Short Cut Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Short Cut Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken and Rice SoupCreamy chicken and rice soup has been a favorite of mine since my youth going to St Hubert restaurant in Quebec. St Hubert is a popular restaurant chain and the rice and creamy chicken soup it makes is pure comfort in a bowl.

This week as I was prepping for my pot of Sunday soup, I decided to make my typical chicken soup, creamy. Then I decided to replace the hand-cut spaghetti (popular at my home) with the rice from a boil-in bag. The result – velvety texture, big chicken flavor and hearty enough to almost use a fork to eat!

The “Short Cut” Part

I had leftover cooked chicken and homemade chicken broth in the freezer so I used that, but you could poach your own chicken to use or simply buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and grab store-bought broth. I’m a big believer in taking shortcuts in the kitchen, especially when they result in the heaven-in-a-bowl that is this Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium-large carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ tsp. each dried thyme and sage
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 2 cups diced roasted chicken
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tsp. corn starch diluted into ½ cup cold water
  • 1 Uncle Ben’s Boil-In Bag rice packet, uncooked OR 2 cups cooked long grain rice

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  2. Add chicken broth, thyme, sage, salt, black pepper and chicken and cook for 10 more minutes.
  3. Add the cream and bring the soup to a simmer. Add the corn starch mixture and stir for 2 minutes until the soup has thickened.
  4. Add the uncooked rice, lower heat to medium-low and cook 15 more minutes. If using cooked rice, reduce the cooking time for 2 minutes.

Serves 6 generously.

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup

Rich, comforting, decadent…just some words to describe this cheesy soup. To take this soup from starter to entree, I sometimes serve it with a bacon grilled cheese…can there ever be too much cheese?

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half (or light cream)
  • 2 1/2 cups white Vermont cheddar cheese, grated (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash Tabasco
  • 1/4 cup parsley

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, celery and garlic and sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Mix in flour, paprika, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  4. Gradually stir in broth, bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. 
  5. Using a stick blender or standard blender, purée the soup until completely smooth.
  6. Add half and half to soup and bring to a simmer over medium heat. 
  7. Add cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until cheese melts after each additions. 
  8. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and parsley. 
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yields 6 Servings.

Short Cut Creamy Lobster Bisque

Short Cut Creamy Lobster Bisque

Giant Lobster Claw

Last weekend, I hosted my annual Lobsterfest where I boiled ten 2 – 2 ½ pound lobsters for my party of nine. Not being one to run out of food at parties (the Canadian in me), I bought and extra lobster….just in case. Needless to say, with all the sides and appetizers, the extra lobster went uneaten. There were even two leftover claws!

I try to keep things somewhat low-carbs during the week, so I opted to make lobster bisque with some of the leftovers. I call this recipe “short cut” as someone who shall remain nameless threw out all the shells before I could make a stock, so clam juice was used instead of the long-to-make stock I typically use. If, unlike me, you don’t have 3 pounds of leftover cooked lobster to use up, just buy cooked lobster tails from the store.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups lobster stock or clam juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. corn starch combined with ¼ cup cold water (this is called a slurry)
  • 1 ½ pounds cooked lobster meat, chopped in bite-size pieces

My Lobster Boil

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes, until softened and pale golden, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Add the wine, Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and lobster stock (or clam juice) and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Using an immersion blender (could use a regular blender also), purée the soup until smooth.
  7. Add the cream and butter, stir then bring the soup to a low simmer over medium-high heat (don’t allow to boil).
  8. Add the slurry and stir until the soup has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add the lobster meat and simmer for another 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

Serves four generously.

Cheers,

Veronique

 

Inspired by this recipe.

5 Best Bacon Recipes

5 Best Bacon Recipes

It’s been said that bacon makes everything better. I must agree with that statement…porky, fatty, salty…what could be better (vegan/vegetarian friend refrain from comments!).

Here are 5 of the best bacon-centric recipes on my blog for you to try this weekend.

Bonus recipe (I know it’s pancetta you purists): Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Leave me a comment after you’ve tried these!

Happy eating,

Veronique

The Absolute Best Texas Style Beef Chili

The Absolute Best Texas Style Beef Chili

Texas Style Beef ChiliI’ve been using my “Beef Chili for a Crowd” recipe for as long as I can remember. It’s flavorful, a bit spicy and feeds an army. I never saw a reason to use a different recipe until I judged a chili competition when this elderly gentleman made the absolutely best Texas-style chili I’ve ever had. For those not familiar with Texas-style chili – it contains no beans (blasphemy) and it typically featured hand-chopped beef instead of the common ground beef style that’s so popular here in the northeast.

This chili is hearty, rich, and earthy with just the right level of spice. I won’t lie – cubing the beef into small pieces pretty much sucks, but the final product is so worth it.

While many grocery stores now carry dried chiles, I visited my local Mexican grocer to find the requisite guajillo chiles.

I know it’s a multi-step recipe, but it freezes beautifully for a month, so make it, have a bowl and freeze the rest!   

I serve this chili with tortilla chips for dipping, guacamole, cheddar and sour cream. Use whatever garnishes you enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried chiles, either New Mexico or guajillo
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 – 2½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 3 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish (optional)
  • Diced avocado, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Lay out dried chiles on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast in the oven for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Add the roasted chiles to a bowl, cover them with hot water and allow to soak for 30 minutes. I use a bowl to weight down the chiles in the water – SEE IMAGE OF THIS TRICK.
  3. Drain the chiles (reserve the soaking water), cut off stems, remove seeds and roughly chop them. Add the chopped chiles to a blender along with the cumin, the salt, the pepper, 1/2 cup of the reserved chile soaking liquid and blend until the mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef cubes with big pinches of salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and brown beef in 2 batches until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Remove beef and set aside.
  5. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pot and add onions – cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add the beef stock, 1 cup of the reserved chile soaking liquid and the beer to the onions and garlic and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef back to pot with any cooking juices along with the pureed chile paste and the cornmeal. Turn the heat to low and simmer the chili, covered, for 90 minutes. Uncover the chili and cook for 15 more minutes.
  7. Add the vinegar and the brown sugar to the pot, remove from heat, and let sit for 30 minutes for the chili to thicken. The chili can be made a day ahead of serving, up until this point. Simply cool, cover and refrigerate.
  8. When ready to eat, gently reheat chili over low heat, adding more beef stock if the chili is too thick. Give a final seasoning of salt or pepper, if needed.
  9. Serve chili with any/all preferred garnishes.

Yields 4 hearty portions.

 

 

Adapted from this recipe.

Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

Chili CookingWhile winter’s been mild here so far in New Jersey, I’m still craving hearty, comforting food. In my continued effort to ‘prep Sunday – eat throughout the week’, this week, I’ve made a meatless chili that was uber satisfying and can be used in various ways during the week. I used it as dip for chips during the football game and topped a baked sweet potato with it for lunch (see photos).

This chili can be made in the slow cooker too – just throw all the ingredients in the crockpot (except for the toppings) and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, then more if the chili gets too thick
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed totatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 28-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings (optional) – fresh cilantro, lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream and cheddar/jack cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute.
  4. Add the butternut squash, the salt and pepper, the chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, corn and black beans.
  6. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the butternut squash is completely tender.
  7. Thin with an additional broth if needed.
  8. Serve with desired toppings, if using.

Serves 8.

Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

As you know, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, I’m a huge fan of soups. I’ve been known to crank down the air conditioned in the summer to make soup make sense!

One of my favorite soups is broccoli and cheddar and I think that Panera has some of the best I’ve had. Luckily for me, Pinterest is full of Panera copycat recipes so I looked at a bunch and created this version which is pretty darn perfect.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, could use vegetable broth for metaless version
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 large bunches broccoli, cut/torn in small florets (gave me about 4 cups of small florets)
  • 2 carrots, julienned into small sticks or 4 ounces of a 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots (what I use)
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the onion in a tablespoon of butter until softened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Set aside for later use.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining butter then incorporate the flour. Cook, whisking often, for 5 minutes – this is called a roux.
  3. Add the broth and the half and half to the roux and whisk to fully combine. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the cooked onions, the broccoli and the carrots to the soup and cook for 25 minutes over low heat, partially covered.
  5. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and the cheddar. Stir until fully-combined then add half the soup to a blender. Purée for 2 minutes then return to the pot. The goal is to have a smooth soup with some florets intact. If you prefer a completely smooth soup – purée the whole thing, in batches.
  6. I add about a tablespoon of grated cheese on my as “garnish”.

Serves 6.

 

Broccoli Cheese Soup
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Ingredients
  1. • 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
  2. • 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
  3. • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  4. • 2 cups chicken broth
  5. • 2 cups half and half
  6. • 2 large bunches broccoli, cut/torn in small florets (gave me about 4 cups of small florets)
  7. • 2 carrots, julienned into small sticks or 4 ounces of a 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots (what I use)
  8. • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
  10. • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. 1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the onion in a tablespoon of butter until softened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Set aside for later use.
  2. 2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining butter then incorporate the flour. Cook, whisking often, for 5 minutes – this is called a roux.
  3. 3. Add the broth and the half and half to the roux and whisk to fully combine. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
  4. 4. Add the cooked onions, the broccoli and the carrots to the soup and cook for 25 minutes over low heat, partially covered.
  5. 5. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and the cheddar. Stir until fully-combined then add half the soup to a blender. Purée for 2 minutes then return to the pot. The goal is to have a smooth soup with some florets intact. If you prefer a completely smooth soup – purée the whole thing, in batches.
  6. 6. I add about a tablespoon of grated cheese on my as “garnish”.
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Cheers,

Veronique

Carrot & Butternut Squash Bisque

Carrot & Butternut Squash Bisque

carrot-and-butternut-squash-bisqueSimmering soups on my stovetop on Sundays are back! This week, I had some carrots leftover and thought that could pair well with the butternut squash I’d just gotten at the market – orange on orange!

This soup is made with vegetable both but could be made with chicken broth also for a non-vegetarian version. Don’t worry about the size of the chop on your vegetables, all these ingredients, once cooked, will be put through the blender.

This soup would rock at your Thanksgiving table as it can’t be done the day prior, refrigerated then reheated on Turkey Day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 tsp. each salt & pepper
  • ½ tsp. dry sage
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup heavy cream, optional

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion, carrots and squash for 15 minutes in the oil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the seasonings, broth and bay leaves. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
  3. Purée with an immersion blender until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, add the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Return the puréed soup to a clean saucepan and gently heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, if using, and warm for 2 minutes.
  5. Serve in warm bowls with a teaspoon of cream, optional.

Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course.

Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom SoupWhat could be more comforting than a hearty, warm soup on a cold winter day? Nothing, that’s what!

This soup could easily be vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ounce Porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces Shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 Tbs. Madeira wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring stock to a simmer.  Add porcini.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Stain, reserve soaking liquid and chop the Porcini. 
  2. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic and sauté 8 minutes. 
  3. Add mushrooms and sauté and additional 3 minutes.  Add flour, oregano, and pepper and sauté 3 minutes. 
  4. Whisk in Porcini stock, half and half and Madeira wine.  Bring to a slow simmer, then educe heat and simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 Servings

Tumeric, Cauliflower and Carrot Purée

Tumeric, Cauliflower and Carrot Purée

When I went to the market last weekend, I found the biggest cauliflower head I think I’d seen. Knowing bigger isn’t always better, I still bought it to make a soup with Indian-inspired flavors.

It’s simple to make, very comforting on a chilly day and, most importantly, tastes like a million bucks.

Note that I made this soup with homemade chicken broth I had in the freezer, but it can easily be made with vegetable broth for a meatless version. I added carrots since I had some on hand and they add a nice sweet touch to the soup, but you could omit.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower head, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp. each salt & pepper
  • ½ tsp. each turmeric, garlic powder and onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. cumin and paprika
  • 32 ounce container chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream, optional

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion, celery and carrots for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cauliflower and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the seasonings and broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the cream, if using, and warm for 2 minutes.
  4. Purée with an immersion blender until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, add the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Return the puréed soup to a clean saucepan and gently heat for 2 minutes.
  5. To serve, ladle soup into bowls.

Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course.