Ask any writer about his/her favorite way to procrastinate when he/she is supposed to be, ahem, lovingly crafting memorable, must-read prose, and you’d probably get a gazillion different answers.

For me, there’s always been something oddly therapeutic about making homemade soup. So when the temperature ventures into even slightly chilly territory (my Wisconsin and Minnesota friends would tease me mercilessly considering how 46 degrees is basically shorts-and-t-shirt weather for them), there’s a good chance I’m digging out the Dutch oven and getting to the business of chopping onions and garlic, which is pretty much the base for any good soup.

When I talk to other people about what they like to cook and eat, I’ve realized that my love of prepping ingredients isn’t exactly shared by the masses. While my knife skills are serviceable at best, I love the simple, rhythmic act of cutting vegetables roughly the same size. And even though I’ve been cooking for a while now, I’m still find myself surprised when simmering all these simple ingredients together makes for such a satisfying lunch, not to mention yummy leftovers later on.

I had some mini potato gnocchi in my pantry, so I decided to finally make a recipe I’d bookmarked forever ago. Basically it’s homemade chicken noodle soup with the gnocchi filling in for the noodles. I liked the baby dumplings for the change in texture and because I didn’t have a rotisserie chicken in the fridge, I improvised by poaching four thin chicken breasts instead.

Incidentally in all my cooking adventures I’ve never, ever poached chicken before and was elated when it actually turned out juicy and flavorful like it should (whew!).

I pretty much followed this recipe to the letter aside from adding a Parmesan rind from the freezer for the salty, cheesy goodness that melts into the broth and bit of lemon zest to perk the flavors up a bit (trust me, a little lemon does this for so many different dishes). I even used the old-school oyster crackers like the recipe suggested, and I must say it was a fun, useful (we all gotta eat, right?) project that’ll keep me going for the rest of the afternoon. Now back to the task at hand…revisiting chapter 12.