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Soup’s On

Not Your Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday, she passed away in June. I’m so sad I can’t talk to her anymore, and I miss her like crazy. But I know she lives on in my heart and in my memories of her. And this week I wanted to feel especially close to her memory, and I often do that through cooking. She never thought of herself as a good cook, but there are certain dishes she made that were unique to her and my dad’s heritage and she made them even more special to us by adjusting to our tastes.
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Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup

I don’t know about you, but when I see rain drizzling down and the temperatures falling, I feel the need to put a pot of soup on the stove!  It might be a nice chili (like my Smoky Chipotle Chili) or a hearty vegetable soup like I want to share with you today.  If you don’t have much time, a soup like this can be made relatively quickly on the stove.  Or you can pull out your crockpot (slow cooker) and let it simmer all day while you do all those household chores that you’ve been meaning to do all week.  This vegetable soup can be made either way.

Hearty Vegetable Soup
You can make a vegetable soup from a variety of ingredients you have on hand.  Look in your fridge and see if there are any you need to use before they turn (ha, not into a zombie or anything, just inedible, lol!).  But I find that 3 ingredients are critical to most vegetable soups – carrots, celery, and onion.  With these staple veggies you can make a mirepoix (pronounced:  meer ah pwah).  Mire-what, you say?!  Well, this is just a fancy French term for a base of our staple veggies (carrot, celery, onion) sautéed (I usually do with a glug of olive oil).  But because I’m a lover of most(?) things French, I love saying it!  🙂

Hearty Vegetable Soup
The heartiness in our soup comes from the beans.  Yes, I suppose you could do meat of some kind (chicken?) but I have gotten on vegan/vegetarian kicks and this soup fits the bill in all cases.  You can really use any canned beans you have on hand but I also like the addition of frozen or fresh green beans (also a staple I like to keep in the freezer).

Hearty Vegetable Soup
Whatever you choose, this is a soup that can be eaten soon with some crusty bread.  Or you can freeze or can for later.  My mom always has some Ball jars on hand and puts hot soup in the jars, waits for it too cool and pop (which means it’s sealed), and then stores it in the fridge for up to 3 months.  I found these lovely green Ball jars and use them to do just that!
Hearty Vegetable Soup

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So fire up your stove, get your mirepoix going, and start making this soup.  I promise you will be enjoying a hearty, vegan soup in no time that will warm you up and fill your belly.  Bon Appetit!

INGREDIENTS

1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1” pieces
2 stalks celery, diced
Kosher or sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
2 cups frozen or fresh green beans
6-8 cups vegetable broth, low sodium (depending on thickness you like)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (substitute any tomatoes you have on hand, i.e., 2 c fresh grape tomatoes, diced)
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (substitute any beans you have on hand)

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large stock pot on the stove.   Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook until lightly browned. Add sweet potatoes and cook one minute, stirring.  Add broth and spices, bring to a boil, and then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly tender.
Add both beans and tomatoes.  Stir in parsley.   Simmer for 30 minutes.
Salt to taste.  Remove bay leaf.  Serve or store in jars refrigerated.
Slow cooker directions:  Add all the above ingredients to the slow cooker, stir to combine, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Smoky Chipotle Chili

Smoky Chipotle Chili

When fall is starting to cool the air and summer days get shorter and shorter, nothing sounds better to me than putting on a pot of chili and curling up with a good book, catching up on TV shows, or watching some football. I have tried many different flavors of chili and love to mix it up, but I have to say my go-to favorite these days for a hearty meat-based option is this Smoky Chipotle Chili. I can’t take complete credit for this recipe. At a previous company, a co-worker brought something similar to a chili cook-off. I never did get the full recipe but I recognized some flavors and decided to experiment on my own.
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The key ingredient in this chili is the chipotle chili peppers. I may have first discovered these wonderful gems in a Tyler Florence fajita recipe. And now I use them liberally in Mexican food dishes. They have a very unique flavor, not a lot of heat, but smooth smokiness that can’t be beat. They are easy to find in the Mexican food aisle at your grocery and will be in a can labeled “Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” by brands like Embasa or Goya. You only need a pepper or even half of one to infuse the dish with flavor, so I like to store the remaining contents of the can in a ziploc bag in the door of my freezer. Then you can just pull it out and snip or slice off a portion you need and toss into your recipe.

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Another unusual contribution to the flavors in this chili might be the combo of meats I use. The first is chorizo sausage or andouille; the second is Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage, and the third is beef chili meat. I buy all my meat at Heinen’s and they have a great selection. The chorizo (more spicy) or andouille (less spicy) lends a decidedly Mexican influence to the chili and complements the chipotle peppers perfectly. The Savory Sage sausage limits the need for additional seasonings. And the chili meat rounds out the flavors and represents the cow in our, so far, pig-based chili!

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Now for some heat. At this point, I will say that I like a little heat in my chili. If there’s too much, I think it takes away flavor and just burns out your mouth. But whenever I want a little heat, I throw in some Sriracha sauce (an Asian spicy sauce that is good on almost anything, right?!) or you could also use Tabasco. I will just put a few quirts of Sriracha in with the meat as I’m browning it. And with that, I then only use a teaspoon of chili powder, because I find that the sauce plus the chorizo or andouille adds a significant amount of heat for my taste. The only thing left is tomatoes, beans, and cumin – three integral ingredients in any chili!

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Let this chili simmer on med-low on the stove minimum 30 minutes or all afternoon, and serve it with some cheese, sour cream, avocado, and/or tortilla chips. And maybe take a bowl back with you to the couch and finish what you were watching or reading. 🙂 Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chorizo or andouille sausage
1 lb Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage
1 lb chili beef
Sriracha sauce to taste
2 cans black beans, rinsed/drained
2 cans mild chili beans
3-4 Adobo chili peppers, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground meat with a dash of sriracha, drain. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Smoky Chipotle Chili