Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Month of Soup

As we rolled into January, we were in a soup mood. We wanted to use the crock pot as much as possible, and we wanted nice, warm meals for what was expected to be a nice, cold month.
Well, the cold came and went, but the soup was still great! We combined old favorites with new experiments. And, we were quite delighted with both the old and the new!

Essentially, we had a dozen soups that rotated through the month, and we added a couple more in February. Admittedly, by February, we were kind of tired of soup every day. The increased warmth might have had something to do with it. But, we still really enjoyed each of these recipes and are keeping them scattered throughout the menu plan, even as we go back to some warmer weather recipes in March.

So, here you go - our soup choices and discoveries this winter!

Potato 

We have - or rather, Doug has - made potato soup from made-up recipes. But, when our friend Mary Ann linked this super easy Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup recipe, I knew I had to try it! And we absolutely loved it! We made two changes:
  1. We used fresh potatoes instead of frozen hashbrowns because that's what had on hand.
  2. For our second rotation of this, we plunged a stick blender in right before eating to blend in some of the potatoes. (Alternately, you could pull some out and put it in a blender.) Without the blending, it tastes like cheese soup with potato slices. With the blending, it tastes like a chunky potato soup. Both were good - we just like the second better.
Beef and Tortellini Soup

So, this is a HUGE favorite for us from a couple of years ago. It tastes like a high-input soup, but it's really super quick and simple. Originally based on a Mushroom and Beef Ravioli recipe we came across in a magazine, we altered it to fit our tastes a little better. If you didn't see my recipe post from a few weeks ago, just click on the soup name, and it will take you to our recipe. 

On one of our Table for Two date weekend trips, the appetizer was a delicious chef's corn chowder. It was amazingly creamy, but definitely an appetizer, as it lacked the traditional potatoes. But, Doug had gotten me Martina McBride's cookbook Around the Table for Christmas year before last, and she includes a corn chowder recipe in it. We decided to give that one a shot - and it was a hit! If you click on the soup name above and follow that link, you'll find it first in the list of recipes she shared with Fox News.

Turkey or Chicken and Rice 

Occasionally we aren't able to get ingredients in the crock pot first thing in the morning or we're running short on time for other reasons. This is a great option for those days, especially if you have leftover rice! We keep 1-2 cup servings of pulled chicken or turkey in the freezer at all times. So, I pour 32 oz of chicken broth (or use bouillon cubes and water) into a pot, add the turkey and some frozen veggies (usually peas and/or carrots), heat it all, then add the rice just before serving. Even if we don't have leftover rice, cooking up a batch of rice doesn't add too much time! 

Spicy Cheese Soup

This one comes from the 3 Books in One: Rival Crock Pot cookbook that includes Slow Cooker Favorites, Winning Slow Cooker Recipes, and Slow Cooker Recipes for All Occasions. It's a fun chili alternative. 

Just dump a pound each of Velveeta and ground beef, one can each of corn and kidney beans (undrained), one 14.5 ounce can each of Rotel and stewed tomatoes (we sub fire roasted diced tomatoes here, preferred by those who aren't huge diced tomato fans), and one pkg of taco seasoning into your slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or high 3 hours, then serve over rice or Fritos. 

So, we were a little nervous about introducing this one. I had it some growing up and liked it, but we've never made it as a family. But, since we were trying a few new recipes for soup month, we decided it was time to try lentils. We were shocked when Steven decided it was his favorite soup ever! 

There are SO many recipes out there for lentil soup, so we essentially just grabbed one to try. The one linked above is based on organic ingredients, which we didn't worry so much about. But, with the exception of using beef broth instead of vegetable, we made very few real changes. Oh, and we didn't go look for kombu, although we might give that a try later. For texture purposes, we also added just a bit of ground beef. Essentially, we added a pound to this recipe, which makes three to four meals for our family. 

Texture was still a bit of an issue for a couple of family members, even though everyone seemed fine with the flavor. So, when I made it this week, I plunged the stick blender into it before serving to make it smoother in texture (the way I remember lentil soup). I was a little nervous at first, because it tasted a bit like refried beans, which no one in my family likes. But, everyone said it was much better with the smoother texture. So, there's a win!

Chili

I've always been a bit picky about chili, but over the years Doug has experimented with his own recipe. And I love his experiments! If you missed the recipe I posted recently, just click the name above and it will take you straight to that post.

Pasta e Fagioli

Anyone out there enjoy Olive Garden's pasta e fagioli soup? Around our house, Doug enjoys it immensely, but Angela could live on it! We found this copycat recipe, and I personally like it much better than the restaurant version. We have started to use crushed tomatoes instead of diced because there are a few in our family who do not enjoy diced tomatoes.

Chicken Noodle 

Yes, pretty much homemade, but still simple. This is another one of those "in a pinch" soups, perfect for a quick meal. Chicken broth, pulled chicken, carrots, and seasoning. Sometimes we make it quickly in a pot on the stove. Other times, though, we plop all of that into the crock pot, then just add noodles (we like Japanese noodles) in the last thirty minutes or so. That allows flavors to really mesh. Mmmm...good stuff!

Chicken 'n Dumplin's

I shared this recipe a couple of weeks ago. Definitely a staple for our family. For a while, this was our Sunday dinner. Every week. But, we managed to pull back from that. Still, this one will stick around throughout the year rather than just being relegated to cool weather.

Lasagna Soup

Okay, so this is the one soup that did not remain in the rotation. It wasn't bad. In fact, it was pretty good. But, it just tasted like runny lasagna. And, it was no easier than lasagna - maybe even a little more work. So, the conclusion was that we'd just stick with lasagna instead of making this soup again.

Chicken Tortilla

Here's another staple. When we want something with a little more kick than just plain old chicken noodle or chicken and rice, we go with this super easy recipes. We usually use pulled chicken from the freezer, frozen corn instead of canned, and red beans instead of black, primarily because those are the ingredients we keep on hand. Oh, and we add a little chili seasoning for that perfect flavor.

If you want an added treat to this, heat up two or three inches of oil in an iron skillet or Dutch oven, cut some corn tortillas into small strips, fry them up quickly, and enjoy some fresh crunchy tortilla strips. Yum!

Cream of Broccoli

We've made a variety of broccoli soups over the years, but the one we used this winter was a recipe from the Choates. Saute some onion, add flour, salt, and pepper to make a roux, Add broth slowly, then add broccoli. Cook until the broccoli is tender, then puree it all (we used our stick blender, but you can put it in a blender). Add milk and return to a simmer.

We like broccoli cheese, so we add a good bit of cheese to this. And we usually serve it with sandwiches of some sort.

Beef and Barley

We had a beef & barley soup on the list for January, but the recipe we chose seemed labor intensive and not overly appetizing. So, we never got around to it. For February, though, Doug found this one. Oh. My. Goodness.

This has to be a new favorite. And, like the dumplin's, this one will stay around regardless the weather. It's super easy and is a great Sunday dish. Wow!

Next time we make it, we will probably increase the broth to 8 cups and the barley to 1 cup to easily stretch it to three full meals for our family.

So, there you go! Now I'll have this to remind me what soups to make when cold weather returns, and hopefully you'll get a couple a new recipes from it as well! 

1 comment:

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Wow - what a great round-up of soup recipes! I'm printing the beef/barley right now.
I'll be back to try some of the others, too :D
Julie