Classic Carrot Soup

People always want to jazz up carrot soup with something – cilantro or red pepper or orange or parsnip or curry – to distract you from the fact that carrots are “boring”. I hate this.

There is a difference between boring and familiar! They’ve got depth, they’re sweet, they’re a fun color!! Justice for Carrots!

Carrot soup is one of my favorite party tricks because, like most of the things I am sharing with you, it is both tremendously good and extremely easy.

Chop some carrots, let them hang out, drunk on a little sherry, with a softened, buttery onion in a saucepan sauna for an hour, and they will mellow out into a deep, rich, almost jammy sweetness that is the base of honestly probably my favorite soup.

For those of you playing along at home, that’s a whopping 5 ingredients to make a tastier, more satisfying soup than I’ve ever been served at a restaurant.

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Bone Broth is a SCAM

The difference between sad, salt-filled flavor-cubes, or, worse, a can of glop, and real, soul-warming, heart-filling soup is 3 hours of your time and a chicken carcass you already have. You do not have to pay $8 at the Whole Foods for the privilege. And you’re already going to spend those hours of your life puttering around doing something, so why not spend it on stock and buy yourself something really nice? Like, as I mentioned, soup?

The roast chicken is one of nature’s perfect units of people food. I realize this makes me sound nuts, but come with me for a sec. There are some foods, like an apple or an egg, that are literal perfect units of human consumption. You hold it in your little hand, and it has its little wrapper, and the insides are all delicious and just the right size for a snack.

A roast chicken is like that, but for 2-4 people: first roasted, then shredded in crepes or a pot pie, and then, miraculously, as STOCK in soups, stews, risottos, pilafs, pastas, etc. Only when you take out a 2-cup block of frozen chicken stock to make yourself a truly transcendent rice pilaf will you know true power. It’s intoxicating. (Not literally).

Plus, I find the more of the chicken I use the better I feel, not just because it’s extremely delicious, but because you’re making the very most of that little chicken who gave her life for your quesadillas. Whatever, it makes me kind of emotional. Thanks, little chicken. I will do right by you.

ANYWAY, this is not the Get Sad About Farm Animals Variety Hour. The point is, despite what many online recipes tell you, you don’t have to buy sixty chicken wings, or use 3 whole uncooked chickens (looking at you Ina), or get 4 chicken’s worth of bones from the butcher. You don’t have to put whipped egg whites on top of it to make it extra-clear like that guy on TikTok, or strain it through a lace wedding veil. You just have to throw some stuff you already have in a pot and let it burble away happily on the stove while you go about your life like the busy and productive cottage witch you are.

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Roast Chicken for Dummies

There’s no excuse for not knowing how to roast a chicken. If you can make mac and cheese from a box, you can roast a chicken. If you can microwave popcorn, you can roast a chicken. If you can toast a pop tart, you can roast a chicken.

Not only is it a life skill, I genuinely believe there’s no more satisfying meal. There’s a reason why literally every culture has a version. You can do it with any kinds of flavorings you want, you can do it with rice or potatoes or cabbage or noodles or all of the above. My problem with roast chicken is… none, I don’t have one. But if I had to make one up, it would be that people find it intimidating when it’s actually the least-risk, highest-reward meal I know how to make. I know you think I’m exaggerating about the popcorn thing, but I’m not.

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Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is one of those foods that you’re just straight-up “not allowed” to have as an adult, according to bullshit diet culture. You learn to convince yourself it’s not that good. Fried chicken is for children, drunk college students, and people stuck at bowling alleys.

You can have chunks of over-breaded industrial protein composite, aka “boneless wings” (they’re NUGGETS, just call them what they are!!!) while “watching the game”, or you can have an artisanally-priced sandwich with too many garnishes and breading that slips right off that greasy thigh like a stocking off of an overheated lady at a brothel in the Old West.

What is even the point. This is why everyone gets all riled up when the good chicken sandwiches come from people who suck (Chick-Fil-A).

The best fried chicken is, of course, homemade. Having a Southerner in the family means that all of a sudden you have access to an entire repository of new powers, like being able to make fried chicken from scratch. This is why I love my brother-in-law Dave’s fried chicken: you just cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts (yeah, I know, spare me your gasps of horror) into tendo-sized strips, coat them with milk, egg, and flour, and fry them until they’re “brown enough” (his words), which usually means just a hint browner than golden. Boom. Done. Good.

I don’t want to hear it about how you’re only supposed to fry bone-in chicken. That is terrifying and I do not want to, even though I have seen it done well with my own eyes (at the best house party I’ve ever been to, because said party featured a beautiful handsome man frying bone-in chicken for everybody because he “didn’t want to talk to anyone.” Marriage material. Anyway.)

What? The Far Side is timeless.

Frying stuff in a vat of hot oil is scary enough, and I’m not here to tell you the “right” way to cook. I’m here to tell you how I cook. I want you to be able to have fried chicken as god intended: hot, fresh, light, crispy, with the Right Amount of breading and a Minimal Amount of fuss.

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