Category Archives: Soups

Pumpkin Chili

This dish combines some of my favorite fall foods: pumpkin and chili.

I write a weekly column for The Joplin Globe, Claremore Daily Progress, and Ottumwa Courier and this week’s theme was pumpkins.

I love everything pumpkin. From pumpkin patches to carving them to eating the orange globes.

That is why I came up with these pumpkin chili, which is filling and delicious.

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My pumpkin chili is a hearty stew that gets a boost of fiber and Vitamin A from the pumpkin. Pumpkin is very healthy and ½ cup contains 50 calories, 3 gram of fiber and 280 percent of your daily Vitamin A needs. You can’t really taste the pumpkin in my recipe, but it bulks it up and gives it a velvety texture. I add a little cinnamon to compliment the pumpkin this dish.

I love using bison instead of beef in this recipe, but it’s more expensive and not as readily available. Bison is healthier than beef and we are big bison fans.

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Fall is my favorite time of year and I feast on pumpkin. I actually bought six cans last week. In my recipes, I usually use canned instead of real pumpkin because most people don’t have time to roast and puree a whole pumpkin.

I hope you enjoy it.

Pumpkin Chili

Serves 6-8

2 cups chopped red onion

1 pound ground sirloin or some lean ground beef

2 heaping tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon cumin seed

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more to taste)

1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste

1 ½ cups water or chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes

1 ¼ cups salsa

2 cloves chopped garlic or 1 tablespoon dehydrated garlic

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 (15-ounce) can chili beans

*1 (4-ounce) can green chilies (optional)

Shredded cheese, chopped onion, cilantro to garnish

*The green chilies make this dish spicy, so I skip those when serving my family.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and when hot, add onions and beef.  Cook for 3 minutes. Then add chili powder, cumin, garlic salt and cinnamon and cook until ground beef is cooked. If necessary, drain beef before going on (if you use lean beef you won’t have to drain it).

Next, add tomato paste and water and cook for 2 minutes until the paste dissolves into the water. Then add salsa, garlic, pumpkin, cilantro and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes (the longer you simmer, the better the flavor). Add beans and cook 10 minutes before serving.

This chili is even better the next day, but some of the cinnamon flavor will fade because of the strong flavors of garlic, cumin and tomatoes. To combat this, I sprinkle plain cinnamon on a bowl just before serving for more emphasis on the cinnamon (you could also just double it in the recipe, but try the ½ teaspoon first because you don’t want to overwhelm the dish with cinnamon).

Slow Cooker Stock

I’ve experimented a lot with slow cooker stock. My first batch, tasted like watered down stock. Not good. The next was a little better, but still not good enough.

I make a ton of traditional stock, but the problem with a slow cooker is it doesn’t maintain that simmer all day, like the stove does, to extract the flavor needed for a stock. So I realized I needed to add  a punch of flavor in the ingredients.  After many attempts, I have finally come up with this recipe which  uses two chicken carcasses, parsley, dried mushrooms (which are key), and a hint of soy sauce.  The result is a beautiful, dark, rich stock. It’s darker than traditional chicken stock and almost looks like beef stock.

This stock is particularly good in my vegetable, barley soup; chicken noodle soups; Asian soups; mushroom soup; potpie; rice dishes; sauces, etc.

This will yield 7-8 cups of stock, so you probably want to freeze extra.

If you are single and don’t buy two chickens at a time, just freeze a carcass when you’re done with one and the next time you buy one, make this stock.

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When making this stock, it’s important that you use the chicken skin, too. I never eat the skin because it’s so unhealthy, but it’s loaded with fat and seasoned, which adds flavor to your stock.

I also love how easy this is. I don’t have to monitor it like I do a stovetop stock. I toss it in and forget about it.

If you have to go buy all these ingredients, then this will be more expensive than store-bought stock, and not really worth it. But I always have all these ingredients on hand, so I make homemade stock all the time. I prefer the flavor and it has less sodium than commercial brands. If you are watching your sodium level, skip the soy sauce in this recipe. Plus, I freeze it so I can grab stock whenever I need.

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Slow Cooker Stock

8 cups water

2 rotisserie chicken carcasses

1 teaspoon peppercorns

3 bay leaves

2 carrots

1 large onion

4 stalks of celery with the leaves

1 clove chopped garlic or 1 teaspoon dehydrated garlic

3 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms or another dried mushroom, like shiitake

½ teaspoon soy sauce

¼ cup fresh parsley with stems (optional)

Directions

Place all ingredients in large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours. Note, if you have a slow cooker that cook in hours instead of heat, 4 hours, 6 hours, 10 hours—then if possible, cook it on 4 hours and then when it’s done, hit 4 hours again. This will be the highest possible temperature, which will yield the best results.

White Chili

White chili seems to be one of those divisive soups: people love it or hate it.  Some feel like any chili that doesn’t contain beef isn’t really chili.

I enjoy white chili because I love the pronounced flavors of cumin and sour cream. There are so many versions of white chili, but I add corn to mine.

I like to top it with cheese or avocados. Tortilla chips are a good topping, too.  This makes a good size batch, enough for six people.

White Chili

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons cumin seed

1 teaspoons ground cumin powder

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

1 yellow bell pepper

32 ounces of chicken broth, plus 2 cups

1 cup water

1 teaspoon chopped garlic or dried garlic

1 cup half and half

3/4 cup sour cream

4 ounces chopped green chilies (canned)

¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

2 can cannellini beans

1 can corn, drained

4 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

This has a lot of ingredients, but it’s still an easy dish.

Chop onion, yellow bell pepper and chicken and set aside.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion, cumin seed, cumin and chili powder. Cook 5 minutes and then add yellow bell pepper and saute another 3 minutes. Then add the next nine ingredients (everything but the chicken) and cook over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Once you add the sour cream, you don’t want to let the soup boil because it could curdle, so keep the heat at medium.

Add chicken and cook 5 more minutes. Serve.

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Healthy, Easy, Delicious

Woo Hoo, I did it! Revamped my delicious chicken tortilla soup and transformed it into a wonderful Rotisserie Chicken Queen soup. From start to finish, it took me 25 minutes!

My old version took about an hour and a half and this new version is spectacular! It has more ingredients than most of my recipes but it’s still easy.

If you enjoy the flavors or cumin, cilantro and corn, you should love this.

And it freezes beautifully, so if you are single or travel a lot, you can easily freeze it.  There’s about six servings in a pot and I ran the ingredients through one of those calorie calculations, and it has 311 calories a bowl. It was rated B+, which is awesome, so it’s nutritious as well as delicious.

It has 12 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron, 48 percent vitamin C, and 20 percent vitamin A.

If you made my Mexican Lasagna, you probably have left over corn tortillas, so you can use them in this. For future reference, corn tortillas freeze well, too.

You’ll notice, I give directions as if I am there with you in the kitchen because I know where the pauses are in my recipe and it helps you move faster. You don’t have to de-bone the chicken before you start the soup. If you do, you will add a little extra time to the 25 minutes I said it takes. I try to be as efficient as possible with whatever I make. “Efficient” is a commonly used word in my home and is usually greeted with a mental eye-roll from my husband. I don’t blame him. I strive to be more efficient with everything I do.

This is one efficient, yummy venture. I hope you enjoy it.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 large yellow onion

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin seed

1 large red bell pepper

*1 garlic clove or dash of dehydrated garlic (see my note)

32-ounces reduced sodium chicken broth (one of those boxes of broth)

1 can of corn, drained

½ a bunch of cilantro

4 corn tortillas

1 tablespoon cornmeal (if you don’t have any, just add 2 more tortillas)

1 ½ cups chunky salsa (your favorite brand)

Meat from 1 rotisserie chicken

Avocado to garnish (optional)

*If you want to save time and you’re not cooking with dehydrated garlic, you need to buy some. It’s awesome! I tried it when I visited the New Orleans School of Cooking and I was skeptical, but instantly won over. Now I only use fresh garlic if I am making a dressing or something that must have it. Dehydrated garlic saves me time, effort and I don’t have stinky hands. You can order it online, but I recently bought some from Big Lots, of all places.  It was inexpensive, too. I’d call your local store before heading over.

Directions:

First, chop onion and red bell pepper and set aside (use a food processor, if you have it).

Split a head of cilantro in half and cut the stems off one half. Then bunch up the leaves and slice those and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion, cumin, chili powder and cumin seed. Stir occasionally while it cooks for about 7 minutes. While that cooks, do the next steps but be sure to stir the onion so it doesn’t burn.

Pile tortillas on top of each other, slice them and then cut into small squares and set aside.

Tear the meat off your chicken. Discard the skin or save it for another use. Coarsely chop the chicken and set aside (if you have time; if not, you will get to that in a second).

When onion is tender, add all the ingredients from the bell pepper through the salsa. You do not want to add the chicken yet because it’s already cooked. Bring soup to a soft boil and cook 10 minutes.

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is is what it looks like before it boils

Finish chopping your chicken, if you haven’t already

When soup has cooked 10 minutes, drop chicken in and turn off the heat. The soup is piping hot and will quickly heat the meat. See how creamy the soup looks now? Transformed in 10 minutes.

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Optional: Serve with a slice of avocado, crumbled up tortilla chips, cheese or plain. The calories calculated were plain. Stir the soup and serve.

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

High in niacin

High in selenium

High in vitamin B6

High in vitamin C

Bad points

High in sodium

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Creamy, Chicken and Dumpling Soup (SUPER EASY)

I wish I could take credit for this brilliant, delicious Creamy, Chicken and Dumpling Soup, but I can’t. My husband’s cousin’s wife made a version of this a few years ago. I don’t remember the original recipe. but she used flour tortillas to make the dumplings, which I thought was brilliant. That soup served as the inspiration for this one/

I normally hate Chicken and Dumpling Soup, but this is creamy and absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s SUPER EASY.  It’s perfect for a cold winter day. Your family will love it.

Creamy, Chicken and Dumpling Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion

2 stalks celery

2 bay leaves

1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 soup can filled with water

1 1/ 3 cups mixed frozen peas and carrot

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

3 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Chop onion and celery. Set aside.

Place tortillas on top of each other and use a knife or pizza cutter to cut into ½ inch rectangles or squares. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium-large pot over medium heat. When hot, add onions, celery, bay leaves and cook 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add chicken stock, soup and then fill the soup can with water and add to pot. Toss in frozen peas and carrots and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce to strong simmer and add chicken and tortillas. The tortillas serve as dumplings. Cook 5  minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and then serve. Serve with a roll because you will want to sop up all the deliciousness that is this soup.

This easy version of Chicken and Dumpling Soup is pure comfort food

This easy version of Chicken and Dumpling Soup is pure comfort food

Vegetable, Barley, Chicken Soup

It’s bleak outside, which puts me in the mood for soup. And I’ve shared a couple of decadent dishes lately, so I thought I’d post a delicious, healthy soup today:  Vegetable, Barley, Chicken Soup.

I love this soup because it’s packed with vegetables and feels nourishing.

There are a couple ways you can shave a little prep time off. Buy a bag of cole slaw mix instead of chopping your cabbage; buy pre-cut mushrooms; precut carrots; and use dehydrated garlic instead of fresh.

This soup has a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that deter you from trying it. It’s a simple soup that on the table in 30 minutes and it’s healthy so you can feel good about feeding it to your family.  It’s packed with vegetables and we know we all need more vegetables. The barley adds bulk and fiber and helps thicken the soup.  It’s important to use quick cooking variety of barley because it only cook 15 minutes before you serve it.

The Italian seasoning and rosemary season this beautifully.

The chicken goes in at the very end, so again to save yourself prep time, chop the chicken while the soup is boiling. The same apples to the zucchini. While the first four ingredients cook down, then you can chop the zucchini.  Ok,let’s get started.

Vegetable, Barley, Chicken Soup

1 large yellow onion

2 carrots

1 ½ cups chopped white cabbage

2 stalks celery

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

1 pint sliced baby portobella mushrooms

1 zucchini

2 bay leaves

1 garlic clove, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

7 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup quick cooking barley

2 ½ cups chopped, skinless rotisserie chicken

Directions:

Chop saute onion, cabbage, carrots and celery and set aside. Cut zucchini into fourths horizontally, and then slice those pieces. Slice mushrooms and set aside.

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, cabbage, carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add Italian seasoning and rosemary, mushrooms, zucchini, salt and pepper and cook another 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, garlic, stock and barley and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook 12-15 minutes. While the soup cooks, chop your chicken.

Drop in chopped chicken and heat through. Serve.

Quick Posole

If you have 15 minutes, then you can have dinner on the table. That’s right, from start to finish, this soup will only take you 15 minutes.  Here’s another piece of good news: this flavorful soup boasts only 220 calories a bowl.

Posole is a stew popular in Columbia and Mexico that is slow cooked and contains hominy. While Posole is traditionally slow cooked, I don’t have time for that so I came up with this snappy version. It’s actually inspired by a slow cooker pork posole one of my girlfriend’s makes.

It’s flavored with broth, green enchilada sauce, cilantro, cumin, salsa and then a squeeze of lime. The shredded chicken is so tender in this dish.

It’s not my best soup, but it’s very good, especially when you consider how quick it comes together.  So pop a beer and dinner will be done before you can even finish your brew (well, I guess that depends on what type of day you’ve had).

I assume everyone has a food processor, but if you don’t, then add a couple extra minutes to the cooking time (and then go buy yourself one). I have a cheap one that I paid $10 for at Walgreens or Walmart in 2000. I am not kidding. So there’s no need to save up for a good one; this has served me well. I always use it to chop onions. You only need to chop an onion and cilantro for this dish, so there’ s not a lot of chopping anyway.

Quick Posole

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 yellow onion

1 bunch cilantro

½ teaspoon cumin seed

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

1 (15-ounce) can reduced sodium chicken broth

1 (10-ounce) can green enchilada sauce

2 cups water

1 can yellow hominy

2/3 cup salsa (red or green will work; I prefer red)

2 cups skinless, shredded rotisserie chicken

1 lime for serving

Chop onion and cilantro set aside. When chopping cilantro, I just keep it as a bunch, chop the stems off where the leaves end and then chop that part, including stems. Some people take the time to pick off leaves, but not me. That takes forever. Stems are fine in the soup.

In a medium pot, heat oil and add onion and cumin and cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add cilantro, broth, enchilada sauce, water, hominy, salsa and cook 5 minutes. While that cooks, shred your chicken and then add it to the pot and cook 5 more minutes.

Note: the easiest way to shred is pull of the skin, pull the chicken off the bone and shred it by hand. I always save the skin and bones for stock. You can freeze that if you won’t have time to make it this week. I find two birds boiled together makes a better stock anyway.

Serve with a lime wedge. If you want add more vegetables, you can serve this with chopped avocado and tomatoes.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 220; 24 g protein; 19 carbs; 1,175 ml sodium