Crock-Pot Mexican Chili Beef Soup

Crock-Pot Mexican Chili Beef Soup

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The completed Crock-Pot Mexican Chili Beef Soup with Goat Yogurt and Cilantro as garnish.

Puddy Salivating

In the wintertime I like to make a thick chili with stewing beef in my Crock-Pot. I  prepare all the ingredients in the morning and turn on the Crock-Pot all day. Unfortunately, my all day Crock-Pot cooking drives my dog crazy. He seems to hang out more in the kitchen smelling around and salivating – poor fella.

But yesterday,  I decided to take my regular chili recipe and make it a little different by adding a fair bit of tasty broth. So, I am going to call it Crock-Pot Mexican Chili Beef Soup instead.

The verdict? In the past, I would just add more water to make my chili thinner, but with this recipe I added one of my favorite vegetable broths (and more of it) and boy it make a BIG difference. I can just lap up this chili soup with a few pieces of yummy buttered bread. But wait, maybe I can attribute the taste bud enhancements to another new ingredient I added to my chili? The new ingredient was Skillet’s Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce (a sister product of Skillet Bacon Spread that I so love). I’m thinking the combination of all ingredients, the broth and the Chipotle Pumpkin sauce made a very tasty chili soup. Or maybe it was the slow and long cooking process of my Crock-Pot? Hmmn, maybe so, but this one is a keeper and I am happy a made a big batch to freeze.

Note: The recipe below serves about 15 – you can half all ingredients. I made a big batch with intentions of freezing a few Ziplocs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 750 ml diced can tomatoes in juice
  • 2 x 150 ml cans of tomato paste
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped (seeds and white out)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoon tex mex spice (or chili powder)
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons skillet chipotle pumpkin sauce
  • dash of pepper (to taste)
  • 1.25 Kg stewing beef, in chunks
  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup goat yogurt (or sour cream)
  • fresh cilantro

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Add the following ingredients into Crock-Pot: diced tomatoes(with juice), tomato paste, serrano chili, cumin, tex mex, oregano, cayenne, chipotle pumpkin sauce, and pepper.
  2. Turn the Crock-Pot on low to get it heated up.
  3. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 5 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add to Crock-Pot
  4. Using the same heavy pan brown beef cubes in batches. Add to Crock-Pot
  5. Add vegetable broth to Crock-Pot.
  6. Place lid on Crock-Pot and simmer for at least 7 – 8 hours
  7. Add in strained kidney beans, place lid back on and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Garnish with some goat yogurt (or sour cream) and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

What I changed from my original chile recipe:

  • Added 3 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • Add Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce

Soup Mistress Rating for Crock-Pot Mexican Chili Beef Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5)

Turkey Spinach Soup – A Perfect New Year Resolution Dish!

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The completed turkey spinach soup

Over the holidays, I celebrated with food. I had a lot of butter-rich breakfasts, delectable desserts, chocolate covered cherries and splashes of wine here and there. And let’s not forget about turkey and gravy – oh how much I love you so!

On boxing day, I was excited to cook a turkey to make some homemade turkey stock for a healthy soup. Homemade turkey stock is probably the best stock ever!

Time to detox myself and go back to my regular healthy eating habits….

So turkey spinach soup it was!

The Verdict of Turkey Spinach soup? I truly believe I created a really tasty healthy turkey soup recipe. I didn’t follow a recipe what-so-ever. I wanted to make a turkey soup that had no pasta and decided to use parsnips as a stand in. I tried to use whatever fresh vegetables and herbs I had in the fridge.

This soup freezes very well. I ate a batch from the freezer already this week!

Turkey Stock Ingredients:

  • turkey carcass
  • turkey giblets
  • 4 sprigs thyme, whole
  • 5-6 celery ribs, cut in half
  • 1 white onion, cut in half
  • 2 large carrots, cut in half
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • dash of pepper and salt
  • 15 cups of water (approx)

Turkey Spinach Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cup carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 cup parsnips, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
  • 7 cups turkey stock
  • 2 cups, white cooked turkey meat, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • dash salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions for Turkey Stock:

  1. Add all stock ingredients in a very large pot with strainer.
  2. Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 – 60 minutes covered.
  3. Strain and discard all but the liquid.
  4. Filter the stock with fine sieve.
  5. Skim fat off the top of the rested liquid with large ladle or scoop.

Cooking Instructions for Turkey Spinach Soup:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 5 minutes, or until onions are softened.
  2. Add parsnips and carrots and cook for 4 more minutes.
  3. Add thyme and dill.
  4. Add turkey stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add spinach and chives, cook until spinach is slightly wilted. Add dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Serve immediately.

Soup Mistress Rating for Turkey Spinach Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Chestnut Mushroom Soup – A Perfect Soup For Christmas Dinner Starter

Chestnut Mushroom Soup

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The completed Chestnut Mushroom Soup with chopped chestnuts, thick slice of bacon and thyme as garnish.

For the last two months, I’ve been meaning to try a chestnut soup since they are in season. I have searched high and low and there are so many chestnut soup recipes floating around on the internet. It seems like a very popular soup especially in the US for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.

A recipe that interested me the most was with chestnuts and mushrooms on Oprahs website. I modified it a tad though.

I also saw alot of tweets talking about chestnut brussel sprout soup – I may have to try that in near future as well.

The verdict? This chestnut mushroom soup was very tasty, rich, smooth and hearty. I would almost serve a little bowl or cuppacino cup (vs a mid-sized bowl) to guests. It is a perfect soup for an appetizer for Christmas dinner!

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (2-ounce) chunk pancetta
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery root, chopped
  • 5 cups button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup gourmet dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, yellow boletes, oyster)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 cups) dry-packed chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cognac
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • dash of pepper and salt to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes (while prepping everything else), then drain and chop.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, shallots, and celery root; cook 5 minutes, or until shallots are softened. Scrape out of pan and set aside.
  3. In same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms (button and dried mix) and chestnuts (reserve a few for garnish); cook 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add cognac with pancetta-shallot mixture.
  4. Tie together bay leaf, sage, and thyme; add to mushroom mixture, along with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove pancetta and herb bundle from soup; discard herbs. Cut up and brown the pancetta to use as a garnish (optional).
  6. Working in batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Be careful with the hot liquids.
  7. Return soup to saucepan over low heat. Stir in half-and-half and cook just until heated through (do not boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with reserved chopped chestnuts,  thyme and piece of fried pancetta. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe:: http://www.oprah.com/food/Chestnut-Soup#ixzz1gwBBHONm

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • added gourmet dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, yellow boletes, oyster)
  • used low sodium chicken stock
  • used 1/3 cup more of celery root
  • used 1/3 cup more of shallots

Soup Mistress Rating for Chestnut Mushroom Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Curry Chicken Soup – A Great Noodleless Under The Weather Soup

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The completed curry chicken soup

Last week, I felt a bit under the weather. In the past, I would attempt to make the same homemade chicken noodle soup to make me feel better. But not this time, I wanted to try something different and went on a hunt for a soup that I can add chicken and garlic to make me feel better.

I found this Curry Chicken Soup recipe in a cookbook called “Soup Bowl” – I modified it a tad to my liking though.

The verdict? This soup is pretty good and even better the next day! The superstar ingredient is the apple – it gives the soup a subtle sweetness, yet not too sweet. Even though this soup seems quite creamy, there is no cream or milk what-so-ever. The lemon juice gives it a very nice zest. The shredded raw carrot adds a nice touch as well – I think the next time I make it I would add even more!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and ½ cups white onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 and ½ cups parsnip, chopped small
  • 1 and ½ cups carrots finely sliced chopped small, plus some shredded for garnish
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6oz / 175 g cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the parsnip, carrots, and apple and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder until the vegetables are well coated, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Keeping a cup of the solids aside, transfer the balance of soup to a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice and puree soup until smooth.
  5. In a separate pan, fry up chicken pieces on medium to high heat.
  6. Return soup puree and reserved solids to the saucepan. Add the chicken and cilantro to the saucepan and gently heat through. If you want a thinner soup, add more vegetable stock to your liking.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro and shredded carrots. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe: Page 103 – Book: Soup Bowl – An inspiring collection of soups, broths and chowders.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • used more curry powder
  • used more lemon juice
  • replaced chicken stock with vegetable stock
  • omitted rice
  • added garlic clove
  • added ginger

Soup Mistress Rating for Curry Chicken Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

White Bean and Pancetta Soup with Truffle Oil

White Bean and Pancetta Soup

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The completed white bean and pancetta soup with truffle oil

A few weeks ago, I attended a cooking class at Well Seasoned Gourmet Store. Of the four dishes we learned how to make, my favorite dish was the Ham and White Bean Soup with Truffle Oil. Read my previous post Souping it up at Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store in Langley here.

I decided to make a similar soup at home with some minor modifications (IE added shallots and lemon juice, less olive oil, vegetable stock instead of chicken, pancetta instead of ham).

The verdict? This soup is hearty and flavorful – great for wintertime. I think the addition of lemon juice gives it a very nice zest. The white truffle oil is a nice delicate touch as well.

White Bean Soup and Pancetta Soup with Truffle Oil

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • ½ cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 2.5 cups dried white beans, soaked in water for min 4 hours (or cannellini beans)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly juiced lemon juice
  • few drizzles of white truffle oil

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Soak white beans in water for minimum 4 hours. Discard soaking liquid before you use the beans in this recipe.
  2. Saute pancetta in pan for approx 2 minutes.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic and shallots and saute for 2 additional minutes.
  4. Add parsley, beans, stock, dash of pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer covered for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Puree only a half the soup in a blender or food processor with lemon juice.
  6. Add the puree back into the pot, stir well and heat gently.
  7. Ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley and small drizzle of truffle oil.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • used 2 tablespoons of olive oil instead of 1 cup
  • replaced ham and hock with pancetta
  • added chopped shallot
  • replaced chicken stock with low sodium vegetable stock
  • added ¼ cup lemon juice

Soup Mistress Rating for White Bean and Pancetta Soup with Truffle Oil:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Souping it up at Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store in Langley

Well Seasoned

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Cooking class at Well Seasoned in Langley with Chef Romy Prasad

Just over a week ago I attended a cooking class at Well Seasoned in Langley, British Columbia. I was impressed with the gourmet food store hidden away on the Langley By-Pass by Glover Road.

The class I attended was “Soups & Stews” with Chef Romy Prasad (from Federico’s Supper Club on Commercial Drive in Vancouver). Chef Romy was a mighty fine instructor and shared with us on how to cook the following:

  • Ham & Bean Soup with Truffle Oil
  • Grilled Sweet Corn & Shrimp Chowder
  • Spicy Chicken & Eggplant Stew
  • Braised Beef & Apple Stew

My favorite dish was the Ham and White Bean Soup with Truffle Oil. I think I will attempt to make it at home in near future with some minor modifications (IE add white onion, less olive oil, vegetable stock instead of chicken and pretty up the garnish a bit).

Until then, I thought I would share the original recipe with you!

Ham and White Bean Soup with Truffle Oil

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham-hock, ham chopped off hock
  • 4 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped (doh! somehow this was left off in class?!)
  • 6 cups dried white beans, soaked in water for min 4 hours (or canellini beans)
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • few drizzles of truffle oil

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cut ham off hock into small pieces, keep the hock and skin.
  2. Saute garlic in large pan/pot until soft (about 1 minute). Add parsley, beans, stock, ham pieces, skin and ham hock, simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove ham hock and skin, discard.
  4. Puree soup in a blender or food processor.
  5. Add the puree back into the pot and heat gently.
  6. Ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley and small drizzle of truffle oil.

Soup Mistress Rating for Ham and White Bean Soup with Truffle Oil:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5) 
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Pea Basil Wonton Soup With Pancetta

Pea Basil Wonton Soup

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The completed pea basil wonton soup with pancetta.

When I was a child, I really hated peas. On many occasions, after asking my mother to be excused from the table to go out and play, she had to inspect under my plate to make sure I didn’t have peas hiding under the edges. She caught me in the act many times and made me sit there until I finished them. I thought I had a tough life back then. *Sigh*

Something weird happen over the years though – I have a new love for peas. I still don’t like peas alone by themselves, but I do like adding peas to something like a soup.

I have been doing a lot of puree soups (which I really love btw), but decided that I have to try some different techniques in the soup making department. I always wanted to try wonton wrappers…so pea basil wonton soup it is.

This recipe is totally made up…I didn’t feel like following a recipe for this one.

The verdict? I love working with wonton warppers and think I am going to try more recipes with them in future!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pancetta, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 1-1/4 cup of peas (fresh or frozen thawed)
  • 1/4 basil, chopped
  • dash of pepper
  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (keep 1/4 cup for garnish)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cook pancetta for 2 minutes on med-high heat, then put aside on a dish.
  2. Using the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic until soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add shallots, garlic, peas, 1/4 cup parmesan, basil and pepper to food processor or blender and blend until rough pure.
  4. In another pan, bring vegetable broth to boil, add pancetta, then simmer on low.
  5. Start to bring another pot of water to a boil.
  6. Place sixteen wonton wrappers on a board and distribute the pea filling in the center of each.
  7. Spray each wonton with a mist of water. (This is a quick tip that I learnt from Jamie Oliver’s show on the Food Network versus wetting each one down with a brush of water.)
  8. Press each wonton together on all edges. Place a damp clean cloth on top of them to keep moist so they don’t dry out if waiting for water to boil.
  9. In batches of 4 or 6, drop wontons into soft boiling water for about 2 minutes (or until floating to top of water).
  10. Place four wontons in each bowl. Top with vegetable broth and garnish with parmesan and a few peas.

Soup Mistress Rating for Pea Basil Wonton Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5) 
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

 

Spicy Corn and Chorizo Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Spicy Corn Chorizo Soup

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The Completed Spicy Corn Chorizo Soup


Ah, nothing beats the taste of fresh sweet corn from the local farmers market!

By mid September I am usually bored of eating fresh corn off the husk. So why not enjoy sweet fresh corn by spicing it up with other ingredients in a soup?

I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favourite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • vegetarian (if you exclude the chorizo from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • vegan (if you exclude the chorizo from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
  • 1lb (4oz/550g) corn kernels (approx. 4 large husks)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups soya milk (or goat yogurt, if you use instead add 1.5 cups and change vegetable stock to 3 cups)
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2oz/55g thinly sliced chorizo sausage
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the oil in large, heavy-bottom pan. Add onions and garlic, cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the corn, cover, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock, half the milk, the serrano chile, cumin, oregano and season with dash salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat right away, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the remaining milk. Set aside about 1 cup of the soup solids, draining off as much liquid as possible. Transfer the remaining soup to a food processor or blender and process to a coarse puree.

Return the soup to the pan and stir in the reserved soup solids, the chorizo, lime juice, lime zest and cilantro. Reheat to the simmering point, stirring constantly. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve at once.

Enjoy!

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: from page 124 of the hardback book “Soup Bowl – An inspiring collection of soups, broths, and chowders”, by Parragon books, 2007

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced corn oil with olive oil
  • replaced frozen corn with fresh corn
  • replaced chicken stock with organic low sodium vegetable stock
  • added cumin
  • added oregano
  • added lemon zest
  • changed milk to soy milk (also tried goats yogurt on other occasions)
  • changed 2 tablespoons of cilantro to 3 – just because I so love cilantro!

Soup Mistress Rating for Spicy Corn and Chorizo Soup Recipe Makeover:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (5/5)