Three times and counting…..

red lentils for spiced red lentil soup with kaleI’ve made Spiced Red Lentil and Kale soup at least three times this winter! It undoubtedly deserves proper recognition. For anyone who might be squeamish about lentils, the cute little red ones were grown for you. They are mild, perhaps slightly sweet and act like delicate sponges absorbing the flavors around them. They are often used to thicken and lend body to broth, and honestly, in this soup the spices are so prominent that you might find yourself wondering if there are even lentils in there…..

I found the recipe in a cookbook by Angela Liddon called the Oh She Glows Cookbook. Angela is also the author of a blog by the same name. She practices plant-based eating and offers recipes that celebrate the depth and diversity of plants. Two other recipes from her blog that have become staples in my kitchen are her Vegan Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and homemade crackers….the latter being an excellent compliment alongside this soup…and they are easier to make than a batch of cookies… I promise.

kale for spiced red lentil soup with kaleBecause this soup hinges on powerful spices, the ingredient list is short and it comes together quickly- easy enough to make after work. Make sure to use homemade vegetable broth as your base. Of course, chicken stock can be substituted, but the vegetable broth makes for a much cleaner taste.

By the way, I’ve also been holding out on two other of Angela’s lovely soups….both a little creamy and a lot healthy! Hmmm….what could they be?!

Spiced Red Lentil and Kale Soup

Spiced Red Lentil and Kale Soup

Adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook.

This calls for kale, but I’ve used spinach, baby kale and Swiss chard. Simply use your favorite…or better yet, the one you need to eat more of.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 stalks celery, small chop
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp mild chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes, reserve juice
  • 6 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 healthy handfuls of kale
  • 1tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In large pot (I used a 6.75 quart Dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent- about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the celery and ½ tsp salt and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spices and the bay leaf and cook for 1 minute until.
  6. Pour in the vegetable broth, the tomatoes and their juices and the lentils.
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle in the remaining ½ tsp salt and pepper then stir in the kale. Be sure to remove the bay leaf.
  9. Once the kale has wilted taste for seasoning and serve.
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Change of Plans

beans for Creamy White Bean and Chorizo SoupDoes the simple mention of this spontaneous course of events send you reeling with excitement into the adventure ahead or does it fill you with dread or maybe irritation that your well laid plans have been disrupted? Perhaps you are cool as a cucumber and so laid back that you simply go with the flow. I’m definitely not in the third camp….no sir! Unless that is I’m feeling inspired and striving to be a better person by working on my “issues” and attempting to be pleasing to those I’m with….rather than being a whiny stick-in-the-mud. I’m more of an obsessive planner. In fact, I’m that annoying person on vacation that has every second of the day accounted for and precisely outlined in a neatly composed, distributed-in-advance itinerary. It’s not complicated to understand, for better or worse I always want to be in control. For me, planning provides a sense of power….like I’m in command of my universe. Yeah, right.

carrot celery onion for creamy white bean and chorizo soupOne of my new gal pals just broke her leg on a skiing trip….talk about change of plans. Learning the news I immediately began playing out how utterly inconvenient this was about to become for her. Everything in her world and her family’s world would have to be altered, modified, shifted, you name it. Routines would become a mere ghost of their former selves. Uh! My stomach is turning right now just thinking about it.  Worse yet….I was selfishly relieved that it wasn’t my plight. I know this is horrible and is one of those “issues” I must work if I am to become that better person. Seeing her for lunch I was amazed at her resilience and downright cheerful stance on the matter. My big spontaneous accomplishment that week had been deciding to switch out the Bacon Date Scones I was planning on bringing her with a Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto version. Whoa…hold me back…I’m on fire!

rosemary for creamy white bean and chorizo soupI’m guessing that my well-organized self is probably the reason I love recipes. They are carefully curated plans that culminate into something beautiful that you set out to do. Of course it doesn’t always go as planned and cooking has gone a long way to teach me flexibility and patience. I’ve also learned that a change in plan can often result in something even better than originally expected.

I’ve barely modified this soup from the original recipe, but the enhancements are what make it so satisfying to me. More herbs, extra garlic, special beans.  Its puréed, but you hold back some of the soup to add in later for texture, along with some crumbled spicy chorizo sausage (which I’m sure I don’t eat enough of!). I’ve enjoyed this soup many times over and yet it never tasted as good as it did with the addition of my new favorite savory scones. They go together like tomato soup and grilled cheese…it’s that perfect.

Parmesan Prosciutto Rosemary Scones for creamy white bean and chorizo soup

 

Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

This is truly one of the most flavorful soups I've ever tasted...you'll find yourself making it over and over until you've shared it with just about everyone you know.

Ingredients

    Beans
  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans (I used white emergo beans from Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • Soup
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, peeled (about 3-5)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 quart homemade chicken broth
  • 1 lb fresh chorizo sausage (links, casings removed)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in, then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).
  2. Drain and rinse the beans then return them the stockpot with 8 cups of water, 1 TBSP olive oil, smashed garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Add 1 TBSP salt and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes until the beans are just tender. At this point they will be so flavorful that you will want to gobble them with some olive oil and freshly grated parmesan…but, please, try to resist for the sake of your soup.
  5. Drain the beans, but be sure to reserve the cooking liquid. You are going to add it to the soup later. It’s the secret ingredient!
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large pot (I used a 9 quart Dutch oven) over medium heat. Then add the onion, carrots and celery and sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Sauté for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
  8. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. The garlic and thyme will bloom and scent your kitchen.
  9. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, as well as the chicken stock and cooked beans.
  10. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  11. Meanwhile, sauté the sausage in large skillet (I used a 12” Le Creuset) over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until no pink remains. Be sure to break the sausage up so you end up with crumbles. Transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  12. Transfer the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly (5-10 minutes).
  13. Remove 1 ½ cups of the soup from the pot and set aside. Then use an immersion blender to purée the soup until it is creamy and no chunks remain. Return the reserved soup to the pot, along with the chorizo sausage and cream.
  14. Gently reheat and serve with Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/03/23/change-of-plans/

Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones

Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones

Adapted from Bon Appétit and Coastal Living. When these come out of the oven, the smell alone is almost as good as eating one. Almost…..

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 oz prosciutto di parma, thinly sliced and pulsed into a crumble in the food processor
  • 1 generous TBSP of freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, diced and chilled
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Egg wash (1 TBSP milk lightly beaten with 1 egg)
  • Fleur de Sel

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the chopped rosemary, grated cheese and crumbled prosciutto. Mix with your hands to break up any clumps.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, quickly incorporate the chilled butter into the flour mixture. Blend until the butter is the size of peas and the dough resembles a coarse meal.
  6. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until large clumps develop; then use your hands to knead a few times and shape into a ball.
  7. On a floured surface, pat the dough into an 8” round and cut into 8 wedges. Sometimes I make smaller scones; just divide the dough in half and make 16 smaller wedges instead of 8 large ones.
  8. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 2 hours. This ensures light, flaky scones.
  9. Before placing in the oven, brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.
  10. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the scones comes out clean. Visually the scones should be golden brown.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/03/23/change-of-plans/

 

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New Friends

Doesn’t it just figure that I meet new, fabulous friends right when I’m getting out of Dodge? If you’ve been reading this blog you know I’m quite partial to Savory in Raleigh. Their spices are the finest I’ve encountered and sustained by an immensely knowledgeable staff that is always eager to oblige. Many receipts later, the girth on my circle of friends (thankfully not my waist!!!) has blissfully expanded, so you can imagine my delight upon discovering that one of these new mates lives directly across the green from me! Perhaps if we were 10 we might tether a string adorned with matching soup cans and whisper secret messages from the prying ears of nearby adults. Certainly, a few decades separate us from such youth, but the camaraderie persists. Like me, Lindsay is an avid home cook and with my dear husband away more than not, a few weeks ago she thoughtfully extended an invitation to join her and her family for dinner. When I learned that black garlic was to be the star ingredient, in my exuberance I nearly tackled her (quite uncivilized…and probably would not have won me second invitation). You see, it’s been on my long list of “must trys” that sits right next to my bulging folder of soup ideas….. Neither the fermented allium, nor the dinner left room for improvement. It was a fantastic evening on all accounts. Lindsay even sent me home with some garlic to “play around with”. Now that’s a friend!

Alone again and hoping to return the treat, I invited myself over…. with dinner in tow. I’m sure it was a sight……me crossing the green as if it were a live minefield. Fiercely concentrating, I gingerly walked this way and that way as I lugged a brimming pot of hot soup…….so sorry, no pictures. Years ago I attended a cooking class at A Southern Season and left absconded with the most glorious recipe for a Garlic Parmesan Broth which has since served as the base for many delicious meals in our home…..can you imagine this in risotto!!!! This time I added baby kale, tender cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo and finished it with a generous helping of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s it! Lindsay’s mother Bonnie, AKA my massage therapist extraordinaire, kindly raved about the soup, but I’m willing to bet she adored dessert…Rich Homemade Ricotta. We set up a make-shift tasting bar with buttered crostinis, raw acacia honey, ridiculously aged balsamic, lavender vanilla sugar, strawberry preserves and soooo much more. Lindsay’s little boy surprised us all by diving right into the ricotta after bravely eating his greens and beans. Had onlookers witnessed this scene, instead of laughing as they might have at my awkward jaunt, they would have yearned to be part of our merry kitchen gathering. With each crostini sampled (and there were a lot) we continued to feed our friendship. Come to think of it, dessert lasted much longer than dinner.

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans
  • 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1 cup celery, small dice
  • 12 cups Garlic Parmesan Broth
  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in, then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours). I used Rancho Gordo beans and soaked them for 18 hours. Beans will have plumped up so add more water if necessary to maintain the 2” water bath.
  2. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir into the beans.
  3. Place the pot of beans on the stove and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are tender and soft all the way through. Half way through the cooking you should start to smell a distinct bean aroma; this is when you add 1 TBSP of salt.
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat warm the broth in a large pot (I used a 6.75 quart Dutch oven).
  6. Add the cooked beans, baby kale, pepper and stir until the greens are wilted (about 3 minutes).
  7. Taste for seasonings.
  8. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Adapted from A Southern Season cooking class.

When used in soup the pronounced flavor of the broth allows for simplicity in the other ingredients. In fact, it demands it.

Ingredients

  • 14 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 8 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (about 5)
  • 16 stems Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 16 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp whole allspice berries
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Separate the garlic cloves from the head and crush them with the flat side of a chef’s knife to remove the skins. This is a sticky job!
  2. In stock pot (I used a 6 quart) combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil.
  3. Cover and over medium heat bring to a simmer.
  4. Once a simmer has been reached, only partially cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
  6. Stir in the oil.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Rich Homemade Ricotta

Rich Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta can be dessert or a savory snack. Try the sweet toppings above or enjoy it with fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, roasted red peppers, a special finishing salt.......

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Line a fine mesh sieve with two layers of dampened cheesecloth (to remove lint and help it stick to the sieve) and position it over a large bowl.
  2. In a 4 quart saucepan (a stock pot will also work) combine the milk and cream.
  3. Stir in the salt.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Stir a few times during the heating and boiling.
  5. Once it reaches a full boil (about 15 minutes), reduce the heat to very, very low and stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes. You will start to see some separation of curd-like particles and whey (liquid).
  7. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes.
  8. Gently ladle the mixture into the lined sieve and drain for 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of draining you will probably need to discard the collected liquid so that it can continue to drain. For a thicker consistency let it drain for 45 minutes.
  9. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and enjoy any number of ways!
  10. Serve immediately (my favorite) or at room temperature.
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Notes:

  1. I’ve been told to use the least pasteurized dairy you can find because the more pasteurization the less curdling success you will have. Here in NC, I use Maple View Dairy which can be found at Whole Foods.
  2. Try not to over stir. This disrupts the curds.
  3. ENJOYING THIS WARM RIGHT AFTER IT’S MADE IS AN ALMOST INDESCRIBEABLE PLEASURE. THERE IS NOTHING SO DECANDANT, CREAMY AND PURE.  Room temperature also works, but don’t miss an opportunity to taste it in its most fresh form.
  4. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice, 3 TBSP of white wine vinegar can be substituted.  The texture, however, will not be as creamy and the flavor will be less delicate.
  5. Provided you don’t devour it within the first 24-hours it will last about 5 days.
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Craving

The Black Eyed Peas may have a feeling, but I have a craving. A big one. HUGE! Leaves me wondering if this is what it’s like to have a pregnancy craving, an incessant desire that gone unanswered grows in compounded fashion, dominating your thoughts until obliged to its satisfaction.  I need some cannellini beans….mingled with aromatics and puréed into a smooth earthy goodness. Laced with garlic and rosemary… I envision a finishing swirl of olive oil dripping over toasted rosemary breadcrumbs ………

Unfortunately this craving hit like a freight train while I was sitting in a hotel room far from my kitchen, a fact that probably only served to make me want it more. You know the old saying, “you want what you can’t have”. Luckily the trip was short one (narrowly saving my husband from hearing about this for the one millionth time) and upon our return I made dash to the grocery for necessary provisions.

My initial attraction, years ago, to this soup was rooted in health. Beans, garlic, olive oil…all high on the “good for you list”. It’s funny, this elixir hasn’t changed, but over the years my attraction has. I crave it not for its wholesomeness, although I do appreciate it, but for its pronounced flavor and rustic charm.  It conjures visions of candlelit country kitchens with marred farmhouse tables that I find quite romantic…..and am starting to crave.

 

Rosemary Cannellini Bean Soup

Rosemary Cannellini Bean Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Rosemary White Bean Soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans
  • 4 cups yellow onions (about 2 large), medium chop
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
  • 8 cups homemade chicken broth (or 6 cups for a thicker consistency)
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, rolled in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in. Then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).
  2. Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside.
  3. In a 6 quart stock pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. If the onions start to brown reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute until beautifully fragrant.
  5. Add the beans, broth, bay leaves and rosemary.
  6. Increase heat to high and cover. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat enough to maintain a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 60-70 minutes until the beans are tender.
  8. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary.
  9. Remove 2 cups of the soup and place in a small bowl.
  10. Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preference.
  11. Return the pot to the heat, add the reserved 2 cups of soup, salt and pepper and gently reheat over a low flame.
  12. Garnish with Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs (recipe follows), freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/02/15/craving/

Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs

These are so versatile that you’ll find yourself sprinkling them on pasta, salads, eggs, roasted vegetables….

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Turn the broiler to Hi.
  2. Pulse ¼ loaf of day old bread in a food processor until it’s reduced to medium to fine size breadcrumbs.
  3. Put 1 cup of the breadcrumbs in a bowl and use a fork to mix in 1 ½ TBSP olive oil until fully combined and all of the crumbs are coated.
  4. Finely mince the rosemary leaves and stir into the breadcrumbs.
  5. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Broil for 2 minutes. Watch them! They brown fast.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
  8. These are best the day you make them, but can be may a day ahead if necessary. Store at room temperature.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/02/15/craving/

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Fiesta!

The occasion? A celebration of happiness.  Actually of owning one’s happiness. Seriously, how many times, years even, have you listened as your closest friend waxed on and on about a lousy job, an unfulfilling relationship, weight struggles, their ex, etc. Of course as a good friend you listen and we do so with everlasting compassion that is free of judgment…or at least we strive to.  Every once in awhile though we’re uplifted, maybe even motivated, when they find the courage to transform their reality. Recently my good friend did just that. After more than a decade in a difficult marriage she’s going her own way and I couldn’t be more impressed with her resolution to create a life where she can thrive while still handling the situation with grace and humanity.

She was rarely able to indulge her fondness for Mexican, so I invited her for dinner and surprised her with traditional favorites. Salty margaritas (absolutely NOT from a mix!) and guacamole kicked things off, along with a little salsa music to make it feel like party, albeit for two. Next we devoured muy grande bowls of Mexican Chicken Soup decorated with colorful bites of avocado, tomato, crushed yellow corn chips, cheese and a dollop of snow white sour cream crowned with cilantro. I actually think the soup is an excuse to binge on the toppings….over and over again until you hit bottom.

Dessert was a seasonally appropriate Mexican Hot Chocolate that I’ve now made for 5 nights straight. Why? Because it calls to me in its spicy, somewhat smoky voice…….leaving me defenseless to resist……this is a problem. My friend’s future though is not. Every day might not be a fiesta, but it belongs to her.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa At Home.

This soup is unbelievably flavorful and casts an intoxicating aroma…you won’t need to ring the dinner bell! It’s also a main course. Just add guacamole and margaritas.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, medium chop (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup celery, medium chop (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 cups carrot, medium chop (4-8 carrots)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ quarts of homemade rotisserie chicken stock
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 6 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 15 oz can of black beans (no salt added), rinsed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Toppings
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly grated Cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Pull and shred the meat from the rotisserie chicken. Set aside.
  2. Make homemade rotisserie stock using the leftover carcass; this will take about 2 hours so plan ahead. You might need to supplement your stock with an extra cup or two of broth or water. In a pinch I use Better Than Bouillon.
  3. In a Dutch oven (I use a 6.75 quart) heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic in the final minute.
  4. Meanwhile place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl and crush them using your hands. Add the cumin, coriander, jalapenos, 1 TBSP salt, 1 tsp pepper and cilantro. If you are using store bought chicken broth start with only 1 tsp of salt and check for seasoning. Stir together.
  5. Add the tomato mixture and stock to the vegetables and increase the heat.
  6. Cut the tortilla’s in half and then into 1/2” strips. Add them to the soup.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken and slowly reheat (about 5 minutes).
  10. Taste for seasonings.
  11. Serve with TOPPINGS!!!!
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/30/fiesta/

Note: I like this soup spicy, but if that is not your preference simply seed and core the jalapenos.

 

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Dinner Delivered

There are people that work and people that grind it out at a pace that leaves the rest of us exhausted spectators hanging out on the sidelines. Their endurance is a freak of nature, driven by some unnamed force that propels them to achieve more, push harder, give more. I can name on one hand an elite collection of this driven bunch that is in my life. Besides my husband, Eileen is one of them.  She is a self-made, businesswoman with a flourishing practice. An entrepreneur with a constant thirst for learning, she see’s patients, teaches, mothers three, respects her body, and under all that Teflon has a soft heart that makes her a cherished friend.

Regardless of your philosophy on what it means to “work”, at some point we are all the same in that we need to nourish our bodies. Eileen is devoted to clean, nutritious eating, but when the clock blares 8:30 pm as you walk through the door, the dog still needs to be walked and you have to be back at it by 8:00 am, your options are limited. For this very reason, a few months ago, although it wasn’t the most appropriate season for it, I made Eileen Split Pea Soup. I knew she was having a long couple of weeks and would be getting home well past 8:00 pm. I also knew she would be grateful for a meal she didn’t have to think about and would desire something wholesome.

Certainly now is the season for such a hearty soup, but at that time we were amidst a heat wave where sane, normal people were looking for ways to cool off versus raising their core body temperature with a bowl of steaming soup. Well, Eileen and I are gladly not normal so soup (hot or cold, brothy or creamy) works for us all year. That night, after the soup drop had been made, I received a text with a profound compliment. Eileen always thought her mother’s split pea was supreme, however, mine had just moved into the coveted slot.  She especially loved the chunky bits. Sorry mom!

This week I surprised Eileen at her office with another batch of Split Pea Soup. As you might have guessed, her pace has not mellowed. For me, making soup for Eileen typifies what cooking for someone should be. An unselfish, yet rewarding, act that comforts and rejuvenates through the goodness of food and love.

Chunky Split Pea Soup

Chunky Split Pea Soup

From Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped yellow onions (about 1 large)
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups of carrots, peeled and medium-dice (about 8 large or 14 small)
  • 2 cups red potatoes, medium-dice (4-6 small)
  • 2 lbs. dried split green peas
  • 16 cups of homemade chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Give the dried peas a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt and so you can sift out any unwelcome particles that may have got mixed in.
  2. In large stockpot (I used a 6 quart) heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Sauté the onions with the oregano, salt and pepper until they are soft and translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic during the last minute of cooking.
  4. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1 ½ pounds of the dried peas and the chicken stock.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Skim off any foam that develops. Don’t be alarmed- it’s just starch.
  7. Add the remaining peas and simmer for another 40 minutes. Stir frequently.
  8. Taste to be sure the peas are tender and the seasoning is to your liking.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/09/dinner-delivered/

Notes:

  1. Swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.
  2. Should you prefer a thicker soup, simply extend the second simmering. Start with an additional 15 minutes and check for your preferred consistency.
  3. If you prepare this in advance or reheat it for leftovers you may need to add a little water or stock to thin it out (again it’s based on preference).

 

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