Tag Archives: Soup

Ham Hocks and Beans

Just because I can see the sun doesn’t mean I can feel it.  It’s that time of year!  Well, if it can’t be warm and toasty outside, I can get warm and toasty inside.

This is the kind of soup/stew that puts a fire in your belly.  Not the kind that has you reaching for the Tums, but the kind that warms from your belly to your toes.  The kind that makes me want to sit back, sigh with contentment, and get out a good book.  Or, more realistically, gives me the energy to chase around two toddlers.  

Wishing you warmth and a full belly!

Ham Hocks and Beans

  • 1 lb pinto beans, rinsed well and picked over
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used red)
  • 2 jalapeños, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock (or water)
  • 3 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl or pot and fill with water until it’s about 1 inch above the beans.  Let sit at least overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans and set aside.
  3. Add oil, onion, celery, and peppers to a large pot and cook, stirring often, until veggies are translucent (about 5 mins).  Add cumin, baking soda, and enough chicken stock to cover the beans by about an inch.  Nestle in the ham hocks, and bring to a low simmer. 
  4. Cook low and slow, stirring every so often, until beans are soft.  This will take a couple of hours, so add chicken stock as needed.
  5. Once beans are soft, discard jalapeños, and set ham hocks to the side to cool.  Stir in tomatoes and shredded carrot.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the ham hocks and return the meat to the pot.  Cook an additional 10 minutes or until the carrot is soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of wine and a good crusty bread.  Cheers!

Sausage Lentil Soup


Fall is here and so is the rain!  When the weather turns dreary outside, I crave soup.  The warm savory broth is comforting!

I saw a recipe for “Homemade Sausage Lentil Soup” in the latest issue of Rachael Ray Mag (Oct. 2012).  But her recipe used 3 different pans and called for making sausage from scratch.  Not a hard thing to do, but who has time for that?  So, I altered the recipe.  I used Italian Sausage instead of making it from scratch, skipped out on zipping the veggies in the food processor (I like them chunky), adjusted the liquids and seasonings to fit my tastes, etc.  And you know what?  This soup is pretty good!

It reminds me of college.  I went to Washington State University in Pullman, WA.  Every year, the weekend before school starts, the city has a Lentil Festival.  And every year, they have a recipe contest using Lentils.  Every recipe submitted is cooked up by volunteers and judged a few weeks before the Fest, then the top 6 or so recipes are prepared and served at Lentil Fest.  Participants vote on their favorite recipe, and the winners are announced later that night.  Recipes come from all across the US.  And it’s amazing what people can dream up.  In addition to the cooking contest, the city prepares a HUGE pot of Lentil Chili.  YUM!

This soup is packed with protein and veggies.  Welcome to Fall!

Sausage Lentil Soup

For the Lentils:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/4 onion (just leave it in a big chunk)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the soup:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thin
  • 2-3 ribs celery, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups beef stock (I used Swanson)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1-2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish
  1. Rinse lentils well.  Drain and place in a medium pot with salt, bay leaves, and the onion chunk.  Add enough water to cover the lentils by 2-3 inches.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.  Pick out onion and bay leaves, and drain before adding to soup.
  2. While lentils are cooking, prepare the rest of the soup!  In a large soup pot, break up the Italian sausage and brown over medium-high heat.  Be sure to get it good and brown and break it up into bite-size pieces.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Leave about 2 TBSP oil in the pot to cook the veggies.
  3. Add the carrots and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add onions, celery, and garlic.  Continue to cook until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in about 1 cup stock, and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up the browned bits.  Add the rest of the stock, the water, and the potatoes.  Bring to a low boil and cook about 12 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the lentils and sausage.  Heat another 5 to 7 minutes to make sure everything is heated through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon into bowls and garnish with Parmesan and parsley.

Chicken Enchilada Soup


I’ll admit it.  I have a soft spot in my heart for enchiladas.  I love them!  Red sauce or green sauce, they’re always good.  I prefer corn tortillas to flour.  But sometimes, you just don’t have time to assemble them and wait for them to cook in an oven.  Sometimes, you just gotta get dinner DONE.

That’s why this soup is AWESOME.  It has all the great flavor of chicken enchiladas, with less work and a lot less time.  Give it a try for Cinco De Mayo this year.  You can also substitute green enchilada sauce for the red.  Yum!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce (15 oz., use the spice level you want)
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives (optional)
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, water or broth, cumin, chicken and olives (if using).  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes.
  2. Ladle into bowls and garnish with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Ham and Cheese Soup


I miss the sun.  It’s been foggy and overcast here for what seems like weeks.  WEEKS!!  Where are you, sunshine?  I don’t mind that its cold… It is February, after all.  Maybe I need light therapy.  Did you know they have that?  Special light bulbs that make you not miss the sun so much.  Wonder if they work.

If they don’t, then you should just make this soup.  It’s the color of the sun.  And it tastes warm and comforting.  Not like the sun.  I’m sure the sun would taste like.. plasma burns.  No one wants to taste that!

Ham and Cheese Soup

  • 2 cups diced peeled potato
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 (14.5 oz. can) creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup nacho cheese dip (or cheese sauce like Velveeta)
  1. Place potatoes, water, and ham in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot.  Cook another 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender.  The potatoes should basically be falling apart at this point.
  3. Add the creamed corn, cook another 10 minutes.  Stir in the cheese sauce and serve!

This soup tastes like ham, corn, and spicy cheese.  YUM!

Chicken Taco Soup

A spicy broth served with roasted chicken, cheese, and tortilla chips.

A spicy broth served with roasted chicken, cheese, and tortilla chips.

Sometimes, you don’t have a whole lot of time to cook.  I know– shocking!  On top of that, the weather outside in December might be just a little bit too much like Fall weather instead of Winter weather.  Instead of snowing, it’s raining.  Instead of highs in the mid-30’s to low-40’s, the weather is in the 50’s.  While I am thankful for the lack of needed shoveling, I am also missing the snow.  A lot.

I put up the Christmas lights, wear my fuzzy slippers, and get cozy in my sweaters, but it’s just not the same!  When I was a kid growing up in Southeast Idaho, we had a lot of snow.  The city would dump the snow they took off the roads in an empty lot about a block from our house.  All the neighborhood kids would build snow-forts and dig-snow tunnels.  We’d also bring our sleds and squeal as we went down our local snow mountain, usually ending up in the alley next to the lot.  It was a lot of fun and I never remember feeling cold.

One year, we had a drift in the back yard that came all the way to the sliding glass door.  The dog needed outside to do his business.  I opened the door, he took a running leap into the back yard, and got stuck!  The snow was so deep, his paws weren’t touching the ground and he couldn’t move.  I had to go out and rescue him.  Poor little guy.

As I was dreaming of snow the other day, I realized it was getting late and I was HUNGRY.  I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, and I didn’t have time to cook my favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I decided to make Chicken Taco Soup with ingredients I had in my pantry.  Wow!  It was YUMMY!  The steaming spicy broth and melting cheese warmed me right up.  Perfect for a not-so-winter night.   😉

What do you like to cook for dinner when you’re in a hurry?

Chicken Taco Soup

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can refried beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 (4 oz) can green chilies
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb. Rotisserie Chicken Meat
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced Olives
  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Sour Cream
  1. Place tomatoes, beans, corn, green chilies  taco seasoning, onions, broth and water in a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often so the beans don’t burn, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken meat and season to taste with hot sauce.  I think the taco seasoning is hot enough, so I don’t usually have to add any.  Cook until the soup begins to boil again, about 4 more minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings.

Golden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Oh the weather outside isn’t frightful, and snowless clouds aren’t delightful.  When the winter’s got you blue, eat some soup! Eat some soup!  Eat some soup!

This is officially the strangest Idaho winter I’ve ever been through.  Here it is, January 16th, and there is NO SNOW on the ground.  The kids in the neighborhood are running around in sweatshirts on their bikes and scooters.  Where are the mittens?  Where are the boots?  Where are the scarves and mugs of hot chocolate?  Winter, where are you??

Oh, THERE you are!  You’re coming later this week.  In the form of snow AND rain.  Nice of you to show up!  The golfers would like to ski now, please.  C’mon down!

In anticipation of the storms that are coming later on this week, I’ve made you some soup.  Not just any soup.  Soup with tender pillows of homemade gnocchi.  Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make.  You’ll LOVE them in soups and pasta dishes.  I made a batch, used half in the soup and froze the rest for later.  See that?  Planning ahead.  One of those resolution thingys.  That resolution also includes filling the backup toilet paper rolls before the last roll runs out.  Important stuff, I know.

Golden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

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  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
  • 5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup wondra flour
  • 4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 1/2 recipe gnocchi
  • 1 cup half and half (I use fat-free)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Make the gnocchi according to recipe.  Set aside on a sheet pan to cool.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter and heat the oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Sprinkle Wondra flour over the vegetables and stir to coat.  Slowly stir in the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any cooked on bits.  Finish pouring in the chicken stock and water.  Add bouillon cubes.  Cook until bubbling and slighty thickened, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the chicken, gnocchi and spinach.  Heat until warm, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the half and half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with fresh crusty bread!

Witches Brew (Zuppa Toscana with Toasted Cheese Croutons)

Post 2 of 3: Hocus Pocus Party

This hearty soup will warm you up and get you going for a night of Tricks and Treats.  It tastes just like Zuppa Toscana at the Olive Garden, but is even better because it has a cheesy toasty crouton on top.  No one will laughif you stand over the stove stirring the soup with a HUGE wooden spoon, cackling to yourself.  Promise.  Especially if no one else is home.  😉

I will also include a variation for ‘Vampire Blood Soup’ at the bottom.  Enjoy!


Witches Brew


Yield: 10-12 servings

WW Plus Points: 5

1 lb. Italian Sausage, removed from casings and crumbled (I use Italian Turkey Sausage)

1 large onion, chopped

3 Tbsp real bacon bits (Hormel, about half a can)

2 cloves garlic, minced

32 oz. Chicken Stock (fat-free, reduced sodium)

2 large russet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices

2 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup half and half (fat-free works just fine)

1/2 of a thin baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds*

Olive Oil Spray*

Jarlsberg or Gruyère cheese, sliced thin*


1.  Fry onions and Italian sausage until sausage is well browned and onions are soft, about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2.  Add bacon bits, potatoes, broth and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

3.  Turn heat to low and add Kale.  Cook until kale is wilted and warmed through, about 5 minutes.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in Half and Half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.  Place sliced bread on a foil lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with Olive Oil Spray.

3.  Bake for 5 minutes, flip the slices, spray lightly, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

4.  The croutons are done when they are lightly browned on the edges.  Let cool.


1.  Set oven to Broil.

2.  Ladle soup into mugs.  Place mugs on a foil-lined sheet pan.  Top with 1-2 croutons and 1-2 thin slices of cheese.

3.  Place under the broiler, checking every 30 seconds or so.  They are done when the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

4.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, or until mugs are cool enough to hold.  Enjoy!

*Ingredients not included in WW Plus Points.

Vampire Blood Soup


Yield: 2 generous servings

WW Plus Points: 3

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp butter

15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

14.5oz can chicken broth (reduced fat, lower sodium)

1 Tbsp pesto

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2.  Add tomatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

3.  Blend the soup mixture with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender) until almost smooth.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in pesto sauce.

5.  Follow the method above to serve in mugs with croutons topped with thin slices of mozzarella cheese.