Spicy Fire roasted Tomato and Chicken Soup with Hominy and Black Beans

With Rosemary, Polenta, Spelt & Prosciutto Dumpling. Come back tomorrow for recipe!


Cooking transforms a house into a home. This dawned on me today as I assembled a new chicken soup recipe to try.

The Cotsco Chicken I purchased last Sunday had caught my eye as I went to put away the eggs this morning. We haven’t touched it, except for the wings Margo and I ravaged on upon unpacking the bird last weekend. And so, while it is sunny and delightful here in Denver today, I decided to make a new, differentiated-if-not-improved, chicken soup.

As I visualized what I imagine to be my average Gringa’s Latinized version of chicken soup, I wondered, will the house still smell like Grandma? Well not my Grandma, my ex-mother-in-law-cum-mom Elvia, who passed away a year last August. She was always making chicken soup and I actually first learned how to make chicken soup from her. “You always start with a Kosher Pullet” she would admonish. I do hope she forgives my digression to already cooked rotisserie chicken.

Well anyway, this is not her soup. This may be someone else’s Grandma’s version, but not mine and not one I know. And while the house does not smell like Parsley and Dill, the herbs from Elvia’s soup, the house is starting to smell like home because soup pots are the world’s best room fresheners, regardless of the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp EVO

10 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin

1 medium Yellow Onion, cut in half, then sliced into 5 slices each

6 Baby Bella’s, sliced in thirds

1 ½ Serrano Peppers, chopped, seeds included

1 Celery Stalk, sliced

10-12 Baby Carrots

2 Parsnips, peeled and sliced

1 14.5 oz. cans Low Sodium, no MSG Chicken Broth

1 28 oz. can Fire Roasted Tomatoes, juice included

1 20 oz. can Black Beans, drained

1 15.5 oz. can White Hominy, drained

1 cooked Rotisserie Chicken

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp ground Turmeric

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Cumin

Fresh Thyme Sprigs

Fresh Rosemary Sprig

S&P

1 generous splash Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation:

Heat EVO in stockpot and add garlic and onion. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally and then add Serrano and Mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 2-3 minutes. Add all other ingredients, except for the chicken and stir to combine. Add the chicken and roll that baby around in your soup occasionally while simmering for a couple of hours and transforming the aroma of your home.

When finished, pour Soup through strainer over a large glass bowl. Allow chicken and vegetables to cool enough to touch. Pull skin and bones out and discard. Add meat and vegetables back to the stock.

Serving Suggestions:

Slice a tortilla into 3 inch strips. Spread them out on a baking sheet and spray with a little EVO.  Dust with Chipotle Powder & Sea Salt. Roast till crispy and golden. Use to garnish soup along with a little diced avocado. I would imagine that if I liked Sour Cream, a tablespoon floated on top of the soup would go along nicely with the Avocado and Tortilla Strips.

Cook a little Orzo or some Corkscrew Pasta and add to the soup.

Or….how about Rosemary Polenta Dumplings? Hmmm, sounds good; I may try and create these tomorrow.

What would you put in this soup? I would love to hear.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger, Sage, Pear & Pama


Ok, the real reason I am making this soup this morning is not just because I used one quarter of my Butternut Squash last night and I can’t stand the possibility of the rest going to waste. The truth of the matter is that I can’t seem to stop cooking.

Maybe it is Mike Dooley cheering me on. “Don’t stop; just keep doing what you’re doing and let The Universe worry about the ‘Blessed How’s’.” I haven’t worked at a job for a few years now (ok, three!) and I keep trying new ideas, but just like Goldilocks discovered, I have found something “not quite right” with most of them.

“Do what you love” the guru’s all say. Well, I’m clicking my heels and trusting that in that whole wide world out there in cyberspace, some of you will like this blog, decide to follow us and spread the word…socially, organically, virtually. Please.

Anyway, I do love to cook and as I have said before, I find it meditative. That’s probably what is driving me to share my beliefs with you, believe there is a you out there, and share this recipe that is currently filling my house with a yummy aroma.

Ingredients:

¾ Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cubed-If you have a whole one use it; this isn’t science!

6 Baby Carrots, sliced-You could also use 1 regular sized carrot, I just happen to have baby carrots in my vegetable bin

1 Celery Stalk, sliced

1 small Yellow Onion, diced

1 White Pear, peeled and diced

2 Sage Leaves, cuts into strips (I use this amazing herb scissorthat my BFF Betsy sent me a few years ago after I threatened to steal hers.)

2 inch piece of fresh Ginger, chopped

2 cans lowfat, no MSG Chicken Broth (29 oz.-feel free to use a 32 oz container, if that is what you have)

¼ cup PAMA  ( I actually went into our Liquor Cabinet looking for Sherry, which we didn’t have. I found this that our wonderful friend’s Janie and Steve gave us for our wedding and I believe it will do the trick.)

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Tbsp Olivextra Oil

¼ cup Organic Half and Half

Preparation:

Melt butter and oil in small soup pot. Add sage and ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring a couple of times. Add onion & celery and cook for another minute or so, again stirring once or twice. Add the rest of the fruit and vegetables, some S&P to taste and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

Add the chicken broth and Pama and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

 

Remove vegetables from the soup (do your best to get it all, including those pesky little pieces of onion). I used a net like contraption on a wooden handle, which I got a million years ago from a store inConnecticut, where I took Chinese Cooking classes. You can use a slotted spoon if that is what you have). Place in the bowl of a Food Processor with knife blade and pulse to combine into a smooth paste.

 

Return to soup pot and combine with broth. Add half and half and cook for another 5 minutes on low.

Enjoy! You could easily make this Vegan by replacing the Chicken Broth with Vegetable Broth and omitting the butter and half and half. The soup is delicious without the added half and half. For some reason, I felt compelled to add it.

I know I’m not supposed to be the one to tell you how good this is. You need to discover this jewel on your own; to relish that hint of pear and derive aromatic “hits” off of the velvety sage. Will you please try this and let me know if you fall in love…..or not!

Chicken Soup

I’m still not used to the dramatic variance of the weather here in Denver. Yesterday was sunny and mild. I wore a sleeveless dress with a light sweater and was quite comfortable as my dog Mack and I toured the Sloane’s Lake area and enjoyed a stroll around the park.

This morning I awoke to a blanket of white and the snow continues to fall. The seminar I was to attend this afternoon will likely be cancelled and the Brit just called to report that it took him a full hour to, as he puts it, “trundle in” to his lab (it should take 15-20 minutes).

Before he left for work this morning I offered Colin his choice of meatloaf or ribs for dinner, after scoping out the contents of our freezer. Much to my surprise, he opted for ribs. Much to his surprise we will be eating them Friday or Saturday night as, in my opinion, this day calls for Chicken Soup!!

Now this “recipe” will be a slight deviation from the norm, as what you put in your stockpot can and should vary, both by personal preference and by what is in your fridge.

So, I began my soup by slicing the remaining 2 Aidells Habanero & Green Chile Smoked Chicken Sausage and throwing them into the bottom of my stockpot over medium heat. These are readily available in many supermarkets around California and Colorado and I assume most other states, but I do not know. I love the spicy kick they give to a chicken soup, but you may not.

Once they were browned a bit, I added 2 onions, peeled and quartered, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 peeled and sliced carrots, 2 sliced celery stalks, 10 quartered mushrooms, 3 peeled and sliced parsnips, 2 unpeeled, diced Yukon potatoes, 1 bunch fresh parsley (with rubber band attached, for ease of disposal), and ½ bunch of fresh rosemary (also with rubber band attached). You can use any herbs you like, but if you are using sausage, you may not want to choose those that might “conflict” with your sausage, such as the fresh dill I like to use when omitting the sausage. I have also used dried herbs, but if you have fresh they really are better for flavoring.

I buy a rotisserie chicken every time I go to Cotsco. I can not resist their $4.99 price point and I use the meat to make sandwiches, quesadillas, pasta dishes, etc. I also admit to grabbing a wing or a leg, when starving and on the run. Having only made a couple of sandwiches from ours this week and having attacked only the wings and one leg, I would say I had about ¾ of the bird remaining and that went into my stockpot too. You can also use fresh, uncooked chicken-whole or parts or a turkey carcass. I can not say that I can taste a difference whether I use cooked or uncooked chicken or turkey.

After throwing all the above contents into my stockpot, I also added 2 cans of low sodium, no MSG chicken broth and then poured water into my pot just to the top of my chicken and vegetables. I then brought the contents to a slow boil, covered the pot, reduced the heat to low and will allow the soup to simmer and fill my home with its delicious aroma for about 3 hours.

Once it is done, or you just can not wait any longer, taste your broth to determine if you wish to add salt and pepper. At this point you may also add some fresh spinach to the pot, as it too is delicious in soup, but you don’t want to cook it for much longer than 5-10 minutes. Additionally, this is the time where you need to make a decision as to what else you may want in your soup, such as noodles, orzo or, healthier alternatives such as quinoa or barley, and get those started.

To put your soup together, I start by removing the banded herbs with a slotted spoon and disposing of them. I then put a large mesh strainer over an even larger glass bowl and begin to separate the meat and vegetables from the broth. As the bowl fills with broth, you may have to remove it to another container, such as your stockpot to make room for more.

I generally throw the celery and onion out, as we don’t love them in our soup. This is strictly a matter of taste. What is not optional is to discard the skin and the bones from the chicken and there is no elegant way that I know of to do this other than by hand.  Be careful to allow the chicken and vegetables to cool before attempting this, unless you are trying to remove your fingerprints for some reason.

Once this is complete your soup is ready and the only thing left to do is ladle and enjoy!

Creamy Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheddar Soup

I believe that it was growing up hearing about the starving children in China (Colin learned of the starving kids in Africa, as his Dad was stationed there during the war), but the upshot is that I hate to waste food. This fact, combined with the dreary, gray day I woke up to, ended in my preparation of this yummy Broccoli Soup made with the 2/3 of the remaining Cotsco bag’o’broccoli  I had purchased prior to our trip.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Butter, divided

1 Tbsp EVO

1 Yellow Onion, chopped

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

4 Cups Broccoli Flowerets

6 good size Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbsp Flour

1 Cup Lowfat Milk

2/3 Cup Cheddar, shredded

1 Egg Yolk

S&P

1 Tsp Dried Tarragon

LouisianaHot Sauce or Tobasco

2 cans Low Fat, No MSG Chicken Broth

Preparation:

Melt 1 Tbsp Butter and EVO in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add mushrooms and broccoli and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, in a small stockpot, melt 1 Tbsp Butter and slowly stir in flour to combine into a roux. Gradually add the first can of chicken broth until your roux is smooth. If needed whisk to remove the last lumps.

 

Add the second can of broth and the milk which has been combined with the egg yolk. Stir to make a thickened broth and then add cheese, vegetables, S&P and Tarragon. Stir to combine and heat to boiling.

 

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of a Food Processor with knife blade. Pulse to combine vegetables into a somewhat mushy paste. Don’t over process and don’t worry if a few larger pieces remain.

Return vegetables to the soup pot and stir to combine. Season with Hot Sauce to taste.

 

Yum!!!

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Pumpkin Soup and decorative gourds

Ok, so I promise that this is the last of the pureed pumpkin I roasted last week! And yes, I did give the dogs chucks of freshly roasted pumpkin last night mixed in with their food. They loved it and so will you.

As my BFF Betsy and I prepare our holiday menu I am beginning to have trepidations that perhaps Southwest will not allow me to board my return flight home due to weight restrictions. Although we are including some healthy and delicious sides, such as Roasted Brussel Sprouts and my now infamous Spicy Pumpkin Stew, I am well aware that I will be consuming close to a weeks worth of fat and calories in a day. It is for this reason that I am trying to fill this weekend with healthy, lean foods such as this hearty soup made with vegetables, chicken broth and yogurt.

I will warn you that when I say spicy you should take me at my word. I like heat. That said, the Brit can only take so much and if you lean more towards his taste, I suggest that you reduce the Chipotle to a generous dash.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 inch piece of Ginger, finely chopped
½ medium Onion, finely chopped (a sweet Vidalia is best, but any onion, but red, will do)
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 rib Celery, sliced
1 small Parsnip, sliced
2 cups pureed roast Pumpkin
1 ½ Tblsp EVO
2 cans low sodium Chicken Broth
½ cup non fat, plain Yogurt
¼ tsp ground Chipotle
¼ tsp dried Thyme
¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Cinnamon Stick
Salt to taste
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Preparation:
Active Prep Time is about 15-20 minutes. From start to bowl will run 1 hr 20 minutes

Heat EVO in small stockpot over medium heat. Add ginger, stir and cook for about a minute then add onion and sauté for an additional minute.

Add carrot, celery, parsnip and spices. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

Add pumpkin and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour.
Put contents of stock pot in a food processor and process to make a smooth soup. You may have to do this is batches.

Return soup to pot, add yogurt and brown sugar and mix with whisk to incorporate.

Snow Day!!!

By Jill MantWe had our first snow day here this past Wednesday. Oh, for every one else in Denver it was technically the second, as the past Wednesday had also brought 6-10 inches, depending on where in the metro one lives, but I was away that week, so for me it didn’t count!!

After waiting the two hours it took to get my snow tires put on, I wandered over to Margo’s to pick up my partner in crime. We had chosen several recipes suitable for Thanksgiving that we wanted to try, but since the morning had come and gone we whittled our selections down to two.

There is an unofficial rule that states that one must make a soup on snow days, so we choose a Curried Carrot Soup with Granny Smith Apple:

Ingredients

2 Tbsp EVO

6 Organic Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

2 Ribs Celery, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces

1 Large Vidalia Onion, peeled and cut into 1/8’s

1 Large Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8’s

1 Tsp prepared Green Curry Paste (available at Asian Markets-we actually used 1 Tblsp which rendered our soup not for the faint of heart)

2 Cans no MSG, low salt Chicken Broth (you may use vedgie broth if you prefer)

¼ C Plain, Lowfat Yogurt

1 Bay Leaf

S&P to taste

Preparation

Place carrots, celery, onion and apple in the bowl of a large food processor, with the kinife blade inserted. If you do not have the extra large model, you may have to do this in batches. Using the Pulse button, chop the vegetables using an on and off motion until evenly chopped.

Heat oil in a medium soup pot, over medium heat.

Add chopped vegetables and S&P to the heated oil and cook until soft, stirring frequently, taking care not to brown. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in Curry Paste and stir well for an additional 3-5 minutes, again, taking care not to brown the vegetables.

Add Bay Leaf and Chicken Broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, an additional 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard Bay Leaf. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the solid vegetable mix from the soup and place in Food Processor or Blender to puree. Pour the puree back into the soup pot and whisk in Yogurt.

Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.

This soup is both inexpensive to prepare, as well as healthy and light. We purchased the organic carrots for $1.29 and did not use the entire bag, so I estimate the cost at around $.80. Let’s say the onion will run about $.50, the Celery $.30, the apple about $.89 and the broth around $1.79. Everything else came from my pantry, so I guestimate the cost of the soup is around $6.00 and served with a crusty bread and green salad will feed 4 people amply, if not 6.

While we made the soup, we also roasted a Sugar Pumpkin. We had a small one which probably only weighed a couple of pounds and we sliced it in half, scooped out the seeds and pulp (I saved the seeds for roasting with EVO and Habanera Sea Salt) and placed both halves upside down on a parchment lined baking sheet for 1 ½ hours at 400 or until soft.

Once this was done, we scooped the softened pulp into the bowl of my food processor and blended to make a pumpkin puree for Pumpkin Gnocchi in Browned Sage Butter:

 Ingredients

¾ cup Pumpkin Puree

1/3 cup Skim Milk Ricotta

½ cup Grated Parmesan

1 large egg

1 tsp Kosher Salt

½ tsp Nutmeg

1 ½ cups Flour

¼ cup Sage Leaves, whole

3 Tblsp Butter

2 Tblsp Good Balsamic Vinegar

Shaved Parmesan-use vegetable peeler

Preparation

Set aside a large pot of water to boil.

In a large bowl, mix Pumpkin, Ricotta, Parmesan, Egg, Salt, and Nutmeg to blend. I used a rubber spatula, as the trick to making good Gnocchi is to keep the dough light.

Gradually add the flour in batches, stirring with the spatula to combine. Continue adding the flour until the dough is firm enough to handle but sticky.

With floured hands, pull off small pieces of dough, roll between your fingers to make 1 inch dumplings and plunge into boiling water.  Cook until they rise to the surface, about 5 minutes and remove with slotted spoon to platter lined with paper towels.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. When the butter is hot, add the sage and cook until butter is brown and sage is fragrant, mixing frequently. Whisk in the Balsamic Vinegar, turn off heat, add gnocchi and toss.

Plate the Gnocci and serve topped with shaved Parmesan.

Can be served as a meal with salad, a side dish for Thanksgiving, or a delicious appetizer. Serves 4 as a side or appetizer or 2 as a main meal. Once again, the entire dish can be made for well under $10, and you could use canned pumpkin, if you don’t want to bother roasting your own. Just be sure to buy Pumpkin Puree, not canned Pumkin Pie mix.

While this certainly can not be classified as Health Food, it is probably one of the most delicious dishes we have tasted in a while, and by now, you know how we chow!!

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