Folks, this soup is magical. It’s simple to the point of being questionable—just chicken broth, rice, eggs, and a lemon. But that’s the beauty of it. Rice simmers in the broth, then the hot liquid tempers beaten egg yolks. It all cooks together until the soup suddenly thickens and brightens. That’s it. I love how humble and warming it is, how the lemon kind of crashes through. I craved it on one of our first cool nights in NYC last week, and I’m sure it’ll be in my regular rotation as the days get chilly. 

Most recipes you’ll find start with eight or nine cups of broth, six eggs, a cup of rice. My favorite version comes from Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year. After Gourmet magazine closed, she spent a year in upstate New York cooking her way to finding peace with it all. This soup was soothing for her then, and it is for me now. I hope she doesn’t mind that I scaled down her recipe to serve one.

I love poached chicken for this—it’s tender and falls apart in big, pleasing shreds. I cooked a couple breasts on Sunday using this method from the Kitchn and used them in lunches and dinners all week long. 

Also, don’t toss those egg whites! Bulk up your next scramble or beat to soft peaks and fold into pancake batter for extra fluffy cakes.



A super simple, bright, comforting soup for one. This Greek classic uses just broth, rice, lemon, and eggs. I like to stir in shredded cooked chicken breast and top with parsley or scallion. You could sauté a few veggies in the pot before simmering the broth if you like. This recipe is adapted from Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year.
Servings 1 person


  • cups unsalted chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • cups water
  • 3 tbsp dry white rice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ lemon (regular sized)
  • ½ cup shredded cooked chicken breast
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring stock and water to a boil in a large pot with the lid on. Regular broth or stock would be a little too salty here… if you can’t find unsalted stock or low-sodium broth, up your ratio of water to broth. Once it reaches a boil, add rice, reduce heat slightly, and simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender, about 12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the juice of ½ lemon in a bowl and beat well with a whisk to combine. When the rice is cooked, take a ladle full of the stock mixture and very slowly stream it into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Add this mixture in a slow stream back to the pot with the remaining stock mixture, whisking constantly. Simmer about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. It will thicken slightly, but not as much as a custard.
  • Stir in shredded chicken and simmer about 1 minute more to warm through. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley leaves or a little chopped green onion.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Black Eyed Pea Salsa

When I’m staring down a pantry ingredient at the store, the (imaginary) conversation between us goes something like this:

Me: “If I bring you home, how will you earn your keep?”
Ingredient: “You can make that one thing you’ve been craving!”
Me: “Yeah, but like, after that.”
Ingredient: “I don’t know. Wait a bit, then make it again? Let me fossilize on the top shelf until you forget I exist and buy another one?”
Me: “Wrong answer. Next!”

I try to think of at least three ways to use an ingredient before bringing it home. I’m also always trying to figure out how to use what’s already in my pantry. More than being conscious of food waste or budget, this is really just what gets me excited to cook… I love finding new recipes or inventing my own in the name of using up that one thing. I’ll build dishes around the last dregs of a tahini jar, the last bundle of soba noodles. I’ll bake for no other reason than I must—must—use the entire carton of buttermilk some way, somehow.

A few weeks ago, that ingredient was cornmeal. I just had to have a batch of Dessert for Two’s corn muffins. After that, I snuck some more cornmeal into a lemon loaf cake. I tried to boil it like polenta. I made the corn muffins again. And, sigh, I still have about half a bag left. 

And so the recipe for these savory cornmeal pancakes was born. It’s my cheat for a cornbread fix that doesn’t serve ten people or take an hour to make, with sharp Cheddar and scallions as optional stir-ins. The salsa here is Texas caviar–inspired, with a touch of sherry vinegar for extra oomph. A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt brings it all together. It’s light yet super satisfying, simple yet packed with flavor. I’ll happily chip away at that bag of cornmeal just to make it again.


Cornmeal Pancakes with Black Eyed Pea Salsa

Think of this dish as cornbread meets Texas caviar, cooking-for-one style. You will end up with enough pancakes for two, but this by design: The leftovers keep beautifully. Warm in the microwave and top with tomato-y braised greens or slather with butter and add to a hearty salad or grain bowl.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 person


Black Eyed Pea Salsa

  • ¼ can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained (about ⅓ cup)
  • cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cornmeal Pancakes

  • ½ cup fine cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or 3 tbsp plain yogurt + enough milk or non-dairy milk to equal 1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or plain Greek yogurt


  • In a small bowl, combine all the black eyed pea salsa ingredients. Do this first so the flavors have time to marinate and meld, and the red onion can lose some of its sharp bite.
  • In another bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in Cheddar and scallion. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and oil. If you don't have buttermilk, add any milk to the yogurt and stir to combine first, then add the egg and oil.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. (In one test, I beat a leftover egg white to soft peaks and folded it into the batter. Would be delicious with or without!)
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and swirl to melt and coat pan. Use a ¼-cup measuring cup to scoop batter into pan for 6 pancakes. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. I usually work in batches: 3-4 pancakes in the first, 2-3 in the second.
  • Top 3 pancakes with the sour cream and black eyed pea salsa. Save remaining pancakes for another meal, a snack, or a side.

What Does Cooking for One Mean?

It’s something I’ve been pondering for about five years now. After interviewing single friends across generations, filling notebooks with ramblings and recipe ideas, and living the solo cooking life in multiple cities, I have THOUGHTS. 

Cooking for one means my cravings are in charge. There’s no one to consult, no reason to compromise. If I get a hankering for something, nothing else will do. What I crave changes moment to moment—why strict meal planning or days of the same leftovers just doesn’t work for me. My appetite changes too: Depending on the night or my mood, I’ll want a feast or small snack, something robust and hearty or light and simple.

Cooking for one means willpower is half the battle. Parents have to feed their kids. Couples share the cooking duties or decide where to order takeout. My motivation to get up off the couch and cook is the only factor here. Some nights I feel so inspired and excited to cook that I make a feast. Other nights it’s all I can do to make a sandwich. Cooking for one isn’t an all or nothing proposition… It’s about enjoying whatever ends up on your plate and taking care of yourself in the process.

Cooking for one means playing the “use it up” game. Every item I pick up at the store gets its own screening: If I buy you, how am I going to use you up before you go bad? Or before you become another space-hogging relic that I can’t bear to throw out? Food waste is the enemy that must be defeated at all costs. For me, it’s a fun challenge: My best ideas come from finding new ways to use up what I have on hand. 

Cooking for one means keeping it simple and convenient. As much as I love to shop, I don’t have the patience or budget to seek out expensive or hard-to-find ingredients. As much as I love to cook, I don’t want to spend more time cooking or washing dishes. I’m not interested in complicated recipes that just make less food (read: the same number of steps and lots of odds and ends left over). I want food that’s fresh, fast, and interesting. And I want to get everything I need for the week at the one or two stores closest to me. 

My takeaway? Solo cooks are just different. We’re our own category with our own unique needs and challenges. And now that singles make up almost half of all homes in the country (!), it’s the perfect time to create our own resources and share them. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the conversation.

A Kind of Beginning

My first day in my first apartment in Brooklyn was Christmas Eve. It had been one month since I got my first job in New York, two months since I showed up at my aunt’s Tribeca apartment, three months since I left a seven-year job in Birmingham, my hometown. My new roommate was home in Texas. The streets were quiet, the subways almost empty. I dropped my things and walked the chilly couple blocks to
Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Sitting there with my pie and a book, surrounded by other holiday orphans doing the same, I felt like I’d finally “made it” here.   

Two years, a new job, and my own apartment later, I’m feeling more at home in the city and with myself. I’ve found that I prefer to live alone and really always have. And I’ve found so much joy and nourishment in cooking for myself. I’m free to indulge any craving, to improvise and fail and discover. My kitchen (er, tiny kitchenette) is where I relax and unwind at the end of a long day. Cooking is all the more satisfying because I know I’m taking care of myself and answering my own weird and random cravings. 

I won’t lie though: Cooking for one (even for a professional foodie) is a challenge. Recipes serve four or six or eight. Stores package ingredients to serve four or six or eight. I’m always trying to find new ways to use up what I buy because I can’t stand food waste or a week of the same leftovers. There are also plenty of nights where having the sheer will make something, anything, feels like more than half the battle.

Maybe you feel this way too, which is why I’m sharing My Solo Kitchen with you. Here you’ll find recipes designed to serve one and fit the lifestyle of a busy, social, single cook on a budget: Not fussy or expensive, with accessible ingredients and no food waste. I’ll talk too about living the solo cook life, from shopping strategies and understanding your cravings to just psyching yourself up to make dinner.  

Here’s to finding joy and confidence in our kitchens and giving ourselves the gift of a great meal. Let’s do this!