Stuffed Pepper Soup…

I’m going to level with you- the reason I haven’t paid much attention to this blog lately isn’t because I have a new blog, or because it’s the holiday season, or because I’m just “soooo busy! OMG, it’s just like, crazy how busy I am, you know?!” (p.s. don’t you hate people like that?). It’s because I’ve simply been having too much fun lately. My little stinker is 10 months old now and friends, that’s a FUN age! We play, we crawl, we tickle, we “cook”…we have fun. I’m loving every second of being a mommy!

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with being a great blogger. I wish I were one of those super moms that has time to do it all plus blog about it. Oh well. Can I make it up to you with some yummy soup?? I know the pictures are downright embarrassing, but the soup is pretty freaking awesome. We LOVE stuffed peppers, but sometimes I just don’t feel like messing with the whole process. This soup is a WINNER because you throw all your favorite components of stuffed peppers into a big pot and you’re done. We were super blown away with how easy and delicious this was!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

2 large bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 small can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
salt and pepper
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 pound lean ground beef
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sugar

cheddar cheese, for topping

In a large stockpot, brown the ground beef with the onion, carrots, and celery. Drain off grease. Add the chicken broth, peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaf, sugar, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and rice is fully cooked. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve. Serves approximately 6-8.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Kale, Butternut Squash, and Quinoa Soup…

Thanksgiving is in 6 days!! YAY! And that means my FAVORITE day of the whole year is only 7 days away — Christmas Decorating Day! Forget Black Friday; I’m all about staying home, eating leftovers, and pulling out every single box of Christmas decorations while listening to my favorite Christmas CDs (hello, Amy Grant, Bing Crosby, and Harry Connick, Jr.!). It’s a happy day, I tell you!

But that really has nothing to do with this recipe. I just felt like sharing. :) I recently bought a giant bag of quinoa from Trader Joe’s (LOVE that we have one of those now!) and have been using it like crazy lately. I’ve never used it in a soup before, but I’ve always loved the idea of using quinoa in place of rice or pasta in a soup. I decided to whip something up using the huge amount of kale in my fridge and some frozen chopped butternut squash leftover from baby food-making. :) I loooove the combination of hearty, flavorful kale with the creamy butternut squash. And the quinoa adds a great nuttiness. There are so many textures going on- it makes for one great soup!

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Quinoa Soup

2 cups kale, rinsed and chopped
1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
1 cup cubed butternut squash
1/3 cup pancetta, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 or 6 carrots, chopped
6 cups chicken stock or broth
salt and pepper

In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook the pancetta for 2-3 minutes; add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots, kale, butternut squash, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the quinoa. Cook for about 20 minutes more, until quinoa is translucent. Serves 4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Sweet Potato Soup…

Happy November!!! I hope everybody had a fun, safe Halloween and lots of yummy snacks and candy were eaten! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a leftover bag of Reese’s minis sitting on my nightstand just waiting for me. ;)

But now the fun of Halloween is over and it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving! Yippee!  In fact, it was a Thanksgiving side dish that inspired me for this soup- mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, a splash of orange juice and a sprinkling of pecans. I had four very large sweet potatoes I wanted to use and the idea of soup just popped into my head. I made it just like I make my mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, except I pureed the whole thing until I had a silky smooth, creamy soup, just perfect for a chilly fall evening. This came together so quickly and easily, and it made a pretty big pot of soup, so we had delicious leftovers to look forward to! I’d even recommend this for a Thanksgiving soup course; it really is a breeze to throw together and it’s easily customizable – you can add any number of seasonings or toppings to suit your tastes!

Sweet Potato Soup

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
splash orange juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large pot, bring the sweet potatoes, chicken broth and water to a boil; cook for approximately 20-30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in 2 or 3 batches), puree the soup until very smooth and no lumps remain. Add the salt, pepper, butter, brown sugar, orange juice and cayenne pepper. Check for seasoning. Garnish with chopped toasted pecans, if desired. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Broccoli Cheese Soup…

Guess what time it is??? It’s SOUP season!! YAY! This morning we woke up to a crisp, chilly morning, and for the first time all season, I don’t need my air conditioner running! That’s definitely something to celebrate (especially considering it was 90 degrees yesterday! Ugh!); so I’ll start today by posting my first soup recipe of the season (yippee!), then busting out my long sleeved shirts and sweaters, and baking some delicious pumpkin bread. Sounds like a heavenly day to me!

Now about this soup. I’m a HUGE fan of broccoli cheese soup. Love it. However, for some reason, I’ve never made my own. A few nights ago, I decided I had waited long enough and set out to make a big pot. This soup is not only cheesy, but rich, creamy and full of hearty broccoli flavor. We loved it! I think you will too! Now, some of you will remember that I am, indeed, lactose-intolerant, so I paid dearly for eating two bowls of this delicious soup (even with my magic enzyme pills), but honestly, it was worth it. However, I won’t be making that mistake again in the near future… ;)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds broccoli, cut into small pieces; stalks peeled and cut into small chunks
3 carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat butter over medium high heat. Add broccoli, onion, carrots, mustard and salt and pepper. Stir frequently and cook until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add water, chicken broth and baking soda and bring to a simmer. Cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes.

Add milk and cheeses and stir until all the cheese is melted. Using an immersion blender (or transfer the soup to a regular blender and blend in two batches), blend the soup until smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Serves 6-8.

Recipe source: heavily adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2011

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Joel’s Favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup…

As a new bride (5 years ago this month- yay!), I bought a soup cookbook from Williams-Sonoma so I could learn to make easy, delicious soups for my new husband. I bookmarked a ton of recipes from the book but this one always stood out to me; it claimed to be a 15-minute soup. Intriguing! I tried it and found that not only was it a quick and easy recipe, it was super scrumptious! Joel fell in love with it and I’ve been making it religiously for 5 years now. In fact, this was the very first recipe I ever blogged waaaay back in April 2008 (isn’t it cute? The pictures are just terrible!)! I thought I’d go ahead and re-blog it since it never really got the attention it so deserves. Joel never gets tired of it and as soon as soup season rolls around every year, Chicken Tortilla Soup is his first request! I’m happy to make it for him as often as he wants because I happen to love it too and like I said before- it’s EASY. This isn’t your typical high-fat, loaded with tons of ingredients chicken tortilla soup. It’s base is a flavor-packed broth seasoned with chili powder, cumin and lots of lime juice (my favorite part!), and the zucchini is an authentic addition suggested by my friend Amanda’s mother. It’s simple, full of tons of great flavor and extremely satisfying!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I like to roast or poach bone-in chicken breasts until tender, then shred the meat. Additionally, you could also use a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
half an onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small-medium zucchinis, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
juice from 2 large limes
salt and pepper to taste

Coat a large saucepan with olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion and zucchini and sautee until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper and stir until fragrant. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Add the shredded chicken, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is heated through. Add the lime juice and taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and top with and desired garnishes. Serves 4.

Garnish ideas:

crushed tortilla chips
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
sliced avocado
fresh cilantro

Recipe source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Soup Made Fast

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Cheater Chicken and Dumplings…

You’ve seen these chicken and dumplings here before. In fact, according to my StatPress, it’s one of the most searched for items on my blog. Funny, isn’t it? I guess people really appreciate recipes with good shortcuts! I have to be honest- this really is a truly delicious, easy, family-pleasing recipe; but it’s been buried in my archives for almost 2 years now (with some really, really bad pictures). I think it needs a little freshening up, don’t you? So here it is, the same great recipe, re-shot and re-submitted for your approval!

“Cheater” Chicken and Dumplings

1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper (plus more to taste)
6 cups chicken stock
5 frozen biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands Frozen Biscuits), thawed enough to cut into pieces

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat half of the olive oil (1/8 cup) in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken, turning the pieces so that all sides are slightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes for each side. Remove the chicken pieces and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the remaining 1/8 cup of olive oil to the pot, along with the onions. Saute the onions until they’re soft, about 6 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and white wine. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Saute, stirring frequently, for another 6 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cover the meat and vegetables with chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 90 minutes. (This step is especially flexible. If your liquid is reducing too much, you may need to add more chicken stock. If the dish is too liquidy, turn up the heat and to reduce the stock more. The idea is to end up with a consistency of a very thick stew.)  If the broth is not as thick as you would like, remove one cup of the broth into a measuring cup and whisk in 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Return the broth to the pot and stir.  Remove chicken pieces with tongs and allow them to cool. Shred into small pieces. Return to the pot.  Cut the frozen biscuits into thirds. Drop the pieces onto the top of the chicken and vegetable mixture. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through. Serve immediately.

**Alternatively, you can cook your chicken in a crockpot, shred it, then add it in with the vegetable/wine/broth mixture. If you do this, you won’t need to simmer everything for 90 minutes- 20 or 30 would be plenty- just long enough to cook the vegetables until soft. This is what I’ve always done and it comes out perfect everytime!

Recipe source: adapted from The Bitten Word

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Vegetable Tortellini Soup…

I just can’t believe that with the many pots of soup I’ve made over the years, this hasn’t been one of them. I mean, how could I discount such a delicious concept? Cheese-filled pasta in soup?! Brilliant! This couldn’t have been easier to make and it’s so hearty and filling. I really love all the chunky vegetables along with the soft, cheesy pasta…this was so delicious and comforting. All you need is a little crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious, healthy meal! And the leftovers are even better! I made this soup weeks ago during all the horrible, snowy weather we were having and it was comforting and so yummy! I’m so happy this thought popped into my head- we’ve discovered a new favorite!

Vegetable Tortellini Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 can diced tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped
7-8 cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 package (12 oz.) cheese tortellini (found in the refrigerated section)
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onion and carrots. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the wine and scrape off any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the tomatoes, zucchini, salt and pepper and broth; bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Stir in the fresh spinach, mushrooms and tortellini. Cook for 15 minutes more. Serves 4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper

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My Mom’s Simple Chicken Stew…

Um, it’s been cold. Really bad, snowy, icy, power outages, school-closed-for-4-days COLD. But I probably don’t have to tell you that. Most likely, it’s been the same story where you are too (unless you live in California or someplace delightful and sunny, in which case…I hate you.). In fact, as I’m sitting here typing this, cars are slipping and sliding down my icy street. Weather like that can only mean one thing- warm, hearty chicken stew. It’s the easiest stew in the world to make and it requires very few ingredients. This is how my mom always made it and I just love it. In fact, not too long ago I was visiting my parents and my mom served me this stew for lunch- big chunks of potatoes, carrots and tender juicy chicken all simply seasoned with salt and pepper. This is the best kind of cold weather food! All you need is some good crusty bread or cornbread muffins to go with it and you’ve got a hearty, delicious meal!

My Mom’s Chicken Stew

3 bone-in chicken breasts
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 or 6 small potatoes (or 2 or 3 medium sized), cut into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover. Boil the chicken for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until very tender.
Remove chicken from pot (save the broth- you’ll use that later!) and let cool. Remove the skin and bones and shred chicken (I like it in pretty large chunks).

Put the pot with the chicken broth back on medium heat and add in the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes and salt and pepper (depending on how thin you like your stew you can add a little water if needed). Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just about tender. Add in the potatoes and chicken and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with crusty bread or cornbread muffins. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6 (also makes great leftovers!)

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper’s mom :)

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West African Peanut Stew…

Now, I know I have a lot of readers who enjoy simple, down-to-earth recipes (as do I!), and I realize this recipe sounds a tad “different” from the types of things I normally post. But folks, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one- it’s absolutely delicious. I got this recipe from a sweet reader who enjoyed my Peanut Buttery Carrot Soup post and recommended I try her mother’s recipe for West African Peanut Stew. That was over a month ago, and honestly, since then, this recipe has been at the top of my “must try” list. I finally got around to making it this weekend and WOW! What a delicious recipe! Hubby and I both licked our bowls clean, then went back for seconds! The combination of flavors and ingredients here is just perfect- the spices really complement the hearty chunks of sweet potato and smooth peanut butter, and the cilantro and chopped peanuts are the perfect toppings. If you’re looking for something new and exciting for dinner this week…seriously, give this a try, it’s a surprising delight!

West African Peanut Stew
-adapted from Steph’s mother’s recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 green pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water, with a chicken bouillon cube)
1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
1/2 cup crushed peanuts, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
cooked couscous, for serving

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin and cook for 1 minute more. Add sweet potatoes, carrot, and green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth and salt and pepper. Bring stew to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook 20-30 minutes, or until the sweet potato and carrot is soft. Stir in the peanut butter and cook for 5 minutes.

Serve the stew hot, on to top couscous or rice, with the peanuts and cilantro sprinkled on top.
Serves 4

**I also added chickpeas to mine for a little more texture- it was a delicious addition!


Now, onto the real reason for this post. My blogging friend, Branny of Branny Boils Over is hosting a wonderful charity next month, Charity Souper Bowl. She’s asked us to each blog a soup recipe and send it in to her; she’s hosting the event on February 6th (the Super Bowl) and for every entry she receives, she’ll donate $1 to the ASPCA. This money will go toward giving homeless animals medical care, food, shelter, etc. Wonderful cause, no? She asked each of us who participate to dedicate our post to a special animal in our lives. Well, I think we all know who I’ll be dedicating mine to… our sweet Izzy! She’s not just the official mascot of Sing For Your Supper, she’s mine and Joel’s beloved pet and we love her so much. Since Izzy came to us from an animal rescue, helping causes like this one is very near and dear to our hearts. I’m happy to participate! Good luck, Branny, and thank you!!

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Creamy Potato Soup…

If you’re anything like me, some nights you’ll end up staring blankly into the fridge with no idea what you’re going to make for supper…and it’s almost suppertime. Lucky for  you (and me!), if you’ve got a bag of potatoes and some onion , you’ve got the beginnings of a mighty tasty potato soup! This recipe isn’t new to the blog- it’s made an appearance before, BUT I just got a handy dandy macro lens for Christmas and couldn’t resist re-shooting this soup. Plus, I’ve made a couple of small changes to the recipe that make it just about perfect in my eyes (and Joel’s!). I made this not too long after Christmas and after a week of being horribly sick, and it tasted SO good! So rich and creamy with a slight tang from the sour cream- I really, really love it!

Creamy Potato Soup
-adapted from my mom’s recipe

5-8 medium size russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 chicken bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Put the potatoes, onion and bouillon cube in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover. Cook uncovered, over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat the low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft. Stir in salt and pepper. Using a regular blender or a hand blender (that’s what I used), puree the mixture until smooth and free of lumps (*if you use a regular blender, be sure to puree only a little at a time; you don’t want to overfill your blender). Stir in the sour cream and shredded cheese. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Garnish with additional sour cream and cheese, bacon bits or green onion if desired.

Playing with my new lens….what do you think? Maybe I should learn to focus better… ;)

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