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Archive for the category “soup”

Thyme and Lime Chicken Soup

You are walking along enjoying the crisp fall breeze, when you suddenly have an urge for a bowl of hot chicken soup. You run by the store and into the soup aisle, only to discover that all their offerings include noodles, rice, tons of salt, preservatives and fillers. Where, oh where, is the veggie and chicken filled bowl of goodness you were craving? And what about that extra twist you want to be surprised with as the first spoonful slides down your throat? Well, here are all the things you’re looking for! The surprise is how wonderfully the beer mixes with the lime juice and thyme to give the soup a nip not usually found in chicken soup. Don’t worry. After hours of exposure to heat the alcohol cooks away, but the more subtle flavors of the beer stays in the soup. Little B inhaled two bowls in one sitting. Enjoy!

Thyme and Lime Chicken Soup

½ pound thick sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 limes, juiced with meat included
2 pounds cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
2 cups miniature carrots, chopped into coins
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium Onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 small or roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup water
12 ounces beer (pick a strong flavored one – pale ale or IPA – goes well with the lime)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl combine the juice and pulp from one lime, olive oil, thyme and salt. Add the mushrooms and toss until coated. On a medium cookie sheet spread out the mushrooms slices flat with a little space between each. Drizzle any sauce over the mushrooms. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. In crock pot add water and remaining lime juice with pulp, then turn pot to high. Add chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Stir and let soup heat up, about an hour. When the soup is hot add mushrooms (along with any juices left on the baking sheet) and the beer to the soup. Continue to cook on high for three more hours. Turn temperature to low and cook for 3 – 4 more hours. All the ingredients can be added to the crock pot at the same time and cooked on low for 8 – 10 hours, but the results are tangier if the vegetables are allowed to heat up in the water/lime liquid before adding the beer. Either method bears good results. If using the stove top, bring the soup to a boil before adding the mushrooms and beer, then simmer on low for 5 or 6 hours. Season with salt to taste before serving.

Tomato Artichoke Soup

What do you make for a last minute dinner party when you are two days away from moving? Not that this would ever happen to me, but if it did I would open my pantry wide and see what I could find that needs to be used. Oooh! Canned tomatoes! And there is a can of artichoke hearts! There is still some garlic cloves left over? Where did those come from? Chicken broth! Yay! Served along with grilled cheese and egg salad sandwiches we had a wonderful spring dinner with very few leftovers. I did not use cream this time to smooth out the soup’s texture, but if you add ½ to ¾ cup during the last half of the cooking process the soup can only get better. Enjoy! I have to get back to sorting toys before Little B returns home. I found it is a really bad task to try and accomplish with her ‘help’.

Tomato Artichoke Soup

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
1 14.5 ounce can whole medium artichoke hearts
1 cup chicken broth
½ medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp finely chopped basil
2 cloves garlic
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except salt into a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature and cover, simmering for about an hour. Break up artichoke hearts (I scooped them out one by one with a ladle and gently pushed on them with a soup spoon – they easily separated). Adjust flavor with salt as desired. Serve immediately or chill and reheat on low before serving.

Dancing Vegetable Soup

For me, spontaneous homemade soup is hard pressed to satisfy ultimately. It is usually good right away, but always tastes better the second or third day. Where is the spontaneity in that? Regardless, you have to make the soup before the flavors can hang out together and can get better. When I make soup it is usually pretty good, but I look forward to tasting it the next day!

I called this dish dancing vegetable soup because it made me dance when I made it. I was in a rush and pureed the soup while it was still over the heat. I have done this before and did not think twice about doing it this time, but I failed to turn the heat down. Having the heat on is fine, but having it too high is downright dangerous. Oops! When the soup was half pureed some bubbles rose from the bottom (trying to get away from all that heat underneath it). The evil bubbles splashed steaming hot soup onto my left thumb where I was holding the pot and also the bottom of the wrist of my right hand that was holding the stick blender. I popped back away from the stove and did a twisty spin while flailing my arms about as I headed to the sink. The soup was thick and clung to my skin. It really hurt. As I ran cold water on my hand and wrist I did a kind of jogging side step, then lunged for the freezer to get a cold pack. As the cold pack cooled off my hot skin Little B woke up from her nap, crying from a bad dream, so on the way to the bedroom to soothe her I was balancing the pack between my left hand and the bottom of my right wrist. It was slippery. After I got Little B calmed down she asked me what the cold pack was for. I told her I burned myself and showed here where it happened. She kissed my burn spots and they felt a lot better.

This soup is high in fiber, low fat and is good hot or cold. I usually only eat about a cup along with a sandwich or salad because it is pretty filling.

Dancing Vegetable Soup

1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp ground sage
2 tsp dried parsley leaves
2 tsp salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat oil at medium high in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking them until they sweat and sear a bit. Add remaining vegetables and stir to spread onions and garlic throughout. Add broth, salt and spices. Cover and simmer until vegetables are cooked soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth. Return to heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Oxtail Soup

Yet again, I am making soup. And yet again it is something my dad used to make, but I am putting my own spin on it. Hang in there with me – I promise that soup on my menu will decrease significantly as the temperature outside rises. I don’t do well with warm liquids in warm weather. Just doesn’t seem right. Now, on with the soup…

My dad learned how to make oxtail soup in Germany where, as in most places of the world, every bit and piece of slaughtered animals was used. It has a rich sauce and the vegetables melt in your mouth. He would leave the meat on the bones and we would each get one in our bowl. As a kid it was fun trying to get all the meat out of the little crevasses. The dog was always hanging around, trying to wait patiently for the bones.

Oxen have meaty tails, and the meat is pretty tender. Of course, most meat is tender after being boiled for three hours. The oxtail is traditionally considered one of the more lowly cuts of meat. I mean, you don’t typically find oxtails on the menu of fine dining establishments, but in many places of the world soup made with them is very popular. The marrow adds extra depth of flavor to the broth. The meat and simple vegetables in the soup are relied on to warm bellies on cold winter nights.

Since Ireland is one of the countries traditionally relying on it as a staple dish, and it is still soup season (aka winter) in some parts of the U.S., I give you as one of my Irish dishes – the lovely and rich oxtail soup. I actually decided to take pieces of recipes from my dad, my own recipe collection, as well as those from China, Korea, Jamaica, Hawaii, Germany, the US and of course Ireland…you get the idea. I guess it is more of an International soup made with an American ox.

Oxtail Soup

1 pound oxtail, cut into 2-inch thick slices
3 Tbsp oil
¾ cup red wine
3 garlic cloves, cut in half
8 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium turnip, diced
1 large or 2 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
2 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped parsley
Additional salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp flour (optional)*

The day before making the soup the oxtail pieces need to be cooked. In a deep pan on the stove top (I used a dutch oven) heat the oil, add the oxtail pieces and sear on all sides. Add the salt, garlic, water and wine, bring it to a boil then lower heat, cover and let simmer for about three hours. When cooking is complete the meat should fall off the bones. Let cool until the meat can be handled and separate broth from the bones and meat. Store the meat and broth separately in the fridge overnight and give the bones to the dogs. The next day skim off/remove as much fat and garlic as you can from the broth and discard. The broth will mostly be in a gelatinous form, but will liquify when heated. If there is fat you can remove from the meat, then do so. Return broth and meat to the stove top pot (or a crock pot), add all the vegetables, meat and herbs. If the liquid is not covering all the vegetables you may need to add a cup or so of water or beef broth, but wait until it is warm because it might not be necessary. Simmer on low for about three hours until the vegetables are tender (or six hours in a crock pot). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

*A final, optional step can be to add some thickener to the soup. I do not take this step because I want the soup to be wheat free. To thicken, draw out about ½ cup of liquid from the soup. Add 3 Tablespoons of flour and whisk together until all lumps are gone. Add the thickener to the soup, combine with the rest of the soup and let cook for the last ten minutes.

Two Day Chicken Vegetable Soup

When it comes to soup I prefer mine chunky. I also make creamy and pureed soup, but rely on them mostly for appetizers or snacks. Otherwise, I feel like I am having a meal of baby food, though much more flavorful (believe me, I made baby food for Little B – TMI warning: if it was not bland the results on the other end were disturbing). A main course soup needs to be chunky in my world. My chicken soup comes with yet another dimension – slow cooked chicken. I have tried to sear the chicken right before adding it to the soup, or steaming it just enough to avoid adding raw meat to the soup, but it just does not work for me. I like chicken in my soup that has the flavor of slow cooked meat. My chicken soup is a two day process, so don’t think you can just throw things in a crock pot one morning and return that evening with dinner ready. No no no. You can return two nights later for dinner. It is a double crock pot meal, and not because you might happen to own two crock pots. It is a consecutive process, not concurrent. I slow cook the meat one day, prep it, let it rest, then slow cook the soup the next day. It really does taste better. Really.

Two Day Chicken Vegetable Soup

Day 1
6 – 8 chicken thighs
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp cumin
1 can Rotel® tomatoes and green chiles*
Salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken thoroughly by sprinkling it with cumin, salt and pepper. Pour half the can of Rotel in a 5-quart crock pot. Arrange chicken on top of the Rotel®. Chop garlic and sprinkle on top of chicken, then add the rest of the Rotel®. Cover and cook on high for first two hours, then lower temperature and cook for four more hours. If you are gone for the day it can be cooked on low for eight hours with similar results. When cooled debone and remove skin from the thighs. Shred meat into bite-size pieces. Retain liquid, including any pieces remaining of the tomatoes and chiles. Store meat and liquid separately overnight in the refrigerator.

*If no Rotel® is available it can be substituted with a 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and a small 4.5 ounce can of green chiles.

Day 2
Chicken meat and liquid from Day 1
5-6 cups water
20 mini carrots, quartered
2 potatoes peeled, halved and sliced thin
2 cups peas
2 cups corn
1 bunch celery hearts with leaves, chopped
2 cups mixed cauliflower and broccoli, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp ground sage
Salt to taste

Remove chicken meat and liquid from fridge. Skim fat off top of liquid and discard. Pour liquid (which will include some flavorful gelatinous/fatty substance) in the bottom of the crock pot. Add vegetables and herbs, topping with chicken meat. Stir together all ingredients. Add water until meat and vegetables are just covered with liquid and stir again. Cover and cook six hours on high. Turn off heat and taste, adding salt and pepper if desired. Let soup sit for about an hour before serving. Serve with fresh bread or biscuits.

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