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Toscana Soup

1 Feb

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I guess this is probably my husband’s favorite soup.  It’s a staple on the Olive Garden menu, and he typically orders this soup while I always go for the salad!  But it is really easy to make at home, and ever since I first made it, it’s been the one soup he has most often requested, and I’m always happy to oblige because it’s super easy and super good!

Ingredients:

2 quarts chicken broth (64 ounces total)

4 medium russet potatoes

2-4 cups fresh kale, stems removed

1 lb. Italian sausage (I use turkey for the reduction in fat, but regular would work just as well)

1 cup heavy cream (or less if desired)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Remove the casings from the Italian sausage and place in a skillet.

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Cook over medium heat and crumble up the sausage as it cooks.

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When no longer pink, remove from heat and drain off fat.  I do this by tilting the pan and placing a few paper towels on the bottom side of the meat.

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Allow it to drain for several minutes while you prepare the soup.

Place the chicken  broth in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add the salt and red pepper flakes.

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Wash and slice potatoes into quarter inch slices, then quarter any  rounds that are too big.

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Wash kale, and tear leaves off of stems into bite size pieces.  Discard stems.

 Add the kale and the potatoes to the chicken broth in the pan.   

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Simmer until potatoes and kale are tender.  Once they are tender, stir in the cooked and drained Italian sausage and bring the soup back up to a simmer.

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Stir in the heavy cream, and continue to heat just until the point of boiling, but do not boil.

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Serve immediately.

Recipe and Directions with no pictures:

Toscana Soup

Ingredients:

2 quarts chicken broth (64 ounces total)

4 medium russet potatoes

2-4 cups fresh kale, stems removed

1 lb. Italian sausage (I use turkey for the reduction in fat, but regular would work just as well)

1 cup heavy cream (or less if desired)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Remove the casings from the Italian sausage and place in a skillet.  Cook over medium heat and crumble up the sausage as it cooks.  When no longer pink, remove from heat and drain off fat.  I do this by tilting the pan and placing a few paper towels on the bottom side of the meat.  Allow it to drain for several minutes while you prepare the soup.

Place the chicken  broth in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add the salt and red pepper flakes.  Wash and slice potatoes into quarter inch slices, then quarter any  rounds that are too big.  Wash kale, and tear leaves off of stems into bite size pieces.  Discard stems.  Add the kale and the potatoes to the chicken broth in the pan.  Simmer until potatoes and kale are tender.  Once they are tender, stir in the cooked and drained Italian sausage and bring the soup back up to a simmer.  Stir in the heavy cream, and continue to heat just until the point of boiling, but do not boil.  Serve immediately.

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Tomato Tortellini Soup

8 Mar

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OK, just one more soup recipe this winter and I’m done.  This is actually just a stir-together recipe and takes very little time and very little skill, but it is really tasty!  There’s no shame in a quick stir-together!  Many times, in a busy family, time is the most precious commodity.  I made this soup one night this past week after being at school all day, staying after for choir practice, then for track practice, stopping by the grocery store, then home to a hungry family.  One of the nicest things about this soup is that it can be ready in about 30 minutes, and there’s nothing wrong with that!!

Ingredients:

1 pkg. (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini

2 cans 10 3/4 oz size (or one family size can) condensed cream of tomato soup

2 cups vegetable broth (may also use chicken broth)

2 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

salt to taste (you may not need any)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

additional Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to the directions on the package.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the soup, broth, milk, half-and-half, and seasonings.

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Heat, and stir occasionally to combine until it is brought to serving temperature.  When tortellini is done, drain, and gently stir into soup.

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Ladle into soup bowls and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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Old Fashioned Beef Stew

5 Mar

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This stew and I go way back!  I’ve made it for years and there is never a drop left.  I always serve it with a batch of homemade biscuits, and that combination is the perfect comfort food.  Though it is a time consuming recipe because of the amount of time the stew meat needs to simmer, you can simmer the meat the night before, then refrigerate, so that when you get home from work, all you have to do is add the vegetables and cook them until tender.  There are no fancy ingredients here, just simple basic items that are easy to have on hand, but oh so good!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. cubed stew meat (I like to use the super-trim if I can find it.  There’s not as much fat and the individual pieces are smaller)

oil

2 cups water

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1 clove garlic

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 or 2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon pepper

dash of ground allspice

6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (halve large pieces lengthwise)

4-6 small to medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered (I prefer to use red potatoes because they will hold their shape when cooked)

1 14 oz. can beef broth

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup water

Directions:

In a large heavy pot, brown the stew meat in a little oil.  It’s not necessary to cook it thoroughly, this is just to add color.

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Stir and cook til meat has browned.

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Add next 8 ingredients:  Worchestershire, garlic, bay leaves, salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, and allspice. Then add 2 cups of water, then onions.

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You may be tempted to omit the onions if you are not a big fan, but they are important to this recipe.  Don’t worry about the onion being overpowering.  This mixture will simmer for two hours and the onions will all but disappear.  They add a great flavor, so don’t leave them out.  I promise you won’t notice them at all when you get it all finished.  Just trust me on this one!

Place a lid over this mixture and simmer on low for at least 2 hours.  Don’t skimp on the time, it will take two hours to cook the meat until tender.IMG_2113_1

After two hours or so, the stew meat will be very tender and look like this.  Remove the bay leaves and discard.

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Add the quartered potatoes and the chunks of carrot.

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Add one can beef broth just to increase the amount of liquid.

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Stir and cover with a lid and cook until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender.  It will take about 30 minutes or so.

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When the vegetables are done, thicken the stew by stirring the 3 Tablespoons of flour into 1/3 cup of water.   Stir the flour water mixture with a fork until combined, then pour it into the boiling stew.  It will help if you can pour it through a small strainer to catch any lumps.

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Continue to stir and heat just until the stew is thickened, a couple of minutes or so.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy a satisfying stew, perfect for a snowy winter night!  (See?  No onions!)

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Crock-pot Corn Chowder

2 Mar

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I’ve been making a lot of soups this winter.  It’s just so satisfying to have a nice piping hot bowl of soup on a cold winter evening.  This is one I really like, because it’s super easy to stir together, it simmers in a crock-pot all day, and when you get home from work, it’s ready to eat!  Pair this hearty soup with a tossed salad and a crusty roll and you will have a real family pleaser.

Ingredients:

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I cooked mine the night before to save time)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (I prefer to use red potatoes because they will hold their shape when cooked)

2 10-oz. pkg. frozen whole kernel sweet corn

1 16-oz. can cream-style corn

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup water

Directions:

Cook the bacon until crisp, set aside.  To save time, I did this the night before.  I usually cook my bacon in the oven on a foil lined sheet pan.  It’s quicker and less messy.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or so.  Turn it over halfway through, and watch closely so it doesn’t burn.  Drain on paper towels.

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Place one or two Tablespoons of the bacon drippings into a skillet and add the diced potatoes and onions.

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Saute for 5 minutes over high heat until the potatoes begin to have some color.  It’s not necessary to cook them until they are completely tender, they’ll finish cooking in the soup.

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Place the corn and seasonings into the crock pot, then add the partially cooked potatoes and onions.

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Add the crumbled bacon, the seasonings, and the cup of water and stir to combine.IMG_1908

Cover and set on low.  Allow to cook for 6-7 hours.  Enjoy!
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Crock-pot Taco Soup

23 Feb

IMG_2060_1This is a new crock-pot recipe I tried this week.  Or to state it more accurately, this is a crock-pot recipe I cooked this week.  I had to stay after school for an evening program and when I got home, there was not a drop of this soup left!  (Thankfully, I’d left my camera at home).  It makes a lot of soup so I was quite surprised to see that it was all gone, but the family loved it!  So I’m recommending this soup based on the opinions of the food critics that live at my house (and there’s a gang of them).  It must be good, because they have very discerning palates!

It’s very simple to assemble since you just dump everything into the crock-pot together.  You don’t even drain the vegetables. To speed it up even more, you could brown the ground beef with the pepper and onion the night before, then add the other ingredients right before you walk out the door in the morning.    I’ve had a request to make it again, and I will since I’d like to taste it myself as well!

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef or turkey (I used lean ground beef)

1/2 large (or 1 small) green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 – 15 oz. can black beans, undrained

2 – 15 oz. cans pinto beans, undrained

1 – 15 oz. can yellow corn, undrained

1 – 15 oz. can white hominy, undrained

2 – 15 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 – 4 oz. can green chilies, undrained

1 pkg. dry taco seasoning mix

1 pkg. Hidden Valley salad dressing mix

Directions:

In a heavy skillet, brown the ground beef with the chopped peppers and onions.

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When done, drain off fat if needed.  If you use lean ground beef as I did, you won’t even have to drain it.

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Place meat mixture into the crock-pot and add the vegetables on top.  Remember, just pour them in, juice and all.  No need to drain.

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Sprinkle on the taco seasoning mix and the Hidden Valley dressing mix, then stir to combine.

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Set crock-pot to low and cook all day (at least 6 hours, but more is okay too).

To serve, it can be ladled over corn chips in a soup bowl and topped with sliced green onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar, black olives, etc.

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

13 Jan

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It is soup weather in our part of the country, and this one is a hearty satisfying treat on a cold winter night.  I love the nutty  texture of wild rice and this recipe highlights it beautifully.  It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare, but it can really be quick to prepare when you cook the chicken and the rice the night before.  This recipe is a hit with everyone in the family, kids and adults alike.

Ingredients: (You can half this recipe if these amounts are too much for your family)

1 cup flour

1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine (12 Tablespoons)

1/2 onion, minced

1 cup grated carrot

6 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups wild rice, cooked according to package directions (this is not brown rice, but wild rice.  There is definitely a difference!)

3-4 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped

1/4 cups slivered almonds (or more if you desire)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

2 cups half and half

fresh snipped parsley

Directions:

Cook wild rice in boiling water as directed on the package.

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When done, set aside and melt butter or margarine in a saucepan.

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Add the minced onion and the grated carrot to the butter and cook for a few minutes til the onions and carrots are tender.

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Once the onions and carrots are tender, sprinkle in the 1 cup of flour and cook and stir for a minute or so until the mixture is bubbly and the flour is completely absorbed into the butter mixture, and no lumps of flour remain.

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Gradually begin adding the chicken broth as you stir to reduce any lumps that might form.  Soup will thicken as you heat it.

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Stir in the cooked, chopped chicken breast.

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Stir in the cooked wild rice.  You can use as little or as much as you like.

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Sprinkle in the slivered almonds and continue to heat the soup to serving temperature.

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When heated to serving temperature, stir in the half and half and bring back up to temperature, but do not boil. If you prefer a thinner soup, you can add additional chicken broth until it’s the consistency you desire.

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Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty garlic bread and a salad for a satisfying meal!

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

12 Jan

My husband really likes this recipe.  I’ve made it for years and it has become a winter-time favorite  for the whole family. Though I’m not typically a big fan of American cheese, it works well in this particular recipe.  You can either serve it in a bread bowl as I did on this night, or just ladle it up in individual bowls.  It’s a satisfying treat on a cold winter’s night!

Ingredients:

1 large bunch fresh broccoli, cut into bite size flowerettes (or you can use frozen, but fresh is preferable)

2/3 cup minced onion (or 1 medium onion)

1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)

1 cup flour

4 cups milk

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

8 ounces American cheese (10 individual slices if you use the individually wrapped cheese)

Cut fresh broccoli into bite-size pieces and mince one onion.  Steam together in a steamer pan until tender.

While broccoli and onion steams, melt margarine in a pan large enough to hold the soup.

Add flour to melted butter and stir with a wire whisk for a few minutes.  Continue to stir and break up clumps as much as possible.  It will still be mostly clumped together, but try to get all the clumps equally exposed to the heat so that the soup doesn’t have a starchy flour taste.  This will take 3 minutes or so.

Gradually add the broth, stirring with whisk as you slowly pour in the broth to dissolve clumps.

Add milk and continue to heat and stir to remove any remaining lumps.

Continue to heat until soup reaches serving temperature and thickens.  Stir in the cheese (it’s fine to add it in by the slice, no need to shred first).

Last stir in steamed broccoli and onion.  Add salt if needed and pepper to taste.

Printer friendly version with no pictures.  Just highlight and print selection.

1 large bunch fresh broccoli, cut into bite size flowerettes (or you can use frozen, but fresh is preferable)

2/3 cup minced onion (or 1 medium onion)

1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)

1 cup flour

4 cups milk

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

8 ounces American cheese (10 individual slices if you use the individually wrapped cheese)

Cut fresh broccoli into bite-size pieces and mince one onion.  Steam together in a steamer pan until tender.  While broccoli and onion steams, melt margarine in a pan large enough to hold the soup.

Add flour to melted butter and stir with a wire whisk for a few minutes.  Continue to stir and break up clumps as much as possible.  It will still be mostly clumped together, but try to get all the clumps equally exposed to the heat so that the soup doesn’t have a starchy flour taste.  This will take 3 minutes or so.

Gradually add the broth, stirring with whisk as you stir to dissolve clumps.  Add milk and continue to heat.

Continue to heat until soup reaches serving temperature and thickens.  Stir in the cheese (it’s fine to add it in by the slice, no need to shred first).  Last stir in steamed broccoli and onion.  Add salt if needed and pepper to taste.