Tomato Soup

Homemade tomato soup is a treat all year round. The soup is easy to make and versatile. You can serve it as a first course, with a sandwich, or eat it alone. Any way you choose you will not be disappointed. It is delicious and satisfying.

In this recipe I use chicken stock instead of water to enhance the flavor. Personally I prefer to use chicken stock, but you can easily make this a vegetarian soup by using vegetable stock. If you choose to use vegetable stock, use a good quality stock that you have tried and like.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients:

3 – lbs. fresh Roma tomatoes
1 – tbls. olive oil
2 – carrots
1 – medium onion
3 – cloves garlic
4 – large basil leaves
2 – tbls. tomato paste
2 – cups organic chicken stock
1 1/2 – tsp. sugar
1 – tsp. salt
1 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 – cup heavy cream

Directions:
Dice carrots and onion, and mince the garlic. Heat olive oil in medium sized pot and add diced vegetables and garlic. Sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. In the meantime, dice the tomatoes, then add them to the pot.

Roll the basil leaves as one and slice into ribbons.

Add the basil to the pot and mix well.

Continue to cook about 2 minutes. Once the tomatoes start to make water, clear a spot in the pot and add the tomato paste.

Stir tomato paste and cook about one minute. Be careful not to let it burn. Add chicken broth (if you want to make this vegetarian, add vegetable stock instead).

Add sugar, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Taste the soup to see if it needs any additional salt or pepper. Slowly add the heavy cream, stir and cook about one minute to warm the cream.

The soup will have some texture with pieces of tomato and vegetables, which is the way we prefer it; however, if you prefer it smooth, you can purée it in a blender.

Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.




Purée of Zucchini Soup

Purée of Zucchini Soup

These cold winter days are perfect for a bowl of creamy zucchini soup. Unlike most heavy cream soups, this one is light, smooth, healthy, and delicious without giving up any flavor. Instead of using heavy cream, this soup gets its thick, rich flavor from adding a potato and a little low fat milk. This soup makes a perfect after work meal not only because it is delicious, but also because it is a fast and easy one pot meal. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread for a great meal.

Ingredients:
4 – small zucchini
1 – large Idaho potato
1 – large onion
1 – carrot
1 – small bunch of celery leaves
2 – garlic cloves
1 -qt. Chicken stock
1/2 – tsp. Salt
Gound black pepper to taste
1/2 – cup 2% milk
Crema Mexicana (for garnish)

Directions:
Cut off the ends of the zucchini, peel the onion, potato, carrot, and garlic. Quarter each of the vegetables and place the them in a medium sized pot, add the garlic and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the flame to medium and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Add salt and pepper.

When the vegetables are fork tender, turn off the flames and use an immersion blender to purée the vegetables. Be careful not to cause the hot liquid to splash.

Once it is smooth, add the milk and stir thoroughly.

This soup can easily be made either vegetarian or vegan. Use can substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock, and the milk can be left out all together. It will still be just as delicious.

To serve, drizzle a little crema on top and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.




Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew is the perfect dish for the winter months. It’s hearty, healthy, and delicious. Stew is a great way to use up vegetables you have in the refrigerator or freezer.  This recipe includes, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes, but you can use any vegetables that you prefer.  Brussel sprouts, green beans, or any root vegetable works nicely.

Ingredients:
2 – lbs. skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
2 – stalks celery
1 – large onion
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
4 – large carrots
1 – tbls. tomato paste
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms
2 – large potatoes
32 – oz. chicken stock
1 – can diced tomatoes
2 – cloves garlic
1/2 – tsp. oregano
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt
Ground black pepper
Adobo Seasoning

Directions:
Using a food processor, finely chop the celery and onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped celery and onions, and red pepper flake. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle a little salt, black pepper, and Adobo on both sides of the chicken pieces. Move the celery mixture to one side of the pot to make room for the chicken. Add the garlic and chicken pieces, and brown on both sides.

Clear a small spot and add the tomato paste and carrots.

Cook for 1 minute then add the mushrooms and potatoes. Stir and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs de Provence, oregano, and salt to taste.

Stir and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the flame down to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with a crusty bread and enjoy!




French Onion Soup

  • French, Onion soup, Gruyere

French Onion Soup is so hearty and delicious, it is hard to believe it is made of such simple ingredients. Onions, a good quality beef stock, a little wine, and gruyere cheese and you get a special treat.

French onion soup has always been one of my favorite soups, but I find that it can often be very salty. To avoid this, use a stock that is unsalted or at the very least low-sodium.  This way you have control over the amount of salt to use.

The soup is easy to make, but it does take time to caramelize the onions.  Don’t be in a hurry, the reward for your patience is a delight to your taste buds.

Ingredients:
3 lbs – onion
1 tbls – olive oil
2 tbls – butter
4 cups – beef stock unsalted
2 cups – chicken stock low sodium
2 – bay leaves
2 tbls. – flour
1/2 tsp. – sugar
1 tsp – salt
1 cup – red wine
1/2 tsp – black pepper
French baguette
12 oz. – Gruyere cheese

Directions:
Slice the onions in a food processor. In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. When the onions are all sliced, add them to the pot along with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir the onions, and cook about 2 minutes.

Once onions start to soften place the lid on the pot, and cook on a medium-low flame for about 20 minutes until the onions become soft. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the onions from burning.

Next add the sugar to help the caramelization of the onions. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the onions become golden brown. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Stir often.

In the meantime, combine and beef and chicken stock in  a small pot and heat on the stove until ready to use.

Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir.

Cook about 3 minutes. Next, deglaze the pot by adding the red wine. Stir, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Cook about 1 minute to burn off the alcohol, then add the hot beef and chicken stock mixture. I prefer to use both beef and chicken stock for a more complex flavor.

Add bay leaves and black pepper and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes. The soup will thicken a little with the help of the flour. When the soup is done, taste and add salt if needed.

Turn on the broiler of the oven. Slice the french bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Drizzle a little olive oil and toast.

Ladle the onion soup into oven proof crock soup bowls and add the toasted french bread.

Top off with grated gruyere cheese.

Place the crocks on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler. Do not walk away, this does not take long. Cook until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown on the edges.

Carefully remove the entire cookie sheet from the oven. Wait a couple minutes for the soup crocks to cool a little. Handle using oven mits, and place the crocks on a plate to serve.

Enjoy!

 

French Onion Soup, Gruyere Cheese




Lentil Soup

Lentils are common in Italian cuisine. They belong to the legume family and are a good source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. So the point I am trying to make is that they are healthy for you, but they are also delicious and versatile. They come in many varieties and are used in many cuisines, such as Indian, Ethiopian, Egyptian, and Asian to name a few. Soup is not the only way to serve lentils. They can be made to a drier consistency with warm, aromatic spices such as cumin, cardamom, paprika, and turmeric, which turn them into the perfect side dish.

We like to eat this soup all year round.  Give it a try!

Ingredients:
2 – carrots
1 – medium onion
2 – stalks celery
2 – garlic cloves
1 1/4 – cups lentils
32 – oz. chicken stock
2 – dried bay leaves
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
2 – cups water

Directions:
In a medium sized pot, start by making the soffritto with the carrots, onion, and celery (click on link for instructions).  Also add the whole cloves of garlic to the pot with the soffritto to sauté. Place the lentils into a wire mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Let drain, and once the soffritto is ready, after about 10 minutes, add the lentils and red pepper flake. Mix to combine, then add the chicken stock, bay leaves, salt, black pepper and water.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower flame to a simmer and let cook about 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Buon appetito!

Serves 4

 




Italian Wedding Soup

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Italian Wedding Soup is one of our favorite meals. I have been eating it since I was a baby. Mom made it a few times a year, but it was a staple for our Christmas dinner. The soup is hearty enough to eat all alone, and it is very satisfying. The base is chicken soup, which is enhanced with miniature meatballs, escarole, and eggs. Some people add a small pasta such as ditalini or pastina, but Mom did not use any pasta. I continue the tradition and make it exactly the way Mom made it. My family loves it, and it is our favorite part of Christmas Dinner. We usually eat so much of it that we are too full to enjoy the rest of the feast. Give it a try, I think you will like it too.

Ingredients for soup:
2 – qts. chicken broth (see recipe)
2 – large heads escarole
2 – hard boiled eggs
2 – eggs
4 – cups miniature meatballs
3 – tbls. Pecorino Roman Cheese

Ingredients for meatballs:
8 – oz. ground beef
8 – oz. ground pork
1 – egg
1/4 – cup pecorino romano cheese
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. black pepper
1/2 – cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 – tbls. fresh parsley chopped
1/4 – cup milk
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder

Directions for meatballs:
Place the beef and pork in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, and then add it to the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Form small meatballs about 1/2″ in diameter. Heat canola oil in a large skillet and add the meatballs in batches. Do not over crowd the pan. Cook until browned on all sides. Do not worry if they are not cooked completely because they will finish cooking in the soup. Place the meatballs on a plate and set aside until ready to assemble the soup.

Directions for the escarole:
Wash the escarole carefully, shake off the excess water and chop it into 1 inch wide bands. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling add a teaspoon of salt and add the chopped escarole. Bring back to a boil and cook until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Drain the escarole into a colander and let it cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water.  Set aside until ready to assemble the soup.

Assemble the soup:
You can make the chicken soup the day before, but be sure to save the carrots and the chicken. Discard the onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves.

If you made the soup earlier, heat it up in a large pot. Shred some of the chicken used to make the soup (about one cup) and add it to the broth. Slice two of the carrots and add them to the soup along with the meatballs. Bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer about 2-3 minutes.  Chop the hard boiled eggs and add them to the soup along with the escarole.

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In a small bowl, whisk two eggs with about 3 tbls. pecorino romano cheese. Bring the soup up to a brisk boil and add the eggs, and using a fork, stir the soup briskly to incorporate the egg. This only takes about 30 seconds.

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Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!




Scrippelle ‘Mbusse

img_0465Crepes in Broth

Not only did I learn to cook from my mother, but I also learned to cook from my father. He was a very good cook, and he took pleasure in preparing us special treats. One of my favorite things was scrippelle (Italian dialect). Scrippelle are the same as crepes. These crepes are used in chicken broth in place of noodles. This dish is called scrippelle ‘mbusse, a dish of the Province of Teramo in Abruzzo where my father grew up.

I was always so happy when dad made these. He made a stack of them in preparation of the chicken soup that was cooking on the stove. My sisters and I would eat them as fast as they were coming off the skillet. We sprinkled a little grated pecorino cheese on one, rolled it up and ate it while it was still warm. We were lucky to have enough left for the soup.

Ingredients:
6 – eggs
1 – cup flour
1 – cup water
1/4 – tsp. salt
1 – tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley
pecorino romano cheese for serving
Chicken broth for serving

Directions:
Place eggs and salt in large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Gradually add the flour and water alternating the two, and whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Whisk until all is well combined. Add in the parsley, mix and let rest covered in the refrigerator about 1 hour before making the scrippelle.

Heat a crepe pan on a medium flame and add a few drops of canola oil. Holding the crepe pan in one hand, pour about 1/2 ladle full of the batter at the top of the pan and twirl around until the batter covers the entire pan. Set down on flame and cook until bubbles start to form. Check the bottom and if there are some brown spots it is time to turn the crepe over. Cook until brown spots start to appear on the second side, about 45 seconds to one minute. Continue this process until all the batter is gone. Stack the scrippelle on top of one another on a flat plate.

Making the scrippelle:

Heat the chicken broth and prepare the scrippelle for serving.  Sprinkle it with pecorino romano cheese.

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Roll up the scrippelle and place in soup bowl.  Two are usually sufficient per serving.

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Pour broth over the scrippelle, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Buon appetito!




Butternut Squash Soup

 

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This is the perfect soup for the fall season, and it is easy and fast to make. You can substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian.

The herbs and cayenne pepper are a good balance to the natural sweetness of the butternut squash.

Ingredients:

1 – large butternut squash
2 – tbls. butter
1/2 – cup diced shallot
2 – stalks celery
2 – cloves garlic
4 – cups chicken stock (organic preferred)
2 – bay leaves
3 – sprigs of fresh thyme
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 – tsp. black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Sour cream for serving

Directions:

Peel and remove the seeds from the butternut squash, then cut it into 1-2 inch cubes. Heat 2 tbls. butter in a large stock pot, and meanwhile dice the shallot, cut the celery in small pieces, and peel and smash the garlic with the side of a large kitchen knife. Add them to the pot and sauté until the onion just starts to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add the butternut squash, chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and salt. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender until smooth and creamy. If you use a regular blender you will need to do it in two or three batches. Be very careful with the hot soup in the blender. Hold down the lid and always remove it facing away from you. The steam from the hot liquid can blow off the lid.

Return the blended soup into the pot and add black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper (optional).  Serve immediately. A spoon of sour cream is a nice compliment to the soup, if you like.

 




Mushroom Barley Soup

mushroom-barley-soupMushroom barley soup was not something that I grew up eating, but I love it. This recipe is one that I created one evening when I did not know what else to make. I searched through my pantry and refrigerator and started throwing ingredients together. I am always looking for ways to add protein to my semi-vegetarian meals so I added the cannellini beans. They go perfectly with the soup and make it a complete nutritious meal. Serve with some crusty Italian bread and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 – 8 oz. pkg. of white mushrooms
1 – 8 oz. pkg. of cremini mushrooms
3 – cloves garlic
Soffritto (dice by hand so they have some texture)
1 – 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 – 10.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
32 – oz. chicken stock (preferably organic; vegetable stock may be substituted if you want to keep it vegetarian)
2/3 – cup barley
1/2 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flakes
2 – tbls. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Prepare the soffritto, add it to a large stock pot and sauté in a little canola oil until it starts to caramelize. Peel the garlic and smash them with the side of a large knife and add to the soffritto. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms clean and cut them into 4-6 pieces depending on the size of the mushroom. Add the diced mushrooms to the soffritto and sauté about 5 minutes.

Rinse the barley and drain. Add it raw to the mushroom mixture along with the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir together and cook an additional 2 minutes then add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes.

Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 25 minutes until the barley is cooked. Once the barley is cooked, drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soup. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.




Best Ever Turkey Chili

turkey-chiliGrowing up, Mom made Chili at home, and of course, it was her own creation. She used ground beef and kidney beans in a tomato based sauce. It was delicious. For many years, I made it exactly the way she did until one day your father and I were visiting the botanical gardens and we stopped for lunch in their cafeteria.  Dad ordered the Chili, which he liked very much, so I took a taste. It was slightly sweet and in addition to beans it also had corn.  I decided to recreate a hybrid recipe at home.  I started with my Mom’s recipe and added a second type of beans, corn, a little brown sugar to add the sweet element, and a little nutmeg.  Pardon my frankness, but my creation is better than the one we tasted at the botanical gardens.

I use ground turkey now since it is a healthier choice, but you can use beef. The turkey has a certain gamey taste, and this is the reason I use nutmeg. It disguises the gamey flavor. I use nutmeg in all my ground turkey recipes.

Ingredients:

1 – lb. ground turkey (97% lean)
1 – medium onion diced
2 – stalks celery (center leafy is best)
3 – cloves garlic
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 – tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 – cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 – tbls. chili powder
1 – 15 oz. can black beans
1 – 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 – 15 oz. can sweet corn
1 – 10..5 oz can tomato soup (Campbell’s healthy request)
1 – 10.5 oz can diced tomatoes

Note:  you can substitute the beans with any kind you prefer; for example, chic peas or pinto beans.

Directions:

Add 2 tsp. Canola oil in a large heavy pot. Add the diced onion and garlic. Sauté on low heat until tender. Careful not to let the garlic burn. Push the onions aside and add the ground turkey. Break it up into small pieces. Add the salt, pepper and the rest of the spices. Cook on medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add the tomato soup, and 12 oz. of water. (You can use chicken stock in place of water if you like). Stir, and then add the diced tomatoes, celery stalks (keep whole), corn, and beans. Drain the corn and rinse the beans before adding them. Once the chili comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 45 min. to one hour.   Remove the celery before serving.

We usually add a little cheddar cheese on top or sour cream.