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Posts published in “Soups and Stews”

Pantry Raid: Cannellini Bean Stew with Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach

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First of all, Happy New Year! Dave and I spent the long weekend in New York City. And the first thing you're probably thinking in response to that might be, You're insane. What about the crowds?

Well, we weren't feeling brave enough to head into Times Square and battle the crowd of nearly one million people who came out to see the ball drop. And we definitely weren't interested in standing out in the bitter cold for hours, either.

We had a great weekend, though, filled with wonderful food and drinks to celebrate not just New Year's Eve, but our 1 year anniversary and my (early) birthday. Surprisingly, it wasn't too hard to get in or out of the city. For a holiday weekend, travel on all accounts went surprisingly smooth.

Sadly, I find myself now feeling ill with what I think might be a cold that was developing all last week in spite of all of my wishing that it wasn't. The rest of this week isn't getting any warmer, either. For my birthday on Saturday, it's going to be a blustery zero degrees and probably colder than that with the windchill, well into the negative single (and maybe double?) digits. Joy.

Days like these call for something hot and comforting to take off the chill. Cannellini beans (white beans), frozen spinach, and a mirepoix of fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery) are always well-stocked in my pantry to make soups and other meals that are always favorites to eat and quickly assembled.

This recipe uses leftover red wine for added depth of flavor. If you don't have any or would prefer not to use it, it's fine to just add extra vegetable or chicken broth. Likewise, a Parmesan cheese rind is nice to add in here, but don't sweat it if you don't have one to spare.

P.S. I'm transitioning all of the recipes over to a new plug-in tool as of today, so this one and others may look different as I'm getting them moved over. Let me know what you think of the new look and functionality.

Pantry Raid: Homestyle Chicken Soup

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Since I started eating meat again last year, I almost always keep a package of organic chicken thighs or breasts in my freezer for fresh, quick-to-assemble meals like curried chicken salad, chicken bacon ranch pasta—and this simple chicken soup.

Chicken or vegetable broth concentrate, like Better Than Bouillon brand, is a staple that I like to keep in the fridge for soups, sauces, and any other recipes that require stock. This way, I can use as much or as little as I need, without opening a full box of stock. The broth concentrate paste just gets scooped out of the jar and added to whatever I'm cooking along with water or other liquid. And as a bonus, it dissolves quicker when compared to bouillon cubes. Low sodium and organic varieties are available, too, which I usually try to buy but sometimes they are hard to find in stores.

Other alternatives to the broth concentrate are a good quality organic vegetable or chicken stock (Wegmans house brand is fairly low sodium) or, of course, homemade stock.

Chickpea Stew

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I don't know about you, but as soon as the temperature starts to turn a little colder and I can see the first few leaves start to turn color on the trees—I don't care if it's a hot second after Labor Day, or if the pumpkins aren't ready and the fall solstice hasn't arrived yet (it's September 22nd this year, FYI)—it's my shameless cue to start getting into "fall mode."

Out come the cozy, oversized hoodies and sweaters to wear with jeans; the Halloween decorations start to unearth themselves from boxes in the basement, ready to be hung sometime towards the end of September; and soup or stew gets put back on my dinner menu at least once a week. As a matter of fact, today is perfect fall weather where I am, too; it's currently around 62° F and it may even drop below 50° F tonight. Talk about the perfect weather for baking and soup making.

This Middle Eastern-inspired stew has been one of my favorite vegetarian recipes for a while, probably ever since I started a vegetarian (or pescatarian, mostly) diet in high school. I continued being vegetarian/pescatarian up until about two years ago, when I started incorporating chicken and other lean meats back into my diet. Regardless of your food preferences, though, this is a recipe that I have found both meat eaters and veggies enjoy all the same.

January is National Soup Month

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Soup is like one of the most perfect foods. A complete one-pot meal, it warms you up when you’re cold and it makes you feel better when you’re sick.  As chance would have it, January, in addition to being my birth month and one of the coldest months of the winter…

Pantry Raid: Mushroom Barley Soup

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Soup is often my go-to lunch since it's quick and easy to grab from a store or a work cafeteria. I always have a stockpile of some kind of soup or chili in the freezer for when I don't feel like cooking when I get home in the evening, too, which I thaw overnight in the refrigerator or, if I don't remember, quickly thaw in the microwave.

I make and eat soup year-round, even during the summer, but nothing beats the magical feeling of eating hot soup on a cold day. It just warms up your body and makes you feel instantly better—at least, for me it does.

This recipe for mushroom barley soup is one of my favorites to make in the crock pot and let cook overnight for dinner the next day. It is healthy and doesn't require a lot of ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for using up pantry and fridge staples.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Puree

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By this time in the Fall, butternut squash and carrots tend to be "surplus" items in my pantry. They are two of my favorite root vegetables that I love to dice up to add to a vegetable soup, roast with herbs and olive oil for a side dish, or puree after roasting to create a versatile base that can be transformed into several dishes.

When packaged in smaller containers or zip-top bags, this butternut-carrot puree can be thawed a little at a time to use as a quick sauce, soup, or side dish. The portions are flexible, so it's perfect to use up whatever you have on hand.

Here are three quick ways to use butternut squash and carrot puree:

As a healthier side dish alternative to mashed potatoes: Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream into 1 cup puree. Serves 2.

As a quick sauce for pasta: Combine 1 cup puree, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1/2 cup light cream in a saucepan. Heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with 2 cups cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4.

As a vegetarian or vegan soup: Combine 2 cups puree with 3 cups vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat through and finish with 1/4 cup heavy cream. Serve topped with a drizzle of a flavored oil or sour cream, chives, and roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds. Serves 3-4. Omit any suggested dairy to make a vegan soup.