Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Slow Cooker)

• 1 lb. bone-in chicken with skin and excess fat removed
• 1 onion, diced
• 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 jalapenos, seeded and inside ribs removed, finely diced
• 4 c low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
• (opt) 2-3 banana peppers or poblano peppers, seeded, cleaned and diced – only if you like it a bit hotter. (Note: You can char peppers, and steam in bowl, covered, then remove skin, chop and add to soup to mellow flavor. Or, you can also add in 3 roasted red peppers, chopped, to the soup if you’d like.)
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 c frozen corn
• 1 T sugar or agave nectar – use to cut acidity so add as needed
• 1 t cumin
• 1 t cayenne
• 1 t ground coriander
• 1 T chili powder
• ½ t thyme
• 1 t oregano(Mexican is ideal but Greek is fine)
• 1 lime, juiced and zested, plus wedges for garnish
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Options for garnish:
• 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 1 avocado, pitted, sliced
• 1 c ff sour cream
• 1 cup shredded Monterrey cheese
• Sliced scallions
• Crushed tortilla chips or fried tortilla strips

Put all in crock pot, saving stock for last and adding as needed. If you’d like, you can combine everything but the chicken in the crock pot bowl and place it covered in the fridge overnight so the flavors can marry. Cook on low 4-5 hours. Remove chicken when cooked through and allow to cool as the soup continues to cook. Add more stock if needed. Add chicken back in about thirty minutes before serving. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Cheddar Beer Soup

• 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
• 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
• 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 stick (1/8 cup) unsalted butter
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cloves garlic (or one large), grated
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
• 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass or favorite dark beer
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• Few dashes hot sauce
• 2 t Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups) OR blend of favorite shredded cheeses such as cheddar, jack, and gouda
• 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), fat rendered, bacon set aside to drain then crumble
Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander.
After rendering bacon in a 4-quart heavy saucepan or soup pot, add butter to pot to melt. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter and bacon fat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and add garlic, stirring well, cooking for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Now stir in the Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, hot sauce, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Discard bay leaf.
Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil) in small batches, waiting to add more until previously added cheese is completely melted. (Note: You can add a few slices of American cheese to help stabilize the creamy texture. It depends on how puritanical you’re feeling about your cheeses.) Serve sprinkled with bacon and croutons if desired. I like it with grilled bratwurst and Boston brown bread.

BLT Soups

Two kinds of BLT soups - the traditional is great with a salad or sandwich or as a first course to a meal, and the latter is great as a meal all in itself.

3 Strips Bacon, cut into lardons
1 T butter
3 ½ c lettuce of choice, sliced thin
½ c AP flour
6 c chicken, ham or vegetable stock
2 c fresh chopped tomatoes, or small can diced
1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne
1 c half and half or cream of choice
Salt and pepper

In heavy soup pot, sauté the bacon until crispy, and then set aside to drain. Add lettuce and butter and cook 2 min. When butter is melted, add flour and stir well to coat lettuce. Let cook 2 min while still stirring so does not burn. Gradually stir in stock, whisking to incorporate. Add cayenne, tomatoes, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and stir occasionally until it thickens. Make sure heat is on low, and stir in cream, blending well. Serve garnished with crumbled bacon.

Kicked-Up Version: Basically Veggie Chowder
Same as above but add:
1 stalk celery, minced
½ c corn, frozen
2 med or 1 large potato, peeled and diced
½-1 c red lentils
½ t ham bullion (when using veggie or chicken stock – use chicken bullion if using ham stock)
1 onion, diced
And subbed cabbage for lettuce as it wilts down and cabbage keeps its texture

Add celery, onion and cabbage to sauté before making roux. Add potatoes and lentils with liquids/stocks. Cook until potatoes are just barely tender. I took out about 2 c of the soup and pureed it to give it more creamy texture without all of the cream. Return it to soup pot and add corn, cook 3-5 min more. Stir in cream and fresh herbs (parsley or chives). I served garnished with toasted whole wheat croutons and the bacon pieces.

Note: You could toss in any veggies you have on hand that you’d like to use up with this soup – green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc. It’s really not BLT soup but it’s heartier and is definitely a meal whereas the BLT soup really isn’t.

Crock Pot Beef Vegetable Soup

My husband's favorite! I use canned and frozen homegrown veggies from summer
but fresh and canned ingredients are also excellent.

• 1-2 lbs beef short ribs or boneless chuck roast*
• 3-4 c beef stock
• 1 can diced tomatoes or stewed
• 1 1/2 c chopped onion
• 1 t dried parsley (or 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish)
• 1 T dried Italian seasoning
• Salt and pepper
• 1/2 t celery salt
• 1 T marjoram
• 1 t dried thyme
• 2 T seasoned salt, plus extra for seasoning as desired
• 1T Worcestershire sauce
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic (or 1 large), minced
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 carrots, sliced
• 1 can sliced green beans or fresh equivalent
• 1 can corn kernels or equivalent
• 1-2 large potato, diced
• Chopped fresh parsley leaves
• ½ -1 c red wine or a soft rose
• (opt) 1 c peas, frozen
• (opt) 1 c barley

Trim off excess fat from meat. Put all in large slow cooker. Dust meat with flour, shaking off excess. Then you can either brown all sides of the meat in a skillet with a bit of vegetable oil before placing in crock pot and deglaze the pan with wine to pick up any leftover delicious bits and add to meat in slow-cooker. Otherwise, just put meat dusted with flour in the crock pot with all ingredients, saving the stock for last. Put in as much of the stock as you can. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat starts to fall apart. Remove bones, fat, and skim the surface of the soup. (An alternative is to put the entire pot in the fridge overnight, and lift the hardened fat off in the morning. You can save the hardened fat to flavor other dishes if you’d like.) Add more stock if necessarily while cooking. Test for re-seasoning before serving and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

*The chuck roast will yield more meat, but the bones from the short ribs give the soup an incredible flavor.