Every week, your challenge is to create an eye-opening dish within our capricious themes and parameters. Blog your submission on Open Salon by Monday 10 a.m. EST -- with photos and your story behind the dish -- and we'll republish the winners on Salon on Tuesday. (It takes only 30 seconds to start a blog.) Please note that by participating, you're giving Salon permission to re-post your entry if it's chosen as a winner, and acknowledging that all words and images in your post are your own, unless explicitly stated. And yes, mashed potato sculpture counts as a dish. Emphatically.
This week, we asked for your best hot soups.
THIS WEEK'S WINNER:
Ever-evolving minestrone, by Felisa Rogers: Some things we make from memory, the same way time after time, and some things seem to want to make themselves, a little differently from one day to the next. These living recipes are repositories of memory, and yet they can change in their particulars without losing the magic of their stories. Felisa's minestrone reunites her with her godmother, who's passed on ... but her recipe, featuring unusual touches like cooking the vegetables in two stages and a garnish of mozzarella cheese, is here for you to make your own connections with.
THIS WEEK'S ALTERNATE WINNERS:
Spicy Florida clam chowder by Felicia Lee: It might seem tough, food-wise, to move from L.A. to a city whose greatest culinary contribution is Gatorade, but Felicia finds hot comfort, at least, in a little-known St. Augustine specialty of Minorcan clam chowder, featuring the delicious and fiery datil pepper.
Humble cabbage soup by Trish O'Rourke: This is, admittedly, an ode to an ugly soup, a simple and hearty bowl of vegetables and turkey. But its homely charms won over this one-time soup-avoiding cook, and it changed her forever.
PLUS, ALSO, TOO: THE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Lentil soup that just might save the world by Linda Shiue: In homage to Frances Moore Lappe's seminal "Diet for a Small Planet," Linda returns this week with one of her favorite Lappe recipes, a lentil soup so satisfying that you won't ever miss the meat.
Snow day tomato soup by Lucy Mercer: As simple, as fundamental a tomato soup as can be, and a warming shot of summer when you most need it.
The split pea soup of your dreams, by Vivian Henoch: Wherein our heroine opens up a couple of cans and makes a passable split pea soup, then realizes she wants more from the world. The result: a recipe that involves fortifying chicken stock with ham hocks, a prominent chef, and just a little butter to keep things interesting.
Beef, vegetable and pesto soup by Theresa Rice: Somewhere between a soup and a stew and a dish of pasta, Theresa's bowl is full of hearty goodness.
Zucchini Zoup by GeeBee: Featuring a whole mess of zucchini and the richness of puréed nuts, GeeBee offers a great way to get your vegetables in for the day. (And, if you're like the mother-in-law who invented this dish, a stick of butter.)
Beans and hocks by Walter Blevins: It ain't fancy, and it ain't pretty, but Walter's bean soup simmered with the salty goodness of smoked ham hocks is a simple, classic standard. Here are the basics; you can play with it however you like.
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AND NOW FOR THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
Now that we have soup all sewn up (NO, WE WERE NOT GOING TO SAY "IN THE CAN"), what has to come next but grilled cheese sandwiches? Here at Salon HQ we just enjoyed the sleazy kind of grilled cheeses that you watch the deli guy cut with a knife and then unwrap two minutes later to see that the sandwich has totally re-attached itself. Far from horror, this phenomenon reminded us that sometimes, there really is nothing better than two slices of white bread and American pasteurized processed cheese food product. You may or may not feel the same way. (But then again, you may or may not be wrong.)
Anyway, this week's challenge, then, is to come up with a creative grilled cheese. Creativity might take the form of what you put in there besides cheese, it might take the form of what you do with a grilled cheese, it might take the form of an exciting new way to make a grilled cheese. We will admire entries that involve fine breads and cheeses, but we are going to admit it: bonus points for sandwiches that involve the aforementioned white bread and American cheese.
Be sure to tag your posts: SKC grilled cheese (Please note that by participating, you're giving Salon permission to re-post your entry if it's chosen as a winner, and acknowledging that all words and images in your post are your own, unless explicitly stated. Adaptations of existing recipes are fine, but please let us know where the original comes from. And if you'd like to participate but not have your post considered for republication on Salon, please note it in the post itself. Thanks!)
Scoring and winning
Scores will be very scientific, given for appealing photos, interesting stories behind your submissions, creativity and execution.