All it took was one nip of cold air and now all I want to do is make soup. This crowd pleaser is super simple and can be prepared several days in advance.
6-8 servings, 90 minutes
3 links or 1lb Italian sausage meat, spiced to preference
1 cup of dry lentils (or one can prepared)
1 medium to large onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes (splurge for San Marzano)
4 cups (1 large box) chicken stock
Big handful of Italian parsley
4 handfuls of kale (or chard, or spinach)
Loaf of crusty bread
Sharp Italian cheese like Parmesan (splurge for pecorino Romano)
Salt and cracked black pepper
Red chili pepper flakes
Remove the sausage from its casing and toss in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat with a little oil.
Dice the onion and add after the sausage has browned. Sweat the onions and stir a few times, then add chopped garlic.
After a few minutes, pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and stir.
Turn the heat to high until the soup is boiling, then reduce to medium high and add the lentils. Season with more salt and pepper and let simmer for up to an hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove the biggest ribs and tear the greens into smaller chunks. Chop the parsley.
You want the liquid to reduce until it’s barely above the ingredients. Turn off the heat, add the greens in batches (it should feel like you’re adding way too much, greens reduce substantially after they’ve heated) and stir until absorbed. Taste and season until the flavors pop. Make sure the lentils are soft. Add chili pepper for a little more heat.
Warm and butter the bread. Grate the hard cheese and serve.
It’s cold, it’s gray and you’re bringing something to a Super Bowl party. Not only do we all want to eat better than fried buffalo wings and 7 layer dip but there has to be something out there more compelling than stuffed potato skins, right? Look no farther. This healthy and interesting dish will check all the boxes and be the star of your Super Bowl Party spread.
Protip! Bring sturdy disposable bowls to the party!
White Chicken Chili
Serves 8 Cook Time 60-90 minutes
1 pound of ground chicken
1 large white onion
2 cans of cannellini beans
2 small cans of mild green chiles
or for heat, 2 jalapenos
1 red bell pepper
2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale
1 large box (4 cups) of chicken or turkey broth
all purpose flour (optional)
Cotija, Queso Fresco or Shredded Jack Cheese
Dice your onion and saute in hot olive oil on medium high. Add the ground chicken and cook until onions are soft and chicken is starting to brown. Break the chicken into small pieces as it cooks. Add a layer of salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder.Sprinkle a heavy pinch of flour over the mixture here. Make sure to break it up and mix it in thoroughly.
Dice the bell pepper and add at any time. drain the cans of chiles or dice the jalapenos and add them in. If you go the jalapeno route, know that more seeds = more heat.
Drain and rinse the beans in cold water using a colander or strainer. Add once the chicken is cooked and onions are soft. Layer in some more seasoning here.
Pour the broth over the mixture and increase heat to high. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
Set a timer for 45 minutes and stir occasionally. You want a little broth but not as much as a soup so when the 45 minutes are up it’s time to taste and tweak. Add the greens to the simmering chili. If there is too much liquid increase heat to high and boil off some of that water content. Taste again and again until the flavor of the cumin, beans and chicken balance each other. You want the broth to balance the starchiness of the beans with the sharpness of the chilis and richness of the spice. Keep tweaking it until it sings.For last minute heat try cayenne pepper here. Add a dash, stir and taste. Repeat until you have the spice level right where you want it.
Once you attach the words “Texas Style” to something you’re potentially stepping into a fight. Let’s get this out of the way. I define “Texas style Chili” as beef chili with lots of liquid and no beans. We could argue chunks versus ground and toppings all day but the bottom line is the same. Meat, tomatoes, onions and spice.
If I’m wrong I’m wrong. Hell, I grew up in Massachusetts. Massachusetts? Don’t you mean Taxachusetts?!?
Sorry. At least it’s not Newww York Cittyyy!!!! (Pace Picante Salsa was not used in the making of this chili)
I’m a traditionalist at heart, so here’s my Texas style chili with Mexican cheese and mango. (MEXICO!) (MANGO?!?) Easy and delicious, it will feed a room full of cowboys and city folk alike. Ok, maybe not a traditionalist. A thief. An artist. Who’s to say the difference anyway.
Mango… well mango is in season. The sweetness and texture really contrast the spice beautifully. Cotija cheese or queso fresco is crumbled and chewy and salty and delicious. They’re easy to find in Mexican supermarkets but if you’re not near any just toss in some sharp cheddar. Fresh green onions give a pop of freshness and avocado is… well avocado. It’s good on almost everything. Try it.
Texas Style Chili
Serves 8 Cook time approximately 2-3 hours
2 pounds of ground beef (or turkey, lamb, bison…)
2 large onions
1 entire bulb of garlic
2x large cans of whole tomatoes
2x cans of pureed tomatoes
2 large bottles of a fine American Pale Ale
First things first. Open one of the bottles of beer and pour yourself a glass. Have a sip. Get a big cutting board out and a big soup pot on the stove. Splash some olive oil in the pot, enough to coat the bottom with a thin to medium layer. Get the heat on medium.
Chop up your onions and jalapenos. If you love the spice, add more seeds than not. If you want to manage the heat more on the back end keep most of the seeds out. Add it all into the pot.
Let the onions soften and get to work on the garlic. Peel and chop all the cloves in the bulb and add them all at once to the onions and peppers. Give that a few minutes to work. Add your first *big* pinches of cumin, salt and chili powder. Seriously, don’t be shy. You’re feeding 8 people a dish known for it’s rich flavors. You’ll be spicing again though so don’t worry about guessing the perfect amount. Just get your onions coated in spice and salt for a nice base.
Now add the meat. Mix it every here and there until its browned. Open all your cans of tomatoes while it cooks.
turkey works too!
Once the meat is browned, add more spice. Big pinches.
Now pour in all the tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Open your second bottle of beer and pour the whole thing in the pot. Continue to drink your other bottle.
pour yourself a glass
Put the lid on, turn the heat to medium high and clean up a little. When it’s boiling, 10-20 minutes, turn the heat down to medium and get that cover back on.
Relax. The chili is working. It’s got a hard hat, a safety vest and a lunch pail. Let the chili do it’s job. All you have to do is stir every here and there. Go watch the game, spend time with your people. Nothing to see here. Watch the crowds start to smell the air and get hungry.
After two hours of this, take your first taste. It’s…All… Happening!!!!!
Add more spices. If you want heat that slowly warms you up add one dash of cayenne per person. Work on that formula if you want more or less.
As we approach the three hour mark keep tasting. Add salt, cumin and chili powder in batches until it’s right. Turn off the heat and let the flavors sit.
Now prep your toppings and put them in nice little bowls. Chopped mango, broken down cotija cheese. Slice the green onions and break down your avocado.
When the crowd is about to storm the gates, release them upon your feast. Make sure they add the mango too.
Then open a window. You’ll have to trust me on that one.
Oh Minestrone… How I love thee. It, like so many food memories, takes me back to childhood, to memories that are so old and faded that they’re best described by colors. A whiff of a maturing minestrone soup on the stovetop will transport me to a time when chairs were something I had to climb to sit on. It’s bright and savory, steeped in herbs and hearty with cannellini beans and pasta.
I spent a few days last week working with a fellow food lover. We spent hours talking about this spot and that, our favorite dishes and preparations. We swapped tips and techniques and sat down to two exceptional working lunches. At one point minestrone came up (he uses swiss chard, brilliant) and it got it stuck in my craw, the craving sat in the top of my stomach from the moment it was breached. By hour 40 I had broken. It had to be done.
Serves 6-8 45-60 minutes
1 clove of garlic
1 celery stalk
1 medium yellow onion
1 small yellow summer squash
1 small zucchini squash
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of cannellini beans
6 cups of chicken/ vegetable broth
2-4 cups of uncooked baby spinach
A handful of fresh green beans
1/2 cup of a small pasta shells
A hard italian cheese… Parmesan, Romano… (or, if you’re feeling classy, Pecorino)
Marjoram (oregano works too)
2 Bay Leaves
Cracked black pepper
Get everything out and organized. Set up a slop bowl for peels and ends, it keeps you from running back and forth to the trash.
Splash some olive in a pot on medium, break down your onions, carrots and celery into small bits. Salt & pepper, 2 layers of thyme, 1 layer of marjoram(or oregano) and a dash or two of basil and sage. Stir the mix and put the burner on medium high.
Get to work on those green beans. I’ve never really figured out a perfect method with beans. I just snap off the stalk end with my fingers and work my way through the pile. Snap, next. Snap, next… Then I try to bundle them all like matchsticks and cut them into 1 inch pieces.
Slice the garlic, toss it in.
Quarter your zucchini and summer squash and chop it down. Into the pot it goes. More salt and pepper. Stir.
Add the tomato. Rinse the beans good if they’re out of a can and put them in. Salt, pepper, another coating of herbs. Bay leaves. Stir.
Note the order I did that in. Onions first, almost always. Everything else goes in order of vegetable firmness. Garlic usually in the middle, you don’t want it to burn and get bitter.
Give this a few minutes. Absentminded? OCD? Set a timer for 4 minutes and twenty three seconds.
Pour in your 6 cups of broth and stir. Turn heat to high and cover.
Do you have any old Parmesan rinds kicking around? Got a great tip this week, save your rinds in the freezer. Pull them out for jobs like this. I happen to have one in the fridge. Toss that in the soup.
Bring to a boil. This is where I clean up my mess. A clean kitchen is a happy cook! Working quickly I had enough time to clean up all the dishes I had just used and wipe down the counters.
Once the soup is boiling give it another stir and turn the heat down to medium high. At this point you can do it a few different ways. If it’s the weekend and you feel like torturing your friends and family, turn down the heat and take your time. Let the smell whip the guests into a frenzy. (A trick I learned from my mother) They’ll be knocking each other over by the time you’re ready to serve. If you’re in a hurry like me, keep whipping that soup into a boil. Ze flavors must marinate! Ze broth must reduce! Work soup work!
A boiling soup is a reducing and thickening broth. You need some of that to concentrate the flavors but you don’t want it too thick. I like my soups with a lot of broth so I keep the cover on for most of the cook, pulling the lid off at the end for a mad dash 5 minute reduction. It’s a balance. You can always thicken more with uncovered heat. Thinning the broth is a little more complex and I try to avoid it.
Boil some water for your pasta and get that going. Follow the instructions on the box for timing. Drain the water and set your pasta aside.
Why do this? Extra steps and extra dishes? Not usually our style here in the mancookgood kitchen.
I do it because I don’t want to leave the pasta in the soup for leftovers. Same goes with rice. It continues to absorb the liquid and by day two or three my beautiful broth is a solid block of bloated pasta. It’s like a parasite sent to drink up all that goodness. Like Uncle Jack, it never stops drinking.Not today Mr. Cavatelli. Not today.
By this point your soup should be beginning it’s descent into flavorland. Drinking a glass of wine? Red? I was. Splash some in at any point.
Slice your bread and get it ready. (Toasted? I did) I like to put it in the toaster oven pre buttered. It makes for a soft interior and crispy edges. Who doesn’t like crispy edges? Bring them to me.
Add the spinach. Yes, all of it. It reduces, trust me. Stir it in as it shrinks.
Taste the soup. It should almost be there. Check the carrots, make sure they’re soft. Turn up the heat and take off the lid. Please put your tray tables up and in an upright position, the pilot has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. 5 more minutes of an uncovered boil, taste it again. Hot!
Here’s the most important part.
Spoon the soup and some cooked pasta into a bowl and grate your cheese over it. This is nearly non negotiable. Lactose intolerant? How bad? Grate the cheese and take a pill or something.
Sprinkle some chili flakes and a spot of pesto if you have it hanging around. Serve with the bread and a smile. Make the soup. Win the day.
It’s been 4 days since the Thanksgiving feast. Our cravings for holiday fare have subsided a bit. Once bountiful supplies have dwindled and a storm has blown over the Los Angeles Basin. It’s cold, dark and wet outside. We are running our artificial lights during daylight hours. The doors and windows are shut tight, the heat has been turned on. Even the ceiling fans have been silenced. It will be days until we see 70 degrees again. These are truly the dark days of winter here in Southern California. I am left with no choice. I must make a soup to nourish my friends and family and boost morale. We will find comfort in homemade stock and thyme and rosemary. We will find inspiration in the turkey who sacrificed himself for this noble task. We will carry on.
Smells like freedom.
Turkey Barley Soup.
Hopefully you took the stripped down turkey carcass and boiled it in water for 2 hours last Thursday. Tell me you did. (It’s ok if you didn’t, just a missed opportunity on both of our parts) For now, let’s assume you did.
Chop the leek into thin strips and toss it into hot olive oil. Salt and pepper it. Chop up the garlic and toss add that too.
Break down the carrots and celery into small uniform pieces. Big chunks work too, it just cooks faster and is easier to eat in smaller pieces. Put that all in with the onions, stir and add salt and pepper.
Give that a few minutes. Use that time to clean, organize and get your herbs out. I had a lot of fresh ones leftover from Thanksgiving so they needed to be broken down and chopped. Lots of thyme (if dry, cover the surface of the liquid in 2 layers, if fresh, use a loose handful), half as much rosemary, half of that in sage. It really it doesn’t matter much and is to your personal preference. We’re making soup. Add more as you go. It’ll be delicious.
Pour in the broth and add the herbs. Salt and pepper again. Add the turkey and barley and set on medium high heat with the cover on.
This is when I clean up the kitchen. (again) I like it tidy when I cook. It keeps things moving smoothly. By the time you’ve wiped down the counters and washed up your prep dishes the soup should be boiling. Give it 45 minutes with an occasional stir. By then things should be pretty close to done. Take the lid off and keep it on medium high for another 30 minutes. At this point you should be checking in every ten minutes or so. Have a taste. (HOT!) Does it taste like soup yet? If not give it more time. The color, smell and taste of the soup will shift when it’s done. I’m sure there is a scientific reason for it but I like to think that the separate ingredients finally yield to each other and collapse into a group hug. If you’re watching the broth you’ll be able to tell.
Right at the end I turn off the heat entirely and squeeze the half of a lemon into the whole mixture. This lets the flavors settle in and the soup cool enough for people to eat. I took a fresh baguette smeared with olive oil and broiled it in the oven for a few minute. The soup was served in mugs. Six people ate, several had seconds. Nothing was left behind.