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Tuesday, December 14

I'm Back and in the Kitchen Again!!

I'll admit it...I'm a lousy blogger.  I know I should have never skipped a day writing, cause it becomes a domino effect; miss one, then another, and suddenly, I've forgotten all about it.  I apologize profusely, not that that changes anything.  Even my roomies have "scolded me" over my lack of posting.  Hopefully, you all will forgive me.

Today, we're gonna address something that will warm everyone up...SOUP!!  Soup is a highly under-rated mainstay during winter, something everyone looks forward to on cold winter days.  My offerings to you in this post will be French Onion Soup, Beef Vegetable Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Minestrone Soup, and Five Bean Soup with Ham. 

The Beef Vegetable Soup CAN be done in a crock pot.  Just think...with a little effort, your family can feel warm and satisfied...let's get cooking!!

FRENCH ONION SOUP

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4 large yellow onions, halved then cut into 1/4" slices
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine (you want a full-bodied wine that's NOT sweet)
3 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour
2 quarts of beef broth (or stock, if you want richer flavor)
1 whole baguette, sliced into 3/4" slices
1/2 pound of Gruyere cheese, grated (you can substitute a combination of Swiss and Mozzarella in equal amounts)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onions have become VERY soft and develop a caramelized appearance...about 25-30 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are almost dry...about 5-8 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems (if you used fresh).  Dust the onions with the flour and stir to mix.  On low heat, cook the mixture until the "raw" flour taste is gone...about 10 minutes...stirring often to prevent burning.  Add the beef broth or stock, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook, stirring for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Taste, and add the additional salt and pepper if needed.

When you're ready to eat, preheat your broiler.  Lay the baguette slices on a baking sheet, cover with cheese, and broil long enough to melt and lightly brown the cheese...about 3-5 minutes.  Float 1 or 2 slices of prepared baguette slices in each bowl of soup. 

Alternately, fill oven proof bowls with soup, lay 1-2 slices of baguette in soup, cover with cheese, and broil until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned...again, about 3-5 minutes.  Serve hot.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP (Crock Pot Version)

1 pound ground chuck or ground sirloin (you want lean meat)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups water
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
1 can (14.5 oz) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained (you can use plain)
1 can (11.5 oz) V8 juice
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 bay leaf

In a large skillet, brown the ground chuck/sirloin and the onion until the meat is completely done.  Drain any grease.  Place meat mixture into a 5 quart (or larger) crock pot, and add the remaining ingredients.  Cook for 7-10 hours on low.  Discard bay leaf.  Serve hot.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
4 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth
1/2 pound cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 1/2 cups dry egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot, melt butter.  Add the onions and celery, and cook until softened...about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, season to taste, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until noodles are very tender.  Serve hot.  Makes about 6 servings.

MINESTRONE SOUP

4 cups vegetable stock (can substitute vegetable broth)
2 cans (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans OR cannelini beans
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 medium zucchini, quartered, then sliced
1 cup dry orzo pasta (you can substitute elbow macaroni)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot, combine the vegetable stock/broth, the undrained tomatoes, potato, onion, carrot, celery, cabbage and Italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is done and veggies are tender.  Serve hot.  Makes about 8-10 servings.

FIVE BEAN SOUP with HAM

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried navy beans
1 cup dried black eye peas
1 cup dried red beans
1 cup dried northern beans
10 cups water
1 cup chicken bouillon
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 pounds meaty ham bones (this is what you save the bone from a baked ham for)
1 1/2 cups smoked ham, cubed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

In a large stockpot, add ALL dried beans and cover with 2" of water.  Let soak overnight.

Drain soaking water, then add meaty bones, water and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.  Remove ham bones, and pick the cooked meat off them (when cool enough to touch).  Return meat to pot.  Add ALL remaining ingredients to pot, bring back to boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours...do NOT allow to cook dry (add water if needed).  Serve hot with fresh cornbread.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

There you are folks...enough soup to satisfy anyone.  ENJOY!!!

 

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