Cheese & Broccoli Soup

Autumn is the perfect time to start making yummy soups, and this has always been one of my favorites, though in the past the best I could do was open a can of it in condensed form, which is never very satisfactory. I modified the liquid in this recipe, since I find that too much milk in this soup make it taste funny; the more broth the better. So I amped up the broth, toned down the milk, and increased the cheese. Honestly I could have added cream cheese, but this is at least a start to having a recipe for this soup that I want to make more than one time. My baby boy adored it and ate it in large quantities, which is good since neither my husband or daughter liked it.

Cheese and Broccoli Soup

2 3/4 C. chicken broth

1 onion, diced small

1/4 C. butter

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/3 C. milk, warmed 1 min. in microwave

2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

3 C. chopped broccoli, steamed until tender

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • In a large pot or dutch oven bring the chicken broth to a boil with the onions in it. Turn the temperature down to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the onion is soft.
  • Meanwhile steam the broccoli and set aside.
  • In a small pot melt the butter. Add in the flour and next 2 ingredients and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes until smooth. Whisk in the heated milk and stir until smooth and thickened. Pour this mixture into the chicken broth and onions and combine. Add in the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted in, and the broccoli.
  • Process the hot soup mixture, being super careful not to overfill in the blender, blending until smooth. Return to the pot and mix in the softened cream cheese. Serve warm with more shredded cheese on top, if desired.

Adapted from Melskichencafe.com’s recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup.  

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White Chicken Chili

One of our favorite easy dinners with chicken is this chili. It is perfect on a cold winter night, though it is terrific even on a summer day. It is hearty, filling, and very simple. I love having a non-tomato based chili in my culinary repertoire because it is delicious, and also my husband will not eat tomato based meals, but he loves this one. Any meal I can make that we both love is one that gets re-made again and again. 

White Chicken Chili

1-2 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 med. onion, chopped

2 Tbs. canola oil (or any kind of oil you choose)

1 can of chicken broth

1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies

3 14.5 oz. cans Great Northern beans (or Navy beans), mostly drained – not rinsed

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (if desired)

salt and pepper

Toppings:

sour cream, grated cheese (cheddar or monterey), tortilla chips

  • Heat the oil in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste. When the chicken is partially cooked add in the onion. Cook together until the chicken is done. Set aside.
  • Bring the chicken broth and green chilies to a boil over med heat. Add in chicken mixture, beans, and all seasoning. 
  • Bring back to a boil over med-high heat and then reduce to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. 
  • Top with desired toppings or eat plain. It’s good either way. 

 

 

Peppered Beef Stew

Peppered Beef Stew

1 lb. stewing beef pieces

flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, for dredging

2 cans of low sodium beef broth

4 medium carrots

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, thinly sliced

5 garlic clothes, pressed

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. pepper

  • Dredge the stewing pieces in the mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Heat up canola oil (or other kind of oil) over medium high heat and sear the meat for a couple of minutes.
  • Add it all, scraping down the pan, into the crock pot, and add all other ingredients.
  • Cook on Low for 7-8 hours.
Delicious and warming. Perfect for a beautifully crisp Autumn evening. Add My Personal Cornbread on the side to soak up those yummy beefy juices, and Apple Cranberry Pie for that sweet and tart end to a wonderful meal. 
Stew recipe Based on Southern Livings Peppered Beef Soup recipe.

Italian Chicken Soup

I love my crock pot. I love kitchen gadgets and appliances, but I would not survive without my crock pot. My parents got 3 for their wedding in 1975. In 2004 we got none. So we traded in one of the 3 drills we received and got a crock pot. I can’t cook delicious and tender meat with a drill. I’ve never tried, but I don’t think it would work too well.

I speak on my love of the crock pot because I made the Pioneer Woman’s Italian Chicken soup tonight for dinner. Since my mom’s flat stovetop (which we all hate) does not handle dutch ovens I decided to cook up the 14 chicken drumsticks that I am using to replace the whole chicken cut up in the crock pot so I could get wonderfully juicy and completely cooked chicken, without having to work at it. I put the drumsticks in, added 1 C. of water, salt, pepper, and Bell seasoning set it on high for an hour, and turned down to low to cook until I felt equal to dealing with taking the skin and bones out. I used chicken stock instead of chicken broth, though I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the exact difference in taste there is in doing this. Maybe I’ll try the Swanson broth in this next time.

Overall I enjoyed the soup. I think for the next time I will try using fresh tomatoes, so there is no real thick tomato juices, and probably use Italian seasoning, instead of just oregano. It all has to do with personal taste preferences. My family enjoyed it, and I like the idea of the soup, and now that I’ve made it once I can mess around with the recipe to suit our tastes best. It was also missing some kind of crusty bread or fresh breadsticks, which I am thinking about making tonight to go with our leftovers.

Basil Tomato Soup + Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A rainy September evening deserves warming Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches. That perfect meal to leave your insides warm and fuzzy. I have always gone the easy route when it comes to Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches- opening a can and diluting it with water or milk, but after this soup, another winner from my beloved Southern Living Magazine, I will never go that route again. The touch of fresh lemon juice and rind gives the tomato soup an uncommonly good kick. For the Basil Tomato Soup I did not use the fresh basil that the recipe calls for. I would have loved to but the only fresh basil at Wegman’s was a couple leaves in a tiny baggie, or a live basil plant with roots and all. So after deliberating over the benefits of fresh basil vs. going to another grocery store for 1 item, we decided to use dried basil. I will try it with the fresh basil one day, but it is delightful with the dried basil, and much easier because I could just skip step 2, and just add everything at once, bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Because we are currently living without our hand blender we had to process the soup in a blender in batches, but a hand blender is so much easier! My husband bought mine for me for Christmas one year, and it was one of my most favorite presents I have ever gotten from him. Usually plug-in presents from husband to wife for Christmas are frowned upon, but I would take this one over jewelry. That’s saying a lot coming from a woman who collects vintage and antique jewelry.

Since I cut this recipe in 1/2-2/3 I thought I would put down exactly what I do so I don’t forget it, since this soup is so delicious!

Basil Tomato Soup

1 medium onion, chopped small

3 garlic cloves

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 (35 oz.) cans Italian-style whole peeled tomatoes with basil

1 (14 oz.) can of chicken broth 

2 heaping Tbs. dried basil

zest 1 lemon

juice of half of the lemon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. pepper

  • Cook up the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in the pot.
  • Add all other ingredients and simmer on low, after bringing to a low boil, for 20 minutes. 
  • If using a blender, process in batches once the soup has cooled somewhat, and don’t fill it up more than about 1/2 full, since the hot liquid can explode. 

For the Grilled Cheese sandwiches we got the Wegman’s bakery Italian bread- yum- and Munster and Mild Cheddar Cheese. Here is another great Grilled Cheese sandwich idea brought to you by Southern Living. One thing we have recently discovered is that Italian bread is the best bread to use when making French Toast and Grilled Cheese sandwiches. A better match than Peanut Butter and Jelly.

My husband offered our daughter a slice of cheese when he was getting the sandwiches ready to be cooked (low and slow) and he said, “Do you want some Muenster cheese?” and our daughter acted scared and said, “I don’t want Monster cheese!”