Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tortellini Soup

I think I started making this soup from a recipe a few years ago, but I changed some things, made it a little easier, and now I just throw everything in a pot. You can seriously have this on the table in 20 minutes or less. This time I subbed kale and Swiss chard from the garden for the spinach and I forgot to add chickpeas, but this is how I usually make it:

2 cans vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 10-oz package frozen spinach
1 package frozen or dried tortellini (I think my package was 19 oz-frozen)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a medium pot, heat broth, tomatoes, water and spinach (I don't even bother thawing it first) over medium-high heat. When simmering, add tortellini and chickpeas. Cook until tortellini are tender and heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese.

We had veggie sandwiches to go along side. Here's a picture of our fixin's with our resident quality control expert.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This RECIPE said it was "easy"...and I guess it wasn't difficult unless you have 3 kids and you don't have all the time in the world to cook.  It took me a while.  You first have to make the Toasted Spice Rub.  Then, the Roasted Winter Squash was time intensive as well..

Then you make the soup and puree.

I thought it was pretty did AM, but no one else really liked it:)  I froze half and am looking forward to a cold snap to have it again!

Carrot Cashew Ginger Soup

I know sometimes you have to try them even though they sound weird.


Sorry about the bad picture. I forgot to take a good one. This is another recipe from Peas and Thank You. I was interested in trying it because I always seem to have carrots on hand and thought it would be good to make when we didn't seem to have anything else. In the book, it is billed as a comforting soup....a vegetarian chicken noodle, but it actually has some very strong curry flavors. I used my favorite "Hot Curry Powder" from Penzey's, but it turns out, it makes it a bit too spicy in this case. I was actually feeling under the weather when I ate this and although it wasn't necessarily comforting, it did clear my sinuses for a brief time.

It was ok. I would have to be in the right mood to make it again.

Lemon Lentil Soup

One of the best things about moving back down to Texas is that we can garden year-round. As our winter (can we even call it that?) garden winds down, I've been looking for recipes that use our last greens of the season. I got this recipe for Lemon Lentil Soup from Peas and Thank You and decided that it was worth a try.

At first, I wasn't sure if I liked it. The lemon was definitely a dominant flavor, which I guess I should have expected. After several bites, my palate adjusted to the tangy flavor and it wasn't bad. I'm not sure if I would make it again, but it was a decent soup.

I plan on using more of our kale tonight and will post it tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

Since I forgot to take a picture of the Macaroni and Cheese soup, I thought I would redeem myself by making another soup.  I have been making an attempt to keep our Monday's meat-less.. ish.  I think that since I use beef or chicken broth I can't exactly say it is meatless.  Anyway, I'm a huge soup fan and have been aching to try my hand at garlic soup.  It just sounds so intriguing! I love garlic. I love soup... to me its just a win win!
I found a recipe here  on the food network website.  I did want to shake it up a bit; I wanted to roast my garlic first.  The cheese adds just the right bite to it and takes this soup over the top!

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup
adapted from the food network
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic, roasted
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups of French bread, 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

To roast the Garlic: cut head of garlic in half.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap in parchment paper or tinfoil.  Bake at 375 Degrees F. for about thirty minutes.

In a large soup pot add tablespoon of olive oil; add onion and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.  Add roasted garlic to pot and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes; the onion and garlic will begin to caramelize.
Deglaze the pot by adding the wine and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.Remove from the heat and add the bread cubes. Allow the soup to sit without heat for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Using a hand held blender, puree until smooth. Add the cream and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished  with the cheese.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Classic Tomato Soup

This recipe for Classic Tomato Soup from Everyday Food is one of our easy go-to soups on a busy weeknight. It tastes way better than the stuff from a can, and it's so easy I know I'll never go back to that other stuff.

My dear, sweet husband took President's Day off to stay at home with our 3 kids. After dragging them along on numerous errands, finishing up some projects at home, and taking them on a glass-bottomed boat ride at Aquarena Springs, he managed to have this ready when I got home from work (see--I told you it was easy). We ate our soup with avocado, tomato and mozzarella melts on homemade ciabatta (from Cook's Illustrated's Baking Illustrated cookbook--an awesome purchase if you're into baking). Definitely a cut above you're average grilled cheese and tomato soup meal!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wonton Soup


Sometimes I make these wontons. I usually fry them and serve with brown rice, edamame, and sweet chili sauce, but in honor of this challange, I decided to use them to make soup. But I am getting ahead of myself. First I had to make the wontons.

This recipe is really great, but it takes awhile. The good news it makes about 100 wontons, so a batch in the freezer will keep you happy for while. First you combine all the filling ingredietns:


Then, set up a work station with a floured cutting board, wonton wrappers under a wet paper towel, a small dish of water, and your filling. It is helpful if you have some tunes on as well. I listed to 90's pop on Pandora. It was awesome. Barbie girl, anyone?


Lay out one wonton, and put about 1/2 TB on one side:


Dip a finger in water and run along the edges of the wonton:


Fold over and press edges to seal:


In this state, the wontons are perfect fine, but I don't have a lot of freezer space, so I try to compact them a bit:




Then, lay on a tray not touching and freeze for about 30 minutes:


I had like 3 of those trays. After frozen, you can transfer to a plastic freezer bag and take out what you need. A serving ends up being about 8 wontons a person. Again, I usually saute them in a bit of olive oil, but I was making soup. I used a miso broth, which was ok, but I may not do that again. Bring to a boil and add wontons. Cook for about 3 minutes.


Macaroni and Cheese Soup

You will have to forgive me this month... You see, this soup was so delicious that I completely forgot to take a picture!  Everyone in the family gave this a big hooray... doesn't happen that often when we all can agree on a keeper recipe!

Macaroni and Cheese Soup
adapted from Food Network Magazine

Kosher salt
1 cup dry elbow macaroni
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
1 carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, shredded
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like heat so I added more, but this is a good start!)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 and 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend


Fill a large sauce pan with water, add kosher salt and bring to a boil.  Add macaroni and cook according to
package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons butter and melt; add the vegetables and cook over medium high heat until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the flour; cook stirring constantly for another 2 minutes (you want the flour to brown slightly to eliminate the raw taste of flour).  Add the mustard powder ad cayenne pepper.  Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a boil; stir until thickened, about 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the milk, cheeses and macaroni.  Stir until the cheese melt; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4


Brief interruption...

I interrupt this month's challenge of soups and stews to bring you this...

This dip truly tastes like Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip.

See MyBakingHeart for more details.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2 more..

This week I made ATK's Garlic-Potato Soup. They were right to put the garlic before the potato when they named this soup. The recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic, minced, plus 2 whole heads of garlic that get poached in the cooking liquid until soft enough to make a garlic paste. Of course that gets thrown into the pot, too. And at the end you sprinkle on some garlic chips for good measure. With preparation and cook time, it took me about 2 hours to make.

Yes, the soup had good flavor, but was it really that much better than my mom's plain ol' potato soup? I was more impressed with the texture which was very silky and creamy (with only 1/2 cup cream added), but I think that's because I used an immersion blender instead of the potato masher that my mom uses. I'm just not sure it was worth the extra effort (or the time to type out the whole recipe--Sorry!). Plus, the next day at work I was told I smelled "spicy." Not sure if I'll make it again, and I guess I'll have to be careful with the leftovers!

This week we also had our old standby, Chipotle Black Bean Soup, which I've posted before. It takes about 15-20 minutes to make and I always have the ingredients in my pantry. I always freeze the leftover chipotles in a small container, but I think I like Rachael Ray's suggestion better. She recommends pureeing the whole can and pressing it into the bottom of a freezer bag. That way you can just slice off a tablespoon or so instead of trying to chip a whole pepper out of the container.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

So, I was using the recipes for Italian Wedding Soup I found on FoodNetwork for Paula Dean and Giada  and I think it turned out pretty well!!  The meatballs were a pinch spicy because I used breakfast sausage.  I put noodles in like Paula and then pretty much followed Giada's:)  

Here are the girls:)

And my picky Mr C...

I loved that I could add spinach and it tasted great and was a healthy addition:)

Half way through the soup lunch with the kids, the neighbor delivered the girl scout cookies we ordered... AM finished her soup:)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup


Even though I don't cook a lot of meat any more, I do take advantage and support the local poultry club. They raise happy healthy turkeys for Thanksgiving, and well, they are delicious. I knew I wasn't going to be in town for Thanksgiving, but I got one anyways. Had a nice post Thanksgiving dinner and then froze leftovers and make stock out of the carcass. The past week I used the last of what I had left to make the last batch of Turkey Noodle Soup. It is not really a recipe, but I wanted to post something. For this last dinner, I sauteed onions, carrots, and celery in a bit of olive oil. I believe some people may call that a sofrito! Add salt and pepper, and about 2 cups turkey broth. That was all I had left! Then I added 3-4 cups vegetable broth. Turns out, that is the perfect ratio. Let it come to a boil, an added 1 cup macaroni. Cooked until done, then added the turkey to heat up.

I served it with a salad and homemade bread. This is the one the kids actually love, and by love, I mean they pick out the past and leave the rest.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3 nights, 3 Soups, 3 Cuisines

Monday is usually our soup night. Since that is our most hectic night, soup seems to be what comes together the quickest. This week we somehow ended up with 3 soups on the menu. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we finally got some Winter-like weather (i.e., highs in the 50's and 60's instead of the 70's and 80's).

Even though we weren't having a party and really didn't care much about the game, Super Bowl Sunday put me in the mood to try something a little slower. I've been reading The Homesick Texan blog lately and saw a recipe for Red Pozole (hominy in a red chile broth). Whether you're an ex-pat Texan or not this is an awesome resource for Tex-Mex and Southern comfort food. Just reading it makes me homesick and I live in Texas.

New Mexico chiles, stemmed, seeded, roasted and reconstituted in water

The original recipe called for pork shoulder. Since I'm vegetarian, I subbed 1 lb (2 packages) of tempeh and used a few dashes of liquid smoke in place of the smoked ham hock. I didn't have to simmer nearly as long as the recipe says since I wasn't waiting for meat to get cooked and tender.

If you are sensitive to heat, don't worry. The New Mexico chiles and the ancho chile powder and a lot of deep, rich flavor without much heat. The husband and I added diced serranos on top for a little kick. I served these with homemade flour tortillas from the same blog. I sub half of the flour with white whole wheat flour. Awesome!

Monday night we went for quick and easy with Penne and Chickpea Soup adapted from ATK. It hardly requires a recipe it's so simple. The original recipe calls for panchetta sauteed in the olive oil before adding the garlic and rosemary, which I omit, and for half of the chickpeas to be mashed, which I just don't do.

Saute 4 minced garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary in a few tablespoons of olive oil for a minute or two. Add 2 cans diced tomatoes, 2 cans of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), 6 cups of water and 2 tsp salt. When it comes to a boil, add 8 ounces of penne or other short pasta. Cook until pasta is done then add a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary. Add more salt and black pepper to taste. We ate this with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Soup #3 was inspired by something I saw Ming Tsai make on PBS. I think he called it Thai Chicken Noodle Soup. I used tofu in mine.

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 ribs of celery
1 cup of baby carrots
2 cups water
1 can broth (I used vegetable)
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2-2 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced
3 green onions, sliced
1 package tofu, cubed
6 ounces noodles
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Start by sauteeing celery and carrots in the oil.

After 5-8 minutes (depending on the size of your carrots), add water, broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, green onions and tofu.

When the broth gets to a boil add in noodles. I had soba noodles on hand (I know, not very Thai), so I added those. Rice noodles would work well too.

Once the noodles are tender, stir in coconut milk and cilantro. Heat through and serve.

Some things that I had on hand, but forgot to add, were lime juice and Thai basil. I also would have liked a little heat, so a sliced jalepeno or serrano would have been nice. Still, this turned out really well. The kids, including the neighbor girl, all had seconds. My husband would add that you should make sure you either fish out all the sliced ginger or warn people not to eat it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Soups and Stews

In hopes of generating some posts, February challenge is soups and stews. You wanted it, you got it!