How To Cook When Your Household Goods Haven’t Arrived Yet…

Last Friday, the weather took a strange turn. Blue skies adorned Korea. A cool breeze graced our city. AC turned off, windows left open. Children playing outside. The evil humidity subsided…for now. Have we officially switched over to, dare I say…….Autumn?

We woke up to a rainy day today. Grey skies, horizontal downpours, curl-in-your-bed-and-read type of weather. After living in Phoenix for a year (side note – I checked the weather there for today and it’s still in the 100s – NOPE) I treasure this change of scenery. I decided it was going to be a comfort meal kind of dinner – soup and bread.

A recipe that stuck out to me was Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons (shout out to my friend Angela for the recommendation) – because who DOESN’T love tomato soup and grilled cheese?

Here’s her recipe, copy and paste:

3 tablespoons good olive oil

3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

4 cups chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

Large pinch of saffron

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup heavy cream

Grilled Cheese Croutons (see recipe below)

In a large pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

Grilled Cheese Croutons

(Serves 4 to 6)

4 (1/2-inch thick slices country white bread)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat a panini grill. Place four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.

Grill sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Doesn’t this sound glorious? I mostly picked this recipe because (1) It sounds AMAZING; (2) I didn’t need a blender to puree it or a crock pot to cook it, and (3) I could get most all of the ingredients at the commissary.

Did I mention we STILL don’t have our stuff from the moving company (to be fair, it came by BOAT across the PACIFIC OCEAN so we knew it would take ages…)? The movers came on June 29, so it’s been most of the summer. For those of you who have dealt with military overseas moves, you totally feel my pain.

THINGS I DON’T HAVE FROM HER RECIPE: large pot/Dutch Oven, saffron, medium pot, panini grill, cutting board…..etc. Time to improvise.


1.So here’s a super last minute photo of my ingredients. When I took this, the onions/garlic/olive oil were cooking. Yes, I have a Survival Spice Kit that came with me in my checked bag. I highly recommend that to anyone who is moving . I had to cook the Orzo prior to the onions because I only have one sauce pan…./cries

TIP – I substituted saffron with ground ginger, and it actually worked quite well

My limited ingredients – some items not pictured

2. Here’s a photo of said onions/garlic/olive oil being cooked. Due to my lack of Dutch Oven (I honestly can’t even remember if it went to storage or is on it’s way to Korea, ugh), I purchased a cheap 4 quart sauce pan to help cover my needs. It….somewhat does the job.

Onions in a 4 quart sauce pan instead of a Dutch Oven…

3. Although I do have a panini maker, it’s NOT HERE (can you feel my frustration yet?) so I attempted to broil the cheese-covered-bread in the oven.

Grilled cheese in the oven…

4. Update on the soup – with the rest of the ingredients – looking good so far (even though the pot is almost overflowing…) I taste tested this baby and it was DELICIOUS.

image2 (7).JPG
Soup looking good!

5. Wait….sh!t….you know when you move to a new country and you’re in that long process of learning your oven and how temperamental (ha…) it is from your recent American oven? Yeah…oops…

“Grilled cheese”….not so good

6. This is at the point in the night when I cutely proclaim from the kitchen “Honey, dinner is ready!” and then wait for my husband to walk in and give his First-Look-Assessment. So here’s what he saw…

Dinner is ready!

7. Pictured below you’ll see a gorgeous simple rendition of tomato soup with the finest Orzo from Italy, a side of Gruyere cheese on toasted pure white bread – all paired with Merlot wine, and complimented with the finest paperie that the Osan Commissary has to offer.

도요 위하여! (Bon Appetit!)

I promise this actually tasted amazing, and I only used my sauce pan, a burnt cookie sheet, and a spatula. This isn’t the most beautiful Pinterest-looking photo of a meal, but we absolutely loved it and still have plenty left over for lunch.

So how do you cook when your household goods haven’t arrived yet? With a good attitude, sense of adventure in the kitchen, and a bottle of wine to make it more fun 😉

Kisses & Kimchi,



  1. When we first got to Phoenix, our oven was broken and so was the freezer and we didn’t have our stuff yet, so we had to eat out or make sandwiches.
    Then they fixed the freezer (the oven didn’t get fixed until the day before thanksgiving, and we got there on Halloween) so we switched to freezer meals we could make in the microwave until our pots and pans made it and we could use the stove top.


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