4 posts categorized "Recipes - Soups"

Not Chicken Noodle Soup

January 07, 2012

Since getting in the habit of making my own stock from roasted chicken, I’ve been experimenting with soups. Last night’s fare received 5 thumbs up, so I'm sharing, in case it gets cold enough to actually merit a pot of soup:


½ red onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb chicken sausage, cooked (I use bulk sausage, but you can sub beans or meat substitute for veg option)

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

2 quarts stock

1 cup orzo (or other small) pasta

1 bunch of kale, chopped in 1” strips, stalks removed

Salt and pepper to taste


In a stock or soup pot: Sautee onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil over medium low heat until the celery and onions go translucent, stirring occasionally (~10 minutes). Turn the heat down if they start to brown. If your sausage or protein is not already cooked, you can do that while the veggies cook down. After the veggies are soft, add the garlic, thyme and oregano and cook for a few minutes more.  Add one quart of water and chicken (protein of choice), and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Add 2 quarts of stock and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of orzo pasta, and after the soup starts to boil again, reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (this is usually when I clean up all the dishes and dispatch dishes and drinks to the table to be set) (or chop the kale) (don’t forget the drinks, or else you’ll have to get up after you’ve just started eating) (and no one likes to do that). After the orzo is cooked, add the kale, and cook only until soft, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn the soup to low heat and season with salt and pepper. Because there were so many greens in the soup I didn’t feel the need to serve salad, but salad would still go nicely with this soup. We enjoyed ours with well buttered garlic toast.

What we learned in a cooking lesson: Soup every way

March 07, 2010

A nice mama took me up on my offer from the post about Jamie Oliver, and came over Thursday for a cooking lesson. While I'd quizzed her on likes and dislikes before she came (no mushrooms, she said, and her husband wasn't an onion fan), we hadn't really talked about what she wanted to learn. "I feel overwhelmed," she said, with a 14-month-old in the kitchen and a tight budget. "How do people just always have what they need on hand?"

We quickly realized that she didn't need help figuring out how to dice and peel and saute: she needed to be released from the stress of a recipe. She's one of those people (on the other end of the spectrum of home cooks than I) who must absolutely put two teaspoons of thyme into a recipe if it calls for two teaspoons of thyme, and if she can't find thyme or if it's very expensive or if she gets home and realizes she has, after all, no balsamic vinegar (just cider), or whatever: she panics.

What she needed, I said, was to cook without a recipe at all. Just a process. That would save her from the planning, list-making, recipe-checking, budget-busting stress. She could just buy whatever she saw that was in season and inexpensive (or whatever was growing in her garden, arrived in her CSA box, or her mom had given her), and use the process to make it fit.

We made one thing: a cabbage black bean chili, in which I used the beans from the recipe I included in the first post, and I stressed throughout our time that weren't going to talk about quantities or requirements, just procedures, categories and maximums, and ways she could fit this process into her own family's life. One piece of advice I gave her was, I thought, universally useful, and that is to figure out what are your favorite and most versatile spices, and become comfortable enough with them so you'll always know how much to use. Mine are cumin, smoked paprika, dried chiles, cloves, nutmeg and allspice; other good standbys could include ginger, dry mustard, star anise, thyme, dill, cinnamon and cayenne or chipotle pepper. You could only have two or three (cumin and thyme and some sort of pepper, for instance) and still manage to make good food no matter what, I think. Buy the spices in bulk (Limbo has a fantastic fresh spice and herb aisle; many other neighborhoods sport their own super spice sources) and you'll save money and ensure freshness.

Below is the process for bean soup I used. This is an endlessly great way to make soups, and could be vegetarian, vegan, or thoroughly meaty-creamy, depending on which options you picked. The one we made was delicious! And though I'll probably never make it exactly like that again, I'm sure we'll make many more great soups in our day that will best even that.

Continue reading "What we learned in a cooking lesson: Soup every way" »

Lowly cabbage goes glamorous: Cooking from box, garden, market

April 03, 2009

Spring is late this year, but everyone still has heavy, wide-eyed piles of one of the original, most thoroughly lowly, peasant foods: the cabbage. I can't believe it took me so long to discover the cabbage. I always treated the bulbous lady so badly, pushing her red fronds aside in college salad bars; eschewing the smarmy cups of coleslaw for her mushy cousin, potatoes and gravy; recoiling in horror from sauerkraut. I hate cabbage, I thought.

Oh me. You were so, so wrong. Or perhaps you were right; that cabbage wasn't loved, not the way my cabbage is now. The first farmer's market of the season I spent the better part of $10 on cabbage, and it's a good bet it will be all eaten within two weeks, and I haven't even made kim chi.

The first, best, most wonderful way to enjoy cabbage is a recipe I adapted from The Paley's Place Cookbook. Trust Vitaly Paley, with his Russian heritage and his local, seasonal mien, to deliver cabbage in its sweetest, truest form. I like savoy cabbage or red cabbage for this; the big heavy pale green heads don't turn as jammy, although sometimes I mix some green in with the red for a play of textures. Here is the recipe for honey-braised cabbage; it also calls for a little bacon fat (or olive oil), an onion and an apple, some vinegar and honey. I serve it with everything; with corned beef or sausages, spooned into lentil or potato soup, heaped into a bowl of pasta, mixed with leftover potatoes and grated beets and lots of fresh garlic for a surprisingly perky fried potato cake. It kind of disappears into soups, even as it adds sweetness, so it's great for kids (yes! mine have now eaten cabbage, and liked it!).

Continue reading "Lowly cabbage goes glamorous: Cooking from box, garden, market" »

What's for dinner?

January 18, 2007

I love to cook, but most weeknights I'm so tired that all I want to do is eat out. Not that eating out with a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old isn't exhausting in itself. Plus, all that dining out gets really expensive. And kid menus don't usually offer the healthiest options.

So, to save money and make sure we eat relatively well, I try to plan out all the dinners and do the shopping on the weekend. Having a plan makes even the thought of cooking dinner easier. And there's no better incentive to stay in and cook than thinking of all that food in the fridge going to waste if I don't.

Another great incentive is recipes. I love trying new recipes. So when it's time to sit down and plan the menu I start cracking open the cookbooks and food mags and scouring the Internet.
With half a dozen tasty looking recipes to try, tying on the apron gets a whole lot easier.

I've got a pretty good collection of family-friendly recipes that are pretty quick to make (and, thankfully, to clean up). I got to thinking that it would be fun to share my ever-growing collection with other busy parents. And I'm willing to bet all you UrbanMamas and Papas out there have your own stash of quick and yummy recipes you might like to share too.

So to start this recipe exchange off, I'll supply three simple but flavorful soup recipes (see below) I made recently. Two of them helped me use up some leftover roast chicken and they all were a great way to warm up after our days playing in the snow.

Feel free to share your own soup or stew recipe(s) by using the comment link. We'll keep it all archived under the "Recipes -- Soups" category on the left side of the UrbanMamas home page. As the exchange gets going we'll add more categories, such as entrees, sides, vegetarian, etc.

Bon appetit!