slowly over medium-low heat until it becomes syrupy. This should cook out some of the acidity, leaving a punch of flavor with a bit of sweetness.
  • If you’re not into blue cheese, go away. Just kidding! If blue cheese isn’t your thing, try goat cheese as a lighter alternative. Add a little fresh rosemary for extra earthiness. There is plenty of room for creativity!

Fig

Fig, Blue Cheese, and Honey Crostini

  • Baguette
  • Olive Oil
  • Blue Cheese
  • Figs (dried or fresh), sliced
  • Honey

Slice baguette on the bias into 1/2” thick pieces. Brush both sides with your favorite olive oil and toast on both sides until light golden brown. This can be done stovetop or in the oven; or for even more flavor, toast them lightly on the grill.

Meanwhile, prepare figs. If using dried figs, simply slice into 2-3 pieces. For fresh figs, if you’ve already got the grill going for your bread or a main course, cut figs in half, brush with olive oil, and lightly grill, cut-side down. Slice into thin pieces.

Heat blue cheese for about 10 seconds in the microwave until spreadable.

Spread blue cheese on each piece of toast. Top each toast with sliced figs and return to oven for a few minutes to warm the figs through. I popped mine in the toaster oven at 400°F for 4-5 minutes.

While your toasts are warming up, get your honey ready to drizzle. High quality honey is more likely to solidify a bit in cooler temps, so you may need to heat it up slightly. Scoop out a tablespoon or so into a microwave safe bowl and heat in five second bursts (mine literally only took five seconds) until runny.

Transfer warm toasts to your serving dish and drizzle liberally with honey.

Slap on your fig leaves and have some fun!

Fun Fig Facts

Having researched more into figs, I think part of the aphrodisiac quality comes from the terribly sexy way figs are fertilized. Those internal flowers are pollinated from the inside by a very special fig wasp, who dies after depositing her eggs and pollen into the fig’s ovaries (seriously, that’s what they’re called). When the male wasps hatch, they fertilize the unhatched females, and then tunnel through the fig flesh and die. Newly hatched female wasps pick up some pollen from inside the flowers, stretch their freshly-grown wings, and make their way out through those sacrificial brotherly tunnels, off to find a new fig to turn into a nursery. I read half a dozen articles about this and was still a little confused, until I found this fun and informative video with illustrations. It was a bit off-putting at the end when our host tells us we’re eating dead wasp bodies, but it turns out that’s a bit of a stretch. Figs produce enzymes that break the wasp exoskeleton down during ripening, so you don’t need to worry about getting wings stuck in your teeth. Besides that, most of what we find in the grocery store are “common figs,” which are artificially polinated without the need for wasps.

Do you believe in the aphrodisiac power of foods? I ate an entire tray of these fig crostinis, and I can’t say I got anything but full… So it’s probably safe to serve these at Thanksgiving.

 

The Custom Baker’s Table of Your Dreams!

The Custom Baker’s Table of Your Dreams!

We are so thrilled to feature this Custom Baker’s Table from our customer, Anna, in Florida. When Anna originally called to get this table quoted, I assumed she was a professional chef, but it turns out this HUGE baker’s table is for her home! This is easily the largest baker’s table I’ve seen for home use, so I was super excited to get to work on this project.

Anna’s request was for a 168” long (that’s FOURTEEN FEET!) by 30” wide baker’s table, with a maple top, a stainless steel shelf for storage, a pan rack that holds eight sheet pans, and a set of three drawers. All of this was to be on a stainless steel base with commercial grade locking caster wheels. Anna decided on the placement of her drawers and pan rack, and I got to work with John Boos to get everything drawn up.

Baker's Table

Once the drawing was approved, Boos began building the baker’s table. It took right about three weeks for production and then was on its way to its new owner! According to Anna, “Getting it off the truck was a little exciting but we got it done with some help from friends.” The total shipment weight was nearly 800 pounds! We planned ahead and added liftgate service onto the order to aid in getting it off the truck. Thankfully, these baker’s tables ship “knocked down,” so customers are able to carry them inside piece by piece. Still, the maple top alone was around 300 pounds, so it’s a good thing Anna recruited friends!

Baker's Table

After assembling her baker’s table, Anna didn’t waste any time getting to work and utilizing all of her newfound prep space. “One day I made bread, rolls, breadsticks, and cookie bars and had room for cooling, kneading, my mixer, and proofing box all at one time!“ We are thrilled to see that it is getting put to good use!

Baker's Table

Thank you so much, Anna, for sharing your awesome baker’s table with us! We are delighted to show it off and hope it inspires more home bakers to get in the kitchen and get cookin’! If you’re in the market for a baker’s table for your own home or restaurant, you can view standard options here, or give us a call at 877-845-5597 to talk about a more custom project. If you order soon, you’ll have it in time for your holiday baking!

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Today we are featuring our new line of Live Edge Table Tops from Created Hardwood with a special guest post from the owner of Butcher Block Co., Mark Shook. We love all the photos showing the whole process. Read on for all the details plus the beautiful finished product. Thanks for sharing, Mark!

My wife had been bugging me for a long time to upgrade the simple (and admittedly cheap and homely looking) desk squeezed against the wall of our master bedroom. I was open to the idea, but uninspired by the computer desks and narrow tables I came across. But once she discovered  the live edge tables that we had added at Butcher Block Co.,  we had our solution. Both my wife and I loved the idea that we could own a one-of-a-kind, all-natural piece of furniture that would look as though it were custom-made to fit our exact needs.

We searched scores of great-looking maple and walnut slabs, but since our bedroom furniture is dark, we narrowed our search to walnut slabs. Sure enough, we came across a long, narrow specimen of just the right length and width that was simply gorgeous.

Next, we turned our attention to selecting a base to support the table top of our dreams, and zeroed in on the Points base design. We selected the Bronze finish, which we expected would complement the dark browns in the live edge slab and in our bedroom, knowing this would extend the delivery date but feeling good about the trade-off.

We were assured that the slab and heavy metal legs would be well protected during shipment. When the massive wooden crate finally arrived, I realized they weren’t kidding! It took an hour to remove dozens of wood screws to disassemble the crate, but I love that I now have all this extra wood for various home projects.

Here’s a view of the shipping crate with its top and one end removed. You can see how much time, care and attention the packers put into protecting not only the slab, but the metal legs beneath it, as well.

Live Edge Shipping Crate

Once I removed the protective top layers, the holy grail was revealed to me. There, in all its natural glory and wonder was the prize I coveted for weeks.

After carefully moving our new, prized possession into the master bedroom, my wife and I returned to our newfound treasure chest to retrieve the base. Four bronze Point legs were secured by yet more screws to wooden braces that prevented them from jostling that could possibly mar or scratch them.

 

Live Edge Assemble

Now it was time to begin assembly. Surprisingly and pleasantly, this proved to be the quickest and easiest step in the entire process. The folks who salvage and finish these live edge slabs – Created Hardwood – pre-drilled holes into the underside of the slab, inserted metal screw inserts into the holes, and even labeled the four Point destinations, as well as the corresponding legs (A, B, C and D). Using the Allen wrench they supplied, I installed all 16 screws in a matter of minutes.

VOILA!

My wife and I could not be more pleased. Thank you Created Hardwood — a great addition to the Butcher Block Co. collection!

Live Edge Computer Table

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

We love when our happy customers show off their beautiful butcher blocks! This week we are highlighting two gorgeous island upgrades, one featuring a standard size John Boos Blended Walnut top, and the other using custom Butcher Block Co. American Cherry Plank-style butcher block. Both look beautiful and add warmth and function to the kitchens.

The first of our happy customers is Rachel from Colorado. Rachel’s 97″ X 36″ Blended Walnut island top has a Varnique semi-gloss finish, which is ideal since this is being used as an eating area as well as extended work space. What an impact!

Happy Customers Blended Walnut

Happy customer #2 is Teri from Tennessee. We worked with Teri extensively to find the perfect style and fit for her kitchen island. This plank-style American Cherry block is a unique and beautiful accent to her kitchen. Having chosen the natural oil finish, Teri can use this block for all her chopping and food prep. Teri’s project proves it is worth it to put in a little extra time and effort to get things just right – it looks fantastic!

Happy Customers Cherry Plank

We want to see what you’ve done, too. The more happy customers, the better! Send us your photos and we may feature you on our social media pages. We love to see them, and so do our other customers!

Summer Restaurant Week Featuring John Boos Commercial Grade Products

Summer Restaurant Week Featuring John Boos Commercial Grade Products

We’re celebrating Summer Restaurant Week here at Butcher Block Co. with John Boos commercial grade products. Whether you have  a bakery, deli, cafe, or large restaurant, you can trust in John Boos NSF-approved equipment. We offer a variety of John Boos commercial grade products designed to stand up to the wear and tear of restaurant kitchens, all while helping you work efficiently, run smoothly, and look good doing it!

If you are looking to upgrade your restaurant or other food service kitchen, check out our John Boos commercial grade products for the highest in quality.

For “back of house” products, we offer prep tables available in wood, stainless steel, or poly tops; stainless steel sinks with up to four basins, with and without drain boards; stainless steel cabinets with optional doors and/or drawers, in both maple and stainless tops; custom and standard size commercial grade butcher block countertops in hard rock maple; and a variety of NSF-approved cutting boards and chopping blocks. John Boos commercial grade products are top of the line — that’s why you see them in restaurant kitchens across the country, and on nearly every cooking show on TV.

John Boos commercial grade

If you’re looking to jazz up the “front of house,” Boos has you covered with restaurant quality dining table tops and bases. Available in maple, red oak, cherry, or walnut, there are a variety of standard sizes from which to choose. If you need something outside the standard parameters, contact us to get a quote for custom sizes and shapes. Traditional black metal bases are sold separately and come in both dining and bar height, and in disc, cross, or T style. If you really want to make a statement, consider a custom bar top. A gorgeous butcher block top spanning the length of your bar makes a huge visual impact and is sure to impress your patrons. Butcher block is both durable and beautiful, and will bring warmth and class to your dining room.

John Boos commercial grade

If you are a restaurateur, be sure to consider our business financing for commercial food service equipment. It is as simple as a click of a button with this 30 second online application. Now it can be easy to purchase your John Boos commercial products.

commercial financing

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Claire is back and she brought Strawberry Rhubarb Pie! Claire has never let us down in regards to summer delights, and this is the perfect dessert as we transition into the hot summer months. Let’s all take advantage of the farmers’ markets and roadside stands this weekend to pick up some fresh fruit and see what treats we can come up with. In the meantime, Claire has pie to share.

A little birdie has told me that it’s dessert week at Butcher Block Co. I know for a lot of people, that might conjure images of chocolates or cakes, but my favorite desserts are all fruit-based. Baked fruit, fresh fruit, whatever, I love it. We’re coming into fruit season now, and I can tell because giant, weathered rainbow umbrellas are popping up along roadsides over tables offering the best local summer produce at the best prices. We’re not quite at stone fruit season, but I am here for the early summer offerings, like strawberries and rhubarb. I love rhubarb, but like so many of the best foods, I didn’t appreciate it in my youth. I thought it was too tart, and also, it was a weird food that no one ever heard of and it looked like weird celery. When I was a kid, my mom would make rhubarb pie, and I would eat the crust and the ice cream and leave the filling. I was an idiot with bad taste; I always ordered the chicken sandwich in restaurants, which is why I didn’t discover how good hamburgers could be until I was well into my adulthood. But I digress.

When I was a teen, my dad actually planted some rhubarb in our front yard. I watched it grow from a little puff of leaves on slender pink stems into a giant, fan-leaved monster that threatened to take over the whole garden. By that time, like all teens, I still hadn’t completely grown out of my idiocy, but at least I had better taste. I started making a mess in the kitchen trying to copy my mom and grandma’s pies. I did apples in the fall, peach in late summer, and as the spring would start to turn hot, I did my part to rescue the garden from the encroaching rhubarb-pocalypse. Of course, as an obnoxious teen, I couldn’t stick to their tried-and true recipes. Instead, I stole all the newly-ripened strawberries from the tiny patch at the side of the house and put them into a pie with the rhubarb. It turned out awesome. It was like a revelation. My family never really came around to my side – old habits die hard, I guess.

For me, strawberry rhubarb pie is my absolute number one pie pick.

I don’t make a ton of pies anymore. It’s less fun when the mess is in my own kitchen and I can’t rely on my dad to come in behind me and start doing dishes. Also, I am a grown adult person, and I can’t just go around eating pies all the time. Still, when I see those umbrellas pop up along the roadsides, I know I have to do at least one strawberry rhubarb pie to bring me back to those flour-coated summer days in the kitchen, my dad buzzing around me with a sponge and the whole house smelling like heaven. Heading home from the grocery store last weekend, I saw one of those rainbow umbrellas, and I had to stop. Fifteen minutes later, I was at the kitchen table hulling the sweetest strawberries, the whole house already smelling like heaven.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
I don’t have my grandma’s recipe on hand anymore, so for this strawberry rhubarb pie, I used Deb Perelman’s recipe from the Smitten Kitchen, which of course turned out amazing, even though I over-cooked the filling a smidge in order to get a prettier color in the crust. I really like the way the tapioca thickened the juices without affecting the flavor at all. Then I figured, as long as I was committing sacrilege by deviating from my family’s recipe for the filling, I might as well go whole hog. Mom, you may want to stop reading here.

My grandma always made the same crust Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for every pie with just flour, salt, vegetable shortening, and a little hot water to bind it all together. It’s a great workhorse crust. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s reliable and simple to make, it works for a savory or sweet filling, and it’s what I grew up with, so it has always been my go-to. However, my mantra in the kitchen and in life is that the worst reason to do a thing is “because that’s how my parents always did it.” Plus, maybe I still have some of that obnoxious, rebellious teen in me. I decided to try my hand at an all butter crust for a change, and I am telling you, my eyes have been opened. It was flaky, rich, and as much the star of the dish as the incredible filling. After a perfect pie like this, I don’t think I could ever go back to shortening. Sorry not sorry, Grandma.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

In the spirit of dessert week, my husband and I have devoured nearly the entire glorious pie in the space of five days. I top each serving with some gently sweetened whipped cream, and I shamelessly lick the plate clean. What are you doing for dessert week? What is your quintessential summer dessert? Is it weird that I’m strongly considering making another strawberry rhubarb pie this weekend?

Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

I get to work on most of our custom butcher block projects, so when we get pictures back from happy customers, it really makes my day! Remember the speed bag platform made from a butcher block table top? I’m not sure we’ll ever top the uniqueness of that one, but I’d sure love to see you try! Even in traditional applications, I’m always stunned by the amazing work our customers do, and I love that you all appreciate the beauty, warmth, and function that butcher block can bring into the home.

Recently, we received photos of three beautiful uses for custom butcher block.

Jerry in Georgia upgraded his workspace with these gorgeous desks made from John Boos Walnut custom butcher block with custom commercial grade stainless steel bases. These bases usually come with commercial grade Maple tops, but we had Boos put together this custom design and it looks so sharp! Since he is using these as desks, Jerry elected to go with the Varnique semi-gloss finish, for a smooth, maintenance-free surface.

Custom Butcher Block

 

Over in Arkansas, Tom and his wife built their own table base and used a custom butcher block for the table top. This John Boos Blended Maple top also has the Varnique semi-gloss finish, perfect for easy clean-up on a dining table. Isn’t this fantastic? I love the base and I’m so glad we could get the perfect size top for them.

Custom Butcher Block

Now let’s head way down south to Key West, where James has crowned his island with a stunning Butcher Block Co. Walnut Plank Style custom butcher block top. He asked for a “showstopper,” and boy did he get one! The plank style allows for wider sections of wood, which really show off the beautiful grain pattern and natural color variation of the Walnut. I think everyone should have one of these!

Custom Butcher Block

If you would like to explore the idea of adding custom butcher block to your home, give us a call or shoot over an email. We love working on these projects and seeing your creative ideas!

Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Cooking in small spaces doesn’t have to be scary if you’re equipped with the right information! Just about all of us have had at least one small apartment in our days, so the stress is likely familiar, but Sarah has some great tips to help keep you happy while you work. Let’s see if she can squeeze us in and give us a lesson?

Greetings, entertainers! I have designed the kitchen of my dreams multiple times, revising as my tastes change. It always has a dishwasher, lots of counter space, big, sunny windows, and a giant kitchen island. I have never had any of those things, but a girl can dream! Since I’m used to cooking in small spaces, I thought I’d share my tips today! It doesn’t take a gigantic, sunny kitchen to make food with big flavors.

Dedicate Space

When you’re short on counter space, the first thing to do is dedicate space for cooking and prep. I have a beautiful wooden cutting board that I try to keep clear, since that’s where I chop vegetables. This has necessitated me prioritizing my countertop space, and has led to me keeping small appliances tucked away unless I’m actively using them. My stand mixer goes in the pantry, my food processor goes in a drawer, and my coffee bean grinder is stowed away, too. I also make sure that my cutting board is clean, because that removes another barrier to me getting down to business.

One-Pot Wonders

My favorite recipes have fewer steps to prep, and with a small stove and sink, I have learned to love things I can make with one pan on the stove. These recipes usually involve browning meat, adding vegetables that cook quickly, and then adding liquids or tomato paste to make a sauce. After you’ve eaten and put leftovers away, you only have one pot to clean, so I’m done cleaning up before my hands get pruny. If you want more elements in your meal, roast vegetables in the oven while your main dish cooks on the stovetop. This gives you more flavors, and more crunch, without making a huge mess, or requiring super specific timing.

Clean Right Away

The least fun part of cooking a great meal is cleaning up (obviously the most fun part is eating it!). When cooking in small spaces, dishes pile up more easily in the sink and stove. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it feels like the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. Commit to cleaning measuring cups as you use them, and clean knives or any prep dishes as your meal cooks. Try to get your pans clean just after they’ve cooled, so any residual gunk doesn’t get crusty, which means more scrubbing.

Meal Prep

All hail the slow cooker! Planning meals ahead of time has been proven to lower your grocery bills and reduce stress throughout the week. This can be as easy as planning to cook two big meals on Sunday afternoons so you’ll have leftovers all week, or investing in a big slow cooker for roasts, soups, and more!

Slow cookers are a great solution for cooking in small spaces because you assemble and cook ingredients all in the same pot!

So if you have a busy social life after work during the week, or are just too tired to chop veggies and make sure the chicken is done, try a slow cooker meal to have something to look forward to when you get home.

Strategize

If you have an ambitious cooking adventure in mind, set yourself up for success by planning ahead. If you want to make macarons, plan where the cookies will cool while you mix up the filling. Christmas cookies? Maybe set up a small card table for a decorating station so you have enough room for multiple batches to go into the oven, cool, and be ready for frosting!

If you’re adjusting to a new small space, don’t feel discouraged or limited by having less counter space than the kitchen of your dreams. By making the most of the space you have, you’ll feel more organized and up for cooking in small spaces!

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Are you a food processor aficionado? You should be! This versatile kitchen gadget, while large, makes short work of many tasks and will earn its keep every time you entertain. Sarah is here to share some of her favorite ways to use the food processor, along with a simple and versatile recipe for Olive Tapenade that is sure to please your palate. Alright, Sarah, get us all mixed up in this food processor world!

Greetings, entertainers. Let’s talk tech! I love kitchen gadgets, and when I was thinking around my kitchen for a favorite, one immediately sprang to mind. Not only is this gadget versatile, but it is easy to use, pretty noisy, and for me has some stress-relieving benefits.

I am, of course, speaking of none other than the food processor!

Why is a food processor so great? First, I never had one growing up, Food Processor so it went in the class of kitchen gadgets I thought of in my head as “super crazy technical and awesome” (along with the mandoline). I only ever saw them being used on cooking shows, and seeing professional chefs use them for everything made me want one pretty badly.

Fast forward a few years to when I finally put one in my own kitchen, and I’m a pretty happy camper. Do you want fresh salsa? Toss in a mango, some chiles in adobo sauce, and some fresh tomatoes. Run out of hummus halfway through the party? Never again. This thing is the king of dips, and as an added bonus, puts you in the front row to watch things being pulverized.

One of my favorite things to make with a food processor is tapenade. I usually have all the necessary ingredients in my kitchen, which mostly speaks to my love of olives (and anything salty). So let’s get down to it—how do we make this treat for your guests?

Ingredients

  • Olives. I like to use a combination of olives from the olive bar at my grocery store, but if you have a favorite, that works, too. Kalamata olives make great tapenade that turns out a pretty purple color. The key here is no pits.
  • Olive oil. Seems unnecessary, right? Wrong. Just a drizzle is absolutely necessary to getting your tapenade a smoother consistency.
  • Capers. Just a few!
  • Lemon juice. Salt loves acid. Enough said.

Food Processor

Directions

Assemble your food processor. For me, this means choosing the correct-size bowl, and determining which blade to use. I chose a smallish 4-cup bowl to keep my ingredients close together, and the standard chop blade that came with my machine. Some food processors offer doodads that julienne and add all kinds of awesome knifework to your ingredients. Olives are so small that it’s not necessary here.

Add olives! I chose a mix of dried black olives, red pepper Spanish queens, and kalamata. I used enough to almost cover the bottom of my food processor, but for a party, you’ll want closer to 2 cups.

Now capers. I used a heavy hand because I know I like the pungency. I wouldn’t use more than a teaspoon-full for guests.

I squeezed half a lemon using another favorite gadget—a citrus juicer. Pro tip—put your citrus in flat side down so that the squeeze turns the lemon inside-out.

Turn your food processor on low to blend your ingredients. I let it go about twenty seconds, or until the food stops moving around the bowl.

Once your olives are all stuck to the sides of your bowl, turn the processor off, remove the lid, and scrape the sides. Now, the magic. Add a little bit of olive oil, and turn it back on low. I’d recommend about a tablespoon, or enough to keep the pulverized bits moving around the bowl as the machine goes.

Do the check, scrape, add olive oil thing until your tapenade is the consistency you like, and then serve with pita chips or pita bread (I’m a sucker for pita bread with tapenade!). If you want to make it extra fancy, toast your pita in a pan on the stove first with a little butter.

So what are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Any that were a childhood dream realized as an adult (I know I’m a huge nerd)? Happy entertaining, hosts!

 

Homemade Soup – Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Homemade Soup – Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

A big bowl of homemade soup is just the ticket for these cold winter months, and with this Saturday being Homemade Soup Day, now is the perfect time to share a fantastic recipe that will warm you right up! It is also most definitely slow cooker season, so we’ve got Sarah here with a souper (sorry…) easy dish to come home to on a chilly night. Warm us up, Sarah!

In the dead of winter, I know I can always warm up from the inside out with a good bowl of homemade soup (and good bread!). I live in the snowbelt and experience a wonderful phenomenon known as the lake effect, which means I can expect a foot or more of snow overnight without Mother Nature blinking an eye. It’s great when you’re in school because there are snow days, but as an adult with a job, the traffic jam that doubles my commute home means that I am looking forward to dinner being ready when I get there.

Enter the slow cooker, one of my favorite kitchen appliances. You can throw raw ingredients together in the morning and come home to a fully-cooked meal.

My favorite homemade soup this winter has been a creamy coconut milk-based Thai chicken soup.

Adapted from this recipe, this soup is tangy and a little bit spicy. It gets better as you get deeper in your bowl.

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

  • 1 ½ lb. chicken (3 frozen chicken breasts)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (or 1 squeeze from herbs in a tube)
  • 1 heaping tsp ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 TBS red curry paste
  • 5 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 3 TBS peanut butter
  • 4 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sriracha

Instructions on this one are pretty simple: Load up your slow cooker, turn it on low, and go about your day. I turn it up to high for a bit when I get home from work. I doubt it does anything, but it FEELS hotter. When you are ready for dinner, remove the chicken breasts and cut them up (lazy girl shortcut). This is great served over rice, but I love a brothy soup (as evidenced by my midnight whiskey chicken soup obsession). The combination of peanut butter, red curry paste, and fish sauce will keep you dipping your spoon until you’ve eaten a bowl or more. So good it sneaks up on you.

Homemade Soup

My favorite serving suggestion with Thai chicken soup is thick, crusty bread spread thick with good butter. A diced red pepper wouldn’t go amiss in this concoction, and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at tossing in baby corn or plain frozen sweetcorn.

What are your favorite deep winter recipes? What is the best side to serve with homemade soup? Do you like your soup piping hot or more lukewarm? I am in camp “hot enough to burn my mouth,” just like my mother, and I will never learn.