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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

For day #30 of Soup Month we bring you an elegant Butternut Squash Soup that is so beautiful it will be the highlight of your next holiday dinner.  It's always amazing to me how just a few simple ingredients can blend together so well that they create a soup this tasty.  I know a lot of people are hesitant to cook with a butternut squash because they look so intimidating. But fear not, you don't need any special training to cut up a squash, just a good knife, and be careful.

1  Large Whole Butternut Squash (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1  Large Onion, peeled and sliced
2  Apples, cored, peeled and sliced
Olive Oil
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB  Cream  or  Half and Half
Garnishes of Your Choice ** See below

Preheat oven to 375.  Rinse off the outside of the butternut squash and dry with a paper towel.  Carefully cut off the ends of the squash and cut the squash into large chunks, removing the seeds.  Do not peel.

Place the pieces of squash, onions and apples on a large rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and roast about 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is soft.  Set aside to cool.

Using a small paring knife, remove the skin from the squash.  Transfer the vegetables to a large stockpot.  Using a handheld blender, blend the vegetables until smooth. (You can also use a food processor for this step, just process the vegetables, in batches if needed, and return the puree to the pot.)

Add 2 cups of broth to the puree and heat mixture slowly over medium-low heat.  Keep adding a little bit of broth until you reach the desired consistency.  (You might not need all of the broth depending on the size of the squash used.)  When the soup is hot, slowly stir in the cream.

** Serve with a colorful seasonal garnish.  Chopped pimentos or red pepper bits with a few springs of fresh dill makes a beautiful display for Christmas. You could also use other fresh herbs such as a sage leaf with a spoonful of creme fraiche swirled into the center for a buttery-velvety texture.  Add a couple of Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for added crunch and you have a beautiful bowl of soup.
 Serves 6-8.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thai Pumpkin Soup

For day #29 of Soup Month, we have a very easy to prepare pumpkin soup, using just 4 ingredients.  The soup contains just a bit of thai seasoning for a perfect blend of sweet and spicy.  To add a tasty garnish, prepare a batch of Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in advance.

1 14 oz can Coconut Milk
2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste (more or less to taste)
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Fish Sauce

Heat the thick coconut milk from the top of the can and the red curry paste and bring to a simmer for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the remaining coconut milk, pumpkin puree and fish sauce and bring to a boil, stirring gently to blend. Taste and adjust thai curry seasoning, adding a bit more if needed. Garnish with a few roasted pumpkin seeds and serve.   Makes 2 generous bowls of soup.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clam Chowder

For day #28 of Soup Month we have a simple Clam Chowder recipe.  Although the recipe does call for half and half, the milk helps keep the calories in check without losing that creamy clam chowder texture.  If you like extra clams, you can easily add a third can.

1 cup Onion, diced
3 Large Potatoes, peeled (optional) and finely chopped
1 Bottle Clam Juice
2 cups  Water (or enough to cover potatoes)
1/2 cup  Butter
1/2 cup  Flour
2 cups  Half and Half
2 cups  1% Milk
2 6 oz cans Chopped Clams
1 cup  White Wine
1 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Pepper

In a large soup pot combine onion, potatoes, clam juice and water.  Simmer potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they just begin to soften.  Drain potatoes, reserving liquid, and set potatoes aside.

Return the pan to the stove.  Melt butter over medium heat, then add flour and stir until fully combined (this makes a roux as your base).  Slowly add the half and half, adding just a small amount at a time, stirring constantly. Next add the milk, clams and white wine, again stirring to a smooth consistency, and cook about 10 minutes until soup begins to thicken. 

Lastly add the potatoes back to the pot and season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook an additional 5 minutes then serve with optional toppings of grated cheese, green onions, crumbled cooked bacon, or a dash of hot sauce.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomato and Basil Crab Bisque

For day #27 of Soup Month we have a quick and easy seafood soup, Tomato and Basil Crab Bisque.  This is a versatile soup that can be adjusted to use the ingredients you have on hand.  If you have precooked shrimp in the freezer, use that in place of the crab, or you could substitute 2 pre-cooked chicken breasts. 

1 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Onion, chopped
1/8 tsp  Saffron Threads, crushed (just a small pinch adds so much flavor & color, but this is optional)
1 8 oz can  Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic
1 cup  Half and Half
1 cup  Coarsely Chopped Cooked Crab Meat (or substitute cooked Shrimp)
1/2 cup  Chicken Broth
1/8 tsp  Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  Black Pepper
1/4 cup  Fresh Basil Leaves

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring often.  Stir in the saffron threads and heat 1 minute, blending the saffron into the butter.

Add tomato sauce, half-and-half, crab, broth, Old Bay, salt and pepper.  Bring just to a boil, and reduce heat to low.  Cover tightly and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in basil just before serving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hearty Cuban Black Bean Soup

For day # 26 of Soup Month we bring you a Miami version of Cuban Black Bean Soup.  When cooking with black beans, or beans of any kind, you have to plan ahead.  Some recipes will require that you soak the beans overnight but for this recipe, we skip the soaking method and instead cook the beans in chicken stock so the flavor is cooked into the beans for optimal flavor.  This soup is worth the extra effort!

1 lb  Black Beans, rinsed
4 cups  Chicken Stock
4 cups  Water
2  Bay Leaves
1 TB  Cumin
1 TB  Oregano
1  Large Sweet Red Pepper, cut in half  (leave 1 side whole, the other portion finely chop)
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1  Large Yellow Onion, chopped
1  Large Green Pepper, finely chopped
4-6  Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 cup  Sugar
1/4 cup  Red Wine
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Chopped Fresh Cilantro for Garnish

Pour rinsed beans into a large soup pot with chicken stock and water.  Add bay leaves, cumin, oregano and the whole piece of red pepper.  Cook over high heat and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beans are tender.

Remove the red pepper and discard.  In a small skillet saute the onion, green pepper, and the chopped red pepper in olive oil, until the vegetables are softened.  Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, then add the puree to the black beans.  (**Note:  As an option you can add a few scoops of the black beans to the mixture and then puree it.  I liked the consistency of having some of the beans whole and some pureed.)

Using the same skillet, saute the garlic until fragrant, the add the garlic to the beans.  Add sugar, red wine and salt and pepper to taste.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the soup is very thick, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve in large flat soup bowls and add a sprinkle of cilantro as a garnish before serving, if desired.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hot and Sour Soup

For day #25 of Soup Month, this version of the classic Oriental Hot and Sour Soup turned out very well.  I did have to improvise on some of the ingredients as locally it is impossible to find black mushrooms or black chinese vinegar!  The substitutions worked great and the soup had that familiar hot-sour-spicy flavor that I just love.  We enjoyed this soup with crispy, crunchy homemade Egg Rolls.

10 oz  Portabello Mushrooms, quartered
1 can  Bamboo Shoots
4 TB  Rice Vinegar
2 TB  Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup  Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
4 TB  Cornstarch
4 TB  Water
2 TB  Peanut Oil
12 oz  Pork Loin, cut into thin strips
5 cups  Chicken Stock
1 package  Extra Firm Tofu, cut into small pieces
3  Eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp  White Pepper
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp  Sesame Oil
1 to 2 TB  Sriracha Sauce (more or less, to taste)

Mix the vinegars, soy sauce, salt and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and brown for 2 minutes.  Next add the pork and saute, turning frequently, about 4 minutes or until the meat is nearly cooked through.

Add the bamboo shoots and the broth and stir to combine. Add the tofu and stir, heating 2-3 minutes until the broth comes to a boil.

Next add the vinegar mixture and the cornstarch mixture and stir until soup thickens.  Turn heat to low-medium. 

While stirring the soup very gently, pour in the eggs in a thin stream. When the eggs are in the soup let the eggs rest and cook on top of the soup about 1 minute.  When the eggs are set, stir in the white and black peppers, sesame oil and the Sriracha.  Serve garnished with green onions.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Creamy Chicken Soup

For day #23 of Soup Month we have a Creamy Chicken Soup with sauteed carrots.  This is a twist on the soup from the red and white can and is so much more flavorful and contains a lot less sodium.  For a more hearty meal, try this soup served over toast that has been cut into squares.  Your kids will love this soup and ask for more!

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
1/4 small Onion, chopped
3 TB  Butter
2  Carrots, peeled and diced
1  Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp  Onion Powder
1/4 cup + 1 TB  Flour
2 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Milk

In a medium skillet, place chicken breasts, broth and onions, and poach chicken over medium heat, about 6 minutes each side or until juices run clear and broth is nearly evaporated.

Remove chicken and place on a cutting board to cool; discard the onions in the skillet.  When cool, dice the chicken and set aside.

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the carrots, and saute 3 minuts until carrots begin to soften.  Add the bay leaf and onion powder, stir and continue to saute an additional 5 minutes, until the carrots are just a bit browned.

Add the flour, stirring to blend the butter and flour completely.  Over medium heat, whisk in the broth and milk.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the soup thickens and begins to simmer, about 20 minutes.

Add the diced chicken, stirring to combine and cook 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and reduce heat to low.  (If the soup need to be a bit thicker, combine 2 TB flour with and 1/2 cup of the soup broth in a small bowl.  Use a spoon to smooth the mixture and add just a teaspoon at a time to the soup, stirring until each spoonful is blended into the soup.)

**Time Saver Note:  If you have extra chicken on hand this is a great way to use up leftovers.  Just dice the chicken and skip the poaching step of the recipe.  When cooking the carrots add 1/4 teaspoon thyme to the butter and continue with the recipe.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kielbasa and Rice Soup

For day # 21 of Soup Month we have a peppery-garlicky Polish Kielbasa and Rice Soup.  For the best results be sure to buy a good brand of Polish Kielbasa for this recipe.  If you have a local meat market call and ask if they make their own Kielbasa.  The smoky flavor of a good Kielbasa is amazing and brings all of the ingredients together for this soup.

7-3/4  cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup  Long Grain White Rice, Jasmati works great
1 TB  Vegetable Oil
1 lb  Polish Kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1  Onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves  Garlic, minced
1/2 medium  Cabbage, cored and finely shredded
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper

In a medium saucepan combine 1 3/4 cups of chicken broth with the rice and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat the oil.  Add the kielbasa and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic and cabbage and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the remaining 6 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Cook over low heat until the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rice and serve. 
Serve with crusty french bread.  Makes about 4 - 6 servings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creamy Broccoli Soup

For day #20 of Soup Month we bring you a Creamy Broccoli Soup.  This is a great soup to make after the holidays to use up leftover mashed potatoes and ham.  This is a very versatile soup as well. You could change the vegetable to asparagus instead of the broccoli, you could stir cheese directly into the soup for a more cheesy flavor or add a can of diced green chilies with the onion for a little more southwestern flavor.  Either way, this is a recipe for a fast and healthy dinner that's easy on the budget!

1 tsp Olive Oil
1 lb.  Ham, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 Small Onion, minced
1 pkg  Steamfresh Broccoli Florets
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
2  to 2 1/2 cups  Mashed Potatoes (leftovers work great)
1/4 tsp  Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  White Pepper
1/4 cup  Milk or Cream (optional)
2 TB  Cornstarch (optional)
Shredded Cheese for Garnish

In a medium soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add ham and onion and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  While this is cooking, cook the broccoli in the microwave and set aside.

Add milk and chicken broth and broccoli to the pot, then slowly spoon the potatoes into the soup.  Adjust the amount of potatoes depending on the desired soup thickness;  2 cups works great for a soup consistency and 2 1/2 cups of potatoes will result in more of a chowder.  Add the black pepper, salt and white pepper and stir.
** Optional: If you still want the soup a bit thicker, combine the milk or cream and the cornstarch in a small bowl and slowly stir mixture into the soup, stirring constantly.

Heat soup for 5 minutes, stirring to check the thickness.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese.  Serves about 6.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Chicken Chili

For day #19 of Soup Month we bring you a yummy chicken chili with white beans.  This is my favorite kind of recipe since it's a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey.  If you make a roasted chicken for dinner, this soup is an easy choice for the following night.  If you want to save even more time, look for white beans in a jar, but simmering the beans in the chicken broth, garlic and onions will infuse them with a wonderful flavor that is worth the wait.

White beans, also called cannellini beans, are loaded with good things.  Just a 1/2 cup of beans are packed with 7 grams of protein, about 6 grams of fiber and only 110 calories.

1 lb  White Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
6 cups  Chicken Broth
3  Garlic Cloves, minced
2 medium  Onions, chopped (divided)
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 - 2  Serrano Pepper, minced
1 4-oz cans Chopped Green Chilies
2 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp  Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
4 cups  Diced Cooked Chicken (can also sub leftover turkey, great for after Thanksgiving)
3 cups  Grated Monterey Jack cheese

Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic and half of the chopped onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Add additional water to the pot, if needed. 

In a skillet, sauté remaining onions and serrano pepper in olive oil until slightly tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to the soup pot and stir. Next, add chicken, cover and continue to simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Check seasoning, and adjust as needed.

Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.  Makes 8 generous servings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Soup

This is a really elegant soup for day #17 of Soup Month and the earthy flavors would be a great start to a holiday meal.  Look for assorted mushrooms in your local market to see what is available.  If you can find chanterelle mushrooms they are delicious in this soup.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 large Onion, finely diced
2  Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 oz  Dried Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted in 2 cups water
2 1/2 lbs  Assorted Fresh Mushrooms, chopped (crimini, shiitake or chanterelle if you can find them)
2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 TB  Cognac
32 oz  Chicken or Vegetable Stock
3 cups  Milk
1 TB  Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and garlic.  Saute 3-5 minutes until golden.

Drain porcini mushrooms and chop.  Pour water thru a coffee filter to remove and small pieces and set aside.

Increase heat to high and add porcinis and the fresh mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened and golden.  Add potatoes, reserved porcini liquid and cognac.  Cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Add the broth to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat.  Add milk and puree soup until smooth. (You can use an immersion blender for this step or carefullt puree soup in a blender, but be very careful not to overfill the blender.)

**Note:  To top off this soup you can garnish with finely chopped chives or saute about 1 cup of mushrooms in unsalted butter for a few minutes and gently place 2 or 3 mushrooms on top of each serving of soup.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Red Snapper and Shrimp Soup

For day #16 of Soup Month we bring together two of my favorite foods, Gulf Red Snapper and Shrimp.  I wanted to create a light soup that would complement each ingredient without masking the flavors but to do that I would need a flavorful clear base for the soup.  I'm not a fan of tomatoes with seafood; for some reason tomatoes with fish or shrimp just doesn't seem to work for me.  This brought me back to my favorite standby, White Wine and Herb Broth.  With the addition of a healthy portion of garlic and a pinch of saffron, this soup delivered a flavorful, light and elegant taste.  Even better, it was very quick to prepare.  We added some baked clam shells as a side but the soup would also be delicious spooned over Jasmine Rice.  Enjoy!

2 - 3 tsp  Minced Garlic
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1 small  Onion, finely diced
3 cups College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
1/2 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 tsp  Saffron Threads, crushed
1 lb  Red Snapper, cut into 2-inch chunks (can also use cod or halibut or any solid fish)
1 lb  Medium Shrimp (31-40 size), shelled and deveined
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
Cooked Jasmine Rice (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the garlic, pepper and onion, cover and cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the broth, red pepper and saffron, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the fish and shrimp, cover and simmer just until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  Serve in soup bowls alsone or spoon over a serving of jasmine rice.  Serves about 6.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup

For day #15 of Soup Month we bring you a classic, hearty sausage and bean soup that can be ready to eat in less than an hour.  This is a great soup for a cold winter night when you just can't get warm.  The fire-roasted tomatoes add a bit of smoky flavor and compliments the sausage really well.  Serve with a loaf of crusty French bread and you've got a filling and nutritious dinner.

2 TB  Olive Oil
1 pound Bulk Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups  Chopped Onion
1 1/2 cups  Diced Carrots
1  Stalk Celery, with leaves, chopped
1 TB  Chopped Garlic
1 tsp  Dried Basil
1 tsp  Dried Rosemary
1/4 tsp  Dried Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp  Dried Sage
5 cups   Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 15 oz can  Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, undrained
1 15 oz can  Kidney Beans, drained
1 cup  Dry Macaroni, try either macaroni, fusilli or even tortellini shells
Shaved Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Heat oil in heavy large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté about 5 minutes until browned, and breaking up the sausage into smaller pieces.

Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and sage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes with their juices and beans. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Add macaroni to soup and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with Parmesan cheese on top.  Serves about 8.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

For day #14 of Soup Month we made this delicious Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  The Andouille sausage brings a deep blend of spices to this dish and blends great with the chicken thighs.  While the Heineken beer was quite tasty, a dark Bock beer would bring an even deeper flavor and I will probably try that the next time we cook this dish.  Everyone gave this a thumbs up so we will be making it again soon.  The photo does not do this dish justice and we will be adding a new photo on the next try!

1/3 cup + 1 TB  Flour
1/4 cup  Canola Oil
2 TB  Unsalted Butter
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 bottle (12 oz)  Beer (we used Heineken but a dark beer would be even better)
8 - 10  Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tsp  Salt, divided
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Ground Red Pepper, divided
1/2 pound Andouille Sausage, cut into thin slices
1 large  Onion, chopped
1/2  Red Pepper, chopped
1/2  Green Pepper, chopped
2 stalks  Celery, chopped
2 cloves  Garlic, minced
2  Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Hot Cooked Rice (Jasmati worked great, brown rice would be very good also)

Combine flour, oil and butter in a large soup pot.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes until the mixture just begins to brown.

Meanwhile, bring broth and beer to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Keep warm over low heat.  Season the chicken thighs with 1/2 tsp salt, garlic powder and 1/2 tsp ground red pepper.

Add chicken to the soup pot and brown until both sides are seared golden brown, but not cooked thru.  Add the sausage, onion, peppers, celery, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper and remaining salt and red pepper to the soup pot.  Stir well.  Slowly add the hot broth and beer mixture to the soup pot, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps.  Bring soup to a simmer, cover and continue to cook at a low simmer for about 90 minutes.

Remove and discard bay leaves.  Place a scoop of rice into each of 6 bowls and top with the soup mixture and 1 or 2 of the chicken thighs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beef Stew with Red Wine

For day #13 of Soup Month, we have a Beef Stew served inside a circle of creamy mashed potatoes.  Instead of including the potatoes in the stew, where the potatoes sometimes tend to get a little mushy, we decided to serve them mashed and the results were yummy.  It was a nice twist to a classic dish.

1  2-lb  Boneless Beef Chuck Roast, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 TB  Flour
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Paprika
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
2 TB  Canola Oil
3/4 cup  Red Wine  (a Cabernet works great)
24 oz  Beef Stock
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1  Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
4 oz  Mushrooms  (about 6-8 mushrooms, halved, portobello mushrooms are delicious in this dish)
6  Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 TB  Flour
1/4 tsp  Salt
Prepared Mashed Potatoes

To prepare beef:  Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry.  In a small bowl, combine 3 TB flour, salt, paprika and pepper.  Toss beef with flour mixture to evenly coat.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook beef in batches in oil over medium-high heat, stirring often 4-6 minutes or until browned.  Remove meat to a plate.  To the soup pot add wine, sitrring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return beef to pan;  add beef broth, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After cooking for the hour, add halved mushrooms and carrots to stew, cover and cook 60 - 90 minutes longer until the meat is fork tender.  (Cooking for the 90 minutes will get the most tender results.)

Whisk together 1 TB flour and 1/4 tsp salt then add 1 cup of hot broth to the flour mixture.  Whisk until completely smooth, then blend mixture into the stew.  Cook stew 20 minutes longer, stirring often, until stew is thickened. 

Place a scoop of mashed potatoes in the center of a soup bowl and make a hole in the center of the potatoes.  Add a generous scoop of stew to the center of the potatoes and serve.  Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

For day #12 of Soup Month we bring you a family classic, Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup.  It's always been said that Chicken Noodle Soup can cure the common cold and for some reason it really does work. Although the broth for this soup is delicious, if you prefer a thicker broth adding the can of soup creates a creamy texture. 

4 -5  Chicken Quarters, skin removed
8 cups  Water (enough to cover chicken)
2 stalks  Celery, cut into 3 pieces
1 small  Onion, cut in half
2 tsp  Salt
2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 cups  Frozen Mixed Peas and Carrots
1 bag  No Yolks Wide Egg Noodles
3 TB  Cornstarch
1/4 cup  Water
1 can  Low-Sodium Campbells Cream of Celery Soup (optional)

Place the chicken quarters into a large soup pot with the water, celery, onion and salt and pepper, and turn heat to high.  Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and boil about 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked thru.

Remove chicken quarters from pot and allow to cool.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the celery stalks and onion from the pot and discard.  When chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones, place meat back into the broth and discard bones.

Bring broth with chicken back to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the frozen veggies and noodles and stir.  Cook 10 minutes or until noodles are tender.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with water and slowly stir into soup to thicken the broth. 

**Optional:  For a thicker broth, add 1 can of Campbells Low-Sodium Cream of Celery soup.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Italian Chicken Pasta Soup

On to day #11 of Soup Month with a zesty Italian Chicken and Pasta soup.  Lots of veggies make this soup filling and delicious on a cool fall night.  The original recipe called for heavy cream, which is pretty calorie dense at 821 calories per cup and 88 grams of fat, but half and half worked to give the soup just a bit of creaminess without being too heavy, weighing in at 315 calories per cup and 27 grams of fat.  This soup is wonderful for leftovers and the recipe makes about 8 servings.

1 box Ditalini Pasta
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 whole Cut Up Chicken
8 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
2 whole Fresh Jalapenos, Diced
28-oz can Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Half and Half
2 TB  Dried Oregano
Salt And Black Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese Shavings for garnish

Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and set meat aside.

In a large soup pot heat 2 tablespoon olive oil and oregano over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos and heat until veggies are tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta and cream (or half and half), stir to combine and remove pot from heat.

Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a loaf of Crusty Italian bread.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Green Chili Pork Soup

Green chilies and pork combined with lots of colorful veggies make a great soup for day #9 of Soup Month.  This soup can easily be thickened at the end if you would like the consistency a little thicker.  Serve with warm tortillas or crunchy garlic breadsticks for a yummy dinner.

1 1/4 pounds Lean Pork Tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 TB  Canola Oil
4 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups  Frozen Corn
2 ribs  Celery, diced
1/2  Red Pepper, diced
1/2  Green Pepper, diced
1/2  Yellow Onion, diced
4 - 5 medium Red Potatoes, cubed
1 can  Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies
2 cans  Diced Green Chilies
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Chipotle Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt (optional)

In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of pork in oil.  When the meat is seared on the outside, but not completely cooked thru, add the corn, celery, onion, peppers and potatoes and stir.  Continue to saute the mixture for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, garlic powder, pepper, chipotle powder and salt, stir to combine, then add the chicken broth.  Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue to simmer the soup for 45 minutes, until meat and potatoes are tender.

** Note:  For a thicker consistency, combine 1/2 cup chicken broth or water with 3 TB flour in a small cup.  Stir mixture into the soup, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Serves about 6 - 8.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Golden Potato Corn Chowder

Mmm..This was a really tasty soup using one of my favorite new ingredients, the College Inn White Wine & Herb Broth.  I have been finding so many ways to use this delicious broth and there are more recipes on the way.  For day #8 of Soup Month we created this hearty soup using basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.  The Yukon Gold potatoes give this soup a beautiful color and texture and by mashing a portion of them, they provide that creamy "chowder" effect.

1/2 lb  Thick Cut Smoked Bacon, diced and divided in half
1 lb Smoked Ham, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small Onion, diced
6-7  medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed
2 cups Frozen Corn
1  32-oz container  College Inn White Wine & Herb Broth
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Salt
1/3 cup  Half and Half or Milk

In a large soup pot, saute 1/2 of the bacon until just crispy.  Add the ham, onion and potatoes, stir and saute for 5 minutes or until onions are softened and the potatoes are browned just a bit on the edges.

Add the corn, broth and salt and pepper.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and continue on a low boil for about 12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the soup is cooking, brown the remaining portion of bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Let bacon drain on a paper towel and keep warm.

When the potatoes are tender, remove about 1 cup of potatoes to a bowl, add the milk and mash lightly.  Return the potatoes to the soup and stir. The mashed potatoes will thicken the soup nicely.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of bacon.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smoky Shrimp and Chorizo Soup

The best thing about making homemade soup is getting to experiment with new flavors.  For day #7 of Soup Month, we've combined shrimp with fire-roasted tomatoes, white wine and spicy dry chorizo and the end result is delicious.

This recipe was adapted from a 2009 Food &Wine recipe I came across.  I had never used dry chorizo so I was curious to try it as we do like fresh chorizo.  The dry variety does need to be used in this recipe as the fresh would result in a mushy texture.  The smoky paprika, combined with the chorizo and shrimp is an amazing flavor, without being overly spicy.  We did add a package of frozen cheese tortellini just to make the soup a bit more hearty and a little more kid-friendly.

2 lbs Medium Shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
1 - 49 oz can Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
12 oz  Dry White Wine
8 oz Dry Chorizo, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Small Sweet Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
1 - 28-oz can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 TB Flour mixed with 2 TB of Water
1 pkg  Frozen Cheese Filled Tortellini
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Avocado slices, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, simmer the shrimp shells in the chicken broth and wine, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the shells.

In a large soup pot, cook the chorizo over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate. Add the onion, garlic and paprika to the pot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Return the chorizo to the pot, add the shrimp broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 25 minutes. Stir the flour mixture, whisk it into the soup and boil for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tortellini and bring soup back to a low boil.  Add the shrimp to the soup and cook just until pink and curled, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with avocado slices.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

For day #6 of Soup Month, we have an all-time favorite on the list of comfort foods, Chicken and Dumplings.  Cold season has officially begun, and the reports from school say there are lots of sniffles, sneezes and sick kids out there so it's time for some old-fashioned medicine.

This is a pretty simple recipe and some of the work can be done ahead of time, either in the morning or over the weekend, and you can whip up a great weeknight dinner in a flash.  The homemade dumplings are light and fluffy inside and really can be made from scratch with only a few ingredients.

4 Chicken Legs Quarters, skin removed
2 Celery Stalks, leaves chopped and stalks cut into 4 pieces
1/2 medium Onion, quartered
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Flour
4 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Salt
6 TB  Butter
1 1/2 cups  Milk
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Add skinned chicken quarters, celery and onion to a large soup pot of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and continue to boil for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove quarters from pot and place in a bowl to cool.

To make the chicken and dumplings you will need about 4 cups of the broth in the pot.  If you have more than 4 cups, pour some into a jar or glass bowl and store in refrigerator for another use.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the onion and larger celery pieces out of the soup pot and discard.  When chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and return chicken pieces to the soup pot.  Increase heat to medium-high.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut butter into slivers and drop into the flour mixture, then use a fork to blend the butter into the flour until fully combined.  Add milk and blend just until the dough holds together.

When the chicken broth comes to a a low boil, drop dough by rounded tablespoons on top of the bubbling broth.  Adjust heat so broth just simmers, then simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes;  cover and simmer 10 minutes longer.  Spoon chicken and dumplings into soup bowls and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cashew Chili

Day #5 of Soup Month brings us an ultra-healthy chili with...No Meat!  I know, that will scare some people but give this chili a try and you will be pleasantly surprised how delicious a vegetarian-style meal can be.

This lean vegan chili is low in fat and calories and high in fiber and flavor.  Since this recipe makes a pretty large batch, make this on Sunday night and you will have several days of yummy, healthy and ready-to-eat chili fur lunch or dinner.  Better yet, share a bowl with a friend, co-worker or family member. They will be asking for more!  Enjoy!

16 oz Dried Small Red Beans (or use Red Kidney Beans)
5 cups Water
3 Bay Leaves
4 TB Olive Oil, divided
2 Medium Onions, 1/2-inch dice
4-6 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Medium Green Peppers, 1/2-inch dice
2 cups Celery, 1/2-inch dice
2 TB Ground Cumin Seed
1 TB Ground Coriander
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3 cans (14.5 oz each) Diced Tomatoes
1-1/2 cup (1/4 lb) Roasted Unsalted Cashews
1 TB Red Wine Vinegar

Sort and soak beans: Sort beans and discard warped/discolored beans. Place beans in a large stockpot and cover with water, allowing an extra 2 inches of water above beans. Soak 4-6 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook: Drain beans and discard soaking water. Add beans and 5 cups fresh water to a medium stockpot. Heat on high 10 min, uncovered, until boiling. Skim as much foam as possible from surface. Add bay leaves; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, tilted to vent steam. Cook 1 hour; and do not stir.

Heat 3 TB olive oil, onions, and garlic in large stockpot on medium-high for 2 min. Add peppers and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 min, until vegetables are tender.

Add remaining 1 TB oil, cumin, coriander, red pepper, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook about 1 min, stirring. Add tomatoes; reduce heat to medium. Simmer 10 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

Check beans for tenderness; they should be completely tender (if not tender, cover completely; cook additional 15 min or as needed). Most of the water will be absorbed at this point. Remove and discard bay leaves. 

Add beans to stockpot with veggie/tomato mixture; stir. Return to medium heat, add cashews and red wine vinegar and simmer. Cover, tilted to vent steam. Cook 15 min, stirring occasionally.

Makes about 14 1-cup servings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oriental Chicken Noodle Soup

Are you ready for day 4 of Soup Month?  With cold and flu season quickly approaching, this is a great recipe to help you feel better and we're adding a little twist to the traditional chicken noodle soup.

This chicken soup has a delicious blend of oriental flavors, with a spicy zing of Sriracha Sauce at the end.  Using precooked chicken also makes it a great time saver, which would make this perfect for any weeknight dinner.  The whole wheat noodles keep the soup healthy and add a little earthly flavor.

Time Saving Tip:  To save a bunch of time putting together weeknight dinners, try adding this project to your Sunday routine.  Buy a whole chicken, about 5 - 5 1/2 pounds in weight, remove the skin and boil the chicken in a pot of water with a few onion quarters and 1 chopped celery stalk.  Let cool and pull the meat off the carcass and divide into 2 bowls (or even 3 depending on the size of meals you will be preparing). Also strain the broth to use for soup.  Now you have your chicken and broth ready for soup night and a batch of chicken ready for Baked Chicken Chimichangas or fajitas.

3 cups  Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups  Water
1 tsp  Canola Oil
1 tsp  Sesame Oil
2 TB  Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 cup  White Mushrooms, quartered
1 8-oz can  Sliced Water Chestnuts, drained
3  Carrots, sliced into thin rounds
6 oz  Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Noodles
2 cups Precooked Chicken, shredded
1 cup  Snow Peas, trimmed
1 -2 tsp  Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional)
2  Green Onions, finely chopped

In a soup pot, heat canola and sesame oil until warm, then add soy sauce, mushrooms and carrot, saute over medium-high heat about 3 minutes. 

Add broth and water and bring soup to a boil.  Add noodles and cook 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add snow peas, chicken and water chestnuts and continue to heat until noodles are al dente, stirring occasionally.  Add Sriracha sauce, if a spicy flavor is desired, and blend into soup.

Ladle into soup bowls and top with green onions before serving.  Serves 6-8.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Swai and Sweet Potato Chowder

On to day 3 of Soup Month!  I must say, this is an amazing bowl of soup!  I am always looking for new ways to cook Swai, and this was a great meal.  Since most people don't keep a supply of Saffron on hand, the price for this delicate spice will be a bit of a shocker. I paid just over $6 for a 1/2 gram, in a vial no bigger than a quarter!  I know it sounds expensive, but here are a few details to explain the high cost.

Saffron are the stigmas of the crocus sativus flower, which grows in Western Asia. Since each flower only has 3 stigmas, and these are all "hand-harvested", you need a lot of time to collect 13,000+ stigmas which equals just 1 ounce. A very labor-intensive spice!

Since Saffron can be used to add flavor and beautiful color to many soups, plus seafood paella, rice or risotto, it is a delicious spice to experiment with and try in various foods. You can crush the threads when using them, but in this dish, simply add the whole threads and the flavor and color will distribute into the soup more evenly.

The sweet potatoes and Andouille were a surprisingly good match for the Swai, and the crispy fried sweet potatoes on top finished the soup off nicely.

1 TB  Olive Oil
2 pieces  Andouille Sausages (6-8 oz total)
1 small  Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp  Saffron Threads (6-8 threads are plenty)
3 cups  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 small  Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup  Whipping Cream (or Half and Half)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 pounds  Swai Fillets, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch squares
1/2 cup  Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 TB  Cornstarch
1 small  Sweet Potato, julienned or cut into thin matchsticks
2 tsp  Olive Oil

In a large soup pot, heat 1 TB olive oil.  Add sausage slices and cook until lightly browned.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth, sweet potatoes and saffron threads.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.  Blend in whipping cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add pieces of fish to the top of the soup, pushing the fish into the soup slightly.  (The heat of the soup will gently poach the fish, allowing it to absorb all of the flavors.)  Cover the pot and cook until the fish is opaque and cooked thru, about 10 minutes.  (Choose the largest piece of fish to test for doneness, if needed.)

Sweet Potato Slivers:   Saute the julienned potatoes in a small skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tsp olive oil. Stir the potatoes and fry until crispy; keep warm.

Gently stir soup.  Mix 1/4 cup broth with 2 TB cornstarch in a small bowl.  Slowly add the mixture to the soup, a little at a time while stirring the soup, until the desired consistency is reached.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with toasted sweet potato slivers.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Golden Potato Soup with Spicy Shrimp

On to day #2 of Soup Month, we have a silky smooth Golden Potato Soup with Sriracha Spiced  Shrimp on top.  This is a relatively easy soup to make, requiring just a few minutes of prep time.  The original recipe from Food & Wine magazine called for Turkish red-pepper paste as the base seasoning for the shrimp but, since I could not find any here in our small town, my husband decided to use his spice magic on the shrimp and they turned out great.  Just the right amount of spice to compliment the mild potato soup.

Why use 2 varieties of potatoes?  The Yukon Gold is a boiling potato which contains less starch and sugar and also gives this soup its beautiful color.  When you combine the 3 Yukon potatoes with 1 regular Russet potato, which is higher in starch and will add a little fluff to the recipe, you get the perfect combination of silkiness and just a bit of starch to thicken the soup.

This elegant soup would be perfect for the first course at any holiday dinner, and would be delicious served before a Beef Standing Rib RoastEnjoy!

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium Shallot, sliced
Kosher Salt
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium Russet Potato, peeled and diced
2 cups  Chicken Broth
1/2 lb  Raw Shrimp, about 21-25 size, shelled, deveined and cut in half horizontally
1 tsp  Fresh Basil
1 TB  Minced Fresh Garlic
2 TB  Olive Oil
1/2 tsp  Sriracha Sauce
1 tsp  Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch of Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp  Paprika
1  Green Onion, minced for garnish

In a large pot heat 1 TB olive oil.  Add the shallot and just a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the diced potatoes and cook 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the shrimp, basil, garlic, 2 TB olive oil, Sriracha sauce, balsamic, cayenne and paprika.  Set aside to marinate while the potatoes are cooking.

When the potatoes are tender, use a slotted spoon to scoop the shallots and potatoes into a blender.  Strain the remaining broth into a saucepan, and carefully add 1 cup of the broth to the blender.

Puree the soup until smooth, then add the puree to the saucepan with the broth.  Add just a pinch of salt, to taste and stir until the broth and puree are combined.

Using a small skillet, add the shrimp mixture, and cook shrimp over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes or until shrimp are pink and slightly curled.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with several of the cooked shrimp and a sprinkle of green onions for garnish.  Serves about 3 as a main meal with a side salad, or serves 6 as an appetizer or first course.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Southwest Chicken Chili

This is a great recipe to start Soup Month 2011.  Just 30 more soups to go!!

The mild flavors of chicken and red and green peppers combined with the bold flavors of cumin, cayenne and black beans to deliver a wonderful Southwest taste to this chili.  Even better me, this soup is very colorful and the kids loved it, including the black beans! They loved the beans and the extra bit of spice was enjoyed by everyone. 

The best part of this recipe?  Start to finish, you can have this chili on the table in under 1 hour.

1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Chili Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne Powder
1/2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Cumin Powder
1/4 tsp  Onion Powder
1-3/4 lbs  Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 TB Canola Oil
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1/2 cup  Red Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup  Green Pepper, finely chopped
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1  14.5 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup  Frozen Corn
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 TB  Cornstarch
1/4 cup  Water
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine first 7 dry spices, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder.  Sprinkle the spice mixture over the cubed chicken and stir to evenly coat all pieces.  Set chicken aside.

Heat canola oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add chicken pieces to the pot and lightly brown on all sides, stirring often.  Add garlic, red & green peppers and onion and saute until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Add black beans and corn and stir to combine;  cook 2 minutes, add the chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes longer.  In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water, add mixture to pot while stirring and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until thickened.

Serve in soup bowls with a garnish of monterey jack cheese.  Enjoy!