Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 23, 2016


I thought Spring had sprung over the weekend! Yup…the mercury shot on up to 61°F! Balmy I tell you. But alas, I understand that it was just a tease and the cold/wet Wintry weather is headed back in our direction. Good thing I have this spicy, oh so flavorful Chicken Tortilla Soup on hand to warm me up. The zesty broth is simply chock full of tender chicken as well as a  savory veggie and black bean blend. It imparts all those “feel good” vibes that the old classic Chicken Noodle Soup does, yet it does it with a kick! And this soup is not only delicious, but it is also really easy to make. I’m telling you, all you do is put all of the ingredients into your slow cooker, turn it on and then just walk away. No fuss, no worries. And when you return (7 hours later for my part, though you can cook this soup on the high setting and it will be done in 3 -4 hours) you just shred the chicken breasts and stir the meat back into the soup. At that point, while that shredded meat is settling in, you just do a little prep to get all of your toppings ready to go. And I must say, do not skimp on your toppings. I mean this soup is indeed tasty served “au naturale” but I can assure you, there is no way that I will pass up an opportunity to add gooey cheese, chunks of avocado, sour cream and fresh cilantro to pretty much any meal! Yeah, toppings are not really “optional” for me, but to each his own.


As for the tortillas, the Husband and I just came across Tostitos Rolls, which are the Tostitos tortilla chips, rolled into little cylinders. Crumble them over the top or simply enjoy them as a side, they are fantastic with this soup! So if Winter has got you down and you’re a bit short on time (and/ or kitchen motivation), make up a big batch of this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup. Folks will be glad you did!


Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6 -8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe slightly adapted from: Gimme Some Oven


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans Rotel Diced tomatoes, with juice (we used the Hot variety diced with Habanero)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-2 dried arbol chilis
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste
  • fresh lime wedges
  • optional toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, fresh chives, diced red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips/chips/rolls


Add all of the above listed ingredients to a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Remove chicken breasts from soup. Use two forks to shred the chicken and then add back to the soup. Remove the chilis, and discard.

Serve warm with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and topped with optional toppings if desired (Don’t be silly….of course you want the toppings!).

You can refrigerate this soup in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.


Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup:

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Kuhn Rikon Avocado Knife

Rotel Diced Tomatoes – This link is for 4 cans, enough for two batches of this soup

Chile de Arbol

Tostitos Rolls – We thought these rolled tortilla chips were great with this soup!


Chicken Skink

March 3, 2015


Yup, you read that right…Chicken Skink. Skink is an old Irish term meaning “broth”. So Chicken Skink is an Irish Chicken Soup. You might have actually heard the term before in the famous Scottish dish, Cullen Skink. Cullen is a small town in Moray on the Northeast coast of Scotland. Apparently the way they make skink there is with smoked haddock. The husband was very happy I chose to go with an Irish skink, since he has a seafood allergy.


This skink has chicken in it, along with leeks, carrots, celery and peas. It is enriched with cream and egg yolk which makes it a bit heartier than  your average chicken soup, which is a good thing because winter seems to be firmly entrenched around here. This skink is just what you need to warm you up but not weigh you down when you’re dashing around to all the St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities. Make a big pot up of it today!


Chicken Skink

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook


  • 2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and diced
  • 4 small carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 small leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 1/2 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 4 small scallions, some green tops included, sliced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 Boston or butter lettuce leaves, shredded
  • salt and pepper


Put the celery, carrots and leeks in a saucepan with the stock, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, then simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.

Add the chicken, peas and scallions. Simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the peas are just tender.

Remove the pan from the heat. Lightly beat the egg yolk and cream together and stir the mixture into the soup. Reheat gently, stirring.

Ladle into warm bowls, add the lettuce and serve immediately.


Chicken Skink brought to you by: Runcible Eats (

Curried Butternut Winter Soup

February 10, 2015


Seems that good ole Punxsutawney Phil got it right. That adorable little varmint predicted six more weeks of winter and I for one believe him. Winter is not done with us yet, so it is probably a good thing to keep those soup recipes coming. Nothing better than a big bowl of steaming hot soup to warm you up while the snow is falling and the wind is howling outside. This Curried Butternut Winter Soup is just the ticket! Velvety smooth, it features a combination of butternut squash, leeks and potatoes with a bit of hot and spicy curry to give it just the right amount of kick. Its beautiful golden hue will remind you that it won’t be too much longer until these grey skies give way to longer sunny days.


Butternut Squash, with its thin, easily peelable skin, is one of the most hassle-free of the winter squashes to work with. It has a sweet and nutty taste that is similar to pumpkin. Technically a fruit, it is often thought of and prepared as a vegetable and really packs a nutritional punch. It is high if Vitamins C, A & E as well as that wonderful antioxidant beta-carotene. It is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium and potassium. So there you have it, great taste and great health benefits. Go out and get yourself some Butternut Squash today and get started on a big pot of this Curried Butternut Winter Soup. Once you’ve tucked in to a nice hot bowl of it and are all warm and cozy it will be much easier to convince yourself that six more weeks isn’t really that long at all…


Curried Butternut Winter Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe adapted from: Kristine’s Kitchen


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1½ pounds)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (can sub. in vegetable broth if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. hot curry powder (feel free to substitute a mild curry powder if you have tender taste-buds – but we like it hot & spicy!)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground black pepper and/or chopped chives, for serving


Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; saute 3 minutes. Add leek; saute 1 minute. Stir in broth. Add cayenne pepper and hot curry powder. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. (Alternatively, the soup may be pureed in batches in a blender.)

Stir in half-and-half and keep warm until you are ready to serve. Top with additional cayenne pepper and chives if desired.


Curried Butternut Winter Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (



Irish Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Soda Bread Croutons

March 6, 2014


I don’t know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but around here there is really no sign of Spring. That groundhog varmint was right and we have been firmly in the grip of an arctic vortex with temperatures lower than they have any right to go here in the supposed southern state of Virginia. The latest go round of snow and frigid temps really had me craving a big bowl of French Onion soup. But since St. Patrick’s Day is nigh, I decided to Irish it up a bit. Just how do you do that you might ask. Well, how about adding in a splash or two of Irish Whiskey (you know my brand by now right – Jameson’s) and a glug or so of Irish Stout.


This is where I’m going to get a little tricky on you though. I know a veritable river of Guinness has been flowing out of my kitchen lately. It is the Irish stout that is most widely known and I’m a fan. However, I went to college in Cork, Ireland and in that part of the country, Guinness is not King. Murphy’s Irish Stout– aka The Rebel Stout holds court there. You see Murphy’s Stout is similar to Guinness but a bit less heavy and with fewer bitter notes. It has been brewed in Cork since 1856. Why is it called “The Rebel Stout”? That has to do with its County Cork origins. Historically, Cork has been known as the Rebel County, a name it acquired due to the prominent role it played in the Irish War of Independence (1919-21) as well as the fact that it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Murphy’s Irish Stout is widely distributed outside of Ireland and you could likely easily find it at your local grocery, especially this close to St. Patrick’s Day. Next time you see it, grab some and give it a taste. You could even do a stout tasting with Guinness, Murphy’s and a few of your local brews. Sounds like fun huh? But I guess I should get back to this soup. Having spent all that time in Cork, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give Murphy’s a shout out.


I used it for this Irish Onion soup and I couldn’t have been more pleased! The malty notes from the Murphy’s Irish Stout gave this soup quite a rich and deep flavour. Yet, it still wasn’t quite Irish-y enough for me. So instead of topping my onion soup with the usual toasted french baguette slice, I baked up some mini Irish soda bread loaves which I split in half and used in lieu of the french standard.



Topped with grated Kerrygold Cheddar Cheese, you have a crouton worthy of this hearty Irish Onion Soup. guaranteed to warm you on the most polar vortex-y of days.


Irish Onion Soup

recipe adapted from: The Fox & She

Yield: 8 servings


  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium yellow onions, sliced in rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup Irish Whiskey (Jameson!)
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Pinch kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup Stout Beer, Murphys or Guinness
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 12 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Thick slices Irish Soda Bread (recipe to follow)
  • grated Irish Cheddar Cheese


In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter, cook onions over medium to medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Add whiskey, flour and pinch of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add Murphy’s (or Guinness) and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, thyme, pepper and remaining salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove thyme sprigs.

Ladle into oven safe bowl and top with 1/2 of mini soda bread loaf and grated irish cheddar. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and toast is browned. Be Careful! Some broiler are nuclear hot and will burn everything to a cinder if you turn your back for a second! (If you can’t do the broiler thing, just toast the soda bread, melt cheese over the top and then add to irish soup.)

Mini Irish Soda Breads

recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour

yield: 6 mini loaves


  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour (9 3/4 ounces) *
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • flaked sea salt
  • melted salted butter to brush top of loaves


In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, a pastry fork or blender, or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed and no large chunks remain.

In a separate bowl (or in a measuring cup) whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. The dough will be stiff; if it’s too crumbly to squeeze together, add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it’s holding together. If you are making individual mini loaves, divide into 6 equal sized pieces. ( 5 ounces each).  Shape each it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross, extending all the way to the edges, atop each loaf.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, and brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.


* If you don’t have time to order your King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour and you aren’t in Ireland with immediate access to Irish Wholemeal Flour, you can substitute in 10 ounces of King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour

**Recipe will also make 1 large loaf of Irish Soda Bread if you would rather not be bothered with the mini loaves 🙂

Czech Guláš served with Knedlicky (dumplings)

February 21, 2014


Guláš, or goulash, a soup or stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika may have Hungarian origins, but it is also quintessentially Czech. Every pub or restaurant that you go to there has their own unique version. Often it is served with Knedlicky (bread dumplings), but I’ve also seen it in a bread bowl or simply with potatoes. I can tell you this first hand because I was lucky enough to actually visit Prague back in September! In my last blog I mentioned that I had met my husband in Berlin after he finished with a work conference there. Well once we met up, we jumped on a train and high-tailed it to Prague! Now Berlin was very nice. I would definitely visit again given the chance, but Prague….well …what can I say…I am completely smitten! It was just stunningly beautiful! I really fell in love with it!


And as much as I liked our hotel in Berlin, Casa Camper, I completely adored The Golden Well (U Zlaté Studně), the boutique hotel where we stayed in Prague. I think it may indeed be my all time favourite hotel. The hotel is ideally located at the end of a quiet, cobbled, pedestrian street, right up against the walls of Prague Castle in the historic Malá Strana (Little Quarter) district.



Every single room in the hotel seemed to offer gorgeous vistas over the city.


Centrally located, it was only a short walk to get to Charles Bridge, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Old Town Square and the Jewish Quarter, yet so removed from the hustle and bustle of some areas of the city, it was a tranquil and peaceful oasis. The hotel and its exceptional staff truly exceeded our expectations. Our room was very luxurious and large. There was a bottle of wine waiting for us when we arrived,


as well as nightly bedside turn-down treats on the bedside table and a pillow menu. Yup…you heard me right. Pillow menu! You could choose a different style pillow, or two every night…”tonight I think I will go will the wool, lavender scented pillow” Yay! And the staff could not have been more friendly and attentive. As soon as we checked in we were offered a drink and snacks while a hotel representative went over a map of the city with us, advising us on possible destinations. Each afternoon wine and nibbles were served in the lounge. The breakfasts were out of this world. Not only were they served on a terrace which provided breathtaking views over the city, but they were so delicious and plentiful. I must admit this is the first time I have been exposed to the concept of the “breakfast dessert”. Just sounds great huh? Well let me explain. We were served a full cooked breakfast, you know, eggs, sausages, hash browns along with the well stocked breakfast buffet items. When we finished, our server asked if we were now ready for our “breakfast dessert” which would consist of pancakes or french toast! As much as we adored the idea, we were not able to take her up on it but it is good to keep in mind for the future! I just can not praise this hotel enough, and even if I didn’t care for Prague at all, which I assure you is not the case, I would be tempted return to the Golden Well as a destination all in itself! Over our four days in the city, we spent quite a lot of time at the Prague Castle Complex, thoroughly explored St. Vitus Cathedral,

P1020041 - Version 4



climbed to the top of the bell tower for fantastic views over the city,



took a leisurely stroll over Charles Bridge,



Commissioned by Emperor Charles VI in1357 and lined with statues of the Saints, it spans the Vlatava River connecting Prague Castle and Old Town.


saw the astronomical clock strike the hour


The astronomical clock was built in 1490.


On its hourly chiming there is a procession of the 12 apostles, Death rings a bell and inverts his hourglass.

and climbed Old Town Hall tower to take in the view as well (can’t get enough of those stairs!),



Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. Final resting place of Tycho Brahe.

roamed the Jewish Quarter,


The Old Jewish Cemetery was in use from early 15th Century up until 1787. It was the only place in which Prague’s Jewish citizens could be buried.


When they ran out of land they began to layer graves on top of one another. There are approximately 12 layers of graves, 12,000 tombstones and up to 100,000 burials.

climbed to the top of Petřín Hill



and hung out with some monastic brewers at the Strahov Monastery Brewery.


Actually, we might have spent more than our fair share of time sampling the local brews!



Whew! What a fantastic time! Needless to say, we worked up quite an appetite! And, to our delight,  pretty much every restaurant or pub we visited in that magical city had guláš on the menu. We tried out our fair share of them and enjoyed them all. Apparently Czech Guláš  is slightly different from the guláš offered in other countries in that it is a mostly beef based, thick stew served with bread dumplings and often garnished with fresh raw onions. I couldn’t wait to get back to my humble kitchen and try to figure out a good recipe. The bread dumplings were new to me, being more familiar with our big southern fluffy chicken and dumpling style dumplings. I went ahead and gave you a recipe for these Knedlicky and feel it was very similar to the dumplings we ate in Prague.


Definitely a new dumpling concept for me and I had a great time trying it out. I did seem so odd though, making a yeast bread dough and also adding bits of stale bread to the mix and then boiling it…who thought that up?! But they are just perfect for mopping up all that lovely guláš sauce. The morning after our guláš feast, we even fried a bunch of bread dumplings up in butter with our scrambled eggs and sausage and they were really tasty! We were very pleased with this version of Czech Guláš.


Quite fortuitously I made a huge pot of it right before our last big snow storm and it went a long way towards keeping the chill away on those frigid nights . Not to mention, its very presence couldn’t help but to  call to mind the heart warming memories from our Prague holiday. I can not wait to go back!


Czech Guláš

yield: 6 -8 servings


  • 3 lb. beef stew meat (boneless chuck roast), cubed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to season meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to season meat
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced into rings
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 12 oz. Pilsner Urquell beer
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal ( or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup water

for garnish:

  • onions
  • hot red peppers
  • parsley


In a 12″ skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high. Working in batches, add beef which has been seasoned with salt and pepper to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove to platter and set aside.

In same skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute onions until tender. Add garlic, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring mixture continuously for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Mix beef broth, pilsner beer and tomato paste together. Place browned beef and onion mixture into slow cooker. Pour broth mixture over meat and onions. Add salt, pepper, marjoram and cinnamon. Stir until ingredients are well combined.

Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 6 hours.

About 30 minutes prior to serving, whisk cornmeal with water until smooth. Stir mixture into Guláš to thicken.

Garnish each bowl with onion, spicy red pepper and fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with 3-4 Knedlicky per helping. (recipe below) Or alternatively, serve in bread bowls.



  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 grams yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups cubed white bread


Place milk in saucepan and warm to lukewarm (95° F). Pour 1/2 cup of warmed milk into bowl of stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes or so until foamy.

Add the egg yolk and remainder of yeast and stir on low speed with the paddle attachment. Begin adding the flour, about 1 cup at a time. Add the cubed bread. If mixture seems too dry, add a bit more milk. Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough should be elastic.

Dust work surface with flour and divide dough into 4 equal peices. Shape each into oblong rolls. Place rolls on parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 hour or until approximately doubled in size.

When dough is ready, prepare a large pot of salted, boiling water. Carefully slide dumpling rolls, two at a time, into boiling water. Cover pot and reduce to simmer. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes, turning rolls several times so that they will cook evenly.

Remove from boiling water and place on cutting board. Cut dumplings into 1/4″ slices using string and serve immeadiately with Guláš. (if you want “neater” edges to your dumplings, use biscuit cutter )

Wrap any left over dumplings in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. To reheat the dumplings, place in steamer basket and steam for about 8 minutes.


Roasted Potato Leek Soup

March 4, 2013


Now what you’ve got here is a big, hearty bowl of comfort! Roasted Potato Leek Soup will really warm you up this winter. And yes…it is still winter. It snowed yesterday and I hear it will be snowing again this Wednesday. And we haven’t had any cool snow at all this winter. You know the scenario where there is just enough snow to make everything look pretty and get work cancelled yet  a small enough amount that it’s completely melted in a couple of days? No, all that has shown up this winter are trifling little wet flakes that don’t amount to anything and are just plain annoying. Having a big old pot of this rustic, delicious soup goes a long way toward soothing those winter frayed nerves. I have eaten many a bowl of it in Ireland and thought it would be great to add to my St. Patrick’s Day countdown.


But this soup is a little different from many of those which I consumed in various pubs across Ireland. In this creation, the potatoes and leeks are roasted before being added to the soup, which really enhances their flavours. And this lovely soup also has a surprise ingredient in it, Arugula or Rocket as it is often called in Europe. ( I think Rocket sounds better than Arugula, so I’m going to go with that for the rest of this post). When I first came across this recipe, I must admit, I was a bit skeptical about the addition of Rocket, but decided to go ahead and give it a try. I’m so glad I did because that peppery taste of that herb really adds that extra something to this vibrant, fresh tasting Potato & Leek soup. Oh and white wine, cream and parmesan cheese also show up in the list of ingredients, so you know this soup has to be unbelievably tasty!


As it turns out, this soup not only tastes fantastic, but it is also good for you. Right now I’m sure you’re thinking, “yeah right…a cream based soup is good for me”. But I’m telling you it is. This soup has leeks, which everyone knows we love in this house. Leeks are part of the Alliaceae family along with garlic and onions. But leeks have a much more delicate, sweet flavour to them than their better known cousins. They are actually one of the most nutritious winter vegetables to be had. They are high in fiber, a good source of antioxidants, folate, vitamin C, B6, K, manganese and iron. I can tell your eyes are glazing over a bit now, but hang in there for just a second. Some of the health benefits of all those things I just rattled off are, lowering and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure and risk of Coronary Artery Disease and lowering the risk of low-level inflammatory  states like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Pretty impressive list huh?  But besides leeks, this soup also has a bunch of Rocket mixed in. Now Rocket has been grown as an edible herb since Roman times and was rumoured to be an aphrodisiac! Virgil states that “rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people”. It was likely this belief that lead to the prohibition of its cultivation in monastic gardens in the Middle Ages. Rocket has a rich peppery taste and is often eaten raw in salads, and it is actually a much more nutritious choice than most other salad greens. For instance, when you compare it to iceberg lettuce, you will find that Rocket has 8X more calcium, 5X more vitamin A, C and K and 4X the iron! Wowza! And although most folks do think of it as a salad green, it is actually classified as a cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These type of vegetables aid in the regulation of your immune system functions, which can protect you against cancers. Not to mention, like Kale, it is a good source of antioxidants. So there you have it! Healthy, Delicious and comforting! A combination not often found. You can serve this soup sprinkled with chives and accompanied with a lovely piece of butter slathered Cheddar & Chive Guinness Bread as I did. Or you could garnish it with some nice crispy crumbled bacon or pancetta. The possibilities are endless. I think I’ll just throw another log on the fire now and tuck in a big bowl of that divine Roasted Potato Leek Soup. Surely Spring is just around the corner!


Roasted Potato Leek Soup

recipe from: Dough-Eyed Girls

Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, cleaned (about 4-5 large leeks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula (rocket), lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan


Roast potatoes and leeks in olive oil and pepper at 400° F for 40-45 minutes, or until tender. Add Arugula/Rocket and roast for 5 more minutes.

Transfer vegetables to a bowl, adding the wine and 5 cups of the chicken broth. Be sure to scrape the pan clean of all the crispy bits – these add tons of flavor!

Puree the vegetables and stock until smooth in a food processor or blender. Transfer to large pot. I actually transferred my roasted vegetables directly to a large pot, added the broth and then used an immersion blender to puree.

Add stock until the consistency reaches a thick soup, and add cream and parmesan. Heat, covered until ready to serve.


Chorizo & White Bean Stew

February 25, 2013


I love this Chorizo and White Bean Stew! Hearty and spicy, it’s just the thing to warm you up this winter. I know that the old ground hog said winter was over, but I don’t think he consulted with Mother Nature on the subject before he made his announcement. It is still quite cold around here! So this stew is just perfect. Chock full of spinach, it tastes wonderfully fresh and has just got to be good for you. And it has beans in it! As I’ve mentioned, beans are a great healthy choice. My husband loves them and I’m starting to come around. I was definitely digging the cannellini beans in this dish. Not to mention that spicy chorizo sausage.


Yuu-um! For those of you out there who aren’t big fans of spicy food, you can tone this recipe down by using a mild Italian sausage rather than the chorizo. Some other great things about this stew besides the yum factor, is that it not only takes no time to prepare but you also need dirty only one dish. The original recipe recommended you prepare it in a large skillet. I was more comfortable making it in a large Le Creuset Dutch Oven. By doing so, I didn’t have to worry if I had a large enough pan and was able to add a bit more broth to thin the consistency. Clean-up was a breeze. This Chorizo & White Bean Stew is an all-round winner!


Chorizo and White Bean Stew

recipe from: Bon Appetit

yield: 4-6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo or Italian sausage links
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (about 10 cups)
  • Smoked paprika


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same pan. Add onion, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-8 minutes. Add beans and broth and cook, crushing a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken sauce, until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach by handfuls and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Slice chorizo and fold into stew; add water or chicken broth to thin, if desired. Divide stew among bowls; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with paprika.


Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

January 17, 2013


I’m so excited! I was actually able to use the ham bone that was left over from our Christmas ham this past year. I always have great intentions of using the ham bone, but always seem to be busy with post-holiday stuff at the time it makes itself available to me. So, I wrap it up ever so carefully and put it in the freezer, confident I will make some sort of delicious soup or stew. Well, of course, I sort of forget it is in there until we have an extended power outage and I’m sitting on the floor performing triage on all of my rapidly melting frozen goodies. (Falls Church seems to lose power all of the time! I grew up way out in the country, on a little island and I used to think we lost power there a lot. HAH! Falls Church definitely takes the cake in that department!) At that moment, the old Christmas ham bone does not warrant a place in the Coleman cooler. So it is either flung into the trash or it is given to a very lucky fox who goes running about the neighborhood with it like he won the lottery. This year, my refrigerator outsmarted me and promptly died a couple of days past Christmas. Quite considerate when you think it could have just given up the ghost right before our big Holiday meal. So there was no freezing of the ham bone, oh no. I had to act right away! Luckily I had just received a slow cooker. I took a quick peek online and found a great recipe, which I did adapt a bit. I just popped all of the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and didn’t think about it again until it was dinner time. Well, that’s not really true. Since it was my maiden voyage with a slow cooker I was looking at it constantly, but next time I’m sure I will pay it no mind and just let it do its thing. I’m happy to report that the soup was a huge success. We’ve eaten it simply ladled into bowls as well as over rice,  though always sprinkled with gooey melted cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro with a hunk of cornbread, slathered in butter on the side. Delicious!  Nice and spicy. It will really warm you up on a damp and rainy day. I’m very pleased with it and I’m not really that much of a “bean person”. My husband LOVES beans. All of them. Even those lima beans, which he calls “butter beans”, which I call “chalk beans”. Boo! You won’t catch me making any kind of lima bean concoction any time soon. But these black beans are winners. And let me tell you, my husband is in bean heaven! Tonight, for this recipe’s next incarnation, I’m thinking I’m going to mix some rice in with it to thicken it up a bit, roll it up in some tortillas and serve them smothered with cheese, guacamole, salsa and a bit of chopped lettuce and tomatoes. (This recipe does make a whole heck of a lot of soup, so if it’s just two of you, you might need to get a bit creative with how you present it…) All in all a big win! Yay ham bone & yay slow cooker!


Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

recipe adapted from:

yield: approximately 10-12 servings (a whole mess of soup!)


  • 16 ounces dry black beans
  • 2 quarts water
  • bone from a large ham
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground Chipotle pepper
  • water, enough to cover all of the ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • cheese and more cilantro to garnish


The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad beans or other debris. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts water. Remove the beans that float. Soak beans overnight.

Place the ham bone in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker pot. Add the drained soaked beans, the peppers onion, tomatoes (with liquid) chili powder, garlic and spices. Add enough water to the pot to cover everything. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 6-7 hours, until the beans are tender.

About 1 hour before serving, add the salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Place the lid back.

Just prior to serving, remove the ham bone. If any meat is still clinging to it, remove it and add it back to the soup. Ladle it into bowls or serve over rice, garnished with cheddar cheese and additional fresh cilantro.


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