Soup

Chicken Dumpling Soup

chicken-dumpling-soup

The week of Thanksgiving always confuses me. Like, it feels like such a short week but Thanksgiving isn’t until Thursday which is really towards the end of the week anyway. And in this year’s case, I feel like I have sooooo much to do. In reality, I have very little to do. I have to make a pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. And yet, I haven’t been putting anything on my calendar because I’ve been feeling like I have to get ready for Thanksgiving. I don’t.

We did do a mini-outing today though, to the Trains at North Park. So cute, so well done, and the boys loved it. Tons of trains just rolling around. One of the little guys kept saying ‘bop bop bop,’ which is his version of ‘beep beep beep,’ which is a truck sound and not quite applicable to trains but I let it slide. They were so happy and cute. Until. Until I thought I had a minute to relax because they loved the trains so much and I pulled out my smoothie. All the sudden it was like the trains disappeared and the Christmas music stopped, and all they could see was my smoothie. When I wouldn’t let them have it (for lots of reasons – messy, etc – but mostly because it was MINE and I love it)- we had our first public dual tantrum.  Two screaming, completely boneless babies. Couldn’t pick them up, couldn’t hold their hand and walk back to the stroller, couldn’t entice them with another snack. I finally had to just pick them both up at the same time (backs arched, arms flailing, etc) and carry them to the stroller so we could get out of dodge. Not my most graceful moment. It’s very hard to look graceful and in control when you have twin toddlers.

Anyway. This soup is a winter staple. Sort of tastes like pot pie and is so comforting and delicious. AND…would be awesome with leftover turkey.

Recipe

  • 1.5 lb cooked & shredded chicken or turkey (~4c)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups diced carrot (small)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 cups chicken broth (full sodium)
  • 5 tablespoons corn starch + water
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Kosher salt if needed (I used full sodium broth and used an extra 1/2 tsp kosher )

Dumplings

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • pepper

Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a large soup pot. Stir in the onion, celery and carrot. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the corn starch with about 1/2 cup water. Add it to the chicken stock and allow to thicken.  Stir in cooked chicken, parsley, half & half, and S&P.

To make the dumplings, mix all ingredients together. Bring soup to a low simmer, and drop the dumplings in teaspoonfuls on top of the soup (messy is ok, they always look misshapen). Once you have dropped in all the dough, cover and cook for about 20 minutes on medium.  If the dumplings cook together a little bit, just break them up with a fork before serving.

My Best Chili

my-best-chili

It’s rainy here! And sort of chilly! So I have chili on my mind! Why all the exclamation points! Because we’ve been waiting for cooler weather here, and I think we finally have it. For a few days in a row. No more sweating while putting the boys in the car, no more feeling like the sun is literally aging me the second I step outside the door, and no more wearing white floral dresses in November (at some point I just stopped shopping). Speaking of aging, I went to the dermatologist this week for a mole check and few skin tips, and I came home with 3 prescriptions, 2 pricing quotes on procedures that I “need,” and a sheet of anti-aging essentials with about 80% of them circled based on my skin type.  Basically I need to invest in a new face.

So onto my chili. This is officially my chili. What I will make forever. Because there are soooo many recipes out there, and I already have this one  on my blog. I made this one loosely based on my previous version, but I tweaked quantities and did two simple things that made a HUGE difference: 1) I ground the beef down reeeeally small so there were no large pieces and 2) I cooked it for a long time.  Amazing what this did for the texture and flavor.

Recipe

  • 2 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • ~43 oz diced tomatoes with juices (1 large can + 1 regular)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
  • 1/2 can or full can black beans, drained (I used 1/2)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder (3 if you like more heat; I used 2)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pasilla powder if you can find it, or ancho chili powder
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Brown meat, adding onions and garlic.  Using a wooden spoon to break beef down into very small pieces. An immersion blender works well here too.  Cook beef, onion and garlic through.  Add in red wine and salt. Cook down for a few minutes. Add in tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, and all spices.  Bring to a simmer. Stir in corn starch + water mixture.  Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Cover, turn heat to VERY low, and cook for at least one hour, but preferably 2 or 3. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.

sausage-kale-and-sweet-potato-soup

Today is kind of a lame day. It’s Wednesday, for one (right smack dab in the middle of the week with no real purpose, IMO). It’s the day after Halloween and I ate too much candy, have too much candy left, so will continue to eat too much candy in the coming days. And my parents just left! So sad. My mom was in town helping/visiting for a few days (I say helping because that’s really what she does – she is so so so helpful and really so remarkably gifted with kids), and my dad surprised me by flying in on Monday in one of the cutest and most touching moves I’ve experienced in a long time. I came home from a facial (where – side note – a “light/natural” peel removed about 70% of the skin on my cheek) – and my dad was playing with the boys in the back yard. It was so sweet and so appreciated – and much needed. I got a break from diapers, baths, and twins for 5 wholes days. But now it’s over and now I’m sad about it. Anyway.

I honestly never thought my life would come down to putting kale in my soup. I resisted the crunchy/somewhat bitter vegetable for years, slowly welcoming it into my salads with the perfectly sweet dressing combination. But here we are, in 2017, and I’m putting it in my soup. Have I become a complete caricature of myself?

I mulled this over, and decided the answer is no. I’ve always liked eating healthy, and I 157% promise you that the kale in this soup ADDS to the flavor and is not just thrown in there for all the good stuff that it offers and so that I can say “I put kale in my soup”. It’s cooked down but still offers a nice texture combination with the sausage and sweet potato, and the kale-flavor is a perfect contrast with the sweet sausage and sweet potato. Plus, it’s pretty! Honestly this soup is so flavorful, hearty, healthy, delicious, comforting…all the good things. You can trust me on this one…at least until I start putting kale in my smoothies. Then I would take me with a grain of salt.

Recipe (4)

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, or 1 teaspoon minced from jar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5-6 cup full sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 1 bunch kale, chopped

Start by browning the sausage over medium heat. Drain a little fat if you want (mine was pretty lean so I didn’t have to). Add in the onion, celery, garlic, and S&P to cook, about 5 minutes. If sausage is super lean, add a little olive oil.  Deglaze the pan with white wine and let cook down a minute or two. Stir in the chopped sweet potato, then add the chicken broth. I use full sodium when making soups, because soup should be salty and I don’t like salting it on my own because then I always over salt. But obviously if you have an aversion to salty food, you can use reduced sodium broth. Bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add in the chopped kale (I didn’t use quite the whole bunch), cover and simmer until wilted – about 10-15 minutes. Voila! Easy, healthy, flavorful Fall soup.

Healthy Creamy Spinach Soup

healthy-creamy-spinach-soup

I really love my weekends. I’m sure you’re thinking duh, everyone does! But I reeeeeally indulge on my weekends. I eat great food, drink (lots of) great drinks, and there’s usually a few DQ blizzards or donut ice cream sandwiches sprinkled in there too. I love it. I love food. I love wine. But when Monday rolls around, I need to reverse some of the damage I’ve done over the past 72 hours. And actually, I like that too. I like eating healthy, fresh, and relatively light during the week.  And last year, right after we had the boys, my mother in law brought over a couple containers of spinach soup for me to freeze and eat when I had a free hand. I kept it in there for quite a while because I never thought I was ‘craving’ spinach soup…but when I finally tried it I was blown away by how delicious and satisfying it was. I asked her for the recipe, but because she didn’t have exact measurements this is only loosely based on hers. I wanted to keep mine relatively clean and light, But you could add more cream, more butter, more corn starch to thicken. Or you could add less milk and less butter if you wanted it even cleaner. I also did a high spinach to liquid ratio, because I wanted it to pack a strong spinach punch. But you could add up to 2 more cups of liquid to dilute a little more. Basically, this is a very easy soup to make and you can freeze the leftovers for a rainy day.

Recipe

  • 16 oz spinach, stems mostly removed
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups full sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/3 cup water (optional)
  • Topping ideas: parmesan, croutons, feta, sour cream, store bought stuffing

Heat a little olive oil in a large soup pot, and toss in the onions and celery.  Cook for several minutes, then add in the butter to melt.  When onions are cooked, throw in the spinach and 1/2 cup water. Stir, then cover and cook until wilted (only about 5 min). Side note- removing the stems from the spinach isn’t nearly as annoying or time consuming as I thought it would be. Just tear as many off as you get to, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. You could also use a package of frozen spinach instead. When spinach is wilted and tender, transfer everything to a food processor and puree. Pour it back into the soup pot, then add in the chicken broth, whole milk, kosher salt, pepper, and thyme (if using). Stir to combine and allow to heat.  For a thicker soup, whisk together 3 tablespoons of corn starch with about 1/3 cup water. Add it to the soup and bring to a low simmer to thicken. Serve plain, or top with cheese, croutons, or sour cream.

roasted-butternut-squash-soup

Today has been a total bust. I went to a play date at a pumpkin patch with my mom’s group, only to get there and not be able to find anyone. It’s a new group, so I didn’t have any phone numbers. No worries though, I’m at a pumpkin patch on a beautiful sunny fall day! I’ll just let the boys out to play! What a terrible idea. I lasted literally about 3.5 minutes before I realized that it was too much for one person – – open area, 8 million kids running around, and my boys running in opposite directions. I decided it was better to go home and be bored than to come home with 0 or 1 babies. So I decided I would redeem the morning by getting a Coke Zero. I went to multiple drive thrus, only to find Diet Coke, which wasn’t gonna cut it. Finally ended up at 7-11, got everyone out and into the stroller, and got a Big Gulp of Coke Zero. Best Coke Zero I have ever tasted – they do something special to their fountain drinks there. Got home, got Price out of the car, and as we’re walking in he knocks it out of my hand. Coke Zero all over the sidewalk. Total bust. Not the worst day, but definitely not the best. And to be honest it’s hard to truly understand until you have two 14 month olds at the same time. Just the sheer effort and manpower it takes to get them dressed, into their car seats, out of their car seats, and into the stroller is too much sometimes. Or maybe annoying is a better word. Two kids in rear facing car seats is annoying.

Anyway, I am enjoying the rest of my afternoon with this butternut squash soup.  So simple and so quick. I roasted my squash for that extra roasted flavor, but you could easily just microwave it to save some time. I love getting the cubed butternut squash in a bag from Trader Joe’s, because it makes this recipe just ridiculously easy.

Recipe

  • ~2 cups chopped butternut squash (I love the Trader Joe’s pre-cut bag)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (full sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon half & half
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Pinch nutmeg

Roast the butternut squash on a baking dish at 400 for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the onion in a pinch of olive oil.  Add the chicken broth to heat. Then, transfer the cooked squash and broth mixture to a food processor or combine it in the pan and puree with an immersion blender. Transfer back to the soup pot. Stir in the half & half, syrup and nutmeg. A little bit of salty Feta cheese goes great on top of this.

Greek Avgolemono Soup

greek-avgolemono-soup

The only bad thing I have to say about this soup is the spelling of the name.  Isn’t it anxiety-inducing? I have to say that even as a person with a pretty high aptitude for spelling/reading/pronunciation, this one stumps me. I wonder how many people don’t order this soup at restaurants because they don’t want to say it out loud.

I think, THINK, it is pronounced a-vo-lem-en-o.

Anyway, wow! Love this soup and it’s so easy. This is a simple version, as I think some versions can take hours and hours. I truly can’t imagine what happens during those hours to make it that much better, although I love the idea of living in a small seaside town in Greece spending my days eating Tzatziki sauce and making Avgolemono soup.

Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • Dill, for garnish

Cook the onions in oil until cooked through. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and add the orzo.  Cook the orzo according to instructions (bring down the boil once it’s done).  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice.  Once the pasta is cooked and the heat is on low, you will need to temper the eggs before adding to the broth.  Slowly add a couple ladle fulls of broth into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Turn off the heat for the soup.  Slowly whisk the tempered eggs into the broth. Keep heat on low and do not boil the soup again (this will cause the eggs to clump up – it will still taste fine but will look more like greek egg drop soup).  Season with pepper, serve, and top with fresh dill.