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Category Archives: Soup

Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This is my first ever ‘guest recipe’ post!  Today’s recipe comes from a good friend of mine that always makes sure to go above and beyond for her children and family. One of her little ones needed some extra special care earlier this week and she went so far above-and-beyond, that she surprised even herself and made her best ever soup! She has been kind enough to share the recipe with us too, so with no further ado…..Here’s Jessica K.’s Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup!

soup

Jessica K. writes:
I don’t know about you, but I have always had a hard time making an awesome broth-based chicken soup. I always find that it turns out bland– especially the chicken part. So, when my youngest had surgery this past Monday, I decided to play around with some ideas I had on how to make my chicken soup more like the ones you can get at a restaurant. What I ended up with was so flavorful, I had to stop eating and write down exactly what I did so I wouldn’t forget. 😉

Ingredients:
1 box (32 oz) Chicken Broth (I use reduced-sodium)
2-3 cups Water
2 Chicken Bouillon cubes
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Creasts
½ a medium Onion, chopped
Veggies you have on hand (I used a handful or so of baby carrots chopped, two stalks of celery chopped and roughly a cup of broccoli pulled apart)
1/8 tsp of oregano (increase or decrease depending on how you want it seasoned)
Garlic powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oil (I use EVOO)
1/3 cup of pasta (I used gluten-free small shells)- optional

Directions:
1. Sprinkle two chicken breasts with garlic powder (both sides).  Put oil in a pan on medium heat and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Once the chicken is on its second side and close to being done, add the chopped onion to the pan. When both side of the chicken are browned remove them from the pan. (This is how I made sure the chicken had favor. If you just put chopped up, raw chicken, in broth I find it comes out bland.)
2. Put the chicken on a plate and cut into pieces. Don’t worry about any pink areas in the middle of the chicken because it will continue cooking in the broth. Use a bit of chicken broth to deglaze the pan.
3. Add the chopped veggies, chopped chicken, and oregano to the deglazed pan. Add more broth to the pan until the ingredients are just covered. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Once everything has been able to mingle and soak up all that wonderful flavor, transfer it to a soup pot (a large pot). Add the remaining chicken stock, the water, and two bouillon cubes. You can also add a little salt and pepper for additional flavor. I find that you don’t need salt because of the bouillon cubes, but I did add a little pepper. Cover and keep it on a low to medium heat for at least an hour. You can leave it on a low heat, simmering away until you are close to when you want to eat.
*At this point, instead of simmering in a pot on the stove, you could also transfer it to a crock pot and leave it on low for about an hour or two and then switch it to warm.*
5. Got noddles? When you are about 20-30 minutes before you want to serve, add the pasta. If you are making this ahead and not eating it right away, I would NOT put the pasta in until the day you are eating it. Just heat the soup on the stove, bring to a boil, and add the pasta. That way your pasta is fresh and not super mushy.
*Though I have not tried this yet, I would imagine this would make a good freezer meal soup as well. Just don’t add the pasta if you intend on freezing and add it once you’ve defrosted and heated it up.*

FYI– My 3-year-old little patient LOVED it. =)

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Chili

I think there are as many different versions of chili in the world as there are different types of people. Some like it hot, some like it chunky. Some like it with meat, others argue it can only have beans. I think that no matter what your tastes are, a good basic chili is a recipe you need to have on hand and you can adapt it to whatever tastes you expect to be eating that particular batch. This recipe is a two-day version. Chili always tastes better the second day – and this way you will have all the mess and hard work done the day before too.

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Ingredients:
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 large Onion
5 cloves chopped Garlic
1 TBSP Olive Oil
14 1/2oz can Diced Tomatoes
15oz can Tomato Sauce
1 can Beer (I like to use Budweiser for this)|
15-20oz can of Chili Beans (mild/spicy/your preference – I use Bush’s Mild)
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 cup Chili Powder
Shredded Cheddar Cheese to top off each bowl as needed

Directions:
1. Brown and drain your ground beef. While that is cooking, start dicing your onion and chopping your garlic.
2. Warm a large stock pot and add your olive oil. Pour in your chopped onions and garlic and let them sweat in the pot for one to two minutes, just to bring the flavors out a bit.
3. Start pouring in all of the other ingredients – except for the cheddar. Include the browned beef and mix to combine.
4. Bring the chili to a low boil and then cover. Reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for two hours. Stir occasionally.
5. After the two hours, let the chili cool and then sit overnight in the fridge. I like to use the same pot it cooked in, keep the lid on it, and put an oven coozy in the fridge after the pots cooled a bit and leave it just as it is.
6. The next day, when it’s getting close to time to eat, all you have to do is pull the pot out of the fridge, put it back on the stovetop, and reheat it. Serve with shredded cheddar on top and you’re good to go!

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Beef, Casseroles, Dinner, Easy, Party Foods, Soup

 

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Cheddar Veggie Chowder

I don’t know how you like your soups. I’m personally ALL about the cheesey-soak-your-bread-in-it kind, and this soup is exactly the right kind for sopping up in bread or crumbling a bunch of crackers into. I was experimenting a little, so yes, this soup is very similar to my Creamy Cheddar Broccoli Soup, but I decided this one was different enough to stand all on its own. It’s also super easy (which is kind of a requirement with me and soups).

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Cheddar Veggie Chowder
Ingredients
2 TBSP Butter
1 cup Grated Carrot (about 2 carrots)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery (about 2 stalks)
5 cloves Garlic, minced
4 cups Chicken Stock   – – – you could substitute vegetable stock if you prefer
2 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup Water1 TBSP Flour
2/3 cups Milk
2 cups Broccoli, chopped (about 1 large head)
2 1/2 cups Cheddar, freshly grated

1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot and add the grated carrot and celery. Heat until tender  and then add in the garlic. Saute it all up for another minute or two.
2. Pour in the chicken stock and add your potatoes. Let simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
3. In a separate bowl, or small measuring cup, add the flour to the 1/2 cup water and mix together. Add the slurry to the soup pot and mix and let simmer for a while longer until soup starts to thicken up.
4. Add in the broccoli and the milk and continue cooking until the broccoli is tender.
5. Stir in the cheese until fully melted and serve warm.
6. Enjoy!!

 

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Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

After some discussion on the Facebook page for this blog, I decided to post “my” recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup. You all know by now that I do everything I can to avoid any premade, processed foods whenever possible and to stick to Real Food where I can.

How many ingredients do you think are in a can of the popular leading brand’s Cream of Chicken Soup? Did you know that there are 30 different ingredients that go into that can of condensed soup? THIRTY!

(I suppose that’s why this soup is very often referred to as “Cream of Cr@p” by many in the food industry.)

My recipe calls for six total ingredients – and that’s if you count both salt and pepper as ingredients, not just some additional seasoning….
The recipe below is the proper quantity to substitute out for a can of store-bought soup and you can substitute it as such.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
2 TBSP Butter
2 TBSP Flour
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Make a roux with the butter and flour. (Melt the butter in a saucepan and add flour. Let the two incorporate, stirring pretty well constantly and let cook for a minute or two to cook the flour.)
2. Slowly incorporate the stock and the milk, mixing as you add and allowing the roux to do it’s job keeping the soup thick.
3. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you taste and tweak it as need be – if you are using a homemade chicken stock, you may need to be a little more aggressive with the salt to get the flavor you’re looking for.
4. Enjoy!

That’s it! Now how hard was that?

 

Homemade Chicken Stock

You can consider this page as “Part 2″ of our Crockpotting a Whole Roasting Chicken page. Now that your chicken is cooked, here’s how we’re going to turn all the leftovers into a fantastic homemade chicken stock. It’s totally frugal, totally healthy, AND I don’t add any salt so I know it’s not some sodium laden chemical induced concoction that I paid waay too much for at the store! Now, where to start?

Chopping Whole Roasting Chicken

This was during the cooking of the whole roasting chicken. Do you remember when we were here? We put our chicken in the crock, sliced an onion and a head of garlic in half, chopped half our celery and some carrots and tossed those in there too?  Let’s look at what we have left outside the crock. Do you have any freezer bags? I LOVE those things. Go grab one and continue with the chopping! Toss your onion in the bag, and the leftover garlic too. chop up the rest of the celery and carrots and add them to the bag. You can toss the bag in the fridge and then when it’s time to make the stock, just pull it out and you’re set to go!

Chopped Veg ready for Stock

If you have a bag of chopped veg all ready to go that you prepped while making the roasting chicken, congrats, you’re ahead of the game! If not, here’s what you’ll need for the stock:

  • a whole chicken carcass – we want the bones, the skins, any meat that was too much work to pull off the bones, any tendons or sinew, any juices that came from the chicken or pot it was cooked in. Basically anything you didn’t eat already, you want for this stock.
  • Half of a large yellow onion. You can leave the skin on, it adds a nice color to the broth.
  • Half a head of garlic sliced horizontally. Again, go ahead and leave the skin on.
  • 3 or 4 carrots, sliced up
  • roughly half a stalk of celery, sliced up. You can use the stalks, the flowers, the stems, even the base. It all works here.
  • some seasoning for the stock – salt/pepper to taste, I personally don’t use ANY salt in mine, but that’s a preference thing. Some parsley is nice too.
  • many people recommend a splash of any sort of vinegar at this point. Just enough to help the calcium leach from the bones a little better. I have done it with and without the vinegar and never noticed a difference either way, so feel free to add it or not!

Celery Flower and Chopped Veg ready for Stock

That’s it. And a neat little trick with that celery stem? When you are done chopping all the celery and there’s that little base left like you see in the picture above? You can use it for the stock if you like, you can save it in a freezer bag for your next batch of stock if you like, OR, if you have kids at home, you can take it and dip it in finger paints and then use it like a stamp – – it makes the prettiest little flower design!

DSCF0008Alright. So get all the ingredients together and just dump them in that crock pot. Chicken bones, skins, meat remains, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, any a little seasoning. Add some water to the mix. I like to fill the crock up to just below the lip where the lid sits. Makes sure to leave some space for any bubbling though. I would say I add roughly 6 cups of water to get to this level, but it’s very much NOT an exact science here.

You can either crank that baby up to high and let the crock work for about 6 hours, or you can leave it on low and let it run overnight – say for roughly 10-12 hours. It is my experience that you cannot overcook the stock. The longer you cook it, the more stronger, deeper flavored the stock will be. If you cook it for minimum time, it will be a nice, light, pretty tan sort of a color and a little weaker in taste.

Chicken Stock ready to be taken out of crock

In this picture I had chosen to let it cook on low overnight and this is what it looked like in the morning. Yummy smelling, but kind of looks like a brown veggie stew that has gone totally limp. That’s ok though, the next step is to strain out all the veggies and bones and save all of the yummy, newly enriched, juice!

Separating the solids from the stock

There may be better ways to do this, but this is my method. I put a small strainer in a large bowl and just start scooping the chunks out of the crock. Save as much stock as you can, you don’t want that stuff going in the trash after you spent all that hard work of sitting around or sleeping while the crock pot did all the work!

Skim the white fats off the top of the stock after fridge

Here’s what I got out of it. There’s still one more important step left though. Take your bowl of new stock and plastic wrap the top. Pop it into the fridge for at least 8 hours. (You can let it cool to a reasonable temperature so you don’t just end up heating up your fridge if you like.) While the new stock is in the fridge, it will separate out and when it’s done you’ll find a film of waxy, fatty, white skin on the top.

Skim white fat off of stock

Can you see it? This bowl was a nightmare to take pictures with – too much of a reflection! Anyways, you want to skim that white stuff as best you can. It comes off pretty easily if you scrape a spoon over it. Throw the white stuff in the trash and then you officially have your chicken stock! Yay!

Chicken stock!!

Mix the stock up a little in the bowl to help stir up anything that has settled to the bottom and then figure out how you’re going to store your stock until you need it. I like to store mine in mason jars and then freeze them until I need them. (I know, again it’s not the prettiest picture in the world, sorry about that.) Make sure you leave at least an inch of head room in the jar before you freeze it or it will expand and break your jar. The jar on the right is waay too full to freeze, but I had plans to use this stock the very next morning in a different dish so it just spent the night in the fridge until I made some soup out of it  ;-D

And that’s it! You’re done! Congratulations, you’ve cooked a whole chicken AND made it into stock as well! Look how handy you are!!

 
 

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ok. I want to start this recipe off right away by saying I struggle with soups. I love to eat them. I love to make them. Unfortunately, they don’t love me back and they very often end up tasting horrid! I don’t know what it is, but I suck at making soups!

Now, you’re probably wondering why on earth I would want to share a soup recipe with you then? Well, since you asked, this soup is fail-safe! I have made it many many times and it ALWAYS comes out great! I love this soup. I keep several extra servings frozen in the freezer at all times to thaw and eat when ever I need a comfort meal. It’s ultra easy to make, even I haven’t managed to screw it up yet, and it’s ooooh soo yummy! This is by far my single favorite recipe and I hope some of you try it out and like it too!

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1/4 melted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 lb fresh broccoli – chopped into florets
2 1/2 cups half and half
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup grated carrots
8 oz grated sharp cheddar (grate your own here, it won’t melt smoothly if you use bagged)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a soup pot or large stock pot and add the flour to make a roux. Whisk while adding the half & half and the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Stir in broccoli and grated carrots. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper (more salt if using homemade chicken stock, little to no salt if using store bought stock). Simmer over low heat 30-35 minutes until broccoli is tender.
3. Remove soup and puree in blender in batches – or use an immersion blender if you have one. Make sure you blend it until smooth though, if you take it out too early you will still have the little pops of green from the broccoli and it can add an unpleasant texture. Return to pot when blended.
4. Heat pot up again and stir in the grated cheddar. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Serve with a crusty bread to help sop up every ounce of that goodness out of the bowl.
6. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Dinner, Easy, Entree, Sides, Soup, Veggies

 

Homemade Chicken Stock

Do you have a kid who doesn’t like to eat meat? Do you worry he’s not getting the nutrients he should be? Boil up some noodles in homemade chicken stock instead of water! The noodles absorb up the stock and become infused in all that goodness from the meat breaking down and the bones and such! You can add some garlic and parmesean to make it a friendlier flavor if chicken flavor doesn’t work for the tyke!

I have an Aunt whose passion is making stock. She’s a normal desk-jockey type by day – but at home, at night, she’s ALL about stock! I think she’s just a happier person when her freezer’s full of the stuff. And you know what….it IS a great feeling!

Homemade Turkey Stock

I LOVE to make stock out of my leftover chicken bones and whatever veggies I have lying around! Totally frugal, totally healthy, AND I don’t add any salt so I know it’s not some sodium laden chemical induced concoction that I paid waay too much for at the store!

It doesn’t get much easier than this – just toss any old bones with any meat remnants or skin remnants or pretty much whatever you didn’t actually eat off of the chicken into a crock pot. Slice an onion in half, a head of garlic, some carrots, and celery in with the bones and add some water. enough to cover it all up. Then turn it on high and walk away! 8 hours later your house will smell delicious and you have your own stock! Cool it in the fridge overnight, scoop off the grease that settles to the top (and throw it away) and then pour your yummy stock into storage jars for use later. This stuff lasts for a year in the freezer or a week fresh in the fridge. Use it like you would any other stock for soups or enriching pastas or for a casserole. Yum!

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Chicken, Crock Pot, Easy, Healthy, Homemade, Soup

 
 
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