Taco Soup

Tacos are one of my favorite foods and I usually make them for dinner at least once a week in one combination or another.  Tacos also make great leftovers, check out Joanie’s Southwest Enchilada recipe for a great use of leftover taco fixins!!  This week it was all about taco soup, hot and steamy, and especially satisfying with loads of cheese and cilantro to garnish. I love it SPICY (surprise, surprise), and I mean make-your-eyes-water-and-your-mouth-drool kind of spicy.  Luckily, my husband also loves a little heat.  We keep a giant jar of chili paste in the fridge and use it on almost everything.  Of course, you can make this recipe as mild or as spicy as you wish.  To make it extra fiery, try adding diced fresh jalapenos, powdered cayenne pepper or just dump in some tapatio!  To tone down the heat a bit just use plain diced tomatoes instead of the ones with green chilies and don’t use tapatio or hot sauce at the end.

I’ve been on a couponing kick lately and have gotten some great deals on canned beans, taco seasoning, canned diced tomatoes and even tortilla chips!  So I put it all together in a big pot (or crockpot) and voila: lovely, spicy, mouth watering taco soup!  This soup is perfect paired with a cold, wintery evening, and like most soups even better for lunch the next day.

Makes about 6, 1 cup servings.

Taco Soup Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 Tbs butter
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
6-8 chicken tenderloins or about 3 breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
0ne packet of taco seasoning
A few dashes of fresh ground black pepper
2 cans chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, with juice
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed

Garnish:
Tortilla chips, roughly crumbled
Shredded cheddar, Colby jack or Mexican blend cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Tapatio or other hot sauce, if desired
Sour cream

Method:

In a large soup pot cook chicken and onion in the 2 Tbs butter until chicken is cooked through and onion softens.Taco soup Meat

Add a few dashes of freshly ground black pepper, about 1/2 a can of the chicken broth, and the taco seasoning.  Stir around and scrape the bottom of the pan to unstick all those yummy chicken bits.Taco Soup Simmer

Let simmer for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little more broth if it gets too dry and thick.  Add the rest of the chicken broth, the diced tomatoes with chilies and the black beans and let soup come back to a simmer.  Salt as needed.  🙂Taco Soup Beans

Taco Soup End

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with shredded cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream and cilantro!  I put a few dashes of hot sauce in it as well.  Enjoy!Taco Soup Final w Title

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Six Pepper Chili

I love chili! Probably partly because I like spicy food and I put a lot of kick into my chili.  In our house, when Joanie and I were kids, chili was a staple and it was always homemade. Sometimes we would even make moose chili but that’s a whole other blog!

Over the years I’ve tried many different chili styles adding this or that, making it spicy or mild, or trying different meat or beans.  I even made it cheesy a time or two, which essentially turned out to be a chili dip that went perfectly with nacho cheese Doritos!  I finally perfected this chili on a crisp autumn evening up at our cabin in the mountains.  I also recently used it to win a chili cook-off!  One thing I would change in this recipe is I would fire roast all of the peppers to bring out all of the flavors in the different varieties.  This one is a little spicy, fair warning.  If you don’t want as much spice, omit the cayenne pepper and jalapeno.  ~Janna

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage
10-12oz of pearl onions, whole (or 1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
2 Serrano peppers, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
12 oz bottle of beer
2 cans 15oz tomato sauce
1 can 12oz tomato paste
1 can, 14.5oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cans 15.25oz each of dark kidney beans, drained but not rinsed
Cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbs sugar
black pepper
salt to taste

Method:

Brown pork in a skillet on med/high heat.

In large stock pot, sauté onions and all peppers. Once tender, (about 5-7 minutes) add the bottle of beer and stir a couple of minutes.

Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and beans, stir to combine and bring back to a simmer.

Add the pork without draining (unless there is tons of grease) and all of the spices.  Stir to combine and Simmer at least 1 hour.  Salt to taste and enjoy on a cold winter evening!6 Pepper Chili with Title

Hearty Beef Stew

This beef stew is the best beef stew you will ever have!  It’s loaded with delicious meat potatoes, veggies and fresh herbs. It’s slow simmered to get a thick, silky broth that is perfect for sopping up with a crusty piece of French bread with homemade butter.  This is one of those times when I wish I still lived in a cabin in the woods in Alaska.  I’m sure fresh moose steak or caribou would be fabulous in this stew.  I can just imagine the stew simmering away all day while I’m out shoveling snow or bringing in fire wood.  I envision my husband’s soggy coat and gloves hanging by the wood stove to dry after a hard days work.  The sun is going down, making way for a frosty evening, the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of hearty stew.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is.

Beef Stew Ingredients

Ingredients:

1lb Stew beef chunks or any beef steak cut into bite sized chunks
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of pearl onions, or any onion
1 cup of chopped celery
2 cups of chopped carrot
3 cups of marble potatoes or any potatoes cut into bite sized chunks
4 cups of beef stock
1 cup red wine (I used syrah)
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

Method:

Brown beef in a skillet.
Beef Stew Beef

In a large stew pot, melt butter on low heat, when melted add the flour a little at a time and whisk until you make a paste called a roux.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, bay leaves and cook on low for a few minutes.
Beef Stew Roux

Add the beef stock, cooked beef, potatoes, wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer on low/med heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  If stew isn’t as thick as you like, make a thickener by whisking 1/2 cup of cold water with 2 Tbs flour, pour into soup and stir.
Beef Stew in Crock

Ladle into bowls, serve with crusty bread slathered with homemade butter and enjoy!
Hearty Beef Stew 2

Cream of Broccoli Soup

There is a place in my heart that only soup can fill.  That sounds silly, but truly, I have rarely found a soup that I haven’t loved to eat…or cook!  The possibilities are endless, and with a little imagination anyone can make a great pot of soup.  Cream of Broccoli is no exception!  This is one of those rich fall soups that leaves you feeling warm and full.  You can change up the vegetables as you wish, adding cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, whatever you like!  Below is my basic recipe for a creamy, flavorful soup.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, chopped
4 Tbs butter, divided
2 Tbs flour
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 lbs broccoli, chopped (including stems, peeled & chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbs salt, 1 tsp pepper +/-

Directions:

Saute onion, celery and leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter, until tender, about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Set aside.  

Create a roux: in a large stock pot, add 2 tablespoons each of butter and flour.  Whisk over medium/high heat until the mixture is thick, about the consistency of mashed potatoes.   Continue to whisk and slowly add the stock.  Allow mixture to come to a boil.

Add sauteed vegetables to the liquid and simmer about 10 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup base until smooth.  

Add chopped broccoli and simmer for about 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender.  Adjust broccoli cooking time to suite your taste: less cook time = crunchier broccoli, longer cook time = softer broccoli.  

Add cream and cream cheese and blend one final time to your desired consistency using the immersion blender.  Add salt and pepper, adjust to taste.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

BisqueThere are two main varieties of sweet potato here in the U.S.  Many people mistakenly refer to them as “yams” but sweet potatoes are actually not even related to the yam.  The first (and my favorite of the two) has a golden skin and white flesh.  The second is that deep copper -colored tuber with the softer, bright orange flesh, commonly used in the traditional holiday dish “candied yams.”  

Either variety, or even a mix, will do nicely for this recipe.  This bisque is not an original idea.  I found it years ago in a magazine (which magazine, I can’t remember) and have made it many times since, with a few of my own adjustments.

The beauty of this soup is that it is NOT sweet.  The potatoes offer a subtly sweet base, but the ginger, lime and chipotle really take the forefront to create a savory soup that can be as spicy as you want it.  

 Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry vermouth
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (you can find this in a can in the hispanic section of
your grocery store) OR 1 tsp chipotle powder (more if desired)
2 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
Zest and juice from 1 lime

*Serves about 10*

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

Picture2

Add sugar, sweet potatoes, stock, vermouth, chipotle and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth with a stick blender (you can use a traditional blender, but I find the stick blender makes much less of a mess).
Return soup to a simmer, add heavy cream, lime juice and zest.  Salt and pepper to taste. A sprinkle of chopped pistachios would make an excellent garnish.


Bisque

Ham Potato Soup

You may wonder why I’m posting a hot soup recipe in the middle of June, well, while our family and friends in Alaska are experiencing a heat wave, those of us here in Eastern Washington are enjoying much cooler, cloudier temperatures that are perfect when paired with a good bowl of soup!  Also, I was cleaning out my freezer and found a ham bone from Easter that I needed to use!  Here is my super simple ham, potato soup recipe, enjoy!  ~Janna

Ingredients:

1 ham bone (some meat on, or cubed ham)
1 large sweet onion
6 red potatoes washed and peeled
4 carrots chopped
½ cup milk
2 cups kale, washed and ripped into bite sized chunks
1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
black pepper

Method:

Place ham in a large stock pot with 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil then simmer covered for about 2 hours.  Remove the ham from the water along with all the meat/fat pieces floating in water.  Get all of the good meat off the ham and cut into bite sized chunks, set aside.  Add 1 quart of water to the stockpot and bring back to simmer.  Cut up onion, potatoes, carrots and add to simmering stock pot along with reserved meat, cook until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.  When veggies are tender, add milk, parsely, kale and a few dashes of black pepper, return to simmer.  Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

I didn’t really have much appreciation for homemade chicken noodle soup, until my niece, Lindsie, asked me to make it for her wedding.  I don’t know what changed, but ever since then it has been one of my favorite soups to make, maybe because it reminds me of her and that special day.  Now, there’s nothing more comforting to me than a big, steaming bowl, freshly made from (mostly) scratch. 
For convenience sake, I’ve opted to use canned broth and a hot & ready rotisserie chicken from the grocer.  Rotisserie chickens also (generally) happen to be cheaper than buying a whole, fresh chicken, so not only are you saving time, you’re saving money.  Of course, you can roast your own chicken and make your own chicken stock, but that’s another recipe in itself.  ~Joanie

Ingredients:

4 cans of chicken or vegetable broth
5 or 6 sprigs EACH of fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme, OR 1 pack fresh Poultry Medley herbs (usually found in your grocer’s refrigerated produce section.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
4 large carrots, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, chopped
1 whole rotisserie chicken, or 1 lb cooked chicken of your choice
8 oz Egg Noodles
Salt & Pepper
Large stock pot

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Directions:
In a large stock pot, add broth and herbs.  Let herbs simmer on med heat for about 20 minutes or until they’re limp and have given up their flavor.  Fish out the herbs and discard.

Add onion and garlic and salt.  Let simmer while you chop carrots and celery.  Add remaining vegetables and turn heat to low.

Next, deconstruct your chicken.  Start by removing the breast meat, then the legs & thighs and last, the wings and any remaining meat sticking to the bones.  Don’t let any go to waste!  Chop up any large pieces and add all meat to the pot.  Add meat to the stock pot.  (Save the bones and skin for making chicken stock.)   

In a separate pot, cook egg noodles using package directions, until texture is al dente (slightly firm).  Add cooked noodles to the soup.  If needed, add salt/pepper to taste and garnish with chopped green onions.  Serve immediately and enjoy.

**This soup freezes really well and is perfect for lunch on the go!

Potato Leek Soup

For this soup I started with Julia Child’s classic French potato leek soup recipe from her book “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.” I found it a little bland so I added a few of my own special touches and it turned out AMAZING! I tricked my 10 year old into thinking it was potato cheese soup and she ate a whole bowl, which is a miracle since it’s hard to get her to even try new foods! Hope you enjoy as much as she did! ~Janna

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:

4 quart sauce pan
4 cups russet potatoes, skinned and cubed
4 cups leeks, cubed or chopped
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt (and probably more to taste)
1 tsp white pepper

1 Tbs butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp better than bouillon (vegetable)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped (more for garnish)

Bring water to a boil, add potatoes and leeks and boil until tender, 10 minutes or so depending on how big your potato chunks are. Once the potatoes and leeks are soft, take out 2 cups of the cooking liquid and turn heat to a simmer. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. You can use a food processor or blender but be careful with boiling liquids! Once the soup is creamy add the butter and better than bouillon and vinegar and stir to combine. Add the whipping cream a little at a time and stir after each addition. Add the white pepper and more salt if needed. Chop the parsley and add to soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with more fresh parsley.

White Chicken Chili

I LOVE beans.  I could eat them raw right out of the can.  In fact, I have.  I also love cumin and cilantro, as you may have already gathered from my other recipes.  This soup is like my perfect meal, and so easy to make.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but most of it is pretty ordinary stuff.  Don’t fret about the green chilies, they are NOT hot.  This soup has been 7-year-old approved so you can confidently serve it to your little ones.  

You can EASILY make this a vegetarian recipe by omitting the chicken and adding more beans or rice.  I’ve done that and it’s just as amazing.  You can also use dried beans, which is a little more work, but for convenience sake I just used the canned variety.  ~Joanie

Makes about 8 servings.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 cans white beans, great northern beans, or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
32 oz chicken broth
2 4oz cans Chopped Green Chilies
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp lime zest
½ Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ Cup Whipping Cream
1 Cup (8 oz) Sour Cream

For garnishing:  Green onion, jalapeno, cheese

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.  Saute garlic until golden, then add onion and cook until soft.  Add chicken, cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings.  Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.  The soup may look a little “muddy” at this point, but carry on.  Trust me.

Remove from heat.

Before you add the cream and sour cream, you will need to temper it so that it doesn’t curdle.  Scoop a little bit of soup out into a separate bowl, add cream to this small portion and stir.  Add that portion back into the soup pot.  Repeat this process with the sour cream.  If the soup is too cool after this, you can heat it back up, but heat slowly.

Garnish with chopped green onions, cilantro, and/or cheese.  I like to eat my chili with a few  chili-cheese fritos.  They are the perfect compliment to this creamy, zesty soup.

Fabulous French Onion Soup

French onion soup is one of my favorite soups!  If I go to a restaurant and they have french onion soup, I always order it!  So today I’m going to make my version of this delicious soup, it does require a lot of hands on time, but I promise it’s worth it.  I asked my good friend Sarah Goedhart, who’s a winemaker at Hedge’s Family Estate, and owner of Goedhart Family Estate to write a little about a wine pairing for this dish.  I’m hoping Sarah will do this frequently, because I’m usually left scratching my head as to what wine to have with a certain dish and I usually end up texting Sarah from the wine section in the store anyway!!  To see Sarah’s wine pairing suggestions, scroll to the end of the soup recipe.  We hope you enjoy!  ~Janna

Ingredients:

Large stock pot

ladle or wooden spoon to stir

5-6 sweet onions (I use Vidalia or Mayan sweet)

4Tbs butter (not margarine)

1/4tsp salt

1/4tsp pepper

1 cup of red wine, I used Goedhart Syrah, a Cabernet or red blend would work as well.

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (dried will not do)

3 cups of vegetable broth, beef broth or I used vegetable “better than boullion”, follow directions on jar to make your stock.

About 1 ½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (don’t use smoked Gruyère)

1 french baguette cut into 1-1 ½ inch rounds

Directions:

Slice onions into ¼ inch rings or smaller, put butter into stock pot and turn heat onto med.  When the butter is sizzling add the onion and salt and let sweat for a few minutes.  Stir occasionally so the onions don’t burn.  You will end up carmelizing the onions which will take close to an hour of cooking and stirring.  Hang in there!

This is what onions will look like after a few minutes of cooking and stirring.  Don’t worry if you get little scorched bits.

This is after about 40 minutes of cooking and stirring occasionally, were almost there!

When carmelized, the onions will have a deep caramel color and be very soft.  At this point add the 1 cup of wine, simmer until wine thickens (a few minutes).

Add the stock, thyme and pepper and let simmer a few minutes more.

Slice the baguette into about 1 ½ inch rounds, place on a baking sheet and turn oven on broil, broil for 2 minutes or until tops are golden, no need to turn.

Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, place one slice of baguette into each bowl on top of soup toasted side up.  Top baguette with about ¼ cup of grated Gruyère cheese.  Place bowls on a baking sheet and put under broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

You have now made french onion soup!  This recipe will make about 4 large servings.  Below are Sarah’s suggestions on wine pairings.

Sarah:

French onion soup has a lot going on. You have the sweetness of the onions, the savory herbs, the rich broth and the nuttiness of the cheese. My preference a red wine that is on the rustic yet fruitier side such as an inexpensive Beaujolais-Village or a Cote du Rhone (usually both in the $11-16 range) and if you can’t find French, the CMS Red from Hedges Family Estate is a great stand-in! White wine can also pair well with this soup, I’d go with a dry white wine from Alsace, which would offer a refreshingly chilly cleanse after a bite of this luscious soup. Just be careful not to burn your mouth on this typically mouth-searing dish, otherwise it won’t matter what you are drinking!