Of Tuscan Soup and Monkeys

I was eating lunch with a friend earlier this week and I told her I was having a group of knitting friends come over on Wednesday and we were going to sit around and swear under our breath while we dropped stitches make beautiful works of handmade art that would bless our families for generations to come.  She looked at me as though I had grown a third head and said she just didn’t understand the whole knitting thing, and wasn’t I just a wee bit young to be sitting in a rocking chair knitting sweaters made from the hair of my forty-seven cats?

I tried to explain to her that knitting is the perfect hobby for a non-crafty person such as myself because there are only two stitches to learn (knit, purl) and there are these things called patterns that, if you follow their very precise instructions, you end up with something that approximates creativity without really having to have it innately.

Though I’ve come a long way from my early knitting days,  I’ve stayed pretty safe making wash cloths, hats and scarves, and it has been way past time to branch out, so yesterday Rachel, Kellie, Amy and I got together to learn about socks and crocheted flowers.

Try not to be jealous of my glamorous life.

Actually, the three truly crafty people tackled socks and crocheted flowers.  I just stood around taking pictures and eating the sweet rolls that Kellie brought over and generally being non-productive and flighty.

Well, I take that back.  I DID make Tuscan Chicken Soup which Kel enjoyed and asked for the recipe, and I cringed because the recipe lives only in my head and I rarely make it the same way twice, but for the sake of posterity(and because Kel ate the leftovers for breakfast AND lunch and wants to make her own batch), here’s the general concept of what goes in it.

Tuscan Chicken Soup

olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cans canellini beans, drained and rinsed

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 quarts chicken stock (homemade makes it so much better, but I use Swanson’s more times than not)

1 cup tomato sauce/crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt to taste


Lightly drizzle bottom of sauce pot with olive oil and saute celery, onion and carrot until soft.  Add in minced garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add in chicken stock, herbs, spices, tomato sauce, beans and shredded chicken, bring to a boil, then simmer for least half an hour.

It’s very important to taste the soup at this point and fiddle with the spicing. 

This is where the recipe changes from batch to batch because sometimes I feel it needs more rosemary, and other days I want it spicier so I add more cayenne. Sometimes I’ll add a splash of wine or some parmesan, other times I leave it out.


Anyway, that’s my crafty cooking contribution for the day, and just in case you were curious about what I was knitting (when I wasn’t stuffing my face), here’s a picture of the monkey toy pattern I’m trying to follow:

and here’s what it actually looks like so far.

Don’t you feel better about yourself now?

Have a nice day.


Now with ears and looking less like a voodoo doll and more like….a bear?


25 responses to “Of Tuscan Soup and Monkeys

  1. I lurve Stripey Monkey w/0 A Face. Reminds me of a Billy Idol song. Anyway…You are amazing. I can do straight rows. I finally had to give up on my second fingerless glove b/c the needles kept slipping out. Yes, @Yarn Whisperer, I know now to buy end caps.

    Why do we insist on doing that which makes us swear? 😉 Or at least grumble? No new neural pathway is worth that.

    Or is it?

  2. I really feel the overwhelming need to say something positive about the knitted monkey…here goes:

    Wow that is some monkey!!

    Either way you are a WAY better knitter than I.

  3. This is so fun b/c I’ve been looking at knitting patterns and have decided to use my 40% off Michael’s coupon on a round loom! Is that cheating? 😉 I want to make a scarf in his college colors for Someone Special. 🙂 Is it mean to make my first attempt a gift? lol

  4. My Aunt Gail is giving me a knitting lesson next weekend and I cannot WAIT!!! I am excited further because you make it sound very do-able because I was so nervous that I won’t be able to do a THING!!

    CUTE CUTE stuff!

  5. Hmmm. I think the Monkey pattern could be modified to a bunny. LR saw the most adorable “sock bunny” in an expensive children’s catalog from which we never order things but still are on their mailing list.

    Wait. Who am I kidding. I CAN’T KNIT!

  6. Do you know it’s me if I change my name up there?? Because I just realized that it may not show up!! I was Team Tenley and Onion Ring Lover before…hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t love that option so much..am I confusing??!!

  7. Oh, and I was “Aspiring Knitter” on today’s comment…

  8. Thank you. I was quickly running out of my Tuscan Chicken Soup supply and was in need of a recipe. Stat.

    I am proud to have this recipe that once lived only in your head and I am certain when I make it won’t be quite the same.


    Because one of the loveliest things about eating chicken soup (for breakfast and lunch) is the fact that someone you love made it.

    That is what makes this particular soup a delicacy.

  9. I love knitted sock monkey. He’s so very cute.

  10. I will be making this tomorrow night for supper. Sounds delish! And I am impressed by your funky monkey. I took a knitting class and the best thing I ever made were beanbags. SIGH.

  11. Remind me never to tick you off. Cause you can make one mean voodoo doll.

  12. So I’m just finding out that Tiff was Onion Ring Lover and Team Tenley.

    I was mighty confused the other day when I read Ms. Onion Ring’s comment, and thought to myself, “Really? Someone’s web name is really Onion Ring Lover? To each his own I guess.”

    Hmmm….I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box.

    I’ll just hang out in the corner with the faceless monkey. He and I would probably get along great.

  13. Stephanie Canipe

    You made knitting sound so easy it ALMOST made me want to take a whack at it. I am so uncrafty. xx

  14. I have to confess I laughed out loud when I first saw your monkey doll, but with the mouth and ears he is looking so much better 🙂 And I have no room to laugh; I’d never even attempt to make a monkey doll. I sew; I do not knit. But I’m so glad you do. It makes me feel like we live in a better world to know that people like you and my mother-in-law knit. Truly. No joke. You contribute to my sense of well-being!

  15. I’ll just hang out w/the other dull colors in the box. That Tiffster is no match for me–especially when I haven’t had my daily RDA of caffeine.

  16. That is funny stuff. And I’m glad you have a friend that asked what I would have. The why are you doing this? 🙂

  17. I love the monkey- it is adorable and more than I could ever dream of doing!

    The soup looks yummy. I always cringe when people ask me for recipes, too because many of them are in my head – exactly why I do not like to bake.

  18. I feel so honored….I made it onto CPQ’s blog!! 😉

    Thanks again for having us over, and the soup WAS delicious!! I’ll definitely be making some for the fam soon. Your sock monkey is coming along great! Now we just need to come up with a super cool name for our ultra hip group of knifty knitters! 🙂

  19. Thank you for posting the recipe! I felt like an awful guest by leaving without trying it!! The monkey looks great!!

    Do you remember Mike Myers’ Dieter from Saturday Night Live? One of his catch phrases would be a great title for this post.

  20. linked ya. http://mylifeandmyloves.blogspot.com/

    hopping over from june’s blog. you’re now in my reader. 🙂

  21. I took my knitting with me while I was getting a pedicure during my lovely week of stay-cation. Important Safety Tip: Do not take knitting with you while getting a pedicure. Not only was the pedicurist distracted and wanted me to teach her knitting WHILE performing a pedicure, poorly, I might add; but I also dropped a stitch on every row I knitted.

    The one nice comment she made was “knitting for old people, you not old.” I’ll take that.

  22. Seriously. You know me. Do you really think I could knit? Really? Be truthful and kind, if possible.

  23. that’s hilarious. really, not that the monkey isn’t lovely, but i laughed less at today’s post and the maxi pad/princess panties/ diaper scenario. i laughed loudly at the monkey. for some reason it stuck a cord. . .

    probably the one firmly ingrained in my brain that declares, “You are not crafty and should not do things that are time consuming, brain consuming, and nerve decreasing. ”

    besides that, i have little children. and really, do we ever sit down? 🙂

    also, since we have never actually met i should hope that my comment above wasn’t terribly offensive, as i tend to speak (or type) and then think. i am genuinely impressed that you are stretching the brain and acquiring new skills. well done. 🙂

  24. I am DEFINITELY trying your soup recipe this week!

    Also, I think I just woke my husband by laughing at your bear — not really at your bear, because it’s so much better than I could do! I can’t knit to save my life and I’m super impressed at your abilities! — but I did laugh at your description. Not out loud, of course, because I’m a super nice wife who tries to be quiet while typing in bed next to a slumbering husband. (What is he doing asleep at 9:15 anyway?!) No, it was the bed jiggling under my silent laughter that woke him. And that’s my story for the evening. 🙂

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