Mezzi Rigatoni Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale

I have been aboslutley dying to make this Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale from one of my all-time fav foodies, The Modern Proper, and finally had the chance the other day! You could actually taste the excitement in the air as I decided this is what I was going to do with my Sunday 🙂



In my excitement, I have to admit that I didn’t do the greatest grocery shopping… When I got home and pulled out my ingredients it turned out that the “kale” I had purchased was actually mustard greens (for three seconds I wondered if that would work before smelling them and deciding absolutely not). Back to the store for me! In my defense, the mustard greens were mixed in on the kale shelf and I had grabbed the wrong one 🙂  Still have no idea what I’m actually going to do with those mustard greens…

This is the first soup I had ever made with kale. I was shocked when I looked at the soup base I had created, and then read the instructions to put an entire bunch of kale into the pot. Where is this going to go? Is this going to turn into a gross soupy salad? I was so impressed by how much it cooks down; it could truly take the entire bunch.

  • Tip: I would recommend slicing the kale (maybe a bit thicker than you would for a kale salad). I put them in as nearly whole leaves, and it was a lot to pull out in a spoonful. Either shred the kale a bit by hand, or you can fully chop it before putting it in so you’ll have more manageable pieces to eat.

Also, since I eat dairy free, I used coconut milk instead of the heavy cream. This wasn’t a disaster, but frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it. The flavor was pretty strong and that is just not the flavor that you want to come through with this soup. If you’re making a dairy free version, I would recommend going with A2 milk so you still have the regular milk flavor with none of the lactose (I also considered almond milk, but thought it might be a little funky as well. The challenges of dairy free cooking!).

Finally, the original recipe calls for tortellini, which I’m sure would be amazing, but of course there was none to be had when I was doing my shopping! Threw in a good chunky pasta for good measure!

You can find the full recipe here. Also, I topped mine with homemade croutons (not normally my style, but I made the bread as well – leftovers from our Holiday Star Bread master dough!)

Good luck! Absolutely recommend this one and will be making it again myself!

xx Jess


Lemon & Dill Chicken Noodle Soup

When life gives you…. noodles….. you make Chicken Noodle Soup! My dad gave us a batch of homemade noodles during our last visit, so we had to whip up something phenomenal! Chicken Noodle Soup can sometimes be a little bland / flat / tasteless, so I was searching for on the that really brought more flavor to the table (pun intended!).


This Lemon & Dill Chicken Noodle Soup is a slight variant on the classic favorite; just enough to give it some additoinal flavor without straying to far from the original recipe we all know and love! The burst of lemon flavoring and smattering dill bring a level of freshness that you just don’t find in soup often. There are a few things I would change the next time around:

  • Add some additional spicing to the chicken. Roasting the chicken with a nice rub is a great start, but I would really love to kick this up a notch and add a litle more depth to that flavoring!
  • The recipe called for quite a lot of garlic, lemon and dill. Yes, 100% use each of them, but I did not use the full amount for each (probably more like 75% of what the recipe called for). The garlic in particular was one that struck me as overpowerin. Next time, I would probably only use 4-5 cloves.

Other than that, fresh noodles are the best, but you really can’t go wrong with homemade soup!

You can find the full recipe here. Enjoy!

xx Jess

Curried Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup

Ok, ok, so in an effort to get rid of our Halloween pumpkin, we made Short Rib & Pumpkin Chili, but then we were left still with extra pumpkin. And I can’t stand throwing food away, so threw on a quick soup to simmer while the chili was cooking!

This season, second to chili, soup is my favorite thing to make. With about a half pumpkin left, we made Curried Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup, throwing in a little bit of everything (I also threw in some carrots, while we were going with the orange theme!).


Super easy, super quick, soup is the best. And honestly if you have a little of anything left in the fridge, throw it on in! I especially love the curry flavor of this soup — it really warms it up, and honestly I think it gets better the next day after it has had time to rest and soak up all of the flavors.

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Tex-Mex Chicken & Black Bean Soup

I make chili often. Every time football is on (every Sunday, all the time), I’m cooking. And when it’s cold, chili is the perfect answer. I’ll fully admit, that last year, I think I made the same chili every time. Props to my husband, he never complained. So this year, I’m determined to try out new chili recipes (although the tried and true classic will always have a special place in my heart).

Enter this Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Bean Soup. It’s really not a chili — sorry for the long intro — but I did put some tomato paste and additional tomatoes in it to make it a little thicker since that’s what I was craving.


Super easy and super tasty. It’s definitely a recipe to add to the rotation! Topped with a little avocado and cilantro (would also be great with sour cream, if you’re ok with the dairy!).

You can find the full recipe here.

Do you have a favorite chili (or multiple!) that you make all the time? I want to hear about it! Happy cooking!

xx Jess



Creamy Tomato Soup

Soup season! I’ve been fighting off a bit of a cold, so feeling extra cozy, and looking for a bit of extra warmth (plus, my whole anthem this fall / winter is going to be souppppp). And today that meant a craving for some creamy tomato soup. I found this amazing recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef and it was so easy to make, and the perfect creamy soup that I was looking for.

DSC_0444As I went to put this together, I realized that I didn’t have carrots (oops) so I used a sweet potato instead, just to give it a bit of depth and add that texture to the mix. Other than that, I actually followed the instructions (haha, for once!).

I also toasted some bruschetta because soup is always better that way! You just need to heat the oven to 425, then brush the bread (a hearty / crusty bread is your best bet) with olive oil on both sides. Toast the bread in the oven for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. You may need to toast for more or less time, depending on the thickness of your bread slices.

Are you making some amazing soups this fall? I want to hear about them so I can add them to my soup list!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

Fall sweeps into Chicago quickly, but it’s also pretty fickle (you know, the kind of fall where you have rainy 50 degree days but also still some 70 degree days, although I think those are fading fast) and I am so ready for fall foods! I have been feeling soups lately and think it’ll be a season of lots of soups at our house, so I got started this week with a Butternut Squash Soup.

DSC_0330My mom was never someone that would follow a recipe and to be honest, it used to drive me crazy! I’m starting to understand the beauty in it and soups are probably the easiest place to get away with not having a recipe. So here is my best interpretation of the soup that we made. It’s incredibly flexible and soup is so forgiving, so if there is something that you want more or less of, or if you have some veggie leftovers in your fridge, throw them in! Every variation will be slightly different but all excellent!

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

1 cup coconut milk

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until fragrant and clear, stirring frequently for approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the turmeric and cumin and stir for 1 minute.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots. Add chicken broth (there is definitely leeway here – make sure that the vegetables are fully covered in broth. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more broth; if you prefer a thicker soup, add less broth) and stir. Add salt and pepper
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer with a lid on the pot for approximately 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove center from blender lid to allow steam to escape. Divide the soup into two batches and blend each until smooth. Combine blended soup in a large bowl.
  5. Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Option to add additional salt and pepper to taste.

I topped the soup off with some homemade croutons and pepitas for a little crunch. To make the croutons, simply dice bread of your choice (1-2 days old, and a little hard will be best). Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic (or any seasonings of your choice) and roast on a pan in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through. Good news, once the croutons have cooled, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (if you can keep them that long!).

And ta-da! You have an easy, interchangeable soup (and croutons) recipe that you can always pull out of your back pocket. The beauty is that it will be different every time (try it with different veggies, or different spices – a sweeter nutmeg / cinnamon version would be nice, or you could go with a more savory version and add celery and bell peppers). It’s perfect for those cold, rainy Saturdays or if you’re looking to make a week of soup to have with sandwiches for lunch.

Another tip – if it’s just me and I don’t want to eat a whole pot of soup over the course of a week, I will freeze it in muffin tins. Once frozen solid, you can pop them out of the tin and save in a freezer bag. I’ll then reheat 2-3 “pucks” for a hot bowl whenever I want one!

Happy cooking!

xx Jess


Summer Gazpacho

I will fully admit that my husband is easy to please when it comes to cooking. If I make it, he likes it; there isn’t much that he doesn’t like (love you for that!). But I’ve recently discovered that gazpacho is one of those things that he really has a soft spot for.

My reaction: of all things, really?!?

But I’ll take it! Gazpacho is super easy to make, is actually better the longer you let it sit, and is perfect for summer veggies and those hot, hot days when the last thing you want to do is cook.

So when the tomatoes were super ripe, I made the Easy Summer Gazpacho from Local Haven. A sidebar, but I’m also realizing that 1) I am very gullible in the kitchen and will follow a recipe to the T 2) I have a good gut instinct in the kitchen and should really listen to myself a little more often! Don’t get me wrong, this recipe turned out really well, but as I was making it, I found myself thinking that hmmmm, none of these ingredients are yellow…. I wonder how this final gazpacho is going to turn out yellow! Yep, my gazpacho was red (red tomatoes tends to do that!….). You could completely make this with different colors of any of the vegetables involved, but I was naively thinking this would be yellow when I followed the recipe!

Again, this recipe was incredibly simple and gazpacho is so forgiving. Once you’ve got the tomato base, throw in a little bit of whatever you’ve got! Also, the gazpacho became even tastier the next day after it had sat for a while. Talk about good leftovers 🙂

The This Jess ranking:

  • Making it: 6/10 – super easy and really no “cooking” required
  • Eating it: 9/10 – really fresh, and summery
  • Looking at it: 9/10 – only becuase I thought it would be yellow!

You can find the full recipe linked here.