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Woo hoo! Autumn officially started this week and I’m loving it! Temps are dropping… a little, and everything has pumpkin in it. The one thing I’m missing is the fall foliage. I’m seeing pictures people post of Salt Lake and the leaves are definitely changing there. But in sunny California the leaves are mostly green. Do the leaves change here???

Another great thing about autumn is that it’s the official inception of soup season. You know how much I love my soups. I’ve gushed about my love of a steaming hot bowl of pho on a summer day and the joy of a good soup filled with farmer’s market goodies. I figured since the last post was about making chicken broth, let’s get some recipes for soup made with that beautiful golden broth!

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Remember this? Now let’s make something with it!

I do have one caveat, or confession maybe. All of these recipes I got through process of internet surfing over the years and I always try to give credit to the authors for their creations . I know the authors for all but one and I won’t claim the recipe as my own. I have standards you know. These have just been my favorite recipes that I make several times a year after I’ve made a batch of chicken stock. They have been proven delicious and just circulated into my recipe collection so, I will admit these are not mine but they still need to be shared. Because duh, they’re delicious!

The first soup is a favorite with my hubby (and pretty much everyone who likes chicken soup). Chicken and Dumplings.

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Chicken and Dumplings by Simplyrecipes.com

This is pretty much always the follow-up soup to when I do my chicken stock making dance. It’s soooo good. And my go-to recipe for this soup can be found on one of my favorite food blogs: simplyrecipes.com. My hubby is rarely found in the kitchen while I’m cooking but when I’m making this he tends to hover. I absolutely recommend using cake flour for the dumplings. And really try hard not to lift the lid while the dumplings are steaming. These are the two essential keys to guaranteeing you get fluffy, light, and tender dumplings.

I have just received a request for chicken and dumplings this week. Go figure.

The next soup was a favorite of our (sometimes) paleo, superman, outdoor hero of a roommate, Mike. He was a monster of the back country on his split board (a snowboard that split in to skis so that he could climb mountains on them?!), he volunteered for the ski patrol and in the summer he was biking up canyons for hundreds of miles. He was very interested in learning to cook and finding new ways to pack as many calories into a meal as possible but still be healthy. I would make pots of soup that could feed 8-10 for our household of 3 because Mike was there to pick up the slack. Now… well, let’s just say I really need to learn to cook for 2.

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Paleo Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Mushroom Chili by thetexaspeach.com

This is the ultimate, hearty, healthy, paleo stew. I like a little avocado and salsa on top of my bowl and it’s delicious with tortilla chips (obviously not paleo). I’ve also made a version with butternut squash instead of sweet potato. Very autumny.

The final recipe is the lost recipe without an owner. I emailed it to myself back in July of 2013 and I didn’t include the author. I’m a horrible person. But to the credit of the unknown author, this recipe is delicious! I’ve made it several times and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. So here’s the recipe, but again I am not responsible for this pot of comfort.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 medium onion,  chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, (or rotel tomatoes and chilis)
32 oz. chicken broth
1 14 oz. can corn, drained
2 boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded into bite-size pieces
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained
3  tbsp. corn meal, mixed with water
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Optional Garnishes:
fresh avocado, cut into chunks
fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
fresh cilantro, chopped
green onion, chopped
tortilla crisps
lots of fresh lime slices

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 mins. Stir in corn, chicken, and lime juice. Stir in corn meal and water. Simmer 10 mins., or until heated through.

You can put garnishes out for diners to add to soup or you can plate the soup with at least the avocado and mozzarella. Place avocado and mozzarella cheese in the bottom of individual serving bowls. Ladle the soup over the top, cheese will retain some shape but melt into the soup. Top with remaining garnishes to taste.

This is probably my favorite of all the soups here. I LOVE the lime and the cumin in the soup. My mouth is watering just thinking of it! I think I just put in my own request for this week! Long live Soup Season!

We are heading into cooler months and I’m more than excited about it. I love summer, especially northern California summers but there’s just something about autumn. It smell better, feels better, and the clothes get cuter (IMHO). Instead of having a set uniform of tank and shorts (because I would melt into a puddle if there were any more clothing involved), I get to bust out my favorite jeans, scarves, and boots. YES!

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A big ‘ol pot a something good.

I also LOVE the food of colder months. I’ve said before that my favorite thing to cook is a roast chicken. It’s so comforting and makes your whole kitchen smell amazing while it roasts in the oven. I’ve posted about roasting chicken before and the post also included a few tips and tricks from none other than Thomas Keller, Ultimate Blackbelt Poultry Master. Also, here’s the food blog post that inspired me to try my hand at chicken roasting in the first place: userealbutter.com. You already love the blog just based on the name, right?

My next favorite thing to make after a roast chicken is chicken stock. This is a peek into my weird food neuroses. I love the process of trying to get everything I can out of one chicken and how many meals I can stretch it to. I feel so accomplished and frugal after I’ve completely maximized the utility of a chicken. I am a novice poultry master.

We use the chicken stock for sooo many recipes and I like to freeze some for future use as well. After our roast chicken dinner generally follows a combination of chicken soups and chicken and dumplings. It’s hubby’s favorite part of the roast chicken dinner – everything that follows, that is.

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Chicken and Dumplings

It was a recipe on simplyrecipes.com that inspired me to begin my stock making career. She offers 2 ways to make stock and a basic recipe. I do admit that if you aren’t use to working with raw meat, let alone a whole chicken then you may need to take this in baby steps. In fact, you can skip handling a whole raw bird all together. It’s super easy to get a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and after you’ve eaten your fill, use the remaining to make stock.

The general recipe for stock consists of chicken bones, skin, fat, mirepoix – just a fancy way of saying carrots, celery, and onions; parsley, water, salt, and pepper. You put everything except the salt and pepper into a big stock pot, bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to a very low, soft simmer. Let the stuff simmer away uncovered for at least 4 hours and occasionally skim off the foam that comes to the top. After a fair amount of simmering, remove all the vegetables and bones. I also like to put the stock through a mesh strainer to get it really smooth. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

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The delicious beginning

I made stock with my sister for the first time and she even exclaimed about how simple it was. She has a famous lemon rice recipe that uses a lot of chicken stock and when she used our homemade stock in the rice….. oh man, that was some damn good lemon rice. I’ll have to get that recipe from her….like, now.

Sister’s first chicken broth

If you’re a very accomplished chicken stock maker I would love some tips and advice. If you’ve never made stock, you totally should! It is a bit time consuming (make sure you have at least 4 hours to let your broth simmer to full brilliance) but so worth it. Everything tastes so much more amazing with your own homemade stock in it. There will be more recipes to come, including a chicken and dumpling recipe! Go now! Make broth!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

I’ve been told I’m weird about food. There’s a long list involved here but one specific way is that I’m a little too enthusiastic about things at the “wrong temperature” or the “wrong time of day” or the “wrong season” or whatever. So, I don’t mind a warm coke or spaghetti for breakfast and I really do enjoy a bowl of soup in the middle of summer. I’m such a rebel! I regret nothing!

It probably had to a lot to do with my upbringing. Chinese food, aside from dim sum, doesn’t really have rules about when and where and how things are eaten. Things are eaten whenever you’re hungry. There may be special dishes served at certain events, like long beans, fish and noodles on Chinese New Year but the day to day was very open to interpretation in my family. Couple that with two immigrant parents trying to navigate American processed foods for the first time (cereal at any hour is awesome) and you get me.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, my hubby and I indulged in some pho. Even though the temps were creeping upward and the farmer’s market nearby was in full swing with their summer vegetables, that spicy, steaming bowl of soup was bliss. My hubby and I were sweating and sniffing from the chili sauce and steam was enveloping our faces as we happily slurped away.

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Summer brunch of Champions! Pho and a Vietnamese iced coffee.

Another thing I love about soup in the summer are all of the recipes that are packed with vegetables and can be served both warm and cold. They are also great fridge cleaners. I’m a huge fan of fridge cleaning recipes. I go a little nuts at farmer’s markets and I don’t want my precious produce to go to waste, so once I’m down to scraps of this and that, I make a nice soup to finish them off. And to make room for my next shopping outing :). I found this recipe while hunting online for a soup that does the job perfectly. And it’s such a flexible recipe, you can add pretty much whatever you’ve got on hand. Plus, it was delicious and nutritious!

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This soup has a ton of great vegetables and includes cannelini beans for protein. I’m sure you can substitute whatever you have in your pantry, kidney, pinto, or black beans would be delicious in this. I also like that the recipe says to smash half the beans before adding it to the soup. This is a great way to get a thicker, creamier texture in your soup without adding cream. Great for me because despite my love for dairy products, they really don’t love me back. It’s tragic.

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I made a few changes to the recipe. I used fresh diced tomatoes instead of canned because I found these beautiful ripened on the vine tomatoes. And after making several dishes highlighting these ruby gems, I had just enough left for this soup. I also added whole baby spinach leaves as well. I bought a huge bag that I’m still working on but at least a huge chunk of it was used in this soup. That’s right, two birds – nutrition and fridge cleaning- with one soup. Come to think of it, small pasta like macaroni or shells would work really well in this soup too….

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As promised, this soup is really delicious chilled as well. I ate this the next day for lunch straight out of the fridge with a little side salad. It actually helped me beat the heat outside. I even made extra to put in the freezer for later.

So, maybe I’m a little weird with my food. I don’t really adhere to the food rules of appropriateness, but with a soup like this it’s easy to break the rules. Long live Soup Season!

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Tuscan Vegetable Soup

adapted from Ellie Krieger

makes 6 – 8 servings

1 15 oz can of cannellini beans (or pinto, kidney, or black beans)

1 small onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small zucchini, diced

2 ripe medium tomatoes, diced

2 generous handfuls of baby spinach leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

4 cups water or vegetable broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Drain and rinse the beans under cold water. Put half the beans in a bowl, you can leave the rest in the can and mash them with a fork or a potato masher, set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onions. Since these take a little longer to cook, let them sweat for a minute or two but no more. Add celery, zucchini. minced garlic and herbs to the pot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the veggies are tender. Approx. 5 mins.

Add the water or broth, and the diced tomatoes, let simmer for a minute or two. Bring the pot to a boil and add the beans both mashed and whole. Add the baby spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with parmesan cheese on top or in a bowl on the side for people to add what they want.