Thursday, October 14, 2010

Harvest Meatball Stew

This stew just oozes fall flavors and colors. Even the kids like pumpkin this way and it's a fun change-up to the usual sweet preparation of their favorite squash. This recipe came from Cooking with Anne as my own submission to one of our Ready, Set, Cook! games. I made it up on the fly, but when I actually made it I found it was pretty spot-on. I've tweaked little bits here and there and love it the way it is now.

Harvest Meatball Stew
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Serves: 6 - 8

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg - lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups beef broth
2 cups peeled pumpkin, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup peeled potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup carrots, cut into 1 inch dice
1 cup green beans in 1/2 inch lengths
1/2 cup thick applesauce or 1 apple peeled, cored and diced fine
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
flour as needed to thicken

Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, nutmeg and salt together well. Form into 1 1/2 inch meatballs and brown well in a large soup pot with a little oil.
Remove meatballs and set aside.
Add onion and garlic to pot and stir over medium heat until onion is barely translucent.
Add remaining ingredients except meatballs and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Add meatballs back into pot and simmer for an additional half hour. Remove from heat and take out the bay leaf.
Return to medium heat and thicken if necessary with flour and/or cornstarch with water.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cool and Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Soup

Cucumber and Tomato Soup
Cool and Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are my very favorite food and this is another soup that is just plain good. Creamy and full of just-picked flavor, it's the perfect thing on a hot day.

It goes together quickly and easily with the use of a blender - no heat required! Choose an herb that you really enjoy, I like dill with the sour cream and cucumber in this, but basil would be lovely, too. Sriracha would also be excellent stirred into each serving. Use very ripe and fresh tomatoes for the best flavor.

Cool and Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready in 15 minutes
Serves 4 as a starter

6 large or 8 medium ripe plum tomatoes - peeled and seeded
3 medium cucumbers - peeled and seeded
1 small bunch green onions - tops and whites
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup sour cream (I like Mexican crema for this)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon freshly snipped dill plus more for garnish (or whichever herb you like)

Pop everything into a blender and puree until smooth. Chill for several hours if desired or serve as-is topped with extra herbs and sliced green onion.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro
Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro is a classic Italian soup from Tuscany that is rich and velvety with a blend of tomatoes, garlic, basil and stale bread. The flavors are simple but the soup is anything but.

We are in the throes of a heatwave here and soup is the last thing on my table as of late, but with tomatoes bursting red-ripe this year after a terrible blight last summer, I can hardly contain myself when it comes to the many delicious versions of tomato soup available.

Give this one a try and I promise you'll get cravings out of the blue for it later on.

Canned tomatoes are the best for this and I prefer San Marzano, which are tomatoes grown near Pompeii in rich volcanic soil and are sweeter and more flavorful than others. I also like my own home-grown plum tomatoes, but when I don't have or can't find either of those, just plain old canned tomatoes will do.

The bread should be stale by 2 days minimum and very crusty. Although Parmesan is not the usual, I really like it on this soup.

Pappa al Pomodoro
Printable Recipe
Ready In 30 minutes
Serves 4


1 can (28 ounces) whole San Marzano tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
30 basil leaves - torn or roughly chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups two-day-old crusty bread torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup good quality shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
Kosher salt to taste


1. Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot and add garlic and basil. Stir until fragrant and add tomatoes with juice and stock.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer and mash tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher. They don't need to be completely crushed. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Add bread pieces and stir well. Let the bread soak up the juices and then stir until smooth an velvety. Salt to taste.
4. Serve with fresh basil and Parmesan atop.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Soupa Avgolemono

Soupa Avgolemono is one of the most basic soups there is. The Greeks were downright brilliant when they came up with this one. My mother used to make this when I was a child, her recipe having come from either the Bozakis' or the Zanikos', no real idea which family.

Mom always made it with orzo, but this version has rice in it just because I didn't have orzo on-hand. I like mine rather lemony so I use a third cup of fresh lemon juice as opposed to the more standard 3 tablespoons. I also don't like too much rice or pasta, so the amount there is a bit lower than most.

Soupa Avgolemono
Printable Recipe
Ready in 25 minutes
Serves 4

6 cups good quality chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked rice
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Bring broth to a boil and add rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until rice is tender. (Less time for pasta).
Whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour in a ladleful of hot stock very slowly, whisking all the while, to temper the eggs so they will not beome scrambled eggs when added into the soup.
Pour into the soup, whisking as you do, and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garden Vegetable Soup

Take your favorite garden-fresh veggies, toss them into good quality stock, spike it with a few favorite herbs and, voila! Vegetable soup. Easy as that? Yep, easy as that.

I left out starchy veggies here, opting for the ones that are my personal favorites, and this turned out to be exactly what I wanted. It was not heavy, but still hearty enough on its own. I think a crumbling of fresh goat cheese would be absolutely perfect on this - or even a grating of fresh Parmesan. Either way, it's simple and full of vitamins and fiber.

Garden Vegetable Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready in 45 minutes
Serves 6

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I like red) diced
1 red pepper - diced
1 green pepper - diced
1 small bunch green onions - sliced, green and white parts
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 stalks celery - diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups fresh green beans - cut into 1-inch lengths
2 small carrots - peeled and diced
2 small zucchini - diced
6 plum tomatoes - peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon freshly snipped dill
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
sea or Kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper
cheese or fresh herbs for serving, if desired

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to sweat.
Pour in stock and add carrots and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce immediately to a simmer.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add zucchini, tomatoes and herbs. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with cheese if desired.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chilled Vegetable Soup

Close to Gazpacho, but with a few subtle differences, this soup is refreshing and full of flavor. Even my 3 year-old couldn't stop eating it.

Rather than puree as the gazpacho is made, I've left the vegetables in tiny little chunks. I like the bite to it and the allspice adds a depth of flavor that I really love.

Chilled Vegetable Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

1 small cucumber
1 small zucchini
2 ribs celery
1/2 small Spanish onion
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
2 green onions - white and green parts
2 medium tomatoes - peeled, seeded and diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon freshly snipped dill
1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Extra vegetables and herbs for garnish

Peel, seed and cut all vegetables into very fine dice (first 8 ingredients). Toss together in a large bowl.
Stir together tomato paste and water or stock and add to veggies. Toss in all seasonings (last 6 ingredients) and stir until well combined. Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours so flavors will blend. Serve with reserved chopped veggies and herbs
on top.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turkey Club Soup

Another delicious American institution is the Turkey Club. Smoked turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and just the right amount of mayo sandwiched between two slices of toasted bread. I think I ordered this one during my teen years more than any other and I have a few kids who order it when we dine out as, as well. As a soup it's just as yummy. Lettuce isn't all that appealing to many once cooked, so I used celery to add some color and green flavor to this and it worked really well.

Turkey Club Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

1/2 pound bacon - cooked crisp
2 Tablespoons bacon grease
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup celery - finely diced
1 cup diced tomato - I like grape tomatoes for their intense flavor
1 pound smoked turkey - diced large
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
crumbled bacon, diced tomato and toasted bread squares for garnish

Crumble bacon and set aside.
In a medium soup pot, cook bacon grease and flour together briefly.
Add celery and cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in tomato and turkey - cook for another 5 minutes.
Pour in cream and stir well - add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crumbled bacon, diced tomato and tiny toasted bread squares on top.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chili Cheese Dog Soup

One of America's favorite foods is the chili dog. In my family, it's the chili cheese dog. The kids loved this soup - minced onions and all. The bowl in the photo is garnished with ketchup, mustard and cheese, but you can add any condiment you usually like on your hot dog.

Chili Cheese Dog Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion - minced
1 pound lean ground beef
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 packet Goya Sazon with cilantro (orange packet)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic - minced
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups beef stock
1 pound all beef hot dogs - cut into thin slices.
2 cups shredded cheddar

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add oil.
Cook onion in oil until translucent. Add beef and cook until browned. Drain excess oil.
Add in tomato paste and seasonings. Stir until well combined.
Pour in stock and stir well. Add hot dogs and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in cheese until smooth.
Serve topped with ketchup, mustard, cheese, onions, relish or any other hot dog condiment you like!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Soup

This soup is a takeoff of a recipe I recently did for, Cheesy Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Turnovers. They were fabulous, if I do say so myself, and I was so enamoured with the flavors that I had to make something else with it.

This goes together very easily, has few ingredients, but is big on flavor. I like a bit of red pepper flakes for spice, but you can make it mild and leave them out.

Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready In 45 minutes
Serves 4-6

8 plum tomatoes - seeded and chopped
1 cup finely diced yellow or white onion
2 large cloves garlic - minced
1/4 cup fresh basil - minced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups cooked chicken breast - chopped
4 cups chicken stock
red pepper flakes to taste
4 - 6 slices crusty bread - toasted
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and salt in a small bowl. Stir well and let stand. This is the tomato bruschetta.
Heat chicken stock to boiling and add 2 cups of tomato mixture. Save any remainder for another use.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add chicken and red pepper flakes and cook for another 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Stir in 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan. Check seasoning and add salt if needed.
Top the toast rounds with Parmesan cheese and float on each bowl of soup.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Vegetable Soup

There is something so very lovely about spring vegetables. More often than not I like them straight-up, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil. I love the 'green-ness' of them and the tender bite. I think this soup retains what I like so much about them.

Cipollini onions are flat, round little onions also known as the 'Italian spring onion'. They can be buggers to peel, but once they are, they add a sweetness I like enough to put up with ornery onion skins.

Spring Vegetable Soup
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 30 minutes
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 for a starter

2 green or spring onions - sliced
2 cipollini onions, sliced thinly
1 large shallot - sliced thinly
1 clove garlic - minced
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup asparagus spears - cut into 1 to 2 inch lengths
1 cup sugar snap peas
8 ounces baby button mushrooms - cut in half
sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried mint (optional)

Pour stock into a medium stock pot and add onions and garlic. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat so stock is simmering.
Add asparagus, peas, mushrooms and mint. Stir once and cook for 20 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Serve.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garlic Soup with Chicken

A couple years ago I wrote a post on Cooking with Anne about my love of garlic. Included at the end of the post was a recipe and this soup was it. As good as it is in its original state, I made a couple tweaks to it according to my own tastes and made it again yesterday in the hopes that it would help to cure a fairly bad cold I've been stricken with.

I added a few cloves of garlic and changed the method slightly. I love this soup for its simplicity. It really is just a basic chicken soup with a bunch of garlic added to it, but the end result is so deliciously different that it deserves a whole post to itself.

The two methods of cooking the garlic provide a depth of flavor that you don't get from just one method. Don't skip it!

Garlic Soup with Chicken
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8

1 whole chicken - about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, cut up
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 large onion diced
2 heads garlic - peel 10 cloves and set aside
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Freshly cracked pepper and Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour

1. Put vegetables in the bottom of a large soup pot and add chicken, unpeeled garlic cloves (a little more than 1 head of garlic) and herbs. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. Remove chicken and garlic cloves and set aside.
3. Strain broth and return to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by about one-third.
4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
5. Squeeze softened garlic from skins and add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Mash into a paste (a mortar and pestle works well for this) and set aside.
6. Heat butter in a small skillet over very low heat. Add the 10 peeled garlic cloves and cook until cloves just begin to brown. Remove cloves with a slotted spoon and add to mashed garlic and mash these together as well.
7. Add flour to butter and whisk until a paste forms. Add mashed garlic to flour and butter and whisk until well combined. Add all to chicken broth. Heat until slightly thickened and add chopped chicken back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Potato Soup Without Guilt

A Twitter follower recently asked if I had a recipe for low fat potato soup. I think my answer was a fairly vague one that had something to do with using the potatoes as a thickener. I think he understood what I meant, but just in case he didn't, I took notes when making this one today.

Not all potato soup is chowder and likewise, they aren't all vichyssoise. This one is a sort of blend of those two. I had extra cooked new potatoes today after using them for another recipe and I also had leftover green onions. I took one look at them and decided they would become soup.

This soup was a total of 3 ingredients - really. The only fat to consider is the fat contained in the stock, which was chicken this time. The trick is in the method - which calls for gently mashing the potatoes in the stock to create the perfect 'creamy' consistency without the cream. You also need a really rich stock to pull this off without having to add extra seasonings. The stock I had today was so good there wasn't even a need for salt.

Potato Soup Without Guilt
Printable Recipe
Ready In: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6


6 cups chicken stock (do a quick vegan with veggie stock)
1 pound red potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced
1/2 cup sliced green onion


1. Pour stock into a 2 quart pot. Add potatoes and green onion.
2 Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
3. Roughly mash potatoes so soup is thick and creamy but still has chunks of potato in it. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

One of my favorite soups as a kid was cream of broccoli. However, the stuff that came out of a can was filled with dark green, mushy broccoli and also full of salt. I still liked it, but once I got older and my tastes changed a bit I found that the 'mushy, salty stuff' was no longer to my liking.

This version is filled with bright green veggies and has a touch of bacon and cheddar - for good measure.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Bacon and Cheddar
Printable Recipe
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 6

1 large head broccoli
4 cups water
1 small onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
2 cups half and half or milk
6 Tablespoons butter or oil
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon - cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Clean broccoli and remove florets - cutting into bite-sized pieces. Cut stems into chunks and set aside.
2. Heat water in a large pot until boiling. Drop in broccoli florets for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Add broccoli stems to boiling water with garlic and onion - reduce heat to a simmer and cook until stems have softened - about 15 minutes. Remove stems to a food processor and puree until very smooth. Add back into cooking water and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard any bits of stem that are caught in the strainer.
4. Cook butter or oil and flour together briefly in the bottom of the soup pot and slowly add in broccoli mixture. Pour in milk or half and half and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
5. Once soup is properly thickened, add broccoli florets, bacon and cheddar. Heat through and season with salt and white pepper.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicken, Plantain and Groundnut Stew

In Africa peanuts are known as 'groundnuts' and plantains are plentiful. Plantains look much like bananas, but are larger and most commonly sold green. They can be difficult to peel, but cutting into the peel several times with a small knife and peeling in sections seems to work best.

Combined with rich spices and tender chicken, this makes a delicious stew perfect for cold winter days. There are a lot of flavors here, but they blend together very well.

Chicken, Plantain and Groundnut Stew
Printable Recipe
Ready in 45 minutes
Serves 6-8

6 Tablespoons oil
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large green pepper - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 medium yellow onion - cut into chunks
1 (15 ounces) can diced tomatoes
2 large carrots peeled and diced
2 medium plantains - just turning yellow - peeled, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each and then into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon (or more as desired) salt

1. Heat oil in a large and heavy-bottomed pot. Add flour and stir well over a medium-high flame until roux begins to turn very dark - the color of an old copper penny.
2. Once roux is dark and nutty in aroma, turn heat low and add onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to 'sweat', or leach juices.
3. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Pour in stock, carrots, plantains, tomatoes and spices. Stir in peanut butter.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until carrots and plantains are tender. This can take up to an hour, depending on the ripeness of the plantains.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tortellini Soup with Chicken Meatball Dumplings

We're getting buried with a heavy snowfall in the Lehigh Valley today and being snowed in is the perfect time for soup. I made two today - Nacho Mama's Tortilla Soup and this one. This is a variation on the Chicken Ravioli Soup I made for

Substituting tortellini for the ravioli and making chicken dumplings rather than chopped chicken gave this one a whole new dimension of flavor.

Tortellini Soup with Chicken Dumplings
Printable Recipe
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup diced carrot
19 ounces frozen cheese-filled tortellini
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
2 large eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 slice bread
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat chicken stock in a soup pot until boiling; reduce heat and add carrot and bay leaf. Simmer until vegetables are soft - about 20 minutes.
2. While carrots are cooking, combine chicken breast, eggs, Parmesan and bread in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Return stock to boiling and shape chicken mixture into small balls. Drop into stock.
4. Add tortellini and cook for 5 -6 minutes until tortellini are tender and cooked through.
5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.