Thursday, February 27, 2014

Split Pea Soup [with a variation]

Let me start off by giving you a little history lesson.

I grew up hating split pea soup.  I despised it.  I avoided it at all costs.  Of course, I had manners, and parents, and because of those two factors alone, I have tried my fair share of split pea soup.  And not one has passed through my lips that I enjoyed.  Once I arrived fully in adulthood, and married, I never had to endure a spoonful of the awful stuff again.

Until about a year or so ago.

When we were doing our recipe testing, one of Brittany's recipe, a recipe for Split Pea Soup, went out to our testers and came back with wonderful reviews.  I was surprised to say the least -- not that Brittany had put together a terrific recipe -- but that there were people out there who actually liked split pea soup and were willing to try it.  My husband was one of those odd people.

One of Scot's favorite soups growing up was a split pea soup, made the traditional way with the ham-bone.  For obvious reasons, I had never made him this soup, and it wasn't until I saw how many rave reviews this particular recipe was garnishing that I decided to surprise him one night with it.

Much to my shock, and delight, I loved the soup, too.  Not just tolerated it, but actually loved it.  The secret ingredient?  Liquid smoke.  It's crazy amazing and probably one of my favorite "weapons" in the kitchen,

I recently saw a recipe somewhere for a split pea soup with sweet potato chunks in it, so I improvised the original recipe and ended up with the soup pictured below.  If a pureed soup isn't quite up your alley, then don't puree it, and consider the sweet potato alternative.  Both options are listed in the directions.

If you're a known split pea soup hater like I was, I encourage you to give this soup a try.

Split Pea Soup
Serves 8 (12 cups)
Feel free to half the recipe, but since it takes so long to cook, you might as well make enough for leftovers or the freezer!

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped carrots OR 4 cups of small-cubed sweet potatoes**
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 8 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup extra water
  • 1 lb, or 2 full cups, green split pea, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • salt and pepper to taste
--Saute onion, carrots, and celery 5 minutes 
-- Add the garlic and thyme and saute an extra minute
-- Add the broth, peas, and smoke.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
-- Add water if needed and puree until smooth.

**Sweet potato alternative: Omit the carrots and add the sweet potatoes in with the liquid and peas.  After the hour of simmering, add the water if necessary, but don't puree.

You can also throw everything into the crockpot and cook on high for 5-6 hours

Monday, February 24, 2014

Two New Chilis

I know we're getting out of chili season.  Maybe just bookmark this page for when you're in the mood for chili in the fall.

I would save the recipes for the fall...but I'm winding down on the blog and probably won't be posting new recipes come summer.  Life is getting busy and I'm not making a whole lot of new recipes now that I have so many fabulous one.  So I'm wanting to transition this blog to more of a resource.  Make sure all the recipes are up-to-date and on the index.  Maybe put up 3 to 4 weeks worth of meal plans each season.  Stuff like that.

More on all that later.  For now, we talk chili.

This first chili was a surprise winner.  My meat-eating cousin was coming over for dinner and I wanted something hearty and filling.  Chili!  But I didn't want a ton of different kinds of beans.  For obvious reasons.  Anyway...I found this recipe and hoped it would work out.  Oh wow, did it ever.  It's Scot new favorite chili of mine, and it makes a ton, so it'll be one I make again for our Chili Night in the fall. We ate it with chunks of toasted sourdough bread -- so delicious!

Black Bean and Lentil Chili
feeds 8-10
  • 1 lg onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1 TBLS chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp allspice (to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 15oz cans, fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed (or 30 oz tomato sauce/puree with 1/2 tsp liquid smoke)
  • 2 cups green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 15oz cans black beans, rinse and drain
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 12 oz jar roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 TBLS brown sugar (opt)
-- Saute onion, celery, and garlic 5-8 minutes until onion is translucent and soft.
-- Add garlic and saue 2 minutes.
-- Add spices and stir 1 minute until fragrant.
-- Add broth, tomato sauce/puree and lentils and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
-- Add beans, corn, red pepper and sugar and simmer another 15-20 minutes.
-- Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. 
-- CROCKPOT: throw it all in and cook on high 3-4 hrs. 

This next chili is simple, tasty, and good for the soul.  It comes strait from Brittany and we thank her for it.  I love this chili with a nice slice of cornbread and green salad -- a perfect dinner for me!  This chili freezes very well, so I suggest doubling it and freezing half for later.

Simple Red Bean Chili
serves 4 (6 cups)

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1 large chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1, 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1, 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies OR 1 15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes + 1 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1, 15.5oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1, 15.5oz can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 TBLS flaxseed meal (to thicken, optional)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 TBLS brown sugar(opt)

What you'll do:

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté until onion is soft and translucent.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds or so.  
  • Add tomato sauce, then all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Millet Muffins

When we were going through our recipe testing for the cookbook, this soup, courtesy of Brittany, got so many rave reviews.  It is spectacular. Next time you're in the market and you see a butternut squash on sale, pick. it. up. and make this soup.  The flavors meld so nicely and go so well with either a simple sandwich at lunch, or to complete a nicer dinner.  I've played around with the recipe just a little, and my favorite version is to omit the nut-butter and add in some apple.  Both versions are simply amazing, so you can't go wrong either way.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 8 (makes about 8 cups)
Active time: 35 minutes
Simmer time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Serving Suggestions: Eat with Moroccan Spiced Peas, serve over chopped kale, or with a leafy green salad.  
What you'll need:
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder, up to 1/2 tsp more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 cups peeled and cubed (1/2 in) butternut squash (2 lbs)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond butter OR natural peanut butter
  • 1 TBLS lemon juice
  • opt: omit nut butter and add in 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped red apple

What you'll do:
  • Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat, add onion and sauté until tender.  
  • Add garlic, curry, and pepper, cook an additional 30 seconds.  
  • Add squash, and apples if using, stir to coat  and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Pour in vegetable broth, increase heat and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Add almond butter, and carefully puree soup in batches or with an immersion blender.   Add lemon juice and stir well.  Serve immediately or reheat.

These little muffins are great for breakfast or just a snack. We serve them with simple soup at lunch. They are slightly sweet and amazingly light considering the whole wheat flour and millet used.  They are versatile and the only warning is to let them cool completely before you try them!

Millet Muffins
Serves 12 muffins
Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Serving Suggestions:  With some fresh fruit, eggs, and tea or coffee. Use next to a nice soup, too!

What you'll need:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup raw millet
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg OR 2 TBLS flaxseed meal in with the dry ingredients
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins OR craisins OR chocolate chips

What you'll do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 and pull out your 12-cup muffin tin
  • Combine all dry ingredients (except raisins) in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Whisk together all the wet ingredients in a smaller mixing bowl.
  • Slowly add wet to dry, stirring constantly to avoid large clumps.  Stir until smooth.
  • Stir in raisins until incorporated
  • Lightly grease the muffin tins and fill with the batter (you'll fill these almost all the way up)
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly brown on top and until they pass the toothpick test

Monday, February 17, 2014

Smokey Apple Cowboy Stew

My boys love pretending to be cowboys.  They have stick horse they gallop around on, real cowboy hats and shirts they wear if they're really "into it", and they love the idea of sleeping out beneath the stars.  In tandem with all things cowboy, they also love this stew.  It's hearty and sweet.  It fills you up and satisfies.  It's one of the meals I'll be preparing ahead of time to take on our family camping trip in a couple months.

Enjoy the robust flavors and the easy in preparation.  Serve over rice, other whole grain, like barley, or along side a slice of toasted bread.  Add a steamed green vegetable or spinach salad to the side and it's a whole meal!

Meshed this recipe with this recipe to get the final product.

Smokey Apple Cowboy Stew
serves 6
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 TBLS minced garlic (depending on your taste preference)
  • 2 cups chopped red apple
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinse and drain
  • 1 15oz can great northern beans, rinse and drain
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans, rinse and drain
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 TBLS molasses
  • 1 TBLS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBLS dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 cups whole grain, cooked, or bread
--Saute onion in a large skillet (or regular pot) 5-8 minutes
-- Add bell pepper and garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes
-- Add the apple and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Add a little water if needed to prevent sticking.
--Meanwhile, combine the tomato sauce with all following ingredients to create a sauce
-- Add beans and sauce to skillet once apple are soft and stir to coat well.
-- Heat over med-low, covered, for 10 minutes until everything is hot and sauce is thick
-- Serve over, or along, a grain (we prefer the stew on its own, so we serve the barley on the side), or mix it all together.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TWO Black Bean Soups

I hope you all know what you're making for your Valentine's Dinner tomorrow night.  I would suggest making these soups another night.  Just saying.  They're good...but, they are made mostly of beans, and well...

On with the recipes.

I really enjoy these black bean soups.  They are so easy and tasty.  They are simple and great for week night meals. If you have corn bread, crumble it on top.  If you have sourdough, dunk it.  Pull out a salad, and it's a well-rounded meal.

This unique black bean soup is flavorful, filling, and packed with lots of antioxidant-rich ingredients (black beans, sweet potatoes, cocoa powder, etc.).  It is perfect for a chilly evening, can be prepared in advance, and freezes beautifully for an easy dinner or lunch.

Britt's Black Bean Soup
Serves 8
Active time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serving Suggestions: Corn bread or tortillas, and a hearty green salad.

What you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups diced sweet potato (leave skin on)
  • 4, 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your level of heat tolerance
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • 1, 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 TBLS lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (optional garnish, omit for vegan)
  • 16 fresh cilantro leaves (optional garnish)

What you'll do:

  • Cover and microwave diced sweet potatoes for 6 minutes, allow to cool slightly before you attempt to handle.
  • In a food processor, puree the sweet potato and half the black beans with 1-2 cups vegetable broth.  (Note: if you do not have a food processor, you can accomplish this step with a bowl, potato masher, and some elbow grease)
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and spices.  Cook until fragrant then quickly add remaining broth and tomato sauce to prevent burning the garlic.  
  • Add pureed sweet potato/black bean mixture, corn, black pepper, cocoa powder & sugar.  Stir well and simmer over med-low heat until heated through (about 10-15 min).
  • Add whole black beans & lemon juice, stir, and cook for 5 more minutes before serving.
  • Garnish each bowl with a dollop (1 T) of sour cream or yogurt & a couple of cilantro leaves, if desired.

This is a great soup for either a hot lunch or to complete dinner on a cold night.  The pumpkin is subtle enough to not freak people out, and the spices really round everything out.  It's hearty and healthy and tasty - what's not to love?  Oh - did we mention most everything is probably in your pantry right now and it can be ready in less than 30 minutes? If you can, double and freeze for later!

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Serves 4 (1 1/2 cup servings)
Active time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Serving Suggestions:  Round this soup out with cornbread and a green salad.

What you'll need:
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice OR crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 TBLS brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2  tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you'll do:
  • In a large saucepan, heat oil.  Once hot, add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes
  • If desired, slightly puree soup to give it a thicker, more uniform feel.  If you don’t have a blender or food processor, use crushed tomatoes, and mash beans with a potato masher before adding them to the pot.

If you're looking for yet another Black Bean soup, here's a more elegant version.