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  • Tortilla Soup

    We had a slight reprieve from the weather. Slight. Short lived. We’re back to freezing our tuchuses (sp) off. With Spring less than a month away, all we can do is hold on tightly and pray for the best. Mother Nature has a funny way of keeping us on our toes – enough already, we’re sorry for whatever we did!

    I was very hesitant about this soup. It’s what my foodie friends and I would jokingly refer to as ‘Canna Soup’. A canna this, a canna that. Looking at the ingredients (below) there is very little ‘me’ in this recipe and a lot of dependence on ‘them’. I may change it up a bit next time and add some fresh veggies, some extra herbs, etc.

    This soup comes together so quickly, you’re done almost as soon as you start. Everything in one pot, everything at one time. Can’t possibly be easier than that.

    • 1 T olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 t chili powder
    • 2 cans (14 1/2 ozs each) diced tomatoes
    • 2 cans (15 ozs each) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 can (14 1/2 ozs) reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 1 package (10 ozs) frozen corn kernels
    • s&p
    • 1 T fresh line juice
    • tortilla chips

    NOTE: If you use vegetable stock, this becomes vegetarian.

    Heat oil in a large saucepan.

    Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    NOTE: Cooking dry spices for a moment or 2 before adding the rest of the ingredients really helps them release their flavor and aroma. I tend to do this all the time.

    Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, corn and 1 cup of water. Season with s&p.

    Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

    NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips to be added at this point. I though they would turn into a soggy mess and decided to just serve them on the side.

    Serve soup with lime wedges and tortilla chips. A little sour cream or shredded cheddar would be nifty too!

    tortillasoupchallengegirlichef

    Italian Wedding Soup

    It’s been cold here – and not just in an ‘oh, I need a scarf today’ kinda way. This has been cold to the bone, mind numbing cold. The kind of cold that makes you longingly look back at home just seconds after leaving home. And this is during the shank of the day.

    Now imagine having to be out there in the middle of the night working. My poor lovey works way too hard, for too many hours, freezing. In order to keep him (semi) happy and warm, the soup of the week is adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics.

    Meatballs

    • ¾ lb ground chicken
    • ½ lb chicken sausages, casings removed
    • 2/3 C fresh bread crumbs
    • 2 t  garlic, minced
    • 3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
    • ¼ C freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
    • ¼ C freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
    • 3 T milk
    • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    NOTE: For some reason my supermarket chose this week to be out of both chicken and Italian sausage. I was able to find already cooked Italian chicken sausage, so I just minced that up.  I used whole wheat bread for the bread crumbs.

    Soup:

    • 2 T good olive oil
    • 1 C yellow onions, minced
    • 1 C ¼” diced carrots (2-3 depending on the size of the carrots)
    • ¾ C ¼” diced celery
    • 10 C chicken broth
    • ½ C dry white wine
    • 1 C small pasta like tubetini or stars
    • ¼ C fresh dill, minced
    • 12 oz/340g baby spinach, washed and trimmed

    NOTE: I can’t say it enough, it was really very hard for me not to use my crappy olive oil. I am so glad Ina cleared it up by telling me I should use the good stuff. I cheated. I used stock in a box – low sodium stock in a box, but in a box just the same. I used a bag of baby spinach. It was a 10 oz. bag, but there was still a lot of spinach in the soup.

    We start with the meatballs.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Add all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and combine gently with a fork. Using a teaspoon, drop small (1” or so) meatballs onto the baking sheet. There should be about 40 meatballs.

    NOTE: Being the lazy sod that I am, I used a cookie scoop. These really don’t need to be perfectly round meatballs.

    Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

    NOTE: I couldn’t resist. I had to try one. These are really good. You would be heard pressed to know that these were chicken and not beef.

    Now, for the soup.

    Heat the olive oil over medium low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened (about 6 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.

    Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary.

    NOTE: I left out the dill. I forgot to buy it and really didn’t think it would make a big difference. I did add the pasta at this point. I knew this soup would be completely consumed within 5 days so the pasta would hold up. It you are going to make this and freeze it, skip the pasta. When you defrost the soup, cook a little bit of pasta and then stir it into the soup.

    Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach leaves begin to wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

    NOTE: Definitely a keeper and something to do again. It seems like a lot of ingredients and that it would be fiddley because of them, but this comes together easily and quickly. I know it’s good when I get a peck on the cheek after tasting!

    Split Pea Soup

    Oh, I wish I liked soup, I really do. I see so many wonderful recipes for soup, but I just don’t like eating it. Perhaps it’s the same reason I am not crazy about hot chocolate, hot coffee and hot tea … not crazy about hot liquids. Sadly, my husband loves soup.

    I occasionally believe we are the culinary equivalent of Jack Spratt and his wife. He doesn’t like crunchy potatoes or fries – I can’t live without them. He takes the skin off chickens and turkeys and – hang onto your hats – throws it away – I am sure that is a sacrilege somewhere.  Fried chicken? He doesn’t like it. Frosting? Nope, doesn’t like that either. Butter on Popcorn? Nope. And he loves soup. Sigh.

    He is playing this heart attack card to its fullest. Don’t get me wrong – I understand a appreciate the situation. BUT it was a mild heart attack, the doctor said he will be fine, it was strictly hereditary, and a little diet change, exercise and meds and he will continue to make me want to bang my head against the wall for many years to come. THANK GOD!

    ‘I really love soup. You know, I had a heart attack, soup would make me feel better.’

    ‘Really? What type of soup would make your heart attack feel better?’

    ‘Split Pea Soup.’

    REALLY? Of all the soups there are in the vast culinary world he picks SPLIT PEA SOUP. I was aghast, a little freaked out – speechless even – and for those of you who know me, that’s nearly impossible.  Who do you call for help in a situation like this? Well, for me – Ernie. She suggested the Split Pea Soup from Barbara Kafka’s Soup: A Way of Life. The recipe looked simple enough. Straight forward, not a lot of silly ingredients. I guess the man was getting Split Pea Soup after all.

    • 1 pound split peas
    • 1 small ham hock
    • 12 cups chicken stock
    • 2  bay leaves
    • 3 T vegetable oil
    • 4 medium carrots — 1/4 inch dice
    • 2 medium ribs celery — 1/4 inch dice
    • 1 large onion — 1/4 inch dice
    • 2 cloves garlic — smashed and peeled
    • kosher salt – to taste
    • cubed croutons – optional

    NOTE:  I chopped the garlic after I smashed it. I also found sliced ham hock at my market. It seemed that would be so much easier to deal with.

    In a tall narrow stockpot, bring the peas, ham hock, stock, and bay leaves to a boil. Lower the heat. Simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the ham hock and allow to cool slightly. Remove and discard the skin. Tear the meat into bite-sized pieces.

    While the soup is simmering, in a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring for 8 minutes.

    Stir the vegetables into the soup with the meat from the ham hock. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt.

    Sprinkle some croutons on each portion or pass them.

    NOTE: He doesn’t like croutons either! The soup alone in the bowl looked sad and lonely, the croutons made a better photo. I tried the soup, with the croutons of course, it wasn’t as awful as I expected.  The soup was easy to put together, the most difficult part? All the chopping – and even that’s not much. The best part? My husband loved it, said it was delicious and better than his mother’s. Is there a greater compliment a husband could give his wife?