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Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

I love coming home to an already cooked dinner. I’ve always used my slow cooker on a regular basis, but I’ve been pretty diligent to use it for two dinners a week these days. I’ve made some mediocre things that sounded good but executed sub-par. I think one of the issues is that I have to leave it cooking for so long since we are away from the house for so many hours in a row on the week days. If I could cook it for only four hours or so and then be ready to sit down to dinner (in other words, work half days!) some of those sub-par dinners would have probably been pretty good- swiss chard lasagna, I’m talking about you ;)

Beans and chilis tend to be fool proof when it comes to slow cooking and I make them both on a regular basis. But, I’m always looking for new things to have in the rotation. This soup that I made earlier this week will be added to said rotation. It’s simple, easy to prep for on a week night, and was enjoyed by the whole family. Truth be told, I could easily enjoy food with a Mexican twist any night of the week- tostadas , nachos , bean bowls, soft tacos , chimichangas, and huevos rancheros, for a few examples! ;)

The amount of ingredients in the recipe below made enough for the three of us for dinner and 2 bowls for leftover lunches.

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Chicken Chili Verde Soup

olive oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2, 4-ounce cans roasted green chilies
pinch of Kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, then sauté onions, shallot, green chilies, and a pinch of salt for 5-6 minutes until onions become translucent. Add in red pepper flakes and garlic, and cook for a few more minutes. Put the onion, chili, and garlic mix into a blender with 1 cup of the chicken broth. Puree until smooth. Then, pour into slow cooker. Add remaining broth, beans, and spices to slow cooker and stir to combine. Put the chicken breasts in last. Cook on low heat for 8-9 hours. Before you sit down to eat, shred chicken breasts with a fork and then give the soup a good stir to combine all ingredients.
Top with your favorite Mexican food toppings–avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, a squeeze of lime, and pepper jack cheese to name a few.

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Well, hello. Did you think I had completely forgotten what I use to do over here on these pages? That I no longer remembered how wonderful it is to share food with all of you? That I forgot how to type out a recipe?

Well, almost. It was back in March of 2013, after all, when I shared my last recipe- rustic blueberry biscuits! What??!!! And, while I’m not quite certain how much it’s actually going to happen, here’s a start to the return of recipe sharing. This one…it’s a good one too. Yummy and simple- the adjectives that I hope you use to describe the food I share here.

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Chicken and Four Bean Chili

Ingredients
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black eyed peas
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 medium onion
5 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

Open all 4 cans of beans, pour into a colander, and rinse under cold water. Dump the beans along with the chicken broth, tomato sauce, spices, onion, and garlic into your slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Place chicken breasts on top of bean mixture. Cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.

When cooking is complete, shred the chicken with a fork and stir into chili.
Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and serve over quinoa or brown rice, or alone aside some tortilla chips or a crusty sourdough bread.

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David spent the day snowboarding two Sundays ago, which inspired me to cook a big pot of soup. What better dinner to come home to after a frosty day on the slopes? A house smelling of simmering sausage and vegetables in chicken broth, fresh bread warming in the oven…

I had been thinking of this pot of soup for a while, just waiting for an afternoon at home when I could put it together. I was inspired by a recipe I found in a 2011 issue of Sunset Magazine, which happens to be my favorite magazine for all things Northwest- restaurants, shopping, planting tips, travel ideas, etc.- and knew I wanted it to have chicken sausage, chard, and artichoke hearts, but I also wanted to add some more earthy elements to round out the flavors and to make it more hearty. I decided on potatoes because I have so many sitting around right now waiting to be used and mushrooms, both of which provided the earthiness and hearty element I was hoping for. The sour dough bread paired with the soup quite well and we were actually all wishing for a bit bigger of a loaf to sop up our broth with!

This was a very good bowl of soup, and quite pretty to look at too! It would be worthy of a shared meal, but also perfect for a casual Sunday supper or a quick weeknight meal with just your family. You can choose to simmer the broth with the sausage and potatoes for the afternoon or just enough time for the potatoes to soften- depends on how much time you have on your hands. The soup is yummy, versatile, and easy to make. I hope you try it.

Italian Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Soup
adapted from Sunset Magazine

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian chicken sausage, cut into small pieces
32 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 small russet potatoes, cut into small chunks
32 ounces free range chicken broth
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 pound chard, chopped

Warm sour dough bread

Directions
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook sausage until browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add 32 ounces of broth and the potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes, or longer if you have the luxury of time.
Add the remaining 32 ounces of broth along with the mushrooms and artichokes and continue to simmer.
Right before you are ready to eat, add chard and cook, covered, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with warm sour dough bread and unsalted butter.

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This chili is nothing to look at. I’ve made it many times and have been wanting to share, just waiting to get a good picture of it, but I’ve never been successful! Finally, I threw my hands up and decided you deserve to have the recipe despite having a good picture to go along with it.

The chili is green and dreary, but trust me what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste! It has a nice spice from the peppers, jalapeños, and green chiles, yet it is not overly spicy- even Jack likes it and he only has a preference for mildly spiced foods. The edamame provides a unique twist from the typical chili recipe and also some good crunchy texture. The addition of spinach, avocado, and lime at the end is important. These ingredients are essential to balancing the chili and providing a freshness that other bowls of chili seem to lack.

I’ve served this chili with whole grain couscous, brown rice, and orzo pasta and all have been good. But, our preference is to eat a big scoop of it poured over cheese grits. I use stone ground grits from Logan Turnpike Mill, which is about an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. There is just no substitution for real southern grits, so I still have family or friends bring them to me when they come to visit! We stir in freshly shredded white sharp cheddar cheese when the grits have about 5 minutes left to cook. The combination of green chili and cheese grits is really amazing, but if grits aren’t your thing, any grain will do!

Edamame Green Chili
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2011

a large glug of olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 large red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 12-oz bags shelled frozen edamame
2 5-oz cans chopped green chiles
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups salsa verde
6 cups fresh spinach
avocados, peeled, pitted, and chopped
sour cream
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
lime wedges

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and celery, and cook 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chile powder, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until fragrant about one minute. Add the edamame and green chiles and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and salsa verde, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until you are ready for dinner but at least 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Ladle into bowls on too of grain of your choice, and top with avocado, sour cream, and/or cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

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Tonight’s menu, a bridge between Summer and Fall: Coconut Curry Tomato Soup, Good Bread with Butter, Rustic Chicken Salad (recipe coming Monday), Crisp White Wine

I’ve been holding on for dear life. As I hear other people wish for the shortened days of Fall to grace us with her beautiful colors and slight chill, I wince and hope that their wishes don’t come true. I’m not being mean, I’m just not ready. Not yet.

This is the first year for as long as I can remember that I have not been ready for what has steadfastly been my favorite season. You see, in Seattle, we wait and wait (and wait) for the long days of summer. For the blue skies and sunshine. For the temperatures that range mostly between 55 and 80 degrees. For the dry weather. And, when summer finally arrives, it’s too perfect. It’s “pinch me, I must be dreaming” good. It’s “I will never leave this area from July until October” good. And, I’m not quite ready to let it go…

But, Fall. She’s knocking on the door, wanting to settle in. The leaves are slowly starting to turn to vivid shades of red and orange and yellow. The blue of the sky is shifting to what I have always referred to as Autumn Blue. The daylight is taking its time to greet us in the mornings, making my very early runs glorious under a dark sky of moon and stars. There is a delicate chill in the air. Summer lingers, but Autumn, I can tell that she’s just around the bend.

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I’m anticipating the smell of firewood burning, the feel of layers and the aroma of wool, earlier and cooler evening walks, cozy blankets piled on our couches, baskets filled with pears and apples, pumpkins finding new homes on front steps right next to colorful potted mums, and the tastes of warm, Autumnal food. In our home, Fall means more slow cooker meals with the smells of warmed meat traveling from our kitchen to greet us at the front door as we return home from work and school. More baked goods. Yes, many more baked goods. Soups simmering on the stove for hours and then being eaten half by spoon, half by the bread that has been dunked in the bowl to soak up the flavors. Warm foods, more hearty foods to help transition us into the new season and to make the sting of the close of summer a bit more tolerable.

To help bridge the transition from Summer to Autumn, try this tasty soup that has just a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper and curry, yet the cool of coconut milk. It will have you grabbing a second slice of buttered bread so you can keep dunking…and, if you are like me, perhaps, it will actually make you excited to feel Autumn’s chill.

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Coconut Curry Tomato Soup
adapted from a recipe of Heidi Swanson’s on 101 Cookbooks
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, at least one fire-roasted
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

Directions:

In a large pot over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften up – 10 minutes or so. You may get a bit of browning, but I think this just adds depth to the soup.

Stir in the curry paste, cumin, and cayenne pepper, and cook just until the spices are fragrant- about 30 seconds or so. Stir in the tomatoes with the juices from the cans, the can of coconut milk, and 4 cups of water. Simmer for as much as time allows, but at least for fifteen minutes- I simmered it about 1 1/2 hours- then pour (taking care not to splash!) into a blender to puree until smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Add back to the pot and continue simmering on low until you are ready to eat.

This soup is great served simply with a slice of good bread, a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese, and a large torn leaf of fresh basil.

Happy eating and Happy nearly Fall!

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So, this is a meal that beckons and then receives a much appreciated thank you from it’s eaters to the cook. My family of three gobbled this soup up and very happily ate it for lunch the next day! It’s a keeper…and I’ve been searching for soup go-tos for years!

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My only issue with this soup is the prep labor and time…I spent over 30 minutes peeling, chopping, and cutting before a single ingredient touched the heat. But, if you have the time, it’s SO worth it. I will be making it again (and again) this winter and am excited to see how different sausage flavors enhance the overall soup flavor.

Potato and Sausage Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2007

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 9 ounces of fully cooked sausage (I used a spicy Italian chicken sausage and loved how the bits of fennel seed fell out of the sausage enhancing the soup’s texture and flavor) and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. Add 2 diced medium onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add 2 medium potatoes, cut into skinny half moons, and 4 smallish sweet potatoes, cut into a large dice, and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Use your ladle to roughly mash some of the potatoes. Add browned sausage back to soup. Stir in 1 bag of 6-ounces of fresh spinach leaves and simmer just until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Tell me what you think…and, if you have soup recipes you want to share, please respond in the comments and let me know!

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So…this is not exactly a soup…in the traditional sense. I had a heavy hand when adding the spinach tortellini, so instead of a tomato broth rich with flavor and dolloped with tortellini bites and kale leaves, I ended up with a mostly tortellini dish (note that I even served it on a plate for Jack’s dinner the following day). However, the abundance of tortellini allowed for plenty of leftovers and for weeks that have been as busy as ours have been lately, leftovers are a necessity.

And, the best thing…the soup is easy (prepared in less than 25 minutes with a antsy toddler pacing the kitchen in anticipation of dinner time) and it’s good.

Tomato Florentine Soup with Tortellini and Kale adapted from this recipe by Running with Tweezers
* This is the exact recipe I made. If you want a more soupy soup, use only 10 ounces (or 1 fresh package) of tortellini.

In a large soup pot, heat about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2 large cloves of minced garlic and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and sauté until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Pour in 5 cups of vegetable stock and a 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Next, add 20 ounces of spinach ricotta tortellini (2 Trader Joes packages) and cook until tender or about 5 minutes. Stir in about 3/4 of a pound of kale leaves (thick stems removed) and cook until wilted or about 4 minutes more. Stir in 2 tablespoons of brown goat pesto, taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Enjoy for dinner and then for several more dinners and lunches!

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