Sunday, November 13, 2011

Soup's on!

Eating: My favorite cold weather food is soup.  It warms us from the inside and warms the house while it simmers.  I like most soups and usually serve with a crusty French bread or biscuits.  These are some of my favorite soup recipes.

Chicken Noodle - who doesn't like good old chicken noodle?  I use either the carcass of a rotisserie or roast chicken (best for flavor) or whatever chicken I have on hand (usually boneless skinless breasts).  Simmer them in a pot of water with an onion, a couple carrots and some celery, all chopped up, a bit of chicken base or bouillion, and some herbs, fresh or dried - parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary.  And of course salt and pepper.  Simmer until chicken is done (if raw) or until it falls off the bone (for leftover whole chicken).  Then skim off any fat or that foamy stuff.  I also usually take out the onion, etc. since the flavor is all cooked out of it by then anyway.  Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and toss it bac.k in the stock.  Taste the stock and add seasoning as needed.  Add veggies of your choice (fresh or frozen - I like carrots, green beans, corn, lima beans and peas) and some noodles (we really like the "homestyle" frozen egg noodles - big fat noodles like grandma makes, but you could also use dry egg noodles, spaghetti or whatever).  Cook until noodles are done and veggies warmed.  You can also, of course, add rice instead (white, brown, wild or some other).    
Corn Chowder - my family has been making this soup for a really long time (since I was a kid).  Recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker cookbook ("Big Red") - This is howI make it.  Chop 1/2 pound of bacon into 1/2" pieces (bacon is nearly always frozen at my house so I just chop it from frozen and let it cook/thaw at the same time) and fry in a soup pot until crispy.  At the same time, boil some potatoes (cut into bite-size chunks).  Once bacon is done, remove it from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard all but 2 Tbls of the bacon drippings.  Saute 1/2 large onion and 2 stalks of celery (finely chopped) in the bacon drippings until crisp-tender.  Stir in 2 Tbls flour and mix until bubbly.  Remove from heat and whisk in 4 C milk.  Return to heat (and here comes the boring tedious part that I dislike) and heat over medium until boiling (stirring constantly - the super boring part).  Boil 1 minute.  Add about a cup of frozen corn (Betty calls for cream-style but someone at our house doesn't like cream-style so I just started using regular corn.  Betty also uses canned potatoes - no comment), and the potatoes (don't forget to drain them first!).  Heat over med low until warmed through.  Add bacon  and fresh-cracked pepper and serve. 
Zamboni Stew - This is a recipe that I made up.  E  called it chili but I said it was NOT chili and said it was nothing like chili and dubbed it (completely randomly) "Zamboni Stew".  I have no idea how my brain works - it has nothing to do with Zambonis and is not a thick stew (at least not until you have the leftovers the next day).  Brown 1 pound ground beef, with 1/2 green pepper, chopped (onion too, if you like).  At the same time, cook about 2 C macaroni according to usual macaroni-cooking directions.  To the ground beef, add one large can of tomato juice and a generous bunch of chili powder (I shake it in until the entire surface is covered with chili powder, then stir and taste and add some more).  Add about 1 C. frozen corn (or other veggie if you like) and heat until warmed through.  Stir in the cooked, drained macaroni.  I also add kidney beans to my portion.  I like to serve this one with corn muffins.
Cheese Soup - this is my mom's recipe.  Actually, I think she got it when she worked at a little place called Toby's way back when I was in 6th grade.  Mmmmm... Toby burgers...  Sorry - I am back now.  Cook 3 C bite-sized chunks of potatoes, 1/2 C chopped carrots, 1/2 C chopped celery (and 1/4 C. chopped onion if your family doesn't mind) in 1 C chicken stock/broth with salt, pepper and parsley flakes until veggies are tender.  Do not drain.  Whisk 2 Tbls flour into 1 1/2 C milk and add to the potato/carrot/stock mixture.  Cook until thickened.  Stir in 1/2 pound chopped Velveeta (don't say "ew" - it melts better than anything else and makes a smooth creamy soup, unlike cheddar or one of those other cheeses) until melted.  Add fresh cracked pepper and serve.
Other soups to look forward to in future posts: Carrot Soup, African Chicken Soup, Lentil Soup, Hamburger Soup, Lazy Lasagne Chili, Oven Stew, and Potage de Mme. Miclot (recipe from the woman I lived with in France).

Reading: I really really liked Treasure Island.  It was a fun adventure story, kept me guessing up until the end (was anyone going to get the treasure?  Was Long John Silver a bad guy or a good guy?  Would they get off the island?).  I would recommend this to most people.  And one of the women at book club had a really cool edition of the book that had multicolored wood block (wood cut?  not sure of the term for this type of art) pictures.  I could get that version, if I read it again.

I didn't re-read the "head in a bog" book, Haunted Ground for the Friday night book/dinner club.  I ran out of time and have been too sleepy.  It didn't matter because no one else had read it recently either.  And it turns out, we may have already read this book for this bookclub a few years ago.  We don't have a very good record keeper or, apparently, good memory, either.

Next up for Sunday night bookclub: I don't know.  It hasn't been picked yet, which is okay because we take December off.  Next up for Friday night club: I don't know.  Maybe the next head in a bog book?  Or maybe a biography of some sort?

What am I reading currently?  A knitting book I got from my mom: Knitting without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  It is a 'how-to' book but very chattily written (kind of in the style of this blog) and I am enjoying it.

Creating: Speaking of knitting, what am I knitting, you ask?  I still need to add the ear flaps and braids to E's Vikings hat.  I have the yarn for a pink fluffy scarf for a 5 year old.  That should knit up quickly (thick yarn).  I am percolating some ideas for Christmas presents and baby gifts, too.  I wish work wasn't so busy this time of the year - I need more knitting time!

Other creative projects: none in the works but ideas in my head all the time.  I like to make calendars and E has requested one for Christmas.  A couple years ago after getting a "scenic America" calendar from a realtor or insurance agent, I thought, "E takes really beautiful scenic pictures.  It would be cool to have a calendar with some of those, instead of these places we have never been."  Thus was born the idea for a personalized scenic calendar.  He loved seeing a new one of his photos each month.  The pictures are attached so he can remove and frame them after the year is over.  And it is useful as a calendar, too!  We'll see if I get one done for him this year.  Also working on other ideas for people who may read this blog so I will not mention those at this time...

Go eat some soup!


Teri Kratz said...

I like calendars too. And we have chicken soup simmering right now. Fried chicken for dinner tonight and soup tomorrow! I like your zamboni stew recipe- sounds like what my mom called ghoulash.

Jo said...

Oh, I love soups! However, I make them sparingly as Alicia refuses to eat them. For chicken soup, I like to make up a small batch of lemon-thyme dumpling dough and cook dumplings with it for the last 20 minutes. The soup-eating portion of my kids love it...

And, in my moderate-chili-stuck-up-ed-ness, the addition of macaroni alone would be enough for me to agree with you that your Zamboni Stew is NOT chili! :)

Hallie said...

Jo - I agree with you on the macaroni making it "not chili". I learned about macaroni in chili from some Wisconsin friends, and still think it is weird.
Mom - I know you like calendars too...

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