When we first “met” Kelsey, The Naptime Chef online (I think it was through Food52, where she ruled the dessert contests for a while), we immediately connected over the parallel between cooking for quarter-lifers (our niche) and cooking with a little kid around (hers).
When we first actually met her, over pretzel croissants and hot chocolate at City Bakery, we figured out exactly why that parallel was so telling. See, new moms are pressed for time, because they’re juggling an extra aspect of life, aka a child. Quarter-life cooks are pressed for time because we’re juggling a developing career, roommates, and busy social schedules.
The food that both of these life moments require is not too fussy but still interesting, not terribly time-consuming but still not based on mixes or weird shortcuts, and ultimately satisfying to feed to others, whether a young family or a group of friends.
Kelsey’s site has been fantastic as long as we’ve known her. It’s full of creative recipes that solve the everyday problem of how to get great simple meals on the table. Her book, which came out last week, is ingenius. I flagged a disproportionate number of recipes: creamy malted pancakes; ricotta crostini with balsamic caramelized onions, honey & sea salt; dutch oven pulled pork; and mint chip meringues in addition to a bajillion others. The photography is moutwatering, the layout casts the book as a place you want to spend time, and the recipes are a cinch to follow.
I was drawn immediately to this soup. In part, it was because I happened to have every single ingredient in my pantry and fridge except the basil, and yet I don’t think I would have put it together to turn tomatoes, sausage, spinach, and stuffed pasta into a satisfying and healthful soup. But Kelsey did. Ingenius, I tell you. And you probably have most of the ingredients right now too.
One more thing: I’ve got a copy of The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life to send to a lucky reader. To win:
And even if you don’t win, you can grab Kelsey’s book online. Can’t wait to hear what you guys cook from it!
From my kitchen, admiring naptime chefs, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Chicken Sausage & Ravioli Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
Adapted from The Naptime Chef
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces organic chicken sausage (I used a pack with Italian flavors)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups water
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with their juices
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
About 10 ounces fresh cheese ravioli or a 10-ounce bag of cheese tortellini
6 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Warm the olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Chop the chicken sausage into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot (if you can, remove the casings–but if they don’t come off easily, don’t worry about it). Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook until the sausages are beginning to brown and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
While stirring, add the white wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer everything over medium heat until the wine has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the stock, water, and crushed tomatoes, and add the salt and most of the basil. Give it a stir, bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes, so the flavors combine. Add the ravioli, and cook until it rises to the top, about 3-4 minutes for fresh ravioli. Drop in the spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes.
Ladle the hot soup into big bowls and top with grated Parmesan. Garnish with a few extra basil leaves.