Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupJust made this for a quick supper tonight and realized it’s one of those recipes that you don’t write down.  I was lucky enough to see my Mom make it a hundred times, but once you know the basics – you can add almost any veggies or meat you like.

It takes advantage of one of my favorite shortcuts: easy homemade chicken stock.

Costco sells roasted chickens that are cheap, delicious and wonderfully seasoned. When I get home, I let them cool and remove all the meat, which I either use right away or freeze.  Click here for easy instructions.

1/2 onion, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced (Use more if they are small, or if you really like carrots)
1 cup sliced celery (I wash it really well and just cut right across the top of the bunch.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Chicken Stock (About 6 cups)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 package of pasta (I love Orecchiette “little ears” pasta)
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1-2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped up

Heat oil in a stockpot, and add onion, carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are getting soft. Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper bay leaves and cloves. Let cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat. Bring to the boil, and add 1/2 package of pasta (1/2 pound?) Cook for 13 minutes, and add scallions and parsley. Cook just a couple more minutes. Check seasonings and serve.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is a wonderful fall vegetable and I made this soup for the first time for Thanksgiving, 2006.   I had just gotten an immersion blender, and was anxious to try it out pureeing the soup.

I didn’t read any instructions or warnings, and just plopped the blender right in the hot pot of soup.  Hot squash soup, when it splashes up, is essentially vegetable napalm and it sticks and burns in a very dramatic way. I carry an oval  scar on my left forearm to this day.

Operator error aside, it’s a delicious soup and perfect on cold fall nights.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped onion
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half

Saute onion and squash in butter. Add spices and cook 10 minutees. Add broth and cook 30 more minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool a bit and then buzz it with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender.

Just before serving, check the salt and pepper, and stir in half and half.

Onion Soup

I used to make french onion soup in Karachi quite often because I could get all the ingredients fairly easily and Kumy loved it. I used the only cheese available back then – “Greens”- which came in a wax cover. These days I use Gruyere.

3 onions, sliced very thin
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp brown sugar
5-6 cups water
2 Tbsp white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
French bread, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Gruyere Cheese, cut into nice slices

Saute onions in oil and butter, until completely translucent and the onions are starting to brown. Add the flour and sugar and cook until the flour is starting to darken. This can happen fairly quickly so don’t let it burn.

Add water, wine, salt and pepper and cook 20 minutes, stirring to get up all the brown bits from the pan. Cook longer if you want to reduce the broth a bit.

Melt some more butter in a frying pan and fry the bread slices in it for a little bit.

Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls, and place the bread on top. Add just a bit more broth on top of the bread, then add cheese. Heat under a broiler until the cheese melts and starts to brown a little bit.

Mulligatawny Soup

I just learned this evening that this is Ali’s favorite soup. This version isn’t super traditional, but it’s still delicious.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, well-scrubbed and chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and rough-chopped

Saute veggies in olive oil. Once veggies are soft, puree them in a blender or food processor.

1 can coconut milk
1 apple, peeled cored and diced
2 cups cooked basmati rice

6 cups chicken stock
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken meat
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1/8 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup red lentils

In a large stock pot, heat stock and add chicken, lentils and spices. Cook 25 minutes, remove chicken and shred it. Add pureed veggies and coconut milk to stock. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Put rice, chicken and apples in bowls and cover with broth. Yum!

Potato Soup

Mom and I went to Germany and Austria and one of the dishes we just fell in love with was simple Potato Soup. This recipe is very reminiscent of the soup we ate.

7-8 New Potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
4 cups water or chicken broth
2 carrots, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 cups corn (frozen or fresh – optional)
1 Tbsp Chicken base, or veggie base (can omit if using chicken broth)
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp dill seed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp butter

In a large pot, add everything but milk, cornstarch and butter. Bring just to a boil, and reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer for 40 minutes. Then mix milk and cornstarch together and pour into soup, stirring constantly. Top with the butter and stir one final time.

Omit butter and chicken base or broth if making vegan.

18 Bean Soup

I have always loved beans and legumes and this soup is so delicious – plus it’s Vegan.  If you know someone who likes soup – you can take the spices, quadruple them and put them in a nice mason jar with the recipe for soup as a gift.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat oil in a large pot, and saute the veggies for a few minutes, adding the garlic for the last couple of minutes.

1 bag mixed beans, washed and soaked for several hours, or overnight
(I think it’s about a pound, and there is an 18 bean mix)
2 carrots sliced
1 large potato, diced
juice from 1 lemon
2 cups tomatoes, chopped, or 1 15 oz. can
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp chili power

Add all to pot, stir, and add water to cover by an inch or so. Cook 2 hours or until beans are soft.

Cajun Version: skip oregano, marjoram and chili power. Add 2 more tsp garlic, 2 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.

This can also be cooked in a slow-cooker really easily.