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Portuguese Kale Soup (Sopa de Couves)

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Probably one of the most recognizable staples in any Portuguese-American home is Sopa de Couves.  More affectionately referred to as just “Sopas” or “Sopinhas” (soup-ee-n-yas), this beloved peasant style soup is not a thing to be trifled with.  It is as hearty as they come almost a cross between a soup and a stew.  Served with a fresh piece of Portuguese bread (pop-seco), this soup is served as a main course in the Portuguese-American home.  Often a big pot of this is prepared on a Sunday, served for “dinner” at 1 o’clock and then left overs are served all week long… at least that’s how it was in my house. Two things that are not well-known by many of my American friends is that no two families prepare this soup the same way and there is actually no kale in this soup!

Let’s tackle the recipe issue first.  The Azores are made up of 9 islands off the coast of Portugal. Until recently, communication was not something that was abundant among the tiny villages throughout these islands let alone among the islands themselves. Hense, a different recipe developed within each village.  Often times this soup was made up of whatever a family had on hand resulting in a different recipe among each family.  The basics are the couves of course, then inexpensive vegetables like potatoes, cabbage and beans.  If a family was lucky, a piece of meat was added in along with a piece of chouriço!  Whether to add carrots (which my family does not) or cabbage (which my family does) was often a matter of what was grown in their back yard garden or simply what was on hand.  Today, each family has their special family recipe and that is likely a very loved recipe upon which all other versions of the soup are compared against.

Now onto the issue of the kale.  So, Kale Soup is actually made from the Portuguese “Couves” which is a cousin to kale.  It has a broad flat, deep green leaf more closely resembling a Collard Green.  In fact, making kale soup with the American curly kale would not be traditional at all.  My grandfather brought Couve seeds over from St. Michael many many years ago and my family has been growing the vegetable in our back yard gardens ever since.  If I ever run out of the home-grown authentic Couves, I in fact use Collard Greens and it turns out just fine.

What I will take you through today is my family’s version of this Portuguese staple… and if I do say so myself, it is a really good version!  Thick and hearty, this soup starts with a bean broth base with no whole beans in it at all.  Most of the ingredients are kept in my freezer and pantry at all times so a pot of this is usually ready to go whenever I get the inclination. Naturally this soup has really become a football food in my family seeing as how we make it on a Sunday and football is on on Sundays. There is nothing like a steaming hot bowl of soup and a fresh piece of crusty bread to really take you through each quarter of a football game! Take a look at how I do it…

 

Fill your largest pot with water. This is my Pampered Chef 12-qt Executive Non-stick stock pot, it’s huge and I love it!

Rinse off and pick through your beans. I like to use a dual colored bean like this pinto or you could use a cranberry bean as well.

Rinse off and pick through your beans. I like to use a dual colored bean like this pinto or you could use a cranberry bean as well.

After they have boiled for about two hours, you will have beans that are busting open on their own. This is the desired effect. You in no way want aldente beans. You want smushy beans.

Now you can add in a good pinch of salt.

I have to tell you my soup making life was forever changed when I bought one of these handy-dandy stick blenders. I just take the blender and submerge it in the hot soup without fear of splashback and I can easily blend all those beans at the bottom of the pot! If you don’t have one of these lovely contraptions, you can do what I used to do… allow the soup to cool to “non-scalding” level and start ladling it into a blender. This will need to be done in stages. It’s alright it there are a handful of beans that don’t end up blended, but you want to be sure the majority of them are well blended in with the cooking water. Do NOT get rid of the cooking water! You want all that flavor!

Now, although a great deal of the cooking water has evaporated at this point, you will need to add in enough to bring the soup level up over the half way mark in your pot, almost to 3/4 of the way up actually. Seen here is your soup base. From this point on, you will want to keep your burner turned to med/med high depending on the strength of your stove. Remember this base can easily burn if you aren’t careful. And take it from me, there is nothing worst than burnt soup!

Now that your base is done, you can start to add in your ingredients. Probably one of the most inexpensive cuts of beef there are out there with the most flavor to impart is the beef shank. This is traditionally what we use in a good Portuguese soup. You want to keep that bone in there and hope that the bone marrow that is in it will melt right into the soup. If not, you can always manually do it. Then later you can remove the bone and its great for your favorite 4 legged canine!

This time of year, obviously I don’t have a garden full of couves. But at harvest time, I was sure to cut some up and package it into nice freezer bags to last all winter long. If you don’t have this handy, no problem… Just grab a bunch of collard greens at the supermarket. rinse each leaf, roll them up and cut into ribbons about 1/2 wide. For this recipe you will need half a bunch and you can freeze the other half just like this for next time!

I don’t bother defrosting my couves, I just pop them right in the hot soup water and here they are. It only takes about a minute really.

A lot of the spice in this soup, which isn’t crazy, is provided by the chouriço, but I like to help it along a bit with a heaping tablespoon of pimenta moida.

Cabbage. This is a take it or leave it ingredient in this soup. I prefer my soup with a bit of cabbage, some don’t. If I don’t have any in the fridge, it doesn’t prevent me from making this soup, I just leave it out.

I use anywhere between 1/4 – 1/2 the cabbage and i chop it up like so, it will further fall apart on its own. All in all you want about two cups of cut up cabbage.

I use all-purpose potatoes for this recipe, nothing fancy.

Roughly dice into chunks. I like to try for a little bigger than a quarter.

Add these in after the cabbage has been added in and cooked for about 1/2 hour or so. Then cook potatoes until fork tender before adding in the pasta.

This is my favorite pasta to use. Elbows are traditional. I like Barilla just because of the extra grooves, but any elbow will do.

Add in to boiling soup with another pinch of salt and boil for about 25 more minutes. Again, the goal here is not to have aldente pasta, at all.

This is what your soup should look like when complete.  At this point I finish the soup with a good swig of vegetable oil like my Vavó always did.

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Portuguese Kale Soup (Sopa de Couves)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. bag dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked through

8-10 medium all-purpose potatoes, diced largely

2 cups Couves or Collard Green, Chopped into 1/2″ ribbons

2 cups cabbage, chopped

1 lb. beef shank

1 lb. chouriço, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (not peeled)

1 heaping Tbs. Portuguese ground red pepper

1/2 lb elbows macaroni

kosher salt

2 Tbs. vegetable oil (optional)

water

Directions:

note: I use a 12-qt. stock pot for this recipe

Soak beans over night if you have the chance.  If not, boil beans for several hours until they are very soft and popping open.  Do NOT add salt to this step.

Once beans are fully cooked, use a stick blender to blend beans in with cooking liquid.  Add water to pot enough to come 1/2 – 3/4 of the way up your largest pot.  Add in beef shank, a large pinch of salt, couves (collard greens), chouriço, cabbage and pepper.  Boil this for about 1/2 hour until the couves  and cabbage become soft.  Next, add in the potatoes and cook until fork tender, about another 1/2 hour.  Add in the elbow macaroni, simmer until done about another 1/2 hour.  Finish with a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Serve hot with a crusty piece of bread.

***To make this recipe gluten-free, omit the macaroni or use a gluten-free version, but be careful not to over boil the gluten-free version as the recipe calls for with the non-gluten-free.

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Minestrone Soup

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A good Minestrone Soup can compete with ANY full dinner!  With all the elements of your basic nutritional chart, this soup has it all and the flavor to back up that first sentence to boot.  There is a local restaurant I have grown up with that leads more than a few cooks in my area to strive to perfect Minestrone soup… I have to say, this does it for me… and there is one secret ingredient I don’t think it could do without!

Venus Di Milo is the restaurant my parents held their wedding reception.  It’s where my Dad had one of his very first jobs as a bus boy.  And it is where countless wedding, 1st communion and birthday celebrations have been held over time.  They have a very good reputation for having the best Minestrone Soup anywhere.  People order it to go by the bucket full!  It’s gotten to the point that people around here don’t even refer to it as Minestrone anymore, but rather, Venus Di Milo Soup. This of course started my journey in figuring out just how they do it.  And this recipe comes pretty darn close!

Let me show you how I do it!

Chop some onions.

Chop up some carrots.

Dice up some celery

Add in the ground beef and brown.

Once the beef is all browned, drain any accumulated fat.

coarsely chop some garlic.

Fill the pot about 3/4 with water. I will give you a measurement in the recipe, but really what I do is go by the size of my pot… If I want more soup, I use a large pot, if I want less, I use a smaller pot… I might add in some extra veggies if I am using a super big pot, but the basic recipe stays the same give or take a quart of water.

Stir and bring to a boil over high heat.

I use one large can of whole plum tomatoes… You can use two cans of diced or sauce… but I like the way the whole tomatoes break down throughout the cooking process… and I help them along a bit too.

This is what the tomato looks like in all that sauce… throughout the cooking I go after them with my wooden spoon to help them break down a bit.

My secret ingredient is beef base. You can use a stock or a bullion, but there is something about beef base in this particular soup that I really like.

This is what the beef base looks like, it’s thick and very concentrated.

In my tomato can, I pour some hot water in my tomato can.

It will look like this when it’s all melted together.

Then add into the soup.

Rinse a can of kidney beans.

I use about a palm full of Italian seasoning.

This time of year it is difficult to get some good fresh summer veggies… so I prefer frozen over canned… Frozen is flash frozen at the peak of freshness whereas canned just get mushy. I use these three in my Minestrone, corn, peas and Italian green beans (if I can find them, if not regular green beans are fine)

Stir and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or so.  Then add in your pasta… Normally, I use an orzo pasta, but I was out… so, I substituted with another small pasta, dilatini and it worked out great… as long as you keep the past small you are good to go! Cook pasta for another 20-25 minutes or so and serve.

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Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 medium ribs of celery, chopped

1 1/4 lbs. ground beef

1 large 16 oz. can whole tomatoes in sauce

1 12 oz can red kidney beans

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup frozen Italian green  beans

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 Tbs. Italian seasoning

1 heaping Tbs. beef base melted into 1/2 cup hot water

1/2 lb. Dilatini or Orzo pasta

12 -16 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan or mozzarella cheese for topping

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, sautée onions, carrots and celery until tender.  Add in ground beef and brown. Drain fat and add in water (fill pot to 3/4 full with water).  Add in tomatoes.

In the tomato can, add 1/2 cup hot tap water.  To that add in beef base and stir until combined.  Add mixture into the soup.

Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add remaining ingredients saving the pasta for later.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper.  Add in pasta.  Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until pasta is well cooked.  If soup is too thick just add in some water and taste for salt and pepper again.

Serve… Enjoy!

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Portuguese Bean Soup (Molho de Feijão)

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This amazingly creamy and hearty soup was one of my Vavó Olinda’s specialties! She would always make a batch of this at the same time as she made a batch of Feijão Assado (Portuguese Baked Beans). The soup would always get eaten up first and then all week long, the baked beans were there to enjoy… I’ve never been able to decide which one I prefer more, but I can tell you I love them both. My Vavó passed away in 2007, she was 93 years old and sharp as a whip and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her and think about all the wonderful time we had together shopping and cooking, eating and talking, and just spending quality time with one another.  I was truly blessed to have the special connection I had with my Vavó and this is one of those recipes that brings her right back to me.  Funny how food does that.

My Vavó always referred to this soup as Molho de Feijão although many refer to it as Sopa de Feijão.  Whatever you like to call it, it’s a simple recipe really.  Under 10 ingredients, no soaking of beans, no special tools needed.  The creaminess comes from the combination of the pasta, potatoes and beans, no milk at all. A bowl of this soup and a nice fresh Portuguese Pop-seco bread roll is all you need for a hearty lunch or even dinner.  It freezes beautifully, so I highly suggest making the full batch even if it is too much for your size family.

Here is your bag of beans. Any white bean will do it, but my Vavó always prefered the smallest bean available.

I wash the beans twice… The first rinse in a strainer just to get out any dirt that might be left behind.

Then I get a pot going with some water…

Pour the beans in…

and agitate them with my hand to reveal any stray pebbles or bad beans, I pick them out and carefully pour the water out leaving the beans in the pot… The water usually takes with it anything I missed in the first rinsing.

Then I fill the pot again with water and set over high heat on the stove.

While the pot is starting to heat up on the stove, I chop up one onion into a fairly small dice.

Add that onion into the pot.

Crush, peel and mince two cloves of garlic.

Crush, peel and mince two cloves of garlic.

Then add that into the pot.

Bring the water to a boil and cover and turn the flame down to the point where the water is at a gentle boil. DO NOT ADD SALT.

While the pot is set to simmer for a couple of hours you can prepare your ingredients… 5-6 potatoes.

Peeled and washed.

Peeled and washed.

Diced into a relatively small dice.

1/2 lb. of chouriço. This is hot Portuguese Chouriço.

Peel and slice.

After a couple of hours on the stove, this is what you get… Do not stop boiling until your beans are to this point of tenderness. If you look closely you will see many of them are starting to bust open.

At this point you can add salt.

Add in your potatoes.

Add in your chouriço.

Add in a couple of tablesspoons of ground red pepper. BE CAREFUL here. I put in a couple of tablespoons because as you can see, my pepper is mostly lacking seeds, if you have a spicier version of this pepper, reduce the amount, more can always be added at the end, but once it’s there, you can’t take it away. Stir this all together and cook for about a half hour until the potatoes are fork tender.

Now add in your pasta and stir. My Vavó loved the small shells in this soup, and so that is what I am using today. However, you could also use a Dilatini. Something short and hearty, but still fine. An elbow is a bit too much.

You want to over cook the pasta here… this is not a place for al-dente… After about another half an hour, this is what you should see…

Add in half a small can of tomato sauce. Taste for salt and you are done.

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Portuguese Bean Soup (Molho de Feijão)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1 16oz. package dry white Navy Beans, rinsed and picked through

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves, garlic, crushed and minced

1/2 lb. Hot Portuguese Chouriço, peeled and sliced

5-6 medium potatoes, peeled, diced

1/2 package small shells pasta

1/2 8oz. can tomato sauce

2 Tbs. ground red pepper (wet)

1 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot about 3/4 with water.  Add in dry beans, onion and garlic.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 -2 hours until beans are very tender.  Most of your water will have evaporated, refill the water.  Add in chouriço, potatoes salt and red pepper.  Bring back to a boil and cover,  cook for about 30 more minutes until potatoes are good and tender.  Add in pasta, cook for an additional 30 minutes.  Add in tomato sauce and taste for salt.  Serve with  fresh bread… Enjoy!

*Note – a gluten free adjustement for this recipe is to either simly omit the pasta or use a gluten free pasta, it will be just as delicious!

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5 Bean CrockPot Chili

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If you’re looking for something to feed a crowd, won’t break the bank and is easy to prepare, but will still get people super excited this Sunday, 5 Bean CrockPot Chili is the way to go!  The weather is cooling down and people are starting their Sunday ritual of gathering around that screen.  In homes across America kitchen counter tops start filling with bowls of chips, platters of bite size food and CrockPots full of delicious comfort foods. Chili is at the top of the list in many a home… Afterall football and chili go hand in hand.

Whether you are taking this over to a friend’s house for the game, packing it up for tailgating or serving it up on a snow day this winter… you need to remember to always pick up some fixin’s to add on top!  No good chili is complete without the fixin’s…

Let’s get started!

Here is just about everything you will need for this yummy Chili.

Here is just about everything you will need for this yummy Chili.

Start off by adding the full bottle of beer into your slow cooker. If you can’t have beer, substitute with some beef stock… one 12oz. can will do it.

Salt and pepper! On the left you see kosher salt. On the right one dry Ancho Chili. This gives the chili a real depth of flavor.

Open up your ancho and remove some of the seeds, it has a lot of seeds, they aren't all needed here.

Open up your Ancho and remove some of the seeds, it has a lot of seeds, they aren’t all needed here.

You want to rehydrate the pepper in the beer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Here are your dry spices… You are going to add these in with your Ancho so that they can also have a couple minutes to rehydrate.

These measurements don’t need to be exact… although I will list exact measurements in the recipe down below… Here is your cumin.

Cayenne pepper… I put in just a big pinch of this because of cooking for a mixed crowd. With chili I would prefer to supply hot sauce as a topping than have someone not be able to enjoy it because it is too hot for their palate, including my kids.

Smoked paprika is really nice here. (sorry for the fuzziness, don’t know what happened there!)

And last but definitely not least, the chili powder… necessary for any chili!

So your pot should look like this…

Turn your slow cooker to high.

Turn your slow cooker to high.

I made Shepard’s pie earlier in the week and browned up a bunch of ground beef… set half of it aside and made less work for myself on this particular Sunday… If you have one of those cool slow cookers that allows you to brown meat or you use my method of having pre-cooked ground beef, then this meal becomes a one pot meal! If not, you should brown up some ground beef in a skillet and add it in here.

Add in some kosher salt.

Mix everything in together and move on to preparing your fresh ingredients.

Dice up your onions.

In this method, it is not necessary to pre cook your onions, however if you are browning your meat same day, it would not hurt to add these into your skillet… But as you can see, I did not turn on my stove for this recipe.

Here is where you control the heat in this dish… You can choose to leave the seeds in your pepper which will significantly increase the heat level in this dish… I was making the chili for a mixed crowd, so I decided to keep the heat low and remove the seeds.

Peel some garlic… no need to chop.

Add in jalapeno and garlic.

I found this bell pepper, isn’t he cute? You’ll want to cut it in half, remove the seeds and stem and chop it up.

From here on you are literally just dumping ingredients in till your slow cooker is all filled up! Two cans of diced tomatoes.

Get a good strainer set over a sink and pour each can of beans in one at a time.

Start by rinsing your Pinto Beans.

Next your cannellini… And this is meant to go in no particular order. Also, you can use whichever beans you like… I chose the ones I chose for a couple of reasons though… I like the creaminess of Pinto and Cannellini… I also like the variety in color.

Black beans are chosen for both color and flavor and they are a very traditional addition to Mexican foods of all kinds.

Add all these into the slow cooker. (It’s already starting to look pretty!)

We are using two kinds of kidney beans, both for color and tradition.

I also like the large red kidney beans here.

Add the kidney beans in and that’s the final addition!

Now we mix… So pretty!

Once everything is well mixed in, cover and cook on high for 8 hours… That’s it.

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At this point, check for salt and spice… Add more kosher salt if needed. If you feel it needs more spice add in either a few dashes of hot sauce or cayenne pepper.I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the necessary toppings to this warm bowl of goodness!

You need to have some sour cream at the ready, some cheddar cheese, and some tortilla chips... I also like to have chopped scallions and hot sauce available for peopele.

You need to have some sour cream at the ready, some cheddar cheese, and some tortilla chips… I also like to have chopped scallions and hot sauce available for people.

And there you have it, Enjoy!

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I know my husband did!

Brian

(serves 8-10 or more – great for a party)

1 1/4 lbs ground beef, browned

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can Pinto beans

1 can Cannellini beans

1 can Black beans

1 can Small Red Kidney beans

1 can Large Red Kidney beans

2 medium onions, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 dry Ancho chili pepper, seeded

1 bottle Mexican beer

1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled

1 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 Tbs. Chili powder

2 Tbs. Smoked Paprika

1 Tbs. Cumin

1 tsp. Cayenne pepper

Directions:

Soak dry spices including Ancho chili pepper in beer in the slow cooker.  Add in all other ingredients.  Mix and turn on high for 8 hours.

Fixin’s:

Sour Cream

Tortilla chips

shredded cheddar cheese

chopped scallions (optional)

sliced black olives (optional)

hot sauce

*note – With the swap out of beer for either gluten-free beer or beef stock, this is a completely gluten-free recipe.

 

 

 

 

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Farmer’s Market Chicken & White Bean Soup

done2I simply love this time of year.  Harvest is starting to come in, we are nearing the end of the hot days and looking into Indian Summer.  The farm stands are all stocked and Farmer’s Markets are booming!  I had the occasion to visit a local Farmer’s Market today and I feel like I struck gold with the beautiful vegetables that made their way to my kitchen..

I love going to a Farmer’s Market with nothing in mind at all.  I let the freshness of the produce sweep me into a frenzy of creativity.  Today, I left the house with a fresh chicken stock cooling on the stove, so I did have a little bit of direction… cooked chicken and wonderful stock.  When I returned home, I found that I had some gorgeous native carrots some almost red in color, others purple!  I got some cool crisp green beans and a few other things that will be heading onto my dinner plate later this week.

As for today, both my son and my daughter each have a little case of the sniffles.  So, I thought it appropriate to come up with a sort of chicken soup.  They are both big fans of chicken, carrots and green beans and with a few more ingredients to include cannelloni beans for a little extra protein, yummy egg noodles for their velvety heartiness along with some onions, celery and some fresh and dried herbs and we were good to go.  Let me show you what I did…

Aren’t they beautiful? Orange, purple and a deep orangey red… all of them are super fresh and super sweet.

A fresh basket of green beans, yum.

Look how gorgeous these are.

Saute in a little touch of olive oil.

Add in a diced onion.

Chop up some celery.

Add your celery into the saute.

Cut a few sprigs of thyme.

Add your stock to the pot along with a few of these sprigs of thyme.

Here are my farm fresh green beans.

Chop them up... I do a pretty small chip for my kids, you can cerainly chop to whatever size suits you.

Chop them up… I do a pretty small chip for my kids, you can certainly chop to whatever size suits you.

These egg noodles are considered a nice smooth starch.

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Add in a pinch of salt, crack some fresh black pepper and add in your Herbs de Provence.

Add in your white beans.

Then cover.

Then cover.

I like to chop and then shred the chicken a bit.

Allow to simmer for a few minutes so all the flavors can really marry.

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Recipe for Farmer’s Market Chicken & White Bean Soup:

(serves 6-8)

1 cooked chicken breast

2 native carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup green beans, chopped

3 cups dry extra wide egg noodles

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       8 cups prepared chicken stock

.1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for sauteing

Directions:

Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add in a pinch of kosher salt.  Once tender, add in chicken stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Then add in green beans, beans, egg noodles, salt, pepper, thyme and Herbs de Provence, cover and reduce to med/low heat.  After about 10 minutes add in the chicken.  Continue to cook until noodles are tender and chicken is heated through. Taste for salt and pepper.

To this peel and roughly chop a carrot... I like to cut it down the middle ot maximize open carrot area.  Roughly chop a couple stalks of celery with or without the leaves.  Then add in one onion halved and a bunch of parsley.  (Again if you are planning to mostly make mexican based dishes, you could add in cilantro instead of parsley)

Simple Chicken Stock

add veg

 

A simple chicken stock is something that every home cook should master.  Not only is it much healthier that then stuff you can buy in cans at the grocery store, but it can save you a bundle!  A good chicken stock can make a quick meal taste like you slaved over a hot stove all day long 🙂

This particular recipe is a basic one.  I like to have a basic recipe on hand in gallon zip lock bags in my freezer because I never know what I will want to make with it… But, if you know that you always like a certain recipe that calls for ginger and soy, then by all means cut up some ginger and toss it in.  If you love the taste of a hearty traditional chicken soup, then add in some thyme and rosemary.  Once you get this basic recipe down, the sky is the limit.  I have used this chicken stock in recipes right here on this blog time and time again.  Check these out… Lemon Chicken Soup (Canja)Slit Pea Soup and Lobster Risotto.  And when you are done with making your stock, you’ve got some delicious cooked chicken meat to use in recipes like Cran-Raisin & Walnut Chicken Salad Wrap.

This is probably one of the most simple recipes you will see… you may wonder why you haven’t been freezing your own stock for years!

Start off by adding one whole chicken to the biggest stock pot you have on hand.

Start off by adding one whole chicken to the biggest stock pot you have on hand. Be sure to remove the packets with the gizzard. As for the neck, that is great for stock too, I remove it, but you can certainly keep it in the pot.

To this peel and roughly chop a carrot… I like to cut it down the middle to maximize open carrot area. Roughly chop a couple stalks of celery with or without the leaves. Then add in one onion halved and a bunch of parsley. (Again if you are planning to mostly make mexican based dishes, you could add in cilantro instead of parsley)

The next thing I like to add is a good handful of salt… I like to control the salt in my stock and I am making a good amount here so I add in about 1/8 cup of kosher salt. (Adjust salt to your taste and health requirements) This also helps flavor the chicken for later use. (This is also when you could choose to add in other herbs and spices like cracked black pepper, coriander, garlic, jalapeno, thyme, rosemary, sage, or ginger etc.)

Add water. You will want to add water up to about 2" from the top of your pot. Just to allow room for boiling.

Add water. You will want to add water up to about 2″ from the top of your pot. Just to allow room for boiling.

Boil this for about 1 hour with the lid on. Then shut it off without uncovering. Allow to cool completely. This will take at least 4-6 hours. Once completely cooled, you can skim off the fat if you so choose as well.

Once liquid and chicken have completely cooled, strain into containers. You can use the stock or bag in 1 gallon freezer bags, old cool whip containers or ice cube trays and freeze. The stock will also be great in your fridge for 3-4 days.

At this point, I usually can’t resist making some kind of soup right away, usually a chicken noodle or a mexican tortilla soup or something… then I freeze the rest.  I get about 3-4 gallons of stock from this process.

Recipe for Simple Chicken Stock:

1 whole chicken

1 onion, halved

2-3 carrots, roughly chopped

2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 bunch parsley

1/8 cup kosher salt

water

Directions:

Add all to pot cover with water (up to 2″ from top of large stock pot).  Boil for one hour (Add water to replace evaporated water). Cool completely over 4-6 hours.  Use, refrigerate or freeze.

*note – this is a gluten-free recipe

 

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Lobster Corn Chowder

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Summer is such a wonderful time for food, especially in New England!  We have delicious sweet corn and incredible cold water lobsters a plenty.  This past 4th of July weekend we were lucky enough to have both!  I even bought some extra corn and had some left over lobster so I decided to create a version of what New Englander’s are known for… chowder! Lobster and corn brought together with a creamy broth, what could be better?

I grew up in the small New England town of Westport, Massachusetts. Westport is both a fishing and farming community.  Some of the biggest of those two industries has always been lobster, dairy and corn.  All of these essentials are found in this dish.  Who says you can’t go home again?

You'll want to start  by shucking about 8 ears of fresh corn and placing them in a pot.

You’ll want to start by shucking about 8 ears of fresh corn and placing them in a pot.

Then cover the corn in cold water. Bring to a boil and shut it off… Let it sit in the water to cool a bit. (The fresher the corn, the less time it needs… but, don’t forget this will also boil again later) One it is done boiling, reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid for later.

Place a small ingredient bowl inverted in a larger bowl… You’ll want to make sure your larger bowl can accommodate the kernels of 8 ears of corn… This method makes for so much less mess!

Now prop up a cob of corn on top of that little ingredient bowl.  If you don't find it to be stable enough, just cut off the very bottom.

Now prop up a cob of corn on top of that little ingredient bowl. If you don’t find it to be stable enough, just cut off the very bottom.

Now, carefully run you your knife down the legnth of the corn cob... be sure your fingers are out of the way!

Now, carefully run you your knife down the length of the corn cob… be sure your fingers are out of the way!

Now, this is a very important step... take the back of your knife and firmly run it down your naked cob.  You are essentially creaming the corn by doing this.

Now, this is a very important step… take the back of your knife and firmly run it down your naked cob. You are essentially creaming the corn by doing this.

Here is what you are left with :)

Before you begin, you will want to also boil a potato with salt and garlic, chop and reserve.  Just one.

Before you begin, you will want to also boil a potato with salt and garlic, chop and reserve. Just one.

Start your soup by building your base, which is your veggies, but first you'll need to render some bacon so that you have fat to cook your veggies in.  So, cook until crisp.

Start your soup by building your base, which is your veggies, but first you’ll need to render some bacon so that you have fat to cook your veggies in. So, cook until crisp.

Drain your bacon on a couple of paper towels.  Reserve the bacon fat in the pot.

Drain your bacon on a couple of paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the pot.

This is a shallot... a rather large shallot actually.  It is a milder cousin of the onion.  Because I find this to be a more delicate chowder, I didn't want to overwhelm the flavor with onion.

This is a shallot… a rather large shallot actually. It is a milder cousin of the onion. Because I find this to be a more delicate chowder, I didn’t want to overwhelm the flavor with onion.

Chop the shallot as you would an onion.

Chop the shallot as you would an onion.

Saute the shallot over low heat in the reserved bacon fat.

Saute the shallot over low heat in the reserved bacon fat.

Get one red bell pepper and halve and seed it. I like the sweetness of red bell pepper, you can use which ever color you like best.

Chop it up and add it in to the sauteing shallots.

Measure about a quarter cup of all purpose flour.

Measure about a quarter cup of all purpose flour.

Add flour to the sautéed veggies.

Stir in that flour and cook for a minute or so.

Add all the corn you’ve prepared to your soup pot.

That corn cooking liquid you reserved goes in now.  I run it through a strainer just to catch any stray corn silk.

That corn cooking liquid you reserved goes in now. I run it through a strainer just to catch any stray corn silk.

Here is my left over lobster, isn't he cute?

Here is my left over lobster, isn’t he cute?

Pull off his legs. There is lots of yummy meat in those legs, but I have no patience to get all that meat out for this purpose.

So what I do is throw them right in the soup pot. This serves two purposes. First of all, it gives your cooking liquid a bit of seafood stock. Second, you can serve these right with your chowder and people can suck the meat out of them should they so choose.  Now is the time to add in your potato as well.

Now, remove the body and discard. (I don’t put the body in the soup pot because there is too much mush for my taste). Shell all this lobster.

Once you have shelled the tail, you can pull off the back of the tail as I have done here and remove that vein. Some people don’t bother with this step, I just do. It’s up to you.

Now chop up the meat you have reserving the claw pieces to top your chowder if you so choose.

Now chop up the meat you have reserving the claw pieces to top your chowder if you so choose.

Add the chopped lobster to the soup pot to heat through.

Add the chopped lobster to the soup pot to heat through.

When all your ingredients have hung out together for a few minutes... Add in half a quart of light cream.

When all your ingredients have hung out together for a few minutes… Add in half a quart of light cream.

Chop and crumble bacon into the soup pot.

Chop and crumble bacon into the soup pot.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  I like a good amount of fresh cracked black pepper.

Add salt and pepper to taste. I like a good amount of fresh cracked black pepper.

Add a couple dashes of white pepper.

Add a couple dashes of white pepper.

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Add some sliced scallions, oyster crackers, the reserved lobster claw, serve and enjoy!

Recipe for Lobster Corn Chowder:

(Serves 8)

1 boiled lobster, shelled and chopped

8 ears of corn, boiled

1 1/2 cups corn cooking liquid reserved

1 large red potato, cooked and chopped

1 large shallot chopped

1/2 red bell pepper seeded and chopped

3 slices bacon

rendered bacon fat reserved

1/2 quart light cream

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. white pepper

kosher salt to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

2 scallions chopped

oyster crackers or saltines

Directions:

Prepare potato by boiling in salted water and one clove of garlic (optional). Prepare lobster by boiling or getting it steamed from your fish monger.  Prepare corn on the cob by shucking and bringing to a boil, reserving 1 1/2 cups corn cooking water.  Cool these ingredients so they are easy to handle.

Next shell and chop lobster. Reserve lobster legs. Remove corn kernels from cob and cream from cob as well (demonstrated above).  Chop potato.  Set aside all ingredients for when they are needed.

Render bacon fat, reserve fat in soup pot.  Set aside bacon to drain on paper towel.  Sautee shallots and bell pepper in the bacon fat over low heat for about 5-6 minutes until tender.  Add in flour.  Cook flour for a minute or so, stirring.  Add in corn. Stir. Add in corn cooking liquid. Stir. Bring to a simmer.  Add in lobster, potato and lobster legs. Stir.  Pour in light cream. Stir.  Add in white pepper.  Add in salt and black pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

(If you would like to make this recipe gluten-free, swap out all purpose flour with corn starch)

 

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Portuguese Lemon Chicken Soup (Canja)

done2There is something about chicken soup that seems to make it a comfort food no matter what your nationality. The Thai add coconut to their chicken soup, the Italians add beans and Orzo, the Moroccans add couscous and butternut squash. I personally love a good American Chicken Noodle soup and that recipe will come, but there is nothing quite like what your grandmother made you as a little girl (or boy), to bring comfort to your meal.

So, if you are looking for a Portuguese comfort food, you have come to the right place!  Canja is the quintessential comfort food.  Portuguese Canja is made with simple ingredients, used in a way that you may never have thought to combine them before.  Canja has chicken, lemon and is thickened with egg yolks all combined to form a lovely delicate creamy soup that I am sure you have never quite experienced in any other dish.  My Vavó would make this soup any time she had some extra chicken or one of us was sick or just because.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe my good friend Lisa gave me to help remind me of just how my Vavó would make her soup.  Throughout the recipe I will note the differences and you can really make it your own.

garlic

Dice up onions.

Chop up a couple of carrots.  Some people also like to add in celery at this stage, I nor Lisa, nor was my Vavó a fan of celery in this particular soup, so I will be leaving it out, if you are partial to celery, by all means, add it in.

Chop up some garlic or put through a press.

Chop up some garlic or put through a press. (Lisa runs hers through a press)

saute

Saute onions and carrots until tender. Then add in garlic and a pinch of salt and saute another minute or so.

Add in about 10 cups of chicken stock. If you don't have homemade chicken stock, you can use boxed or canned... Or add in water and 2-3 bullion cubes.

Add in about 10 cups of chicken stock. If you don’t have homemade chicken stock, you can use boxed or canned… Or like Lisa, add in water and 2-3 bullion cubes.

While the soup is coming to a boil, separate 3 eggs and reserve the yolks.

While the soup is coming to a boil, separate 3 eggs and reserve the yolks.

Beat a few times with a fork until smooth.

Beat a few times with a fork until smooth.

Now, cut a lemon in half and place in a press. If you don't have a press, just use a reem or a fork to juice the lemon.

Now, cut a lemon in half and place in a press. If you don’t have a press, just use a ream or a fork to juice the lemon.

Add lemon juice to egg yolks and beat until combined.

Add lemon juice to egg yolks and beat until combined.

Before adding the egg yolk to the soup, you will want to temper with some hot liquid from the soup. This process allows for the egg yolks to come a bit closer to the temperature of the soup so they won't scramble upon adding them in. The point of the yolks is to thicken the soup, not to have breakfast with your dinner :)

Before adding the egg yolk to the soup, you will want to temper with some hot liquid from the soup. This process allows for the egg yolks to come a bit closer to the temperature of the soup so they won’t scramble upon adding them in. The point of the yolks is to thicken the soup, not to have breakfast with your dinner :)

Add in yolk mixture slowly and stir rapidly.

Add in yolk mixture slowly and stir rapidly.

This is what you should have when all stirred in. It will become an opaque creamy looking soup.

This is what you should have when all stirred in. It will become an opaque creamy looking soup.  At this point taste for salt, add in a pinch if needed.

Cooked chicken breast… If you don’t have cooked, you can do the same with raw. I happen to have cooked from making my chicken stock.  I use all white meat in my soup as it is my preference, but if you like dark meat in your soup, have at it ;)

Chop the chicken and add to the soup.

Chop the chicken (and even shred it a bit) and add to the soup.

Next add in your pasta or rice. My Vavó always used stars, I am using Pastini which are a teeny tiny version of that. A lot of people use par boiled rice (like an Uncle Ben's). It's a matter of preference.

Next add in your pasta or rice. My Vavó always used stars, I am using Pastini which are a teeny tiny version of that. Lisa uses par boiled rice (like an Uncle Ben’s). It’s a matter of preference.

Lastly, chop up some flat leaf parsley and add in to soup.

Lastly, chop up some flat leaf parsley and add in to soup.

Finally, allow to come to a boil long enough to cook your pasta or rice, 20 mins tops and turn off your burner. Taste for salt. And this is what you have left.

Finally, allow to come to a boil long enough to cook your pasta or rice, 20 mins tops and turn off your burner. Taste for salt. And this is what you have left.

Serve.

Serve… Enjoy!

Portuguese Lemon Chicken Soup (Canja)

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

8-10 cups chicken stock

1 chicken breast, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 medium onion, diced small

2 cloves of garlic, diced (or run through a press)

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/3 cup Pastini pasta, stars or par boiled rice

kosher salt to taste

Directions:

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add in a pinch of salt.  Add in garlic, saute another minute.  Add in chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and the juice of one lemon together.  Add in about a quarter cup of hot stock from the soup pot to temper the yolks… Add hot liquid in slowly, but beat quickly to incorporate.

Add egg yolk mixture into the hot soup slowly while stirring rapidly.  Once incorporated, taste for salt.  Add in a pinch of salt if needed.  Add in chicken and pasta (or rice).  Cook for 10-20 minutes until pasta or rice is cooked fully.  Add in parsley.

Enjoy!

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Split Pea Soup

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I don’t know about you, but I always have a ton of left over ham after Easter or any holiday really.  But, I don’t mind because I love me some Spit Pea Soup and there is nothing like a homemade ham roast to make a great Split Pea Soup with! Spring is beautiful and it’s nice to see all the winter snow melting away, but there can still be some pretty brisk and chilly weather.  What better to combat that than a nice steaming bowl of soup? Yum!

For this recipe, I used my Pineapple Honey Glazed ham and turned it into this creamy deliciousness. If you didn’t make ham or don’t have any left overs, you can always make this recipe with some deli ham, just ask the deli to cut you some thick ham or you can grab a ham steak too. Here’s how I did it:

split peas

I start off with one bag of split peas, any brand is fine. Wash them and set them aside.

onions1

Dice some onions. I like a lot of onions, so I use two medium onions and give them a medium chop (maybe the size of a dime).

whole carrots

I trim my carrots next (sometimes I don’t peel them, but this time I did, so its up to you).

carrots

Then chop them to about the same dimensions you did your onions… so for me they are about the size of a dime.

onions and carrots

Now add the onions and carrots into a large pot and sautee with some olive oil on medium heat.

garlic

Take a couple of cloves of garlic and mince (or use a garlic press). Add to your onions and carrots after they are tender. You want to make sure your garlic doesn’t burn, so add it in toward the end of the sauteeing phase.

ham halk

Now it’s time to trim up the ham hock. Add this to your vegies.  Admittedly, this is not the pretties thing ever, but it is super tasty and adds a hearty dimension to your soup you can’t get with anything else… still if it freaks you out, or if you already threw out your hock, just leave it out.

chicken broth_edited-1

Add in chicken stock, here I have homemade stock that I made earlier in the week. (If you don’t have homemade stock, just add in an extra large can of low sodium stock.) Also, add in about the same amount of hot water. And one chicken bullion or one packet of bullion powder.

chopped ham

Dice up about a cup of ham… if you have more or less, then use more or less to your taste. I chop this about the size of a quarter, I like chunky ham, if you like more delicate, then give it a smaller chop.

 

Bay leaves

Add in one bay leaf. If you have fresh, that’s great… I only had dry on hand.

thyme

Chop up about a teaspoon of fresh thyme and add to the pot. (If you only have dry that’s o.k., just reduce by half and add it in when you are sauteeing your onions and carrots)

salt and pepper

Now add in a few cracks of black pepper and a good pinch of kosher salt. Also, add in a dash of white pepper if you have it on hand.

soup in progress

Add in your split peas now and stir. Bring the liquid to a boil on high and then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 1 hour stiring periodically. When the soup starts to thicken and you can no longer see the shape of your split peas, then you know you are ready for the next and final step. (this could take up to one additonal hour… so keep your eye on it!

pasta

When your soup is just about done… You can remove the ham hock and add in about a cup of dilatini pasta (or whatever your favorite soup pasta is ie. elbows, stars, orzo etc)

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And you’re done! Enjoy!

Split Pea Soup

(serves 8- 10)

1 package split peas, washed

1 ham hock, trimmed

1 cup diced ham

2 medium onions, chopped

4 medium carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. fresh thyme, chopped

1 bay leaf

14-16 cups of liquid, chicken stock and water

1 chicken bullion or bullion powder packet

kosher salt to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

dash of white pepper

2-3 T. olive oil

Directions:

Pepare all ingredients. Sautee onions and carrots in olive oil until tender over medium heat in a large pot.  Add in garlic.  Add in ham hock and liquid.  Add in all other ingredients except the pasta.  Cook on high until boiling.  Turn down to a medium/low boil or simmer on medium/low heat for about an hour, stirring periodically.  Check for dissapearing of peas in soup and thickening of liquid.  This could take up to an additional hour.  When liquid is thickened, add in pasta, cook an additional 20 minutes or so until pasta is done.  Taste for seasonings.  Enjoy!

note: This can very easily be made gluten free by omitting the pasta or using gluten-free pasta.