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Category Archives: Soups & Stews

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.

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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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Printable recipe with picture

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!

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew


Rhonda from Dining Alone has a “Best Thing I Ever Made” feature where she highlights a favorite recipe each week from her archives. In October, she shared this stew as the best soup she’s ever made. All I had to do was take one look at her totally delicious picture (please, go look, and grab a napkin to catch the drool) to know I had to make it.

My sister’s best friend, Margo, married a Moroccan man (that’s them up there with the Twinkies during a Toot and Twinkies game night…but that’s another story for a different day) and she introduced me to their cuisine after she learned to cook it from her sister-in-law. Her Moroccan Chicken Couscous is so so delicious, and this stew has very similar ingredients so I was fairly certain I would love it.

Love it? No, I’m obsessed with it. If this soup were a person, it would have filed a restraining order on me because I stalked it for three nights in a row, made inappropriate noises while eating it, and almost cried when it was gone. I might have separation anxiety. Moroccan Turkey Stew, please don’t leave me! Come back!

So anyway, you should try this stew.  And please invite me over for dinner when you do.  I promise I’ll keep the inappropriate noises to a minimum.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt
4 skinless, bone-in turkey thighs (about 4 pounds)*
1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juices, broken up
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins
8 medium carrots, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
3 medium red onions, halved and cut into wedges
2 whole dried red chiles
1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh cilantro, including leaves and some stems
1 cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

*You can also use bone-in chicken thighs, which is what I opted to use since I couldn’t find turkey legs.

Combine the allspice and 3 teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Season the turkey thighs with half the salt mixture in a 5-quart slow cooker.

Toss the squash, chickpeas, tomatoes, apricots, raisins, carrots, onions and chiles with the remaining spiced salt. Pour the vegetables over the turkey (the cooker will be full; arrange the mixture so the lid fits.  And don’t be like me and think you can fit extra veg in because you can’t–trust me.). Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Spoon the vegetables and broth into bowls. Remove and discard the turkey bones and place the meat on top of the vegetables.

Juice the lemon; pulse with the cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Add the oil and process until smooth. Serve the stew in bowls; drizzle with the cilantro sauce.

*Veronica’s note: your cilantro sauce will probably not be as green as mine (compare it with Rhonda’s picture) because I didn’t measure it and probably used twice as much as I was supposed to.  I didn’t care, it was still phenomenal.

Recipe source: Food Network, as seen on Dining Alone

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Disclaimer: I know I said I wasn’t going to apologize for my bad photos, but I do want to explain that I took these with zero natural light–all I had was the light from the light bulb overhead in the bedroom because for some reason, that is the brightest room in our house.  So I think they’re pretty good, considering.  Except for the swampy green blobs.  That’s not cool, but hey, this is real life up in my kitchen and swampy green blobs happen.

Effortless Ham & White Bean Soup

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Sometimes I save a recipe and it takes years for me to get around to making it.  Most I’ve never made and probably will never make, despite my best intentions.  And sometimes a recipe finds me at just the right moment, like this one, when I’m craving it, or I happen to have everything needed to make it.

This soup really is quite effortless.  Mary’s recipe is easy to begin with, as it is made in the slow cooker, but I cut out the step of soaking the beans overnight and now it’s even easier!  When I make refried beans in the slow cooker, I don’t soak them overnight and the beans cook up just fine and soft without the soak, so I just used the same amount of water for the soup as if I was making refried beans and it worked great.

Dennis made a point to tell me several times that this soup was “really good.”  Like I mentioned before, I usually have to pull food opinions from him like teeth, so for him to offer this one up so many times tells you how good it is.  I prefer a ham and bean soup without tomatoes or spices, but did like the addition of the carrots and onions and will definitely include those from now on.  This is a quick, nearly effortless meal to throw into the crock before work and when you get home, you can serve some hearty, warm comfort to your family.  And don’t forget the cornbread. :)

Effortless Ham and White Bean Soup

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1 pound dry Cannellini or Great Northern white beans, rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (or ½ teaspoon each oregano, basil, and parsley)
8 ounces ham, diced (I used ham steak)
9 cups water
1 (14 1/2 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large crockpot, combine all the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours. Mash some of the beans to make the soup creamier if desired. Serve hot.

Recipe source: adapted from One Perfect Bite

***

I recently finished the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  During a walk that originally should have ended at the post office but led him cross country in an effort to reach an old friend dying of cancer, with the unlikely hope his pilgrimage might save her, Harold realized something that resonated with me.  Not wanting to squander his retirement, he eventually depended upon the kindness of others during his journey.  He realizes, “It was as much a gift to receive as it was to give, requiring as it did both courage & humility.”

I thought of Suzie then, because she has exhibited such courage and humility in the face of her inability to pay for an operation she needs.  She has been so thankful in her communications with me, and now extends her gratitude to everyone on her blog today.  (You can read it here if you haven’t already.)  I think it does take incredible courage and humility to admit you need help and frankly, Suzie, I think we can all say that it truly was a gift to pitch in whatever way we could, if only with well wishes and prayers.  We all wish you the best, and thank you for the chance to join with others to make a difference for the better. <3

Taco Chili

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Usually on the rare occasion I ask Dennis if he will make something while I’m at work, I get the irritated face.  The “I hate to cook why must you torture me?” face.  The “wouldn’t you rather me rather scrub the toilet and clean the sink drain out by hand instead?” face.  Cooking just isn’t his thing.  It stresses him out.

But chili is another story.  It’s what he lived on as a bachelor and may be the only thing that he really likes to cook.  I handed him the recipe for this with instructions for adapting it to what we had, preparing myself for the sound of grinding teeth (worst sound ever!), but there was no teeth grinding and he didn’t even frown a little.  He actually seemed excited.  It was like I’d been speaking a foreign language all these years and I finally communicated something he understood.  Even better, he reported that he “really enjoyed” making it.  I think his enjoyment translated into the final product because this chili is incredible!  It’s very simple, but oh so good, and if you top it with sour cream and cheese and scoop it up with tortilla chips, you get the total deluxe taco effect. :)

Taco Chili

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning)
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
10 oz package frozen corn kernels (Dennis used fire-roasted frozen corn)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Optional toppings: Additional cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, etc.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain.  Combine with remaining ingredients in a large pot  and stir together.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until you can stand it no longer.  (Dennis simmered his for one hour.)  Serve hot with optional toppings.

Veronicas note: There’s no need to remove the seeds from the jalapeno, unless you are very sensitive.  Dennis left half the seeds in and this was a mild chili.

Recipe source: adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

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