Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cajun Beef Soup

I had this in, of all places, a hospital cafeteria recently and it was so good I found myself pushing the ingredients around and taking notes so I would be able to recreate it. The only thing missing here is baby lima beans, which I find most people don't like much anyway (but I adore), so I left them out.

This is a thick and hearty soup closer to a stew and the flavor is very rich. Step up the heat however you like with more cayenne or even a good hot sauce. Substitute the spices and herbs for a good quality Cajun seasoning - a tablespoon or so should do it.

Cajun Beef Soup
Ready In: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green pepper
2 cloves garlic
8 cups beef stock
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced potato
2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cups black eyed peas
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large soup pot brown ground beef with onion and green pepper. Drain well.
2. Add garlic and beef stock and cover with a heavy lid. Simmer for half an hour until beef is very tender.
3. Add remaining ingredients and lid again. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Soup is done when vegetables are tender and soup base is thick.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder
I recently lost my step-father to a massive heart attack. The long and short is that we knew he had metastatic cancer but he fell and needed stitches so was transported to the ER via ambulance (nobody saw him fall and at the age of 85 it was precautionary). Once there, it was discovered that he'd had a rather large heart attack. Not quite two days later that heart attack was the cause of his death. Most of us were able to be with him when he passed and although he was not conscious I'm hoping he felt our presence with him.

He was very particular about his food, having been raised by English parents who moved here to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Mostly he was a "meat and potatoes" guy and there wasn't much he ate that fell outside the boundaries of that. Manhattan Clam Chowder was one food that he loved. Not New England as one would expect from a man with a blander palate, but the 'red kind'.

This is so close to the one he ate that there would be no telling it didn't come from his favorite soup maker - only it's a bit better ;) I know he'd enjoy it if he were here to do so.

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Printable Recipe
Makes 1/2 gallon
Ready in 35 minutes if using canned clams 45 if fresh

6 pounds clams scrubbed and rinsed (or two 10 ounce cans chopped clams - undrained)
chicken stock or clam juice as needed
2 slices bacon
2 cups chopped onion
2 stalks celery - chopped
1/2 green pepper - chopped
2 medium carrots - peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups peeled and diced potato
3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with liquid
1/4 cup fresh parsley - chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

In a large pot bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add clams. Cover tightly and cook for 5 minutes. Stir clams and recover. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until most of the clams are opened.

Put clams to a large bowl and strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve or cheesecloth into a large bowl. You need about 8 cups of broth, if not add chicken stock or bottled clam juice to make enough. Once clams are cool, remove them from their shells and chop.

***If using canned clams, make sure there are 8 cups of liquid with the clams - bottled clam juice, chicken stock or juice from the canned clams should be used to make up the 8 cups.

In a large heavy soup pot add bacon and cook until crisp. Pour off all fat except 4 tablespoons and crumble bacon - set bacon aside.

Add onions, celery, pepper and carrots and cook until vegetables are softened - about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add garlic, bay leaf, oregano and thyme and stir. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender - about 15-20 minutes.

Add tomatoes and continue to cook for another 1o minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and chopped clams, crumbled bacon and parsley and season with pepper and salt, if needed. Let chowder stand, covered for an hour then reheat gently before serving.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

White Bean and Kale Soup (with Sausage)

White Bean and Kale Soup
White bean and kale soup is nothing new. In fact, there are a veritable treasure trove of recipes for this one across the web and in many cookbooks. The sausage is in parentheses here because it truly is optional.

Go vegetarian with vegetable stock, add carrots for color and feel free to use any sausage you like. Variation and additions can only make this one better. On a day like today (we had nearly a foot of snow overnight) this is a bowl full of bliss.

White Bean and Kale Soup (with Sausage)
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6 - 8


2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups stock - chicken or vegetable
6 cups water
1 pound kale, cleaned and chopped, large stems removed
2 cans (15 ounces each) small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced thinly
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until
2. Add stock, water and kale. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add beans and sausage and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cauliflower Leek Soup

In a household filled with kids, cheese soups are a favorite. This one was gone so quickly and when I realized the kids thought there was cheese in it I knew why. I told them there was none and they were all surprised, but asked for seconds anyway. Guess that means this one is a keeper. It's another super-simple one and made really quickly.

Cauliflower Leek Soup
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-6


2 large leeks - green parts removed, split lengthwise, washed well and sliced thinly
1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds) broken into small pieces
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup half and half
salt and white pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg


1. Combine stock, leeks and cauliflower in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Lid well and cook until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Puree in batches until smooth and return to pot. Add cream, salt and pepper. Stir well.
3. Top each bowl with freshly grated nutmeg.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Pot pie has been big stuff around here since I was a kid. There have been arguments about the differences between Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie and the kind I grew up on, but that's a whole different post.

This is based on the actual pie type of pot pie with a tiny twist, the pie dough is puff pastry baked with shredded cheese on top. Those little extras can really put an ordinary bowl of soup over the top.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6


1 small leek - cleaned well and sliced thinly - white part only
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups diced white potatoes
2 cups diced carrot
2 cups frozen cut green beans
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts - cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg white - beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat chicken stock in a large soup pot to boiling. Add leek, potatoes, carrots, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender - about 20 minutes.
2. Add chicken and green beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thicken soup if necessary with flour and water or beurre maniƩr.

While soup is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and unroll puff pastry. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with cheese. Cut into 9 equal squares and bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

*Note- Beurre Manie is French for "kneaded butter". It consists of equal parts four to butter. Combine flour and butter and knead until well combined. Add a small amount at a time to a simmering liquid and whisk until smooth. Add more as needed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Asian Dumpling Soup

I seem to be on a super-easy soup kick lately, and that's a good thing for the rest of you. A couple weeks ago I wasn't feeling too well and just about any food available was looking rather unappetizing. The first day I felt a little more like eating, I threw together a few things I had on-hand and turned out this soup.

Once I researched a bit it turns out this is nothing new at all. Don't be afraid to add chopped kale or freshly grated ginger to this, it will only make it better.

Asian Dumpling Soup
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6


24 Asian dumplings such as gyoza (I used frozen vegetable dumplings)
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
2 Tablespoons soy sauce


1. Heat stock to boiling and drop in dumplings and carrots. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add in edamame and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce just before serving.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Posole is another of those recipes that everyone has a recipe for, from aunts to mothers to grandmothers and on. Billed as a curative or even preventative for hangovers, it's also one of the simplest soups ever (2 steps!) and the garnishes are only limited by your imagination.

Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves 8

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder or loin cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups canned hominy - rinsed and drained
5 cloves garlic - minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups water


thinly sliced radishes
shredded cabbage or lettuce
diced avocado
diced red onion
chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges

1. In a large heavy pot combine pork, hominy, cumin, oregano, salt and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until pork is tender.
2. Serve in bowls topped with garnishes.