Category Archives: Soups and Stews

Broccoli and Spinach Bisque

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Years ago, while growing up, if I wanted to have a bowl of soup for lunch, it came out of a small bright red and white can.  It was called Campbell’s…  Our family always had Campbell’s condensed cans of cream of mushroom, chicken noodle or tomato available in the cupboard ready to add water and heat up.  Back then, I thought that it tasted great for I did not know any better.  Homemade soup was pretty much nonexistent in our diets because we never made it at home and we rarely ate at what I would call a “sit down restaurant”.  And if we did, I would always order a green salad instead of soup.

I was first introduced to making homemade soups after I moved out of the house in my late teens.  I learned how to prepare soups while working my way through college as a short order cook.  As a short order cook, I discovered how easy, inexpensive and delicious homemade soups can be.  In the commercial kitchen, I learned how to make bean soups, cream soups, vegetable soups, noodle soups and so much more.  I strongly believe that my education in the restaurant was as valuable as the high priced education that I received in college.

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Today, I want to share with you an easy to make Broccoli and Spinach Bisque.  It’s made with fresh organic broccoli, spinach and leeks in a good quality chicken stock with a hint of white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.  Instead of using heavy cream with a ton of fat and calories, I’ve lightened it up a bit with some 2% milk.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling that we’re not having Campbell’s anymore”.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 2 cups leeks (white and light green parts only, chopped)
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups milk (2%)

Begin by cooking the leeks in 1 Tbs butter in a large sauce pan.  Cook over medium flame until translucent, stirring constantly taking care not to burn.  Add broccoli, chicken stock and salt.  Cover and cook until broccoli is tender.  Add spinach, grated nutmeg and white pepper and cook a few minutes more.  Meanwhile in a medium sized sauce pan cook butter and flour mixture (making a roux) until a light golden brown.  Add milk, whisk constantly and cook until thickened.  Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture.  Puree with hand blender and cook for a few more minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into cups or bowls and garnish with chopped green onion or chives.  Makes 2 quarts or about 8 – 1 cup servings.

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Easy Lentil Chili

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One evening after work last week, Bruce and I had quite the discussion on how we wanted to eat healthier meals in the New Year.  We talked about eating more vegetarian dishes and avoiding white bread, white sugar and most the most damaging thing of all, fast food.  Our conversation was not about making any resolutions, it was all about making some positive lifestyle changes.  I particularly liked that idea for I don’t believe in resolutions.  I know that when I make New Year’s resolutions, you can bet that I will break them within a few short months.

One of the challenges with cooking healthy meals in our home is finding dishes that both Bruce and I will enjoy.  For instance, I love ingredients such as kidney beans, green peas, fresh picked asparagus and mushrooms.  Bruce on the other hand, will not (knowingly) eat those foods.  He considers them taboo.  And trust me…  He has quite the list of “taboo” ingredients.  So, in order to accomplish preparing a meal that I know that Bruce will like, I sometimes have to get really creative and super stealthy.  That sometimes means chopping the forbidden ingredients into smaller pieces, not telling Bruce what he is “really” eating unless he asks and putting the focus on creating fabulous flavor profiles that distracts his attention.  In other words, out of site, out of mind is the key when preparing a dish for Bruce.

While shopping at Trader Joe’s last week I found a package of precooked lentils in the produce section of the store.  Fortunately, after about ten years of marriage, Bruce has finally warmed to the idea of eating lentils.  Unlike Bruce, I have always loved lentils and with our busy lives this precooked ingredient was something that I just had to try.  I figured that the precooked lentils would be delicious in salads or soups for lunch during the work week.  This evening, I opted to put the lentils in a quick chili for dinner.  As a result, I am glad that I did.  Bruce absolutely loved it!  And the cool part about all this was that he did not notice that he just ate a meal that was hearty, and high in fiber and iron.  And, as a final double bonus, it was vegetarian and cholesterol free!

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My Easy Lentil Chili is super simple to make, incredibly flavorful and tastes great with fresh baked cornbread and a leafy green salad on the side.  Garnish my Easy Lentil Chili with some shredded cheddar cheese, a little dollop of light sour cream, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 17 oz. package Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (about 2 1/2 cups, cooked)
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbs flour (whisked with 1/2 cup stock to make a slurry)
  • 2 Tbs extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream or fresh cilantro (optional)

In a medium sized pot on medium flame, cook onions in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add 1/2 package of lentils, vegetable stock, coffee, flour slurry, extra dark cocoa powder, dark chili powder, brown sugar, garlic paste, cumin, sriracha, thyme, salt and pepper.  Turn down the heat, cook uncovered on low for about 30 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally, taking care not to burn the chili.  Add remaining lentils and cook covered for an additional 15 minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and/or chopped cilantro.  Makes about 4 servings.

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Egg Drop Soup

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Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love it when the leaves on the deciduous trees in my neighborhood turn canary yellow, fiery orange and bright red.  Fresh picked apples, pears and pumpkins are some of the last crops sold at the local farmers markets as the late summer harvest winds down.  Remnants of my little garden will be tossed in a compost bin and added back to the soil next year.  Seeds will be saved.  Pots need to be scrubbed and cleaned and tomato cages need to be stacked.  In a few short months, the seed catalogs for next year will be in my mailbox.  Can you believe it?  I’m already planning next year’s garden.

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On the flip side, fall marks the beginning of the cold and flu season.  People walking around with sniffles and barking coughs become increasingly noticeable.  At the grocery store, over the counter cold remedies and boxes of tissue seem to fly off the store shelves.  Hand sanitizer and constant hand washing does help in the prevention of colds but, sometimes there’s no avoiding it.  Once you got it, you’ve got it.  We’ve all had it.  Unfortunately, most of the time, you just have to let it simply run its course…

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One of my favorite dishes to prepare while dealing with the common cold is Egg Drop Soup.  My Egg Drop Soup is similar to what you may find at your favorite Chinese restaurant.  My Egg Drop Soup is slightly different for I like to add finely chopped carrots, celery and use galangal root instead of ginger.  It’s easy to prepare, mild in flavor and has a wonderful soul soothing chicken soup like quality about it.  I love curling up on the couch with a good book and wrapping my hands around a warm little cup of my Egg Drop Soup.  Egg Drop Soup certainly won’t cure your cold but it may help you feel just a little bit better.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart chicken stock (reserve 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped fine)
  • 1/2 cup carrot (chopped fine)
  • 1 slice dried galangal root
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 1/4 Tbs cornstarch
  • salt to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce (optional)
  • chives or green onion for garnish

In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat add 3 cups chicken stock, celery, carrot, galangal, and white pepper.  Bring to a slow boil.  Cook until the celery and carrots are tender.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together the cornstarch and 1 cup of chicken stock.  Add cornstarch mixture to soup and stir well.  In a small bowl lightly beat eggs.

Now, grab a spoon and stir the boiling soup in a single direction.  Slowly add the egg mixture to the soup stirring gently.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Remove galangal root.  Add soy sauce if desired and garnish with chopped chives or green onions.  Makes about 4 – 1 cup servings.

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Fava Bean and Ham Soup

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I can’t even believe it.  It’s starting to feel like autumn.  The mornings are cool and the days are getting noticeably shorter.  As I look out my kitchen window, I see that the leaves on many of the trees are starting to turn yellow and some are even beginning the fall drop.  My garden is starting to wind down and the tomatoes are slower to ripen.  With the official start of fall in a few days, the first fall frost is likely to happen later this month or early October.  Once the frost hits, my summer garden is pretty much done for the season.  After that, no more fresh picked organic tomatoes, basil, beans, cucumbers or summer squash.  Bummer…  I will have to wait until next year for the convenience of fresh picked veggies or spend big bucks at the local co-op to get my organic fresh  vegetable fix.

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A bucketful of some of the last of the cherry tomato crop…  If you never have had home grown cherry tomatoes you are missing out big time.  Home grown cherry tomatoes taste so different than the ones you may find at your local store.  They are thinner skinned, juicier, sweeter and pack some hard core flavor.  One of my favorite things to do while watering my garden in the evening is to stand next to one of the cherry tomato plants and pop handfuls of these little red gems in my mouth.  They are so delicious!

While looking for some dried Lima beans at the grocery store yesterday, I ran across a bag of Bob’s Red Mill fava beans.  I’ve never cooked with fava beans before.  Fava beans looked like large Lima beans so I thought that I would give them a try.  Fortunately, the fava beans were shelled so I did not have to deal with the tedious task of shelling them myself.  All I did was to rinse them well and to pick through them to make sure that there was no debris mixed in with the beans.  I then soaked the fava beans in cold water for about 4 – 5 hours to soften them up.

My Fava Bean and Ham Soup is made with roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, carrot and onion and then simmered in a good quality chicken stock with herbs and spices.  It’s a wonderfully hearty and flavorful soup that’s perfect for a cool fall day.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried fava beans (shelled, picked over and soaked at least 4 hours)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound ham (chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Place a large sized heavy bottomed pot or a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid on the stove.  Turn heat to medium high and add canola oil, onions, bell pepper, celery and roasted tomatoes.  Cook, stirring constantly until onions are translucent.  Add remaining ingredients, cover, and turn stove down to simmer.  Cook for 2 – 3 hours until the fava beans are tender or to your liking, stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaf.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.

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Golden Gazpacho Shooters

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Every summer there comes a time when I have “almost” too many tomatoes growing in my garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I will eat fresh picked tomatoes with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It’s just that by mid summer they seem to ripen all at once.  I have limited freezer space at our home so that’s when I share the bounty with family and friends.  I could not imagine a single summer without home grown tomatoes in my garden.

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A few of my tomato plants.  I plant them in sturdy metal tomato cages to keep them growing upright and from falling over.  I also trim the leaves at the base of the tomato plants so all the energy in the plants gets redirected from growing leaves to tomato production.  Did you notice that I cram my plants in a really small space?  No patch of precious real estate ever gets wasted in my garden.  What you see here are early girls, lemon boys and my all time favorite, pineapple tomatoes.  I also planted nasturtiums at the base of the tomato plants.  The nasturtium flowers are edible and have a wonderful peppery flavor.  The bright colored petals are great for garnish or in salads.

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Whenever I head out the side yard to my little garden, my buddy Gromit is sure to follow.  He’s such a comical creature.  While out, he goes on what I call “cat patrol”.  First, he runs straight to the front gate to make sure that there are no uninvited guests in the area and then he follows the perimeter of the fence to ensure that the yard is cat free.  He thinks he’s such a tough guy.  It must be that spike collar of his…  I feel sorry for any unsuspecting cat that happens to be in our yard when he flies out the back door.

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A bucket full of fresh picked garden goodies.  The lemon cucumbers, yellow peppers and tomatoes will be going into my Golden Gazpacho soup.  The remaining heirloom tomatoes and peppers will be oven roasted and tossed in the freezer to be used at a later date when the tomatoes and peppers are no longer in season.  If you happen to have a bunch of heirloom tomatoes that are yellow or orange in color, be sure to set some aside to make some golden gazpacho.  If you love tomatoes and never had gazpacho before, you are in for a real treat.  Gazpacho is an easy to prepare chilled tomato soup that is Spanish in origin.  It’s wonderfully light, refreshing and delicious.  It’s like sunshine in a shot glass!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds vine ripened yellow or orange tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2- 3 lemon cucumbers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • big pinch of cumin (or to taste)
  • Garnish with tomatoes and basil

Rinse and remove skin and seeds from the tomatoes.  Cut into quarters.  Peel and chop the onion.  Slice lengthwise and remove the stem and all the seeds from the yellow pepper.  Wash, lightly peel and quarter the lemon cucumbers.  Peel garlic clove.  Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Chill well before serving.  Pour into bowls or into shot glasses for elegant mini appetizers.  Garnish with cherry tomatoes and/or basil.  Makes about 6 cups gazpacho.

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Oregon Elk Stew

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A few months ago I was invited to do a guest post for one of the best food bloggers that I know.  His name is Raymund and his blog is named Ang Sarap.  He’s a Filipino food blogger who is passionate about food.  What I love about Ang Sarap is that you never know what Raymund is going to dish up.  One day, it may be a traditional Filipino recipe and the next day he might serve up a platter of spicy Buffalo wings.  His food photography, versatility, and ability to cook is simply amazing!

The dish I chose to share with Raymund at Ang Sarap is my Oregon Elk Stew.  Elk meat is very low fat and high in protein.  It’s similar in flavor to beef and tastes milder than venison.  My Oregon Elk Stew is prepared with bright orange carrots, onions, celery, and zucchini and then slow cooked on the stove top with red wine and fresh picked herbs from my garden.  It’s best served with a scoop of mashed potatoes on the side and with a slice of your favorite crusty bread. 

Many thanks to Raymund for allowing me to be do a guest post on his site!  Those who have not met Raymund, please stop by, say hello, and most of all, subscribe to Ang Sarap.  You’ll be glad that you did!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  1 ½ pounds elk stew meat (beef may be substituted)
  •  2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 1 zucchini (chopped)
  • ½ quart beef stock or as needed
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 – 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 – 2 Tbs canola oil
  • Dash of Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by cutting the elk meat into uniform sized cubes.  In a medium sized bowl, coat the elk meat with flour, salt and pepper.  Place a thick bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid (I used a Dutch oven) on the stove and heat to medium high heat.  Add canola oil and the elk meat.  Brown the elk on all sides, be careful not to burn.  Add beef stock and red wine to the pot and use a spoon to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and oregano.  Turn heat down to low and cover.  Cook for an hour and a half or until the meat is fork tender.  Add carrots and celery and cook covered for an additional 30 minutes. If needed, thicken stew with a flour and water mixture. About 15 minutes before serving add zucchini.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add a dash of Kitchen Bouquet for a richer colored stew (optional). Remove bay leaf and serve with mashed potatoes.  Makes 4 servings.

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Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup

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Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup

On my days off, I love spending my free time in my little garden.  Gardening diverts my attention from my hectic day job into something completely relaxing and calm.  Tending to my plants whether it be watering, weeding or picking bugs off the leaves of my lettuce makes me happy.  I’ve enjoyed gardening for many years and every year and season my garden changes.

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My garden is small but very productive.  Two raised beds, a small patch of dirt and several large pots.  That’s it.  I utilize every bit of precious gardening space that I can.  During the spring months, I grow my cool weather crops.  Cool weather crops include kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, kohlrabi and radicchio.  In a few weeks, what you see here will be replaced by tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers and corn.  I rotate the variety of plants every year and I make sure that I never put the same plants in the same spot every year.

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A bucket of fresh picked Redbor Kale.  I made the decision to harvest all my kale this morning.  I did that because I needed to make room for the tomatoes that I will be planting next weekend. I gave a few bunches of kale away to friends and family and the rest went into the freezer.  I saved one bunch for my Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup.

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Redbor Kale.  If you are not familiar with kale, you need to know that kale does not form a head like lettuce and that it has a cabbage like texture.  I chose the Redbor variety of kale for my garden this year because I liked the purple color on the leaves and stems.  I was not disappointed.  It has a wonderful flavor too.

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About four feet away from the kale, I planted a small patch of spinach.  2 packets of seed, warm days, plenty of water and a month later I have almost too much spinach.  I need to start sharing the spinach with friends and family too.  What’s worse is that I am starting to think that Bruce is getting tired of having spinach frequently as a side dish for the past couple of weeks. Fresh spinach is delicious and good for you.  Organically grown spinach like mine, is even better.  In a month or so I will be growing zucchini and yellow squash in its place.  Unfortunately, Bruce despises squash.  In the meantime, I hope that he enjoys his spinach.

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My Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup is a simple recipe that I pulled together for a quick and healthy lunch during the work week.  It’s made with fresh picked kale from my garden, great northern beans, carrots, onion and thyme.  It’s easy to make and tastes delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch of kale (I used Redbor)
  • 1 can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (use more if you like)
  • 1 quart chicken stock. (use vegetable if you like)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim the kale.  Be sure remove the stems.  In a medium sized pan over medium high heat saute the onion and carrots in the olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add the great northern beans, garlic, thyme and chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until kale and carrots are tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.

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Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup

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Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup

It’s been a while since I have posted a recipe.  It’s not because I am lazy or that I have been burned out.  It’s just that when I have a ton of things that need to be done, unfortunately, my website takes a back seat.  My day job and chores around our home come first.  Feral Kitchen unfortunately finishes second.  And quite frankly, I don’t like it one bit…

Well, I’m happy to be back and the recipe that I want to share today is a simple Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup that I prepared for a few of my lunches during the work week.  I packed a bowl and a half sandwich today in my lunch box, and put the other 3 servings in the freezer for lunch at a later date.  My Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup is made with lentils, bacon, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and a healthy hit of cayenne pepper.  It’s simple, flavorful and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans lentils
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh green onion

Begin by rinsing and draining the lentils.  Set aside.  Chop the bacon and add to a large sauce pan.  Over medium heat crisp the bacon and drain.  Add onion and cook until opaque.  Add lentils, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken stock, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, cumin and coriander.  Cook until the carrots and celery until they are tender.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Makes 4 servings.

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A Winter Weekend in the Cascade Mountains and Chicken Lentil Soup

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Chicken Lentil Soup 

I love living in Southern Oregon.  One of my favorite things to do during the winter months is to visit the Cascade Mountains.  This year our family and friends stayed in some cabins up at Hyatt Lake over the weekend.  Hyatt Lake is about an hour drive from our home but in snowy weather, it may take twice as long.  There was at least 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground and the temperature was a bone chilling 16 degrees.   The only way we could get up to our cabins was with four wheel drive pickup trucks for there was nearly 10 miles of narrow snow packed roads.

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A view up towards the summit.

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Along the edge of Hyatt Lake.  The lake was frozen over.  During the summer months, Hyatt Lake is known for its wonderful trout fishing and camping.

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A view across the lake.  The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick and covered with snow.  We would not dare walk out onto the lake for it was too risky and dangerous.

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Sunset in the forest.  It was eerily quiet.  The only noise that we heard was the snow dropping off the branches of the trees.  There were no birds, squirrels or any signs of wildlife. The birds either migrated south or are spending the winter in the valley below. Other animals such as black bear, skunks and squirrels are hibernating in their dens.  Deer, cougars and elk generally find their way down to the warmer lower elevations during the cold winter months.

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A view from the top of the mountain.  You can see the ski resort at Mount Ashland in the background.

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Snow covered Chinquapin Mountain. In late spring, when the snow has melted, Chinquapin Mountain is one of my favorite places to hunt for Morel mushrooms.  When I get some mushrooms this year, I’ll be sure to post some delicious Morel mushroom recipes.

After spending a cold day in the snow, my Chicken Lentil Soup is a perfect way to warm up. My Chicken Lentil Soup is made with locally grown organic green Laird Lentils, carrots, onions, celery, chunks of tender chicken and flavored with my homemade Garam Masala Spice Blend.  It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and as an added bonus, it’s really good for you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Laird lentils (washed and picked over)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Garam Masala spice blend
  • 1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender.  Add lentils, Garam Masala, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock.  Cook on low heat until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  Add cooked chicken about 10 minutes before lentils are done.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Makes about 4 servings.

*Note:  I used precooked chicken that I found in the deli section of my favorite store.  I added the chicken towards the end of the cooking process because I wanted the chicken to stay tender.

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New England Clam Chowder for a crowd

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New England Clam Chowder

Chances are that if you spent Christmas Eve at our home you’ve had a big bowl of my homemade New England Clam Chowder.  It’s been a family tradition of ours for nearly 20 years to serve piping hot New England Clam Chowder, fresh baked rolls, sourdough bread, pints of beer, flutes of prosecco and sparkling apple cider.  Whenever I prepare the chowder, I make a large vat of it…  When I say vat, I mean two and a half gallons or enough to serve well over a dozen people.  That’s a lot of chowder!

I don’t think I’ve ever made this recipe on a small scale before…  And this is the first time that I have written down the recipe.  Whenever I prepare the soup, it’s from memory and taste. Since the recipe makes about 10 quarts of chowder, be prepared to spend a couple of hours preparing the soup.  It’s just that large quantities of soups take longer to cook than recipes for 4 to 6 people.

My New England Clam Chowder is a wonderfully hearty and creamy soup with tender clams, diced potatoes, onion, celery and bits of bacon.  I then finish the soup with a bit of half and half to lend a bit more creaminess to the chowder and then garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley for color.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped clams
  • 1 – 51 ounce can of clam juice
  • 12 cups diced potatoes (russet)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 2 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Place 12 cups of potatoes in a covered pan.  Add 7 cups of water and 1 tsp salt.  Cover and boil over medium heat until potatoes are tender (be sure not to over cook the potatoes).  Drain, cover and set aside.  Meanwhile, sauté the onions, celery, a big pinch of salt in 2 Tbs butter.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Remove from heat and place onions and celery aside for later.

In a large pot, cook the bacon.  Remove bacon from the pot and set aside.  Add 1 1/3 cup flour to the bacon grease.  Add canola oil to the mixture (if needed) in order to make a thick batter like consistency.  Cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes (light roux).  Slowly add the clam juice (not the clams!) and milk whisking constantly.  Cook until thickened or about 20 – 30 minutes.

Chop the bacon into small bits.  Add the bacon, Old Bay Seasoning, white pepper, potatoes, onion, and celery and continue to cook until hot and almost to a bubble.  Don’t let the soup boil or let it stick to the bottom of the pot.  When the soup is nearly done, add clams, parsley, half and half, salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutess.  Taste the soup and correct your seasonings.  If there’s a floury taste to the soup, just cook it a bit longer.  If it’s too thick for your liking just add more milk or half and half.

Ladle hot soup into cups or bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread or fresh baked rolls.  Makes about 10 quarts.

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