Category: Soups/Stews

Cauliflower-White Bean Soup with Pancetta

Cauliflower-White Bean Soup with Pancetta

Listen to the Julliard String Quartet/Last Movement, Beethoven String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2….while you read!

You might — or might not — know that around my own house I’m known as “The Soup Queen.” I’m proud of my moniker and after all these years of souping, I choose to believe I deserve it. I can make a fancy-schmancy soup, having bought every single ingredient for it at a certain expense (Let’s say a gorgeous seafood stew for Christmas Eve, for instance), but there’s also the very good chance I’ll look in the refrigerator and pantry to come up with dinner based on what just happens to be lying around looking sad and sorry. Folks who know me have probably had a pot or bowl of soup left on their doorstep at some time or another — maybe when they weren’t feeling up to snuff or when I had more soup than my freezer would hold. Others have shown up for a dinner party only to find two big pots of soup on the stove and a big basket of bread on the counter along with several bottles of my favorite wines. My friend Jean, who gets a little soup every week lately as she’s recovering from a back injury, likes to say, “Please keep me on your soup list!” It makes a woman feel good.

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Slow Cooker Elk Stew for Valentine’s Day Dinner

Slow Cooker Elk Stew for Valentine’s Day Dinner

Date night meals have been unique and even innovative for a lot of folks during the pandemic, mostly because instead of jumping in the car and heading for the nearest $$$$ restaurant, we’ve been forced to plan, create, and cook (clean up/boohoo) at home. Ordering food online or even shopping only once a week to limit time in stores means we must think ahead, deciding on a menu and making sure all of the ingredients are available, ready to use, and even thawed. (I hate thawing.) Not only that, there’s setting the table. Locating a bottle of wine. Turning on some decent music. Maybe finding a movie you haven’t seen. Getting out of your pajamas for dinner. Or not.

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Turkey Minestrone

Turkey Minestrone

Do you have a container of frozen turkey from the holidays in the freezer?

Just a short drive from our house in Colorado Springs is our favorite Italian market and deli Mollica’s, which is perhaps best known as a popular, packed lunch spot on Garden of the Gods Road just west of I-25. Mollica’s is the happy kind of place that still serves old school “red sauce” meals like spaghetti and meatballs or a very good lasagna (all made with fresh pasta) as well as yummy pizza and calzone — though I couldn’t call it a “pizza place.” A large part of the lunch menu has always been devoted to stellar sandwiches (think grinders from house made sausage, scratch meatballs, heroes, and hot Italian beef) and a full line of filling salads that of course are served with fresh bread and butter. While I’m ready to eat anything Mollica’s makes –check out their dinner specials, too — I nearly always choose a salad because I can also get a cup of their minestrone–a simple and herby vegetable soup that just hits the sweet spot in my tummy. Occasionally I wonder why I don’t make some minestrone at home, but for some reason, I rarely do. That just changed.

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Two Cheese-Broccoli Soup

Two Cheese-Broccoli Soup

Staffordshire CALICO blue plate and bowl

Sometimes I know a couple of weeks ahead what’s coming up on the blog. Occasionally I even cook, write a recipe, take photos, and keep a post for the next season. For the last year, however, I have mostly begun working on the next week’s food within a day or two of the last post, photographing, writing, editing, and rewriting right up until my usual, but occasionally fluctuating deadline. In this case, the “Frozen Bailey’s Mochaccino” (Did you make it?!) wasn’t dry on the page before I was making this soup. I was interested in and then thoroughly inspired by a post of Nigella Lawson’s, “Broccoli and Stilton Soup” on twitter. (I’ve just looked back at it and see she’s even encouraged readers to use whatever cheeses they have on hand — just as I do here! Great minds think alike 😉 ) There was literally and figuratively a bunch of broccoli in the fridge and broccoli cheese soup of some sort, if not totally blue-cheesy, was sounding good for Meatless Monday. Well, the soup was grand if I do say so myself. I even had the recipe written and some decent photos in the can. I did, however, forget to note a couple of key elements like the weight of the broccoli, for instance. Hello, honey!! No choice: I re-ordered the ingredients, made the soup a second time (now as a first course before mushroom pork chops on date night), followed my own recipe weighing everything, and got it all straight for you.

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Colorado Yellow Split Pea Soup for New Year’s Day —                                 Got Hambone?

Colorado Yellow Split Pea Soup for New Year’s Day — Got Hambone?

If you drove through Colorado north to south and west to east, you would be fairly amazed at the amount of farmland in the state most often thought of as full of rocky mountains or The Rocky Mountains! You would also be overwhelmed with the beauty of our land.

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Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup

At our house, marshmallows are saved for hot chocolate when our daughter Emily is home. I’ve never put them on sweet potatoes, though if someone else served up that inescapable casserole, I’d be polite and have a bite or two. I offer up an apology to all those gooey-sweet sweet potato fans out there and make mine the way I like them, which is thoroughly mashed up with butter, sherry, just a little brown sugar, and eggs. Top that with walnuts and bake a half hour while the bird rests and I’m in Thanksgiving heaven. The recipe is called a soufflĂ©, but I’d say that’s stretching it. Leftovers, are, of course, perfect spooned up cold right out of the refrigerator or heated up in a skillet with a fried egg cooked in the center.

Sweet Potato Soufflé with Sherry and Walnuts/Cooks.com

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SLOW COOKER:  German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)

SLOW COOKER: German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)

Sliced bratwurst, root vegetables, herbs, and broth come together all afternoon in the slow cooker

Before fall arrives, Colorado usually has a day or two of winter just to keep us on our toes. Luckily he came; he went. Old man winter, you know.

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Coconut Curry Corn-Zucchini Chowder

Coconut Curry Corn-Zucchini Chowder

Since this is a corn chowder post, things may get a little corny now and then!

While folks east of the Rockies often wax poetic about miles of midwestern corn billowing in the breeze this time of year, we here in Colorado know a little bit more than that. The corn might be “as high as an elephant’s eye” in say, Illinois, (and since I was raised right where the Illinois cornfields begin south of Chicago, I know), we higher country dwellers are sold on Colorado’s own Olathe sweet corn. Come corn time, we run to heat the butter, ready the grill, put out the extra salt shakers, and even a jar of mayo and Queso Fresco for those who like their corn Mexican style. There’s a trip planned out to the Olathe Corn Festival, when possible — or at least a quick run to the grocery store when the corn first gets into town. 2020 finds us in a different spot. The festival’s canceled and we’re a little teary over the whole thing if you really want to know. I mean, great fresh produce is at a premium out here and we wait all year for our sweet corn that comes just about the same time as Colorado’s Rocky Ford melons and Western Slope peaches, and not long before our tasty San Luis valley potatoes. It’s almost too much good stuff at once!

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FRIDAY FISH:  Instant Pot Coconut-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Grilled Shrimp

FRIDAY FISH: Instant Pot Coconut-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Grilled Shrimp

You might be like me and LOVE butternut squash soup. The baseline, silky with cream French-herby sort that graces decent/decadent/expensive restaurant menus and fills you up to the brim while you sip an oaky California Chardonnay. Or maybe the chunky vegetarian variety chock full of not only squash, but also every other vegetable in the whole wide world and is best served up with a local icy-cold wheat beer. Could be the Thai version all curry-laden–both sweet and spicy, which is lovely with a GrĂŒner Veltliner, by the way. What’s your favorite?

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Tequila White Chicken Chili

Tequila White Chicken Chili

LIke spicy? Add an extra jalapeño to the pot.

Next to my reading chair I typically keep a big, messy stack of books and magazines; sometimes the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES rests there until the next Sunday rolls around. In the pile are that month’s book club books (I try and keep up with three book clubs plus a cookbook club, though I often don’t succeed) along with another new one or two someone’s told me about or loaned me. If I’m really lucky, and I often am, I also keep a precious something I can read piecemeal, a tiny bit at a time when I need to get off my feet or have an extra 10 minutes before needing to stir a pot or leave for an appointment.

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