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Entries in soup (5)


Cream of Portobello Mushroom and Leek Soup.

My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and we just love it.  I originally planned to insert a picture of the soup.  But honestly, I think that would deter you from trying it.  How does one take an appetizing picture of brown, splotchy soup anyway?  I have no clue.

Plan B:  cue the leeks.

Cream of Portobello Mushroom and Leek Soup (my mods are in italics)

  • 2.5 tbsp butter (I use olive oil)
  • 4 portobello mushrooms stems removed and cleaned and chopped (I like to remove the gills)
  • 2 leeks while and light part only, cleaned well to remove sand and grit
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (chicken broth works well too)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1.5 cups of half and half (a cup of milk + some cream worked well, too)
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine (I usually skip this)
  • Chopped chives for topping (optional)

Melt the butter/oil in a soup pot over med heat.  Add the mushrooms, leeks, and onion and sauté until tender, 5-6 minutes.  Add the stock, salt and pepper and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft, 10-15 minutes.

Transfer to blender in batches.  My SIL uses an an immersion blender--I use my pro Blendtec blender.  If you don't have a pro blender and plan to blend it, do it in small batches.  Return to pot and add half and half and sherry and mix well.  Simmer, uncovered, until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chives, if using.

Serves 4-6.

This week I'm going to try a mushroom blend to see how using non-Portobellos affect the flavor.  Oh, and last time I added a few pieces of bacon when cooking the veggies.  Yum!



Crockpot Pho.

During wintry weather, I often crave soup.  A few weeks ago, I craved Pho.  But it was during our snow days and I did not have the necessary ingredients on hand to make my standard version.  

Perhaps I should back it up a bit and not presume that everyone knows of Pho.  Just because I nearly lived off of the Vietnamese beef noodle soup during my law school years doesn't mean it's mainstream.  But it should be--because really, it's delicious.  And it's not at all difficult to make at home.  You just need the right ingredients.  The very ingredients my pantry lacked.

And this of course was the precursor to me flipping through a cookbook on a snowy day, searching for a recipe that I had previously dismissed.  Make that scoffed at, then dismissed.  Because I just couldn't imagine a crockpot turning out a version of my beloved soup that was anything, you know, worthwhile.

It is from the cookbook Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.  The recipe is posted online here.  It's not the real deal because it lacks a certain depth of flavor.  But that said, it absolutely hit the spot, craving-wise.   And now that I'm open to this sort of thing (and have stocked my pantry again), I plan to try Steamy Kitchen's version next.

My  notes:  I don't add the noodles to the broth while cooking because I find that doing so turns the noodles to mush.  Instead, I like to prepare them separately.  Follow the directions on your package, but in case they are not in English (like the variety I seem to pick), here's what I do:  soak your dried rice noodles in warm water for 15 minutes to soften them, then cook them in boiling water for a few minutes.  I then add the soft noodles to individual bowls and add the soup separately.




As the temperature dips--and if I'm sitting still on the couch for whatever reason--I likely will be wearing a sweatshirt over two shirts as I huddle under a blanket.  It's not as if we keep the thermostat at an unreasonable temperature.  I just get cold easily.  I'm like a lizard.

And because I spend all winter trying to raise my core temperature, it is not surprising that I learned to make stew years ago.  My view on stews is this:  recipes are for when you're entertaining or feeling adventurous or feeding a crowd.  But for the everyday pot, I keep it simple.  Very simple, actually, because no one in my house likes beef stew but me.  So, when I have a date with a steamy bowl of stew and my blankets (yes, plural, because it's usually two if we're talking throw blankets), I am not about to go hunting and rummaging about the fridge and pantry for ingredients all, you know, exposed to the elements.

Here is how I make beef stew.  Think of it as a map rather than directions.  Maps are always better--directions might get you stranded without a clue.  But you're all set if you have a map.  Besides, I'm not writing and editing this into a recipe because for all I know, I really might be the only one who likes beef stew!

Ingredients:  stew beef (about 1.5 lbs); red wine, if using; beef broth (2 cans); diced tomato (1 can); flour; olive oil; carrots (about 3); onion (1 large--but I like onions); a few potatoes cut into large chunks, thyme.

Cube up some beef that's good for stew (I typically use about 1.5 lbs of chuck roast), place in a ziploc with about 1/4 cup of flour, and toss to coat.  Using a heavy Dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat (oil should ripple but not smoke). 

Add beef in one layer--do not crowd to avoid steaming the meat--you want a good sear.  Leave it be for a couple of minutes, then flip and sear the other side.  After the meat is browned, add in 1 cup of liquid to deglaze the pot--I like to use red wine, but beef broth is good too. 

Scrape up the yummy bits and let the liquid heat up, about another minute.  Add in your chopped veggies (I like red potatoes, carrots, and onions--keep things fairly chunky if you are going to let things cook low and slow but cut up smaller if you're dishing this up anytime soon).  Add in 2 cups of beef broth (or one can) and 1 can of diced tomatoes (these can be flavored if you like).  I also like to throw in about a 1/2 tsp of dried thyme and a couple of bay leaves. 

Let everything come to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Depending on the cut of meat you use, the stew could be ready in as soon as an hour.  But I usually start mine in the afternoon, let it simmer for about 3 hours, adding water if necessary, then tuck it away in the fridge for my lunch throughout the week. 

I like to salt and pepper to taste before eating.  Some other things to add in before serving if you'd like to add some zip are:  a glug of worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a glug of vinegar.  I almost always add the worcestershire and vinegar as I find it brightens everything.  But the beauty of this basic method is you can do what you want.  Especially if it's all for you...stay warm!



More snow. More soup.

Ten more inches of snow.  Plus winds of 35-50 mph.  Seriously?  Seriously.  The snow is touching the bottom of our mailbox.  So what's a girl to do when she can't control a thing going on outdoors?  Make more soup of course.  Soup makes everything better.

I found a recipe for "make a mama happy chicken noodle soup" on Domestic Reflections and thought it sounded perfect.  It was indeed--though I do mention a tweak or two below. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 16 c. chicken broth (4 cartons)
  • 1 3 1/2 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced (I chopped up a bag of baby carrots)
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I agree that this is critical--in fact, I added lots more than 1 T, probably closer to the juice of the entire lemon)
  • 12 oz. dried wide egg noodles (I used the recommended pappardelle from Trader Joe's
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh parsley (I only added this to the adult servings as the boys didn't want "salad" floating in their soup)


  • Combine broth and chicken in a large heavy pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 mins. **I cooked the chicken closer to 40 minutes**.
  • Transfer chicken to a large bowl and after chicken has cooled slightly, pull off and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat.
  • Return broth to a simmer.  Add carrots and celery.  Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 mins.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until beginning to wilt, about 5 mins.  Add onions to broth and vegetables. 
  • Stir in lemon juice. 
  • Add noodles and chicken and simmer until noodles are done (about 5 mins). 
  • Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I should also note that this recipe makes a ton--we delivered a small pot of it to neighbors and still had plenty for two rounds of soup ourselves.  Good thing, too.  We needed it.

Digging out and black bean soup.

It finally stopped snowing in the late afternoon yesterday and Charlie spent hours trying to dig us out.  But until a plow comes through our neighborhood, I don't think we'll get beyond our driveway.  I'm having flashbacks to 1996 when my roommates and I were snowed in for days.  Of course, back then it was a welcome diversion from law school classes.  

The boys weren't sure what to make of all the snow--they were a bit lost because they couldn't just run and play.  But they did enjoy scaling the snowy mountains created by displaced snow as Charlie shoveled and shoveled.   

As for me, I stayed mostly inside and could not resist making a big pot of a favorite cold weather comfort--black bean soup.  I still had a meaty ham bone in the freezer from our Christmas dinner so it was a perfect choice.  Here's my recipe that I turn to when I forget to soak the beans overnight.    

Black Bean Soup

     adapted greatly from versions I found on SimplyRecipes and AllRecipes


  • 1 lb black beans, picked through and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ham bone (or 1lb smoked ham hock or shank, in which case you won't need the additional meat below)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped ham or shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice


  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce 


  • Place beans, water, ham bone, broth, bay leaves, baking soda, and salt in a heavy, thick-bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (if you are not using a heavy-bottomed pot, you'll need to stir often).
  • Remove bay leaves and ham bone from pot and cut ham meat away from the bone into small, bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Remove about two cups of bean mixture and place in a blender.  Keep uncovered for a few minutes to allow mixture to sightly cool, then cover and puree beans until smooth, holding blender lid down.  Or (this is what I do) place the two cups of bean mixture into a bowl and puree until smooth using an immersion blender.  Place back into pot.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium to medium high until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Add onions, celery, sweet potato, carrot, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, add the cumin, chili powder, garlic, and chopped tomato, cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add onion mixture to the bean pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 additional minutes, adding in reserved meat from ham bone and chopped ham/shredded chicken (if using) for the last 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 3 Tbsp lime juice (optional but I love the addition of fresh lime juice) and salt to taste.
  • Serve with garnishes. Makes 8 cups, serving approximately 6 (for our family of two adults and 3 children, it is enough for a hearty dinner plus lunch the next day).