Great Garlic Soup!

Let’s get something out of the way, shall we? This soup is not going to win you any points at the office. You’ll be that person. The one smelling up the entire lunchroom/kitchen with your leftovers. And depending on how your coworkers feel, they’ll either hate you for stinking up the place, or they’ll hate you for not bringing enough to share.

I mean, 44 cloves of garlic? There’s no way anyone’s going to be ambivalent about this one.

We picked up a cold bug somewhere over the holidays, so soup sounded especially good. And since I’d made chicken noodle soup a few days earlier, I was looking for something different. This soup seemed to fit the bill: easy enough for a weeknight, soothing for a sore throat and fairly healthy. (After all, isn’t garlic supposed to be good for just about everything?) 

I was striking out when it came to a vegetable side to serve alongside the soup though. I didn’t feel like making a salad, and, let’s be honest: the few jalapenos in those biscuits don’t come anywhere close to the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Then I realized that I could wilt some spinach down into the soup and call it a one-pot meal. Ta-da!

To give us a head-start on dinner, Andy started roasting the garlic when he got home. It was done before I walked in the door, which meant that all I had to do was chop some onions and get things simmering away. I pulled some biscuits out of the freezer, and we were set.

Andy gave this one a five, and since my Grandma sent us home with LOADS of home-grown garlic, I think it’s safe to say that this will be making another appearance in our kitchen. I’m sure my coworkers will be thrilled. 😉


44-Clove Garlic Soup 

26 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 tablespoons of olive oil
18 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 1/4 cups of diced onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 heavy cream
2 handfuls (about 4 cups) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the 26 unpeeled garlic cloves in a small glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then stir to combine. Tightly cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the garlic cloves are soft. Remove from the oven.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins and discard the skins. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a stockpot or large saucepan. When the butter has melted, add the onions and thyme to the pan. Saute until the onions are tender and mostly translucent, with a little bit of brown on their edges. Add the roasted garlic cloves and the 18 cloves of peeled, fresh garlic. Saute for about 3 more minutes.

Add the chicken stock to the pan, scrapping up all of the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the mixture to simmer until garlic is tender, about 20 minutes.

When the fresh garlic is very tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender. When the soup is smooth, stir in the cream and then add the spinach. Cook over medium-low heat for a few more minutes, until the spinach wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve the soup, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese in the bottom of the soup bowl and ladle the soup on top of the cheese. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the top of the soup. Serve immediately.

Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from the February 1999 issue of Bon Appetit

Click here for a printable version.


Our Favorite Chicken Soup

I was going to talk about dessert. Sorbet, to be precise. After all, that’s a relatively “healthy” dessert for January, right? But then things got cold. Not just “grab a hat and gloves” cold, but ridiculously cold. I’d almost call it “not fit for human life” cold, except that I know there were parts of the country that had it worse. My thermostat may have read -17, but I talked to people who saw -27. And that was before the wind. Like I said. Ridiculous.

So yeah. No sorbet today. Even though the temps are practically balmy by comparison (31 degrees, anyone?), I’m not really feeling a frozen dessert. Let’s talk about soup instead, OK?

Everyone needs a favorite chicken soup, right? It’s the perfect winter pick-me-up. It’s good for whatever ails you. And if you’re lucky, it won’t require massive amounts of planning ahead or hours of simmering for the flavors to meld. In fact, I can run errands after work and still come home with enough time to make this for dinner. How’s that for efficiency?

What sets this soup apart from other chicken noodle soups is the lemon flavor. With both fresh lemon juice and zest, it has a bright, fresh taste that most other chicken soups don’t. I have noticed, however, that the orzo acts like a million tiny sponges in the broth, which means that more often than not, we have leftover lemon-chicken-orzo casserole, rather than soup. It works out OK though – Andy likes the casserole consistency of the leftovers, and I just add a little extra water to my share before microwaving it.

Take that, polar vortex. 🙂


Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4″ circles
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast, diced (or two cups of cooked, shredded chicken) 
10 cups of chicken broth
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1-2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1 cup frozen peas
large handful chopped fresh parsley (feel free to substitute dried if necessary)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Place the chopped chicken into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute until chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken chunks. (Skip this step if you’re using already cooked chicken, obviously.) Remove chicken from pan and reserve for later.

Pour remaining olive oil into the hot pan. Saute the onion, carrots, garlic and celery in the oil until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Pour the broth and lemon juice into the stockpot. Add the lemon zest and bay leaf and bring the mixture to a boil. When the mixture reaches a boil, add the orzo and simmer until the pasta is nearly done, about 8 minutes.*

Stir into the cooked chicken, and then add the peas and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaf before ladling into bowls.

Serve warm.

*Side note: In my attempts to avoid lemon-chicken-orzo casserole, I’ve cooked the pasta separately and then stirred it into the individual soup bowls. As far as I can tell, this works, but it’s an extra step, and like I said before, I’m all about efficiency. 😀 

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Click here for a printable version.


Chili Days

November is one of those months that make me very, very thankful to have a warm, cozy house. It was a gray, rainy weekend, and now I’m sitting here listening to the wind howl outside. It’s perfect weather for chili. (Not that I made this today… we’re having a lazy evening here.) 

This is another recipe from Cooking for Two. (Do you hear me, Taste of Home publishers? You never should have discontinued the magazine!) I’ve tweaked the seasonings, added more tomatoes and doubled the recipe (which are the amounts you’ll see below). After all, our ground beef comes in one-pound packages, and what would I do with the other half-pound of meat? Plus, chili is one of those dishes that taste just as good (if not better) the next day.

It’s my go-to chili recipe. If I did feel like making a mess in my kitchen tonight, this would be the chili I’d make. It’s thick, beefy and full of beans. It’s got a little bit of a kick, and it’s the perfect match to my favorite cornbread. It works well both in the crockpot OR on top of the stove. Serve it up with some shredded cheese and sour cream, and you have a perfect November dinner.

My Wisconsin friends tell me that my chili is missing something – noodles. Chili with pasta is something they do in Cincinnati, not Cleveland. 😀

Slow Cooker Chili

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can of chili beans
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup water (I usually use this to rinse out my tomato sauce can before dumping it into the pot.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
dash hot sauce (I use Sriracha.) 
Shredded cheese and sour cream, for serving

(Holy crazy ingredient list, Batman! Don’t let it scare you though – they’re all pantry staples.) 

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onions, green pepper and garlic. When the meat is almost browned, add the garlic to the skillet and cook for another few minutes. Add the spices to the meat and stir until combined.

Transfer meat mixture to a four-quart crockpot.* Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to the crockpot. Add the water and stir to combine.

Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Serve with cheese and sour cream.

*If preparing on the stovetop, rather than the crockpot, simply add all of the ingredients to your stock pot and simmer on medium-low for an hour or so. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. 

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Fall 2006

Click here for a printable version

Comfort with a Kick

I don’t know about you, but I am in major “comfort food” mode. I’m not sure if I should blame the weather or all of my cooking magazines, but I just want warm, cozy foods. Soups. Stews. Cheesy, baked potato dishes. Or baked mac and cheese. (Look, there I go, gravitating toward the carbs. Again. Shocking.) 😀

I am also in “easy dinner” mode, since our evenings have been pretty busy the last few weeks. I used canned beans this time because I wasn’t organized enough to have some cooked ones in the freezer. In fact, the most time-consuming part of dinner was chopping the onion! (Well, that and doing the dishes…) 

The original recipe barely serves two people, so I always double it. After all, we like our leftovers! I also added more corn and pumped up the spice with a little jalapeno. And there you have it. Easy comfort food with a little kick. Who wouldn’t want this? 😉

Why yes, that IS dessert hanging out in the background. Chocolate whoopie pies with marshmallow filling, in case you were wondering.

Black Bean Corn Chowder

2 15-ounce cans of black beans, divided
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 cup of salsa
2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 avocado, cut into chunks
shredded cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips for serving

In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of black beans and the half-and-half. Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno to the pan and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the reserved black beans, salsa, corn, lime juice and cumin to the pot. Bring to a simmer.

Stir in the pureed beans and half-and-half. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, and then stir in the avocado chunks.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla chips.

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Spring 2007

Click here for a printable version.

Back in the Swing of Things

I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t wait to get back into my kitchen after vacation. Having all of my knives, my oven AND running water was like a dream come true after two weeks of boiling water over a camp stove before washing the dishes.

This chowder was the first new dish I made after we got back. I’d had it on my “to try” list for quite a while, but somehow, I never got around to actually making it. (Probably because we devour our sweet corn before it has a chance to become an ingredient.) And since we came home to some very fall-like weather, soup seemed like the perfect way to get back into the kitchen. Let’s do a quick recap of what this recipe has going for it:

  1. It uses up stray CSA ingredients. (We only had three ears of sweet corn… this kept us from fighting over who would get the third ear.) 
  2. It’s quick and easy.
  3. It’s filling, without being too heavy of a soup. I only made half a batch (which is what I’m sharing below), and we got two days’ worth of lunches out of the deal!
  4. It knocks one more recipe off my ever-growing “things to try” list.
  5. BACON. Enough said. 😀


Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

3 ears of sweet corn, husked
4 slices of bacon (OK, so I used the full amount of bacon. That just ensures that there will be 2 slices to actually go in the soup, since it’s inevitable that some will mysteriously disappear before the soup is done.) 
4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ chunks
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pound large uncooked shrimped, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper, to taste

Stand an ear of corn up in a large, wide bowl. Using a paring knife, cut the kernels off the cob. When the kernels have all been sliced off, take a spoon and scrape the pulp into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.

In a large saucepan or stock pot, cook the bacon slices until crisp. Remove from the pan and allow to drain on a paper towel. Crumble slices into bite-sized pieces.

Drain off some of the bacon grease, leaving about two tablespoons in the bottom of the pan. Add the white parts of the scallions and the chopped potatoes to the pan with the bacon grease and cook over medium high heat. Cook until potatoes begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to brown (but not burn).

Pour the milk into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Stir in 1 cup of water, the Old Bay and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes.

Add the corn, shrimp and scallion greens to the pot. Cook until shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat. Ladle soup into bowls and serve garnished with bacon pieces.

From Everyday Food, July 2009

Click here for a printable version.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I pack 10 lunches each week (five for me, five for Andy). We usually take leftovers with some yogurt and fruit, or a PB&J sandwich with yogurt and fruit. It’s very rare for either of us to go out for lunch, and that’s OK with me. Brown-bagging it saves us a few dollars and a couple of calories. (Or so I tell myself… some days I’m not sure our leftovers fit into the “light” category – I’m looking at you, spinoccoli pizza!)

On the rare days that we do eat out for lunch, I am likely to pick one of two places, Chipotle or Panera Bread, and I almost always know exactly what I’m getting. At Panera, it’s broccoli cheddar soup. In a bread bowl. And sure, give me a baguette on the side. More carbs please. And nine times out of 10, I eat it all. Because I have no self-control. 🙂 (Curious about my other “usual”? Carnitas fajita burrito bowl, with white rice and black beans, topped with corn salsa, hot red salsa, lettuce, cheese and sour cream. I’d add guac, but it’s almost $2 a serving. I can buy two avocados for that price!)

I like the soup too much to limit myself to only enjoying it at Panera though. I’ve made it before, and while it was all right, I wanted to give a different recipe a shot. This one was pretty tasty – so much so that I made sure that these leftovers went into my lunch. (What?! Andy took leftover pot roast that day, so he wasn’t TOO deprived…) 


Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (I’m guestimating this amount; I just swirled some into the bottom of the pan.) 
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, finely diced
4 cups chopped broccoli (I used mostly florets, but I did throw a few of the stem pieces in.) 
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used a combination of half and half and skim… it’s what I had on hand.) 
2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and carrots and saute until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and then add the stock and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender.

Meanwhile, in another pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it is golden in color. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese. When the cheese has melted into the sauce, pour the sauce into the stock pot with the broccoli.

If desired, puree the soup with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm (bonus points if you dish this one out in a bread bowl).

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Click HERE for a printable version!

Fall Favorite

I pride myself on being open to new recipes and food suggestions. After all, that’s how you find new favorites, right? There are some foods, however, that I always make the same way. It’s not because I don’t think I’ll like them another way; it’s just because we love the tried-and-true recipes so much. (See also: corn on the cob.) Butternut squash is one of those foods. I’m sure there are many other wonderful ways to prepare it, but every time I bring one home, it gets roasted with garlic, seared with onions, simmered with chicken stock and pureed into a savory-sweet soup.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup 

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of dried rosemary (or 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, if you have it on hand)
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped (I substitute more onions when I don’t have shallots on hand.) 
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup cream
Fresh chives, for garnish (optional) 

Preheat oven to 375. Rub olive oil over the cut side of the squash, sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Place squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tuck garlic cloves under the squash and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool long enough to handle.

Scoop the squash out of the skin and reserve, along with the garlic cloves.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and shallots in the butter (this is where things smell AMAZING!) until they are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the squash and garlic cloves and cook until the squash begins to caramelize.

Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup. (Or, you can use a regular blender or food processor – just be careful transferring the hot soup.) Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with chives if using. Serves 4 as a main course.

Barely adapted from The Nest

Hired Help

Ever fantasize about what household chores you’d hire out if money was no object? Gardener? Butler? Chef? Maid? (Andy, in case you’re reading, if an oil well ever springs up in the backyard, we’re getting someone else to clean this place.) 

There are some days when I truly wonder what I’d do without my crockpot. It’s like having a personal chef, except for that whole do-your-own-dishes thing. I don’t use it every day, or even every week, but there are definitely days when I think its inventor should have been nominated for sainthood it comes in handy. Especially on those nights where we get home from work, wolf something down and run right back out the door.

This soup is great for those nights – it’s hearty and filling, on the healthy side, and, as an added bonus, it doesn’t taste like mush after hanging out for 10 hours! It’s also easy to throw together in the morning before work, and on the Andy scale, it gets six out of five stars!

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup 

1 onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can chili beans
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can of corn, rinsed and drained (or approximately 2 cups of frozen corn; I use one of the packages of corn that my grandma freezes for me each year)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can diced tomato with green chilies, undrained
1 1.25 oz. package of taco seasoning (or an equivalent amount of homemade taco seasoning. I use Annie’s recipe)
12 oz. chicken broth
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) boneless skinless chicken breasts

Required Suggested toppings: 
Chopped avocado
Crushed tortilla chips
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

In a large crockpot (I believe mine is the five quart size), combine the onions, beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomatoes, chicken broth and taco seasoning. Nestle the chicken breasts into this mixture until they are just covered. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Before serving, remove the cooked chicken from the crockpot and shred with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back into the soup and stir to combine.

Serve warm with desired toppings.

Adapted from

Mmm… soup.

I love soup, especially when it’s cold outside. There’s something particularly comforting about cradling a warm bowl and sipping the hot broth. (Plus, I get to use my chili bowls whenever we have soup! Win!)  Soup is even better on the days when I don’t feel the greatest. And since I’ve been battling the cold of the century this week (right now, I’m not even sure my mother would recognize my voice), we’ve been eating a lot of soup. So far we’ve enjoyed white chicken chili, chicken noodle soup and tortellini soup.

I think tonight’s batch of tortellini soup was improved by two little details: homemade chicken stock and home-canned tomatoes. This past fall was my first time canning anything (although I watched my mom do it for years), and it’s definitely paying off. Opening a can of fresh tomatoes is like getting a whiff of summer. But I’m getting sidetracked. I was going to talk about soup here, right? Right.

This soup is ridiculously easy. I’m talking “weeknight-dinner-after-running-errands-after-work” easy. And it’s good for you! Spinach! Tomato! Garlic! (Don’t worry, there’s also shredded parm and cheese-filled tortellini in there too. ) Plus, it also works well with whatever dark, leafy green you have on hand. (I’ve successfully subbed Swiss chard for the spinach, which was great when that was the only thing our garden was producing this summer.)

I was skeptical the first time I made it, especially since I haven’t always been a huge fan of tomato soup. But it’s good. And Andy likes it too, which makes it even better. 🙂

Mmm... soup.

Tortellini Soup 

Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained (or 1 pint of home-canned tomatoes, diced)
1/2 tsp. oregano
4 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade, if possible)
9 oz. cheese tortellini
3 cups chopped spinach (or chard)
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil (Annie’s recipe says a tablespoon; I just eyeball it.) over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook and stir for another 30 seconds to a minute, or just until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and oregano to the pot, stir, and then add the stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook according to the package directions (mine usually take around 7 minutes). One minute before the tortellini is done, add in your spinach.* Cook and stir for final minute, until spinach wilts. Serve warm with shredded parm.

*If you use Swiss chard, I’d recommend separating the stems from the leaves and then finely dicing the stems. Saute the diced stems with the onions and then add the leaves at the end. Depending on the size of your chard, it may take longer to wilt than spinach does. 

from Annie’s Eats. 

Soup’s On!

It’s definitely a soup kind of day here. You know the type – chilly, cloudy, with precipitation that fluctuates between rain, snow and sleet. Not at all what you want to see in mid-April, but apparently the weather and the calendar aren’t on the same page. So, in the spirit of “when the weather life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” I’m going to make a batch of soup tonight.

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

3 bacon slices
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth or stock
2 large potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed
1 cup half-and-half
shredded cheddar cheese, minced parsley, green onions, red pepper flakes and sour cream for toppings
Note: If you don’t have bacon, just substitute some olive oil for sauteing the onions and garlic. It’ll work just fine.

In a large stock pot, cook the bacon. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.Crumble into bite-sized pieces.

Discard some of the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon or so in the pot. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until soft. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and basil. Continue to stir and slowly pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Bring the broth up to a boil and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add in the cream and potatoes. Heat through, but do not boil. (If desired, extra cheese can be added to the soup with the cream.)

Serve with shredded cheese, parsley, green onions, sour cream, bacon crumbles and red pepper flakes.

Adapted from All Recipes