Won Good Soup!

This past weekend both Things 1 and 4 had fevers and tummy ickiness and the rest of us just felt generally worn out. So, while I was in The Grocery Store Saturday AM, I decided to add a little Chinese remedy for what ailed me/us. Won Ton soup. Ever since I was a kid, the only Chinese soup I liked was won ton (well, some restaurants also had one with lots of baby corn, mushrooms, peas, etc — Velvet soup? and I liked it too). True, I’ve never been a huge fan of soup in general, but egg drop just looked vile to me and sweet and sour was too spicy and brown. But, of course, to a kid who loves potstickers, something that looks like potsticker soup sounds perfect. Or as one friend called it — Chinese Tortellini Soup. It has lots of good things for the ill — chicken broth, garlic, ginger . . . mmm!

I probably haven’t made won ton soup in more than 5-6 years, so I was winging it in the grocery and the kitchen. It wasn’t quite my idea of ‘perfect’, but it was good. The youngest three turned up their noses, but the rest of us enjoyed it.

Thing 1 didn’t get to enjoy the added benefit of the ‘potstickers’ I made with extra wontons. They had a hard time in the frying because a won ton wrapper is no where near as thick as a potsticker, but they were good. And you smother them in that wonderful sauce of soy sauce, garlic, chopped dried peppers, and a dash of sesame oil . . . divine! Even The Husband enjoyed the lunch and he’s usually not much of a fan of Asian foods. We wiped those out pretty quickly, so there were no leftovers for Thing 1 when she began to feel better.

Won Ton Soup

Won Tons:
1 lb pork
splash of cooking wine (optional)
2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 can water chestnuts, finely minced
3-4 green onions, cleaned and finely chopped
clove of garlic, finely minced
a little fresh grated ginger
1 pkg won ton wrappers

Mix first seven ingredients together and fill wrappers with a teaspoon or so of meat mixture. Fold won tons to make a triangle, pressing the edge sealed with a little water or egg, then pull the corners from the long side together and press.

Broth:
2 qts chicken broth
soy sauce to taste (2-4 Tbsp)
minced garlic
ginger slices (I did this so I could easily pull it out b/c the kids don’t like it much)
peas
bunch of green onions, sliced

Heat the broth to boiling and add dumplings. Allow them to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Supposedly, when they come to the surface, they are cooked, but I usually let them cook a little longer just to be on the safe side.

Warm Comfort for a Cold Night

Sorry to have slipped off the edge of the Earth (we live in Illinois, of course it’s flat!). I didn’t mean to abandon you for so long. We ate some New Year’s leftovers and I haven’t been generating anything spectacular — meatloaf and mashed potatoes, egg rolls that were originally intended to be part of the NYE menu, meatball sandwiches, pasta, and the lack of dessert matches the bleak January weather. I thought I’d look in my draft folder to see if I had anything to offer and, lo and behold, it was the very same thing I had just made again — potato leek soup! Here are the leftovers from the December pot:

And here is the pot from yesterday:

They are actually a little different. I think I have some sort of genetic propensity toward the ‘a little of this, a little of that’ method of soup making. Frequently when I make soups I use chicken broth for part of the liquid and then use milk or tomatoes to finish. I rarely use cream in creamy soups, opting instead to use chicken broth and Lactaid milk. It definitely makes a thinner soup so sometimes I add a little flour to thicken it slightly. For the first soup pictured above, I used chicken broth and a little flour with the milk; for the second picture, I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand and just used straight Lactaid 2% milk.

Basic Potato Leek Soup

1/2 – 1 lb bacon, chopped & browned
2 leeks, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 lbs potatoes, chopped
chicken broth and/or milk
salt & pepper to taste

Cook bacon (tip:if you do it in a separate pan, your soup will end up lighter colored–that’s what I did for the first pot, but for the second I was lazy and did it all in one pan).

In a large pot, sautee leeks with cooked bacon, adding a little bacon fat if needed. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two.

Add potatoes and enough chicken broth or milk to cover. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Adjust liquid with milk or milk/flour mixture to desired consistency.

My Soup Bowl Runs Over

I’m not including these in my LOT#3 entry, but it’s more of the same . . . using up that rice last week. I was the main dish provider for small group so I made two different soups.

One was a chicken and rice soup — pretty straight forward. I made my own broth with celery, onion, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper, and a couple of bone-in chicken breasts in a pot of water on medium-low heat for six hours. Next, I pulled the chicken out and shredded it and returned it to the pot sans bones (although there may have been a few left). Finally, I added some frozen peas and the rice and let it warm through. Pretty ho-hum and I’m sorry to say we have a lot of leftovers from that . . . b/c it’s likely to go to waste . . . anyone want some chicken & rice soup?

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For the other I made a Stuffed Pepper Soup. I read several different recipes — some included brown sugar or soy sauce — and came up with my own version. Here’s what I added to my crockpot:

2 lbs ground sirloin, browned

large onion, chopped & sauteed for a few minutes with the beef

2 bell peppers, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

~ 24 oz V-8 juice (I poured from a 46 oz bottle and used about half)

water

thyme

parsley

rice

salt and pepper

I didn’t drain the beef b/c it didn’t look like it had much fat and I thought the juices would be good in the soup. But when I tasted it, I thought it was too greasy so I should have drained it like I usually do. I put everything but the rice in the crock and cooked it on low for about 6 hrs and added the cooked rice in the last half hour to get it heated through. This was OK, and the kids like it well enough, but I thought it could use a little jazzing up. A little Tabasco or something. Maybe use the spicy V-8 juice.

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Canned Cassoulet

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Today we’re having ‘blizzard conditions’. These are the views from the upstairs window and the front door. I hate snow. So, it seems like a perfect time to stay inside and make a little soup. I call a soup a ‘canned soup’ when I open cans to make it — not just a can of Campbell’s condensed crud.

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From my limited understanding, a cassoulet means meat (frequently sausage) and slow cooked beans. I hadn’t heard about the pork skin before. This is what I made today:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
3 large carrots, quartered and chopped
4 chicken Italian sausage links (I took the ‘natural pork casing’ off b/c, frankly, I’d rather eat plastic than pig intestine), quartered and chopped
chicken/vegetable broth
2 (15 oz) cans northern beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
liberal serving of red wine (I’d guess 3/4 – 1 c.)
basil
thyme
black pepper
sea salt

I sauteed the onions and garlic in the olive oil and added the sweet potatoes, carrots and sausage. I dumped in the beans and what was left of a box of vegetable broth and some chicken broth to cover the solids and simmered it for an hour or so. Then I added the tomatoes, wine and seasoning and let it simmer for another hour or so.

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Thing 1 thought it tasted a little less spicy (and therefore less tasty) than it smelled and suggested the addition of a few splashes of Tabasco to each bowl. It was a great suggestion. It was perfect then!

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Think Spring!!

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Recipe of the Day — Split Pea Soup

Several weeks ago our neighbor went on an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ which includes cutting out all wheat, corn, beef, pork, dairy and a few other things (she says it’s been working great and she’s feeling much better). So she went through her kitchen and pulled those things out of her pantry and fridge/freezer and brought them to our door, thinking we surely use a lot of food. (By the way, if anyone local wants a quart jar of butter ghee, let me know — I’m doubting that I’m going to get to that one.)

Some of the things I tossed in my freezer for later. Among those things was some Canadian bacon, some of which I’ve used on pizza and in eggs. I had one pkg left and decided that I would use that for the meat in a split pea soup rather than waiting for a ham bone or for me to buy bacon. Split pea soup is one of the Husband’s most favorite soups — he is also partial to clam chowder. So armed with a pound of dried split peas, a packet of Canadian bacon and a pound of mini carrots, I decided to make soup on Monday.

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Split Pea Soup

Canadian bacon, chopped in smallish pieces (it was probably a 6-8 oz pkg)
2 small onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 lb carrots, chopped

I sauteed that in my pan until the onions were tender and then I added

1 lb of washed split peas

2 bay leaves

chicken broth

water

making sure the solids were covered with liquid. I brought it to a boil and simmered for 30 min or so.

That’s when the Husband called to say he wanted us to pick him up early for lunch. I turned the soup off so it wouldn’t burn. The peas weren’t anywhere near cooked. We ate something else for lunch that day and cooked the soup for a half-hour longer, let it cool and put it in the fridge.

Today I pulled it back out and boiled it for another half hour or so –’til the peas were tender and mushy — adding some more water as needed. Too bad I was out of thyme or I would have added some. Sometimes I add green chiles to the split pea soup but I didn’t have any good ones to add. The Canadian bacon didn’t impart as strong of a flavor to the total soup taste as ham or bacon do, so I’m not sure I’d choose to do this again, but it was a good lunch today.

Recipe of the Day — ‘Southwest’ Chicken Soup

Many of my soup recipes are a lot like this one — I have ingredients on hand to make a soup, but the details of seasoning and specifics may be a spur of the moment thing, not scripted from a book or recipe and not necessarily reproducible. 😉
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Southwest Chicken Soup

3 chicken breast halves, diced

olive oil

onion, diced
green pepper, diced

garlic, chopped

32 oz box of organic chicken broth (No MSG)

15 oz can of black beans, drained
15 oz can of kidney beans, drained
15 oz can of corn, drained
15 oz can of diced tomato

a can or two of water

dash of salt

dried ancho chile (~2 tsp)

jerk seasoning (~2 Tbsp)

1 c. dry white rice, cooked in 2 c. water with a splash of olive oil

shredded cheese

I sauteed the chicken in a little oil to get it cooked more quickly b/c I had limited time, then added the onion and bell pepper and garlic and let it get tender. Then I stirred in the broth and beans and corn and let that boil. Next I added the tomato, salt, chile and jerk seasoning (the amounts are purely conjecture b/c I just shake the bottle over the top of the soup until is seems to look and smell good). Just before serving I dumped in the hot cooked rice and stirred it. Most of the family preferred to stir some shredded cheese into their own bowls. It would have been great to have cornbread with it, but I didn’t make any.

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During lunch, Thing 1 said, “Mom, this soup is so good you should plan to make it every Monday and Friday — if we had it too often, we might get sick of it.” 😉 I think it could have used a little more jerk seasoning (and Thing 1 asked if we had any Tabasco to add to it) but I was afraid of overwhelming the tastebuds of the littlest ones. As it is, it has a nice flavor, subtle enough to let you taste the individual parts w/o making the seasoning stand out too much.

Recipe of the Day — Soup

This will be the soup of the day here. I made up this soup a few years ago and then someone asked for a recipe and I stood there saying . . . a what? I don’t remember how I made it! So one day I tried recreating it and wrote down everything I did and this is the result. One thing that may strike you as odd, I refer to the garlic as ‘toes’ — there’s a story with that. In a New Orleans cookbook given to me by a prof I TA’d for years ago, the author referred to the individual pieces of garlic as toes and I have since seen that in several other recipes — I like it 🙂 A head of garlic with toes. It is the only real seasoning I add to this soup (the sausage and chiles add the rest of the flavor) and it is a very mild soup. The kiddos love it — but they are sausage hounds too! 🙂

My neighbor planted garlic last year and shared a couple of heads with us and it was *so* much more flavorful than the stuff I find in the grocery — I’d like to add some to my flower garden. When it comes to gardening I tend to be a bit non-traditional — in front of my tulips and daffodils I have strawberries as a ground cover, by my front steps I have rhubarb for green leafy stuff (but it isn’t growing well there — I’m going to have to learn more about rhubarb needs and help it) and I have some asparagus growing in my flowerbed as well. I like mixing the lovely utilitarian with the strictly for-looks plants 😉

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Sausage Couscous Soup

1 (12) oz pkg sausage links (I like Johnsonville Maple Syrup), cut in 1/2″ lengths
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 toes of garlic, minced
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
1-3 (15 oz) cans beans (northern, kidney or black beans or a mixture)
pinch of baking soda
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes or 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
chicken bouillon and water or 1-2 (15 oz) cans chicken broth
couscous

Brown the sausage and drain. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender. Add green chiles, beans and baking soda; cook on medium heat for 15-20 min. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and simmer until 10 minutes before serving, stirring occasionally. Add couscous until desired thickness is achieved (it will approximately double in volume after it is cooked in about 5 minutes). Especially good with biscuits.

Note:
This can also be made in a slow cooker. I usually brown and drain the sausage and then dump in everything but the couscous and let it cook all day. Add the couscous 10 minutes before serving. If you add the couscous earlier it may stick badly.