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Roasted Tomato and Chicken Stew with White Beans

It’s no secret that I love soup. What’s not to like about it? Easy to make, you can use scraps from your kitchen, they’re usually healthy, and make great leftovers. Win, win, win, WIN in my opinion.

Two weekends ago it was cold here in SF, and I was craving an Italian-style soup, but one without any pasta (I’ve been continuing to lay off the refined carbs). This Minestrone inspired soup, thick with shredded chicken, lots of vegetables, and a light garnish of salty parmesan cheese did the trick. To amp up the flavors, I roasted some fresh tomatoes and garlic — each tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar — and beyond the extra richness it added to the soup, the smell alone made this step worth it. While they were roasting, Joe kept drifting in and out of the kitchen, until he finally came in and asked, “Why does it smell so GOOD in here?”

Need I say more?

Get the recipe (and more food pics!), after the jump! Continue reading

Recipe: Chicken and Potato Leek Soup

Early last week, I felt a cold coming on, and even though the symptoms never got too bad, I took it as a sign that I needed to slow down and take it easy for a few days. The fatigue was the worst part — it felt like rolling out of bed would be the most laborious thing imaginable.

On the day I headed home from work early, I was craving a soup that was thick and chicken-y (always a sure sign that I’m sick). I stopped by the store and picked up a few ingredients to make myself a “get well soon” soup. Along with lots of rest, I’m convinced this is what got me back up on my feet!

This soup is extremely easy to make, even when you’re under the weather. After quickly browning some chicken and sweating vegetables, everything simmers together until soft, then is pureed to velvety smoothness. Try this on a cold, snowy night…or when you’re feeling the effects of the season. Either way, it’s guaranteed to satisfy.

Get the recipe: Continue reading

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

Even with boots, chilly weather, and blog posts about pumpkins, to me, it’s not officially fall until I make a batch of butternut squash soup. For one thing, it’s easy, filling, and oh-so healthy. But the soup’s gorgeous, saturated orange color? The way it warms you from the inside out? Fall. Totally fall.

Butternut squash soup is great in that it’s simple on its own, but you can zhush it up with garnishes and other add-ins to make it fancier. It’s also the perfect thing if you’re looking for a vegan/vegetarian friendly recipe — there’s definitely no rule that says you have to include chicken stock or cream in it!

Below is a version I made on Monday night to bring for lunches throughout the week. I like making my soup with something to add just a touch of sweetness. This time, instead of apples, I used two pears that were on their last leg. Along with a sweet potato and some regular potatoes to help thicken things up, this soup was SO satisfying. Feeling fancy? You could dress it up with a dollop of crème fraîche, or swirl some cream right into the soup once you’ve heated it. I’m guessing a garnish of chives and crumbled bacon would also not be horrible. I’ve tried butternut squash soup with toasted hulled pumpkin seeds on top, too — it’s really good!

Simple Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 8 (at least)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium sized butternut, peeled and diced
–kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp if you are using fresh
1 dried bay leaf
2 Bosc peers, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (could substitute apples, too)
1 large orange sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 large red potatoes, peeled and diced (you could also substitute Yukon gold or russet — whatever you have)
2 quarts vegetable stock

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in the onion and the diced squash, then season well with salt and pepper. Stir and let sweat, until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Pour in the white wine and stir. Add in the thyme, the bay leaf, the pears, the potatoes and the stock. Gently stir, and season well with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and let cook for half an hour, or until the largest pieces of potato or squash are very tender. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is velvety smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can add batches of the soup to a blender and process. Be careful not to add too much; work in small batches so as not to accidentally burn yourself. Taste the pureed soup and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with the garnishes of your choice.

Also, here’s a quick tutorial on how to cut up a butternut squash. No need to be intimidated by their strange shape and hard skin!

1. Of all the winter squashes, I think butternuts have the thinnest skin. I used to cut away the skin with a knife, but I hated how much squash I’d lose (and I almost chopped off my finger a time or two). A few years ago when I was recipe testing for a local newspaper, a chef showed me how I could just peel it with a sturdy vegetable peeler (I like the Good Grips one from OXO), and I’ve never looked back. It’s much safer, and you get more squash that way. You can also cut the squash in half first (see below) if it’s easier for you to peel it this way.

2. Once you’ve peeled the butternut, cut it crosswise where the base of the squash starts to balloon or bell out. This is approximately where the seeds are.

3. Cut both pieces in half; this will make them more manageable to cut down further. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out and discard any of the stringy pulp.

4. If you’re cubing the squash like I was for the soup, cut the longer part into planks, then into sticks, then into cubes. You can cut the round part of the squash into half circles, then dice from there.

Presto! Your squash is all cut up and ready to go, and you didn’t slice off your hand trying to deal with it.

Recipe: Chicken and green chile stew

Chicken and Green chile Stew

I’m pleased to report that when it comes to bringing my lunch to work, I’ve been doing great these last few weeks. {Pat on the back}. It really does help you save a boatload of money, and you have the benefit of eating something that’s a lot more healthful than what you’d probably end up shoveling down at the local deli.

Tonight I made a big dish of tuna noodle casserole (this recipe from Gourmet (RIP) is so good!); last week it was this fabulously hearty chicken and green chile stew. Actually, it was less of a stew and more of a chili, but naming this Chicken and Green Chile Chili is just silly. Really.

Though this isn’t a difficult recipe, it’s probably a good one to do on a Sunday afternoon, as roasting the Hatch peppers isn’t something I’d want to do on a weeknight (read: a little bit of stove cleanup). If you’re vegetarian, you could also omit the meat, use vegetable stock, and supplement in a few other types of beans in addition to the cannellinis. The beauty in this stew-chili is that it also gets better the longer it sits. If you make it on Sunday, it’s still delicious come Tuesday or Wednesday. You can also garnish it with whatever colorful accoutrements you favor — little cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of heady red onion, diced avocado, some freshly torn cilantro, a dash of Tabasco sauce. And of course, the cheese. It’s essential that you don’t forget the grated Cheddar with this one.

chicken chili

Here’s the recipe: Continue reading

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