Food + Drink

Soup for lunches.

Pots of Curried Black-Eyed Pea Soup and Vegan Chili

I do my best to cook most of the food Evan and I eat (we do make an exception on Friday nights, when we go out to our favorite restaurant, the Neptune Diner—we’re not fancy), including our lunches. We both work in midtown Manhattan, home of the $8.00 Tossed Salad of Unknown Origins. We like to eat organic and/or local as much as possible (again, Neptune is the exception…), keep our fat/calorie consumption under control, and be a little frugal, so it just makes sense to plan ahead a bit and bring lunches from home.

On Sundays, I generally cook two big pots of soup or stew. I divide them up into individual portions and put them in the freezer. Packing a lunch bag becomes so easy—just grab a container from the freezer and an apple or carrots, and that’s it. I know if I had to prepare a lunch every morning (or the evening before), we’d wind up buying lunch every day and easily blowing through $100 a week.

This week, I made Curried Black-Eyed Pea Soup (I started with this recipe but made many modifications based on the reviews) and Vegetarian Chili. Both were delicious, but my chili recipe really can’t be beat. It is SO GOOD. Trust me on this. Make a pot this weekend—you’ll love it. (And don’t skip the balsamic vinegar!)

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  • Reply miss ripley January 30, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Yum. Your veggie chili recipe looks like one I’ll be trying soon. I love chasing away the chill with a hearty one-pot meal!

  • Reply erin January 30, 2009 at 12:17 am

    mmmm…nothing like a bowl of soup/chilli when its FREEZING outside! i have been craving chilli too. your recipe sounds really good, but my hubby will request meat…so i may have to throw some in.

    also, what is bulgar wheat? i have never heard of it, is it hard to find?

  • Reply kay* January 30, 2009 at 12:56 am

    i love soup and these look delicious!

    i’m moving into my first place this weekend (very exciting) and will now have to start cooking for myself 🙁 i will definitely be trying your chili recipe! especially since it seems to keep well in the freezer for up to a week 🙂 i will NOT be cooking every

  • Reply Cupcakes and Cashmere January 30, 2009 at 1:03 am

    my boyfriend and i have been making a tuscon white bean soup on sundays and you’re right…it’s so perfect to take to work!

  • Reply larissa January 30, 2009 at 1:04 am

    i’ve been meaning to do something like this for a long time. what kind of caontainers do you use for the freezing? thanks!!

  • Reply Kyli January 30, 2009 at 1:28 am

    It’s 45 degrees (celcius) here in Australia where I am right now, but I am contemplating making your chili recipe…looks divine.

  • Reply jennifer in sf January 30, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Have you tried Mark Bittman’s Tempeh Chili with Black Beans? With the roasted garlic, and the honey, and the chipotle? Because right now that’s winning my best veggie chili award. But I will try yours nonetheless, because I love veggie chili.

    Also planning to make this kale and bean soup: For obvious reasons.

  • Reply chrispito January 30, 2009 at 3:08 am

    anna, i have to confess i’m not into design but i just love your blog. it’s the business. thanks for reminding me i need to start bringing my dang lunch again~i used to be really good but after 5 years of goodness i turned bad.

  • Reply Noemi January 30, 2009 at 5:35 am

    hello¡ from spain
    congratulations for your blog
    your house is so nice…

  • Reply Denise Smith January 30, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I am a cornfed midwestern girl at heart, though now I live in the gateway to the south (dc) and I am ashamed to admit it, but…what is lunch without meat? Are these recipes satisfying? I am afraid I would be raiding the vending machine in an hour.

  • Reply belinda January 30, 2009 at 8:24 am

    your veggie chilli recipe has become a staple for me. it is absolutely delicious.

  • Reply lindsay January 30, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I’m all over your chili recipe! We always make a big pot of soup over the weekend. Corn chowder has been the popular choice as of late. It’s so nice to have leftovers handy, and soup always seems to be better on day 2 or 3.

  • Reply jacklyn January 30, 2009 at 9:33 am

    i do the same thing! i eat a soup or chili almost every day. i feel so uninspired to cook in the morning so it is so easy to just grab that container and go.

  • Reply bkroll January 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Hello, I am new to your blog…I love it. I also love curried soups, I will for sure be trying this one. I made a curried pumpkin bisque over thanksgiving, it turned out pretty nice. The curry and pumpkin go great with each other, you should try it sometime.

  • Reply Andrea January 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’ve been making soups and chilis lately for the same reason (don’t work in Manhattan, but you know). I’ll definitely give these recipes a try.

  • Reply Cherisse@newburghrestoration January 30, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I do the same thing. Lunch in the city IS expensive. And I LOVE Hale & Hearty soups and salads. But many times you can make a soup just as good at home. Bravo to you on saving money. $9.00 is way too much to spend on a small soup and salad. That’s prob what it cost you to make the whole pot!

  • Reply Celine January 30, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Hey! I just randomly stumbled on your blog and what a delight! I admire you so much for eating healthy and bringing your lunch. Living in the city, it is too convenient to just go out to buy your lunch! (and I only live in little Toronto, I’d find it more tempting in Manhattan!) You have inspired me to force my hubby to bring his lunch! I can’t wait to try both of these recipes! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Shashi January 30, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I’m very impressed Anna, I can’t wait to have a kitchen to start being organized like this.

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 30, 2009 at 10:00 am

    erin: If you want meat in your chili, I’m sure there are other recipes out there better suited for it — this recipe really is intended to be vegetarian, and between the beans and the bulgar wheat, I can’t imagine meat being a welcome addition. Make it anyway and don’t mention to your husband that there’s no meat in it — why would it matter? Here’s a description of bulgar wheat, by the way. You should be able to find it at just about supermarket, usually in the natural foods or bulk grains section. It’s absolutely necessary for this recipe!

    larissa: I don’t use any particular kind of container, I just have a bunch of random plastic containers (like Snap-Locks, etc.). I don’t like keeping (or heating) my food in plastic, though, so I’m looking for a leakproof, lightweight glass solution to replace them. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

    jennifer in sf: I haven’t tried Bittman’s recipe, but I will definitely look it up! I’m always looking for more delicious soups to make, thank you. 🙂

    Denise Smith: I don’t know what meat has to do with a meal being filling, but I assure you — this chili will leave you STUFFED! The black-eyed pea soup is a bit lighter (though it does have meat in it…again, I don’t think the absence or presence of meat has anything to do with whether a meal is satisfying), but paired with some crackers or a piece of bread, it’s very satisfying. I was a total vegetarian for for over 15 years (and eat very little meat now), and I can’t recall ever feeling deprived!

    bkroll: I’ve also been making an acorn squash-based curry soup (with coconut milk!) lately, and I agree, the combination is wonderful!

  • Reply Taru January 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I use these Pyrex glassware containers for storage and they’re awesome. I keep some cutlery at my desk too so I don’t have to use plastic spoons and forks. Makes a homemade meal at work even more sophisticated.

  • Reply Elissa January 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I got one of these for Christmas this year for bring soup to work.
    It’s great because it seals very tightly and the plastic lid doesn’t really touch the food (particularly while microwaving) I wouldn’t describe it as light and it may not be the prettiest, design-wise, but it’s really practical.

  • Reply Anna January 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Oh yum! I love to mix a lil pasta with a chicken or beef flavored bullion cube, add some fresh veggies (celery, peppers, oregano)and beans, plus a lil cajun spice mix for a kick. When you’re feeling under the weather, the spice clears you right up!

  • Reply two Excited nests. January 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I’m going to try making the chili this weekend, sounds so yummy! Will you consider sharing the other recipe with your modifications?! 🙂

  • Reply Kathleen January 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

    My boyfriend chops up an apple and throws it in our veggie chili. It’s delicious – but never quite as good reheated as it is fresh off the stove. I’m definitely going to try out your recipe (but maybe with an apple thrown in).

  • Reply erin@designcrisis January 30, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I’m a soup lover, for sure. I usually cook a big vat a couple of times a month and we have cornbread to go with, because we’re unhealthy southerners.

    I hear what you’re saying about eating at home. This week of kitchen renovations is killing out budget and out diet.

  • Reply Jules January 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

    What a brilliant idea! I’m embarrassed to admit something like this never even crossed my mind. I will definitely be doing this since I am starting Weight Watchers this Thursday. I do great cooking dinner, but lunches are my downfall. This will definitely help.

    I agree with the pyrex recommendation. It’s the best solution I’ve found so far.

  • Reply Karla January 30, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Okay, this totally off the subject. But I’ve been admiring your blog and your beauty post for awhile now. 🙂 You seem to have such pretty skin and texture. You always look so pretty and well put-together 🙂
    Lately, I’ve been feeling eeky and I’ve been hating the texture of my skin and I can’t seem to find the perfect foundation with good coverage without feeling like I have a billion layers of cake on me? So my question is:

    What make-up and beauty regimen do you use?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

  • Reply Ann January 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I decided to start keeping track of our household’s (which consists of just me and my husband) expenses for the year. I don’t understand where our money goes because I don’t care to shop much and we stopped eating out so much. I tend to make lunch, but sometimes I don’t. Usually I just don’t make lunch once a week. Well, wouldn’t you know that about 1/4 of our food expenses for the month came from eating lunch out? Isn’t that crazy! There’s no reason for that.

    So yesterday I realized I need to make freezable lunches on the weekends for the days I don’t feel like making lunch. It never occurred to me that I could make two soups at one time. What a great suggestion! That definitely keeps it interesting. And a big thanks to the folks who suggested some of the bed, bath, and beyond storage options. I, too, don’t care to use plastic if I can avoid it. Especially when storing tomato-based soups.

    I thank you, my husband thanks you, and most importantly, my wallet thanks you.

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks, everyone, for the glass storage recommendations! I will definitely check them out and hopefully stock up. Out with the plastic, once and for all!

    two Excited nests: I don’t remember exactly what I changed, but I did use less broth (4 cups) and more peas (3 cans drained and rinsed, since I couldn’t find dried). I also doubled the spices, added some garam masala, and added a carrot. Next time, I’ll probably cut the broth back to 3 cups and add a cup of light coconut milk in its place.

    Karla: My skin is not really anything fabulous (quite the opposite!), it’s just good makeup and a very strict regiment night and day. I’ll post about it eventually, but it’s a little embarrassing how much work is takes for me to look halfway decent! As for foundation, lately I’ve been using Rimmel Lasting Finish (very nice for such a low price!) with a light dusting of Lancome Photogenic powder (translucent). I’ve been using this powder for years, and it reflects light beautifully.

  • Reply Karla January 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you, Anna. I’ll be looking forward to your post, and will be definitely be trying the Rimmel and Lancome.
    Ah, don’t be embarrassed!!! I think we all have our funny regimens.:) And and, you are gorgeous!!

  • Reply Shashi January 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I was searching online earlier and saw these –

  • Reply Priscilla January 30, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I tried this for a whole month last winter and although it helped me shed some pounds and time, I got really bored off of soup. So I started doing a whole lot of weekend cooking and freezing for our lunches – grilled chicken, vegetables, etc – it was like frozen entress but with real food. It definitely helped save time during the week and helped watch the calories – two important factors when you’re a college grad or just a busy individual!

  • Reply Priscilla January 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    btw anna, not sure if you already caulked the rest of your bathroom, but thought this example would be useful:

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Shashi: I’m pretty sure the Container Store in the US sells Frigoverre! I’ll take a look the next time I’m down there — thanks!!

    Priscilla: I won’t be caulking until the plumbing is installed, but I have no fears. I’m a master caulker! 🙂

  • Reply jja January 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    A admire anybody being able to live on soup/fruit for the day. I love both but need something additional like pasta, fish …but I love organic and we cook every evening too.

  • Reply mixette January 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Okay, now I am making both your Chili and SmittenKitchen’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad this weekend. That and brown rice should see me through lunch for the next week!

  • Reply larissa January 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    i bought one of these in hong kong about a month ago, and i really love it:
    i think you can get them at the container store too.
    it is on the heavy side, but still really nice.

  • Reply missdk January 30, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    This is a fantastic idea! I usually send my partner off with our leftovers each morning, but now that I have a job that certainly wont be enough. Two soups is also great for differing tastes. My dream is to have vichyssoise every day, but my partner likes something a bit more spicy 😉

  • Reply suzanne January 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    this has nothing to do with soup.
    have you seen this?! swoon.

  • Reply Jacqueline January 30, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I was admiring the Rubbermaid storage containers for produce. They have a piece on the bottom which prevents the greens, etc. from sitting in moisture. But they are plastic-so, no. I have come to the conclusion that storage of food-fresh, organic produce, meats, etc.- really goes against the grain (!) of their inherent…well,freshness. Shopping everyday or two is ideal. When I can’t, I do the same as you by cooking up big batches of soups and warm stews. We store them in glass or porcelain covered vessels in the fridge. And take them to work or wherever in stainless or glass containers. Yes, a bit heavy but worth it. I always feel/think that a glass container is like organic cotton-they both are porous and breathe! In the pantry I store a few things in glass as well-I don’t like cardboard boxes-so we buy small amounts from the bulk bins. by the way,today NPR had a piece on the damages we incur from residual plastics in our system.
    Happy weekend cooking!

  • Reply Patrice January 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Damn!!! They both look so good. I think I’ll start with the chili recipe. I want to start going veggie at least once day a week.

  • Reply kat January 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    do you know what else is yummy?



  • Reply theonly January 30, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Psst, I saw the first bits of Orla Kiely on an endcap at Target today.

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    HAHA, I love how everyone is sending me that Morrissey photo… 😀

  • Reply January 31, 2009 at 5:17 am

    that chilli recipe looks fantastic! thanks for posting.

    i live in australia and it’s crazy hot right now so i’ll save it over for cooler months…

  • Reply Paulineh January 31, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I love soups too and for winter they are the perfect food. I like your Curried Black-Eyed Pea Soup recipe. I love anything curried though lol. I take soup to work for lunch most days in winter because its more filling and warms you up at the same time.

    If you would like some more soup recipes though I am giving a free ebook away at the moment on my crock pot site at
    Thanks again for your recipe.

  • Reply Hilary January 31, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I am definitley gonna give that a go. I get so lazy as a vegetarian doing the same old thing all the time…mmmmmmm i want this right now!! Thanks for sharing Anna

  • Reply AmyA January 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Is that the Neptune Diner in Astoria? Or is there another one?!

  • Reply Lonnie January 31, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I completely agree with you on loving soups/stews! Are you vegetarian, Anna? I also agree on not wanting to use plastic to store/heat up food. And definitely NO plastic wrap in the microwave! That is so dangerous, and it makes me sad that some people don’t know about the dangers of it. I’m wondering, though, if your facial powder contains talc. I’ve heard that talc is similar to aesbestos, and should be avoided. I’ve since switched to make-up that does not contain talc. Just another tidbit of info. to look into, as if there isn’t already enough for us to worry about!

    I love your blog 🙂

  • Reply leanne January 31, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    thank you for sharing anna! i try to do the same thing here, although my husband posesses this incredible ability to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich about every day of his life and be perfectly content. we are so picky about the food that we purchase and prepare at home (local, organic, in season), why blow that much on lunch every day when half of the time you don’t know what you’re really getting? congrats on making the time to do this every week.

  • Reply erin February 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    thanks for the info on the bulgar wheat! i will definitely try the recipe (without meat!)

    i know others have already mentioned- but i love pyrex for storing!!!

  • Reply Mary-Ellen February 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    A peek into your pot & pan collection and tools would be great as well as a peek into your cabinet organization. I have struggled with organizing those cabinets for years. I can’t wait to try your recipies. Thanks.

  • Reply sadie February 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    we rocked your veggie chili tonight! it was so yummy, and very filling. packed it up, put ’em in the fridge, and now I have lunch for the week. my boyfriend is a veggie head who loves the packaged chili. he said your chili was “so flavorful” and “way better” than any other he has had. thanks so much for sharing! i will be passing it along now!

  • Reply Ali February 1, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I made your chili this afternoon and am looking forward to having it for lunches this week. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I have wanted to go vegetarian for some time now and am always on the lookout for great dishes. If you ever are so inclined I would love to see more of your soup/stew recipes. I also made a yummy apple butter banana bread today if anyone is interested in the recipe.

  • Reply faroutbrusselsprout February 2, 2009 at 4:26 am

    This has nothing to do with soup and everything to do with Morrissey. A friend forwarded this to me as she knows what a big The Smiths fan I was (and continue to be). When I opened the link the words that came from my mouth where ‘holy shit’ and thought that I had to send you the link immediately.

  • Reply jo February 2, 2009 at 8:15 am

    ok. so I tried this recipe on the weekend and it’s a keeper! You’re spot on about the balsamic vinegar – crucial, don’t skip it. The first pot I made has already gone, so I’m off to make another batch. Feel free to add more fab recipes. Love em!

  • Reply jo February 2, 2009 at 8:23 am

    PS. I couldn’t resist checking the link faroutbrusselsprout sent and oh my giddy aunt… Morrissey has still got it.. hmmm.

  • Reply Jamie February 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I made a pot of chilli last night for my lunches this week. I used your recipe and the recipe that my boyfriend made up. We use TVP (dehidrated soy) in our chilli to give it some volume and it kindof acts like the “meat” of the chilli. I added corn, celery and carrots like in your recipe. I’m looking forward to lunch today!

  • Reply Cheryl February 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I agreed with all the others that thought the chili looked fabulous, SO I made it for our Superbowl Sunday (even though I didn’t watch it). It was great Sunday night and as lunch today AND I was confident enough in the taste to send a bowl to my 85 yr old neighbor. You speak the truth about this chili… great! I’ve been following your blog since last summer… love your home style and enthusiasm about design (and your little dogs, too!) I’m inspired. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Tashia February 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this amazing Vegetarian Chilli recipe. Freakin’ amazing. Spot. On. It was a hit at my Superbowl party last night! Keep posting these culinary treasures!

  • Reply Livi February 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I made the chili last night in anticipation for dinner (and leftovers) this week and snuck a bite, and it is really good! I left out the balsamic – because I’m feeling wimpy and don’t want to change the flavor b/c I like it as is. Maybe I’ll try a little in my individual portion. I really like the addition of wheat – I’ve never used it before.

    Another good, simple one pot dish is peppers and tomato’s over rice. It’s basically a ‘toss in what you want’ dish – but the base is:

    1 red bell pepper
    1 yellow bell pepper (sliced into thin strips)
    two cans of Italian seasoned stewed tomatos
    4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
    1 medium onion
    about 1 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

    – you put a little oil in a pan, cook the peppers & onion about 5 minutes, add the garlic for another minute, add the tomatos,cumin & red pepper flakes, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes and serve over cooked rice with some nice bread.

    If you eat fish, you can add fish fillet (any nice white fish) – just lay it over the simmering veggie and it steams with the lid on.

    Quick, yummy & makes great leftovers.

  • Reply AnEmily February 3, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Made this yesterday and it was great! Thanks, because i was really in a veggie chili rut. The balsamic vinegar was a nice touch too.

  • Reply Jamie February 3, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Can I just say thank you! Your chili recipe is amazing! I’ve been an anti-inflamatory diet for about a month, which doesn’t leave much for me to eat, so I tried this over the weekend. My husband and I loved it!! In fact I made a 2nd pot last night! I had to cut the wheat out, but it was still fantastic!!

  • Reply attygreen13 February 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    question – on the orla kiely flower blossom wallpaper you used in the ‘vegetable,’ are the leaves tan or gray? i can’t tell from any of the pictures i’ve seen online and was thinking of covering one wall of my light gray bathroom in it … also, any idea where i can get my hands on a roll? 🙂 thanks!

  • Reply Aele February 5, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I recently got this in my email from Sur La Table. Not sure if there’s any in NYC or near to you:

  • Reply Harmony France February 7, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I just wanted to pop in and say that I tried your chili today and it’s absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Reply tracy February 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Since I ran out of time to make this yesterday afternoon, the hubby put all the ingredients in a slow cooker over night. I’d never even heard of bulgar wheat until now. It is SO GOOD. We both even had a bowl of it for breakfast! With a dollop of greek yogurt & multigrain bread:D So much flavor, I can’t wait to have my lunch today 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply Mona February 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I tried this recipe yesterday and it is great! I cooked mine in a slow cooker – delicious! The bulgur gives the chili a nice consistency.

    I didn’t have the spices – have to buy some – so I improvised by using Club House “Chili for Slowcooker” spices in a package – which worked out just fine.

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!!

  • Reply eva February 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    i make this every other week now, and LOVE it, thanks! (i’ve never tried bulgar wheat before now, my husband likes the “meatiness” of it), thanks!

  • Reply Sharon March 15, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Okay, okay, I must admit… I love Neptune Diner’s pancakes, but the staff must stop shopping at Kohl’s and Dress Barn. 🙂 ha, ha…

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