Soup, stew and chili to warm you from the inside out

When winter’s chill has taken hold and the snow is flying, it’s the perfect time to cook up a pot of homemade soup, stew or chili to take off the chill.

Soup dates back as far as 6,000 B.C., when hippopotamus was the favored ingredient. While hippo may not be an option these days (thankfully), don’t be afraid to use your favorite ingredients and season according to your personal taste. Soups are simply a mix of whatever you love — so if that’s wild game or pasta with veggies, it’s sure to be tasty. So let’s ladle up a hearty bowl of our favorite recipe for family and friends.



Thai Curry Noodle Soup

(as seen in the photo at the beginning of this post)

3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1/2 tablespoon red chili paste
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-ounce package rice noodles, cooked to al dente
2 limes, halved and squeezed over soup when served, if desired

Combine the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red chili pastes with a blender. Roughly chop the red pepper and onion and add to the blender mixture. Blend until a thick paste is formed.

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the coconut or vegetable oil. Heat until mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes, careful not to scorch.

Add chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.

While the soup base is simmering, slice shrimp in half lengthwise. Add the shrimp to the soup base, simmer for an additional 5 minutes. As the soup simmers, prepare the noodles according to package directions.

Drain noodles well. Ladle soup into four bowls, adding noodles in each before serving. Serve while hot.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Two 15-ounce cans red beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 large green sweet peppers, chopped
14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
10-ounce can tomatoes and chopped green chiles, undrained
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Peanuts for garnish, optional

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine beans, sweet potatoes, chicken, broth, sweet peppers, diced tomatoes, tomatoes and green chiles, Cajun seasoning and garlic.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.

Remove 1 cup hot liquid from cooker. Stir in peanut butter and add to cooker. Serve topped with peanuts, if desired.
Note: Cooked black beans or white rice would also make a great addition to this creamy stew.

Hearty Mexican Chili

(not shown)

1 pound pork stew meat, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium fresh poblano pepper, finely chopped
1 large red sweet pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash cayenne pepper
14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup water
15-ounce can pumpkin
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook and stir pork in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in onion, poblano pepper and sweet pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in cocoa powder, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon and cayenne. Add chicken broth and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until pork is tender.

Stir in pumpkin, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes and serve.

Tuscan Bean Soup

10 ounces dried white beans (cannellini, Great Northern or navy)
2 quarts water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 cups kale, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Place beans in a large pot with a lid. Cover with water; soak 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and rinse beans; set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add carrot; cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kale; cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute. Add crushed red pepper and black pepper; stir to combine.

Add wine; cook until almost evaporated. Add beans, broth and bay leaves.

Bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are very tender and broth has thickened slightly, about 1 1/2 hours.

Add parsley and season with salt before serving.

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

2 quarts water
8 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 cup carrots, diced
6 1/2 cups frozen egg noodles
Two 10 3/4-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup sour cream
Fresh parsley for garnish, optional

In a large saucepan, bring water, bouillon and carrots to a boil. Add noodles; cook, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Do not drain. Add soup and chicken; heat through.

Remove from the heat; stir in the sour cream. Serve while hot. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

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