Lentil Soup

I got this recipe from my cousin, Rachele when I was looking for a yummy soup recipe!  I had a feeling my kids nor Joe would like it (and I was right) BUT I LOVED it!  Lentils are something my Mom and Nana used to make often and something I always looked forward to eating.  I’ve also made them before for my family and my girls used to eat them….but not like this, because of the spinach.   It was OK..more for me!  🙂 This recipe was very good and I highly recommend it!  I like my lentils a little more on the mushy side so I cooked them awhile longer than the recipe told me to!  I also like my lentils with grated parmesan cheese……the recipe and my cousin called for a dollop of plain yogurt.  I tried it both ways, but liked the cheese better!  OBVIOUSLY!

Lentil Soup

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 large vidalia onion

2 cloves of garlic

1  3/4 quarts chicken broth

olive oil

piece of ginger root (approx 2 inches) — peeled and sliced

grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)

2 cups lentils

5 cups fresh spinach

 salt and pepper

1 cup plain yogurt

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Peel slice the carrots.

Slice the celery.

Peel and chop onions.

Peel and slice and garlic.

Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat.

Add all vegetables and garlic to pot.

Cook until  vegetables are soft, but not mushy.

Peel and finely slice the ginger. 

Add broth to pan with lentils, ginger and tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer  (with the lid on),  until the lentils are cooked…approx 20 minutes.

Add  spinach and  cook for another minute or two.

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Top with a dollop of plain yogurt or sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese (YUM).

ENJOY!

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~gianna~

Cheddar Ale Soup in Soft Pretzel Bowls

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website for Cheddar Ale soup…it sounded delicious but I didn’t have all the ingredients….so I filed it on my computer for another day.     I recently got a Mac and I’m still (3+ months later) trying to figure it out.  I went to find the recipe and couldn’t remember where I filed it…..so I did a quick google search for Cheddar Ale Soup and not only did I find the original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma), but I found someone that made THAT soup served in a………..wait for it……………..

A pretzel bowl!   

It has all the makings of the perfect game day food (or any day food, really)!    I could probably poll 100 men (and women too) and 90% would say at least 3 of these ingredients are on their “Top 10 Favorite Foods” list!   Cheese…….Check!  Bacon…..Check!  Beer……Check!  Pretzels……CHECK!!!   Pure Genius!  

 All day my house smelled amazing, from the pretzel dough rising on the counter, to the soup simmering on the stove, to the pretzel bowls baking in the oven…..it was heaven!  And the taste was even better!  It was delicious and the best part….I didn’t have bowls to wash after because we got to eat them!

 I’m not going to lie or even try to minimize this meal…..it takes awhile to make and it’s pretty tedious and there are lots of pans and bowls to wash (but no soup bowls!!!).  I was in the kitchen a lot this morning, more than I like to be.   When I wasn’t actually standing at the stove, I was checking on things, but if you have some time and want to make a yummy meal DO IT..I dare you!  You won’t be disappointed!  File this one away for when you are home on a snowy day or a weekend when you have extra time to spend cooking!   I actually did most of the prep and cooking of this meal in the morning and then finished it up around dinner time, because I had time while my kids were in school.  It actually worked out nicely!  You don’t have to do the pretzel bowls either…you can serve the soup in regular bowls….but I highly suggest the edible ones!  My kids loved them, and I can’t lie…..I did too! 

Pretzel Bowls

(Thank You Fake Ginger)

Makes 4 Bowls

5 1/2 cups bread flour

2 envelopes of quick-rising yeast

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

4 cups + another tablespoon or 2 of hot water (very hot, but not boiled)

Cornmeal

8 cups of water

1/4 cup baking soda

2 Tbsp sugar

1 egg white (beaten to blend)

Coarse Salt (I didn’t have this, so I left it out…I also don’t like salt on my pretzels — I’m weird

Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water in stand mixer (or large bowl) and mix until dough comes together in a ball.   Switch stand mixer to kneading attachment and knead for 5 minutes.  Or put dough on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or until elastic and smooth.  Grease medium bowl.  Add dough to bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 35 minutes).

Flour baking sheet.   Knead on lightly floured surface.   Diving into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place on floured baking sheet.  Cover with towel and let sit for approx. 20 minutes until balls double in volume.  

Preheat oven to 375°.   Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Bring 8 cups of water to boil in large sauce pan.   Add baking soda and sugar (it will foam — don’t panic).    Add one ball of dough to water with slotted spoon and let sit for 30 seconds.  Flip ball and let sit for another 30 seconds.   Transfer ball 9with slotted spoon) to prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining bowls.

Brush rolls with egg white.  Sprinkle generously with salt (or omit like I did).  Bake rolls until brown about 25-30 minutes.   Transfer to wire racks and let cool.  

Using a sharp knife, work on a diagonal in a circle to remove a hole in the top.  Remove top and then hollow out the middles of the rolls to make a bowl.  Do this gently so you don’t puncture a hole in the sides or bottom.  

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Cheddar Ale Soup

(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

 Serves 6-8 bowls of soup

 6 slices of bacon

1 Tbsp butter

1 Vidalia onion — diced

2 carrots — peeled and diced

2 celery stalks — diced

3 cloves of garlic — minced

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup pale ale (any flavor you like)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 cups milk

3 cup chicken broth

1 pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese– shredded

 

In a frying pan, cook bacon until crisp.   

Remove bacon and drain on paper towel.

 

In a large stock pot add 2 pieces of the bacon and 2 Tbsp of the fat from the frying pan, cook on medium heat.  

Add and melt the butter.  

Add the onion, carrots and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the ale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add the Worcestershire, milk and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup (in small batches) in a blender.  You can also you an immersion blender.


Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly; do not allow the soup to boil. 

Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed pretzel bowls. 

Garnish with leftover crumbled bacon.

 ENJOY!!!  I know you will!!!

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~gianna~

Potato Soup’s On!

Baby, it’s cold outside……

In Jersey we’ve had some extremely cold temperatures lately.   Like -5°, feels like -70°.   Ok not that cold, but with all the talk…. and the kids missing school because it’s “too cold” and these crazy weathermen terms  like “Hercules” and “Polar Vortex”and people doing “fun” science experiments throwing boiling hot water into oncoming polar vortex wind gusts….giving themselves 3rd degree burns on their faces….one would think the entire U.S.A turned North Pole.   Well it’s not THAT cold, but it’s cold enough to keep me in the kitchen and not anywhere near the outside.

So last night I decided we need soup.    I set out to see what I had on hand and what kind of soup I wanted to make and decided on Potato Soup.   I found a bunch of different recipes……and kinda mashed them all together to create my own yummy soup!   It was the perfect dinner for a cold night (inside).  HA!    We really enjoyed it and I hope you do too!!!

Potato Soup

8 slices of bacon — chopped 

1 Medium Vidalia onion — diced

3 celery stalks — diced

3 carrots — cleaned and diced

8 small/medium russet potatoes — washed, peeled and diced

8 c. chicken broth

2.5 TBSP flour

1 c. milk

1/3 c heavy cream

1 tsp parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Shredded cheddar cheese.

In a large soup pot cook bacon until nice and crispy.

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Remove bacon from pot and put aside.

Discard most of the oil — leaving a small amount in pot.

Add onions, celery and carrots and cook on medium heat until veggies are tender  (approx. 5-7 minutes).

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Add diced potatoes and cook for another 8 minutes.

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Add chicken broth and bring to boil.

Cook for 10 minutes on a gentle boil/simmer and until potatoes are tender.

In a seperate bowl, mix together milk and flour, removing lumps and pour into soup.

Cook for another 5-10 minutes –stirring often.

Remove soup in batches and puree in a blender until all is completely smooth.  

Add all soup back to the pot and add heavy cream, stir and heat it just for another few minutes.

Spoon into bowls and garnish with bacon pieces and shredded cheese.

ENJOY!!!

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~gianna~

Mini Meatball Soup

As the weather gets colder and our days get busier I’ve been trying to find recipes to warm our tummies, but don’t take a lot of time (to prepare, cook or clean-up).   Both of my kids LOVE soup…pretty much any kind from tomato to escarole to chicken noodle!  So I decided this year I’m going to start making more soup!


I asked around on my message board and got a nice long list of recipes to inspire me!  And the first one up was Mini Meatball Soup.  This was super easy to make.  The most difficult part was rolling meatballs, but really that’s not very hard…just tedious!  And the end result was exactly what I was hoping for!  My kids liked it, it warmed our bellies on a cold snowy day…..and it was DELISH!  I changed the recipe around a bit to fit the ingredients I had on hand, and it all worked together!  I used ground turkey…which is basically all I use when a recipe calls for ground beef or pork…it’s always in my fridge or freezer and I, personally like the taste better!  I also opted to not use spinach.  I was worried if I included it, my kids wouldn’t eat the soup….which is weird because they will both eat escarole…but neither will eat spinach!  So I didn’t put it in this time, but maybe I’ll try it next time!  I did add a can of cannellini beans just to give it a little extra substance!  Anyway, if you are craving a good, hearty soup on a cold, winter day…..give this one a try!

 

Mini Meatball Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 bay leaves, fresh or dried 

1 can cannellini beans


1 pound ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried pasta (I used elbows)

In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg.
Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and add beans.  Start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot.  They will cook in the pot!   Cover and simmer soup 10-20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, boil a separate pot of water and cook pasta as directed on box.   Remove and drain.  

When you are ready to serve the soup, serve individual bowls of pasta and then spoon the soup over it!  If you cook the pasta in the soup pot and aren’t ready to eat it when it is ready…or don’t plan on finishing the whole pot of soup at one meal…the pasta will get very soft and mushy…from sitting in the chicken stock.    So my tip is to spoon the pasta into a bowl and then spoon the soup over it!

 I like to add a little grated parmesan or romano cheese on my soup (something I learned from my dad)…so feel free to add a sprinkle!  🙂  I also served it with delicious crusty bread and butter!  

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~gianna~

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