Green Soup

I don’t think I’ve shared with you all yet the deliciousness that is Green Soup! Who doesn’t need more leafy greens in their life? This pureed soup packs a nutritional punch! I like to serve a small bowl before supper for an extra serving of veggies. Variations are rather endless, so find your favorite combination of greens and spices. Perhaps the first time you can try the “original” recipe, but then your brain and palate can lead you from there.

The soup is a bit labor intensive, but it is worth the effort every time.

I must credit Anna Thomas for this recipe. She published a wonderful cookbook a couple of years ago called Love Soup. I’ve checked it out from the library many times. The cookbook is sectioned by season and she offers several menu ideas. And for those that care, her recipes are all vegetarian. Every time I flip through the pages I see more soups I want to try. She includes a half a dozen Green Soup recipes.

I know winter is coming to a close, but this soup is light and year-round worthy, in my opinion. I hope you enjoy (despite the un-photogenic nature of the soup!). ūüôā

(from Love Soup by Anna Thomas)
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1 bunch of chard or spinach (8 oz)
1 bunch kale (8 oz)
4-5 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. loosely packed cilantro
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbsp Arborio rice
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Marsala or dry sherry (opt.)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2-3 c. vegetable broth
fresh ground pepper
cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Wash the greens thoroughly, trim off stem, and slice leaves. In a large soup pot, combine the chard or spinach, kale, green onions, cilantro, Arborio rice, 1 tsp salt, and 3 cups water. Bring water to a boil, turn down to low, cover the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the onion, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over medium until it is golden brown and soft. This will take up to 30 minutes. Don’t hurry, just stir it once in a while. Once cooked, you can deglaze the pan at the end with a bit of Marsala or sherry.

Add the caramelized onion to the soup. Put remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in the onion skillet and stir the garlic in it for about a minute. Add garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 more minutes.

Add enough broth to make the soup a soup–it should pour easily from a ladle–and puree it in the blender, in batches, or use an immersion blender and blend in the pot.

Bring the soup back to a simmer, and taste. Add more salt if needed, grind in a little black pepper, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and a Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir well and taste again. Adjust any seasonings to taste.

Garnish with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I love fresh mushrooms, particularly when they are cooked. I don’t like canned mushrooms very well. My love for mushrooms is a learned skill. In college I decided I really wanted to like mushrooms. So I taught myself, how, I’m not entirely sure. But it worked, and they are a staple in my cooking. (Olives are next on my list to teach my palate to like. So far the class isn’t going too well.) ūüôā

However, when I think of cream of mushroom soup, I usually think of the condensed variety served up from a can, and used in quick casserole cooking. Not terribly appetizing to me. But, when I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it. My husband and I both loved it. It’s already been repeated and there are plans to make another pot this week.

Give this light version a try. It’s perfect for a first course. Though I’m certain it would make a lovely lunch served up with a fresh green salad. (Please don’t let the dullness of the photo dissuade you from trying this recipe. It’s truly a wonderful soup!)

(slightly adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger)
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
10 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3-4 c. beef broth (depending on how thick you want the soup)
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp heavy cream

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release most of their liquid, 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the broth and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the wine, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is mostly smooth. (Alternatively, in 1 c. amounts you can blend the soup in a blender.) Stir in the cream and warm through.

Serves 4.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It’s officially winter now. Snow is clinging to the trees. The short walk to my car is a bit treacherous with icy patches. Wind whistles around the house and pushes its way through the cracks in my old, leaky windows. And when I approach the kitchen each evening, soup is often my first thought. Alas, my husband is not as much a lover of soups as I am. However, over the three and a half years we’ve been married, I’ve been slowly bringing him around by concocting soups that cause the memories of canned soups to fade away. While I won’t serve soup every single night, I make sure it gets a good rotation in our dinners.

If you’re at all like me and love a good soup or stew on these blustery, winter evenings, then stay tuned throughout the month of January as we hope to bring you several new recipes. (One minor aside, I don’t think soup generally photographs well at all.)

Health and added veggies and fruits are often top priority at the start of the new year. We all want to make changes and somehow the turning of the calendar year creates a perfect clean slate opportunity. Broccoli Cheddar Soup might not come to mind as a thoroughly healthful soup, but when Food Network’s Ellie Krieger is the brains behind the recipe, it’s bound to be a lightened up version. This soup takes just a bit longer as you make a simple cheese sauce to add to the soup, but it’s definitely worth the effort. For a quicker prep, I used frozen broccoli florets.

(from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger)
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2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (opt.)
1 large head broccoli, florets and tender part of stem chopped (about 6 cups)
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. milk
2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch
1 1/4 c. lightly packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and flour/cornstarch, until dissolved. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Add one cup of the cheese and cook, stirring, until melted, 2 minutes more. Removed from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Use an immersion blender and puree the broccoli mixture, until it is mostly smooth with a few chunks. (Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender, puree one cup at a time in a blender.) Stir in the cheese mixture, season with salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until warmed through. Serve topped with the remaining cheese. Serves 4.

Lentil Pasta Soup

Lentil soup is pretty much one of my family’s favorites. It’s comforting, healthy, and just plain delicious. One thing I love about cooking with lentils is that they are quick and easy to prepare – you don’t have to¬†soak the beans or let them cook for hours like most dried beans.

Anyway, I’ve made many variations¬†of lentil soup and¬†this one did not disappoint. I adapted it from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. The pasta made it extra good and we definitely enjoyed this meatless,¬†hearty soup. It’s¬†heathy and easy¬†– perfect for¬†winter and perfect for¬†these busy holiday prep days!

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2 Tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 c. lentils (I used a combo of green and red)
11 cups chicken broth (or vegetable to make it vegetarian)
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. dried elbow pasta
Parmesan cheese (opt.)
Olive oil for drizzle (opt.)

Heat the oil in a  large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (do not drain). Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Return to a boil and stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve: sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Soup Pot: White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Do you know Alice Waters? I don’t know her personally, of course, but I have great admiration for Alice Waters. She started the restaurant Chez Panisse out in Berkeley, CA; she’s a slow food proponent; she loves good food; she writes recipes that highlight the natural beauty and flavor of the ingredients.

I own several of her gorgeous cookbooks! They are worth owning just for the joy of paging through them. The Art of Simple Food is a particular favorite. The recipes are simple, but deep. The book is filled with practical tips, and cooking fundamentals.

This is the second time I’ve made White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic. It’s incredibly easy, but the exquisite depth of flavor is something to savor from a humble bowl of beans. With just five ingredients, the garlic and rosemary sing out in each bite. Served alongside a nice green salad and some bread, you’ll have a well-balanced, easy, delicious meal.

(from The Art of Simple Food)
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1 cup dried white beans
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves (I used 1/2 tsp dried)

Soak the beans overnight in 4 cups of water.

Drain and transfer to a heavy pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off the foam. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so, until the beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during the cooking. Season to taste with salt.

In a skillet over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook just until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir into the beans, taste for salt, and adjust as needed. Let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry (don’t you just love that description?!).

Easiest Tomato Soup

We don’t frequently have tomato soup at our house, but it is a comfort food that I crave every so often. And, I never have the cans of tomato soup sitting around when that craving hits (nor do I really relish canned soup). This problem is now solved for all time. This tomato soup is so easy to make, and the ingredients are nearly always in my pantry, that I think we’ll be enjoying this for lunch regularly.

(The Cooks Next Door)
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1 jar (32 oz.) good quality spaghetti sauce (I used Bertolli)
32 oz. chicken stock (I use “Better than Bouillon” paste mixed with water)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the spaghetti sauce and stock in a saucepan until piping hot. Stir in the heavy cream and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Soup Pot: Pesto Bean Soup

I loved the pesto insert in the March Food Network Magazine. It had some great ideas! I made the pesto bean soup and it was amazing! We all enjoyed it so much. And it was very easy to put together as well as being healthy.

PESTO BEAN SOUP – March Food Network Magazine
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5 garlic cloves (I used a little less)
pinch of red pepper flakes
Olive oil
2 cans cannelini beans, drained
1 c. water.
3 Tb. pesto
2 Tb. parmesan cheese
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. celery, chopped
1/2 c. olives, chopped (I omitted since we don’t care for them)
1/2 c. roasted red pepper, chopped

Saute garlic cloves and red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil. Add cannellini beans and water; simmer until thick, about 8 minutes. Stir in pesto and parmesan.

Add chicken broth and celery; cook 15 minutes. Stir in olives and roasted peppers.

Soup Pot: Chili with Chicken and Beans

If you’re planning a Superbowl party for a crowd this Sunday or if you’re just looking for a warming supper during these cold winter days, then you’re in for a treat. This chili is hearty and spiced with enough heat to be interesting, but not overwhelming. And the chicken chunks in the soup bowl are a nice change from your typical beef chili. Topping it with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream adds the perfect cooling touch.

(from Power Foods)
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1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 onions, finely chopped (about 3 c.)
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-in pieces
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 dried bay leaf
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes (if you prefer, use tomatoes with the diced green chiles already added in.)
1 4-oz can green chiles, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 c. chicken stock (preferably homemade)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used black and pinto instead)
1/4 c. plain yogurt or sour cream, for garnish
cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil and the cumin seeds over medium, stirring, until the cumin is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add onions, garlic, and green pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

Push the onion mixture to the edges of the pot, add remaining 1 tsp oil, and increase heat to medium-high. Add the chicken, cooking on one side until seared, 3-5 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and cook additional 2-3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add chili powder, oregano, and bay leaf to the pot, and cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juice and green chiles, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Add broth, 1/2 tsp salt, and the beans; season with pepper, and stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer. Stir contents, reduce heat to medium-low,and gently simmer. Cook, uncovered, until bean mixture thickens, about 45 minutes. Return chicken pieces, along with any accumulated juices from plate, to the pot and cook until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro leaves, as desired.

Weekend Fare: Soup Pot

As I’ve mentioned before, soup is one of my favorite meals. It nearly always tastes even better leftover and it is so comforting which makes it perfect for weekend cooking! One soup I don’t think of nearly often enough is Chicken Noodle. I would submit that it should not be reserved only for illness but¬†rather that it should be enjoyed just because. It’s delicious, it’s easy, and it’s family-friendly. I love chopping up leftover chicken and using it this way.

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2 Tb. butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
12 c. liquid (I use 8 c. chicken stock and 4 c. water)
2 lg. potatoes, diced
2-3 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 lb. egg noodles
1 Tb. dried parsley (or 1/4 c. chopped fresh)
salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, saute celery, onion, and carrots in butter until onions are translucent. Add liquid and then the potatoes and chicken. Bring to a simmer. Add noodles (I use medium width) and parsley; continue cooking soup until potatoes and carrots are tender and noodles are fully cooked Рprobably 15-20 minutes but it depends on the noodles. Season to taste.

Serve with bread, biscuits, crackers, or muffins.

Soup Pot: Mushroom Soup

When the weather is cold, and it’s dark outside, soup, salad, and bread is often one of the most welcome dinners you could put on the table. Today we have a gluten-free (or not, if you choose) Mushroom Soup that is creamy and full of flavor, not to mention the fact that it freezes well.

(Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking)

1 lb. mushrooms
1 onion
2 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 c. stock
2 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. potato or rice flour (for non-gluten free you can use wheat flour, but this won’t freeze as well)
salt & pepper

Chop the onions. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onions until transparent. Clean and slice the mushrooms and add to the onions, cooking about 4-5 more minutes.

In a separate saucepan, bring broth and milk up to the boil. Meanwhile, add the flour to the mushrooms and onions and cook 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When the broth reaches a boil (or almost), gradually add it to the mushrooms and onions, stirring constantly. Bring soup to the boil. Carefully puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Taste the soup for seasoning and add as much cream as you like. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 4-6.