Archive for the ‘Cooking & Baking’ Category

chili with beansOK, so I’m not really sure if chili is considered a soup or not, but Steve requested it for “soup month” so I made it.  Last week we had a really nice time with some new friends and since it was a rainy day, chili was a perfect choice for dinner.

Everyone has their own idea of good chili and what should be in chili.  I like my chili with beans, lots of beans.  I prefer my chili to be a bit on the spicier side, but I tone it down for the kids.  I’m not a fan of chili that is too dry either, so when it’s simmering I keep checking it and add water as necessary.  This is especially important because in our family we serve our chili over white rice, “Steve Style”.

Chili with Beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oilchili ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans beans (black, kidney, pinto)


  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, saute beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until brown.
  2. Add onion, red peppers, carrots, and garlic to the beef and saute for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and saute 5 minutes more.
  4. Add tomatoes and beans (with the liquid from the can), cook for 45 minutes or longer, until all the flavors are blended.
  5. If chili is too dry, add 1 or more cups of water to desired consistency.

This chili is great by itself, or over baked potatoes, rice or hot dogs.


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Split Pea Soup

split pea soupWhen your 5 year old son says, “Hey mom, can we have split pea soup for dinner tonight?”, you run to the kitchen and start cooking.  I’m so thankful that our kids like veggies and soups that are FULL of veggies!!!  Evan’s favorites are potato soup and split pea soup.  I like my soups on the thicker side, the longer you simmer the soup the thicker it gets.

This soup is vegetarian/vegan on it’s own, but I like to add a bit of crumbled bacon on top when served.

Split Pea Soup

  • 1 bag split peassplit pea ingredients
  • 2 quarts cold water or vegetable broth
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled


  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cover peas with cold water, cover, and soak overnight. – OR – In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cover peas with cold water and bring to a boil.  Simmer peas gently for 2 minutes, and then cover pot with lid and let soak for 1 hour.
  2. Once peas are soaked, add 2 quarts water or vegetable broth.  Add onion, celery, carrot, cabbage, potato, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve in bowls, add crumbled bacon if desired.

cooked split pea soup

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Bunny’s Navy Bean Soup

Bunny soup photoThere are people and then there are “soup people”.  My mom, Bunny, is a soup person and so am I!!!  The majority of time I make soup it’s from my heart and not a recipe and I love that.  The bummer thing about that is, when you come up with a really good pot of soup it’s hard to re-create it when you were just throwing things together.  Luckily for us, this Navy Bean Soup is one that my mom has been making for years and she does have a recipe for it and now you do too.

To make this soup vegetarian/vegan, just substitute the chicken broth and the milk for vegetable stock/broth.

Bunny’s Navy Bean Soup

  • 1 pound dry navy beansNavy Bean Soup ingredients
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 3 carrots)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups milk (I use chicken broth instead of milk)


  1. Rinse beans and put in a large pot.  Add 6 cups of cold water, cover the pot and soak beans overnight. – OR – Rinse beans and put in a large pot.  Combine beans with 6 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer beans for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.
  2. Drain and rinse beans.  Return beans to large pot or dutch oven, add chicken broth, cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally.  Discard bay leaves.  Mash beans slightly.  Stir in 2 cups milk (or chicken broth) and heat through.  You may need to add more milk (or chicken broth), up to 1 cup or so if you think the soup is too thick.
  3. Ladle into soup bowls…enjoy!!!

navy bean soup uncookednavy bean soup cooked

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soup bowlI was a vegetarian for 10 years (Alice still is and has been for 21 years) and one of our most favorite lunches used to be Pasta e Fagioli soup and a few slices of crusty bread from Finbar’s Italian Kitchen right below Wellsprings.  I tried to re-create that soup a few nights ago and it turned out pretty close.

I really like that I was able to use the fresh herbs from our garden in this soup and it only took about 30 minutes to make.  To make this recipe vegetarian/vegan leave out the pancetta and substitute the chicken stock for veggie stock.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oilpasta and beans soup ingredients
  • 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped
  • 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
  • 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried baby leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups small shape pasta (I used small shells), uncooked
  • Grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese, for the table
  • Crusty bread, for dipping


  1. Heat a deep pot or dutch oven over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta.  Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herbs stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
  2. Add beans, tomatoes, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.
  3. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.  Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente.
  4. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks.  Remove herbs stems and bay leaf from soup and take soup off the stove.  Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese.

Ellie pasta soupEvan pasta soup

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alice potato soup photoThis recipe comes from Alice and like most soup recipes it’s super easy.  One of our most requested family meals is Potato Soup…it’s great because I generally always have the ingredients on hand and it takes no time to make.  I never bother with peeling the potatoes first.  I just scrub the potatoes and chop them up.  I’m not picky as to what kind of potato I use either: yukon gold, russet, red, fingerling they all taste great.  This is normally a vegetarian soup, but tonight I added cooked, crumbled BACON at the very end just before serving.

To make this soup vegan just replace the butter with olive oil and leave out the cheese.  You can also replace 1/2 the vegetable broth (32-ounces) for 32-ounces soy or regular milk.  If you do add the milk, you’ll want to add it in step #2 below, after you mash or blend part of the soup.

Alice’s Potato Cheese Soup

  • 8 medium potatoes (about 3 lbs), cubedpotato soup ingredients
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cups (64-ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese
  • fresh chives (for garnish)


  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, combine potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, broth and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  2. Mash the soup slightly using a hand masher or puree half the soup in a blender or food processor.  I like the soup to be slightly chunky and not completely smooth.
  3. In a bowl, combine butter, flour, parsley and pepper.  Stir mixture into soup.
  4. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
  5. Remove from heat, add cheese.  Let stand 5 minutes, serve.  Garnish with fresh chives.

Leia soupLeia soup 2Leia soup 3

Woo Hoo…Leia likes my potato soup!!!

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Tomato Soup

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like tomato soup.  Pair it with a really good grilled cheese & bacon sandwich and your all set.  It’s literally been years since I made tomato soup from scratch and after tonight I can definitely say I won’t let years go by before I make it again.  This soup is vegetarian, but if you leave out the heavy cream at the end and substitute the butter for olive oil it can easily be made vegan.

Tomato Soup

  • 3 tablespoons buttertomato soup ingredients
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 6 springs parsley
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper


In a large pot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender but not browned, about 6-8 minutes.

Add tomatoes, parsley and stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover.  Simmer until carrots are tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove parsley springs and discard.  Puree soup in batches in a blender, in a food processor or with a hand blender (immersion blender).  Let soup cool briefly before you begin to puree the soup.  Return to pot and stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter.  Heat soup until hot again.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve with croutons…enjoy!!!

evan tomato soupellie tomato soup

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Mashail’s Lentil Soup

MashailNovember is SOUP month…I’m going to post several times this month about the soups I love to eat and make!!!

My beautiful sister-in-law, Mashail, is from Saudi Arabia and I’m always excited to be invited over when she makes one of her fabulous Ramadan dinners.  (Ramadan is the Islamic month during which Muslims fast daily from dawn to sunset as part of an effort towards self-purification and betterment.)  This year Mashail made two soups and everyone went crazy over her Lentil Soup.  In addition to being very healthy, it’s SUPER easy to make.

Mashail’s Lentil Souplentil soup ingredients

  • 16 oz dried red lentils
  • 2 tomatoes – diced
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 2 small zucchinis – diced
  • 1 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic – minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 cups water
  1. Add all the ingredients to a large pot or dutch oven, add 8 cups water, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Once the lentils are soft and the vegetable are cooked, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until a soft consistency.  You will have to puree the soup in batches.
  3. Return the soup to the pot, adjust the spices to your taste, and cook for another 15-30 minutes without covering the pot.
  4. Serve the soup hot.  Enjoy.

Prep Time: 15 minutes  /  Cook Time: 45-60 minutes  /  Serves 10-12

soup beginningsoup middlesoup end

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