The best way I can get my children to eat their veggies is through soup. My daughter loves nearly any soup I put in front of her -- squash, leek and potato, and tomato soups. Whenever we eat at Panera Bread, she always orders Black Bean soup, providing it is on the menu that day.
Black Bean soup at Panera is thick and rich in bean flavor. It's been one soup I haven't been successful in copying. Maybe it's because I don't like my soup to be that thick. Or maybe they have some secret ingredient in it that I don't have access to.
But it hasn't stopped me or my husband from trying to make a good black bean soup. You know, one that will pass our daughter's taste test. Currently, my husband is in charge of cooking for the kids. So, while I'm away, working in another town, my husband is the chief cook and bottle washer at home. He has named Friday, "Pizza Night," and Thursdays are "Taco Night." He's even gone so far as to make his own sourdough pizza crust. And he attempted to make black bean soup.
It turns out, he needed a soup to with his "soup and sandwich night," whatever night he has designated that to be.
The soup was a success. It's flavorful, thanks to the bacon and hits all the right notes. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe, but it is a great all-around soup. Great with sandwiches or just a slice of crusty bread.
Black Bean Soup
Garnishes: sour cream and avocado
In a medium size stock pot or soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan and chop into small pieces.
Leaving the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and serrano chili. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with cumin and chili powder. Add 3 cans of the black beans and the vegetable stock. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
Using a hand blender (or food processor), puree the soup until semi smooth. Add the last can of black beans. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve with sour cream and sliced avocado.
It's February and winter is winding down. Well, unless you live in Montana where winter seems to go on forever. So, for those cold, rainy (or snowy) days that lay ahead, here is a soup recipe to warm your soul.
For this recipe, I used a rotisserie chicken purchased from the deli at my local grocery store. I like using rotisserie chickens for many recipes from enchiladas to soups. Even though I love roasting my own chicken and having a great meal, I like these deli chickens for quick weeknight meals. Of course, you can use raw chicken in this recipe. Just add the chicken (diced) at the beginning of the cooking process when you are sautéing the onions and garlic. You can also use any type of leftover cooked chicken you have available.
Make this recipe your own. I'm offering you the building blocks...
Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup
In a small sauce pan, combine 2 cups stock and rice. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
While the rice is simmering, combine the olive oil and butter in a stock pot placed over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low. Add the cooked chicken and the rice (including the liquid). Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the milk. Add the kale/chard and parsley. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread.
I'm guessing you probably wouldn't put brussels sprouts in a soup. In fact, I was never a big fan of brussels sprouts until I realized that they didn't need to be boiled to death and doused in vinegar (the way my mom served them). All they needed was to be made correctly and served with bacon. Because bacon makes everything taste better. Including brussels sprouts. Bacon is the gateway drug for vegans and vegetarians.
So, here we have a hearty brussels sprout soup. I had leftover chicken and potatoes to use up, but you can make this with raw chicken and potatoes. It will just need some extra cooking time.
Hearty Brussels Sprout Soup
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and render down until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan. Set bacon aside.
Add the shallots and garlic to the hot oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, chicken, and stock. Reduce heat to medium low and cook the soup until the potatoes are fork tender (for raw potatoes, about 15 minutes). Stir in the cream. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with the bacon bits.
When the Irish started making Guinness, I doubt they thought of the culinary possiblities. I’m one of those people that eshews hoppy beer (as in most American beers these days) and prefers a heavy, full bodied ale or stout (a good pilsner is fine on occasion). To me, Guinness is perfect. It’s satisfying and versatile. I can drink it but also make something good with it. You know, like chili.
There are so many recipes out there for chili that it’s hard to pick just one. I have a couple recipes myself that I make during the winter months. I have one recipe that doesn’t take much time to put together. But then I have this recipe that takes hours of cooking. You can make this in the crockpot… just brown the meat first and transfer it to the crockpot. Bring it up to temperature on high and then reduce it to low and let it simmer all day (4-5 hours).
As with all chili recipes, the flavor is better the next day because it has time to mellow and develop, but don’t let that stop you from eating it the same day you cook it. It’ll still be delicious.
It should be noted this recipe passed the taste test with my son, who is 10 and very picky. Serve this on a rainy weekend. It’ll lift everyone’s spirits.
Ground chilis note: I like to use whole dried chilis and whole cumin seed and grind it to a powder in a coffee grinder before I use it in the recipe. You can find ground ancho powder and ground cumin in the spice section of the grocery store and that will be fine. If you want a bolder chili spice, try to find the whole chilis and grind them up yourself.
Marinate the beef:
In a bowl, combine 1 bottle of the beer, 1 teaspoon of the ground ancho, 1 clove garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the cubed beef. Marinate under refrigeration for at least 2 hours. This can be done overnight if desired.
Make the chili:
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Remove the beef from the marinade; discard the marinade. Add the beef to the hot oil and brown on all sides. Add the remaining 2 cloves garlic and diced onion. Saute until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ground spices; season with salt and pepper. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the beer and the tomatoes. Stir in the chocolate and brown sugar. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 4-5 hours or until the beef is very tender and beginning to fall apart. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with spices, salt, and pepper.
Serve with shredded cheddar and sour cream.
*I use grass fed beef. Why? Well, cows are meant to eat grass, not corn. Plus, I would rather have beef from cattle that has not been pumped full of antibiotics. We typically do not eat a lot of beef, so when we do, it makes sense to choose wisely.
Below: Whole chilis. To grind them up: remove stem and seeds, tear into small pieces. Place in a coffee grinder and pulse until powdery fine.
We've officially entered fall when the leaves are changing and a chill fills the air.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I actually welcome the weather change from hot and humid to chilly and breezy. One of the best parts of fall is the change in cooking and recipes from light meals to hearty chili, soups and stews. You know, meals that help to create a cozy, comfortable setting at home.
Over the years, I've made a lot of chicken noodle soups. I finally decided on a better way to make chicken noodle soup -- using a whole chicken and keeping things very simple. This is a good recipe for a weekend meal. As you are running around doing errands on a Saturday afternoon, your soup can be simmering away on the stove. If you want, you can make this in a crockpot set on low over 3-4 hours.
In this recipe, you are making the stock or base of the soup with the whole chicken and then using it right away to make the soup. This provides much better flavor than using storebought stock.
Chicken Noodle Soup
In a large stock pot, add the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, and thyme. Add the water. Place over medium high heat. Bring up a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low. Periodically srape off any "scum" that floats to the top (see pictures below for what I'm talking about). Simmer for about 2-3 hours or until the chicken is done.
Carefully remove the chicken from the stock and place in a bowl. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before removing the meat from the bones. Strain the stock; discard the solids and save the liquid. Pour the liquid into a stock pot. After the chicken has cooled and you've removed the meat from the bones, bring the stock up to a simmer over medium high heat. Add the chicken meat and the noodles. Season to taste with salt and pepper; add red pepper flakes for a little heat if desired. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the noodles are tender and cooked. Serve with bread or crackers.
Soup will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Freeze any leftovers for up to 6 months.
Corn season is winding down (bummer!) but potatoes are starting to pop up at the farmer's market. This is a quick and easy soup that is good any day of the week, especially as fall weather sets in and evenings get cooler.
Corn and Potato Chowder
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook until onions soften, about 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir to make a roux; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 8 cups of stock; stir to combine. Add the potatoes, corn, and lentils. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Mash the soup with a potato masher -- you aren't making a smooth soup; it should be chunky and slightly thick. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick. Add the half and half. Cook for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chard and scallions. Serve with crusty bread.