Bean & Bacon Soup

A really good cold weather soup. Serve with saltines or homemade bread.

1 16 oz. package dried navy beans
1 lb. bacon
2 onion, diced
2 stalk celery, chopped
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes
4 cups cold water

Place beans in a large pot with cold water to cover by at least 1 inch. Let sit covered overnight. In the morning drain and rinse. Set aside until ready to make the soup.

Cook the bacon to whatever texture you like and drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease and add this grease to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Coarsely chop the bacon.

Heat the bacon grease and add onion and celery; cook until soft. Add the bouillon, beans, bay leaf, salt & pepper and cloves. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours.Stir in the can of tomatoes with their juice and warm. Serve.

Beef & Potato Stew

Place everything in a pot, cover and put in the oven for 3 hours.  The only thing you have to do is stir occasionally (perhaps twice) and then serve.  I’m so lazy sometimes but it works!

2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into small pieces
1 can Campbell’s soups Mushroom Consomme
1 package Golden Onion Lipton soup
2 14 oz. cans beef broth
2 large baking potatoes peeled and sliced
6 baby carrots sliced, or 2 large carrots peeled & sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place everything in an oven-proof pot with lid, or cover with foil, combine well then place in the oven for 3 hours, stirring once or twice.  Serve.

Jambalaya

I discovered this dish late in life and have been enjoying it all cold-weather season. This pairs well with soft bread on the side or even homemade cornbread.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. smoked sausage
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
4 celery ribs, with tops, chopped
3 small cans tomato paste
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
6  – 7 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. cayenne pepper – optional
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt to taste
1-1/2 cups Uncle Ben’s rice

In a large pan or dutch oven, heat the oil; brown the chicken with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper, remove and cut into pieces. Now brown the sliced smoked sausage then set that aside, too.

In the same pot with the hot oil, saute the onions, garlic, peppers & celery for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock and stir/scrape the pan to mix in any browned bits from the bottom. Add everything else, except the rice and cook for 30 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 30 minutes more. Serve.

Creamy Carrot, Ginger, & Lime Soup

When I think of an exotic soup, this one comes to mind.

2 medium onions, peeled & chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 lb. bag of baby carrots
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1  tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 cup half-n-half or light cream
Parsley or chives for garnish, if desired

Add olive oil to a large pot and when it is hot add the onions and saute them over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, stock, water, ginger and bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients up to the garnishes and cook for 5 minutes uncovered.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Don’t let it come to a boil when you preheat it.

Mexican Style Chicken Chili

This simmers on the stove-top for 5 hours so it thickens and browns as it cooks.  It’s a great meal for when you are either raking leaves, decorating your Christmas tree or you just don’t want to stand over a stove.  Serve with white rice and garlic rolls.

2 Tbs. olive oil (extra virgin is best)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
14 oz. can chicken stock
15 oz. can red kidney beans, undrained
6 cups water
28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 carrot, peeled & sliced
1 medium onion, peeled & sliced into half-moons
1/2 cup frozen corn (optional)
1 rib of cerely, diced or 1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black ground pepper

Into a large pot, heat the oil then add the whole chicken breasts; cook for 10 minutes on each side over medium-high heat.  Remove to a cutting board and cut into small bit-sized pieces then put back into the pot.  Place everything else in the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 hours, stirring occassionally.

Pasta e Fagioli (Sort of)

This is my version of pasta e fagiloi. Delicious, simple, easy to prepare. The ingredient list may seem long, but it’s stuff you probably already have in your kitchen, except maybe the V-8 juice and meaty ham bone. Remember, you can prepare the pasta separately, add to the bowls then add this soup – it’s up to you.

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced small
4+ minced garlic cloves (to taste)
2 14-5 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz. can kidney beans with juice
1 15 oz. can white beans with juice
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 12-15 oz. can V-8 Juice
1 Tbsp. white or rice vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Italian seasonings
1 meaty ham bone
1 cup water
1/2 – 1 cup small pasta such as ditalini

In a large pot, brown meat and drain off almost all of the fat. Place back in pot and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes. add all the remaining ingredients except the pasta and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding another cup of water if it seems to thick – remember, when you add the pasta it thickens up.  During the last 20 minutes, remove the ham bone, add pasta, bring to a boil then simmer until pasta is done.

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 quarts chicken stock
1 large white onion, diced
3 minced garlic cloves, or 1 heaping Tablespoon
3 large peeled, carrots, cut into coins
3 celery stalks, chopped
Thyme
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt & ground black pepper
Uncooked egg noodles, or ditalini – that’s good, too

Place the chicken stock and 1 quart of cold water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add all the veggies and spices. Simmer about 20 minutes. Add about 1/2 the bag of egg noodles and bring to a boil. Add the chicken chunks. Lower heat to a good simmer and cook until noodles are done. Remove bay leaf, check seasonings. Serve.

Vegetable Soup

Roasting all the veggies first really makes the flavors “pop”. Please feel free to use whatever veggies you wish.

12 cups cold water
1 pkg. of Vegetable Soup Mix – (Knorr or Lipton or whatever)
4 potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled & cut into rounds
1 bunch fresh asparagus or fresh green beans
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil (try to use Extra Virgin if possible)
2 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar) or more to taste – (we like more)
1 can (14 oz.) chopped tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup dried, uncooked, small pasta (such as ditalini)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a large, rimmed sheet (cookie sheet) place the potatoes, carrots & asparagus (you may need 2 sheets) and mix it all up with your hands along with the 3 Tbsp. oil and salt & pepper and the garlic. Let this roast for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the water in a large pot on stove. Using a mesh strainer, holding it over the pot, (or carefully with your hands) shake the veggie soup packet into the strainer and strain the powder into the soup. Of course you can empty the whole packet into the soup, but I just don’t care for those little freeze-dried veggies, they’re a bit gross and rubbery. Then add everything else. Bring to a bowl, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Then, empty the pasta into the soup and stir. Bring to another boil and simmer for about another 15 minutes, until pasta is done. Serve.

Slushies

Your kids will love making these treats at home. Make one for yourself too, they’re that good!

This recipe makes one 32-ounce drink:
2 cups club soda – cold!
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp. + 1 good pinch cherry-flavored unsweetened Kool-Aid
1/2 tsp. cherry extract – (baking section of grocery store)
Crushed ice

Using a blender, put 1 cup of the club soda in. Add sugar, Kool-Aid and cherry extract. Blend this until all the sugar is dissolved – will take about 1 minute. Add the crushed ice and blend on high until it becomes a smooth, slushy consistency but there are no chunks of ice left. Add the rest of the club soda and blend this very briefly, just until mixed. Stopping the blender to mix will probably be a good idea at this point, so you can stir up the contents from the bottom of blender.

Sunday Stew (a.k.a. Super Bowl Stew)

No need to wait until Super Bowl Sunday. This stew simmers for a nice long six hours; the intoxicating aroma will have everybody hovering over the stove.

1 1/2 lbs. beef stew cut into cubes
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. butter
28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
30 oz. of tomato juice
7 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled & chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled & diced
2 potatos, peeled & chunked
1 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon OR 3 beef bouillon cubes
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Sprinklings of cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsp. barley or orzo pasta

Place the beef on a plate and sprinkle on the white pepper and salt, rub in all over the cubes. Set aside while you get out a soup pot or dutch oven; place the butter in and melt over medium heat. Put meat into the pot and brown on both sides – 5 minutes each side.

Add everything else to the pot except the orzo if using – (If you simmer orzo for 6 hours it will be mush). Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and partially cover. Check and stir during the 6 hours, adding water as needed – depends on how thick you want it.

If using orzo pasta, add it the last hour.