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Category Archives: Soups & Stews

Sausage Minestrone


I’ve been making the most amazing soups this winter.  My secret? I finally gave up following recipes! I never thought I could cook without a recipe, as I’ve never been what I think of as a “natural cook” – someone who can just keep adding things to a dish or pot until it tastes amazing. But I decided to give it a shot, and have surprised myself with the results.

Sadly, a lot of the delicious things I’ve made, I didn’t measure anything and didn’t take notes, so I can’t share recipes or even make them exactly the same way again.  But this one turned out so good that I immediately wrote down exactly how I made it so I could duplicate and share it.  I’ve made it twice in the past month – we love it so much! It’s also quite nutritious and low in fat, which is a big bonus in my book, as many of my favorite meals are huge calorie bombs. Not this one. Enjoy the flavor, guilt-free. :)

Sausage Minestrone

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1 (8 oz) package baby portabella (“bella”) mushrooms, sliced
1 (20 oz) package Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
8 chicken bouillon cubes*
8 cups water
1 (15-16 oz) can white cannellini beans
1 (15-16 oz) can dark red kidney beans
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, undrained
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, cut in half & sliced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups kale, hard stems removed and chopped into small pieces

Cook the mushrooms in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until they are cooked down and soft and a darker color. Scrape into a stock pot. In the same skillet, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks to make crumbles. Once cooked, add to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients except for the kale, and bring to a boil over high head. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-30 minutes.  Add kale and cook another five minutes.

*Veronica’s notes: you want the smaller size bouillon cubes, the ones that need only one cup water each for broth. If using the bigger ones that need two cups, use only 4 cubes. You can use 8 cups chicken broth instead, omitting the water from the recipe, and add salt to taste.  The second time I made this, I added in 3 stalks of celery and a pound of fresh green beans. Feel free to add what you like, and just add more seasoning to taste, if necessary.

Easy White Chicken Chili


Nana D brought us a batch of her White Chicken Chili last winter when we were sleep-deprived new parents, and let me tell you, not having to cook and eating this chili was a big slice of heaven.  It’s now one of my favorite winter meals, it’s just so ridiculously over-the-top delicious.  The big bonus is that it’s so easy to make – the only prepwork is opening cans and chopping an onion. Can’t beat that!

Easy White Chicken Chili

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3 (10 oz) cans chicken chunks
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 C. whipping cream
1/4 C. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

In large soup pot, combine all ingredients except sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Bring to a boil over medium high. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Serves 6

*Veronica’s notes: I use bouillon cubes plus water for the broth, which adds a little more flavor. Donna’s recipe called for 2 teaspoons chili powder, which I omitted to keep the color white (hers has an orange hue), and the flavor didn’t suffer, but it’s really good with the chili powder too if you’d like to add it. If you like things spicy like we do, you can use all Pepper Jack cheese, and half an 8 oz block is plenty, so that you can have enough to make another batch, or a double batch. :)

Recipe source: Donna B.

I served this and the Curried Red Lentil Soup with Honey Beer Bread – so delish!

Curried Red Lentil Soup


Yes, this really is a soup recipe, despite the thick chili-like images accompanying my post. This is what happens on day two to the soup, which I couldn’t photograph when it was still soup-like, because I made it at night and when I take photos of soup at night, I end up with freaky purple beans…

This chili-looking soup is so delicious, and easy enough that you can make it with an infant vying for your attention. Which is what I did last June. And I photographed it on the concrete rather than the grass (I’m all about simple backgrounds), because I knew I was going to blog it during the winter, and didn’t want the green grass to alert you guys that I’ve turned into a hot soup in summer person.  But now I’ve gone and told you anyway. Secrets can be so hard to keep. ;)

I used to detest hot soup in the summer, but it seems my pregnancy changed that permanently for me. I also continue to enjoy mustard more than ketchup, which is way cray. I never understood mustard people, and now I’m one of them. No one warned me that having a baby might make me join the mustard people for good. I still don’t know how I feel about this.

Anyway, this is a really good soup. And easy. And you should make it.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

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1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans (3 ½ cups) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 (14.5 oz) can roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
½ cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Microwave the lentils and 2 cups of broth about 8 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally and adding salt and pepper as it cooks. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder, and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the microwaved lentil mixture to the pot along with the rest of the broth and the tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and re-season as needed.

Serve the individual portions with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Some more Indian-ish faves…

Bean Curry – really so good! I don’t know why I never remember to make my black eyed peas this way on New Years day, it’s one of the most delish ways to enjoy them.

Dal Makhani with Baked Saffron Rice – another goodie I nabbed from Jenna’s blog.

Lighter Chicken Tikka Masala – can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this one. One of my all-time favorites!

Smoky Red Lentil Chili {vegan}

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This was the chili I made the Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread to go with last week.  It was the smoky factor that called to me when I saw it on Tami’s blog, and it didn’t disappoint! I upped the spicy factor to suit our tastes and it was just wonderful.  The only change I would make next time is to take the suggestion to run the red peppers through the food processor (and use two red peppers instead of one orange-lol), because I imagine that makes the chili thicker and more red and visually appealing.  I wasn’t reading the recipe closely and just diced the peppers as I usually do, which was fine, but I look forward to trying it the recommended way.

And don’t be scared of the lentils! I personally have a distaste for regular lentils, but red lentils are totally different and do not have that earthy flavor to them at all.  I found mine at a Lebanese market (you can get them at N & J Cafe’s market here in Wichita), and hope you’ll be able to find them in your area too.  So much tastier than regular lentils, IMO.

This chili has a wonderful balance of flavors and I was impressed that the creator even thought to add vinegar, something I’ve never added to chili, but somehow it’s perfect here.  You won’t really notice it, but it did need some tang to balance everything.  So good, you won’t even miss the meat.

Smoky Red Lentil Chili

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2 ounces dates (approximately 9 Deglet Noor)
1 pound red lentils (they look orange in the package)
7 cups water, divided
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted preferred)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 large chopped onion
2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped*
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons dried parsley
1½ tablespoons dried oregano
1½ tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (different than regular paprika)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or more to taste – I used 1 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste – I used 1 teaspoon)
scallions or Faux Parmesan – optional (for topping at the end)

Blend the dates in one cup of the water until smooth (unless you have a water-tight food processor, use a blender, or the liquid will fly out. Lesson learned the hard way by me). Place the puree, along with all remaining ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Alternatively, you can cook in an electric pressure cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes, or in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Sprinkle with chopped scallions or Faux Parmesan and serve with baked tortilla chips or over a baked potato if desired.

*Chef AJ’s note: I like to use the food processor so it’s almost a puree.

*Veronica’s note: If you live in Wichita, go to The Spice Merchant for the smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder – you will pay much less than you would for the pricey McCormick spices, and they’re just as good!

Yield: 8 servings

Recipe source: Nutmeg Notebook, originally from Unprocessed by Chef AJ.

Easy Cream of Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

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I know you expected a pregnancy update today but the weekend was so busy I forgot to have Den take a picture of me, and what is an update without a picture? Boring.  So I hopefully will have that tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a soup recipe for you.  (P.S. Cookies in July swappers, I will be sending your matches later today!)

While I enjoy baking year-round, I try not to turn the oven on in the summer for dinner (I save it for more important stuff, like pie!) and lean toward simple stovetop meals like last week’s Easy-Peasy Cheesy Tuna Noodle Bowls, or grilled cheese with tomato soup.  I usually wouldn’t be eating hot soup in the summer, but baby is digging it lately and who am I to decline to deliver “womb service?”  I have a feeling I’m going to be turning on the oven for dinner if baby decides s/he needs some sort of casserole, too.

from www.umberttheunborn.com

I’m not above heating up canned soup (I love the roasted red pepper and tomato soup in the cartons you can get at Aldi now!), but I came up with this recipe when I had a tomato soup emergency (i.e. I really wanted needed it!) and no canned tomato soup, using ingredients I found in the cupboard and fridge.  Emergencies make the most delicious dinners sometimes!

Easy Cream of Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

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1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes (with basil, garlic & oregano)
½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained
1/3 cup V-8 Hot & Spicy juice (optional, will be thicker without)
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat to simmering. While heating, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Serve hot.

Serves 2-3

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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If you haven’t seen recipes for lasagna soup all over the web for the last couple years, then you don’t follow as many blogs as I do-lol!  It is everywhere.  It’s taking over the blogging world.  If it wasn’t so delicious, it might scare me a little, but now that I’ve made it I totally get it.

Everyone has their own variation and I just took the one from Suzie’s blog and made it a little healthier.  I have to tell you that Biz is actually the reason I finally made this soup because I think she’s made it (and raved about it) 55.7 times since Suzie posted it and I just couldn’t resist any longer.

So glad I gave in–this soup is completely frabrilis!  I mean hello, lasagna in soup form?  Frabrilosity! 

P.S. A lot of things went wrong with my pictures and I do not care to explain the unattractive, cold plops of cheese and how thick this is because you would scoff at me and I’m not in the mood for your scoffing beyond the scoffing you’re doing at my cheese plops.  :D  Just follow my directions and you will have frabrilis soup that looks as delicious as it tastes.

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (19.5 oz) package lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. broken up whole wheat lasagna noodles or other pasta of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy goodness:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet along with the onions and cook, breaking up into bite-size pieces, for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Don’t over cook or let soup simmer too long, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the broth.*

While pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy goodness by combining the cottage cheese or ricotta and Parmesan together in a small bowl. To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

*Note: If you are anticipating leftovers, it’s best to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bowl along with the soup, then store them separately, drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick together.  They will become mushy if stored in the broth.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Two Dogs in the Kitchen.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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I have Biz to thank for this amazeballs recipe.  I like a lot of different chili’s (this is the eighth chili recipe on my blog!), but this is definitely a contender for my favorite.  I love the heat level–we like spicy and for us this was perfect.  Spicy but not so spicy that you can’t taste the wonderful flavor.  Your lips may burn a bit, but you can still feel your mouth after eating a bowl, which is a plus in my book.

Since the veggies are pureed and totally not visible, there’s less risk of complaints from picky eaters.  I felt super manly while eating it, with all the meat and beans and spiciness, and apparent lack of vegetables.  But then I couldn’t pee standing up, so that was the end of my manliness.

Also, just an FYI, your chili will not be this thick right after cooking it.  This was the day after I made it, and before I heated up the bowl.  Not many things look good cold, but apparently chili is one exception to the rule. I think it’s so purdy.  (I believe I just lost my man card again.)

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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2 large carrots, peeled & cut into 1-2″ pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 large red pepper, cored & cut into 1-2″ pieces
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish: blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers

Place carrots, celery, red pepper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Process until pureed and set aside.  In a soup pot, heat oil and add ground chicken and cook about 10 minutes on medium heat until no longer pink.  Add vegetable purée to chicken mixture and cook about 5 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.  Serve with blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers, if desired.

Nutrition Per Cup (without garnish): 239 calories, 3.4 fat, 29 carbs, 7.5 fiber and 23.5 protein.

Recipe source: My Bizzy Kitchen

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I won’t be posting Wednesday, so I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you to enter my cookies giveaway by Wednesday at midnight. Good luck!

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