Tag Archives: soup

Lentil and Sausage Soup: No Fuss, Simply Satisfying

When I made this Lentil and Sausage Soup, it was delightfully easy and its flavor impressive. Surprised by numerous recipes calling for “just throw everything in the pot” once the sausage browned; I struggled a little with not layering the flavors, skeptical of great taste with so little effort.  Melding a few promising recipes into one, this soup proved worthy of a regular spot on the menu rotation. Nothing fancy, just down right delicious.

Lentils boast a beautiful range of autumn colors to choose from; I selected yellow for a bright, appetizing soup. Green and brown lentils are more common and equally as tasty, but tend to make soups look muddy or cloudy. Its humble ingredients will never outshine Lobster Bisque or Cream of Asparagus for culinary elegance, however, Lentil and Sausage Soup delivers a flavorful and satisfying meal without a lot of fuss.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Serves 6
2        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1         lb  Italian sausage — removed from casings (link chicken sausage is great too)
1         medium  onion — chopped
2         stalks  celery — chopped
3         medium  carrots — chopped
1          orange  bell pepper — chopped
4         cloves  garlic — minced
1          teaspoon  sea salt
1          teaspoon  lemon pepper
1/2 – 1  teaspoon  red pepper flakes — or more, to taste
1          teaspoon  basil — or 1/4 cup fresh basil
1          teaspoon  oregano
1/2       teaspoon  thyme — or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2         cups  dry lentils
1          medium  zucchini — chopped
28       ounces  diced tomatoes — undrained
6          cups  chicken stock
1          piece  parmesan rind
2         tablespoons  fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, brown sausage in olive oil. Removed from pan and drain sausage on paper towels. In the same pot, saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, salt and spices, cook until fragrant.

Mix in the remaining items, except the parsley, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Stir in parsley and simmer about 10 minutes before serving. Remove Parmesan rind and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.


Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus is one of our favorites, so it shows up on our table at least once a week in the spring.  With a handful of leftover roasted spears and grilled onions, it was time to make a comforting soup when the weather turned ugly the last few days. Bright accents of lemon and thyme create a lovely springtime soup, rain or shine.  Serve with salad for lunch or as a first course with dinner with focaccia croutons or crusty bread.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Serves 4
3        cups  asparagus — roasted, chopped
1         cup  sweet onions — grilled
2        cups  chicken broth
1/2    teaspoon  thyme
1        whole  bay leaf
2       cloves  garlic — minced
1/2    cup  cream
1        tablespoon  lemon zest — approximately 1 lemon
1        dash  nutmeg
sea salt & pepper — to taste

In a 3 quart saucepan, add chopped asparagus, grilled onions, broth, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes to meld flavors.

Discard bay leaf. Add contents of soup to a blender and blend until smooth.

Return soup puree to the pan, add lemon zest, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; cook over med-low and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring.

Serve in warmed bowls with croutons and a teaspoon of additional cream on top, if desired.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
Real Food Forager Grain-Free Carnival
Easy Natural Food Sunday Soup Night

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love soup.  I love the warmth on cold days, its simplicity as a meal, how easy it is to customize.  It is no wonder that it was the staple, everyday meal for generations past—economical, nutritious, filling—you can find soup recipes for any region of the country or the world.  Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of my favorites; I liken it to having a burrito in a bowl.

As with any soup, starting with a base of homemade stock is ideal. Sometimes you have stock on hand and sometimes you don’t, so you end up using bouillon and broth as indicated in this recipe. If you have the time, cook and shred the chicken in the morning and use the bones to make stock throughout the day, ready for soup that night.

Bring on the heat with extra chilies or tone it down with a little more sour cream and avocado on top. Every steaming bowl can be customized with toppings like your favorite salad bar, sure to please everyone at the table.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1            whole  chicken — cooked & shredded
1            tablespoon  sea salt
2            tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1            medium  onion
4           cloves  garlic
2           teaspoons  cumin
2           teaspoons  chipotle peppers in adobo sauce — chopped fine
2           teaspoons  chili powder
2           whole  bay leaf
2           teaspoons  oregano
2           teaspoons  pepper
1 1/2   cups  chopped green chilies (mild)
2           teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
1            tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring (hickory)
1            cup  salsa — optional (any brand you like)
2            cans  stewed tomatoes — broken up, smashed, with juices
3            teaspoons  Better than Bouillon Beef Base
12         cups  chicken broth with Better than Bouillon Chicken Base or stock
3            cups of frozen corn — defrosted
3            cans  black beans — drained
1            cup  tortilla chips — crushed

sour cream
Monterey jack cheese
diced tomato
green onions
sliced olives
broken tortilla chips
cilantro — chopped

Cut up chicken into 8-9 pieces.  Place all parts of the chicken, including the back, in a large pot with 3-4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Boil chicken until just cooked through, 25-30 minutes.  Remove chicken from the pot and allow to cool until easy to handle. Skim broth or strain to remove brownish foam and reserve the broth. Add 4-5 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base to the broth and allow to dissolve.

While the chicken is cooling, sauté onion with oil in a large skillet until caramelized, add garlic, and cook until fragrant.  Add spices, bay leaf, chilies in adobo, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, chopped green chilies, and salsa; simmer to meld flavors.  Add stewed tomatoes and simmer another 10 minutes. Add to the pot with the chicken broth.

Add the corn and beans; bring to a low boil for 30 minutes. Add chicken and tortilla chips. Depending on the consistency, add 2-4 cups of beef broth made from the bouillon. If the soup seems too thin to add more liquid, just add the bouillon; simmer for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve over broken tortilla chips with desired toppings.

Also posted in the Tortilla Soup Challenge:


Ah, Chowder!

Seafood Chowder has always been a family favorite, though I don’t get around to making it often because it is a little involved.  I passed this recipe on to a friend of mine (a devout non-cook) who conscripted her son to help make it.  During the holidays he asked me why I would go to such lengths as to pick the leaves off of fresh thyme for soup—evidently, that was one of the jobs he was assigned.  My response, “because I like to eat good food”.

I suppose for a twenty-something guy it would seem far easier to just open a can of Progresso when the urge for chowder hits. For me the real stuff is well worth the effort; for others, easy will always trump delicious. As it goes with food and fashion—to each his own.

For those willing to pick a few thyme leaves, this recipe is well worth the effort.  Tender fish, smoky bacon, and cream deliver a soup with soul and substance and may make a few uncanny converts in the process (pardon the pun). The silky cream base cradles the seafood and vegetables in a subtle herb blanket, satisfying chowder cravings to the last bread-soaked drop.

Seafood Chowder

Yield: 6 quarts

3/4        pound  bacon — cooked, chopped
2             medium  leeks — finely chopped
1              small  yellow onion — finely chopped
1              cup  celery — finely chopped
3              cloves  garlic — finely chopped
9              small  red potatoes — unpeeled, cubed small (1/2″ cubes or smaller)
1 1/2      cups  clam juice
1              teaspoon  salt — to taste
1/2         teaspoon  black pepper
1/2         teaspoon  white pepper
1              teaspoon  ground thyme
1 1/2     teaspoons  dried thyme
2             tablespoons  fresh thyme — pull leaves
1              cup  milk
1 1/2     cups  heavy cream
1             tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
2             cans  baby clams — retain and strain juice
1             pound  white fish (halibut or any dense fish) — cut into bite sized chunks
1              pound  shrimp — cut into bite sized chunks
4             cups  chicken broth
2             teaspoons  Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
Roux (optional)
1/4        cup  butter
1/4        cup  flour
1             cup  chicken broth — as needed for soup consistency

Cut bacon into 1/4 inch slices and cook until well done and crispy.  Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Retain bacon fat.
Prepare all other ingredients before starting soup. Drain and rinse clams, retain juice and strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth to remove any sand or debris; add to other clam juice.

Place rendered bacon fat in a soup pot, sauté onions, leeks, garlic, and celery until tender. Add potatoes, clam juice, enough broth to cover potatoes, dried and ground thyme, and 1 tsp salt, black and white pepper.  Simmer uncovered until potatoes are slightly tender.

Stir in milk, cream, shrimp, white fish, clams and enough of the remaining chicken broth to reach desired consistency. Add fresh thyme and bouillon; simmer for 30 minutes to cook fish and allow flavors to meld.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

To deepen flavor and thicken soup, add the following roux: (preferred, but optional)
In a cast iron skillet, heat butter on medium heat until bubbly.  Stirring constantly with a whisk, add flour and cook until a light caramel color is reached.  Reduce heat and add chicken broth slowly while stirring with a whisk; mix well.  Heat soup to just below boil and add roux to soup in small amounts;  being sure each addition dissolves well.

In place of the roux, the soup can also be thickened by puréeing a portion of the soup in a food processor or thinned with milk or chicken stock.

Serve with homemade dinner rolls.

NOTES: To increase the vegetables, add 1 large celery root and 2-3 parsnips in place of some of the potatoes; cut into the same shape as the potatoes and cook as directed.

Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup

Smoky bean soup and sweet cornbread go together like movies and popcorn—cannot imagine one without the other.   Bean soup is one of my favorite post-holiday meals because if its simplicity and delicious use of leftovers.

This particular recipe uses smoked turkey, but a ham bone can be substituted (just in case you saved that ham bone from Christmas dinner!). For those who love bean soup, but don’t love ham, Diestel Smoked Turkey Drums & Thighs impart a sweet, smoky flavor and provide plenty of meat to make a hearty soup.

Navy, Great Northern, Cannellini, pinto, black-eyed peas, or the 15 bean concoction sold in stores are all good choices for this recipe, so feel free to use whatever type you like best.  Our favorite is Cannellini, which are like a white kidney bean with a soft, creamy texture.

I like to add a cup of lentils too, which break down when cooked for several hours naturally thickening the soup. Use yellow or red lentils so the color brightens the soup, brown or green lentils can make the soup look dirty.  Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals—one meal that can help you keep those New Year resolutions to take better care of yourself.

Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup

2        cups dry beans (soaked)
4-5   quarts of Basic Chicken Stock, or chicken broth
2        Diestel Smoked Turkey Thighs or Drumsticks
1         cup lentils (unsoaked) — optional
2        tablespoons oil
1         large  onion — chopped
2-3    stalks  celery — chopped
2-3    large carrots — chopped
2         cloves  garlic — minced
1         whole  bay leaf
2         cubes  beef bouillon
2         teaspoons  Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
2         teaspoons Italian seasoning
2         teaspoons  cumin
salt and pepper — to taste

Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts water in a large pot. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Chop onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  Heat oil in large skillet and add vegetables; cook until caramelized.

Place soaked and rinsed beans, lentils, caramelized vegetables, turkey thighs or drumsticks, and bay leaf in a 6-quart crockpot or large soup pot; cover with water, broth, or Basic Chicken Stock. Be sure to add enough liquid to cover with 2-3 inches above ingredients to allow beans to absorb liquid. Add water, as needed.

Heat on high until boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 hours in a crockpot or 2-3 hours on the stove.  Add spices and bouillon the last hour or so until desired flavor is reached.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, remove bones and large pieces of turkey from the pot; allow to cool slightly on a platter.  Once cool enough to handle, separate meat from the bones and any unappealing connective tissue.  Return meat to the pot and discard bones.

Serve with cornbread and honey-butter.

Optional additions or substitutions: turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, kale, red bell pepper, or hot green chilies







Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Penny Wise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Mom Trends Friday Food
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

Soup warms and comforts when winter sets in.  Melt away the chill or indulge a New Year’s resolution to eat right, butternut squash soup will not disappoint. This nutrient-packed soup boasts vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A—taking better care of yourself never tasted so good!

Some recipes accentuate the natural sweetness of this winter squash, but I was looking for a soup that could stand on its own as the main course, not taste like dessert.  With two recipes in hand, one from Daniel Rose and one from Allrecipes.com, mixed with little ingenuity of my own, I set out to create a satisfying meal with soup as the centerpiece.  This butternut squash soup recipe incorporates subtle tones of ginger, fennel, and smoky bacon (I used turkey bacon), which complements the subtle sweetness of the squash yet finishes savory and smooth.

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

2        tablespoons  olive oil
2        tablespoons  butter
1        large  butternut squash, 2-2 1/2 lbs — peeled, cubed
1         cup  leeks or green onions — white part only, chopped
1         large  carrot — peeled, chopped fine
2         stalks  celery — chopped fine
1/2     cup  fennel bulb — trimmed and chopped
1         medium  sweet potato — peeled, cubed
2         cloves  garlic — minced
2         teaspoons  fresh ginger — peeled and minced
1 1/2  cups  whole milk
3 1/4  cups  chicken stock
1          tablespoon  honey
1          teaspoon  salt and pepper (to taste)

For Garnish:
1/4     cup  heavy cream or sour cream
6         slices  bacon — chopped and fried crisp
1/4     cup  fresh parsley or spinach leaves

Peel squash with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into 1″ cubes. Peel sweet potato and cut into 1″cubes. Prep remaining vegetables as indicated.

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat; add leeks, celery, carrot, and fennel. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned and begin to caramelize.  Add ginger and garlic, cook until well incorporated and fragrant.

Add butter, squash, and potato to the vegetables. Cook for 5-6 minutes, drizzle honey over it, and continue cooking until squash and potato are lightly browned in spots and caramelized. Add stock and milk, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 30 minutes until squash and potato are tender.

While soup is simmering, cut bacon into small pieces and cook until crispy. Set aside to garnish soup when served.

Once the squash and potatoes are tender, use a potato masher to pulverize soup to desired consistency (I like my soup a little more hearty with small chunks). To produce a soup with a smooth texture, use a blender to puree the soup and return it to the pot. To thin the soup, add more chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in warmed bowls with a tablespoon of cream on top and sprinkle with bacon and parsley.

[This post is a part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.]

Hearty Beef Chili

It’s Monday night in October, which means another chance to watch football and enjoy a warm, hearty meal like Beef Chili.  Sure, turkey chili has its place, but tonight its beef for dinner and a lot of it in this chili recipe—the carnivores in your life will love you for it.  Serve with cheddar cornbread, FRITOS® Corn Chips, or saltines on the side; just be sure it is done before kick-off.

Chili is a dish of preferences: some like it hot, with more beans, chunky tomatoes, or hearty and meaty—like any soup, there are endless variations. This recipe is the hearty and meaty variety and makes about 8 quarts, so there’s plenty to invites friends over for the game. If the game isn’t exciting enough, pass some Chipotle Tabasco Sauce to liven things up!

Hearty Beef Chili

5    pounds  ground beef
2    medium  onion
4    coves  garlic
3    cans  chili beans
2    cans  black beans
3    cans  kidney beans
2    cans  Rotel tomatoes
1    package  Carol Shelby’s Chili Mix
5    cans  stewed tomatoes
1    cup  mild green chilies
3    cubes  beef bouillon — dissolved in 1 cup hot water
2    teaspoons  onion powder
2    teaspoons  garlic powder
1    tablespoon  oregano
1    tablespoon  cumin
1    tablespoon  Paul Prudhomme Meat Magic
1    tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring — if desired
1    cup  red wine
salt and pepper — to taste

Mix onion powder, garlic powder, Meat Magic, oregano and cumin in a small dish, set aside.  Mince onion and garlic.  It is important to add onion power and garlic powder even though fresh onion and garlic are already part of the recipe because one enhances the other.

Saute 1/3 of the onion and garlic in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil until softened.  Add 1/3 of the meat (small batches of 1-2 lbs will allow the meat to brown better) in the skillet and brown over medium-high heat.  Brown meat without breaking up too much in order to maintain some good sized chunks.  As the meat is browning, sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed spices.  When meat is browned, add 1/3 cup of the red wine to loosen any browned bits and simmer to evaporate some of the wine, 2-3 minutes.  Repeat these steps with each batch.  Transfer each to stock pot.

While meat is browning, add the following to a 10-12 quart pot: Puree stewed tomatoes in a food processor or mash with hands until desired texture is obtained.  Drain beans (except chili beans) and to the pot along with the chilies and Rotel tomatoes.  Continue adding the batches of browned meat and onion to the larger pot when done.

Dissolve beef bouillon in 1 cup of hot water, and add to the pot with liquid smoke and 1/2 of the Carol Shelby’s chili seasoning (more can be added, to taste).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Once all the ingredients are in the pot, cook covered for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, or place in a crock pot on low for up to 6 hours.

Mix masa flour (little yellow packet in the chili mix package) with 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl until smooth.  Add to chili and cook for about 10 minutes – this will thicken the chili and round out the flavors.

Serving Ideas: Serve with cheddar corn bread on the side and sprinkle with cheese and scallions.