Recipe—Tuscan Tortellini Soup

Tuscan Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe a couple of months back for a ravioli soup and knew I had to try it. Well I am never one to really “follow” a recipe so I mixed things up and created a tortellini soup. Tortellini are far less doughy so you have these fabulously light cheese filled pillows floating around in a rich creamy tomato soup and then of course some big hearty chunks of sausage in the mix as well. This soup was phenomenal! My four-year-old son gobbled it up and he is usually kind of weird about soups (I think it is a texture thing). This recipe made a massive pot, which allowed us to have a full dinner and then also freeze a bunch for future meals. Tuscan tortellini soup is perfect for a chilly winter day and is so quick and easy to prepare. I could go for a big bowl of it right now!

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground Italian sausage
4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
4 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 c half & half
1 c heavy cream
6 oz bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
18–20 oz fresh four cheese tortellini (I got two 9 oz packages.)
1 c parmesan cheese, shredded
croutons

STEPS

  • Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a VERY large soup pot.
  • Once the meat is about halfway cooked add the butter, onion, and garlic and cook until the union is soft and transparent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and chopped spinach.
  • Bring to a boil and add salt and garlic powder.
  • Boil for 10 minutes making sure to stir frequently.
  • While the soup is boiling cook your tortellini in a separate pot per package instructions and drain.
  • Add the half & half and heavy cream to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the parmesan and cooked tortellini until the cheese is melted.
  • Transfer the soup to a bowl using a ladle.
  • Top with croutons and additional parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co.

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Recipe—Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. My hubby is not a big fan of sweet potatoes. However, we get them pretty frequently in our weekly organic produce delivery so I am always looking for creative new ways to prepare the sweet tasting tuberous root. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. It was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Even thought there is no actual meat in it you can certainly fool yourself into thinking there is. It is delicious, thick, hearty, and filling. We served it with a grilled tri-tip and my husband ended up chopping up his tri tip and mixing it in. He is truly a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Give this a try next time you are looking for a super food side dish to warm you up.

Note: For a completely vegan version of this recipe sub vegetable broth for beef broth.

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4–1/2 tsp cayenne (depends on how much kick you like)
2 (14.5 oz cans) diced tomatoes with chiles, undrained
2 (15 oz cans) black beans, drained
2 c beef broth

STEPS

  • In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sweet potatoes, onion, and bell pepper until the onions become translucent, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne.
  • Sauté for about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, and broth stirring until well combined.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30–35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the chili is the desired consistency.

Recipe adapted from Alida’s Kitchen

Recipe—Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

It is FINALLY starting to feel like winter in California! We have been having 60–70 degree days in December and January. Not normal! Don’t get me wrong, I love nice weather but one of my favorite things about Cali is that we usually have 4 very distinct seasons. I love being bundled up with a cozy scarf and boots on a cold winter day with a big bowl of soup and it has just not been that kind of winter. Well we just got our first spell of rain in what feels like months! This led me to go into full on soup mode.

Broccoli cheddar soup has always been one of my all time favorite soups. It is so rich, creamy, and filling. (Exactly what you need after you made your new year’s resolutions right?) Well give yourself a cheat day and serve this up with an old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich for a real winter treat. A perfect warm up for a cold winter day!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp thyme
3 tbsp flour
3 c milk
3 c chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
2 heads broccoli, chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c parmesan, grated
salt
white pepper

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and thyme and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add in the flour and mix until well combined and it starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, broth, and cream.
  • Stir in the chopped broccoli and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Add in the shredded cheeses and stir until smooth and melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Season to taste with the salt and white pepper.
  • Serve and top with additional shredded cheddar if desired.
  • Serve immediately.

Recipe—Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Happy new year! How is 2014 treating you all so far? Hopefully absolutely fabulously!

First off I want to apologize for my absence over the past few months. Life has been super busy! I started a new job back in September managing one of the most awesome design studios and it has taken some time to find the right balance in life. My resolution for 2014 is to get back to some regular blogging so I have lots of great things coming for you. I have still been cookin’ up a storm while away so I have plenty of tasty new recipes to share. Now the question is, where to start!

Since it’s winter and we are all still recovering from the holiday madness how about one of my all time favorite soup recipes? It is a quick and easy crock-pot recipe that will be sure to warm you up.

When I was in high school I used to work in a little mom and pop owned coffee shop called Full O’ Beans. (People actually came in thinking it was a Mexican restaurant.) This coffee shop had the best soups and sandwiches! One of my all time favorite soups they served on occasion was the chicken and wild rice. It was delicious! I would have a big bowl at work and then fill up a big styrofoam cup to take home for later. It was one of those comfort soups that I just couldn’t get enough of. Well I finally put together this recipe that is out of this world good and reminds me of the coffee shop’s homemade chicken soup. This soup is easy, delicious, “souper” filling, and best of all it is made in the crock-pot. What more can a girl ask for? Now go make a big pot of this soup and snuggle up under a blanket on the couch while you wait for it to cook. Or do like I do, and just go to work. 😉

INGREDIENTS
4 c chicken broth
2 c water
1 box Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1/2 c butter
1/3 c flour
2 c half and half
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

STEPS

  • In your crock-pot mix together broth, water, and rice (including seasoning pack).
  • Add in the chicken breasts, carrots, and celery.
  • Cook on low for 6–8 hours or on high for 3–4 hours.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the crock-pot and break it up into pieces using a fork. Return the chicken to the crock-pot.
  • In a medium saucepan melt your butter over medium heat.
  • Gradually mix in the flour until well combined.
  • Whisk in the half and half and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the creamy base mixture to the crock-pot and stir until well combined.
  • Allow the soup to cook on low for another 15 minutes.
  • Try the soup and season to taste. If it is too thick you can add a little water to thin it out.

Recipe—Spicy Shrimp Noodle Bowl

DivaDiCucina_ShrimpNoodleBowl

This is one of those dishes that you look at and think, “It must have taken forever!” Wrong! This dish was on our table in less than 20 minutes from the time I started, and it was so simple. Those are some of the many reasons I love it! I first tried this recipe because I happened to have some bok choy on hand from my produce delivery and some shrimp in the freezer. It was just meant to be! This recipe is packed with wonderful Asian flavors but none of the ingredients are exotic or hard to find. I’m not typically a huge fan of ginger but in this recipe it is what takes it from ordinary to extraordinary so don’t leave it out. This noodle bowl ended up being really filling. My son is a big fan of pot stickers so I fried up a couple of those while this was coming to a boil. They were a great addition to the meal.

Note: For a vegetarian option substitute some tofu for shrimp. 

INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2–1 tsp crushed red peppers (depends how spicy ou like your meals)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 c shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 baby bok choy chopped
salt and pepper
4 c chicken broth
1.42 oz pack Swanson’s seafood concentrate or 1 c seafood stock
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, deveined and peeled
6 oz pack chow mein noodles
4 green onions cut into three pieces, then cut lengthwise into thin “sticks”

STEPS

  • In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the crushed red peppers, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and bok choy.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken broth and seafood concentrate.
  • Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add the shrimp and the noodles and cook for 3–5 minutes or until the chow mein is tender and shrimp cooked through.
  • Add in most of the green onions reserving some for garnish.
  • Cook for another 2 minutes, turn off stove and allow pot to sit for another 2–3 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining green onions.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.

Recipe—Creamy White Chicken Chili

DivaDiCucina_CreamyWhiteChickenChili

Chili is one of my favorite comfort foods and I love that this is a fun twist on the classic bean based dish, and the fact that it is super easy is a huge plus too. I took several different recipes I found online and mixed them all together and came up with this one for creamy white chicken chili. I think it turned out pretty darn fabulous! I used green chilies keeping it really mild so that everyone in the family would eat it but you can substitute jalapeños to give it a good kick. The mild heat is really balanced out nicely with the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the corn. I served it up with some cut up tortillas on the side but a quesadilla would be great too. If you have any chili cook offs coming up give this recipe a shot. You may just get some extra points for thinking outside the box.

Note: To simplify this recipe and shave off some time, pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store and skip the first four steps. You can chop it up while the veggies are cooking.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2-4 oz cans diced green chilies (use jalapeños if you like it hot)
15.5 oz can cannellini beans
1 1/2 c chicken broth
8.5 oz can corn
8 oz cream cheese, cut into a few pieces
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or saucepan.
  • Add the chicken and cook through stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.
  • Heat the oil in the same pot and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and oregano.
  • Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring ever minute or so.
  • Add the green chilies and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the can of beans and all the juices, the broth, corn, and cooked chicken.
  • Simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the cream cheese.
  • Stir the chili until the cream cheese is completely melted and smooth.
  • Allow the chili to simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the cilantro.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Recipe—Crock-Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

DivaDiCucina_BakedPotatoSoup

It’s been a chilly couple of weeks where I live and I just can’t seem to warm up. One of the only things that really seem to take the bite off is a big bowl of hearty soup. Well this loaded baked potato soup truly is comfort in a bowl and hits the spot on these cold winter days. This is one of those recipes that people of all ages will love. It’s creamy and cheesy just the way baked potato soup should be. It is amazing the amount of flavor you get from a few simple ingredients. Since this does require a little prep before it goes in the crock-pot it may not be the best thing to try and do on a workday. However, it is the perfect crock-pot meal to whip up on the weekend. Perfect for a cozy Sunday lunch or dinner while watching some football. Hope you love this favorite soup of mine as much as I do!

Note: You can certainly use fresh potatoes for this soup. I just use a bag of the frozen ones to save a few extra minutes, after all, that’s the whole reason I use my crock-pot. If you want to use fresh potatoes I recommend using 5–6 cups of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces.

INGREDIENTS
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
4 c chicken broth, divided
32 oz bag of frozen diced potatoes (I use Ora Ida Hash Browns, not the shredded ones but the little cubes.)
3 c cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
2/3 c heavy cream
2/3 c sour cream
4 tbsp chives, minced

STEPS

  • In a large skillet cook the bacon over medium high heat until crispy.
  • Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and place in the fridge until ready to serve the soup.
  • Pour out most of the bacon drippings leaving about 2 tbsp in the skillet.
  • Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until soft and lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic and thyme to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for a minute stirring constantly.
  • Whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth.
  • Cook until the mixture starts to thicken and then pour into your crock-pot.
  • Add the remaining 3 cups of broth, potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the crock-pot.
  • Cover and cook for 5–6 hours on low heat.
  • Using a hand masher, mash the potatoes in the crock-pot leaving some chunks in there.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, and 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Cook soup for another 20–30 minutes.
  • Right before serving heat the plate of cooked bacon in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Ladle the soup into bowl and top with remaining cheddar, bacon pieces, and chives.

Recipe—Chili (The Classic Kind)

It’s finally cooling off here in California and that means I am cooking up lots of soups and one of my favorite winter comfort foods, chili, the classic kind. This is the good stuff, heavy on meat and beans, light on veggies. That’s how I like my chili. What better way to warm up at the end of a cold day then a big bowl of chili? This recipe really is perfect, it’s not too spicy, not too mild, it’s just right. Something Goldilocks would love, probably Momma, Daddy, and baby bear too. This recipe does take a couple of hours to cook but that’s what makes it so good. All those flavors get cooked into the meat giving you a really hearty and flavorful chili you are sure to enjoy.

Note: If you are someone that likes chili with a little more kick, just add in a couple dashes of cayenne pepper.

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c chili powder
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can tomato sauce
1–2 c beef broth

GARNISHES
shredded cheddar
sour cream
green onions, chopped
fritos
diced avocadoes

STEPS

  • In a large pot cook the beef, onions, and garlic over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  • Drain off most of the fat leaving about 2 tbsp in the bottom.
  • Stir into the pot the chili powder, flour, oregano, cumin, sugar, and salt.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, sauce, and 1 cup of the broth to the pot.
  • Cook for an additional 45–60 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Add more broth if you want a soupier chili.
  • Ladle the chili into a bowl and have fun garnishing it with your favorite toppings.

Recipe—Velvety Celery Cream Soup

I have gotten big bundles of celery in my organic produce delivery several weeks in a row now. I certainly love my celery sticks but I just don’t think I will be able to eat another one for a few days. While recovering from celery stick overload I made one of my favorite vegetable soups, celery cream. This is one of the easiest soups to make and even though it is very simple it is wonderful. It is super creamy and the lemon and hot sauce gives it just the right kick. I made a big batch to take to my mother in law who just had knee replacement surgery a couple of weeks ago. One thing I love about this soup is you can make a big batch of it and it reheats great! I typically double the recipe and then divvy the soup up into several containers for future dinners and lunches. It’s a perfect dinner for cool evenings or even on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Note: When using a blender to puree the soup you will need to do it in batches. I recommend placing a towel over the top of your blender and holding the lid firmly in place as the heat will make the lid blow off and it makes a huge hot mess and can burn you if not secured.

INGREDIENTS
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 bunch of celery, sliced
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
4 tbsp flour
6 c chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 c heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
4–5 dashes of hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
salt (optional)

STEPS

  • In a large soup pot melt the butter and add the celery, onions, and garlic.
  • Cook over medium-high heat until soft.
  • Sprinkle the flour in the pot and stir while cooking for 1–2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth and bay leaf.
  • Bring pot to a boil, cover, and reduce heat allowing to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaf.
  • Using a blender puree the soup in small batches until nice and smooth. (See above note)
  • Transfer the soup back into the pot.
  • Add in the cream, lemon juice, hot sauce, pepper, and salt. (Be sure to sample the soup before adding in the salt. Unless you are using a reduced sodium you may not need it.)
  • Bring pot to a boil, cover, and reduce heat allowing to simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until desired thickness.

Recipe—Best Ever Butternut Squash Soup

I know the title of the recipe carries a big name, but it’s true, this is the BEST EVER butternut squash soup. Most butternut squash soups taste like squash puree and not much else, but this soup has so many flavors and a lot of depth. I absolutely love this stuff. It actually worked out that this recipe was my best use yet of my delivered organic produce. I ended up having the first five ingredients in last weeks box. Score! It was a sign that this soup was meant to be. One thing that I really love about this soup is that it is thick because of all the veggies in there, not because of any flour or cornstarch like most soups. If you are looking for a fabulous fall soup, look no further. This will fit the bill.

Notes: Most of your time making this recipe will be spent chopping veggies. To save some time, you can buy packages of pre-chopped butternut squash at the store. It will cost a little more but will shave off quite a bit of prep time.

This soup can be made vegetarian but cutting out the bacon and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

You can use a hand mixer or blender to process the mixture. The hand mixer will give you a slightly chunkier soup and the blender will give you a really smooth one. If you use a hand mixer be sure you don’t use a non-stick pot, as the hand mixer will destroy it. If using a blender you will need to do it in batches. I recommend placing a towel over the top of your blender and holding the lid firmly in place as the heat will make the lid blow off and it makes a huge hot mess and can burn you if not secured.

INGREDIENTS
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 green apple, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
32 oz chicken broth
2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c heavy whipping cream
crème fraîche or sour cream (for garnish)

STEPS

  • In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat.
  • Remove bacon and drain off grease leaving 2 tbsp in the bottom of the pot.
  • Sauté onions and carrots in the bacon drippings for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the celery, apples, and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add in the squash and broth.
  • Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes or until all produce is fork tender.
  • Remove pot from heat.
  • Using a hand mixer or blender process the mixture until smooth. (See above note) If you use a blender return the soup to the pot.
  • Stir in the lime juice, honey, salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and whipping cream.
  • Simmer soup for 10–15 minutes or until thickened.
  • Using a ladle serve the soup into a bowl and top with crumbled bacon and a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living.