Getting My Irish Up! Traditional Irish Soda Bread

irish soda bread20140314_0210

Oh the magic that is St Patrick’s Day! For me as a young adult it meant standing out in a miserably rainy and cold afternoon watching a parade of kilt wearers while bathed in the warmth and glow of Irish Whiskey. There is nothing like frozen toes while your cheeks blaze with an alcoholic glow. This experience, for an Irishman, is a quintessential metaphor for how life is lived. So much fun, while pretty much hitting yourself over the head with a hammer. Celebration and Struggle. Gotta love it.

The Watson Clan harkens back to Galway. I had always believed as a child that I had some Welsh and English blood in me, but it turns out that we are all a bunch of Irishmen.


In honor of my heritage I decided to bake up a batch of Irish Soda Bread- which like too many things- turns out to be more of an American invention rather than something my rosy cheeked Great Grandmother would have made.

The fact that most Irishman were of limited resources (that being pretty much what they raised or grew themselves), meant that fancy things such as raisins, or caraway seeds were not readily available in the pantry. But I say Pishaw! to all that- If you’re going to bend rules it can be for dried fruits- Green beer on the other hand is harder to swallow (pun most definitely intended).


As I was removing the loaf from the oven, my 18 year old Texas raised nephew, Justin, walked into the kitchen. Always curious and eager to learn, he asked me what it was that I had made. Never having heard of Irish Soda Bread,  it turned out to be a challenge to describe. Here’s what I came up with: [Read more…]

Chilled Asparagus Soup

Chilled Asparagus Soup ~ A stack of dishes.comSultry.

Such is the perfect word to describe these dog days of summer. The morning starts out warm but with a touch of breathable coolness in the air.  As the day broadens, the heat swells. It rolls in like an invisible fog that slinks in around you with long puffy arms which envelop you from the ground up and settles in around you, until suddenly you realize- yep, it’s hot.

Growing up my summer days were spent tearing up the yard with games and adventures. Waving sprinklers were set up to run through, trees were climbed, bugs were collected in jars, and homemade popsicles were for after dinner as the day faded.

The difference here is the quiet of the day. As the sun blazes on the lawn mowers remain dormant, reposing is contained within cooled homes-shutters closed, while the summer song of the cicadas (locusts here) CHCHCHCHCHChhchchchch…. chatter in the trees in sound waves that rise to a rousing crescendo, then dissipate once again into the close quiet.

Southern summer quiet.

chilled asparagus soup~ A Stack of Dishes.comLight meals are preferred and sipping cool soup is a delight. Delicate asparagus is coddled in creamy Greek yogurt and made zesty with some tangy goat cheese.

Summer ease.

Chilled Asparagus Soup
Greek yogurt adds the creaminess and a sense of richness, but the goat cheese adds a zing that keeps that spoon dipping.
241 calories
25 g
8 g
11 g
13 g
4 g
450 g
448 g
15 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 241
Calories from Fat 100
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 8mg
Sodium 448mg
Total Carbohydrates 25g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 15g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 1/4 pounds of fresh asparagus, rough chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 small yellow onion, diced
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 2 tablespoons flour
  6. 2 14oz cans of low sodium chicken broth, warmed
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  11. 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  12. 2 ounces chèvre to serve
  1. In a medium to large sized pot over medium heat, warm the oil then add the onions and garlic and gently cook to release the aromatics and soften the onions. Take care not to brown the onions.
  2. Add the asparagus and sauté for 3 minutes. At this point you may remove some of the tips and reserve as a garnish.
  3. Add the flour and cook for a good minute, stirring constantly.
  4. While stirring vigorously to avoid lumping, add half the broth and stir smooth. Then add the remaining broth and the bay leaf.
  5. Set on a low simmer for 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the bay is infused. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Remove from the heat and cool until warm to the touch, about 30 minutes- or chill overnight.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and add the parsley. Puree in a traditional blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Add the yogurt and blend again until thoroughly incorporated. Adjust seasonings if needed.
  8. Chill until cold, or you may serve at room temperature. Divide equally amongst four bowls and add the goat cheese and reserved asparagus tips.
  9. A little drizzle of earthy olive oil on top is a nice finish too.
  1. The soup may be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or two.
A Stack of Dishes