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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup

Well, our 4th Annual Soup Month has come to a close and for our final recipe of Soup Month 2012, we have a generous serving of delicious steamed shellfish served over a creamy potato soup.  My oldest daughter has been waiting all month for this recipe, so she was happy when she finally saw mussels on the menu!

For this Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup recipe, we prepared a simple pureed potato and leek soup, using just a few basic ingredients to let the flavors of the shellfish really pop.  While the soup cooked, the shellfish were quickly steamed in olive oil and white wine, which brings all of the natural juices out of the shells, so they can be included in the soup.  About half of the meat from the mussels and clams is included in the soup, while the other half is served in the shell, both for decorative purposes and also to keep the meat in the shell with all of those delicious juices.

Many people are not sure how to prepare mussels or clams, so they avoid cooking with them all together.  Shellfish are really very easy to prepare and just require a small amount of liquid in the pan to help them steam.  The shellfish actually have enough of their own juices that additional liquid is not really necessary, but it does add more flavor to the shellfish during the cooking process.

Beginner Tip:  If you have never tried to steam your own shellfish, and are still a little reluctant, try this instead.  Follow the instructions below to steam the shells, then serve the clams and mussels over a bowl of cooked linguine.  Melt some butter in a skillet and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, then saute some minced garlic in the butter and olive oil until the garlic is fragrant and slightly browned.  Pour this butter mixture over the shellfish and the linguine and you have a super simple dinner that tastes incredible.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1 medium Shallot, diced
1  Leek, finely chopped (include the white and a little of the green)
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
4  medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups  Water
1 bottle  Clam Juice
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste
2 lbs  Cleaned Mussels
2 dozen  Cleaned Clams
1 cup White Wine
Chopped Fresh Parsley for Garnish
Olive Oil for Garnish

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add 2 TB olive oil.  When the oil is warm, add the garlic, shallot, leek and thyme to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the potatoes and sauce for 4 minutes until they begin to brown slightly on the edges.

Add the water and clam juice to the pot and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the potatoes are cooked through.  (Add a bit more water to the pot, if needed.)

When the potatoes are tender, add the cream to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup until very smooth, then return the soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat.  (The soup will appear slightly thick at this point, but hold off adding any other liquid.  The soup will be thinned when the shellfish juices are added, and more liquid can be added, if needed, at the end of the cooking process.)

To Cook the Mussels and Clams:  Add 2 TB olive oil to a very large skillet or saute pan.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering and very hot.  Carefully add the shellfish to the pot, stirring as they begin to sizzle.  Pour the white wine over the shellfish and stir again to evenly coat.  Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shells begin to open.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the shells that have opened to a platter.  If some shells did not open, cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to give them a chance to open.  Discard any shells that do not open.

Use a spoon to scoop the meat out of half of the mussels and clams and add the meat to the soup, and stir the soup to combine.  Strain the cooking liquid from the shellfish through a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and pour the filtered broth into the soup.  This will thin the soup and you can add additional cream or water to the soup if you prefer a thinner texture.

Ladle the soup into bowls and place several of the opened shellfish on top of the soup as a garnish.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil before serving.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

For day 30 of Soup Month 2012, we have a rich and creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a little garnish of popcorn on top.  This is a great seasonal soup and it would be ideal to serve for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor and combines nicely with savory seasonings.  It can even be used to make a great vegan lasagna, (more on that later).  The base of this soup uses a white wine and herb broth, coriander and just a touch of cayenne pepper for a little background spice, with a dash of cream to add a silky texture.

Many people don't cook with butternut squash because it's a little tough to work with, and I admit I was a little intimidated as I tried to figure out how to chop this squash.  It was actually pretty simple.  I used a large knife, cut the squash into pieces, then used the knife to carefully slice off the outer shell.  Some people use a potato peeler to prepare squash, but it just doesn't work as well as a good knife.

Since this was my first attempt at cooking butternut squash I was not sure what to expect from the combination of flavors, but I was very pleased with the results.  This soup was rich and creamy and quite filling, and I loved the flavor of the white wine broth.  If you're serving turkey or ham this Thanksgiving, this soup would make a beautiful first course.  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 tsp  Ground Coriander
1 tsp  Sugar
1/2 tsp  Ground Cayenne Pepper
2 TB  Olive Oil
3 lb  Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
3 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  White Pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  In a large bowl combine coriander, sugar, cayenne pepper and olive oil.  Stir to combine, then add the pieces of squash to the bowl and stir to coat.

Spread pieces of squash onto a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and brown on the edges.

Transfer the squash to a blender, add the broth and half and half , then puree until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the pureed squash to the pan and stir.  Add salt and white pepper to the soup, stir and adjust seasonings further, if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a few pieces of popcorn and serve.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Crock Pot Chipotle Chili

I can't believe we are almost at the end of Soup Month.  We've made some delicious soups and stews this month, and today for day 29 of Soup Month 2012, we have a bold and spicy Crock Pot Chipotle Chili.  This chili offers an amazing combination of flavors including fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, chipotle powder, and the surprise ingredient, unsweetened cocoa.  I know cocoa is not a very common ingredient in most chili recipes, but it adds amazing depth and a deep rich color to this dish and just makes all of the other ingredients come together beautifully. 

For a little added convenience, this chili is made in the crock pot, and it can be prepared start to finish in about 3 hours. 

Everyone at our house enjoyed this chili fixed their own way. With pasta or without, with cheese or sour cream or both, or even without any garnish, this was an excellent chili.  With the robust flavor, plus veggies, black beans and tender bites of sirloin, this chili with surely be on the menu for our upcoming football parties.  Enjoy!!

1 can  Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can  Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 cup  Water
1 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 TB  Smoky Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Chipotle Powder
2 TB  Unsweetened Cocoa
1 TB  Olive Oil
1-1/2 lbs  Beef Sirloin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 TB  Tomato Paste
1 small  Red Pepper, chopped
1 small  Green Pepper, chopped
1 medium  Onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/3 to 1/4 cup  Cornmeal, as needed

In a large crock pot, add the black beans, tomatoes, water, cumin, oregano chili powder, chipotle powder, and cocoa.  Turn heat to HIGH and cook for 45 minutes.

While the chili begins to cook in the crock pot, you can saute the meat and vegetables.  Using a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the beef to the skillet and stir to quickly sear the outside of the meat;  cook for 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste to the beef and stir to combine, then add the peppers and onion and saute the beef and vegetables for 5 minutes.

Add the beef and vegetables to the crock pot and continue to cook on HIGH for 60 minutes.  Stir the chili and add salt and pepper, if needed.  Add the cornmeal to the chili and stir to fully combine the cornmeal.  Turn heat setting to LOW and cook for 60 minutes longer. 

Ladle chili into bowls and serve with sour cream and grated cheddar cheese for a garnish.  This chili is also great served over cooked pasta.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Seafood and Spice and Everything Nice

For day 28 of Soup Month 2012, we have an amazing seafood stew that is truly one of the best I've ever eaten. The title really says it all for this dish.  The stew combines shrimp, scallops and swai fish fillets, and adds red and green peppers, plus chipotle and jalapeno peppers, with just a little kick from cumin and chili powder.  Everything comes together to create a mouth-watering bowl of seafood goodness.

This stew is a simple five step process that begins with a marinade for the seafood.  A combination of spices, minced jalapeno and garlic infuse the seafood with flavor while you prepare the rest of the stew.

The stew base gets a bold start with a bottle of dark beer, chipotle pepper and a spoonful of adobo sauce, plus some chopped veggies and a can of navy beans for a little extra heartiness.  Adding just a touch of cream at the end gives the broth a luxurious finish, and brings all of those flavors together.  You'll never, ever, find something this delicious in any restaurant.  It was quite simply, homemade and magnificent!   I hope you enjoy this stew as much as we did.

3 TB  Olive Oil
1 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 tsp  Smoked Chili Powder
1 medium  Jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 lb  Swai Fish Fillets, (about 3 fillets) cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb  Medium Shrimp, (41 - 50 count) peeled and deveined
3/4 lb  Scallops

2 TB  Olive Oil
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium  Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1  Chipotle Chili, minced
1-1/2 tsp  Adobo Sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
1 bottle  Dark Beer
1-1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
1 can  Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup  Heavy Cream

Step One - Seafood Marinade - In a glass bowl combine the 3 TB oil, cumin, chili powder, jalapeno, and garlic.  Stir to combine, then add the shrimp, scallops and fish to the bowl.  Toss gently to coat, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the stew.

Step Two - Making the Stew Base -  Heat 2 TB oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, red and green peppers, and oregano.  Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies are slightly tender.  Add the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the beer, chicken broth, beans, salt, and pepper, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Step Three - Prepare the Seafood - While the stew base is simmering, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 TB olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the seafood plus any marinade to the skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the fish is nearly opaque.  (Be sure to turn the fish carefully so it does not break apart too much.)

Step Four - Add the heavy cream to the stew and stir to combine, then blend in the cornmeal, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. (This will thicken the broth slightly.)

Step Five - Carefully add the sauteed seafood to the pot, gently stir and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.  Ladle stew into bowls and serve with lime wedges, tortilla chips or cheese quesadillas on the side.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chicken Vegetable and Tortellini Soup

For day 27 of Soup Month 2012, we have a hearty Chicken, Vegetable and Tortellini Soup.  This soup is packed with veggies and tender tortellini pasta and has a lightly creamy broth with just a hint of lemon juice.  With cold and flu season fast approaching, this will be a great recipe to have on hand. 

We used chicken quarters for this recipe (leg and thigh piece) to get the most chicken flavor into the soup, and we prepared the stock and chicken at the same time.

To make your own stock:  Place the 4 chicken quarters in a large pot and cover them with about 8 cups of water, then add a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, one cup of chopped celery and half of a sliced onion. 
Bring the chicken to a full boil over high heat, lower heat to medium and boil for about 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  (The leg and thigh will easily pull apart at this point.)  Remove the chicken from the pot to cool and measure 6 cups of the stock to use for the soup. 

This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is wonderful.  Once the chicken is cooked, the soup can be prepared in about 15 minutes, so it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  Enjoy!!

4  Chicken Legs Quarters, cooked and deboned
6 cups  Chicken Stock (homemade or canned)
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Chicken Base
1-1/2 cups  Frozen Peas and Carrots
16 oz  bag  Frozen Cheese Tortellini Pasta
1 cup  Fresh Spinach, rinsed and stems removed
2 TB Cornstarch
1 TB  Cold Water
1 TB  Lemon Juice

Using a medium soup pot, bring broth to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the salt, pepper, chicken base and frozen peas and carrots.  Simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and tortellini to the pot, increase heat to medium-high and cook for about 3 minutes until the pasta is just barely tender.

Add the spinach to the top of the soup, cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat to allow the spinach to wilt.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, water and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Add the mixture to the soup, stirring constantly until the soup thickens slightly.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Serves about 6-8.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shrimp Bisque

For day 26 of Soup Month 2012, we decided to go with a luxurious bowl of creamy Shrimp Bisque.  This is a great special occasion soup and would be delicious served as a first course for New Year's Eve alongside a perfectly medium-rare Standing Prime Rib Roast.

The secret to a successful bisque lies in the stock.  Making your own stock does take a little extra time, but the depth of flavor you get from a slow-cooked stock is amazing!  For extra seasonings, we added just a touch of old bay to the stock to round out the shrimp, and the tomato paste with garlic adds just a hint of garlic to the background of this soup.  Enjoy!!

2 lbs  medium Shell-On Shrimp (41-50 size)
4 TB  Butter, divided
1 medium  Yellow Onion, diced
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium Celery Stalk, diced
1/2 tsp  Old Bay Seasoning
2  Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Tomato Paste with Garlic
4 cups  Water
4 TB  Flour
3/4 cup  Dry White Wine
1 tsp  Lobster Base
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream

Peel the shrimp and reserve the shells.  Chop the shrimp in half and place in a glass bowl;  refrigerate until needed.

In a large saucepan, melt 1 TB butter over medium-high heat.  When butter begins to simmer, add the onions, carrots, celery, Old Bay, and bay leaves and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the reserved shrimp shells on top of the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir and cover the pot.  Cook for 5 minutes longer, until the shells are pink and vegetables are softened.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add the water to the pot and stir to combine.  Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Use a colander lined with a paper towel or coffee filter to strain the stock through to filter out the solids, then discard the solids.

Rinse out the saucepan and return to the stove.  Over low heat melt 3 TB butter.  When the butter is melted, add the flour to the butter and blend with a spoon to create a roux.  Keep stirring until mixture is a golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and lobster base to the pot and stir to combine, then add the reserved stock to the pot.  Bring mixture to a low boil, then add the cayenne and the shrimp to the pot.  Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes or just until the shrimp are pink.  Reduce the heat to low, add the cream to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. 

Serve this soup with crusty french bread or baked clam shells.  Serves 5 - 6 as a main course, or about 8 as a first course. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Ham

For day 25 of Soup Month 2012, we have a meaty version of the classic Italian Pasta e Fagioli, which translates simply into pasta and beans.  This hearty soup started with a package of Hurst's brand pasta and bean mix, which is a mixture of navy beans and tiny pink beans with the ditalini pasta already included.  After cooking the bean mixture about halfway, we added a few spices, some cooked hot Italian sausage and a cup of diced ham.  This gave the soup a wonderful blend of flavors.

This soup does takes some time to prepare so it's a great soup to prepare on the weekend. By cooking it low and slow the flavors have time to meld into a delicious meal, and it's definitely worth the wait.  If possible, try to add the fresh basil near the end of cooking time, as it does add a remarkably fresh flavor to the soup.

6 cups  Water
1-1/2 cups  Hurst's Pasta and Bean Soup Mix, rinsed
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks  Celery, chopped
1 medium  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
2  Hot Italian Sausage Links, casings removed, cooked and broken into bite-sized pieces
1 cup  Cubed Cooked Ham
2  Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Fresh Basil, chopped

Heat water in a medium soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rinsed bean and pasta mix to the pot, boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer for 90 minutes.

Add vegetables, sausage and ham to the pot and stir.  Then add the bay leaves, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.  Cook over low for 45-60 minutes or until the beans and vegetables are tender.

During the last 15 minutes of cook time, add the chopped basil to the pot and stir.  Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan Romano cheese and a loaf of warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crock Pot Chili Mac with Beer

As we continue with day 24 of Soup Month 2012, we have for you a quick to prepare Crock Pot Chili that is great for your upcoming fall football parties.  The beef we used for this chili was a tender beef shoulder roast which is ideal for the crock pot.  The longer cooking time and low temperature slowly tenderizes the meat until each bite is moist and full of slow cooked flavor.  The addition of a good Oktoberfest Beer during the last 90 minutes of cook time adds a wonderful burst of flavor that blends nicely with the beef and spices.

Total prep and cook time for this chili is about 4 hours, so you could easily start this on Saturday morning and it will be ready for the afternoon kickoff.  Enjoy!!

1 1/2 lbs  Beef Shoulder Roast, trimmed of all fat and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1 small  Red Onion, chopped
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 cup  Beef Broth
1 8 oz can  Tomato Sauce
2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Dry Mustard
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 can  Diced Green Chilies
1 bottle  Oktoberfest Beer
1-1/2 cups  Dry Dreamfield's Macaroni

Heat oil in a large skillet, add beef and brown for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic to the beef.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Pout the beef and veggies into a 6-quart crock pot and add the remaining ingredients through the green chilies.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

Add the beer and macaroni to the crock pot, stir to combine and cook for 1-1/2 hours longer on LOW.

Serve with chopped onion, grated cheese and sour cream as toppings.  Serve 6 - 8.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Soup

For day 23 of Soup Month 2012, we made a creamy mushroom soup that's packed with lots of veggies and chicken.  Also included are Yellow Gold Potatoes which are one of my favorite potatoes to cook with.  These golden potatoes contain less starch than other potatoes and are ideal to use in soups because they will hold their shape better than regular russets.  You won't have to worry about the potatoes crumbling away as they cook.  This is also a great way to use leftover baked chicken.

This soup can also be assembled pretty quickly.  Prep time is about 15 minutes and cook time is right around 40 minutes, so it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  This received 3 thumbs-ups from the kids, too! 

3 TB Butter
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 stalk Celery, chopped
2 medium Carrots, chopped
1/2 lb Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1/2 lb White Button Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 TB  Flour
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Pepper
1 tsp Dried Thyme
4 cups Chicken Broth
6  Yellow Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters
1 cups  Cream
2 cups Chopped Cooked Chicken
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish if desired

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and thyme and mix until smooth.

Gradually add the broth, then turn heat up to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the potatoes,  reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cream and cooked chicken to the pot and stir. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, then serve the soup with a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Potato Poblano Soup

We've got a spicy Potato and Poblano Soup for day 22 of Soup Month 2012.  This soup is creamy and rich and has a bit of a sneaky kick to it.  The heat in this soup comes from two sources, poblano chilies and a spoonful of adobo sauce, and together they combine beautifully.

The poblano chile is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients and I'm enjoying finding new ways to use them in recipes.  (For a great taco recipe with poblanos check out Chorizo-Poblano Tacos.)  Poblano chilies are about 3 inches long, and have a rich flavor that can range from mild to medium-spicy.  For the richest flavor, look for fresh poblanos that are darker skinned.  The ripe reddish-brown peppers will be sweeter than the green ones.

Adobo sauce is the next special ingredient used in this soup and it can be found in the Mexican foods aisle at your local market.  Usually adobo is the sauce packed with chipotle peppers, but there are a few manufacturers that are selling the adobo in its own jar.  If you use the sauce that has the chipotle peppers in it, just save the peppers and leftover sauce in a glass jar.  It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

This zesty soup works great as a side dish to compliment baked chicken or a grilled pork roast.  Prep time is only 10 minutes with cook time just under 30 minutes.  A warm cup of soup that's super easy to make and full of flavor makes a great addition to any dinner.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Butter
1 large  Yellow Onion, sliced
1 large  Poblano Chile Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup  Water
5  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 cups  Chicken Stock
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1/4 tsp  White Pepper
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 TB  Adobo Sauce
Garlic Croutons for Garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and poblano to the pot, stir and saute for 4 minutes.  Add water to the pot, reduce heat to medium and continue to saute the onions and pepper until softened, about 4 minutes longer.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Using an immersion blender (or use a stand blender and work in 2 batches), puree the soup until smooth.  Add the half and half, white pepper, salt and adobo sauce to the soup and stir, then adjust the salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into soup cups, top with a few garlic croutons and Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicken Corn Chowder

For day 21 of Soup Month 2012, we have a quick and easy soup that's made with precooked chicken, so you can have dinner on the table fast.  We used some leftover chicken breast from a batch of Garlic Chicken Caesar Salads and it worked great.  The chicken had been sauteed in garlic and olive, so the flavors in the chicken only added to this soup.

Chicken Corn Chowder is a fairly common soup, but it usually has potatoes in it.  For this soup we skipped the potatoes and ramped up the flavor by adding chipotle peppers, including the adobo sauce and a can of chopped green chilies.  The combination of peppers gave this soup an amazing flavor.

Prep time for this soup is super fast.  Just chop up the chicken and some onion and you're ready to go.  The chipotle peppers usually come in a small can packed with the adobo sauce.  For this recipe use 1-1/2 teaspoons of the sauce in the soup, then you can either chop one chipotle pepper and add it to the soup or puree all of the peppers (there are about 4 per can) and use the 1-1/2 teaspoons for the soup and save the rest in a glass jar.  I use a small Magic Bullet cup to do this and it only takes a few seconds to puree the peppers.  Plus, having the puree in your refrigerator will give you a chance to try the peppers in other dishes.  Add a bit of the puree to everything from scrambled eggs, to mashed potatoes, to chicken salad and soups of all kinds.  Chipotles are an inexpensive way to add amazing flavor to your cooking.

This was a great bowl of soup for a chilly fall evening and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Enjoy!!

2 TB Butter
1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
3 cups Cooked Chicken Breast, chopped
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Fresh Ground Pepper
1 cup  Frozen Birds Eye Baby Gold and White Corn
1-1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1-1/2 tsp  Pureed or Finely Chopped Chipotle Pepper
1-1/2 tsp  Adobo Sauce
2 cups  Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese with Red and Green Jalapenos

In a medium soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken, salt, pepper and corn, stir and cook for 3 minutes longer.

Add the chicken broth, half and half, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce to the pot.  Stir and bring mixture to a low boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the pepper cheese and stir to combine until the cheese has melted into the soup.  Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with diced fresh tomato.  Serves about 6.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pork and Black Bean Chili

October is just flying by and for day 20 of Soup Month 2012, we bring you a spicy, pepper-infused Pork and Black Bean Chili.  This chili incorporates the flavorful, but not-too-spicy poblano pepper with the much spicier chipotle pepper, which is actually a slowly smoked jalapeno.  Chipotles that are packed in adobo sauce combine very well with any type of beans, especially black beans, and are a great product to keep on hand in your pantry.  If you open a can of chipotle peppers, then use just one or two, spoon the remaining peppers and sauce into a glass jar, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

This is also a very lean chili. By using pork loin there is very little fat, but just enough that the end result is a bowl of fork-tender pork, with a zesty sauce and a healthy serving of black beans.  It's also great for leftovers!

This recipe is pretty quick to put together, with prep time of only 15 minutes and cook time of just over an hour.  Serve with cornbread on the side and Enjoy!!

1 lb  Boneless Pork Loan Roast, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 large  Poblano Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 1/4 cups  Beef Stock
1 14-oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can  Hunt's Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1  Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce, chopped
2 tsp  Adobo Sauce
2 TB  Ground Cornmeal (to thicken chili, optional)

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, onion, and poblano pepper to the pot and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper over the meat and veggies, stir and saute for about 8 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink.

Add the beef stock, beans, tomatoes, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce to the pot, stir and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If a thicker consistency is preferred, add the cornmeal to the chili and stir.  Simmer for 15 minutes longer, until the cornmeal is fully cooked into the chili.  (Cornmeal can also be used if the chili is too spicy and you would like a more mild flavor.)

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, if desired and serve.  Serves about 6.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken and Chorizo Stew over Saffron Rice

For day 19 of Soup Month 2012, we have a spicy Chicken and Chorizo Stew served over Saffron Rice.  This is a delicious stew that's a bit of a modern twist on the classic slow-roasted French Cassoulet.  This is truly peasant food at its best! The best part is, this recipe is a lot less work than making a real Cassoulet.  Been there, done that and it takes forever! Try this instead.

The zesty chorizo sausage is a great backdrop to the chicken, vegetables and navy beans, and the fire roasted tomatoes add a layer of flavor that makes this dish taste like it's cooked for hours. 

This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover baked chicken.  TIP: If possible, I always buy a larger chicken than I think I will need for one meal.  For the 5 of us, I try to buy at least a 5 pound chicken and 6 pounds if I can find one.   By doing this I know I will have cooked chicken left over to make dinner for at least one more meal later in the week.  This is a major time saver!

Prep time for this delicious meal is less than 10 minutes, with total cooking time around 45 minutes.  The saffron rice is actually a short cut version from Par Excellence, available through local retailers.  It's a quality product that has great flavor and saves a lot of time while cooking.

1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium  Green Pepper, chopped
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/2 lb  Fresh Bulk Chorizo (if using links remove casings)
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp  Paprika (reduce to 1/4 tsp for less spice)
1/2 tsp  Cayenne Pepper (reduce to 1/4 tsp for less spice)
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 14-1/2 oz can  Hunt's Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic
1 8 oz can  Hunt's Tomato Sauce with Garlic
3/4 cup  Dry White Wine
2 cups  Cooked Chicken, white and dark meat (leftover chicken works great!)
1 TB  Cornmeal (optional)

Using a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add onion, green pepper, garlic and chorizo.  Use a spoon to break the chorizo into small pieces and stir to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chorizo is browned.

Add the oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper to the pot and stir.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and white wine to the pot, stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken to the pot, stir to combine and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

If needed, add the 1 tablespoon of cornmeal to the stew to thicken the sauce, stir and cook over low heat for 10 minutes longer.  If you prefer a thinner sauce, feel free to skip the cornmeal.  Serve the stew over a scoop of Saffron Rice. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chinese Vegetable Noodle Soup with Pork

It's day 18 of Soup Month and we have an incredibly light and versatile Asian soup for you, Chinese Vegetable Noodle Soup with Pork.  I've had a recipe on hand for a couple of years that I wanted to make, but it just didn't seem right.  It sounded bland and didn't have the spicy edge to it that I love in Asian cuisine.  So today was the day to tackle this recipe.

The first time I tried an authentic oriental dish was at the Szechuan House in Chicago.  The food was hot and spicy and incredible!  Since then, I always compare the flavors and spice level in an Asian dish to those I experienced at that restaurant.  Unfortunately, today it's rare that a restaurant will serve truly spicy 'Szechuan' style foods for fear it will be too spicy for their guests.  That's why it's better to make your own at home!

The spice level in this soup can be adjusted to suit your own tastes simply by adding some extra red pepper flakes, and for even more spice, you can add a dash of Sriracha Sauce.  The versatility of this soup comes from the source of protein you choose to use.  We used very thinly sliced pork loin, which was super tender, but you could also substitute chicken breast, shrimp or even thinly sliced beef in place of the pork.  To make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and tofu in place of the meat.  The possibilities are endless and delicious!

This soup is very easy to put together.  Only 15 minutes of prep time to chop the veggies and meat and you're ready to go.  Cook time is only about 15 - 20 minutes.  We served the soup with homemade Shrimp Egg Rolls and everyone gave this meal a thumbs up.  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Sesame Oil
1 lb  Pork Loin, sliced into very thin 1-inch pieces
3  Green Onions, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 tsp  Minced Fresh Ginger
6 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small Carrot, shredded
1/4 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes (increase to 1/2 tsp for extra spice)
3 TB  Soy Sauce
1 TB  Rice Vinegar
2 - 3 oz  Dreamfield's Angel Hair Pasta
Julienned Cucumber for Garnish (optional)
Sriracha Sauce for Garnish (optional)

Heat sesame oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the pork, stir to coat the meat and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the green onions, garlic and ginger and continue to cook until the pork is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the broth, cabbage, carrot, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Stir soup and increase heat to high, bring to a boil then add the noodles to the pot.  Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the noodles and cooked through.

Serve with a garnish of fresh julienned cucumber or chopped green onions.  For a spicier version add a bit of Sriracha sauce.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Savory Pumpkin Soup in the Crock Pot

For day 17 of Soup Month 2012, it's finally beginning to feel like fall and we have a perfect October-orange soup for you.  A creamy and Savory Pumpkin Soup that is made in the crock pot.  We served this soup as a side dish with garlic and herb roasted chicken thighs and it was a wonderful combination.

For me, the best thing about soup month is trying new foods and finding new tastes and textures that are just "wow", and that's what this soup turned out to be.  I wasn't sure about making a pumpkin soup.  After all, pumpkin equals pie, right?  Sweet and creamy, with all the fall goodness of cinnamon and nutmeg, poured into a flaky crust.  But wait!  This soup takes the best things about pumpkin pie and blends in a few savory ingredients like turmeric, onion and garlic to create a whole new twist on pumpkin.  For those of you not familiar with turmeric, it's the main component in most curries and adds a peppery flavor, a beautiful yellowish-orange color and a wonderful exotic scent to foods.  Turmeric also has many health benefits and I can't wait to try it in other dishes.

This soup was super easy to make.  Just toss everything in the crock pot, but hold the cream until the last hour of cooking.  Mix in the cream about an hour before you're ready to serve the soup and you'll be ready to go.  Adding a touch of sour cream or buttermilk as a garnish is the 'piece de resistance', and adds just that slight touch of sour that totally completes this soup.  I am a new fan of pumpkin soup, and I will gladly be experimenting more with pumpkin in a more 'savory' light.  Enjoy!!

28 oz can  Pumpkin Puree
5 cups  Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium  Onion, chopped
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1 TB  Brown Sugar
1 tsp  Molasses
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Turmeric
1/4 tsp  Allspice
1/4 tsp  Nutmeg
1/3 cup  Heavy Cream
Sour Cream or Buttermilk for Garnish

Place all ingredients, except the cream, in a large crock pot and turn to LOW setting.  Cook on LOW for 5 hours. 

Blend the soup using an immersion blender until smooth or you can use a regular stand blender, just work in batches as needed.  Stir in the cream and cook for 1 hour longer on LOW.

To serve add a dollop of sour cream or a few tablespoons of buttermilk to the top of the soup.  Serves about 6.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seared Salmon Chowder

Today for day 16 of Soup Month 2012, we wanted to make something extra special for our 16th Wedding Anniversary.  Wow, 16 whole years. Time does fly!

Anyway, for this special dinner my sous chef suggested we make something with salmon since he knows how much I love it.  So, after combining several favorite ingredients and trying a few new tricks with our panini press, we created a Seared Salmon Chowder that was amazing! 

I love to serve fish on top of a bowl of soup.  We did a few other versions of this in the past with Catfish Chowder and Swai Chowder, and both were yummy. When you spoon through the fish and into the chowder, all of those great flavors combine in each spoonful. So yummy!

The first step was to create a soup base.  For this I used some basic ingredients, onion, celery and Yukon gold potatoes, added some milk, corn and clam juice, then just a touch of lobster base.  Just the flavor I was looking for!

Next, I wanted to serve a piece of salmon on top of the chowder. My dilemma was that I wanted the salmon to have a seared finish.  Poaching the fish in the broth was a possibility, but I really like a seared, crispy edge on my salmon, with just a little pink inside. So, I pulled out the panini press, coated the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper, and gave it a quick sear.  (I still was not sure this would work. Can you panini press fish?? Maybe? )  It was a complete success!  The fish had a slightly crispy outside, grill lines and all, and the inside was moist and tender. Perfect.

This was an excellent meal and came together very quickly with prep time of 15 minutes and cook time of less than 30 minutes.  If you can find it at your local market or order it, the addition of the lobster base is a real key to this chowder, adding a nice background flavor.  Plus, I found a new purpose for my panini press.  It saved a lot of time versus pan-searing, no turning needed!  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Butter
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1 stalk  Celery, finely chopped
6 medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1-3/4 cups  Milk
2  8-oz bottles  Clam Juice
1 can  Creamed Corn
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1 tsp  Lobster Base
1/2 tsp  Dried Dill
1/4 cup  White Wine
Kosher Salt and White Pepper to Taste
1-1/2 lb  Salmon, cut into 5 pieces, skin removed

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and saute 5 minutes until softened.  Add the potatoes, stir and cook for 5 minutes until the potatoes are just slightly browned on the edges.

Add the milk and clam juice to the pot, cover the pot and reduce eat to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Prepare the panini press and set on the Sear setting to heat up.  Place salmon pieces on a glass plate, coat with olive oil on both sides and season lightly with salt and pepper.  When the panini press is hot, place the fish on the grill, close the top and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the fish is nicely seared and cooked to your preference.  (It's ok to serve the fish a bit on the rare side.  You can actually see how fast the fish is cooking from the sides of the grill.)

Add the corn, half and half, lobster base, dill, and white wine to the chowder.  Cook for 5 minutes longer, seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste.  Ladle chowder into bowls and gently place a piece of salmon on top of the chowder.

Monday, October 15, 2012

White Chicken Chili

For day 15 of Soup Month 2012, we made a green chili-enhanced White Chicken Chili.  I've wanted to make a white chili for a long time, so I was excited to try this recipe.  I actually found the original recipe for this chili on the label of the Bush's Navy Beans.  The recipe sounded OK, but it need some  oomph.  Just a little more spices and flavoring would help it become something a bit more interesting, and we were very pleased with the results.

A white chili is usually made with chicken, although you could easily substitute turkey, and is a delicious alternative to a tomato-based chili.  The creamy sauce begins with chicken broth and green chilies, then a few basic spices are added, and finally the chicken is blended in.  (This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey.)  Adding just a bit of cream at the end of the cooking time adds a silky texture to the chili.

This is a fairly mild chili but but by adding a swirl of Sriracha Sauce or grated Monterey Jack cheese you can easily adjust the spice level to your own preference.  My sous chef loved the Sriracha and my daughter loved the cheese, so everyone left the table happy.  This chili is definitely on our list of new favorites.

2 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 4-oz can  Chopped Green chilies
4 TB  Flour
2 tsp  Cumin
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  White Pepper
2 16-oz cans  Navy Beans
2 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Chopped Cooked Chicken
3/4 cup  Cream
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese for Garnish
Sriracha Sauce for Garnish

In a large soup pot, cook onion in olive oil for 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add chilies, flour, cumin, garlic powder, salt and white pepper, stir and cook for 3 minutes. 

Add beans and chicken broth, stir and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. 

Add the cooked chicken and cook 10 minutes until the chicken it hot. Add the cream to the chili and stir to combine.

 Garnish with grated Monterey Jack cheese or a swirl of spicy Sriracha Sauce.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brat, Cheddar and Sauerkraut Soup

Here is our next installment of Soup Month 2012.  For day 14 we have a soup that will warm the hearts and souls of all the guys out there.  And the ladies, too!  This is one of those hearty German-style soups that will be great when the snow is falling and it's just too cold to go outside.  Or maybe just a great meal to enjoy while watching football!

Brats, potatoes, cheese, poblano and chipotle peppers and of course, beer make up this tasty soup.  (You just couldn't have a Brat Soup without the beer, could you?)  The final touch to this soup is a scoop of warm sauerkraut right in the center of the bowl.  It brings all of the flavors together and makes this one delicious bowl of soup.

5  Brats, cooked and sliced
2 TB  Olive Oil
1 cup  Onion, chopped
1 cup  Green Pepper, chopped
1/2 Large Poblano Pepper, minced
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
2 TB  Flour
1 LB  Red Potatoes, cubed
5 cups  Chicken Stock
1 12oz  Dark Beer
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Dry Mustard
Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper to Taste
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo, chopped
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1 TB  Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups  Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 14oz can Bavarian-Style Sauerkraut

In a large soup pot heat olive oil.  Add onion, green peppers, poblano peppers, and celery and saute for 10 minutes until softened.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add potatoes, stock, beer, and bay leaves and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat the sauerkraut over low heat and keep warm.

Add dry mustard, salt and pepper, chipotle pepper, half and half, and Worcestershire to the soup and stir to combine.  Turn off the heat and add the cheddar to the pot, stirring until the cheese has completely melted.

Use an immersion blender to puree about half of the soup, then add the cooked brats to the pot and stir.  (You can also use a blender to puree the soup, if you don't have an immersion blender.)

Cook about 10 minutes or until brats are heated through, ladle the soup into bowls and place a scoop of warm sauerkraut in the center of the bowl.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creamy Trio of Mushrooms Soup

For day 13 of Soup Month we have a simple, yet elegant, Creamy Trio of Mushrooms Soup.  This would be a perfect first course to serve with a steak or roast pork dinner, as the earthiness of the mushrooms would compliment either entree nicely.  With the impressive flavors in this soup, I'm thinking this might just be on our New Year's Eve dinner menu.

This soup is quick to prepare with just a handful of ingredients and will serve 2 to 3 people, but the recipe can easily be doubled for a larger group.  And it is sure to impress your dinner guests!

By slowly sauteing the mushrooms in butter, olive oil, garlic and shallots, the flavors of the mushrooms will intensify.  The last step is to puree just a cup of the mushrooms so all of the flavors will be combined in each bite. 

3 cups  Assorted Fresh Mushrooms, chopped (1 cup each Shiitake, Baby Bella and Oyster)
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Butter
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 small Shallot, finely minced
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp  Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup  Chicken Stock
1 TB  Flour
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream
1/2 cup  Milk
Dash of Nutmeg
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to Taste

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter until shimmering.  Add garlic and shallot and saute for 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock and stir, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Add flour, cream, milk and nutmeg to a small bowl and whisk to fully blend in the flour.  Add mixture to the saucepan of mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Remove about 1 cup of mushrooms and a small amount of liquid from the pot and place in a small bowl.  Use an immersion blender or a standard blender to puree the mixture, then return to the pot and stir.  Ladle into small soup bowls, add a sprinkle of parlsey and serve. Serves about 3.  Enjoy!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shrimp and Kielbasa Gumbo

As we continue along into Soup Month 2012, for day 12 we made a Shrimp and Kielbasa Sausage Gumbo that was remarkably light.  The Cajun-inspired flavors of the sausage and shrimp combined with vegetables and just a touch of cayenne powder, launched this dish into an instant family favorite.

The base for this gumbo begins with what Cajun cooks call the Holy Trinity, bell peppers, onions and celery.  These 3 simple ingredients are the starting point for many Cajun dishes, especially Gumbo. 

To keep the dish as healthy as possible, try to find nitrate-free kielbasa or smoked sausage or you could substitute turkey sausage.  The Gumbo is served over a bed of brown rice for a delicious complete meal.  Total prep time for this meal is only about 15 minutes and cooking time is around 25 minutes.  This dish also makes great leftovers!  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Vegetable Oil
1 Medium  Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Medium  Onion, chopped
1  Celery Rib, diced
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 lb  Nitrate-Free Kielbasa Sausage, cut lengthwise then into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 TB  Flour
4 cups  Chicken Stock
1 lb  Shrimp, shelled and deveined
Brown Rice, cooked

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pepper, onion, celery, garlic, cayenne, thyme and salt and pepper.  Stir to evenly coat the vegetables and cook over medium-high heat for 3 - 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the sausage to the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes until the sausage begins to brown around the edges.  Sprinkle the sausage and vegetables with the flour, stir to coat, then add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pot and simmer for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.  Serve over a scoop of brown rice.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicken and Tofu in Coconut-Lime Broth

Today for day 11 of Soup Month 2012, we're going a bit oriental with a Thai-inspired soup that makes a great light dinner on its own or with a mixed greens salad and a rice wine vinaigrette.

This delicate soup is infused with the perfect balance of coconut milk, a touch of lime juice and a spicy surprise kick of Sriracha sauce.  The inspiration for this soup came from the College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth.  I've been trying to piece together a soup that would play off of the light flavors in the broth, but have enough substance to be a complete meal, and adding the chicken and tofu did just that.

As an added bonus (for you Moms out there), I did discover that serving this soup with a cool Chinese soup spoon will somehow encourage kids to eat the entire bowl of soup.  (They liked the soup, but they loved the spoon...lol)

1 lb  Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 TB  Canola Oil
2 tsp  Sesame Oil
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
2 Carrots, cut into julienne strips
8-10  Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2  Green Onions, chopped
2 TB  Lime Juice
2 TB  Soy Sauce
1 TB  Fish Sauce
1 tsp  Red Chili Paste (or more to taste)
1 tsp  Sriracha Sauce (or more to taste)
1 32-oz Carton College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth
1 can  Thai Kitchen Light Coconut Milk
1 pkg Extra Firm Tofu

Heat sesame and canola oil in a medium soup pot.  Add the chicken pieces and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, carrots, mushrooms and green onions and saute for 3 minutes longer.

Add lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, sriracha, broth and coconut milk, and stir to combine.  When the broth begins to simmer, add the tofu and bring soup to a low boil for 10 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of julienne carrots and minced green onions.  Enjoy!!

Sriracha Sauce

Favorite Product

I love to use Sriracha sauce when cooking oriental dishes such as Hot and Sour Soup.  We also use this in our Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings, and General Tso's Chicken.

If you are not familiar with this product, here is a little information on this spicy sauce.

Sriracha is made from sun ripened chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with lots of fresh garlic. It's excellent in soups and sauces, or on pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, or anything else to give it a delicious, spicy taste. It's amazing on deviled eggs!

Look for this sauce in the Oriental section of your local grocery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Broccoli Potato Chowder Served 3 Ways

On to day 10 of Soup Month 2012!  Although some soups gets their luxurious smooth texture and deep flavors from cooking for several hours, sometimes you need a hearty bowl of warm soup in a hurry.  And that's where this Cheesy Broccoli Potato Chowder comes in, just perfect for a cold snowy night.  You can make this velvety soup and have it on the dinner table within about 40 minutes.
This was a fun soup to serve because each person can choose their topping of choice, or choose no toppings at all.  This soup is also a great way to get kids to like eating broccoli, and being able to adjust the garnish to suit their own tastes will make them enjoy the soup even more.  Don't be surprised if your picky eater asks for a second bowl of soup!

8  medium Red Potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups  Chicken Broth
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
12 oz pkg  Frozen Broccoli Florets
1/3 cup  Flour
1 cup  Half and Half or 2% Milk
2 cups  Finely Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup  Sour Cream

Finely Chopped Green Onions
Cooked and Crumbled Bacon
Diced Cooked Ham

Cook potatoes in a large soup pot with enough water to cover.  Bring potatoes to a boil, reduce heat and cover, then simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.  Drain potatoes reserving 1 cup.  Return remaining potatoes to the pot.  In a small bowl, mash the 1 cup of potatoes with a fork, then add the bowl of potatoes to the pot.

Stir in the chicken broth, salt and pepper and heat to boiling.  Add the broccoli and return to boiling, then cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low.

In a small bowl combine the half and half and flour and whisk to fully blend.  Add this mixture to the potatoes, stir and continue to cook over medium heat until the soup thickens and begins to slightly boil.  Stir in the cheese until completely melted, then stir in the sour cream.  Serve with cooked and crumbled bacon, warm diced warm and chopped green onions.  Makes 8 servings and delicious leftovers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hearty Italian Soup with Tortellini

For day 9 of Soup Month 2012, we bring you a colorful Italian Vegetable Soup that's full of vegetables and gets a spicy kick from Hot Italian Sausage.  This is such a great feel-good meal and will be great on a cold winter night.

This soup is very easy to assemble.  Prep time is only about 15 minutes with cooking time around 25 minutes.  If you're really in a hurry, look for pre-cut veggies at your local grocery store to save a little extra time.

The base for this soup begins with chicken stock and seasoned diced tomatoes, which already contain a good amount of basil and oregano.  (Keep a supply of these in your pantry because they can be the starting point for many soups and chilis.) 

Serve this soup with a side salad, a loaf of crunchy French bread and a glass of red wine.  Enjoy!!

3  Links Hot Italian Sausage (about 1 lb), casings removed
2 tsp  Olive Oil
3 tsp  Minced Garlic
1 small  Red Onion, chopped
2 medium Carrots, julienned
1/2  Green Pepper, chopped
1/2  Yellow Pepper, chopped
1 small  Zucchini, chopped
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 14 oz can  Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Oregano
5 cups  Chicken Stock
1 lb  Three Cheese Tortellini, frozen

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add the sausage pieces and brown, breaking the links into small bite-sized pieces while cooking. 

Add the garlic, onion, carrots, peppers and zucchini to the pot and stir.  Cook the vegetables for 4 minutes until just slightly softened.  Add the dry seasonings to the pot, stir until blended, then add the tomatoes and stock to the pot and stir.  Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, keeping soup at a low simmer.

Increase heat and bring the soup to a low boil and add the tortellini to the pot.  Cover the pot, stir and cook for about 5 minutes to cook the pasta.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6 - 8.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Creamy and Elegant Lobster Bisque

Two words that brings a smile to almost any foodie's face would have to be ...Lobster Bisque...mmmm.  Just the sound of the words bring visions of succulent lobster basking in a rich and luxurious cream broth.  Yep, when you do a lot of cooking, simple words like Lobster Bisque make you a happy cook.

So, on we go to day 8 of Soup Month 2012, which just happens to coincide with my birthday.  For my special day, I wanted an elegant soup for dinner.  Something that you might serve for a Christmas or New Year's Eve dinner or when you have special guests over.  So when I came across this Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base at the grocery, I knew I had found my special birthday soup.  And it was right on the label!

I did make a few adjustments to the original recipe.  Instead of just half and half or just milk as suggested, I used 1 cup of each.  This gave the soup a rich and creamy texture but kept it a bit lighter than using just half and half.  I also doubled the amount of lobster in the recipe.  This is a pretty rich soup and a 1/4 cup of lobster per person worked well for a main course-sized serving. 

We served this with baked stuffed clam shells and a wonderful 2009 Pedroncelli Sangiovese that I was saving just for today.  Cheers and enjoy!!

1 cup  Half and Half
1 cup  Milk
1 cup  Water
1 cup  White Wine
1 TB  Lobster Base
3 TB  Flour
2 TB  Tomato Paste
1/4 tsp  Paprika
1 cup  Lobster Meat (about 2 small tails), cut into small pieces

In a soup pot combine all of the ingredients, except lobster.  Bring mixture to a boil, add the lobster and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes longer, then serve.  Makes about 6 first course servings, or 4 dinner servings. 

If you can't find the lobster base in your local market, it is available through Amazon.com at the link below.  This is a restaurant-quality ingredient that I'm sure you will see used in future recipes on this site.  (I already have a few in mind!)  The same company also has vegetable or mushroom base, several reduced-sodium, vegetarian or organic products to choose from.