Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Peep’s Not-So-Traditional Chicken & Dumplings

My grandma would probably lecture me for this recipe.  It’s not “traditional”, which I guess goes right along with the bulk of my personality!  Traditionally you’re supposed to boil the chicken in the pot.  I just have a thing against stewed or boiled chicken.  I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve made this dish myself and it originally wasn’t meant to be chicken and dumplings.  I was aiming for a pot pie, but didn’t want to mess with making a pie dough after Bikenut’s comment that he wasn’t thrilled with the pre-made crust the last time we used it.

Regardless of the original intent, the process was going to be the same, just with a little less thickening at the end.  So, I went off to Whole Foods and bought what I needed, came home and got started.  I think most people wouldn’t go through all the same trouble I did for this dish, and that’s fine.  Not everyone is insane like me, thankfully.  But I’m telling you, there’s a world of difference when you do it all yourself.  Sort of like that summer when I grew tomatoes in the backyard and thought they were the best tomatoes in the world, which is something coming from someone that still doesn’t like tomatoes to this day.

But I digress… where this recipe takes a turn from the traditional chicken & dumplings is right out of the gate.  Rather than boiling or stewing the chicken, I roasted it in the oven.  I like the flavor and juiciness of roasted chicken, so it seemed the natural way to go about starting things off.  It’s a little more work, but I really think it’s worth it for the flavor and texture.  Because I didn’t boil the chicken, I needed chicken broth.  I didn’t want to use store-bought broth and opted to roast the chicken bones after pulling the meat off, then boiling the bones with the same spices I used to season the chicken (along with a couple bay leaves and some parsley) in order to make a broth.  After that, we rejoin the chicken & dumplings highway that most people travel.

It is definitely an investment in terms of time, but I thought it turned out amazingly well and totally worth the time spent.   Sorry, Grandma!

(If you’re in a bit more of a rush, there’s a shortcut at the end of the recipe below.)

Peep’s Not-So-Traditional Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 6 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick, skin on)
  • Spice mix #1: Garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried sage, sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 cups of water
  • Spice mix #2: Dried parsley, 2 bay leaves, plus Spice mix #1
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped (with leaves)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 2-3 Tbsp flour
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose baking mix (I used Trader Joe’s Pancake and All-Purpose Baking Mix)
  • 1/3 cup of half & half (or milk)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Season chicken legs with spice mix #1, roughly 1 teaspoon of each to cover all six legs.
  2. Roast legs in oven for about 1 hour, until juices run clear.  Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  3. Remove skin and discard (or enjoy a little treat.)  Remove meat from bones, cover with foil and set aside along with drippings.  Place bones in a large cast iron dutch oven and return to oven to roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Remove cast iron pot from oven and place directly on the stovetop over medium heat.  Add four cups of water, or enough to just cover the bones.  Add spice mix #2, roughly 1 teaspoon each of sage and thyme, 2 teaspoons each of remaining spices.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for at least 1 hour.  Taste for flavoring and adjust spices to taste.  Remove bones from pot and discard.
  5. Add chicken meat, drippings, carrots, celery, onion, and potato to the broth.  Simmer 15-20 minutes over medium/medium-low heat, or until vegetables are tender.
  6. In a small pot, melt butter.  Add flour and a dash each of spice mix #1.  Stir together and allow flour to cook, about 1-2 minutes.  Add to stew, stir,  cover and simmer over medium-low heat while preparing the dumpling batter.  (You could also use potato flakes to thicken instead, or in addition if you want to thicken it further.)
  7. For dumplings, combine baking mix, half & half, and parsley flakes in a small bowl.  When stew is simmering, add dumpling batter, one tablespoon at a time to the stew.  Once all dumplings (about 8 of them) have been dropped, cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Do not uncover for at least 10 minutes!
  8. Check doneness of dumplings by inserting a toothpick into the center.  Toothpick should come out clean.  (My dumplings were still really wet on top, so I ended up gently flipping them after 12 minutes and cooking for another 5 minutes or so.)
  9. Serve stew in a bowl with 2 dumplings per serving.

SHORTCUT:  If you’re looking for a quicker version for a weeknight, you could use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the market, or leftover cooked chicken, and store-bought chicken broth then skip ahead to Step 5 in the instructions above.

Chicken & Corn Chowder

What do you do with leftover roasted chicken and corn on the cob?  Make chicken and corn chowder, of course!

Bikenut and I had a friend over for dinner the other night.  Actually, we had a friend over so Bikenut could work his bike magic on said friend’s bicycle, and thought it would be rude if we didn’t offer for him to stay for dinner.  So, the menu went from a panzanella and soup to oven-barbecued chicken, corn bread, corn on the cob, and baked beans.  The baked beans were what Bikenut was craving, and the rest of the menu fell in around that.

Since I was going to have the oven going, I bought enough extra chicken and corn on the cob to cook up at the same time as the dinner for that evening.  Technically, that doesn’t make it “leftovers” but this recipe would definitely work well for them if you have them!  Or, you know, you could make it with non-leftover chicken and corn, too.

It turned out that I didn’t have enough room in the oven for EVERYTHING (a pan of barbecued chicken, a smaller pan for the plain roasted chicken, a muffin tin for the corn bread, and two ears of corn took up most all of my oven space!) so I ended up boiling the corn in the pot of broth this morning.  End result:  This isn’t a Chicken & ROASTED Corn Chowder recipe.  Hmph.

This recipe is so simple, and really tasty!  It turned to be a rich, velvety chowder base (but bright thanks to the lemon!) with nice bits of tender chicken and crisp, sweet corn.  Mmmm.  Give it a try!

Chicken & Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of chicken (I used one breast and one whole leg, bone-in, skin removed after cooking)
  • 4 ears of corn (shucked and rinsed)
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup of cream (or milk)
  • Pinch of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
  • Potato flakes (or leftover mashed potatoes, or other agent you prefer) for thickening
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add broth, chicken (raw, or cold leftovers) and corn.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and allow to boil for 12-15 minutes.  If adding raw chicken, make sure to boil until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and remove chicken and corn from broth to cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with a fork and return meat to the pot.  Cut the kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife, and return the kernels to the pot.  (For extra corn goodness, scrape the cut cobs with the edge of your knife to get the remaining corn bits and add this to the pot as well.)
  4. Add cream or milk and the spices and bring to a boil, then quickly reduce to a simmer.  Add potato flakes and stir until desired consistency is achieved.  (Some like it thinner, some like it thicker.  I’m of the latter group, and I like added potato flavor!)
  5. Add chives and lemon juice.  Stir.  (TIP: Use kitchen shears to “chop” chives directly into the pot.)
  6. Serve hot, topped with:
  • a crack of fresh black pepper, a slice of lemon, and a sprinkle of chives
  • avocado slices sprinkled with lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • chopped, roasted red pepper or fresh diced jalapeno pepper
  • a dollop of your favorite salsa
  • cornbread crumbles

Split Pea Soup with Ham (and Bacon!)

Despite it being almost a requirement after any holiday involving a ham, I have never made split pea soup with ham.  I decided this year’s leftover Christmas ham bone would be my test subject.

I made the mistake of not deciding on a recipe before I started cooking, only to find that the recipe I ultimately opted to go with would have me not add the onions and carrots that were sauteing away in the pot until AFTER the peas and the ham had been simmering away for an hour.  No worries, it’ll all be in there in the end!  Perhaps just not quite as recognizable.

I started the whole thing off by heating up my cast iron pot and cooking up two slices of bacon.  I wanted to render the fat from the bacon and saute the onions in it, so I let it fry up to a nice crisp, then removed the bacon and threw in the onions.  My original intent was not to actually include the bacon in the soup, which is why I left it whole, but Bikenut convinced me to add it back to the soup instead of making a snack of it.  If I were to do it again, I’d chop up the raw bacon and saute that, then just throw the onions in with it once the fat was rendered.  As it was, I chopped up the cooked bacon, cut up the carrot, and threw it all in the pot too.

Next into the pot went the split peas and the ham bone, along with some water and chicken broth.  There’s a LOT of meat left on this bone, so I’m hoping that I have enough peas in the pot!  I’d hate to end up with Ham Soup with Split Peas (and Bacon!)  Oh, and per Bikenut’s suggestion/request, I added a few drops of all-natural, hickory-flavored liquid smoke.  (With my allergy/sensitivity to mesquite, I was nearly overjoyed by the fact that the company produces (at least) two different flavors, distinctly branded with “Hickory” or “Mesquite”.  No guess work for me!  And no night of misery had I guessed wrong.)   With everything now in the pot, it was up to a boil, covered, and down to a lengthy simmer.

After about 30 minutes, I had to flip the ham bone over because it was too big to be fully submerged into the broth.  I gave the pot a good stir, then let it go for another 30 minutes.  By then, the meat was falling off the bones.  I plucked it all out of the pot and separated meat from bone and “not worthy” meat/non-meat-nor-bone parts, chopped it all up and returned the chopped meat to the pot.  Another good stir, and we’re off to simmer a little longer, until the peas (and hopefully not the carrots) disintegrate into a lovely, velvety goodness.

It took about another 30-45m of simmering to really soften and (mostly) disintegrate the peas, and all the while, the house smelled of smoky, hammy deliciousness which got our mouths watering in anticipation.

Having now tasted the finished product, it is nicely smoky in flavor with a subtle sweetness from the honey glaze on the ham and the peas and carrots.  The carrots maintained their form, but lacked in texture, so if you want your carrots to have more of a tooth to them, then I’d add them about 30 minutes before the soup is finished.  Overall though, I’d rate this a success!

Split Pea Soup with Ham (and Bacon!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of uncooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 2 cups of split green peas
  • 32 oz (4 cups) of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Fry bacon in pot until crisp and fat is rendered.
  3. Add onions to the pot and saute until translucent.
  4. Add split peas, ham bone, water, chicken broth, marjoram and bay leaf to the pot.  Simmer for 1 hour, turning ham bone as necessary, and stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove ham bone and any large bits of meat from the pot.
  6. When cool enough to handle, (or using tongs and a knife) remove any remaining meat from the bones and chop into small pieces.  Return meat to pot.
  7. Add carrots and simmer for another 30m, until carrots are tender and peas have melted into the soup.
  8. Remove bay leaf and serve!

Minestrone Soup ala Peep

After an atypically spendy Christmas, and to cater more to Bikenut’s new year resolution to eat healthier, I’ve been thinking of ways to stretch our dollars and pack more fruits and veggies into our diets.  The first thing that came to mind was to make a big pot of soup or stew that would last us at least a few days, if not the whole week.  I opted for a vegetable soup, since that accomplished all of my goals in one fell swoop.

Of course, I didn’t think about the blog until everything was in the pot, so you’ll have to settle for a picture of the finished product and the list of ingredients.  Sorry about that.  I did the same thing with the teriyaki chicken I made a couple of weeks ago, which I thought I created a draft post for but apparently did not. 😛

One thing to note… when I say to use a large pot, make sure it’s at least 5.5 quarts.  My cast iron pot is 5.5 quarts and it is filled to the brim!

At any rate, here’s the recipe…

Minestrone Soup ala Peep

Ingredients:

The broth:

  • 2 – 32oz containers of beef broth
  • 1 – 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • Dash of each: celery seed, nutmeg, thyme
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The rest:

  • 1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 jumbo russet potato, cut into large dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large dice
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry mini ravioli pasta (or your favorite small pasta shape)
  • 2 ears of white corn, cut from the cob
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 large yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach (or equal amount of fresh)
  • 1/2 small cabbage, cored and chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot, add all broth ingredients and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer while preparing the vegetables.
  2. Add cannellinis, garbanzos, onion, potato, carrot, celery and pasta.  Bring back to boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add corn, zucchini, and yellow squash.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Check the potatoes, carrots and pasta for doneness.  When tender, add spinach and cabbage.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve topped with grated parmesan.

Potato Leek Soup

Soups are one of my favorite things to cook up, particularly on chilly days like today.  A thick and creamy potato soup with the leeks I picked up from yesterday’s farmer’s market sounded like it would hit the spot!

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I was really excited to come home from the farmer’s market with these gorgeous leeks yesterday.  I nearly skipped my way into the kitchen with them.  “Hey Bikenut!  How would you like some potato leek soup?” I asked.  “Eh.  I don’t really like it.  I’m picky about my soups.”  *sigh*  That bubble was burst rather quickly.

Dejected, I sat in front of my computer, scouring the internet for a decent recipe for these leeks that didn’t involve putting them into soup with potatoes, because apparently Bikenut was burned out on potatoes too.  I found an awesome looking potato and leek gratin recipe, but again, potatoes.  I opted not to do anything with them last night, since I felt suddenly uninspired.

potatoleeksoup_01

What's not to like? Sheesh.

This morning when I got up, I saw those leeks sitting there, longing to be joined with potatoes in a comforting soupy concoction.  I turned to Bikenut and said, “I’m going to make potato leek soup, even though you don’t like it.  I’ll eat it every day this week for lunch if I have to, but I’m making it!”  He didn’t mind, so long as I wasn’t making HIM eat it, I suppose.

I went to work cleaning and slicing the leeks.  The dark green tops are very tough, so I only use the white and light green parts of the leeks, making sure to clean them well.  I usually split them in half lengthwise and fan the layers of the leek under running water to get all the silt and such out of them.  I cut them into roughly 1/2″ pieces, and tossed them into my pre-heated, enameled cast iron pot with a little olive oil and butter.

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I seasoned the leeks with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, a tiny dash of nutmeg (since it does great things for cream dishes), a little onion and garlic powder, and a few shakes of dried thyme.  When the leeks started to soften, I added the peeled and cut potatoes.

potatoleeksoup_03b

I stirred the leeks and potatoes together, added a little more of each seasoning, and let the mixture cook a bit longer before adding the chicken broth.  Once the broth went in, I turned up the heat to bring it to a boil, then covered the pot, turned the heat down to a simmer and let it sit until the potatoes were nice and tender.

potatoleeksoup_04b

After about 25 minutes or so, my potatoes were cooked through.  I wanted to preserve a little bit of the chunky potato and bits of leek in the final product, which meant that I really didn’t want to break out the stick blender and zap away all of the texture.  Instead, I took my trusty potato masher and went to smashing the potato bits into the soup.  This didn’t result in a texture that I was all that pleased with, so I ended up using the stick blender anyway, but made sure not to completely blend away every bit of potato and leek.

Now I was ready to add the cream.  I actually used half-and-half, but you could use whatever you have on hand — milk, heavy cream, half-and-half.  Heck one of my friends is lactose intolerant and uses a non-dairy creamer when a recipe calls for milk or cream.  I haven’t tried that one myself, but anything she ever brought to share was always good, so I’ll trust her on that one.  Anyway, in went the half-and-half.  I brought the soup up to a quick boil then shut it off.

potatoleeksoup_05a

I dished myself a nice bowlful of soup, and topped it with some cheddar cheese, and a nice crispy bit of bacon.  Mmmm, so good!  I think I could handle eating this all week!

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Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (or substitute fresh)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half (can substitute milk or all cream)

Directions:

  1. Trim, wash, and cut leeks into 1/2″ pieces.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into 1″ cubes.
  3. In a large stock pot, add oil and melt butter over medium high heat.
  4. Add sliced leeks, salt and pepper.  Stir occassionally.
  5. When leeks begin to soften, add potatoes and all other spices.  Stir to coat.
  6. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  7. When pot comes to a boil, cover and turn heat down to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  9. Using a blender (countertop or stick blender), blend soup until almost smooth.
  10. Add 1 cup of cream (or more for desired consistency) and return to boil.
  11. As soon as soup begins to boil, stir and remove from heat.
  12. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits.