Ian's Chicken Corn Chowder

I wrote about fighting off the winter blues last week. It's amazing what some sun, a good book, and laughs with friends can do to help alleviate a gloomy mood. 

This past weekend was a welcome reprieve after the bitter cold early February brought to the city. Our radiators, which usually sound like freight trains steaming through the apartment, quieted down then shut off. Saturday morning we woke up to a flood of sunshine and the familiar sound of birds chirping. I rushed over to open the windows and announced, "Spring is here!". It's not.... this week brought blustery winds, rain, and I put away all hopes of putting away all sweaters.

Even though last weekend's warmth was short lived, Spring IS coming. It's really just around the corner. If nothing else, my sinuses are living proof. They've started to pack their bags for their yearly spring time attempt to evacuate my head. 

The short glimpse of warmer weather was enough reason to go outside and take advantage of the sunshine. I celebrated with long walks around the neighborhood, dress shopping, brunch, even an ice cream cone! We also cooked, a lot. For the first time in weeks. Prosciutto and spinach pizza, pesto pasta salad, warm root vegetable + grain salad (recipe soon), and the highlight of the weekend: Ian's Chicken Corn Chowder.

I've talked about this soup before, it's my absolute favorite. Loaded with flavor, it manages to be both light and hearty. The perfect Snap You Out of the Winter Blues and Get You Ready for Spring dish. I love this soup so much I crave it more often than chicken noodle, which is saying A LOT. I'm not going to wax poetic about it because that will just stand between you and this recipe. Make this soup, sop it up with a crusty piece of bread, and I guarantee you'll be full but heading back into the kitchen for seconds. Enjoy!


Ian's Chicken Corn Chowder


  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 2 cans regular corn
  • 2 cartons chicken broth
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 pack chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour + enough water to make runny paste for thickening
  • 1-2 tsp. paprika, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot caramelize the onions and add potatoes.
  2. Cover the onions and potatoes with all the chicken broth. Bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Once the potatoes are tender, add carrots and bell pepper. Turn down the heat to medium, stirring often.
  4. Stir in the evaporated milk.
  5. Make a mixture of the flour and water until you have a runny paste. Stir into the soup. 
  6. Turn down the heat to simmer and continue to stir until your chicken is tender. Really, really stir. 
  7. Add paprika, salt, and pepper. Let simmer for another 2-3 min. then toss in scallions. 
  8. Remove from heat and serve with a side of warm, crusty, Italian bread. 

Spring Mushroom, Spinach, + Chickpea Soup

I know spring has arrived because I am not tempted to wake up on the weekends, reposition myself on the living room couch, and spend 3 hours watching Storage Wars wishing I had a warm locker in CA to hibernate in. Also, I switch from ice cream to sorbet as my snack of choice. That's a sure sign that spring is officially here. 

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DC this time of year is stunning. Every tree has blossoms on it, streets are popping with flowers, the sky is extra blue- it really feels like walking through a movie set at times. Instead of holing up in the apartment I've been up early, venturing out to explore the city that will be my home for only two more months. 

Cooking healthy and on a budget in the winter months is an arduous endeavor when you live in an area where the cold prevents most vegetables and greens from growing. Springtime feels like a literal weight off the shoulders in this regard. Greens and veggies are bountiful and frequently on sale. Just last week at my local Safeway raspberries were a dollar a carton, bunches of spinach were $2, and I picked up 2lb. of white button mushrooms for only $5. 

The common button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is often passed over on other cooking blogs and even scoffed at for being too simple and boring. Time and again I stop myself from preparing these recipes because they call for scouring health food stores for expensive, hard to find varieties that need soaking and massaging. If I'm going to spend money soaking or massaging anything these days, 9 times out of 10, it's going to be me.  

These "ordinary" mushrooms are not only affordable and remarkably flavorful when cooked, they are also super healthy. In fact, "...health experts and nutritionists refer to Agaricus bisporus mushrooms as nature’s nutritional supplement. That’s because mushrooms are loaded with the nutrients our bodies need to generate energy and repair cells — including digestive enzymes, a spectrum of B vitamins, protein, and vitamin D2."  There is no need to purchase fancy and expensive mushrooms in order to make recipes calling for risottos, sides, pies, etc. White button mushrooms will do as they soak up tons of flavor and are incredibly hearty. 

With the weather so lovely and warm, my cravings for lunch have changed quite a bit as well. Instead of heavy sandwiches, slices of pizza, and wraps I'm craving light, easy, and nutritious foods. Over the weekend I made this filling yet light mushroom, spinach, and chickpea soup. The only groceries I needed were $5 worth of button mushrooms, 2 cans of chickpeas, and a handful of spinach. All the main ingredients were on sale and prep and cooking time took only 1 hour. I store all my soups in glass jars because they take up less space and are remarkably easy to transport without spilling. For lunch this week I've been keeping the soup in the fridge at work and packing up some cornbread (made using Mark Bittman's healthy, yogurt based recipe) as a side. In total, this lunch cost me less than $10 and has been a healthy and flavorful mid-day meal all week long. Give it a try!

Spring Mushroom, Spinach, + Chickpea Soup


  • 1-2 lbs. white button mushrooms, rinsed well, stems removed, rough chop
  • 1 lb spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained +rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • s+p
  1. In a heavy pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add chickpeas, onion, s+p, and sauteé, until light brown and fragrant. 
  2. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, paprika, and cumin and cook stirring often until the mushrooms begin to lose their liquid and start turning golden.
  3. Add spinach and continue stirring and cooking until the greens begin to wilt and turn a darker color.
  4. Add balsamic and give everything a good stir, picking up any bits that stick to the bottom.
  5. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down to simmer, and cook for 15-20min. 
  6. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Add more s+p, paprika, cumin. Red chile flakes for spice, if you like. 
  7. Season with a hearty cheese like Parmesan or Asiago and serve with a side of warm cornbread. 

Broccoli Cheddar Stew (Get strep. Hit rock bottom. Eat this.)

Sometimes you just hit rock bottom. For me this moment arrived two weeks ago after 18 hrs of a strep induced coma. I woke up with an intense craving for chicken soup. If you've ever had strep, then you know that any food- even something like mashed potatoes- inevitably feels like Pirates of Penzance being performed in your throat. So any craving has to be really worth the pain of a million daggers. At this point many bloggers would probably share with you their great-great-grandmother's, freshly slaughtered chicken, garden picked carrot, hand rolled pasta, soup recipe. Since the idea of this blog is to be realistic, I have to tell you that this is not my reality.

When I am sick, I revel in the misery of it; I park myself on the couch in sweatpants approximately seven times my size, drink copious amounts of tea, binge on bad tv, all whilst making sure to inform any and all passerby's about my funeral plans. (A real pleasure to be around.) So I will honestly share with you that although my fridge held two gallons of chicken stock, 3 pounds of carrots, and a box of pasta- I chose instead to call the Chinese place across the street for delivery chicken noodle soup. Somehow it made more sense to pull on pants, exit my apartment, go downstairs to the lobby of my building, interact with the delivery guy, and pay for soup... than just prepare it fresh- pantless and comfortable- in the privacy of my own kitchen. Ultimately, this isn't even so much a question of food as it is of pants. No healthy person would pick pants over no pants. Like, I said. Rock bottom. 

I haven't posted in the last month because most of it was comprised of the above scenario. Sinus infections, strep, colds.... this autumn, it's been non- stop. At one point it got so bad that even Ian, whose immune system was forged from steel, succumbed and came down with a cold straight from hell. Somewhere between the beginning of October and a few weeks ago we switched from a relatively healthy, budget conscious lifestyle to delivery, tv binging, and more delivery.The only recipes or budget friendly tips I really have to share from the last month are:

1. Spring for the brand name Theraflu, CVS brand doesn't measure up.

2. Swallowing antibiotics with orange juice is much easier than water.

Groundbreaking stuff, I know. 

At some point in mid- October, our misery was interrupted by the promise of Halloween just around the corner. We both adore the holiday and make an annual effort to come up with creative costumes. This year, Ian proposed we go as Wild Things. In my NyQuil stupor I of course assumed that he meant the 1998 erotica thriller starring Neve Campbell and Denise Richards. Forever being a downer, I immediately pointed out that these costumes would cause numerous issues since we would probably both want to go as Neve, and it's freezing outside, and wearing bikinis when we already have colds seems like a bad idea, and.... Ian stopped my barrage of anxiety by explaining that he wanted to go as Wild Things the book, not the movie. Oh. Ooops.

                               THIS.                                                                             NOT THIS. 

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We got to work making the costumes since buying is not in either of our vocabularies. Ian made the heads out of cardboard boxes and spent several post work evenings covering them in paper mache- made from strips of newspaper, water, and a big bag of flour I picked up at Safeway.

We painted the heads with acrylic paint and let them dry while I sewed fake fur onto old sweatpants and thrifted sweaters. Jack went as our Prince Max, complete with a crown and white onesie I ordered from the "very fat babies" section on Amazon.


We went out, took pictures, hid our congested selves underneath giant masks, and managed to stay out until 3am- a feat we had previously not performed for many months. (Thank you grad school and full time jobs: we are officially adults now.) The next morning I woke up hungover but feeling surprisingly better. When you've hit rock  bottom, eventually the time comes to make a choice between staying there or pulling yourself back up. I distinctly remember deciding to put on pants, march into my kitchen, and assert that I wasn't going to live like this anymore. Sometimes it takes something as little as sewing fake fur onto an old sweatshirt to change the status quo. That night, we didn't order out or just boil some pasta. Ian looked up the recipe for standard broccoli soup and decided to play it up and adapt it to make something a little more special. I chopped broccoli, Ian cooked the chicken, and in a little less than an hour we had a something of a broccoli cheddar stew. This recipe is a one pot, warm and comforting, serious kick in the pants. It's the perfect pick me up for a freezing late autumn day. Put it over rice or buckwheat for a super hearty lunch or do like we did and throw chunks of rosemary focaccia into it for a warm, reviving, and flavorful dinner. 

         Broccoli cheddar chicken stew



  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 lb chicken boneless/skinless breasts or thighs *
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 cup flour**
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

* for a vegetarian alternative skip the chicken and/or substitute tofu

** for an even thicker consistency add a dash more flour or cornstarch

Click through for preparation: