A couple weeks back, in the depths of the coldest winter ever, my mother-in-law shared yet another recipe with me that I’ve fallen in love with.  POWER SOUP.  It’s yummy and it kicks ass inside your body.  The original recipe was in the weekend paper (cute) and with a couple tweaks it’s become a regular in my kitchen.  In fact, James said, “You can make this all the time.”  To which I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes.  Some of you may be so over soup by this time of year and all, “Yay! Pedicures and iced coffee and ponies and ice cream,” but in the Northeast it’s still chilly enough to be cranky, so soup is still on the kitchen table.


In a large stockpot or dutch oven sauté 1 chopped onion, 2-3 minced garlic cloves and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup farro (or quinoa if you are gluten-free) and 1 can white beans (Cannellini or Navy), drained and rinsed. Add about 6 cups of chicken broth, half of a peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 2 cups, 1-inch pieces) and 1 can whole peeled tomatoes with the juices, tearing into pieces as you add. Note: if you’re using quinoa make your squash cubes a little smaller so they cook at the same rate as the grain.

To season this soup, the recipe calls for a parmesan cheese rind.  If you have hard cheese leftover from a dinner party (like parmesan, gruyere or beemster), whack off the rind and add it to the soup for a major flavor upgrade.  If you don’t live a life that leaves you with delicious gourmet cheese just lying around you can add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to taste.  No biggie.  Similarly, the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, which I absolutely NEVER have on hand.  You can substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme or use a little oregano or parsley which will change the flavor only slightly from the original recipe. Then, if you’re like me, add, “Being the kind of person who has fancy cheese and fresh herbs on deck at all times,” to the heap of unrealistic life aspirations.  Then add salt.

Sim-simmah (simmer) for about 30 minutes, until your farro is cooked and the squash is fork-tender. If you’re using quinoa, adjust the cooking time accordingly (about 20 minutes).  Stir in 3 cups coarsely chopped/torn kale, stiff ribs removed and simmer another couple minutes.  You can also substitute spinach, you just won’t be as bad ass.

That’s it! Discard your cheese rind and serve up your Power Soup with a little extra grated cheese or a drizzle of olive oil. You will instantly feel better about everything and rule the world. (If you’re interested in the specific reasons that this soup is so good for you, see the notes below.)

Loveyoubye! Maggie


Ingredient Checklist:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup farro (or quinoa)
  • 1 can white beans
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese rind or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped kale

Health notes:

  • Farro – an unprocessed wheat berry high in fiber, protein and B vitamins
  • White Beans – a legume high in fiber, protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron
  • Butternut Squash – a winter squash high in fiber, Vitamin A and C and beta-carotene
  • Canned Tomatoes – a vine fruit high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and the antioxidant lycopene
  • Kale – a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene and calcium


Eating Well in Charleston, SC

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we just took a couple days off and went down to Charleston, SC last week. It’s been on my list of places to see for a few years and NOW is a great time to visit. Charleston is BLOWING UP right now with awesome restaurants. And when we travel…we eat. Aside from the awesome food scene, the city is brimming with history and you can walk your meal off while admiring charming Georgian architecture, antebellum mansions and scenic plantations. Spring is a good time of year to go, too, at least for Northerners who aren’t used to the extreme humidity of summers.


If you’re planning a trip, I highly recommend making dinner reservations before you roll into town. Most restaurants are poppin’ off so hard that they’re booked for lunch AND dinner. Once you’re in town eating and drinking your faces off, make sure to get your fair share of local oysters, She-Crab soup, pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, iced tea, coconut cake, chocolate pudding and fried chicken. Here’s a short list of places we were able to check out that I highly recommend.


We also had a heck of a good time at The Cocktail Club, upstairs from The Macintosh. They make awesome cocktails (obvi) and you must order their BACON SPICE POPCORN for $3 (!!) that comes in a giant straw basket. Holy sheet was it good.

We didn’t have enough room in our bellies to hit up these spots, which we’ve heard are also outstanding:

  • Fuel Cantina (in a re-imagined gas station)
  • Two Boroughs Larder
  • Jestine’s
  • Martha Lou’s Kitchen (for the real deal fried chicken)
  • Xiao Bao Biscuit
  • Dixie Supply & Bakery
  • S.N.O.B.
  • Basil Thai Food
  • Aluette’s Cafe
  • The Grocery
  • Prohibition
  • Sugar Bakery

charleston-2Take me back! Who else knows what’s up in Charleston?

Loveyoubye, Mags



The Secret’s in the Sauce



They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In Italian families, it’s through his mother’s Sunday Gravy. Nope, not the yummy brown murder weapon that you use to drown your mashed potatoes in. It’s not marinara, tomato sauce or Bolognese. Sunday Gravy is the delicious tomato-ey stewy sauce flavored by hot and sweet sausage, handmade meatballs, and in some Southern Italian families, brasciole or pork spare ribs.  It’s the one that you stir for an entire day and then enjoy over a giant plate of perfectly cooked al dente pasta with grated cheese. It’s the one that became couch culture through the scathing words of Tony Soprano (“He eats his Sunday gravy out of a jar.”). It’s the one that the rest of the general population calls spaghetti with meatballs.

This past weekend, my sweet mother-in-law came over to my kitchen and taught me the Natarelli Family Recipe, as taught to her by her mother-in-law. I changed my last name almost three years ago, but now that I have this for reals secret sauce simmering in my kitchen, I am officially a Natarelli. So, what’s the secret to the perfect Sunday Gravy? Learn it from your man (or woman’s) mother.