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Foodie, Main Eats, Soups

Italian Wedding Soup (with Barley)

January 27, 2014


It’s the end of the month, which means our grocery budget is all used up and it’s time to get creative with meals.

Soup is ALWAYS a go-to meal for cleaning out the pantry/freezer. After a quick trip to the chest freezer, I came back with some frozen ground chicken and several mason jars of chicken stock. My first thought was Italian Wedding Soup!

A stroll over to the pantry, and I found myself empty-handed in the pasta department (we don’t eat pasta regularly, so it’s hardly ever in the pantry any more) BUT I had some leftover barley. Perfect!

It all came together in a matter of minutes and, although it isn’t “true” Italian Wedding Soup, it tasted awesome!

Here’s What You’ll Need

For the Meatballs:

-1 pound ground chicken

-1/2 cup bread crumbs

-1 egg

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp onion powder

-1 tsp dried oregano

-1 tsp dried basil

-salt and pepper

-plus 1 tbs olive oil for browning

**If you have fresh or dried parsley, throw some in too. I didn’t have any on hand**

For the Soup:

-1 medium yellow onion

-3 carrots

-2 ribs of celery

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tbs olive oil (or ghee)

-8 cups chicken stock

-2 large handfuls of baby spinach: chopped

-1 handful of pearled barley

-1 tsp dried basil

-1 bay leaf

-salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Mix together using your hands (go ahead, get dirty). Shape into small meatballs; about a tablespoon of meat each.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the meatballs to the skillet and lightly brown. Repeat until all the meatballs are cooked. Set aside

**Don’t worry about cooking the meatballs all the way through. They will finish cooking in the soup**

In an enameled dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté until veggies are soft. Add garlic, chicken stock, spinach, meatballs, barley, dried basil, and bay leaf to the dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 to an hour (the longer you simmer, the more flavorful the soup will be). Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

Foodie, Main Eats, Recipe, Soups

Roasted Organic Butternut Squash Soup (with Bacon)

October 14, 2013

Fall is here. I am in love.

The cooler temperatures. The changing leaves. A new baby on the way (and one who just turned 3). Life is perfect.

Want to know what makes life even more perfect? Soup. Homemade soup and fresh bread. I’ve died and gone to heaven.

This soup has it all. Salty bacon. Savory roasted squash. Creamy and tangy greek yogurt (from Stonyfield Farms). Blended together to create the perfect “stick to your bones” fall soup. It’s hearty, but not heavy. Oh so nourishing. Exactly what you want (and need) after a hard day’s work (you know, like having a baby).

Here’s What You’ll Need:
-1 Medium Size Organic Butternut Squash; cut in half with the seeds removed
-Fresh Sage; a few sprigs
-1 Bag of Organic Frozen Corn
-Potatoes (3); peeled and chopped (I used Russet)
-1 Medium Yellow Onion; chopped
-4 Cups of Chicken Stock
-4 Cups of Milk (I used whole milk to give it a richer flavor)
-1 Pound of Bacon
-3-4 Cloves of Garlic; minced
-Stonyfield Plain Greek Yogurt; 16oz container
-3 Bay leaves
-Salt and Pepper

Preheat Oven to 375°. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place split squash. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place sprigs of sage on top. Roast for 45 minutes; or until flesh of squash is soft. Remove sage; discard. Scoop out contents and set aside.

While your squash is roasting, cook your bacon in a skillet. Chop cooked bacon into pieces and set aside; but save out several tablespoons of bacon grease (a small cup or dish will work perfectly for your liquid bacon-y goodness). *Don’t want to use bacon grease? Try olive oil instead!

In a large Dutch oven (or stock pot), sauté your onions in the reserved bacon grease until soft and translucent. Add garlic, corn, squash and potatoes. Give everything a quick stir to break up any tasty bits stuck to the bottom. Add your chicken stock. Again, give everything a nice stir. Add your milk, bay leaf, and another sprig of sage; plus a few grinds of salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes; until the potatoes are soft and the flavors have had plenty of time to work through the soup. *I like to start my soup early, and let it cook for a few hours.*

Remove from heat. Remove sage and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup. It should be a nice, thick consistency. Stir in the crumbled bacon and container of Stonyfield Greek yogurt.

Serve with fresh bread (sourdough or cheese bread is THE BEST choice for this soup).

Makes 10-12 servings (and freezes awesome for leftovers)

*Short on time? The squash can be roasted the day before (or several days). After it has roasted, scoop out contents and store in an airtight container in the fridge; for up to 3 days.

*The purée step isn’t necessary, but I have a picky toddler who only eats soups with a uniform consistency. Also, we call this “Bacon Soup” in our house because anything with the word bacon in it means she’ll eat it; no questions asked

Foodie, Main Eats, Recipe, Soups

Split Pea & Ham Soup

August 13, 2013

splitpeasoupI love this soup.

It’s my absolute favorite soup to make.

It’s oh so savory and smoky; with just a touch of earthiness thanks to the split peas.

The key to really good split pea soup is REALLY great ham hocks. I will drive great distances to purchase heavenly hocks. Some stores will try to sell you sub-par hocks (for cheap prices). Do not be swindled. A great hock is worth every penny. High quality hocks also tend to have LOTS of meat left on them. Again, totally worth the extra drive (and extra bucks). I buy my smoked ham hocks from our local co-op; where they sell locally sourced hocks. In cold weather months, it’s nearly impossible to find them any day other than delivery day. And here’s the thing about delivery day…it’s not always the same day every week. So you really have to stalk the butcher guys to get the “down low” on the hocks.

End of ham hock story.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-2 cups of split peas; rinsed

-1 large smoked ham hock

-1/2 of a yellow onion; chopped

-2 large carrots; peeled and chopped

-3 celery stalks; ends trimmed and chopped

-3 cloves of garlic; minced

-1 Tbs olive oil

-2 bay leaves

-12 cups of water

-2 Tbs Better Than Bouillon low-sodium chicken base (you don’t NEED this, but it adds extra flavor and depth to the soup).

salt and pepper

In a large Dutch Oven (8 quart), heat oil over medium heat. Add your onion, celery, and carrots. Cook the veggies until soft. Add your minced garlic. Now, add your ham hock, dried peas, water, and bay leaves. Add the Better Than Bouillon now (if you were adding it). Add a few grinds of salt and pepper. I go pretty lenient on the salt since the hock is smoked and will add a nice salty flavor to the mix. You can always add more salt later.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. The longer it cooks the better it’ll taste!!

Remove ham hock from the soup and set aside (preferably on a large plate or cutting board). Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until everything is a uniform consistency. **This step isn’t necessary, but in order to get my toddler to eat ANY soup, everything has to be the same texture and consistency**

Remove meat from the hock. I try to shred the meat as best I can before putting it back in the soup. I buy really meaty hocks, which result in about 2 cups of shredded hocky goodness when I’m all done. Again, I love me some hocks. **I tend to discard all of the fat, but you can keep whatever you like. I save the cleaned bones to use in bone broths later (like a beef stock). Just pop them in a freezer bag and store in your freezer until you’re ready to use them**

Re-add the meat and bay leaves to the soup and continue to simmer on low until you’re ready to serve.

Serve with fresh crusty bread. Sourdough is our favorite.


**This makes an outrageous amount of soup. Which means at least half will automatically go into the freezer once it’s cooled. Perfect for busy weeknight dinners**

*You can easily turn this into a slow cooker recipe by adding all of your ingredients to the slow cooker. Then, set it on low for 8 hours.*

Foodie, Main Eats, Recipe, Soups

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

November 15, 2011


This recipe has been one of my “old-standbys” for about 3 years now. It is my absolute favorite recipe to use when I want to use up leftover chicken.

The flavors are amazing. Seriously, so good.

I recently started adding Sriracha as a garnish (since the toddler has zero interest in eating it). The Siracha somehow makes it even more delicious. I didn’t think that was possible, but apparently it is.

You need to make this soup. Then tell me you made it, and I can say “I know right? So good!”.


Here’s What You’ll Need:

-2 tbs olive oil

– 1-2 cups of leftover chicken; chopped (or 1-2 chicken breasts; cooked)

-1 medium sized yellow onion; chopped

-1 red bell pepper; chopped!

-2-3 carrots; peeled and chopped

-1 can of coconut milk (I really like the brand Thai Kitchen….they aren’t paying me to say that…I just think they deserve a shout out for being awesome)

-1 tbs red curry paste

-4 cups chicken stock

-2 handfuls of brown basmati rice (about 1/2 cup)

-2 handfuls of red lentils (same as the rice)

-1 tbs dried cilantro (or fresh!)

-2-3 bay leaves

-salt and pepper to taste

-Sriracha to garnish


In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add your onion, carrots, and pepper to the pot; season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion and pepper are soft. Add the red curry paste and give everything a good stir.

Now, add your chicken, coconut milk, chicken stock, lentils, rice and bay leaves to the pot. Cook until the soup begins to bubble. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 1-2 hours (the longer it cooks, the better it tastes). About 30 minutes before serving, add the cilantro.

Garnish with Sriracha and more cilantro.

Serve with warm naan or sliced avocado.

Makes 6 servings (or 4 BIG servings, which is what usually happens in our house)

**This dish can easily be made in the slow cooker. Just add all your ingredients to the slow cooker crock (even frozen chicken). Set on low for 8-10 hours. Add the cilantro before serving. The perfect busy weeknight meal!**




This recipe is adapted from Savory Sweet Life


**Updated 4-17-2014

Foodie, Main Eats, Soups

French Onion Soup

October 14, 2011

Savory onions, gooey cheese, crusty bread…what’s not to love?! 


The back story: A few years back, I hated onions. There, I said it.

I don’t know why, I just did (we’ll chalk it up to the ignorance of youth…and some poorly prepared dishes I was fed as child). All this changed once I started cooking. I began to crave onion in my dishes more and more. Now, I add freshly chopped onion to nearly everything I cook.

Today: French Onion Soup is probably one of my favorite dishes to make. Maybe it’s the baguette, maybe its the broiled cheesy top, maybe it’s the giant pot of savory beef broth and onions…or maybe it has something to do with my gorgeous Le Creuset soup crocks that I got this year for Mother’s Day. Truth be told, it’s all of the above. I feel so fancy when I make French Onion Soup. It’s the only dish I make that has special bowls exclusively reserved for it! Seriously, this soup means business!

It’s also the perfect “I’m having someone over for dinner and I want to impress them with BOTH my culinary skills and my super awesome taste in tableware.” The great thing about this soup is it takes practically no time, what so ever, to put together. Which makes it the perfect mid-week “My brain is too fried to think of  anything to make for dinner…but I still want something kind of nice because I decided to wear actual clothes today…not just yoga pants” meal. You know you’ve been there.

There are tons of great French Onion Soup recipes out there but this one is really hard to top. It’s adapted from a recipe found in Williams-Sonoma’s  “Comfort Food Cookbook ” (big shout out to my bestie Kim for suggesting this recipe!). I really love that it doesn’t call for a whole stick (or more) of butter. I’ve had French Onion Soup before that’s almost too rich to enjoy, and that takes all the fun out of it! You’ll notice that I didn’t add the white wine that the original recipe calls for. I never seem to have wine in the house anymore (let alone cooking wine); but trust me, it’s Ah-Mazing without it.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-2-3 pounds of onions: halved and sliced (I used a combo of yellow and red onions)

-2 tbs butter

-1 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour

-8 cups of beef stock (I used Low Sodium Better Than Bouillon because it’s pretty much the greatest stuff ever. Seriously, the best.)

-a few sprigs of fresh Thyme

-2 bay leaves

-1 demi-baguette; sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds (or a whole baguette; then you’ll have half of a tasty baguette to eat the next day!…or, if you’re like me, while your soup cooks!)

-2 -3 C shredded provolone, swiss or gruyere (I use a super awesome Provonella cheese that I find at our local Co-Op: Provolone+ Mozzarella = the perfect cheese for this dish!)

-salt and pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add your sliced onions to the butter and sprinkle with a few grind of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes; until the onions begin to soften. Turn the heat to medium-low, remove the cover and let cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the onions turn a golden-brown color; stirring occasionally (you will be tempted to eat this entire pot of caramelized onions before you continue making your soup…do not give in).

Add the flour to the onions; stir until all the onions are coated. Now, add 1 cup of your beef stock to the dutch oven. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot to release any tasty brown bits that are stuck. This will help release lots of flavor into your soup. Add the remaining 7 cups of stock. Toss your thyme and bay leaves into the pot, cover, and simmer on low for an additional 1-2 hours (the longer it simmers, the tastier it gets!),

When you’re ready to eat, turn your broiler on high (adjusting the racks so that the top rack is at the second notch in your oven). Spoon your soup into your designated french onion soup crocks; leaving about an inch at the top. Now, place 3-4 slices of bread on top of the soup. Cover with cheese and put under the broiler for about 3 minutes. Here’s the important part: DO NO WALK AWAY FROM THE BROILER! Keep an eye on your bubbling cheese so it doesn’t burn. If you have a super hot broiler, it may only take 1-2 minutes for your cheese to crust up and turn a light gold color. A burnt cheese crust would ruin your dinner…and possibly your whole day (maybe even your week; depending on how much you were looking forward to this meal).

Serves 6-8 (we usually eat half one night, then the other half the next night).


**Don’t have fancy soup crocks? Fear not! Use large ceramic mugs instead!**











Foodie, Main Eats, Soups

Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

October 10, 2011

I don’t know what it is about October, but as soon as it gets here all I want to do is eat pumpkin; whether it’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin seeds or roasted pumpkin (with olive oil and sage). I want to eat pumpkin, in one form or another, every day. Last week, I focused my attention on pumpkin soup!

Since pumpkin has such a mellow flavor, it goes well with just about anything. I paired it with sausage (because who doesn’t love some tasty porky goodness now and then?) and leeks (because I had them in my refrigerator…that’s a good enough reason, right?). This soup far surpassed any of my expectations!

I think I have a new “go to” fall soup! Seriously, so. good!

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 small pumpkin OR 2 cans of pure pumpkin puree

-3 leeks; trimmed and chopped

-1 carrot; chopped

-1 rib of celery; chopped

-1 yellow onion; chopped

-3 cloves of garlic; chopped

-3 C chicken stock; you could substitute vegetable stock too (which is what I did because I ran out of chicken stock…my bad.)

-1/2 pound of ground sausage ( I used all pork, but turkey or chicken would work really well)

-1/2 C non fat plain greek yogurt

-1/2 tsp red curry paste 

-fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (they are usually packaged together in the produce aisle in a “poultry herb” mix)

-2 bay leaves

-salt and pepper to taste

First things first, preheat your oven to 400°. Cut the top and bottom off of your pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and guts (but save the seeds for making Roasted Pumpkin Seeds; which, by the way,  go great on top of the soup). Now, cut each half into 4 pieces and place skin side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sat and pepper. Roast for roughly 30 minutes; or until tender.

Once your pumpkin is done roasting, set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. After it’s had a chance to cool down a bit, scoop out the flesh from the skins and roughly chop.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the pot is nice and hot, add your sausage. Cook until it just begins to brown and crumble. Spoon sausage into a small bowl and set aside; leaving the remaining grease in the pot.

Now, add your chopped onion to the pot. Saute until translucent in color. Add the celery, carrot, garlic and leeks to the onions. Cook until everything begins to soften. Add your pumpkin and chicken stock to the pot. Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Turn your burner off, remove the lid and let your soup cool for about 10-15 minutes. Now, working in batches, puree in your food processor or blender (and if you’re a real pro you can use your immersion blender and do this all in the pot! I envy you!). Once your soup is all one consistency, put it back on the stove (preferably in the same pot you cooked everything in).

Now, add you bay leaves, herbs, cooked sausage, red curry paste and yogurt. Simmer on low for an additional 1-2 hours.

Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

Serves 6

**Short on time? Throw all your ingredients (except the sausage) into the slow cooker, set on low for 6-8 hours. Remove your herbs and puree. While pureeing, brown your sausage in a skillet. Add the cooked sausage to the soup and Voila! Dinner. For this method, I recommend using canned pumpkin; otherwise you’d still have to roast your pumpkin ahead of time.**