Lentil Soup

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Well hello arctic cold front! Holy cow its cold out there! This morning it snowed for about an hour, and instead of getting warmer as the day progresses, the temperature is meant to drop even more.  I mean honestly, count me out! I am dreaming of warmer climates and looking forward to going down to Texas for Christmas this year. Like a migrating bird, we are headed south for the holiday season, and given this cold snap, it can’t come soon enough!

I decided it would be a good idea to make a hearty lentil soup to combat the cold, and it was a great idea! This soup is so full of flavor and its really hearty! We ate it on its own, but with a fresh baguette or something like that to dip in it, yum!

I’m super busy next week before we leave for the holiday, so things like this that can be made in advance and warmed throughout the week for lunch or dinner are ideal. I usually cook for James and I on Tuesday and make 3-4 meals at once that we can warm during the week.  It’s great for me to get ahead, and test out recipes I might use on my private chef clients. This soup was a home run so I thought I would share it with you!

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What you need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch of chard or collard greens or kale to add at the end

In a large dutch oven warm your olive oil over medium heat.

Once hot add in your onion, carrot, and celery and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add in your lentils, tomatoes, broth, and seasoning including salt and pepper.

Let boil for about 30-45min.

Remove the bay leaf and using a hand blender, roughly blend the soup to make a smoother, thicker soup.

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Add in your chopped up bunch of chard or collards and stir in until wilted.

Enjoy!

 

Mexican Chicken Casserole

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Most of you have heard of King Ranch Chicken. It’s a delicious, creamy dish with chicken, corn tortillas, creamy soup, tomatoes, and cheese. It is such a great thing to make ahead and freeze, and an especially great thing to give to friends over the holidays. We cook non-stop during the holiday season, whether it’s baking or just marathon making of side dishes and appetizers, it feels like it never ends.

We have a lot of family in Texas that are unable to get around very much, and this is such a great dish to make as a fresh delivery for a warm winter meal. You can assemble it and freeze it or assemble it and refrigerate it, and your family or friends can just pop it in the oven for a warm, gooey, flavor filled dish.

In my version of King Ranch Chicken, I have reduced the amount of cream soup in half and have added in the tomatillo salsa. This makes it so much lighter, but maintains all of the flavor you are looking for!

P.S. This is also a great option to make with that leftover turkey!

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What you need:

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chopped green chilies (can substitute these two ingredients with two cans of Rotel chopped tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese, (cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

In a large saucepan over medium heat mix together your soup, tomatillo salsa, and 3/4 of your tomatoes. It is a bit of a funky color, but I promise it is delicious!

In a disposable foil tin or a glass baking dish lightly oiled, start layering your tortillas.  Pro-Tip: cut the edges of your tortillas to make more of a square shape for an easier fit in the pan.

Follow the tortilla layer with a layer of shredded chicken and green chilies.

Then spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Repeat this layering process until your dish is full and you have used all of your sauce, chicken, chilies, and cheese.

Bake in the oven for 35-40min and enjoy warm and melty!

 

Chicken Tomatillo Chili

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It is officially chili season.  We have been very lucky to have some beautiful weather in the 70s during the day and 50s in the morning, but slowly but surely the temp is dropping. This weekend we had a ton of rain and a cold front that blew in, so I decided it was time to make my first chili of the season.

Chili is such a fun dish.  You can make it anyway you want.  You pick your protein, your base, your liquid, your veggies, and any combination of things can work! Traditional chili is beef based, but you see it now with turkey, all beans, chicken, etc…

Enchiladas Verdes with chicken are probably James and my favorite thing! We love burgers and a lot of other foods, but Enchiladas Verdes are number one! This chili is inspired by our favorite dish made into a soup. Oh and for you parents out there, chili is an awesome way to sneak in some leafy greens!

What you will need:

  • 3 large chicken breasts, cubed and seasoned (ancho chili, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper)
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 1 can white beans drained and rinsed
  • 12-16 oz tomatillo salsa (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2-3 cups of chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven heat a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat.  Add your chopped onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened. Add in your minced garlic and cook for a further minute until fragrant.

Add your seasoned chicken cubes to the pot and cook through. It is very important your chicken is fully cooked before you get to the next steps.

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Add your white beans, your tomatillo salsa, and your chicken stock and stir to mix them all together.

Now you can relax, let the chili stew on low for about an hour stirring every now and again so the flavors can merge and really come together.

Just before you take it off the heat, remove the chard from the stems and chop the leaves roughly.  Add them to the pot and stir. The fresh green adds some brightness and freshness to the chili.

Finally top your chili with whatever you want!  We did some shredded Oaxaca cheese, chopped avocado, Mexican crema, and tortilla chips.

We were warmed from the inside out! This dish was so delicious, and this recipe is enough for 4 people, so if you have a smaller family, you get leftovers!!!

Ultimate Tomato Soup

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So I decided to start to embrace the fall weather.  This whole week has been grey, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s.  Its officially colder now, and my craving for warm food is kicking in.  As I have said before, I love everything tomato! Remember my brother and I ate them like apples.

I have had a lot of tomato soups in my life, and it really is amazing how many disappoint. What a lot of people don’t take into account is the acidity of the tomato, or the ones that do, try to cut it using sugar leaving you with an odd and slightly sweet tomato soup. I also love soup that has a little bite to it.  Broths have their place when your sick, but if you are making a meal out of soup, I like it to feel like I am actually eating something.

On this particular evening we took it old school and enjoyed a nice truffle grilled cheese with our soup, but for the blog today, I am sticking with just the soup.  I will save the grilled cheese for another day. Just as an FYI, this recipe makes A LOT of soup, so freeze it in small portions so you can enjoy it all winter!

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  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 large carrots diced
  • 2 medium yellow onions diced
  • 2 large (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4-8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or more to taste
  • fresh basil to slice thinly and garnish your soup

In a large pot, melt your stick of butter and add in your diced carrots and onion over medium heat.  You will cook these for 15 minutes until the butter starts to brown and your veggies are soft. Stir frequently.

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Add your tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer for 1 1/2 hours stirring periodically. Your soup will thicken and the flavors will merge. Note: the carrots add a natural sweetness cutting the acidity of the tomato without having to add any sugar or any other flavor.

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After the 1.5 hrs of simmering puree the soup with a hand blender or let it cool and use a counter top blender.

Once the soup is smooth add in your salt, pepper, cayenne, and heavy cream.  Add the cream in slowly while stirring, and gauge for yourself if you want the full 8 oz or less.

The pureeing actually makes the soup very creamy already, so I ended up only using 4 oz of cream for about 12 cups of soup.

Serve what you will eat that evening and store the rest in containers to freeze for the season. This soup is so rich and delicious without actually being heavy or highly caloric.

Enjoy friends and stay warm!