Posted in Soups

Split Pea Soup with Ham

IMG_3893.JPGRemember my experience with the Chicken Noodle Soup?

After that, I’ve decided to throw in the towel. They’ve worn me down. No more attempts to sell them on all of the awesomeness that is soup.

For this winter only. They may have won this battle … but I’m in it for the war!

Going too far? It is just soup after all.

Does that mean “No soup for you!”? (If you don’t get this, then ask an older, wiser someone.)

Oh, no no no no no no. Nope. And no.

Mainly because I still hadn’t made my most favorite soup of all time … the Split Pea with Ham.

When I was a kid, the Campbell’s split pea was one of my lunch staples in the winter. It disgusted me that it came out of the can in one solid lump, and it was always amazed at how after a few stirs and a couple of minutes in the microwave it would get creamy. But it was oh so tasty. In my memory anyway.

Now? Blech. I can’t remember the last time that I had that, but just writing that paragraph … well … Oooooo.

Frankly, with a Split Pea Soup this easy and tasty – who needs it?

Split Pea Soup with Ham
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound split peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham hock (nitrate/nitrite-free) or half a boneless ham or a ham steak
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
Instructions
  1. Rinse peas and discard any hard pieces.
  2. In large stock pot, combine peas, onion, garlic, and ham. If you're using actual ham and not the hock, cut it into large chunks.
  3. Add water. Use less water if you like your pea soup a bit thicker.
  4. Add thyme, bay leaf and salt.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to boil over medium heat.
  7. Cover and cook about an hour. Peas will be soft but still have some shape.
  8. Remove ham
  9. Add carrots and celery.
  10. Uncover and cook another 45 minutes to an hour, until soup is desired consistency.
Notes
This soup is very forgiving (It just prefers that you actually ask for forgiveness), so you can "overcook" it if it's too runny. Just keep in mind that the carrots and celery will soften quite a bit also.

Just be sure to find a ham hock or a ham that is nitrate/nitrite free. That is one of the non-negotiables in our house. And it would ruin an otherwise perfectly good soup. Not that my kids would know.

The Bread Guy usually tolerates a small bowl of this soup, claiming to love it yet laboring just enough that it’s pretty obvious that love it just too strong an adjective. He didn’t even eat it this time. Big Britches has declared, in no uncertain terms, that he does not do soup. And Mr. Selective can’t get past the way it looks.

And I didn’t even try. Not a bowl. A spoon. Or any intimation that they should sample even the tiniest taste.

But watch out boys … next winter … game on!

Posted in Soups

Chicken Noodle Soup

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Every time I think I’m ready to give up on my kids and soup, I somehow convince myself to keep trying. Because really, there must be some soup that they will actually eat. I mean, who doesn’t like soup? Of any kind?

Cold weather and soup. Scooby and Shaggy. Phineas and Ferb. One just isn’t right without the other.

I’m not a huge fan of the run-of-the-mill Chicken Noodle Soup. Because … well … soggy noodles. Blech.

Plus, there a so many higher-level soups out there … not to disparage the lowly chicken noodle soup … It’s just not my thing.

But I thought that maybe since it is so uneventful unexciting simple, maybe they’d go for it. I even kept it to very few herbs and no spices. Thinking that perhaps low flavor profile may peak a higher interest.

Ha! I was obviously thinking of my other children.

First bite from The Bread Guy, “Blech! This has like no flavor. At all. Disgusting.”
Then he complained about not being able to pick the chicken our because it was tainted with the soup flavor.
Flavorless … and yet too flavorful.  Hmmm. The perplexities of children. I find it a little bit … Grrr.

Mr Selective, “Nope. I don’t like it.”

Big Britches ate 1 bite and said it was good but then after bite number 2 changed his mind and wouldn’t eat anymore.

The Bread Guy, “How come you can’t make soup like Wolfgang Puck? I like his soup.”

I pulled out the can and read the ingredients. (I keep some for sick people because some of my sick people like it. More often, I throw them away because they expire.)
Me, “I am not Wolfgang Puck. And I cannot go to the store and buy Natural Flavors or Spice Extractives. And frankly neither can Wolfgang Puck. And if he were here making his soup for real it probably wouldn’t taste anything like what’s in that can.”

Oh. Snap!

I didn’t exactly rub it in like that, but I did get some satisfaction in the fact that I silenced him.

Chicken Noodle Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
Broth
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 leek, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 carrot, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 ribs celery, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pink salt (you'll need more if using table salt)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • dash crushed red pepper
Soup
  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs and legs
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces noodles, cooked (I used fusilli, as requested by my peeps)
Instructions
  1. To make the broth:
  2. Combine whole chicken, leek, carrot, onion, garlic, celery, salt, thyme and crushed red pepper in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours. You will overcook the chicken a bit, but this is fine for casseroles and stews.
  3. Remove the whole chicken and reserve for another use.
  4. Bring bone-in chicken pieces to room temperature.
  5. Add to crock pot.
  6. Cook another 1-2 hours or until chicken is mostly cooked through.
  7. Remove chicken.
  8. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer. I usually take the ceramic insert out of the crock pot to let it cool a bit before I pour the broth out. Because I don't like the potential for hot things to splash on me. If you like to live dangerously, feel free to pour that scalding hot liquid through your strainer right away.
  9. Pick chicken off bone. I try to make bite-sized pieces as I pick because I'm usually too lazy to use a knife (and I don't like a slimey knife) so I just sort-of-kind-of make them bitable-sized. If you're kinder to your family than I, you should probably use a knife and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  10. Return broth and picked (or bite-sized) chicken to the crock pot.
  11. Add carrots, celery, sage, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper.
  12. Cook on high 2 hours. Or more. At least until the veggies are tender-crisp. The longer you cook, the more flavor. So, if you don't like a lot of flavor, then stick to the 2 hours.
  13. Add noodles. I actually serve the noodles separately and we add them as we eat. Why? See above.
  14. Enjoy!
Notes
MAKE AHEAD:
This is a perfect recipe to make on a Sunday and use the whole chicken for a casserole or a stew. Then you can save the strained broth and picked chicken and throw the soup together for a perfect busy weeknight meal.

COOKING TIP:
This is actually better cooked on low for longer. I think you get a richer flavor from the chicken. If you cook it on low, you'll need to increase all cooking times.

Adapted from smitten kitchen.

For an flavorless-yet-overly-flavorful soup, I thought it was mighty tasty. And as I sit here enjoying the leftovers, I can attest to the fact that it is even better a couple of days later.

And with the perfect amount of flavor.

Posted in Beef, Ground Meat, Pork, Slow Cooker, Soups

The Best Chili

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I grew up in a house divided – Chili Lovers vs. Not Chili Lovers.

My dad is a chili lover. My mom is not.

I have always been on team Not Chili Lovers. Just not a fan of spicy food, which is kind of and mostly necessary to a good bowl of chili. Also not too fond of it’s density – like eating a giant bowl of meat and beans, with some oh-by-the-way veggies thrown in for flavor.

Lucky gal that I am, though,  The Man could be the quarterback of team Chili Lovers. He loves his chili.

And so I make it. Mostly for him. And in the name of good wifelihood. But also to torture my children so that my children have the opportunity to fully embrace the chili eating experience, in order to someday make their own fully-informed choice of team.

Except …

Big Britches walked in the door from school, “What is that delicious smell?”

Mr. Selective, “Yeah. What is that??”

“Dinner.”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Food.”

“Mom! C’mon! Why do you always say that?”

“Because if I tell you, you’ll say you’re not eating that.”

“Just tell us!”

“Okay. Chili.”

“Blech. I’m not eating that.”

“I’m not eating that either.”

‘Nuff said.

The Best Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds ground beef (preferably grass fed)
  • 1 pound ground pork (pastured and/or organic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (you could also use smoked here)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander
  • dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 12 ounces dark beer (I use Guinness)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (just one pepper out of the can), chopped
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used 3 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney, pinto, white or black beans (I use the Chili Beans from Westbrae Natural), drained
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef and pork, stirring to break up any large pieces.
  2. When meat is paritally cooked, add ground fennel and stir well.
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  4. Add carrots and green pepper.
  5. In small bowl, combine chili powder, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Add spices to meat mixture and mix well.
  7. Cook 5 minutes.
  8. Add beer, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bone broth, chili pepper, and apple cider vinegar.
  9. Stir well. Let pot come to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
  10. If cooking for a long time (I'd recommend it), cover but crack the lid.
  11. Stir occasionally.
  12. About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the beans, the red pepper and the frozen corn.
  13. Salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Serve with shredded cheese, corn bread or whatever else you like with your chili.
Notes
Crock pot directions: After adding the spices to the meat, transfer to a crock pot and follow the rest of the steps in the crock pot. You may want to omit the bone broth as the crock pot tends to make it a bit runnier.

This makes a fairly thick chili. If you like your chili a bit thinner, add more bone broth.

As for Mr. Selective and Big Britches? They didn’t eat it. Wouldn’t even try it. They ate leftover sausages.

The Bread Guy – who claims to love chili – ate it, but painstakingly slowly and not a very large quantity. He did say that it was the best chili I’ve ever made. High praise coming from the kid who doesn’t often praise.

From a years-long member of the Not Chili Lovers team, I do think this is probably the best chili that I’ve ever made. Not good enough, though to sway me to switch teams.

The Man? He was speechless.

What a lucky guy to have such an awesome wife.

Posted in Soups

Baked Potato Leek Soup

baked potato soup
Cleaning Day.

Just the thought inspires such wonderful feelings, as it always provides such harmony in our house.

Harmony, that is, if you find peace in the groaning, whining and general disdain for me as a the evil real-mother imposing such horrors upon their existence.  Because it is, of course, my fault that their living space is such a mess.

This particular day was made even better because I was fortunate to be the only adult present for the day’s adventures.  The Man was out volunteering his time and muscles to help with maintenance on the baseball fields.  You know, the ones that our children play on.  And so to show their appreciation, they were spectacular helpers and did everything without my even having to ask.

Or not.

Just to give you an idea as to how the day went, I spent the entire day in my pajamas.

Yes.  Yes, I did.

And I made Baked Potato Soup for dinner.

Baked Potato Leek Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp bacon grease (or butter)
  • 3-4 leeks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ c. butter (or bacon grease)
  • ½ c. spelt flour (I used sprouted)
  • 1 c. bone broth (or chicken), room temperature
  • 5 c. or more, whole, grass-fed milk, room temperature
  • 2 c. shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash potatoes and put in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until done but not overdone.
  3. While potatoes are baking, wash and slice leeks.
  4. Melt butter or bacon grease on LOW heat in medium skillet. Add leeks and stir to coat.
  5. Sweat the leeks to pull out all of the leek-y goodness. Make sure that they are soft and translucent but that they don't get too brown. (If you don't know what it means to sweat veggies, this is a good tutorial.)
  6. While the leeks and the potatoes are cooling, get out your big soup pot and melt the butter over medium heat.
  7. Add flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. (This is a roux.)
  8. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking as you go.
  9. Slowly add milk, whisking as you go.
  10. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Add leeks. (In our house, we don't like to see green things. So, I throw the leeks into a food processor and grind them up. Either way works.)
  12. Chop potatoes and add. Throw the skins in there too!
  13. Let simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently.
  14. Add cheese and sour cream. Stir until well combined.
  15. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  16. If soup is too thick, add more milk.
  17. Ladle into bowls and devour.
Notes
I sometimes add some ham to this, if I feel like it. If you like ham in your potato soup, grab a ham steak (nitrate-free, of course), dice it and give it a little saute before you add it to the soup. It adds a nicer flavor.

The Bread Guy eats this, but the other two are not potato eaters or soup eaters, which is kind of a lose-lose with this one.  So they had ham and applesauce.  That’s great for me because that means that there will be leftovers.  Yay!

The day ended with clean rooms, a still-disgusting bathroom, a few rousing games of Clue (the Classic Edition, of course) in front of a nice fire (while still in my pajamas).

And harmony in our house.