Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Mmmm… Don’t you just love a Sunday ham? Drizzled in all it’s maple, sugary, honey, roasted goodness? It’s one of my favorite “wait-all-day-for-it” meals, because I’ve never had a bad ham. Really. Never had one.

But one of the best parts of a ham for my family is the after-products from that delicious chunk of pork. Particularly the soup. My mother and my mother’s mother, and HER mother’s mother all made soup from the ham bone and the little bits leftover ham that escaped the dinner table (and sometimes had to be saved by themselves in a secret Tupperware dish in the back of the fridge so that soup could be made!) This is my mother’s recipe with just a little bit of adaptation, I don’t use the bones for stock due to lack of time. (If you’d still like to know how to make ham stock click here.) it takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how thick and rich you want it, and it tastes amazing, every time. You won’t be disappointed.

Ham and Potato Soup

4 cups of water
1 cup chicken broth, or 3 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
4 cup washed diced potatoes (I like to leave the skin on)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled sliced carrots
1/4 cup minced onion
The chopped ham bits from last night, (I usually save around 1 to 1-1/2 cups if I can)
3 1/2 tbsp of butter or soft spread
1/4 cup all purpose flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups of 2% or whole milk (You can use 1% or skim, but add a little extra flour for richness)4 sprigs fresh parsley
Grated cheese (Parmesan or Cheddar work best)

In a large stockpot combine all of your vegetables, the potatoes, the ham and the water. Bring these ingredients to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 15 to 18 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and are all the same pale white color, then add the chicken flavoring of your choice.

Melt the butter or spread in a smaller saucepan on medium low, then slowly whisk the seasoned flour into the butter, then gently pour the milk, a little bit at a time, into the butter flour mixture, and make sure that any lumps are quickly whisked out. The smoother the better for the consistency of the soup. Continue to stir, reducing the heat to low, for 5-6 minutes until the sauce is super creamy.

Stir the sauce into the soup, then serve in individual bowls. My mom always topped with some kind of grated cheese and a pinch of minced parsley, then served it with Keebler Club Crackers or even oyster crackers. My dad tops his with BacNBits.

Some of the additions or substitutions I’ve tried include a can of creamed corn added with the butter/flour mixture at the end, or other vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. I’ve also made it the soup extra thick and topped it with a puff pastry circle then baked it in the oven for a “pot pie” kind of meal.

My kids love soup, so I always try different recipes. My friend gave me this recipe a few years ago and my kids love it.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1-1/2 lbs Italian sausage

2 onions chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2 teaspoon red peper flakes

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

6 cups chicken broth

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

8 oz fusilli pasta

1/2 cup finely chopped basil

8 oz. ricotta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch of Pepper

2 cups Shredded Mozzarella

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat

2. Add sausage, and saute-breaking it up into small pieces

3. Drain excess fat

4. Add onions and saute for 6 minutes

5. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes; saute for 1 min

6. Ass tomato paste and saute until paste turns a rusty brown color

7. Add tomatoes with juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil

8. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes

9. Add pasta, increase heat to medium-high and boil the soup until pasta is tender to the bite

10. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste

11. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pinch of pepper

12. To serve, place about 1-1/2 tablespoons of Ricotta mixture in each bowl, sprinkle with mozzarella and ladle the soup on top.

Enjoy :o) This soup is perfect for a cold rainy Sunday

Nothing makes me dislike winter more than the beginning of the cold and flu season. It seems that as soon as the first fall breezes sweep in from the north, or in the case the Midwest, kids start sniffling, adults start calling in sick, and doctor’s offices and urgent care centers are filled with coughing, sneezing and sickly patients. I always recommend orange juice and chicken soup before starting my speech about the benefits of a diet high in things like zinc and vitamin C, but most people think that I mean the canned soup when I say Chicken Soup. If you reach for a can of the Campbell’s Chicken and Stars, I’ll give you an A for effort, but its not nearly as healthy and beneficial as chicken soup made from scratch.

WAIT, WHAT? Isn’t this blog supposed to be about easy and simple nutritious things? I know, you probably think that chicken soup takes days of work, hours of prep, and ages of simmering on your cooktop before you can even begin to enjoy it, but I am here to tell you that it can be 1 EASY, 2 FUN, and 3 RESOURCEFUL. Consider your holiday meal plans. Are you roasting a turkey, a ham, a large roast, or a large chicken in the next few weeks? Do YOU KNOW what you can do with that carcass after it has been carved? Are you aware that the basis for some of the most delicious soup in the world can be started with a simple pile of bones and leftover meat? It’s true. For years my dad turned every roasted meat item that graced our family table into soup, and thankfully I paid enough attention to how he did it to post it in this blog. It’s a very simple process, does not require more than 3 hours of your time, and can become a family tradition that will fill your holidays with healthy and hearty meals for years to come.

Chicken Soup From Scratch

You Will Need:

For the Soup Base:
A roasted or rotisseried Chicken, half  or mostly eaten 
A Large Stock Pot
A Large Soup Pot
1 Large Onion, peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, halved
Any leftover veggies, herbs and spices from your fridge
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly squashed under the flat of a spoon or knife
1 large bay leaf
Cheesecloth

For The Soup:
A bag of egg noodles, or pasta of your choice, or rice or barley
1 can of corn
1 can of sliced carrots
3 sliced green onions, just the green parts
1 teaspoon of dried thyme

Place the entire chicken carcass, bones, giblets, leftover meat, and all, into the bottom of your stock pot. Cover the carcass with enough cold water so that it is covered plus one inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and let it boil until a foam starts to gather on top of the water. Reduce the heat and scoop off the foam. This removes alot of the fats from your soup and makes the broth clearer. Add your large onion, large carrots, and your leftover veggies and herbs, your cloves of garlic and your bay leaf. Cover the pot but leave the lid slightly ajar, allowing steam to escape and makes the soup thicker. Let your soup base, also called a stock, to simmer over medium heat for 2 whole hours, for the best flavor and nutrition. The simmering pulls all sorts of yummy nutrients from the bones, tendons and meat from your chicken, and the longer it simmers the better. If you are pressed for time, just one hour of simmering will do, but your soup won’t be as flavorful.

Place a colander over your large soup pot and line it with some cheese cloth. Remove your chicken from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Pour the stock, veggies, and herbs into the pot through the cheese cloth and colander so that just the broth is left. Wrap the softened veggies and herbs in the cheesecloth and throw them away, or add them to your compost pile. Add your canned veggies, sliced onions, and pasta to  eight cups of the broth and heat it again over medium heat.

While the soup is boiling go over the carcass one last time with a fine tooth comb and pull every bit of leftover meat from it. Because the meat has simmered it should literally fall right off the bones, and I usually I get anywhere from 1-3 cups of meat depending on how hungry my family was the night before. once you have seperated your meat, add it to the soup, and throw away your chicken bones. Make sure you put it in the bottom of your garbage can so that Fido can’t get to it, because chicken bones can splinter and crack when eaten, causing your doggie to choke.

Let the freshly picked meat, canned and fresh veggies, stock, and pasta or rice cook until the pasta is done, usually another ten to fiteen minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve it steaming hot in giant bowls with some crusty french bread, crispy drop biscuits, or Saltines. If you’d like, let the soup cool then pour it into Ziploc or Glad containers, and freeze it, or take it over to your neighbors for a tasty holiday treat!

You can use this same method for hams, turkeys, and even roasts. It allows you to clean out your refrigerator, use your leftovers again, and keep those colds at bay!

Happy Cooking!