weeknight gourmet

Category : Soups, Stews, Chilis

Crock Pot Black Bean Soup

blackbean copyI haven’t really been posting because some other things have been keeping me busy.  BUT I have been cooking.  This week I made this super easy and delicious black bean soup in my slow cooker.  I just had to post it because everyone — me, Tim, and 3.5 year old Charlotte — loved it and it is pretty rare to get a dish that is such a hit for all three of us.

I followed the recipe as written using veggie stock.  After 9 hours on low, I used my immersion blender to puree the soup a bit.  It really couldn’t have been easier!  The soup was dinner one night and lunch the next.

Crock Pot Black Bean Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 1 32 oz chicken broth or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup water

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté onions for 4 minutes.

2. Add chopped garlic and sauté an additional minute.

3. Place the onion garlic mixture into the crock pot along with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

5. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the ingredients to your desired texture (I like to get it so a few pieces of beans are still visible so the soup is thick and still has a bit of texture).

6. Top with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche.

7. Serve.

Fall Soups: Pasta, Kale, and White Bean Soup

Untitled copyHere is a delicious fall soup recipe I made last week.  It was super tasty — great smoky flavor from bacon and the parmesan, tomato, kale, and white beans are a great combo.

I made a couple of small modifications.  I didn’t have a parmesan rind so I omitted it. And instead of ditalini I used mini raviolis.  Also subbed fresh kale for frozen.

Charlotte and I both gobbled it up.

Pasta, Kale, and White Bean Soup
Food Network Magazine

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 small piece rind
1 1/2 cups small pasta, such as ditalini (about 8 ounces)
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen chopped kale, thawed and squeezed dry

Put the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, 6 cups water and the parmesan rind. Increase the heat to high; cover and bring to a boil.

Add the pasta and beans and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the kale. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind, stir in half of the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining cheese.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pasta-kale-and-white-bean-soup-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Soup Season! Chicken & Spaghetti Soup

IMG_0308The only food Charlotte loves more than chicken soup is spaghetti.  And by spaghetti I mean spaghetti.  She is very particular when it comes to pasta shapes (unlike her mother).  So when I saw this chicken and spaghetti soup recipe, I knew I had to make it for my girl.

This is an almost-homemade soup.  Sautee some carrots, celery, and onions.  Add broth (I used stock) and water.  Bring it to a boil and add the spaghetti.  Once the pasta is cooked, you add shredded chicken.  I used white meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.  Top with some dill.

Super easy and tasty!  Charlotte gobbled it up!

Chicken & Spaghetti Soup
Real Simple

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 ounces spaghetti (1/4 box), broken
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and 4 cups water to the pan, season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the chicken. Sprinkle with dill and additional pepper.

Grown-Up Franks & Beans

IMG_0274Break out your dutch oven!  Here’s a great fall dish!

White beans and some browned sausage cook with white wine, broth, onion, and lots of garlic and herbs for nearly an hour.  The tender and flavorful beans are served with sweet Italian sausage on top.  Serve with a green salad or crusty bread.

A couple of notes: I actually forgot to buy fresh thyme and didn’t realize we were out of bay leaves.  I added about 1/2 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence along with the parsley. I also seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper when I added the butter in the final step.

I’m happy to be reunited with my Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Look out for many more stews, soups, and braised dishes as the cooler weather takes hold!

Franks & Beans
Bon Appetit

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1½ lb sweet Italian sausage links (about 6), divided
  • 2 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 10 flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and tarragon), divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5–8 minutes. Remove and discard casings from 2 sausages; add sausages to pot. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until sausages and onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and wine to pot and cook until wine is reduced by half, 8–10 minutes. Using kitchen twine, tie parsley and thyme into a bundle; add to pot along with bay leaves and broth. Cook on medium-low heat, partially covered and stirring often, until liquid thickens, 40–50 minutes. Discard bundle and bay leaves. Mix in butter and 2 Tbsp. chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, after beans have been cooking for about 25 minutes, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook remaining sausages, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15–20 minutes. Slice.

Divide bean mixture among bowls. Top with sausage slices and remaining 1 Tbsp. chopped herbs.

Meatless Monday: Fresh Pea Soup

IMG_0253Wow!  It’s been a while.  I am back in NYC after spending the summer at our house in the Berkshires.  Takeout is not an option up there and restaurants are a good drive away.  So, my kitchen was very busy — I cooked 3 to 4 meals a day depending on whether Charlotte ate dinner with us.  But I found it tough to fit blogging in.

Since returning to real life in the city, I’ve made some post-Labor Day resolutions.  Getting back to my blogging is one of them (as is staying away from carbs).  So be on the lookout for some new recipes!

It was a rainy morning so I decided to make this very easy pea soup while Charlotte was at school.  She loves soup.  And the recipe is from my favorite source, the Barefoot Contessa.

Just a couple of notes on the recipe.  I used frozen peas because that is what I had on hand.  And, I used my immersion blender to save myself from cleaning my blender.

So here are the reviews:

ME: I love peas and really enjoyed the soup. It is light and fresh and actually takes good cold as well.  Next time I might add a bit of pancetta or bacon.

CHARLOTTE: My three-year-old first declared that it was “disgusting” based on nothing other than its color. She then tasted it and said she liked it.  But chicken soup and black bean soup still reign supreme for her.


Fresh Pea Soup
Barefoot Contessa

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup freshly chopped chives

Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper.

Puree the soup in batches: place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Whisk in the creme fraiche and chives and taste for seasoning.


Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

Here’s a tasty fall soup and a nice alternative to a traditional chicken soup.

To save time I used pre-cut butternut squash.  I used chicken stock rather than water to add additional flavor.  I used a potato masher to break up / puree the roasted squash which gives nice texture to the soup.

I enjoyed a bowl tonight and am hoping Charlotte enjoys it for lunch tomorrow!

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
Everyday Food

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and diced medium
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together chicken, squash, onion, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast until squash and chicken are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add broth, cumin, and coriander. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. With a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon, mash some vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. Discard skin and bones from chicken; cut meat into small pieces and add to soup. Stir in lemon juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Fall Comfort Food: Beef Stew

Unfortunately because I was entertaining I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of this very tasty beef stew.  But it was delicious and, while it says serves 6, 4 of us devoured it.

The beef was so tender and everything had a delicious flavor.  The veggies were tender but not mushy because you only add then for the final 40 minutes.

I made a few changes.  Instead of using the 2 cups of water, I used low sodium beef broth.  I had some sliced mushrooms and one potato on hand so I added those at the same time I added the carrots and celery.  The potato added a bit of starch and thickened the sauce so I did not need to add the cornstarch at the end.

Overall super flavorful.  I served with a simple green salad.  And, make sure to have some crusty bread on hand.

Old Time Beef Stew
Paula Deen

• 2 pounds stew beef
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• 1 or 2 bay leaves
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
• 3 large carrots, sliced
• 3 ribs celery, chopped
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer.

To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.

Fall Fare: Hearty Meatball Stew

Here’s a delicious dish for the cooler weather!  The stew wasn’t what I expected — it was much earthier and less tomato-y.  But we loved it!  Giada rarely steers me wrong.

The mushrooms (I used baby bellas) added a really nice flavor.  And, the meatballs were a delicious combo of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage.

I served it with some crusty bread.

Hearty Meatball Stew
Giada De Laurentiis

• 1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
• 8 ounces 20-percent-fat ground beef (about 8 ounces)
• 2 sweet mild Italian sausages, casings removed
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Hearty Meatball Stew:
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
• 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 pound large white mushrooms, quartered
• One 8 to 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/3-inch slices
• 4 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
• One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
• 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

For the meatballs: Place the bread and 3 tablespoons water into a medium bowl. Mash to a paste with a spatula. Add the beef, sausage, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands or a flexible spatula. Form the mixture into 10 to 16 meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until ready to use.
For the hearty meatball stew: Sprinkle the meatballs with the flour and turn to coat with any flour still on the foil. Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Drop the meatballs into the skillet, spaced apart. Cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes. Using a flexible thin spatula, turn each meatball onto an uncooked side and cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes longer. Turn and cook a third side, until set and brown, about another 2 minutes, so the meatballs are browned and set all over. Transfer the meatballs to a large plate.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until soft, 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

White Chipotle Chicken Chili

I’m using Pinterest to discover new recipes.  I get drawn in by the beautiful photos but the recipe sources are not always known to me.  This recipe falls into that category and was a bit disappointing.

This white bean and chicken chili is not my favorite chicken chili.  That honor belongs to the Barefoot Contessa.  But the recipe is quick enough for a weeknight dinner and was good, especially if you don’t like your chili super spicy.

Even though Tim and I both thought the chili was missing a little something, it was still worthy of a second bowl when we topped it with shredded cheddar, pickled jalapenos, and several dashes of green Tabasco (my fave!).

White Chipotle Chicken Chili
Organic Gardening Magazine

Serves: 8
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 20 min
Total: 35 min

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder or chili seasoning
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • salt
  • 3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Push the onions to one side of the pan, add the chicken, and sprinkle with the chipotle chile powder, cumin, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until most of the chicken is opaque on the outside, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Stir in 3 cups of the beans and 2 cups of the broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the remaining beans and remaining 1 cup broth. Process to a smooth puree.

5. Stir the bean puree and half-and-half into the soup. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and serve hot sprinkled with cheese and cilantro.

Weeknight Who? Giada’s Chicken Stew

Wow! It has been a long time since I blogged. I started a new job at Irrive (create your own social scrapbook for life’s adventures!) and have been a bit busy.

Plus, I definitely got into a cooking rut — was feeling uninspired. Then, summer came and we did a lot of very simple grilling.  Nothing that exciting to blog about.

But as a crispness returns to the air and fall approaches, I’m excited to make stews and soups and heartier fare! On the eve of Charlotte’s first day of preschool, I made Giada’s delicious chicken stew. The ingredients are super simple, but come together beautifully. Even Charlotte liked it (or at least the beans and tomatoes).

I used Italian seasoning instead of basil, thyme, and a bay leaf, but otherwise followed the recipe as written.

Have some crusty bread on hand and don’t forget it tastes even better the next day!

Chicken Stew
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion. Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.

Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts. Shred or cut the chicken into bite- size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the stew. Bring the stew just to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the stew into serving bowls and serve with the bread.