Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Inspiration: As always, I love finding new soup recipes so that B and I can have some variety in our weekday work lunches. This was a great one to put on the list because it could take another chunk out of a spare container of sour cream in my fridge. Those things are so hard to use up when you don’t really need them, aren’t they?

What we Loved: B and I both love the flavor of mushrooms, so we of course loved this soup. It was full to the brim with mushrooms in every bite! And the broth had a nice, creamy paprika flavor similar to the sauce in the chicken paprikash that  I made earlier this week. I really loved the earthiness of this soup and its simplicity.

Helpful Hints: Sauteeing the onions and mushrooms takes some time, because there are a lot of them. Make sure that you have 15-20 minutes or so to get them cooked through!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Source: Eat Me, Delicious, originally from AllRecipes

I made some changes to the recipe, mainly to make more servings and to omit the flour carbohydrates. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 lbs fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 heaping teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep this vegetarian)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions and mushrooms until all of the water released from the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.

2. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce, chicken stock, and milk. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, cilantro, and sour cream. Whisk together well, and allow the soup to heat through before serving.

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Mi Pueblo Chicken Soup

Inspiration: When we were in college, B and I had a favorite, cozy little Mexican restaurant called Mi Pueblo. It was our favorite place in the entire city, and I have to admit that the waiters and waitresses recognized us when we walked in the doors. Living in dorms without any good food to eat, we really looked forward to our Mi Pueblo date nights, and they’re probably my very best college memories. We still consider Mi Pueblo one of our favorite restaurants, even though we live in a different city now. When you ate at Mi Pueblo, they always served a really simple chicken soup before your meal that came to be something that B and I always looked forward to. After making chicken stock recently, I wanted to make a chicken soup with the stock, but I couldn’t think of anything too creative since we no longer eat carbs – meaning no potatoes, no rice, no noodles, no dumplings, no pastas, etc. B suggested making a simple soup just like the soup at Mi Pueblo, and I thought that it was a fabulous idea.

What we Loved: This soup was exactly what we were hoping it to be. It’s a simple soup with a deep, rich broth; hearty pieces of tender chicken; soft, light vegetable flavors of onions and carrots; and a wonderful earthy hint of rosemary and thyme. It’s easy to prepare, it’s heartwarming, and it’s delicious. Plus, for us, this soup has the added benefit of being nostalgic. It’s always great when you can create that sort of feeling at your dinner (or lunch) table.

Helpful Hints: I would not recommend making this soup with a store-bought chicken stock. The stock is the main ingedient, and a homemade stock really has a ton of flavor that store-bought stocks don’t have. This soup might fall flat if you were to use a store-bought stock.

Mi Pueblo Chicken Soup
Source: Original recipe, but inspired by Mi Pueblo

12 cups homemade chicken stock
3 cups shredded chicken
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

1. Add the stock to a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You will need a lot of salt, approximately 2 teaspoons, but maybe more. Season a little bit at a time, until the soup reaches the desired level of saltiness. If you accidentally add too much salt, you can always correct the saltiness by adding some additional stock or water to the pot.

Chicken Stock

Inspiration: B and I joined a meat CSA in November, and as part of our share each month, we get a whole chicken. Starting in March, we’re getting a larger share and will be receiving two whole chickens per month. That’s a lot of chicken, and it’s a lot of opportunity for homemade chicken stock! I imagine that I’ll be trying out several stock recipes, and this was our first one. I really think that it’s such a great thing to put every bit of a chicken that you eat to good use. The chicken meat itself  can make several meals, and the rest of the chicken can provide you with a freezer full of stock to use in future meals. I really don’t think that there’s a better way to appreciate your food and the animal that gave it to you than that.

What we Loved: B and I absolutely loved this chicken stock. It’s so flavorful, and it’s definitely much better than any stock that I’ve ever bought from the store. There are just layers of flavor, from the meaty and rich chicken flavor to the great herb taste of the rosemary and thyme. And this stock just smells wonderful, too! It really does have such a homemade, quality flavor that store-bought stocks don’t have.

Helpful Hints: If you use the chicken skin or other fatty parts of the chicken while making the stock (which I did here, throwing every little bit that I had into the pot), it will result in a fairly greasy stock. As advised in the original recipe, put the chicken stock into the fridge overnight to cool completely, and this will allow the grease to rise to the top and solidify a bit. Then you can scrape off most of the fat and separate your stock into smaller containers for freezing. For planning purposes, this recipe makes about 10-12 cups of stock. I bought a bunch of 2-cup storage containers, so that I could freeze my stock and take small portions out of the freezer as I needed them.

Chicken Stock
Source: Love and Olive Oil

I changed the recipe a bit. I omitted the celery, parsley, and madeira wine, and I changed some of the seasoning amounts. After eating our first meal with this chicken, I took the skin off the leftover meat, removed the meat from the bones, and shredded it for soup. We had a lot of extra clean bones and skin for this reason, so I threw them into the pot as well. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 whole chicken carcass (+ any extra bones, skins, etc., if desired)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 gallon (16 cups) cold water

1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large stock pot (I used an eight quart pot) over medium heat. Add the carrot and onion, and saute until softened and beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

2. Add the herbs and spices, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the chicken carcass and any extra chicken pieces. Pour in the water a cup at a time, filling to one inch below the rim of the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, until the liquid just begins to bubble. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the stock maintain a low, gentle simmer.

4. Simmer uncovered for 2-4 hours. Remove from the heat.

5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot, discarding all of the solids. Allow the stock to cool completely until the fats separate. I cooled my stock in the refrigerator overnight.

6. Skim as much fat as you can from the surface of the stock.

7. Divide the stock into freezer-safe containers, and store in the freezer.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

*photos updated December 2011*

Inspiration: It was another week, and B and I needed another soup to take to work for lunches!

What we Loved: The flavor of this soup was really fantastic. It was rich and earthy, full of the herby flavors of thyme and rosemary and the great earthiness of mushrooms. I really can’t think of a better word than earthy to describe this meal. And being finished with cream, I found this soup to be very filling, too! I could barely finish my lunch servings. I’ve really grown to love mushrooms over the past few years, and B has always loved them, so we both quite enjoyed the rich mushroom flavor that this soup had to offer.

Helpful Hints: Since mushrooms are the predominant ingredient in this soup, I wouldn’t give it a try unless you’re sure that you love them! It’s a mushroom meal through and through. That being said, if you do like mushrooms, then I can almost guarantee that you’ll love this soup! I used thyme and rosemary as my complimenting herbs, but the original recipe called for thyme and sage. Oregano or tarragon would also work well, I think, if you prefer those herbs. The soup will have a little bit of a different spin depending on which herbs you use, but the mushrooms are really the main flavor, so there’s some room to experiment.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Source: Closet Cooking

I was trying to stretch the recipe, so I used more mushrooms than called for. I also changed the herbs and decided not to roast the mushrooms to save some time. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
24 oz baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups stock (I used chicken, but use vegetable to keep this recipe vegetarian)
1 cup heavy cream

1. Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspooon of the thyme, and salt and pepper. Saute until the water released from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.

2. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, and cook until softened, approximately 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, additional teaspoon of thyme, and rosemary to the pot with the onions. Cook for an additional minute.

4. Add the mushrooms and the stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or a food processor.

6. Mix in the heavy cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  I ended up adding about a teaspoon of salt in total, but make sure to add the salt slowly and adjust to your preference.

Roasted Pepper Soup

Inspiration: After all of the rush of the holidays and a busy end to 2009, one of the things that I’ve been enjoying in 2010 is having some time at home on the weekends. I’ve gotten into the habit of making B and I a batch of soup on Saturday or Sunday that we can take for lunches during the week. So I may be posting a few more soup recipes than usual from here on out, at least while it’s still winter!

What we Loved: I really enjoyed the simplicity of this soup and the subtlety of the flavor. If you haven’t had roasted bell peppers before, they taste completely different than raw bell peppers or even bell peppers that have been cooked in a different way. They have a very distinct and delicious charred flavor, and that’s exactly what this soup tasted like. It was rich with that pepper flavor and just a tiny touch of sweetness from the buttermilk. And I couldn’t help but think how healthy I was being as I ate a bowl of this vegetable-packed soup and a salad for lunch. 

Helpful Hints: I think that this soup would be great with a dollop of sour cream, as mentioned in the original recipe, or with some nice cubes of avocado and pepperjack cheese. Also, the original recipe called for the skins to be removed from the peppers after broiling, but I left them on so that they would give the soup even more of that roasted pepper flavor.

Roasted Pepper Soup
Source: A Good Appetite

I doubled this recipe and changed it just a bit to suit my tastes. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

6 large bell peppers (I used two red, two yellow, and two orange)
1 large jalapeno
Extra virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3 stems thyme, stems removed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock (using vegetable stock to keep this recipe vegetarian)
2 cups milk or buttermilk (I used one cup of buttermilk and one cup of skim milk)

1. Preheat the broiler, and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the bell peppers and the jalapeno in half, removing the stems and seeds. Place them on the foil, and broil until charred, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and let cool.

2. While the peppers are cooking, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, and saute until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute. Add the salt, thyme, red pepper flakes, and broth, and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the peppers, and let cook for another 5-10 minutes.

4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add the buttermilk/milk, and gently heat to serving temperature.

Chipotle Chicken Soup

Inspiration: As B and I have been cutting carbs out of our diet, we love to take soups for lunches during the work week. There seems to be an endless variety of low-carb soup recipes out there, and having a nice, hot bowl of soup midday is such a warming treat in these cold winter months! I bought a few handy soup thermoses, and I’m always on the lookout for new soups to try. As chipotle peppers are one of our favorite ingredients, this soup sounded interesting and looked fantastic!

What we Loved: This soup is great because it reminds me of a classic, comforting chicken soup, but at the same time, it’s a little bit different and has a nice, spicy kick and a little bit of a Southwestern feel. This appeals to me, because I’m always looking for new and different recipes, yet I always feel a little bit of a pull toward classic favorites, too. This recipe is the best of both worlds! I loved the taste of the fresh cilantro and the heat from the chipotle, and I loved the hearty chicken flavor of the broth. I tend to make a lot of thicker soups or stews, so I really appreciated the lightness of this soup as well.

Helpful Hints: This soup recipe is really straightforward, so I don’t have much advice in terms of preparing it. My only thought is to make sure that you aren’t too generous with the chipotle peppers, if you haven’t cooked with them before. When I was new to cooking with chipotles in adobo, I was always (regretably) tempted to throw in more than the recipe called for. But they’re extremely hot, and one small pepper is more than enough for this soup!

Chipotle Chicken Soup

Source: We Heart Food, originally from Cooking Light

I made only a few changes to the recipe, omitting the celery (because we don’t like it) and the potatoes (to eliminate the majority of the carbohydrates). Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced with 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chile, adobo sauce, onion, carrot, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender, approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the broth, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Use an immersion blender or a food processor to puree the mixture until smooth. Return the pan to the heat, and stir in the chicken, cream, and cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then season with the salt, adding more to taste, if necessary.

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Pumpkin Seeds

*Photo updated October 2011*

Inspiration: Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. I’m a lucky girl and have a lot to be thankful for, and to me, there’s not a better holiday than one devoted to celebrating life’s fortunes with all of the people you love the most.  Combined with great food and the warmness of the holiday season, there’s really nothing better. Before heading home for the best, best, best meal of the year (love you Mom/Brandon’s Mom/Grandma), I wanted to make a meal for Brandon and I that really said fall, since I know that after Thanksgiving, I’ll be in full Christmas/winter mode. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

What we Loved: The flavor of this soup was fantastic. Brandon and I had never had butternut squash before this meal, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The soup doesn’t have a tremendous amount of ingredients, so I was a bit worried about it being bland and tasting only like…pumpkin?…but the meal was anything but bland. The soup itself had a nice, slightly sweet flavor, almost tasting like it had cinnamon and all sorts of sweet spices added in, even though it didn’t. Paired with the savory elements of onion and garlic, salty bacon, and nutty pumpkin seeds, I couldn’t imagine a better combination of flavors. This was a creamy, sweet, salty, bacony, heartwarming soup, and what I loved most was that it just screamed fall.

Tips: My soup ended up being pretty thick when it was done cooking (almost more like a puree), so I ended up adding in about an extra cup of chicken stock at the end. The consistency will depend on the size of your squash, so I’d recommend just throwing some more stock into the pot if you think you might need a soupier consistency. The soup tastes great with the thick/puree-like texture too, though, so it will depend upon your preferences.

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Pumpkin Seeds
Source: Former Chef

I omitted a few ingredients and modified this recipe just a bit. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 large butternut squash
6 slices bacon, sliced into small pieces
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1. Peel the squash, remove the seeds, and cut the flesh into 1 inch chunks.

2. Heat a dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, and cook until crispy. Remove most of the bacon from the pot, setting aside for a topping for the soup. Leave some of the bacon and the bacon fat in the pot for flavor within the soup.

3. Add the onions to the pot, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken stock and the squash, and simmer until the squash is tender, approximately 30 minutes.

5. While the soup is cooking, add the pumpkin seeds to a small sauce pan, and cook over low heat until they are starting to brown, just a few minutes. Remove from the heat to avoid burning.

6. Puree the soup by adding it in batches to a food processor or by using an immersion blender.

7. Season the soup with the salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. I’m always sparing with nutmeg, as too much tends to dominate the flavor of the meal, so you should season to preference.

8. Serve the soup, topping it with the bacon crumbles and toasted pumpkin seeds.