Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ChiClone Chicken Noodle Soup

So as you may have heard today, we are having some crazy weather here in the Chicagoland area, the local weathermen are dubbing it "The ChiClone".  Fifty mile-per-hour winds and heavy, heavy rain kept Maggie and I inside all afternoon.  At times, I was worried we were going to end up in Oz with Dorothy and the Tin Man, but we made it to the dinner hour with house intact.

Weather like this makes we want to hunker down and gorge on ridiculous amounts of carbohydrates.  Since I already polished off the cider doughnuts I picked up yesterday at the pumpkin patch, I decided to whip up some Chicken Noodle Soup and crusty bread for dinner.

You are going to love this recipe!  It's just like the Chicken Noodle Soup your mother makes, but without all of the work.  My own mother still makes homemade noodles from scratch.  Whatever.  She also drank copious amounts of wine and bowled during her ninth month of her pregnancy with me.  When you know better, you do better, right?  So "know better" yourself right over to the frozen food section of your favorite grocery store and pick up some frozen egg noodles.  There are some really great-tasting brands out there and I swear no one will know the difference. 

Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 6 - 8 servings

1/2         lb.  cooked, shredded chicken
6            cups chicken broth
12 oz.    frozen egg noodles
1 tsp.     dried parsley
1            bay leaf
1/4 tsp.  thyme   
1/2 tsp.  black pepper
1 cup     chopped onion
1 cup     chopped celery
1 cup     chopped carrots
1 cup     heavy cream
4 T.        butter
1/4 cup  flour

Bring chicken broth to a boil with bay leaf.  Add the noodles and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir broth often so noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the dried parsley, thyme, black pepper and vegetables.  Simmer for 10 minutes until noodles and vegetables are tender.

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add heavy cream to broth/noodle mixture.  Bring back to a low boil.  Add the flour mixture, cook and stir until thickened, about two to three minutes. 

Add the cooked chicken.  Stir and heat through.

**Tips and tricks:  This is a great recipe for leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the deli.  Once again, I used my trusty chicken bouillon in lieu of chicken broth.  You can buy it in powdered form too, so you don't have to unwrap all of those pesky little cubes.  When I am making this for the kids, I omit the onions altogether so I don't get any complaints.  I also use half-and-half in lieu of the heavy cream just to keep the caloric content down a bit...just so I can have extra bread instead!  ;)  I really like to use Reames Frozen Egg Noodles.  I am not sure if that is a regional brand or not, but I think they taste the closest to my mother's homemade noodles.  Check out their website for a coupon too! 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why yes, I do take requests...

as long as karaoke is not involved.  I gave that all up a long time ago with my mall bangs, keggers and acid-washed jeans.  I would be remiss if I didn't give a big shout out to my Copacabana back-up singers though!  Hey girls!  :)

Anyhoo, my friend Michele e-mailed me this week looking for my Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe.  I was going to just e-mail it back when she reminded me that I now have my very own fancy schmancy soup blog.  Some recipes should just be shared with the world.  This is one of them.  No joke.

So this is my own personal take on Panera's Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup.  I made at least 10 versions of this soup before I got it exactly the way I wanted it.  Now it is one of my Top 5 favorite foods of all time, coming in only slightly behind the Totino's Pizza Roll.  Don't be intimidated by my sophisticated and discriminating palate either, I promise you will love this recipe too.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Makes 6 - 8 servings


1/2    cup chopped onion
1/2    cup chopped celery
1/2    cup chopped carrots
Olive Oil

4       cups chicken broth
2       cups water
2       cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, shredded
1       package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
1/2    teaspoon salt
1/2    teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4    cup all-purpose flour
1/2    cup butter
2       cups heavy cream

In a small saucepan, saute chopped vegetables in a bit of olive oil on low heat until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Put aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water and chicken. Bring just to boiling, stir in rice while reserving the seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of seasoning packet until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by a couple of tablespoons at a time forming a roux. Whisk in cream, a little bit at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened for about 5 minutes.

Stir cream mixture into broth and rice and add in your sauted vegetables. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.

**Tips and tricks:  This is a great recipe for leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the deli.  I prefer Uncle Ben's Long Grain Wild Rice for this recipe, I think the seasoning is the best hands down.  Roux is just a fancy French word for "pasty-like stuff made from flour and butter".  It's basically the thickening agent for the soup.  Your roux should be the consistency of prepared brownie mix.  Please note, it doesn't taste as good as brownie mix...so don't try it plain out of the pot.  Blech.  In an effort to be more health-conscious, I often subsitute half-and-half , 2% milk or a combination of the two in lieu of heavy cream.  My preferred combo is 1 cup half-and-half and 1 cup of milk.  Totally personal preference. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rainy Days and Tuesdays...

always make me crave soup!  I have a new soup that we are trying out for dinner tonight, so check back for the recipe and reviews later this week.  In the meantime I thought I would share another Mitchell Family favorite, Tortellini and Vegetable Soup.

You may notice that this soup calls for several canned and pre-packaged ingredients.  With a family of six to feed, convenience is often a priority for me when planning out the dinner menu.  While no one has gotten rickets or scurvy around here yet, I do recognize that there are healthier options out there too.  I think one of the great things about soup is that it allows for so much improvisation.  Most of my soup recipes have been tweaked and improved over time until I get them just right for our family. 

You can certainly tweak the recipes I share to fit your schedule and lifestyle too.  There are some great organic frozen and canned products now as well as frozen and canned vegetables with low salt, low sugar, etc.  You can also opt for fresh ingredients, leaner cuts of meat or reduced fat varieties of your favorite dairy products.  I find soup is very forgiving and most importantly...really hard to screw up!  So get your Julia Child on and try a little of this and a little of that until you create your own perfect version of soup joy! 

Tortellini and Vegetable Soup
Makes 4 - 5 servings


2     (14 1/2-ounce) cans of vegetable broth
1     (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1     medium leek (white and tender green), rinsed well and chopped
2     garlic cloves, crushed through a press
1/4  cup chopped basil
1     (28-ounce can) diced peeled tomatoes
1     red bell pepper, chopped
2     cups chopped zucchini (about 1 medium)
1     (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini
1/2   tsp. garlic pepper
Grated parmesan cheese for serving

In a 4-quart crock pot, mix together all of the ingredients except the grated cheese.

Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours or until tortellini are tender.  Do not overcook or the tortellini will become mushy.  Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkling of cheese.

**Tips and tricks - I have shamelessly cheated on virtually every ingredient in this recipe without any repercussions.  I have used vegetable bouillon, I have used frozen corn, plain old green onions instead of those snobby leeks, garlic from a jar (GASP!), dried spices, frozen tortellini, etc.  Nothing bad has ever happened, so don't feel trapped by the confines of the recipe. 

Even with all of the vegetables swimming around in this broth like rabid sharks threatening to devour their chicken nugget-heavy diets, my children love this soup.  Don't forget to sprinkle the cheese on too, it's a big selling point with the short crowd.  Although, I suspect my children might just eat anything with cheese on it.  That doesn't make them sound too bright, does it?  Anyhoo, this is a soup that the whole family will love so put it on the menu and give Mr. Tyson a well-deserved night off.

P.S.  A little shout out to my friend, MichelleC.  This is her favorite soup recipe of mine and I always think of her when I make it!  I hope she's reading!  :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another hearty fall favorite...

Corn and Sausage Chowder
Makes 5 - 6 servings

1  20-ounce package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1  14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1  10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
2  cups milk
12  ounces cooked link sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/3  cup sliced green onion
1/4  tsp. black pepper
2  tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, combine potatoes, chicken broth and corn.  Bring just to boiling and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in milk, sausage, green onion, and pepper. Heat through. Season to taste with salt, Sprinkle with cilantro.

**Tips and tricks:  I prefer a salty stock (go figure!), so I use full-on, full sodium chicken broth.  I do use a turkey smoked sausage or kielbasa though to cut some of the calories.  You can substitute dried cilantro (sparingly), but I really think the fresh cilantro is worth the trouble here.  I prefer to use an entire bag of Ore Ida's Potatoes O'Brien.  The Ore Ida mix has red and green peppers which really gives the soup a nice texture and color.  This soup is terrific paired with cornbread or warm crusty bread. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories439, Total Fat (g)22, Saturated Fat (g)8, Monounsaturated Fat (g)9, Polyunsaturated Fat (g)3, Cholesterol (mg)65, Sodium (mg)873, Carbohydrate (g)41, Total Sugar (g)7, Fiber (g)3, Protein (g)22, Vitamin A (DV%)0, Vitamin C (DV%)22, Calcium (DV%)13, Iron (DV%)8, Starch (d.e.)2, Milk (d.e.).5, Vegetables (d.e.)1, Medium-fat Meat (d.e.)2, Fat (d.e.)1

The soup that started it all...

Shannon's Famous Baked Potato Soup
Makes 6-8 servings


4 large baked potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk, whole or 2%
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 green onions, chopped
12 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream

Cut potatoes in half.  Scoop out insides and put into small bowl.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven.  Add flour.  Gradually stir in milk.  Continue to stir until smooth, thickened and bubbly.

Stir in potato pulp, salt, pepper and three-quarters of the onions, bacon and cheese.  Cook until heated.  Stir in sour cream.

Serve immediately or place in slow cooker on low.  Top soup with remaining onions, bacon and cheese for garnish.

**Tips and tricks:  For easy-to-peel baked potatoes...poke potatoes with fork, wrap in plastic wrap and microwave per manufacturer's directions.  Let potatoes cool (they will be REALLY REALLY HOT!) and then remove plastic wrap for peeling.  The skins should fall right off for you.  A little potato skin in the soup also gives it a little more texture and of course, your daily dose of fiber!  :)

Welcome to my new soup blog!

As many of you already know, I heart soup.  As my youngest daughter, Maggie would say...a lotta much.  I would probably eat soup and crusty French bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could get away with it.  Unfortunately, I have other family members to consider and a mean set of carb-hating thighs.  That being said, I refuse to let picky eaters and cellulite totally rain on my soup parade.  I know I can't have soup every day or probably even every other day, but I can think about it, blog about it and vicariously share in the soup joy with all of you every day if I want.  So there. 

So come and join me in homage to my spur-of-the-moment weeknight dinner, my favorite comfort food, what's hot in a pot...soup.  I am going to be sharing some of my old, tried-and-true favorites as well as some of the new recipes I have been collecting.

Please feel to share your own "souper" soup recipes, tips and tricks and any feedback on the recipes you see posted here. 

So welcome and Bowl Appetit!

P.S.  No worries, the soup puns will surely lose their novelty for me sometime soon!  :)