Posts Tagged ‘soup’

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I love cookbooks. It feels like I have a million of them, but I’m never disappointed to receive another. I got a few great ones for Christmas, which you’ll be hearing more about soon, I’m sure. One of the cookbooks I got recently (technically not a Christmas gift, but that’s okay) is Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Pasta. I like this book a lot. It ranges from Salads and Starters to Sides to Main Dishes, and has a lot of quick and easy dishes, along with more sophisticated ones. We tried one of the more quick and easy dishes last week, this twist on a chicken tortellini soup. The recipe below includes my tweaks on the original. I subbed bacon for the pancetta, because it was what we had on hand, but also cut down on the bacon and oil a bit to lighten the dish. I also used a whole grain fresh tortellini for the pasta. With these substitutions, it ended up being about 6 points for a very hearty bowl of soup. With some crusty bread on the side it was a great winter weeknight dinner.

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup
Adapted from Everyday Pasta (by Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • three slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 9-ounce package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, shallots, carrot and garlic. Cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and broth.

Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or until just tender. Season with pepper and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from 101 Cookbooks

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I made a broccoli cheddar soup recipe that I found on another blog, 101 Cookbooks. Though I, personally, am not very fond of broccoli, my husband is a fan. So is our roommate.

Plus, after Thanksgiving, I had another pound of fresh leftover broccoli, and I wanted to use it up.

The recipe looked so pretty. And I was excited about the croutons (which I may have made out of leftover dinner rolls…we are all about the leftovers this week). It also didn’t use velveeta or heavy cream, unlike most of the broccoli cheese soup recipes I came across. Plus, we had a bunch of leftover cheddar, too. This seemed like a place that all that cheese could shine.

The good news is, the cheese did shine in this soup, by the time I was done. If you like broccoli, the original recipe–found here–might very well be your new favorite soup. But me? I had to just about triple the amount of cheese in the soup to make it palatable. I guess that’s what I get for trying to stay on the healthy side of a broccoli cheese soup. The recipe below is what I ended up making. It’s full of delicious, cheesy goodness.


Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks; serves 4-6

For the croutons:

  • 5-6 ounce chunk of bread, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (About 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
  • 2 cups freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for grating over the top
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and place the bread chunks in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, and salt, and pour this mixture over the bread pieces.  Toss to coat, then spread the bread out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy.

While the croutons are toasting heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and sprinkle with salt. Saute for about two minutes minutes. Next, stir in the diced potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Uncover, add the minced garlic and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, check to make sure the potatoes are completely cooked. Once the potatoes are soft enough to eat, stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 – 4 minutes. The broccoli will turn a lovely bright green color in the pot.

Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add the two cups of cheddar cheese and the dijon mustard, if using. Stir in about 1/2 a cup of sour cream or creme fraiche. You can adjust the thickness off the soup by adding more water or broth.

Serve sprinkled with croutons and shredded cheese.

Quick and Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Our friend Cara comes over once a week for dinner. We never really planned it that way, but we’ve got a sort of standing date to watch Glee and hang out every Wednesday night, and she typically stays for dinner. We have a good time, but I’m always a little worried when I make something for the first time that she’s not going to like it. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with her, she’s not even that picky, but I usually try to clear it with her first.

All of that is the long way of leading up to this: When I told her I was making Chicken & Dumplings, for the first time, she struggled a little bit. “What’s a dumpling?” she asked. It’s a good question, if you’ve never had them before. I told her it was like a cross between a noodle and a biscuit, which is the best explanation I can come up with. Especially when made like this recipe.

I grew up eating Chicken and Dumplings, the way my grandma makes them (which is the same as the way my dad makes them, and now, the way I make them). They’re tasty, homey, and a great rainy-day or cold-weather food. A classic comfort food. I’m sure I’ll make them for the blog sometime. The only drawback is that they can be a little cumbersome to make. You have to make the pasta by hand, roll it out, and then cook them with the chicken and the sauce. They’re totally worth the work, but it’s not really a weeknight kind of dinner, which had me looking for something a little simpler.

I’d heard that you could make chicken and dumplings with Bisquick or the like, and this was my attempt at that kind of chicken & dumplings. The results were decent, but I’m not going to lie–this wasn’t anything like the real thing. The dumplings were good, but more doughy than I’m used to. And this particular recipe resulted in something closer to a soup or stew than the Chicken and Dumplings I’m used to. It reminded me a lot of my own Chicken Pot Pie filling.

It was okay, and quick and easy, but next time, I’ll put in the effort for the real thing.

Chicken & dumpling stew

Quick and Easy Chicken & Dumplings

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup frozen green peas and carrots
  • 1 cup cut-up cooked chicken
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup Bisquick mix or other baking mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • paprika

1. Heat milk, peas and carrots, chicken, and soup to boiling in a 3 quart sauce pan, stirring frequently.

2. stir bisquick mix and 1/3 cup of milk until soft dough forms. Drop the dough by spoonful on top of chicken mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.

3. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup frozen green peas and carrots
1 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed creamy chicken mushroom soup
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/3 cup milk
Paprika, if desired

Serve with…
Sour Cream-Cranberry Bars Sour Cream-Cranberry Bars
Total Time: 1 hour 57 min

1. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk, the peas and carrots, chicken and soup to boiling in 3-quart saucepan, stirring frequently.
2. Stir Bisquick mix and 1/3 cup milk until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 8 spoonfuls onto chicken mixture (do not drop directly into liquid). Sprinkle with paprika.
3. Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I do a good amount of travel for work. It’s not out of control, but during this time of year, I take a trip every 2-3 weeks at least, sometimes more often. And I enjoy it. I like to see different places, get a feel for different areas of the country. Through my work travels, I definitely have. Another thing that I enjoy is having the chance to try regional foods. Sometimes, it’s hard to get outside of the chain restaurants or airport food courts, but when I’m lucky, I get to try some real local treats.

On my last visit to Nebraska (I know, exotic, right?) we had lunch in a small-town diner. From the outside, it was nothing special. And the menu was, for the most part, exactly what you’d expect. Even so, the food was tasty and the service was good. My main dish was a baked macaroni and cheese that was quite good, but the highlight for me was the corn chowder. I had never in my life eaten corn chowder before, and I could tell by their curious glances and raised eyebrows that neither had my two coworkers. But when the person we were meeting with suggested it, we were convinced, and all three of us ordered the corn chowder.

And were rewarded.

The soup was creamy, with chunks of potato, chicken, and of course, sweet corn. We’ve joked about having that soup again, even around the office (some 500 miles away from the diner where we shared lunch) ever since. Finally, tired of thinking about a soup that I may never have the chance to eat again, I decided to make my own. Last Friday was a cool, rainy day, and sweet corn was on sale for the first time all season. It seemed like a sign. So for dinner Friday night, I threw together my version of this awesome Nebraskan soup. And it was delicious. If I was trying to convince my sister or mother, I’d tell them it was just like clam chowder. When I was trying to convince my husband, I told him it was just like potato soup. And while both of those statements were true, it tastes more like corn than either of those. If you like corn, you owe it to yourself to try this soup.


Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

  • 3 ounces pancetta (You can substitute bacon, if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups prepared chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5-6 ears sweet corn (do not substitute cans or frozen corn–fresh off the cob is important!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisped. Next, add the onion, garlic, and thyme and continue cooking until softened, about 8 or 9 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil for 7 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break down. The potatoes should be soft, but not completely broken down.

3. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Note: If you’ve never cut corn off of the cob, here’s a good tip. Take a small bowl (like a cereal bowl) and stand it upside down in a large mixing bowl. Shuck the corn and remove any additional silk. Stand the ear of corn straight up on the small bowl (inside the larger bowl) and use a sharp knife to cut straight down once side. Turn the ear of corn, and cut straight down the next side, working your way around the corn. This will give you a steady platform for cutting the corn off the cob, while catching all of the loose corn kernels in the larger bowl without making a mess.

As far as the soup goes, I think it was a hit. It was flavorful, sweet and fresh, just like corn on the cob. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as good if I had tried to use canned or frozen corn. The pancetta added a nice layer of salty flavor to the soup base, and the potatoes were good, but the corn was really the star of this soup. I’m sure we’ll be making this again. It would have been good with leftover chicken, regular bacon, or a smoky ham also.

Smoky Ham and Bean Soup

Friday, April 10th, 2009

You know what’s funny? I like ham, but I love all the delicious things you can make with leftover ham. Like the one and only casserole I grew up with, ham and rice casserole. Or like the subject of this post, ham and bean soup.

I know it doesn’t sound flashy. It probably doesn’t even sound good. All you have is my word, but I promise you, it’s tasty. Very tasty. As soon as we decided to make ham for Fake Easter, I had visions of the ham bone, simmering away in my crockpot. And my visions came true. With real Easter coming up this weekend, you might very well get your hands on a ham bone of your very own. If you’re lucky enough to be “stuck” with a leftover ham, here’s what to do.


Smokey Ham and Northern Bean Soup

  • 1 pound of leftover ham, diced
  • 1 large ham bone, leftover from a roasted ham (if you can’t get one of these, you can skip it, but do try–it really adds to the flavor)
  • 1 quart chicken stock, ham stock, or prepared ham soup base (I used chicken stock)
  • 1 large can of northern beans, partially drained (I poured out about half the liquid)
  • 2 small cans Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup V8 vegetable juice
  • salt & pepper to taste (you probably won’t need much salt, so go easy on it)

Combine ingredients in large crockpot, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Honestly, you could eat it as soon as it’s heated through, but the longer it simmers, the better it’s going to taste. If you don’t want to use a crockpot, this can be done on the stove over low heat. Just be sure to keep an eye on it and stir frequently. The starchy beans will get scorched and stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t.

Herbed Chicken & Dumpling Soup

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Another soup? I know, right?

Truth be told, David had to have a tooth pulled, and that had me seeking out soft things for him to eat. There’s not much softer than soup!

This chicken & dumpling soup was a tasty, quick meal. Using store-bought chicken stock gave this dish a long-cooked taste, even though it was finished in about half an hour. Fresh herbs really upped the flavor profile from what you’d normally expect in a quick soup. All in all, I was pleased.

Herbed Chicken & Dumpling Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

  • Cooking spray
  • 8  ounces  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut celery
  • 1/2  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut carrot
  • 1/2  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/8  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 3  parsley sprigs
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 3  cups chicken stock
  • 2.25  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.

David’s Variable Hotness Chili

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

This post isn’t really about making chili. I mean, I’ll tell you how we make chili, and you can choose to follow our recipe. The chili we make around here is good, but not a whole lot better or worse than most other homemade chili, in my experience. (Of course, that could because I grew up in a home that had excellent chili). It’s hard to say.

This post is about making chili for everyone.

You see, I am a whimp. No, really, I am. In just about every way possible. I’ll whine about working too much, or being tired, or doing laundry, or doing the dishes. I get hurt when I trip, when I stumble, when I bang my hand on the corner of the kitchen counters, when I hit my head, when I break a nail, when I stub my toe, and when I wear high heels. And of course, when I cut my finger with scissors, a knife, or sheets of paper. I’m clumsy, and I’m whiny, and everything hurts me.

In related news, I don’t get along well with spicy, spicy foods. I can handle “medium” spiciness on most things, especially if there are mitigating factors like crackers, and cheese, and sour cream. David, on the other hand, prefers spicy, spicy foods. What to do?

When David first started making chili at his old apartment, he made a large pot of chili and pulled aside a tiny amount for me before he really flavored the batch he and his friends would eat. The good thing was that the chili wasn’t too spicy for me. The bad thing was that my tiny pot of chili was actually pretty bland, even by my standards. The other bad thing was that I never got in on any of the leftovers–one of the best parts of a big pot of chili!

So David thought and he thought and he finally came up with the solution. Put the hot “on the side.” So that’s what we do. David dices up every kind of chile imaginable (at least every kind that our grocery store can imagine) and lets them stew in their own small crockpot all day long. The result is a very spicy blend of delicious chile flavor that can be added to the larger pot of chili as you like. I usually skip it entirely, but David includes a couple of large spoonfuls per bowl of chili. Saner people might add just a spoonful.

This whole method is especially awesome for having people over for chili. It’s hard to please everyone, right? This makes it easier.


David’s “Variable Hotness” Chili

For the Chili:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound of other ground meat (we usually use 1/2 pound of ground pork and 1/2 pound of ground buffalo meat, for a total of 2 pounds of meat)
  • 1 large can of “hot” chili beans
  • 1 large can of “mild” chili beans
  • 1 large can of tomato juice (divided)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

1. In a large stock pot, brown the ground meat together. When browned, drain the fat from the skillet.

2. Add the next 4 ingredients to the pot and heat over medium heat. There is no need to drain the beans or tomatoes. I usually start with about half a can of tomato juice at this point. You may want to add more later, but remember to save some for the chile peppers.

3. Add the spices one at a time, stirring after each ingredient. This usually involves David and I both standing at the stove, adding and tasting, adding and tasting.

4. Transfer to a crockpot and let simmer on low until it’s time to eat. If your crockpot runs on the hotter side, you may want to start on low and then flip it to warm, since everything has been cooked through.

For the Chiles (The “Variable Hotness” part):

  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 cubanelle pepper
  • 3 habanero peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice (from the large can above)

1. Clean, seed, and dice all of the peppers. If you’ve never worked with these kinds of peppers before, I suggest wearing disposable latex gloves. It keeps the dangerous spicy chemicals off of your hands completely. Once you get that much heat on your hands, it can be really hard to wash off completely. If you use disposable gloves, you don’t have to worry about accidentally touching your eyes or something. That would suck.

2. Put the peppers and tomato juice in the bowl of a small crockpot. The baby ones, used for keeping dips warm, work well here. Simmer on low until the peppers are soft. We usually let this stew all day.

When you serve the chili, let everyone add their own level of heat by mixing in the warm, spicy pepper sauce.

Note: I don’t serve chili without plenty of sour cream, grated cheese, and oyster crackers, but do what you like. The last time we made chili, I also made those delicious corn muffins, which was a perfect compliment.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

When I was in college, I worked as a server at The Olive Garden. One of the staples of my diet while I was there was soup (the other was breadsticks!). One of the problems with working in a restaurant like that is you learn to like all sorts of dishes, but when you visit the restaurant as a “civillian,” you have to choose just one thing.

Luckily, now that I can make Zuppa Toscana and Pasta e Fagioli at home, I can at least remove the soup or salad choice from that dilemma!


I may have stolen that picture from the Olive Garden website, but I promise–mine was just like the real thing!

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana
Serves 4-6


  • 1 lb sweet bulk Italian sausage (or links, with the casings removed)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 4 quarts chicken stock (homemade or from a box; don’t substitute broth)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 6 c water
  • 1/4 tsp ground aniseed
  • 1 bunch kale, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 large russet potatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion white, finely chopped


1. Bring chicken stock & water to a light boil & add potatoes.

2. In a large skillet cook bacon until somewhat done & remove from the pan. Crumble the bacon and reserve for later.

3. Sauté the onion in the bacon fat until the onions are a golden brown color. Add to boiling stock & potatoes.

4. In the same skillet add olive oil, garlic and crumbled Italian sausage. Cook over medium high heat until the sausage is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. When sausage is cooked, add the contents of the skillet to the boiling stock & potatoes.

5. Continue to cook at a light boil until the potatoes are fork tender. When they are done reduce heat and add cream, crumbled bacon, kale, salt, anise, red pepper, black pepper. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, to allow the flavors to come together. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Note: I made this as listed the first time I tried it, and it was good, but I found that we all picked around the kale, so I left that out the second time. That’s another reason to recreate restaurant favorites at home–I only have to add the parts I like!

Chicken & Dumplings

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

We had chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight. Not the doughy-ball kind of dumpling, but the flat kind that my Grandma makes. It’s actually one of her most requested dishes, I think.

I  can remember that chicken and dumplings was one of the first things I really cooked; I think I was in 4th grade. I made it once at my Grandma’s house, and then Dad and I recreated it at home for some sort of pot-luck dinner at school. Somewhere around the same time, I earned a Brownie Try-It for learning to make tacos, so maybe that was the first thing I learned to cook. Chicken & Dumplings was one of the first, anyway.


Now, I don’t have a recipe, because I just kind of throw things together. So I guess, if it looks good to you, you’ll have to come over and watch me make it. (Maybe with less salt this time).

Pasta e Fagioli

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Throughout my tenure as a server at the Olive Garden, I had what seems like millions of breadsticks and at least 100,000 bowls of soup. This soup at the OG is a lot like chili, but with an Italian twist. This recipe recreates it pretty well, with a few punched up ingredients.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 8

  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)  (I buy pre-shredded carrots)
  • 3 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained (I used San Marzanos this time, and they were amazing)
  • 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable juice (I used V8)
  • 15-oz. can red kidney beans, undrained
  • 15-oz. can great northern beans, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) uncooked ditalini pasta (I used small shells)
  • freshly grated parmesan and croutons or garlic toast for garnish

Brown the ground beef, in a stock pot, stirring to break it up until no longer pink and cooked through; drain off any drippings.

Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery to the pot; cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add remaining ingredients (except pasta); reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. When there are just 10 minutes of cooking time left, prepare the pasta as package directs for al dente noodles; drain.

Add pasta to soup and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.