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

IMG_3836.JPG

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 Adventures with Food, Bone-In Pieces, Chicken, Slow Cooker

How to Get Multiple Meals out of a Chicken – For Real

IMG_3837.JPGThere are posts all over the blogosphere about how to stretch a chicken.

You know, grab it by its legs and pull really hard … bwhahaha! Right, stick to the day job.

Stretching a chicken to make like 17 different meals.

Seriously?

Because when I make a chicken, it’s gone in like 17.2 seconds. Definitely no room for 16 more meals after my family is finished with it.

My boys like their chicken.

I do save the bones to make bone broth but that’s as far as it goes.

I can however, combine a whole chicken with a package of legs and thighs and make something usable beyond just one dinner. Not necessarily something that they will all eat because that might very well be deemed impossible, even in a world where everything is possible.

On this particular Sunday, with a whole chicken and a package of 8 chicken thighs and 6 legs in the fridge begging to be used and Brunswick Stew on the menu, I started with some basic broth with the whole chicken. I always make broth with Brunswick Stew because the chicken shreds in the stew anyway so I can overcook the chicken to get a good broth without having to worry about it.

I only use about half the broth for the stew, so I took out the chicken and scooped out the broth that I needed then added the legs …

… which I had warmed first. Never put cold items into a hot crock pot – the ceramic doesn’t prefer it … not that I would know ..

… and some water to make up for what I took out. Kept it cooking until the legs were done. I pulled out the chicken legs, strained the broth, and shoved it all in the fridge for chicken noodle soup later in the week.

At the same time, I roasted the chicken thighs in the oven for my children who have an innate inability to recognize good food and would not eat the stew. Since they only ate a couple of the thighs, I saved the meat for the soup.

And I saved all of the bones to make bone broth after I make the soup.

So much multi-tasking and productivity without much actual effort beyond making dinner. Awe. Some.

Even better … dinner for Tuesday night is mostly already made. Bonus!

So, if you consider that the stew makes 8 servings for us (12 if you don’t have The Man eating it), the thighs make a dinner for the kids, and the soup is at least 8 servings. That’s 23 servings in total. For our alternate-universe family of five, in which the children eat stew and soup happily and in volume, that would be 4 meals plus some.

One Chicken. Some Parts. 4 Meals.

That’s as far as I can stretch a chicken.

Posted in Beef, Boneless Pieces, Quick n Easy, Slow Cooker

Butternut Squash Beef Stew

butternut squash beef stew from change of plates

Every so often I make something new, hoping that everyone will eat it (not like it, mind you – I’ve given up hoping for that) without a fuss. And then they actually do.

This was not one of those times.

The Man and I both thought it was delish.

The Bread Guy loved it for the first few bites, then decided that he wasn’t really fond of it, but he’d eat it anyway and by the end, he was just stirring his spoon around his bowl, stalling and laboring in the way he does when we’ve served him poison. That’s what you’d think anyway. He didn’t finish it.

Mr. Selective liked the first bite, changed his mind quickly and went for the PB&J.

Big Britches picked all of the meat out and ate it (shocking!), but only because I told him I was not making a sandwich.

Which brings the total of things that Mom and Dad will eat to about 332.  List of things that everyone will eat … still 7.

Butternut Squash Beef Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed beef stew meat
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp refined coconut oil (or any oil of your choice)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 yellow or red potatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 c. bone broth (or whatever broth you use)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's)
  • 1 8 oz container mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 6 ounces frozen green peas
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  2. Drop the coconut oil into a large skillet (preferably iron) and warm it to medium.
  3. Sear the meat on all sides, 5-10 minutes.
  4. While meat is searing, chop all vegetables except mushrooms and place in slow cooker.
  5. Add beef to slow cooker. Add broth, paprika, Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Set the slow cooker to low and move on with your day. About 5-6 hours later, the meat should be tender and the vegetables cooked.
  7. Add the peas and mushrooms and let cook for another 30 minutes.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Looking at that picture, I really can’t blame them for not eating it.  Can you?