Tag Archives: Soups and Stews

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.


Stone Soup and The Well-Fed College Student

College is a season of life with precious little time or money for nutritious food. Most meals are heavy on carbs to fuel the schedule, yet light on the sustaining nutrition the brain requires. However, being a well-fed college student goes beyond checking the mail for the next care package or searching the grocery aisles for cheap convenience foods.

How do you avoid buying Ramen in bulk or the nutritional void of fast food?

Don’t try to do it alone, make Stone Soup.  I don’t know if this old folk story is read anymore, but the lesson is timeless—there is enough for everyone when we pool resources for a common goal. In this case, eating was the goal and the soup was far better than the bits of food they would have had independently.

So how do you make Stone Soup these days?

Share resources, both talent and financial. It does not take an entire village just a handful of people with the same goal of escaping the grab-n-go trap. Divide the responsibilities and a few dollars and you’re on your way. One student told me she cooked for a group of guys who agreed to buy the food if she would prepare it. Her labor and their funds meant they all ate well.

My friend and I cook together once a month to prepare meals in advance for our family. We both save money on bulk items and enjoy the ease of having a menu of items to choose from for dinner. She has the benefit of a freezer (not all students do), so she can pull something out for dinner when she is studying for a test.

Whether it is one cooking for others, a small group cooking together, or two families making multiple meals to last a month, the concept is the same—you are sharing resources (and great food) instead of trying to do it alone.

Practical items you will need:
♦  A stove or a good countertop burner
♦  1 large pot (8 qt or larger)
♦  Skillet (optional, but helpful)
♦  Large casserole dish 9″x13″ (optional, and requires an oven)
♦  Cutting board
♦  Sharp knife – even old knives get a second chance with AccuSharp
♦  Utensils – spatula, stirring spoons, tongs
♦  Mixing bowls
♦  Storage bowls with lids to divide the food amongst the group
♦  Recipes, and patience to work things out
*Many of these items can be found at thrift stores or garage sales for little cost.  Borrowing larger pots or mixing bowls can work too, my friends and I have shared a stock pot for years.

Divide the Responsibilities:
♦  Organizing, searching out the recipes, creating shopping lists
♦  Shopping
♦  Prepping/Cooking
♦  Clean-up
♦  Managing the money/contributions
Note: If you have food sensitivities or strong food preferences, it is ideal to cook with a like-minded group.

Agree on a time to put it all together, enjoy good food, and divide the leftovers.  Cooking together enables students to have nutritionally superior, great tasting food, while building community at the same time.  This is not limited to soups, that’s just an easy, inexpensive way to begin. Spaghetti or skillet suppers, salads, and casseroles work well for groups too.  Below is a recipe to get started.

White Chicken Green Chili

Source: Mary Schoenecker
Yields 7 servings
1       pound boneless chicken, cut into 1″ cubes
1       medium onion, chopped
1       ½ tsp. garlic powder
1       tablespoon oil
2 15  ½ oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1       can 14 ½ oz. chicken broth
2      cans (4 oz.) green chilies
1       tsp. salt
1       tsp. cumin
1       tsp. oregano
½    tsp. pepper
¼    tsp. cayenne pepper
1       cup sour cream
½    cup heavy whipping cream

In a large pot, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream.

Other recipes to consider:
Chicken & Dumplings
Curry Chicken Salad
Red Beans & Rice
Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Skillet Beef Fajitas
Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake

Savoring Today was nominated for a Top Foodie Blog Award at eCollegeFinder and asked to write a student centered post, which is what you find here. Dedicating this to my friend, Pati, who went back to school much later in life. I admire her courage and determination.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Premeditated Leftovers Gallery of Favorites

Temp-eramental Spring: From Salads to Chicken & Dumplings

Here in the foothills of Pikes Peak we are used to capricious weather, sometimes 40° swings in a single day. Spring is our most fickle season as ladies schedule their pedicures yet keep their boots close at hand.  Meal planning in the spring is tricky if your food-mood follows the forecast like mine. Comfort foods mixed with lighter fare—grilling one day, digging out the soup pot the next—such is the cooking adventure of spring.

Last week’s weather inspired Spinach-Strawberry Salad, the overcast skies today call for Chicken & Dumplings (with a slight twist).  This recipe is a compilation from various sources; I suppose everyone has their own version.  We prefer flavorful boneless chicken thighs, just a touch of cayenne for its flavor dimension, and white whole wheat flour to make the dumplings.  As spring flip-flops from sunshine to snow or rain, this American classic with stewed chicken and fluffy dumplings is like the warm blanket we reach for as we await the steady sunbeams of summer.

Chicken & Dumplings

Serves: 8
Dredging mixture:
1         cup  flour
3         teaspoons  sea salt
3/4   teaspoon  cayenne pepper
1         tsp  black pepper

Stew Ingredients:
3        lbs  boneless, skinless chicken thighs — trimmed of fat; cut into 2-3″ pieces
1/8     cup  dry sherry
6          cups  chicken stock — or 2 bouillon cubes added to chicken broth
1/4      cup  flour
1/4      cup  fresh parsley — finely chopped
1           whole  bay leaf
1           large  onion — chopped
2           cup  celery — coarsely chopped
3          cups  mushrooms — sliced
3          cups  carrots — sliced into rounds
3          cloves  garlic — minced
1           tsp  dried thyme
1/3      cup  heavy cream
coconut oil — for browning chicken

For the Dumplings:
1 1/2    cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/2       cup  parmesan cheese — grated
2 1/2   tsp  baking powder
1            tsp unrefined sugar
1/2       tsp  sea salt
1/2       tsp  black pepper
2/3      cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
3           tbsp  unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut chicken into 2-3 inch pieces.  Combine dredging ingredients in a resealable bag.  Shake chicken in bag to coat with flour, shaking off excess as it is added to the pot.  In a deep ovenproof pot, heat enough oil to cover the pan over med heat.  Brown the chicken on each side and remove to a paper towel lined platter.  Pour off all put a couple tablespoons of the oil.

Place vegetables, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf in pan with an additional tablespoon of oil, if needed.  Stir to mix well and allow to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes.  Deglaze the pan of vegetables with the sherry; simmer until nearly evaporated.  Stir in 1/4 c flour to coat vegetables and stir so flour is absorbed.  Gradually add broth.  Return chicken to pot, add cream and parsley, and bring to a low simmer.  While stew is simmering on low, make dumplings.

Blend dry ingredients for dumplings.  Heat milk and butter until butter melts; blend into dry ingredients.  The hot milk sets the starch so the dumpling does not fall apart.  Shape dough into golf ball sized balls making sure to not over mix or over handle the dough.

Once the stew has a gentle bubble, add the dumplings, resting them on top of the stew.  Cover with the lid and put the pot into the oven for 20 minutes.  It is important to not lift the lid during these 20 minutes; you want the steam to remain inside, as that is what cooks the dumplings.

Serve with French green beans on the side.

NOTE: If using all-purpose flour for the dumplings, decrease milk by two tablespoons.

Also posted on the following Blog Hops:
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursdays

EKat’s Kitchen: Friday Potluck

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.

Beef Pot Roast a.k.a. Comfort Food

Beef Pot Roast

Pot Roast, Beef Burgundy, Beef Bourguignon, and Sunday Roast are different names for the same thing—comfort food. Tender beef resting in rich beef gravy that tops potatoes like none other. What began as a French peasant dish became a dinnertime staple in America, welcoming cooler weather with aroma that promises a hearty meal.

The movie Julie & Julia brought new attention to mastering technique as an investment in everyday meals. Home cooks have tried to simplify this classic with soup mix or the throw-it-all-in-a-pot approach that does not compare in flavor or texture. A crock pot or an oven is suitable for slow roasting; just don’t skip browning the meat properly. Browning the meat is the key to developing its deep, beefy flavor necessary for sumptuous gravy. In this recipe the meat is trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch chunks, allowing for more browned surface area and efficient cooking time.

Choice variations including mushrooms, pearl onions, wine selection, or cut of meat are easily substituted based on personal preference. Our family prefers sweet yellow onions, crimini mushrooms, hearty red wine, fingerling potatoes and a well-marbled chuck roast. Timing the vegetables is also important to ensure the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, not mushy.

Some eat pot roast for the tender meat it renders others say it’s for the gravy. This recipe is sure to satisfy either opinion.

Beef Pot Roast
Serves: 5
Start to Finish time: 4 hours

3-4 lb boneless chuck roast, cut in 2-3 inch pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow sweet onion, chopped or sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
3 large carrot, peeled and cut lengthwise
5 medium potatoes, cubed or 12-15 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef bouillon, 3 cubes in 2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 whole bay leaf
1 tablespoon Paul Prudhomme Meat Magic

saute the onion, celery

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare vegetables first by coarsely chopping onion, celery, and garlic. Carrots can be cut into 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ pieces and potatoes into 1 1/2″ cubes in order to cook more quickly. Cut meat into 2-3 inch pieces and dry all sides with paper towels. Meat will not brown well if it is damp. Mix salt, pepper, thyme, and Meat Magic in a small bowl.

browned beef on top of the caramelized onions and garlic

Use an oven safe covered pot, such as a Dutch oven, just large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 2 tbsp of oil over med-high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). Brown roast pieces several minutes on each side until well browned. Set browned meat aside on a platter and sprinkle with spice mix.

Add celery and chopped onion to the pan to soften and caramelize, about 5 minutes or until light golden brown (additional oil can be added if the pan is too dry), add the garlic at the end of the caramelizing process.

ready for the oven

Return the roast to the pot, including any juices that accumulated on the platter; let rest on top of the onions.

Add the bay leaf, tomato paste, wine, and enough of the beef stock to barely cover the meat.  Cover and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Once simmering, remove from the stove and place the pot in the lower third of a preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until meat is tender and a fork pierces it easily.

adding the carrots and potatoes

During the last hour of cooking time, add the carrots and potatoes. Cover and return to the oven to cook until tender, about 45 minutes. While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, prepare and sauté mushrooms in a large skillet in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Work in small batches if needed to be sure the mushrooms brown well. Return all mushrooms to skillet and set aside until roast is done.

adding the meat to the skillet with the mushrooms

Once done, remove potatoes and carrots from the pot to a serving bowl, add butter to the top and cover with a lid. Place roasted meat in the skillet with mushrooms.

Strain the remaining contents of the pot to capture the liquid for gravy. Once strained, skim the top to remove fat or use a fat separator. If the juices are too thin, reduce in a sauce pan, boiling rapidly, until it lightly coats a spoon. If desired, gravy can be thickened with a teaspoon of cornstarch. Once the desired thickness is reached, add gravy to the skillet with the meat and mushrooms; let simmer uncovered 2-3 minutes while basting the meat. Salt and pepper as needed.

gravy is added to the meat and mushrooms; ready to serve

Serve the buttered potatoes and carrots on the side or arrange them on a large platter with the meat for family-style dining.

Serving Ideas: Serve with French green beans and hot dinner rolls.

Judy Purcell on Foodista