Dinner, soups

Quick and Spicy Tomato soup

Lunch time at the office

We were away this past weekend visiting our friends in North Carolina and our flight home arrived just before 5 on Monday.  After eating great food all weekend and traveling we wanted something that was easy to make and also light. This recipe from our favorite Italian chef Giada fit the bill. Within a half hour we had a hot and hearty soup on the table.

As we move into the fall season we start to crave hearty comfort foods. For the reason we try to keep our pantry stocked with basic essentials.  The less trips to the store the better.  This recipe had all of the essentials and made enough to bring into work for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 26 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Dinner

Crockpot Chili

This is a staple in our house.  We make this a few times during the cold winter months.  It is a tasty recipe that goes together pretty quickly.  Combine this with a salad and a slice of hearty bread for a simple dinner.  And for easy cleanup..use a Crockpot liner.  Greatest kitchen cleanup tool invented.

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
2 cans (15 oz. each) red kidney beans, undrained
2 packages (1.25 oz. each) chili seasoning mix
2 cans (15 oz. each) tomato sauce
2 cans (10 oz. each) diced tomatoes and green chilies
cheese and sour cream

Line a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker with a Slow Cooker Liner for easy cleanup. Fit liner snugly against bottom and sides of bowl; pull top of liner over rim. Set aside.

Brown ground beef, bell pepper and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink. Drain well. Spoon beef mixture into the lined-slow cooker. Add beans, seasoning mix, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and green chilies to beef mixture; stir gently with wooden or plastic spoon.

Cover and cook 6 to 7 hours on LOW OR 3 to 3 1/2 hours on HIGH, until hot and bubbly throughout.

Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Stir gently using a wooden or plastic utensil. Serve food directly from lined slow cooker. Top with cheese and sour cream, if desired. Remove all food and cool slow cooker completely before lifting liner from slow cooker. Do not lift or transport liner with food inside.

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Homemade Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese croutons

Last Saturday morning there was a little chill in the air and it looked like it was going to rain all day.  So we planned our menu based on the feeling of fall.  I made the Awesome Mac and Cheese and Hubby made this soup that we found the recipe on top of a can of tomatoes.  So quick and easy!  This will warm your soul and your senses this fall.


P.S.  Weather turned around and it was very humid by dinner time. 


Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can  crushed tomatoes with basil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

Cheddar Cheese Croutons 

1 loaf baguette, small
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft. Add flour; cook and stir until moist. Gradually add milk, cooking and stirring about 2 minutes or until smooth and bubbly.

Stir in crushed and petite diced tomatoes, basil, oregano and broth. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir frequently and do not allow mixture to boil.

To make Cheddar Cheese Croutons, cut baguette into cubes and toss with olive oil and cheddar cheese. Spread onto baking sheet and place into a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Bake until croutons are golden brown and cheese is melted. Top soup with crouton.

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Tomato Soup and Roasted Garlic and Cheese Bread

A snowy Saturday morning with the Food Network on and instant inspiration for dinner! The Pioneer Women, Ree Drummond  has really become a family favorite these days.  She fixes simple and delicious meals. Ree is coming very close to become a family favorite along side Ina.

A simple supper of super souped up tomato soup and cheese bread was such a great meal on a cold Saturday night.

Tomato Soup 2.0

Three 10.75-ounce cans condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish

Add the soup to a pot with 3 cups water and heat over medium heat according to the can instructions.

When hot, add the sherry, cream, pesto and Parmesan. Stir and heat through.

Serve up the soup in bowls and sprinkle on the tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, more grated Parmesan and some basil.

   

Roasted Garlic and Cheese Bread

8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
1/2 cup grated Romano 
2 teaspoons chopped chives 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 round artisan or sourdough loaf 
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the garlic cloves on a square of heavy foil, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Wrap it up and bake until the garlic is golden, nutty and mushy, about 1 hour. Let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Mix the garlic together with the 4 cheeses, chives, crushed red pepper flakes and some black pepper in a bowl.
Cut the bread in strips in one direction, being careful not to cut all the way through the loaf. Rotate the bread 90 degrees and cut in the other direction. Stuff the cheese mixture in between the rows. Drizzle the melted butter all over the top.
Wrap in foil and bake for 25 minutes. Open up the foil and bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly, another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

After a weekend away enjoying some great food and wine, one might want to make a just have a simple soup.  That is exactly what we did this past Sunday.  We had a great weekend in the Finger Lakes with our Foodie Friends.  Tasted some local wines, enjoyed the sites at a local state park and then ended our evening with a wine dinner at a local inn.  By Sunday Afternoon, we were a bit tired, still stuffed from the great food we had.  I remembered this soup we had made several times from Giada.  Very simple and delicious.  And the best part we had all the ingredients!  
 


Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand)
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup orzo pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

SERVINGS: 4 (MAIN); Calories: 430; Total Fat: 16 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 15 grams; Total

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Dinner Club Assignment

A couple of weeks ago our dinner club got together after a long hiatus at Giada and her hubby across the street. The menu was reminiscent of their first dinner club dinner with a taste of Italy.  Our recipe was for soup that was a combination of each of their mothers recipe.  I feel honored to have been able to make this family recipe.
Our dinner club has been going on for a number of years with just one couple switch out.  We have tried a variety of recipes, cuisines and culinary explorations.  If I look back over the recipes it is hard to find just one favorite.  I guess I have to go with what our foodie friends said when I asked them to pick their favorite dinner – the first dinner each couple made.  For us it was  family favorite-marinated prime rib, for foodie friends it was their Thai dinner, Farm Boy and our southern artist friends would be the Creole Chicken and grits, and for Giada and her hubby a Spinach Lasagna with Sicilian Veal Rolls.  
This dinner featured a goat cheese and oil appetizer, homemade Ravioli from Melina’s fresh pasta, short ribs and polenta and Ricotta pie to go along with our authentic Escarole soup.  
Escarole soup with mini meatballs
(Serves 8 to 10)
For mini meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cups grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tblsp dried parsley or Italian seasoning
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 small bunch parsley, minced
1 egg beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
For soup:
2 heads of escarole, core removed and torn into small pieces
8 to 10 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion minced
2 cloves minced garlic
Make mini meatballs: mix all the listed ingredients in a bowl and form into s,
Mall size meatballs.  Chill for about 1 hour.
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven pot over medium heat, add garlic and onions, cook until lightly brown, taking care not to burn garlic.  Add escarole and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium/low and add meatballs.  Allow meatballs to simmer until cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending upon size.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
And now scenes from our dinner……
Appetizer
Dessert
Main Course
Dressed dessert
Mrs Foodie!
My Wonderful Husband!
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Beef Barley Soup

One of my favorite memories of growing up in the diner was my father’s soups.  I don’t remember him ever following a recipe.  He would just throw things together and the most delicious soup would come from that.  I have heard stories that at times he would run out of the soup well before lunch even started.  He had customers who were drivers from the highway department stopping in late in the morning after plowing snow and grabbing a bowl of hot soup. Dad would then have to whip up another batch for the lunch crowd.

There are three soups that I really remember well. The first is a very easy soup to make that doesn’t need a recipe.  He made cream of tomato soup ( using milk and not water) from the condensed cans, but then adding cooked elbow macaroni.  The end result was Tomato Macaroni Soup.  Then he made something called Chuckwagon Soup and I believe that was a beef based soup but was a combination of whatever he had as left overs.  My all time favorite soup and the focus of this blog post was Beef Barley Soup.  Now as I said, there are no written recipes from Dad so I had to find my own.  So I went to one of my favorite chefs Ina Garten for her version of Beef Barley Soup complete with Oxtails.  

I didn’t know what Oxtails were or what part of the cow it was from.  Thank goodness we shop at a store that has a great meat department and a good butcher to ask.  Our Oxtails were found in their freezer section and we picked the meaty ones.  Oxtail is the tail end of the cow if you haven’t guessed. 
 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef oxtails
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 cups canned beef broth
  • 1 cup pearled barley

    Directions

    Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the oxtails, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and reserve.

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    Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown.
     
     
     
     
     Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot along with the bay leaves.
     
    Return the oxtails to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the thyme bundle and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.
     
    Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, and set aside.
    When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Serve hot, with or without the oxtails