Asparagus are one of my favorite vegetables. I eat them in exactly two ways: roasted simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper or cold, tossed with lemon juice and goat cheese.
When it gets cold, we seem to indulge in heartier, unhealthier comfort foods by habit. Creamy soups, butter-laden pastas, and meaty chilis. What I love about this soup is that it’s deceptively healthy. The soup itself is very light. But the creamy, melty dollop of goat cheese in the middle of the bowl makes it feel far more indulgent than it really is.
Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese
Fresh asparagus Soup with tangy herbed Goat Cheese.
- 4 oz goat cheese, softened
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp chopped chives
- small handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 1 bunch (12-16 oz) asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
- 3 cups reduced-fat chicken stock/broth
- Mix goat cheese, half of the lemon juice, chives, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Use a small cookie scoop to form 4 rounds of goat cheese.
- Place on oiled parchment and stick in the freezer to harden.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Cook garlic and onions until onions are softened (do not let garlic brown).
- Add asparagus and chicken stock.
- Bring to a boil and then let simmer until asparagus has softened, about 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a standard blender and puree.
- Stir in remaining lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon soup into bowls, serve garnished with remaining parsley and herbed goat cheese rounds.
Yields: 4 servings
The worst thing about making chicken pot pie is de-meating the rotisserie chicken. It just might be the worst cooking-related task ever. I hate it more than I hate unloading the dishwasher. And that’s really saying something.
The best thing about making chicken pot pie is the chicken pot pie. (Duh.) The second best thing? Homemade chicken stock. A simmering pot of chicken and veggies makes your house smell really, really good – almost good enough to erase the nightmares of being wrist deep in chicken pieces. Almost.
Chicken stock is super easy to make. Throw the leftover chicken pieces into the largest pot you have, scavenge your veggie drawer for herbs and aromatics, and then cover it all with water. And then your house smells like Thanksgiving for two days. Or even better, it is Thanksgiving!
Some people leave Thanksgiving dinner with leftover dinner packaged to go home. I leave with the plastic wrapped turkey body and wings
Homemade Chicken or Turkey Stock
Homemade chicken or turkey stock is very easy to make.
- Remnants of 1 large rotisserie chicken or turkey (skin, bones, and anything else that wasn
- 1 large onion, peeled, halved and then quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and quartered
- 2-3 springs of rosemary and thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Place all ingredients in a large pot.
- Fill with enough water to come almost to the top of the pot (my pot holds a gallon/16 cups of water + ingredients).
- Simmer uncovered for 4-6 hours. Let cool to room temperature and then strain into a large pitcher or bowl.
- Refrigerate until cold enough for the fat to solidify.
- Scoop the fat from the stock, portion, and freeze if not using immediately.
Yields: 12 cups
Estimated time: 6 hours
Happy Independence Day to my fellow Texans! Or “Frito Pie and Shiner Day,” however you see fit to celebrate.
Jason and I have our ideas about what good chili is – and is supposed to be. Me – ridiculously spicy with no beans or ground beef (cubed beef cuts only). Jason – no beans, thick and loaded with ground beef. My friend Shannon shared her recipe for chili and it looked exactly like something Jason would like.
I stand corrected. Jason loved it. As in, “you don’t have to make that other kind again” loved it. (“That other kind” being my favorite.) I made a quadruple batch – yep, quadruple – before the baby’s arrival and froze it in quart-sized bags. To say we’ve eaten our fair share of Frito Pie around here is an understatement. You won’t hear either of us complain – Shannon knows her chili.
Shannon’s Beef or Turkey Chili
Our favorite chili, perfect for frito pie or gameday.
- 1 lb ground turkey or lean ground beef
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp chili powder*
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin*
- 1 tsp Tobasco*
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
*Wild cards. Start with these amounts and then taste after simmering. I usually double the cumin and increase the chili powder by 2-3x. And I pour in the Tobasco until Jason takes the bottle away.
- Crumble the ground turkey into a stock pot or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic, and cook stirring frequently until turkey is evenly browned.
- Drain off excess grease.
- Season with chili powder, oregano, cumin and hot sauce.
- Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour.
- Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes
There’s something about cold weather that makes me want a warm, full belly and food that I can eat with a spoon our sip from a mug. Hot chocolate, chicken pot pie, chili, and mashed potatoes go into heavy rotation when the temperature dips below 55. And so does soup. I can be wide awake but halfway through a steamy bowl (or mug!) of soup, I’ll develop an immediate need to put on a pair of fur-lined Christmas socks, grab a blanket, and take a nap. It’s the tastiest sleep medication ever.
We didn’t have to fly to Colorado to see a perfect snow fall this year. We only had to look out the window. It almost never snows here in Houston. I say “almost never” because it snowed one day last December – and just in time for us to snap a picture of our temporarily-blanketed mailbox and order photo Christmas cards. And 3 or 4 years ago, we got snow flurries on Christmas Eve. White Christmas? Probably not by your standards, but I’ll take it!
I scored an HEB Mesquite Roasted chicken for under $4 – coupons rock – and followed recommendations to increase the simmer time and decrease the onion. Delicious, satisfying, and it even freezes well which is great because it needs to. We ended up with about 10 bowls of soup which meant I didn’t have to cook lunch all week
Chicken Noodle Soup
The ultimate comfort food: homemade chicken noodle soup.
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 2 large stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 3 cups egg noodles
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Bring broth and water to a simmer over medium-high heat in a large pot.
- Debone the chicken and separate the meat from the skin and bones. Set the meat aside and add the skin and bones to the simmering broth.
- Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for an hour.
- Strain broth through a colander into a large bowl; reserve broth and discard skin and bones.
- Set the pot over medium-high heat and add the oil.
- When hot, saute the onions, carrots, and celery until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add chicken, broth and thyme. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the egg noodles and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in parsley, reserving some for garnish, and remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
- To freeze: You can freeze with or without the noodles. To freeze with the noodles, cool the finished soup and transfer to quart-size freezer bags and reheat on the stovetop. To freeze without the noodles, cool the soup and transfer to quart-size freezer bags. Reheat the soup on the stove top, adding about 1/3 cup uncooked egg noodles per reheated serving. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve.
Yields: 10 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes