Category Archives: Soups

Chicken and White Bean Chili

In my world, there is a definite difference between chile and chili.

This is chili.

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But THIS is chile.

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We use chile to make chili, but chili can never be chile.  Got it?

The weather has been colder here and that means the start of soup season.  My kids don’t really enjoy chile, yet, so I’m constantly adapting recipes so they can eat dinner and I can have my chile fix without having to cook two meals.  The diced green chile in this recipe is completely optional.  You can have a wonderfully tasty bowl of chili without it.  But, if you want a superb bowl of chili, go ahead and get some diced New Mexico Green Chile and add it in.   Fresh is best.  Frozen is a close second.  Canned will work in a pinch.

Dry beans are a great start to any budget savvy, protein rich meal.  I keep at least dry pinto and dry white beans on hand at all times.  This recipe starts with 1 cup of dry, white beans.  You can used canned beans to save time.  Do not use pinto beans in this recipe.  It just won’t taste the same. Just sort through your dry beans to make sure there are no foreign objects (read: rocks and small dirt clods). Then add them to the bottom of your crock pot.

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Then, add the chicken spices and water or stock on top.  Set your crock pot on low and walk away for the whole day.  Your house will smell amazing.  Just before serving, pull out the chicken, shred it up, and return it to the pot.

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Mmmmmmm.  Can you see those flecks of roasted chile goodness.  This is my bowl.  And it was so good I ate two.

Recipe

1 cup dry Navy beans

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken

4 cups water or chicken stock

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup diced green chile

Sort beans and remove any foreign objects.  Add beans, chicken, water (or stock), spices and chile to crock pot.  Set on low and cook for 6-8 hours or until beans are tender.  Remove chicken, shred and return to pot.  Serve hot with your favorite toppings and sides (I recommend cheese and cilantro with a hot flour tortilla).

Chicken Noodle Soup

We have had temperatures nearing 70 for almost two weeks  Though I have enjoyed wearing my tank tops and flip flops and getting some things done in the yard, I was really glad to wake up to a couple of inches of snow this morning.  Pair that with having a couple of sick kiddos in the house and it is the perfect day for the best medicine in my kitchen – chicken noodle soup.  I don’t know that there is anything novel in this recipe, just simple goodness.

If you don’t have pre-cooked chicken, go ahead and cube your chicken and cook it in your soup pot with a little oil.  Then just build your stock on top of that.  If you do have pre-cooked chicken, start by adding your broth to your soup pot.  Then, take half a lemon and quarter it.  Stick one clove in two of the lemon quarters.  Drop the lemons into the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and simmer for about a half hour.  Then, remove the lemon quarters and add the chicken, vegetables and parsley to the broth.  Return to boil.  The noodle you use is really up to you.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling really ambitious, I make noodles from scratch.  Usually, I buy frozen egg noodles. However, dried egg noodles work just as well.  I like the extra wide variety.

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When the soup is boiling, add the noodles and cook until just tender.  If you plan on serving this several times, you can cook the noodles separately and add them to each bowl of soup.  If you are storing this for even a day, the noodles will soak up most of the soup liquid and get fairly soggy (of course, no one in my house really minds this, but if I was making it for company I’d probably cook the noodles separately).  However you do the noodles, taste for seasoning and serve piping hot.

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Recipe:

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 lemon

2 whole cloves

2 cups diced, cooked chicken

1 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

8 ounce package extra wide egg noodles

salt and pepper to taste

Pour stock into large soup pot and bring to boil.  Cut lemon half into quarters.  Stick each clove into a lemon quarter.  Add lemons and cloves to stock.  Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove lemon quarters and cloves from stock.

Add chicken, carrots, celery and parsley to broth.  Return to boil.  Add noodles and cook according to package directions.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

My last produce basket came with 4 onions and 7 bell peppers.  I usually struggle to use one or two of each of those in a regular menu cycle.  Then, someone suggested they were going to make stuffed bell pepper soup.  I was intrigued.  I make stuffed peppers on occasion, but I don’t really like them.  I end up eating the filling and tossing the pepper.  But, it’s winter.  I love soup in winter.  And, here I was with all these bell peppers. So I figured I would give it a try.

I started off by roasting 4 tomatoes.  I just cut them in half, placed them face down and tossed them into a 450* oven.  My tomatoes were slightly under ripe, so I wanted to be sure I helped the flavor any way I could.  You could definitely use canned tomatoes here, but I had fresh ones in my basket and in this house they would have spoiled before we ate them all.

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I let the tomatoes cool for quite a while.  I started browning a pound of hamburger in my big soup pot.  Whie the meat was browning, I diced up an onion, some celery and 3 good sized bell peppers. When the meat was brown, I pulled it out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set it in a bowl lined with coffee filters to finish draining.  I poured off all but about a tablespoon of the fat from the hamburger.  I used that fat to sweat down my veggies.  I added the onion and celery first with a little salt.  When they started to get tender, I stirred in the bell peppers.  While that cooked away, I pureed my tomatoes with a couple of cloves of garlic.  Now, you don’t HAVE to puree your tomatoes, but I do not really like chunks of tomato in my food.  Add the tomatoes and garlic, pureed or otherwise, into the pot with the veggies.

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Give it a stir. Add in broth, rice, cooked hamburger and seasoning.  Then taste it.  My tomatoes were on the acidic side, so I employed a new trick I learned.  I tossed in about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda.  It’s going to make your soup froth a little bit, but it really does work to mellow the acidity.

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Cover and simmer until your rice is done.  Taste for seasoning before you serve.  You’ll probably want to add a little more salt.

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Recipe:

4 whole tomatoes

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, diced

3 ribs celery, diced

3 green bell peppers, diced

2 cloves garlic

3-4 cups broth (chicken or beef)

1 cup brown rice, uncooked

1 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

dash cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450*.  Cut tomatoes in half.  Place cut-side down in a baking dish.  Bake at 450* for 25-35 minutes or until skins begin to crack and tomatoes are soft and fragrant.

Heat large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add ground beef and cook through.  Remove beef, but reserve 1 Tablespoon of the drippings in the pot.  Add onion and celery to the pot. Season with salt and sweat until translucent and tender.  Add bell pepper.  While bell pepper is starting to soften, place roasted tomatoes and 2 cloves garlic in blender.  Process until smooth.  Add tomatoes to vegetables.  Stir in broth, hamburger meat, uncooked rice, chile powder, paprika, cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.  If your soup seems a little acidic, add a tiny bit of baking powder and let it foam.  Simmer over low heat until rice is tender.

More Than Microwaving – Cheesy Potato Soup with Ham

I don’t usually cook a big Christmas dinner.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had anything that resembled a ‘traditional’ Christmas meal.  But this year, I outdid myself.  The week of Christmas I made a turkey dinner one day and a ham dinner a different day.  It was delicious and decadent, but oh boy the leftovers. I don’t really like ham, so  why I decided to make a 13 pound, bone-in, spiral-cut ham is a mystery.  Leftovers are perplexing.  I don’t like ham sandwiches (or really any sandwich), so the usual is out.  You can only feed a family beans with ham for so long before you have to vacate the house (after all, beans are the musical fruit). Then, I remembered that I made a huge casserole dish full of au gratin potatoes to go with that ham. And the pieces began to fall together.  Leftover potatoes make fantastic soup.  And what’s better with creamy, cheesy potato soup that smoky pork?

Start by chopping up some leftover ham.  I used about a cup of diced ham.  If you don’t have that much, no problem, just use what you have.  Add about a tablespoon of diced onion.  Throw the ham and the onion in a soup pot over very low heat and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Yes, it is a long time.  Yes, your ham will start to dry out.  Yes, you will have some brown bits all over the bottom of the pan.  These are all good things.  Trust me.

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At this point, add about a cup of chicken stock and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Then add the au gratin potatoes.  Break apart the potatoes as you stir them into the broth and ham.  You can leave the pieces big or mash them up. (Don’t have au gratin potatoes? Use any leftover potatoes, some milk and cheese).  Taste for seasoning.  I added a little pepper.  Depending on the saltiness of your potatoes, ham and broth, you may need to add a little salt also. When it is seasoned to your liking, ladle it into bowls and serve it piping hot.

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Recipe:

1 cup diced ham

1 T diced onion

1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3 cups au gratin potatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Cook ham and onion in a soup pan over low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 cup chicken stock to ham and onions.  Stir well and scrape the brown bits off the pan.

Add au gratin potatoes and stir to incorporate.  If desired, mash the potatoes into the stock with a spoon or potato masher.  Add additional chicken stock to achieve desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken and Noodles

These months in the winter tend to be cold and dreary.  For me, they are filled with fabulous comfort foods and the various memories attached to them.  Making chicken and noodles taps into a very early memory for me.  For as long as I can remember, my mother and I have cooked together.  For some reason, one of the most vivid memories I have of cooking with her is making home made noodles.  I’m guessing they were for noodles and butter glace, but I could be wrong.  I remember rolling the dough thing and separating the individual strips of dough.  I don’t make noodles and butter glace now.  Turns out, I don’t really like it.  I do like chicken and noodles though.  Which brings another fond memory.

I went away from home for college.  I had family reasonable close, but I made friends who had family closer.  We would all load up and head to some family member’s house for a weekend trip just because we could.  We frequented Kayla’s parent’s house.  And, on occasion, we’d make the short drive across town to visit her grandma – especially if we found out she was making chicken and noodles.  I don’t ever remember eating this dish growing up, but I do remember eating it in college. And it always brings a smile to my face now.  This recipe is not Kayla’s grandmother’s.  I wish it was.  But, it is hearty and comforting and sure to warm up any cool day.  If you don’t want to make your own noodles, grab a package of egg noodles from your grocery’s freezer section.  They’re a much closer approximation of home made than the dried variety.

Start with the noodles.  Stir together flour and salt.  Make a well and put eggs and milk in the well.

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Stir together until all the flour is incorporated.  You are probably going to have to get your hands dirty.  Try not to work it too much though.  The less you work the dough, the more tender your noodles will be.

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Transfer dough onto a floured surface and roll until very thin.  1/16-1/8″.  Then, cut into noodles that are about 3″x1/4″

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Toss noodles with a little flour and let cure for about 2 hours.

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Put chicken and good quality stock in a soup pot and bring to a rapid boil. If your stock isn’t really flavorful, you may want to pump it up a bit.  I find that adding a little lemon juice really lightens up the flavor of this otherwise really heavy dish. Make sure your stock is really boiling before you add your noodles.  Sprinkle them in by handfuls so they separate.

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After you add the noodles, turn heat down to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes or until the noodles are tender and the broth is thick and creamy.

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Recipe:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

4-5 Tablespoons milk

4 cups chicken stock

3-4 cups cooked, cubed chicken

Stir together flour and salt.  Make a well in the center.  Add eggs and milk to the well. Mix just until all flour is incorporated.

Turn dough onto floured surface.  Roll to 1/16″-1/8″ thickness.  Use a sharp knife to cut dough into noodles that are about 3″x1/4″.  Toss noodles with a little flour and set aside to cure for about 2 hours.

Add stock and cubed chicken to a large soup pot.  Bring to rapid boil.  Sprinkle noodles into rapidly boiling stock.  Stir.

Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender and stock is thickened and creamy.

More Than Microwaving – Green Chile Stew

Remember when we made Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas and I told you to freeze that extra sauce? Well, this recipe is why.  It is perfect for a rainy day.  Especially one where you have limited time.  You can make it even faster by using leftover chicken or pork chops.  I didn’t have any leftover, so I started with a pound of uncooked chicken breast.  If you have time, I really recommend this because you get the extra flavor from cooking the chicken in your soup pan.  If you’re using leftover chicken, I recommend swapping out the water in this recipe for broth.

So, start by heating some oil in the bottom of a big soup pot.  Sprinkle both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper.  When the pan is hot, add the chicken.  Let it cook for about 5 minutes on each side.  The chicken will be brown on the outside.  It might not be cooked through, that’s ok, it will finish cooking in the soup later.  You see all that brown in the bottom of the pan? That’s flavor right there.

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Add about 2 cups of water to the hot pan.  As the water heats, those brown and stuck bits will loosen up.  When you’ve got most everything pulled up from the bottom of the pan, add 4 cups of leftover green chile sauce.  Turn the heat down to low and let that simmer away (or thaw if you added it frozen like I did).  Dice your chicken and add it to the pot.

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Wash, peel and dice your potatoes.  Try to get the potato chunks about the same size as the chicken chunks.  Add potatoes to the soup.  If it seems too thick to you, add some water. I added about another cup of water to mine.

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Simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are done.  Taste for seasoning.  You’re probably going to need to add a little salt since potatoes absorb a lot of salt flavor.  When you’re happy, warm up some flour tortillas and ladle out bowlfuls of this hearty stew.

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Recipe:

1 pound chicken or pork

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt and pepper

2-3 cups water

4 cups green chile sauce

2 potatoes

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot.  Sprinkle both sides of your chicken (or pork) with salt and pepper.  Place chicken in hot pan and brown on both sides (approximately 5 minutes per side).  You don’t have to cook the chicken through, but it is ok if you do too.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add 2 cups water to pan and stir to loosen all the brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  Add green chile sauce and reduce heat to low.

Cube chicken and add to pot.

Wash, peel and dice potatoes.  Add to pot.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add more salt if necessary.

Serve with warm flour tortillas and desired toppings (cheese, onion, tomatoes, sour cream – really, whatever sounds good to you).

Corn Chowder with Smoked Sausage and Butternut Squash

The sun is shining today, but yesterday was definitely a soup day.  I love soup, but can’t bring myself to eat it much during the summer heat.  As soon as the weather starts to cool off, I start making soup.  This is one of my favorites to make early since I can still get fresh corn.  But, it’s great throughout the winter too because it tastes just as fabulous with frozen corn.  This recipe is huge.  Half it if you want.  Freeze part of it for a quick meal another night.  Or, do what I did, and take half of it to some friends – they’ll be grateful, you’ll feel great and it isn’t any more work.  I paired this with Honey French Bread (one loaf for me and one for my friends).  Just use this recipe and omit the cracked black pepper.

Start off by cutting your smoked sausage and browning it in a large soup pot.

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When the sausage just starts to brown, add the butternut squash and cook until the squash just starts to soften around the edges.

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Add stock and corn and then scrape the corn cobs to get all these delicious, flavorful bits into your soup. Good quality, well seasoned stock makes a big difference in soups.  Making your own is simple.  Get my recipe here.

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You could skip the first two steps and just toss all the ingredients into the stock at the same time and simmer until the squash is tender, but you’ll miss the extra flavor that comes from browning the sausage and pan roasting the squash.  Either way, when the squash is tender, mix flour and milk together and add to the soup.  Cook until slightly thickened, taste for seasoning and serve.

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Recipe:

2 pounds smoked sausage

4-5 cups diced butternut squash

4 ears corn

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk

2 Tablespoons flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut smoked sausage into half rounds and place in large soup pot over high heat to brown.  When sausage just starts to brown, add diced butternut squash.  While that is cooking, cut corn from the cob. Add stock and corn to the pot with the sausage and squash.  Hold each corn cob over the pot and scrape with a paring knife.  Stir and simmer until squash is tender.

Mix together milk and flour.  Add to soup and cook just until slightly thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot with crusty bread.

Chicken Stock

The debate about the difference between broth and stock is extensive.  I’ve read them all and considered the different arguments, but the truth is, I grew up using the terms interchangeably, and I’m not likely to change that.  If this recipe fits your definition of broth rather than stock, it won’t hurt my feelings in the least if you call it chicken broth.  I simply just don’t care that much. What I do care about is flavor and comfort, and this recipe packs both.

It was rainy all day yesterday and again today.  That’s a rare thing here in the desert and it always leaves me wanting a steaming bowl of soup and fresh baked goods.  Today, that meant making some honey French bread (this recipe for Honey Cracked Black Pepper French Bread, minus the Cracked Black Pepper) and Corn Chowder with Smoked Sausage and Butternut Squash (recipe coming).  I understand the convenience of boxed stock.  I really do.  But, I just don’t like to make that flavor compromise when the stock is such an integral flavor component – like it is in a soup.  Besides, if you save your veggie scraps and chicken bones in a bag in the freezer, you can throw this in the crock pot and have stock waiting for you when you get home.  I did this in a pan on the stove top today, so those are the directions I will share.  If you want to go the crock pot route, toss everything in at once, set it on low and walk away until you’re ready to cook dinner.

First, chop up one slice of bacon and toss it in a hot pan to start rendering.  No need to crisp it up, just get some of the fat out.  Then, toss in your onion, carrots, celery and garlic. These can be fresh and chopped specifically for this, or scraps from something else.  If you’d normally toss it, put it in a Ziploc bag in the freezer and save it for making stock.

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Stir around until they just start to soften.  Add salt, parsley, coriander and thyme.  Then add some chicken bones and skin and if you want some meat.  I had the bones and skin from a rotisserie chicken we ate this weekend, so that’s what I used.

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Add enough water to just cover the veggies and chicken and simmer for at least 2 hours (longer is better).

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When you’re ready to use or store your stock, strain it.  Toss this flavorless blob.

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Keep this golden deliciousness and use it to make the most delectable soups you have ever tasted.

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Recipe:

1 slice bacon

1/2 onion (skin and all)

3-4 carrots (unpeeled)

3-4 stalks celery (leafy parts are perfect)

2 cloves garlic, smashed (skins are fine)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or a handful fresh, stems and all)

1/2 teaspoon coriander seed

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme (one or two sprigs fresh)

bones and skin from one whole chicken

6 cups water

Chop bacon and put it in a hot stock pot.  As it starts to render, do a rough chop on your vegetables.  There is no need to worry about peels or skins (dirt should be washed off) since you’re going to strain all of that off anyway.  When bacon has started to render a decent amount of grease, toss in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Sautee until veggies are just tender.  Stir in salt, parsley, coriander seed and thyme.  If your chicken bones are large, break them up a little and put them in the pan.  Pour in about 6 cups of water.  Cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to use or store your broth, strain off and discard the vegetables and bones.  Reserved stock should be around 4 cups. Use in any recipe calling for chicken stock (or broth).