Hamburger Soup

This recipe exists in many variations, born of both the yearning for a bowl of good hot soup on chilly days and the habit of checking pantry and refrigerator and producing a nourishing meal out of what is often kept as staples in a well used kitchen. We recently enjoyed a large pot of this soup, had some for lunch the next day, and put the rest into the freezer for a quick meal when needed. Ree Drummond in her blog The Pioneer Woman, calls her version of this soup Hamburger Soup. It is delicious with any name. Try varying the vegetables and spices. This recipe makes a large amount, so plan to share or freeze a batch.

Hamburger Soup

  • 3 pounds Ground Chuck
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 6 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can or box (26 – 28 ounce) Can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups Beef Stock Or Beef Broth, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 6 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 Potatoes, peeled and cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, More To Taste
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat.. Remove from heat and drain excess fat.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and stir. Return the pot to heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 15-20 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender

Soup should be thick, but if you like,  add 1 to 2 cups more broth and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.

Serve with corn bread muffins.

Roasted Tomato Soup

 

September 1 seems like a day to begin thinking cooler weather and autumnal foods. Although our South Texas temperatures won’t change significantly for a while, there is a barely perceptible change in light and in leaf colors. I like soup any time of year, but it is a favorite as we change calendar pages and look forward to cooler days. This recipe for tomato soup is a new one for me. It is thick, rich, and definitely one I will cook again soon. I found the original recipe in a cookbook Joe gave me in 2010 published by the Junior League of Houston titled Peace Meals, A Book of Recipes for Cooking and Connecting. Isn’t that a wonderful title?

My version is here:

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 cups beef broth, divided

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups chopped onion

8 garlic cloves, minced

4 28 ounce cans fire roasted whole tomatoes, drained

1/ 1/2 cups half and half

freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the beef froth, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Spray two 9 X 13 baking dishes with cooking spray. Divide onions, garlic, and tomatoes between the 2 dishes. Pour half the broth mixture over each, then place dishes into oven for 50 minutes or until beginning to brown. Pour the remaining cup of broth and the half and half over the roasted tomatoes, dividing equally. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Working in batches ( no more than half the blender jar due to the heat of the mixture), puree the tomato mixture in a blender until smooth. Add each batch to a stock pot, heating gently over medium heat.  Add freshly ground pepper to each bowl as the soup is served. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2018 has brought with it a hard freeze for the South Texas Gulf Coast. Those who had gardens ready for harvest brought the bounty inside when they could. Friends who knew I liked to cook with the large outer leaves of cabbage brought me a huge beautiful head of cabbage, leaves intact. They also brought a large bunch of broccoli and a head of cauliflower.

For New Year’s Day, I made stuffed cabbage to go with our Black Eyed Peas!

The cauliflower will go into a mix of vegetables when I make chicken curry tomorrow!

And part of this lovely broccoli went into Cheese Broccoli Soup. I have posted a different recipe in the past, but this is our new favorite!

Cheese Broccoli Soup

 

1 large chopped onion

6 Tablespoons butter, divided (2 T for saute of onion, 4 T for making white sauce)

1/2 cup flour

4 cups half-and-half cream

4 cups chicken stock

1 lb fresh broccoli florets  (about 2 cups chopped)

1 cup carrot, diced

1./2  teaspoon nutmeg

16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Pumpkin Butternut Soup

With all the cooking happening at our house this time of year (birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving!) a shortcut that is not takeout food can be welcome. There are a number of pumpkin and or squash pasta sauces available in markets and gourmet cooking stores, but the one I used for this recipe came from Trader Joe’s and is my favorite so far. I had part of a jar left in the the frig and decided to turn it into soup. It worked! The results were good enough to repeat. If you want to use the whole jar (4 cups) for a bigger pot of soup, double the other ingredients.

Pumpkin Butternut Soup 

1/2 jar or 2 cups Autumn Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce (found at Trader Joe’s)

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup half and half (more if desired)

1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Balsamic vinegar reduction for swirl

Add pasta sauce to heavy sauce pan. Rinse out the jar with chicken broth and add along with salt and cinnamon. Heat on low until mixture begins to bubble. Stir in half and half to heat but do not bring to boil.  Ladle into soup bowls and add a swirl of balsamic vinegar reduction on top. Serve with toasted French bread.

 

Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Caramelized Onions

This is full of flavor, and uses an interesting mix of ingredients, including cinnamon.  I adapted  my version of a recipe, which appeared online in New York Times Cooking. It caught my attention because it is Greek, uses cauliflower and Kalamata olives, and was a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken.  The original recipe uses whole chicken thighs and drumsticks, but our family prefers boned chicken in stews.

Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

 4 garlic cloves,minced

3-4 cups rough chopped rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)

1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled           

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken pieces. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft.

Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, then add the tomatoes and their juice,  cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly. Return the chicken pieces to the pot.  If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Sprinkle Parsley and Feta cheese on top. Serve over rice.

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is one of our favorite hearty soups and stews. A list that included them all would be a long list!  But if filtered by how many years they have been appearing on our table, this one makes the short list.  In 2012, a post on KItchen Keepers mentions Brunswick Stew along with other dishes. The following quote introduced our fondness for it along with the timing.

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like…Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick Stew.

So if you do the math, I have been serving this stew for 33 years!  It is a traditional dish, popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century, with both Virginia and Georgia making claims for originating it. That explains its inclusion in the The Williamsburg Cookbook. A photo of this dish is used for the cover of that book, and  that recipe is the starting place for the ways I prepare it. Although various meats can be used, I always use chicken, but not always the same combination of vegetables, although lima beans, okra, and some tomatoes are consistently included. In this photo, I have used a shortcut, 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables.

Brunswick Stew

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 Tablespoons butter

2 garlic pods, peeled and minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup okra, ends trimmed and sliced into rounds

2 cup fresh tomato, peeled and chopped (1 15 oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes)

1 cup lima beans

2 cups corn (fresh corn, cut from the cob is best, but may use frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (serve when stew is served so each can add his own)

Melt butter in heavy pot.  Add onions and garlic, then saute until onions are soft.  Add chicken and all other ingredients.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Traditionally, this stew is cooked for a long time over low heat and is believed to be at its best when reheated the next day!

I like to serve with a skillet of hot cornbread. Pass the hot sauce after serving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.        www.southernfoodways.org/interview/a-short-history-of-gumbo/

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.

 

 

Ribolitta

This hearty Tuscan soup is kin to minestrone but adds a layer of texture and flavor with its topping of bread and parmesan. There are many ways to add the bread to this soup, including layering it with vegetables, but I like the buttery crunch of toasted bread and cheese browned in the oven. You can use a variety of vegetables, a particularly useful thing when your garden harvest is bountiful.

Ribolitta

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4  cups water
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 bunch kale or chard, washed, stems removed, and chopped
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large soup pot, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.Add beans to the pot along with tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Bring back to simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove rosemary and thyme stems and stir in greens. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lay bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the top. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  4. Put the pot in the oven and bake until bread, onions and cheese are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.  Divide the soup and bread among 4 bowls and serve.

 

 

Thai Coconut Soup

Our time spent living in Southeast Asia increased our family’s love of many types of Asian food.  Thai food is among those.  The traditional soup Tom Kha Gai has so many lovely layers of flavor. This classic chicken and coconut soup gets its flavor from quintessential Thai ingredients: coconut milk, fresh ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, red pepper, basil, and cilantro. I omit the fish sauce in the recipe that has developed in our kitchen over time. Shrimp is a good substitute for chicken.

Thai Coconut Soup

3 cups chicken broth

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 thin slices fresh ginger

1-2 cups chopped or sliced cooked chicken breast or thighs

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

4 ounces snow peas (optional, but very good)

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Cooked rice

Bring broth, lime juice,and ginger to boil in large saucepan.  Simmer for several minutes before adding chicken, coconut milk, and red pepper flakes. Return to simmer and cook until chicken is heated through.  Add snow peas and carrots and cook only 1 minute. Stir in cilantro and basil. Serve in soup bowls with cooked rice.

 

Split Pea Soup with Sherry

splitpeasoupCold weather and hot soup – perfect combination.  We enjoy a number of different soups, but this split pea soup is one of my favorites. It is a hearty soup, nutritious, and easy on the budget. If you have leftover ham, this is a great way to use it.  Bits of bacon work great too. We like to add a splash of dry sherry at serving time.This is is good served with crusty French bread.

Split Pea  Soup with Sherry

1 lb. dried split peas (2 1/3 cups)

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups chopped ham

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced carrots

1 Bay leaf

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Dry sherry, optional

Rinse dried split peas and add to large soup pot. Add ham and chicken broth.  Bring to simmer, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until it reaches the texture you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming hot with a splash of sherry stirred in.