Category Archives: Soups

Three Bean Chili & Homemade Chili Seasoning

The Super Bowl is almost here and while football is not really my thing, any “holiday” where food features prominently is worth celebrating, I suppose. Chili is certainly a popular football game day dish judging by the zillion or so recipes for chili I found on a Pinterest search. So why is mine worth a try? Well, your whole family can eat and enjoy it. Your mouth will not be ablaze with the fire of 10 million habaneros, however your taste buds won’t be bored either. There is a touch of spice, yes, but the spice level was more than tolerable enough for my toddler, yet the chili was full of flavor thanks to my original spice blend. Also, this chili is quick to make. It doesn’t have to sit in a crockpot all day while you’re waiting to eat. You can certainly let it simmer on the stove for a bit to let the flavors meld or keep it in a crockpot on warm after cooking but if you want to make this chili after work for a weeknight dinner, no problem.

Three Bean Chili with Homemade Chili Seasoning

So here goes…brown ground beef, onion, and chopped bell pepper in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Drain off any excess grease then add in tomatoes and the three beans. To be clear, that’s three types of beans: black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans. Then it’s time to add the spice.

Three Bean Chili

The original version of this recipe called for store bought chili seasoning. I opted to create my own. Another Pinterest search revealed a number of posts on homemade chili seasonings so I took the the best from each of them and ended up using dried minced onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and some brown sugar to balance out the smokiness of the paprika.

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Homemade Chili Seasoning

After all the ingredients were in the pot, I brought the chili to a boil, then let it simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with whatever toppings you prefer. I just like crushed tortilla chips for the crunchy contrast but sour cream, shredded cheese, or diced jalapenos would all work great. Enjoy the game!

Side note: this recipe serves about 8-10 but if you’re not feeding a crowd, the leftovers freeze really well. Just thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat in a pot on the stove.

Three Bean Chili

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Three Bean Chili

Yield: serves 8-10

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

2 – 16 ounce cans dark red kidney beans

2 – 16 ounce cans pinto beans

2 – 16 ounce cans black beans

1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles

1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste

homemade chili seasoning (one batch, or to taste) or 2 packages store bought chili seasoning

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed

crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, or shredded cheese to garnish

Directions:

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Drain excess grease.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes and tomato paste, chili seasoning, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil.

3. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Homemade Chili Seasoning

Yield: enough seasoning for 2 pounds of beef/8 servings of chili

2 tablespoons dried minced chopped onions

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Use right away for chili or store in a sealed jar for future use.

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

In my soba noodle salad post, I promised a recipe to use up the other half of a napa cabbage so at long last, here it is. It’s still January so it’s still National Soup Month plus in our house we really enjoy using Asian flavors in our cooking. This Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup was derived from a recipe in Parents magazine. The original recipe was a bit bland, probably because it was intended for little kids, but with a few modifications it morphed into a flavorful soup suitable for the whole family–even with the spices it wasn’t too much for my toddler to handle. He slurped it right down. And my husband had thirds. If that’s not a marker of success, I don’t know what is!

Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup

We all know that chicken soup is dubbed Jewish penicillin. Aside from being a quick and nutritious weeknight anytime meal, this soup may help you feel a little better if you’re suffering from a mid-winter cold. While it’s not totally clear why chicken soup is such a comfort food during illness (for me, ice cream works well too, haha), the steamy vapors from a hot bowl of soup may improve congestion and the soothing broth provides extra hydration. So it’s worth a shot since it tastes better than cough syrup anyway.

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

The first part of this recipe involves making a gingery broth, flavored with the whites of green onions. I also cooked chicken thighs during this stage. Once the chicken was cooked, I shredded it with two forks and returned it to the pot to make the rest of the soup. At that time I added the thinly sliced napa cabbage, snow peas cut into thirds, and pad Thai rice noodles. When the noodles were tender, I added a little soy sauce then seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, and Thai spice. The original recipe called for just salt and pepper but I tasted the broth at that point and it was too bland. Thai spice, which I got from Spice Sage, one of my favorite places to purchase various spices and herbs (thanks Dad for recommending it!), fixed that problem. Thai spice is a mixture of ginger, basil, cumin, cardamom, garlic, cilantro, pepper, and turmeric. If you don’t have Thai spice, you could try adding some of those seasonings to taste. Alternately, Chinese five spice powder (which includes cinnamon, anise, pepper, cloves, allspice, and fennel) would also work well–and yes, I realize that’s more than 5 spices. Slurp up!

Asian Spiced Noodle Soup

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Asian Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from Parents Magazine, January 2014 issue)

Yield: serves 6

3 green onions
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 ounces brown rice pad Thai noodles
8 ounces snow peas, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Salt, pepper, and spices such as Thai spice to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Thai spice)

Directions:
1. Separate the white part of the the green onions from the green part. Place the white part into a large Dutch oven and thinly slice the green parts for topping the soup later.
2. To the Dutch oven, add the chicken thighs, broth, and ginger, along with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
3. Remove the onions from the broth. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks, then return the shredded chicken to the pot and bring back to a boil.
4. Add the cabbage, noodles, and snow peas to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the noodles are tender. Stir in the soy sauce and seasonings. Taste the broth and adjust the flavors as needed. Top with the sliced green onions and serve.

Per serving: 280 calories, 7 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Potato Soup

With this cold spell we’re having all across the U.S., warm soups just feel right. They help take the chill away and paired with some fresh bread, they can be a wonderful comfort food. This potato soup is one that my family has enjoyed for years. I’m sure the recipe originally came from a cookbook, but over time it has evolved and now I just consider it my mom’s recipe.

Potato Soup

The great thing about this hearty soup is that it seems really creamy, thanks to cooking down starchy potatoes and mixing them with milk, but it’s actually not all that bad for you because instead of using heavy cream like a lot of potato soups do, you use skim milk as the base. It’s also great for vegetarians as this is a rare potato soup recipe without associated bacon bits or other attempts to make it into a baked potato soup. Of course baked potatoes have their place, I just prefer them not to be in my soup bowl.

Soups can take a while to cook sometimes too, so they can be tricky for weeknight meals. Not this one. It’ll easily be ready to serve in well under an hour from start to finish. Not too many dishes to wash and a meal your whole family can enjoy.

After browning onions in butter in a large saucepan or soup pot, potatoes and carrots are added along with caraway seeds for an extra unique flavor and are boiled in water until tender. The soup is thickened with a little bit of flour and after simmering for a short while, skim milk is stirred in for that creamy effect. Enjoy…and stay warm!

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Potato Soup

Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup diced onions

3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

1 carrot, grated (or 1 cup of matchstick carrots)

3 cups of water

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups skim milk

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Brown the onions in the melted butter.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, water, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil then stir in the flour.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil again.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 282 calories, 9 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl

Every time it gets cold out, my husband asks for this noodle bowl for dinner. We’ve been making it for 6 years now and it is still a favorite of his (and mine too). Because it’s one of his preferred meals, he usually ends up cooking it too. When I walked in the door and this was almost ready for dinner the other night, I nearly swooned with how good the house smelled. The Chinese five spice powder with the cumin emits the most wonderful fragrance and makes this dish even more appetizing.

GInger Chicken Noodle Bowl

It’s a quick meal to make too, originally derived from one of the Rachael Ray 30 minute meal varieties so it’s a great choice for dinner, and a one pot meal to boot, so clean up is also fast. After browning chicken thighs in a large dutch oven, garlic, ginger, carrots, and the spices including the cumin and five spice powder are added. Chicken stock joins in followed by some vermicelli or spaghetti. Once the noodles are cooked, scallions and bean sprouts are stirred in and dinner is ready. Its distinctive flavor is just so delicious and is a soup we make again and again.

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Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl (adapted from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats)

Yield: serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 cup matchstick carrots

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 pound vermicelli or spaghetti

4 green onions, cut into 2 1/2 inch matchsticks

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

Directions:

1. Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and after it is heated, add the chicken and brown it lightly, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in the garlic, ginger, carrots, cumin, and five spice powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add the vermicelli then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes. Add the green onions and bean sprouts. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 460 calories, 14 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Curried Lentil Soup

Welcome 2014! Hope everyone had fun ringing in the new year. I was happy to have a quiet night at home and thankfully my little guy was asleep in his crib at midnight for once.

Like soba noodles, lentils are another traditional New Year’s food. In Brazil they are eaten to represent the hope for prosperity in the new year, just like black eyed peas are eaten for the same reason in parts of the USA.

In addition, January is national soup month. Soups are nice and filling and often lower in calories for those people eating light after holiday decadence. Also they’re really comforting on a cold winter day. We tend to eat a lot of soup this time of year.

Despite my quiet New Year’s Eve, I was still pretty tired on New Year’s Day (thanks to a toddler and a full time job and actually making it until midnight without falling asleep) and wanted to spend a relaxing family day mostly outside of the kitchen. A slow cooker soup allowed that to happen!

Curried Lentil Soup

Prior to putting everything in the slow cooker, I microwaved chopped onions, grated ginger, curry powder, some vegetable oil, and tomato paste for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. This let the onions soften and the flavors come together.

After that, I added the onion mixture to the slow cooker along with 8 cups of chicken broth (could definitely use vegetable broth if you prefer), chopped carrots, and a cup of lentils. I cooked the soup on low for about 6 hours which allowed me plenty of time to take my son to the playground to work up an appetite for dinner and bake some bread. By then the lentils were tender. Before serving I added chopped tomatoes, more ginger, and fresh cilantro to the soup and seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper.

Curried Lentil Soup

The taste was fantastic! The house smelled amazing from the start when microwaving the onions. It wasn’t spicy but the merger of onions, ginger, and curry was delicious. Curry powder is a combination of multiple ground spices including cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. For this recipe I used a homemade curry powder that I had made a batch of last month, but whatever type of curry powder you enjoy and have on hand will work great. My husband requested to have this soup again and my 15 month old wanted more and more of it (though he’s still working on using a spoon so he wore quite a bit too) so I’m calling it a success. Here’s to a year of prosperity and longevity!

Curried Lentil Soup

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Curried Lentil Soup (adapted with minimal modifications from Slow Cooker Revolution volume 2)

Yield: serves 6

2 cups chopped onions (2 small/medium onions)

2 tablespoons grated ginger, divided

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons curry powder

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds

1 cup lentils, rinsed

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the onions, 1 tablespoon of ginger, tomato paste, oil, and curry powder. Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently, until the onions are softened.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker, along with the broth, carrots, and lentils. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

3. Once the lentils are tender, after about 6 hours on low, add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Chunky Vegetarian Chili with Thyme Cornbread

Today was one of those rare days when daycare was open and I had the day off from work. Since it was my son’s first day in his new class I sent him anyway and took the time to catch up on some cleaning and organizing projects. Before I knew it I had only an hour left until I needed to pick him up and I wanted to get dinner cooked before then, since he’s not so patient about watching me cook and he’s too little to help.

This chili was super fast to make. I got it simmering away in enough time to make cornbread and get a shower in before picking up the munchkin.

I roughly chopped up an onion, half an orange bell pepper, half a green bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic and sautéed them in some vegetable oil in my Dutch oven.

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After that I added the seasonings, two cans of stewed tomatoes, two cans of rinsed and drained black beans, and a can each of rinsed and drained kidney and pinto beans. After bringing to a boil I reduced the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

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The cornbread was also really quick. After preheating the oven and coating an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray, I combined a cup of all purpose flour, 3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. I added 3 tablespoons of buttermilk powder. It would definitely be fine to use real buttermilk instead, just omit the water. I like to keep the buttermilk powder on hand for spur of the moment uses. To the dry ingredients, I added 3/4 cup of water, an egg, 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. I stirred it until it was moist then transferred the batter to the pan and baked for 25 minutes.

I still made it to pick up my son on time. And as a bonus, he really liked the cornbread and seemed to enjoy the chili as well….more made it into his mouth than onto my floor, so I’m calling it a success!

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Chunky Vegetarian Chili (adapted from Cooking Light Soups & Stews Tonight!)

Yield: 8 servings (1 cup each)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15 ounces each) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 ounces each) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounces) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounces) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

The Recipe
1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Thyme Cornbread (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2010)

Yield: 9 pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder -or- 3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup water (omit if using buttermilk)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme (1 1/2 tablespoons if using fresh thyme)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray

The Recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk powder.

3. Add the water (or buttermilk if using instead of the powder), oil and stir until moistened. Then add the corn, thyme, and garlic and combine.

4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out dry.

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Peruvian Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Peanuts

A trip to Machu Picchu is definitely on my bucket list but it’s not going to happen right now with a toddler in tow. So I’ll just have to take myself to Peru through cuisine. I just made a quick dinner that I adapted from Cooking Light Soups & Stews Tonight! The house smelled great from the peanuts and we had a hearty meal, great for a fall evening. I apologize for the lack of photos along the way but I had my kiddo on my hip during much of the cooking process so didn’t have a spare hand for the camera. But check out the final product below.

I ground up dry roasted peanuts in my mini food processor. They weren’t quite at peanut butter consistency but seemed a little moist. I thinly sliced an onion and a half then prepped my sweet potatoes, cutting them (approximately 1 pound worth) into small chunks. I heated vegetable oil in the Dutch oven on medium-high heat, then browned the onions. I added in the peanuts, 6 cups of water, yellow cornmeal, some salt, cumin, ground allspice, and the sweet potato chunks. After bringing it all to a boil, I reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. I then added in a pound and a half of boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces. I again brought it to a boil then reduced heat to medium-low and let cook for 10 more minutes. I tossed in a handful of fresh cilantro and dinner was ready. The broth was so tasty. I’d recommend seasoning the chicken, maybe with a little salt and freshly ground pepper, before cooking it, to add a little more flavor. But all in all, yummy stew that I’d definitely make again.

peru stew

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Peruvian Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Peanuts (adapted from Cooking Light Soups & Stews Tonight!)

Yield: 6 servings

1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion (1 1/2 medium onions)

6 cups water

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 pound of peeled sweet potatoes, diced into cubes

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bited-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

The Recipe:

1. Grind peanuts in a spice grinder or food processor until chopped into fine/medium pieces. They will be moist appearing but not peanut butter consistency

2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned.

3. Add the water, cornmeal, salt, cumin, allspice, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.

4. Add the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil again then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Stir in 1/3 cup of fresh cilantro, roughly torn.

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