Curried Tomato Soup

Curried tomato soupI’ve been a lot better about packing my lunch lately instead of going out. I get bored with sandwiches day after day, even if they’re different types. I’m also not a morning person, so if I’m going to pack a lunch I really need to prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday. This soup was easy and quick to make, and I’ll have enough for lunch all week.

Ingredients

1 small-medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (could also use crushed)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

Instructions

Melt butter over medium heat in dutch oven (a regular pot is fine if you don’t have a dutch oven). Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook until it gets a little golden color to it.

Add chicken stock, salt, and curry powder. Use an immersion blender to puree the onions and garlic (optional). Add crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in heavy cream.

Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Improvised Two Bean Soup – Saved from Disaster

photo-feb-17-4-59-25-pmI ended concocting this yesterday when I needed something to bring to an event. I made potato salad, but I didn’t like how it tasted. It ended up turning out fine, but I needed to get something else together in case the potato salad was a total fail. It seemed like my normally stockpiled pantry and fridge were empty, and almost every measuring cup or spoon I owned was in the dishwasher. So WTF do I make?

I basically had to come up with something with all of the ingredients I always keep a ton of: diced tomatoes, beans, stock, and onions. Chili wasn’t an option because all of my meat was frozen and I didn’t have time for anything to defrost.

I diced an onion and started cooking it in the dutch oven. I realized I was smart enough to freeze chipotles in adobo, so I chopped up a bunch of that and tossed it in. I added the tomatoes (28oz can), black beans, and pinto beans. I also added 1 box of beef stock. Ideally I would’ve wanted a third kind of bean, but didn’t have it. I also seasoned it with a bunch of salt and some Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili Seasoning (probably about 1-2 tbsp of the chili seasoning).

The soup was looking really sad. It needed more beans, but I didn’t have any. This is when I slap realized my knife skills were kind of bad on that onion. I wanted to thicken it. I grabbed the masa harina from the pantry. I would’ve liked to have used beer for this next part, but we didn’t have any. I was also not wasting any of my good wine on this! Grabbed some vodka and made a slurry with about 2/3 cup masa harina (1/3 was the only measuring cup not in the dishwasher). I stirred it into the soup, brought it to a boil, and reduced it.

It was starting to look better, but still looked sad. I decided to get the immersion blender and puree it. It was starting to look pretty good! I adjusted the seasoning, added corn, and just let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. At some point I added about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and probably 8 shakes of Worcestershire. I kept tasting it and it actually tasted good. Yay!

I didn’t really think about how I was going to transport it. I don’t have a portable Crock Pot. I ladled the soup into gallon freezer bags (I made sure they were the ones that can also go in the microwave), put the bags into the crock pot, and taped the lid shut. Not ideal, but it worked!

Everyone really liked the soup, and I didn’t have much at all to bring home.

I did not add an actual recipe for this because of all of the troubleshooting I went through to make it happen, and also because I wasn’t measuring much of anything.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Cold, cold day today, and I spent several hours outside at the barn this afternoon. Soup was definitely a good choice to help me warm up when I got home.

Ingredients

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp Tastefully Simple Wahoo! chili seasoning
1 jalapeno
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo + about 2tsp of the sauce
28oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups frozen corn
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup masa harina
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Monterey jack cheese
Tortilla strips (store bought or homemade)
Salt

Instructions

Dice onion and jalapeño (after removing seeds). Mince garlic. Rough chop chili. Don’t worry too much about having perfect knife skills because you’re just going to puree it all later.

Boil chicken breasts in a medium pot. Salt the water! Set the chicken aside when finished.

Melt butter in a dutch oven (or other large pot) over medium heat. Cook onions, jalapeño, garlic, & chipotle+sauce until the onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes and chili seasoning. Cook for a few minutes, then add chicken stock.

Use an immersion blender to puree everything in the pot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just be careful because hot/steamy stuff + blenders aren’t always a good combo.

Add the masa harina. Use the immersion blender to get rid of any chunks that form. This is a good time to taste it and add salt. Don’t worry if you think it’s too spicy right now. The cream will take care of that later. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Add the corn. (Get the tortilla strips in the oven now if you’re making them)

Pull or shred the chicken. I use the stand mixer for this. Toss the chicken in and use the beater on speed 2 for about 30-45 seconds. I always cover it with a towel because sometimes pieces like to fly out. You can also pull it with a fork instead.

Add the chicken to the soup. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste again, and add more salt if needed. Let it cook on low for about 10 more minutes.

Serve and garnish with the cheese and tortilla strips.

Tortilla Strips

Use a pizza cutter to cut tortillas into strips. I cut small tortillas into quarters, then cut into strips. You have two options – fry until golden, or bake. I baked these since they were going in soup. Coat in olive oil, season with salt. Line up the strips on a baking sheet and bake on 350 until golden.

Chicken & Apple Curry Soup

chicken-apple-curry-soupOur grocery store sometimes has this curry soup with chicken and apples in the hot food section, but not often enough. My wife checks for it every time we’re there, and they rarely have it. Naturally, this meant I had to try to replicate it.

Note on the size of the apples – I cut them too big. You definitely want a small to medium dice, about half or a quarter of the size in the photo above.

Ingredients 

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 small onion
  • 1-2 apples
  • ⅓ cup golden seedless raisins 
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • 2 ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp yellow curry powder 
  • 1 tsp garam masala 
  • ½ tsp cumin 
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • Olive oil

Instructions

Make a roux with the 3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp flour. Melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Keep whisking while it cooks util it’s a dark blond color. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Continue to the rest of the steps while the roux is cooling.

Put chicken breasts in oven to bake.

Dice carrots and onion (small dice), set aside together. Peel, core, and cut apples into a small to medium dice. Set apples aside. You should have about 1 cup of apples once cut.  It’s ok if you have more, just don’t use more than 2 cups.

Whenever chicken is done, pull/shred it and set it aside.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a dutch oven (or large pot). Sautee the carrots & onions until the onions begin to become translucent. Add the curry powder, garam masala, cumin, & salt. Stir and let cook for a couple of more minutes. Add the chicken stock. Bring to boil, reduce.

Optional: puree using immersion blender.

Hopefully the roux is now room temperature. If it is, add it into the soup, whisking constantly until it’s pretty well incorporated. If it’s not to room temperature yet, just keep the soup on low until the roux reaches room temperature.

Warm the coconut milk and add while continuing to whisk.

Add chicken, apples, and raisins. Bring to boil again, reduce to simmer, and let it simmer covered for a couple of hours. I only stirred it twice while simmering just to make sure my roux dissolved fully and wasn’t all clumping on the bottom. Letting it simmer is important. It didn’t taste right until after it simmered for a while.

Red Wine Onion Soup

Red Wine Onion Soup
Whenever I eat a dish I love at a restaurant, I love the challenge of trying to make it home. There’s a local restaurant near us that has this amazing red wine onion soup. This soup is so good that my wife, who used to be a french onion soup hater, orders it every time we go to this place. So naturally I needed to try to replicate it. I got close to the real deal. I want to try it with a higher ratio of wine to beef stock, but I haven’t had a chance yet.

Ingredients
1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle red wine
3 cups beef stock
4 tsp worcestershire
3 tbsp Maggi liquid seasoning (This can be hard to find. Just use a little more Worcestershire if you can’t find it.)
¾ tsp thyme, or 4 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Stale French bread
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Asiago cheese, thinly sliced

Makes 4-6+ servings, depending on the size of your soup crocks.

Instructions

Heat butter in dutch oven. Add garlic, onions, & thyme. Add some salt (cuple of pinches). Cover to cook, stir occasionally. Cook until onions are soft. When the onions are soft, uncover and cook until golden.

Deglaze with wine. After you’ve deglazed, just pour the rest in. Add beef stock, more salt, bay leaves, worcestershire, and Maggi.

Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste a few times and salt until it tates salty enough.

Preheat broiler.

Cut bread into cubes. Put 4 cubes into each bowl (or more, depending on size of soup crocks. I used Le Creuset mini cocottes. The bread in these filled about 1/2 of each.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Let the bread absorb broth for a few seconds and add more soup if needed.

Top with alternating layers of gruyere and asiago. (2 layers of each)

Place the bowls onto a sheet pan. Broil until it’s melty and a little golden.

Snow Day Chili-Stew

snow-day-chili-stew

We had a blizzard last year, and I wanted to make something warm for us to eat while taking breaks from shoveling feet of snow. I’ll be making this again for sure during the next mega-snow! I call it a chili-stew because it has some elements of a chili and other elements of a stew. I didn’t think it was “chili” enough to just call it a chili.

Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lb sirloin
¼ package red kidney beans
1 jalapeño 
2 poblano peppers
4 tomatillos
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
¼ cup masa harina
Olive oil
About ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cups beef stock
½ bottle beer
Worcestershire sauce
Maggi liquid seasoning (This can be hard to find. If you can’t, just add a little more Worcestershire)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, roughly chopped
¼ cup apple juice
Cumin
Chili powder
Cayenne

Instead of the cumin, cayenne, and chili powder, you can also use Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili seasoning.

Instructions 

Prep kidney beans according to package instructions. This takes about an hour for the non-overnight method. Drain and rinse when done.

While beans are soaking, roast poblanos and jalapeño. Turn on broiler. Coat peppers in olive oil. Roast until charred, about 10 minutes. You can also roast them on a gas burner, but we don’t have a gas range in our new house (sad face).

Dice onion and mince garlic. Set aside (together). Remove husks from tomatillos and roughly chop. Cut off tops of poblanos and jalapeño and roughly chop. Roughly chop 2 chipotles. Set aside tomatillos, poblanos, jalapeño, and chipotles together.

Trim sirloin and cut into small pieces, about the size of your thumb above the knuckle.

Heat approx. 3 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven on med-high. Add sirloin with salt & pepper. Cook until brown. Add masa harina, stir, and toast for 1 minute. If it gets too dry, add more olive oil. It should be a dry-ish paste, not really wet, and but not super dry. Add garlic and onion, cook a few minutes.

Deglaze with beer.

Add beef stock, peppers, and tomatillos. Stir. Salt liberally. Add about 5-8 dashes Worcestershire and 10-15 dashes maggi. Add about 1 tsp each chili powder and cumin. Add about ½ tsp cayenne. (Measurements are approximate. Adjust to taste as it cooks). Add beans and corn.

8. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot about every 30 minutes. Taste each time and adjust seasoning to taste. Add apple juice in the last 30 minutes (optional, to cut down the level of spicy).

Troubleshooting 

Too spicy? Add some apple juice. Don’t have apps juice? Toss a peeled potato into the bottom of the pot to absorb some of the spice. Don’t have that either? Add some sugar.

Not spicy enough? Add cayenne or some juice from the chipotle peppers.

Not flavorful enough? Add more cumin, cayenne, & chili powder.

Doesn’t taste brown enough? (Yeah, this is a thing) Add more Worcestershire and/or Maggi.