Archive for the ‘Soups and Stews’ Category

Turkey and White Bean Chili


1 package of ground Turkey

2 envelopes of McCormack White Chicken Chili seasonings

1 large Vidallia onion

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

4 ribs of celery

3 small cans of undrained Canellini beans (or pinto beans or black eyed peas, or any other kind of beans you want)

Salt and pepper


Dice the onion, peppers, and celery.  Set aside.

Brown the ground turkey in a pan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

In a large pot, sautee the onions until translucent.  Add the diced peppers and celery.  Sautee until they give a little and all the rawness is cooked out.  They should still have some firmess to them (don’t overcook and kill them).

Add the seasoning packets and a glass of water.  I know the packets say Chicken Chili, but trust me — it’s much better with ground turkey. Stir thoroughly.  Add the cooked ground turkey into the pot.  Stir thorougly.  Add the beans and again, stir thoroughly.

Get your potato smasher out of the drawer.  Go to town on the chili and smash down the beans and smooooosh everything together. The smooshed beans thicken the sauce.

Turn heat down low and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Take off heat and let cool down.  Stir every now and then as it cools.

The longer this sits, the better it gets.



Crockpot Spinach Lentil Stew

1 med onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped (or use baby carrots sliced if you have them)
1 bag dry lentils
1 large can chicken stock
10 o.z bag of frozen spinach (use fresh chopped if you want)
15 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
1-2 bay leaves

Chop onion and carrots, add to the pot.  Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones, add to the pot.  Add whole can of diced petite tomatoes along with the liquid to the pot. Stir.  Add salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.  Add bay leaves.  Add spinach.

If you have a 5-qt crockpot, add enough chicken stock to come up to just 1″ below the rim.  If you have a larger crockpot, add the whole large can of chicken stock.

If you want a little tang, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (I don’t usually).

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  It’s done when the lentils are soft and tender.


Chorizo, Kale, and White Bean Soup

This is a hearty soup that will warm up your insides for the cold weather that’s coming.

* 3 oz of Chorizo, removed from casing
* 1 cup diced onion
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 4 cups of chicken broth
* 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
* 4 cups of fresh kale, washed and chopped
* Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the Chorizo from casing and cook for 2-3 minutes. Break it up in the pan as you cook it.

Add the onion and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes more, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth and beans.  Use a potato masher and mash some of the beans to help thicken the soup.

Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the kale and simmer for a few more minutes, until the kale starts to wilt.  You want it to still have some texture.  Don’t simmer the crap out of it.  LOL!

That’s it!  Easy and delicious.

Note:   This might be a little spicy for young children.  If you want to make a less spicy version, use regular sausage or kielbasa.

Kale with Cannellini Beans

1 bunch firm, fresh Kale
1 large Vidallia Onion
1 cup chopped Baby Carrots
2 cloves Garlic
1 large can of Chicken Stock
2 small cans or 1 large can of Cannellini Beans, drained slightly
1/2 tsp. Thyme
Slice the Vidallia Onions thinly.  Cook in pot with vegetable oil until golden yellow and cooked through, but not carmelized.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the carrots and cook for another minute or two.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the Thyme.

Add the chicken stock.  Cover and bring up to a light simmer.

While that’s coming up to temperature, wash the Kale, remove the stems, and then chop into bite-size pieces.

Add to the pot.  After coming up to temperature, simmer for 10-15 minutes until the Kale is tender.

Add the Cannellini Beans.  Continue to simmer until they are warmed through.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this in the broth as a soup with a nice piece of garlic bread.   You can also use a slotted spoon and just take out the goodies and use them as a vegetable side dish without the broth.

Either way, it’s delicious!


Get creative and consider adding different vegetables to bulk it up.  Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Summer Squash would all work well.

spinach-tortellini-soupSpinach Mushroom Tortellini Soup

5 or 6 large button mushrooms
1 large Vidalia onion
1 clove of Garlic
1 tsp Thyme
1 large can of diced/petite diced tomatoes
1 large can of chicken stock
1 12 oz. package of frozen spinach (thawed) or fresh equivalent
1 small package frozen tortellini
Salt and pepper

Slice the mushrooms. Cut in half into bite-size slices if necessary. Chop the onion. Finely chop the garlic.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Cook the onions until translucent and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more.

Add the sliced mushrooms. Add a little more oil if necessary. Cook until they get a little color. I like my mushrooms to have a good bite to them — meaty — so I don’t cook them down too much.

Add the can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to incorporate and heat through.

Add the chicken stock and bring back up to a simmer. Add the Thyme and continue to cook.

Add the spinach. Season to taste. I usually add a little more pepper at this point.

Once the soup comes back up to a boil, add the package of frozen tortellini. Keep the soup at temperature and stir in well.

Lower heat to simmer.

Remove from heat and cover.   Check and stir every few minutes or so until the tortellini is done.  It shouldn’t take too long to cook the tortellini through, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Once done, remove the cover and let cool.   It’s done.

This soup is easy, fairly quick, very healthy, and clean.

What’s really nice about this soup is that the base is just onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach. You can add anything else you want to it — tortellini, other pasta, Cannellini beans… Red, white, and green. What could be more molto bene?   🙂

Meat is not necessary in this soup. By not cooking the mushrooms too much, they retain a nice texture and act very “meat-like” in this dish. You don’t even miss it. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock if you want a completely vegetarian version.

For a little more flavor, sprinkle with some grated Parmesan on top.

Add a nice crusty bread to sop up the broth, and you have a very easy, healthy, yummy meal.

Perfect to keep you warm in this wonderful New England weather!

Important Tip:

When I make this, like today, I always make a double batch.  If you decide to make a double batch, please note that you will need a 12+ qt stock pot or larger.  This will NOT fit into an 8 qt soup pot.  I know first-hand…  😉

beef-mushroom-barleyBeef Mushroom Barley Stew

1.25 – 1.5 lbs lean stew beef
1 pkg small pearl barley
12 oz package of white button mushrooms
4 celery ribs
1/2 small bag of baby carrots, already peeled
2 medium Vidalia (or other sweet type) onions
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 can petite diced tomato
1/2 tsp thyme
1 med bay leaf
1 lg can of beef broth


Trim excess fat from beef.  Cut into small chunks.

Chop celery into bit-size pieces.  I usually slice each celery rib down the middle, then cut into pieces.

Cut baby carrots into pieces.  I recommend using baby carrots instead of those old dead ones left in the back of your refrigerator drawer because the baby carrots are sweeter and more tender.

Chop the onions. 

Mince the garlic.

Slice the mushrooms into uniform pieces.


Heat olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot.  Brown the beef on all sides.  Salt and pepper to season.  Remove with slotted spoon.  Do not discard the juices.  Leave them and the little brown yummy bits at the bottom of the pot.

Add a little more olive oil if necessary.  Add onions and cook until they are translucent.  You don’t want to carmelize them, but golden color is nice.  Be sure to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pot as you cook down the onions.

Add the garlic and keep stirring.  When garlic is heated through, and your house is starting to smell really nice, add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

Cook and keep stirring for a few minutes, until the veggies start heating through a little, and the mushrooms start to get a little color. Salt and pepper to season.

Add the can of diced tomatoes.  Stir to incorporate everything nice-nice.

Add the thyme and bay leaf.

Add the whole can of beef broth and stir to incorporate. 

At this point, you want a “loose” mixture.  Not like chili and not like chicken soup – somewhere in between.  The veggies need room to move, and we’re going to be adding the barley soon.  If your mixture is too thick, the barley won’t have enough liquid to absorb.

I usually add 1 can of water filled using the diced tomato can. (This also has the added benefit of getting all of the tomato goodies out of the can…)

The Magic

Normal recipe, eh?  So, what’s so magic about this barley stew?

It’s the secret of the thick, creamy, silky texture that we’re going to get that’s the magic.

Most recipes will tell you to add water and all the barley at once, and then just simmer the soup until done.

What I do is add 1/3 of the package of barley, simmer until it’s soft, puffy, and done.

Then, I add more water to loosen, and another 1/3 of the bag of barley.  Cook again until the barley is done.

Repeat with more water and the remaining barley.

When done, cover the pot and set it aside.   Go back and stir it every 10 minutes or so.  Add water if necessary throughout the whole process to keep things nice and loose.  The barley is going to do a final puff when it’s resting.

The result is SO worth it.  The barley releases its starch as it cooks down.  If there’s too much water or it’s all done at once, it doesn’t have a chance to reach that final glutenous stage.  By coaxing it out in batches, when the time the final batch is done and it’s ready to cool, the first two batches have released the gluten at different stages.  It’s this complex reduction and releasing that makes the silky broth.

There’s no other filling or roux or flour or anything needed.  The barley is the substance.

Additional Details

This usually *amost* fills my 8 qt. stock pot — maybe 2″ from the top.  Make sure you have a pot big enough.  The barley will EXPAND.

I usually containerize and freeze what I’m not going to use right away.  This freezes very well.

Serve with a nice crusty bread — it’s a complete meal.

Enjoy!   1-2