summer seafood soup

Summer is a celebration of all things fresh and lovely; bursting forth with vibrant colors, herbacious notes and strong flavors. And, obviously, it’s a time to eat things that are lighter – not only because we’re no longer bundled up in layers upon layers of sweaters {I miss this part of you, winter!}, but because…let’s face it…who wants to be standing in a hot kitchen for any longer than they need to be?

Enter this soup.

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I mean, who wouldn’t want to dive in, spoon first?

You all know by now that I have a huge spot in my culinary heart for all things soup – it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, how hot or cold it is…I will never, ever turn down a bowl. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…and sometimes that means making a soup that is “summer friendly.” So when this idea popped into my mind not long ago, I knew I had to make it happen. It’s as simple as utilizing a quality bag of your favorite seafood medley {where I live, fresh seafood is not always choice/easy to come by} and jazzing it up with LOADS of freshness – we’re talking crisp white wine, simple chicken stock, and a plethora of fresh herbs and vegetables. It comes together in one pot, and is the perfect summer weeknight meal – especially when eaten al fresco : )

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Summer Seafood Soup {original recipe}

A fun twist on a classic seafood stew, this dish utilizes many pantry staples and can easily be manipulated to suit your particular tastes. Make a double batch and have dinner ready for the next day – serve atop pasta or rice with a smathering of fresh herbs, and you’re all set!

Ingredients:

1 lb. seafood medley {our local Kroger has a great blend you can get, right in the freezer department}

1 large white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minces

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 – 1 cup white wine

olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

crushed red pepper, to taste

fresh basil leaves, for garnishing {should equate to 1/4 – 1/3 cup once julienned}

**optional: if a thicker broth is desired, you can combine 1/2 T. cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Slowly whisk into the soup until thickened to your liking**

To Prepare:

In a large nonstick sautese pan, generously drizzle in olive oil until the bottom is nicely coated. Once heated through, add in the diced onion. Cook over medium heat, 6-10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add in the minced garlic and saute 3-5 minutes more, until the garlic has softened {the onions may be starting to turn slightly golden – that’s ok!}. Season the vegetable mixture with salt and pepper, as well as the crushed red pepper, to taste.

Add in the liquid ingredients {stock and wine} and bring to a slow simmer.

Add in the seafood medley, and cook according to the package directions {mine took about 12 minutes}.

Now would be the time to add in the thickening mixture, if desired. Once drizzled in, stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until you can see the difference in texture.

Dish into large soup bowls, and top with the julienned basil leaves. I also like to add a bit of extra crushed red pepper flakes, too, for a bit of extra heat.

Serve with toasted bread for dipping. Enjoy!

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The Wynn, Las Vegas

I love a good challenge, and a few weeks ago when my friends over at Vegas.com contacted me with just that opportunity, I knew I had to take them up on it!

More recently, the Wynn resort has paired up with renowned vegan chef Tal Ronnen to create dishes catered towards those who have chosen to adopt a vegan-or-vegetarian-based lifestyle. So what does this have to do with little ol’ me, you might ask? I got to pick a dish, any dish on their menu {the vegan/vegetarian menu is available all throughout the Wynn} and put my own twist on it. How fun is that, y’all!?

After hungrily perusing their menu and website, I knew I was going to stick with the one that jumped out at me right off the bat – the ‘Mushroom Risotto’, an offering at the Lake Side restaurant. Rustic and simple, but full of rich and earthy flavors, I knew that it was something I would want to recreate.

Now, all of you already know that risotto, while insanely delicious and enjoyable, is not exactly a “weeknight” friendly dish. While therapeutic and comforting to prepare, it requires a good amount of time and careful watching during the preparation; you can go from perfectly done to overcooked in the blink of an eye. So as I was thinking about how I wanted to change this up, my mind wandered over to the concept of…dumplings! Brilliant!

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By keeping the structure of the sauce {caramelized onions and fresh herbs, lots AND lots of mushrooms} the dish stays true to its roots, but is made a bit simpler for weeknight enjoyment. It takes only a few minutes to assemble, and only requires one dish for cooking! For my dishwashing hubby, that is the ultimate dream.

I also developed a bit more flavor in the base of the stew by caramelizing the onions with a splash of white wine – the bright notes {I used a chardonnay} make the dish lean a bit more towards spring flavors; it also helps you scrape up those wonderful bits of goodness on the bottom of the pan. The dumplings get an herbal punch with fresh thyme and sage, and nutritional yeast pumps it up with a subtle cheesy flavor and a bit of added protein.

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Be sure to check out @Vegas to see what other bloggers have come up with! Enjoy, and happy cooking!

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Mushroom Stew & Herb Dumplings 

You can’t mess with a classic like this dish. Perfectly wonderful served piping hot, right off the stove top. I’ve noted where options can go from vegetarian to vegan; feel free to adapt as you like! 

Ingredients:

5 to 6 cups vegetable stock {amount will vary on how thick the stew becomes when cooking the dumplings}

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup white wine

4 cups assorted seasonal mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

Herb Dumpling Ingredients:

2 cups flour {I used gluten-free}

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter {for a vegan option, a buttery spread can be substituted}

1-1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk {for a vegan option, a nut milk of choice can be used}

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh sage

pepper, to taste

Stew Directions:

In a large sauce pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once hot, add in the onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute until golden brown in color, about 10 minutes. Add in the wine, scraping the bottom to loosen up any bits. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, oregano and thyme. Cook until the mushrooms have softened and darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock; raise the heat and bring to a boil.

Prepare the dumplings while waiting for the stock mixture to boil – in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, nutritional yeast, baking soda, fresh thyme, fresh sage, and salt. Whisk to combine and then add in the butter, buttermilk and pepper.

Once the stock mixture is boiling, drop the dumpling dough in using two large spoons {like making drop cookies}. Boil until the dumplings are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Ladle into large soup bowls and enjoy!

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chicken & dumplings

Cold and dark winter evenings beg for comfort dishes to be prepared for dinner.

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Chicken and dumplings is the perfect dish to whip up on days like that. Easy to prepare and made, essentially, in one bowl. It’s an ideal entree that can be made even on the busiest of weeknights. Who doesn’t want to sit down after a long day of work to a dinner like this? Steaming hot and chock full of warm goodness, even the pickiest of eaters would be hard pressed to not enjoy this. Shredded chicken provides a boost of protein, vegetables pack in copious amounts of vitamins  and the dumplings, well, they steal the show. Fluffy and moist, so tender that they practically melt in your mouth.

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You can find me on the couch enjoying this dinner, wrapped up in my coziest blanket. Because the chilly evening has nothing that this dish can’t make better.

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Chicken & Dumplings {recipe adapted from The Gracious Pantry}

You can’t mess with a classic like this dish. Perfectly wonderful served piping hot, right off the stove top. 

Ingredients:

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

2 to 4 chicken breasts, precooked and shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced

Dumpling Ingredients:

2 cups flour {I used gluten-free}

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 butter {I used a Greek yogurt and butter blend}

1 cup buttermilk

pepper, to taste

Stew Directions:

In a large sauce pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once hot, add in the onion and carrot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano and thyme. Pour in the stock and raise heat to bring to a boil. Fold in the shredded chicken.

Prepare the dumplings while waiting for the stock mixture to boil – in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and then add in the butter, buttermilk and pepper.

Once the stock mixture is boiling, drop the dumpling dough in using two large spoons {like making drop cookies}. Boil until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Ladle into large soup bowls and enjoy!

homemade wonton soup

I have long strove to find and make a wonton soup worthy of sharing. And today, y’all, I’ve finally done it!

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Wonton soup and I go way back. As in, I can still remember the first time that I had it – the hubs and I had spent the weekend camping with friends, and after coming home cold, wet and famished, there was simply no time to cook dinner {gasp!}.We had to eat, and we had to eat NOW. I let him pick, and after settling on Chinese delivery, the doorbell rang not five minutes later with the traditional box full of goodness. When he passed me a tupperware of soup, I looked at it curiously. We didn’t do Chinese much when I was a child, but it was a cuisine that I enjoyed. So I ladled myself a bowl and dug it. And, y’all, I demolished the.entire.bowl. I couldn’t help myself; it was so good!

I look back on this memory fondly, but now that I’ve got more experience with cooking {and recipe developing} I realize that this was probably not all as comforting as it could have been. As much as we all love it, a lot of delivery food is oftentimes high in sodium and other ingredients we may not want to enjoy. I’m in no means knocking it, because we still looooove a good Chinese takeout, but this recipe for wonton soup is going to knock your socks off. It’s unbelievably delicious, for real.

I kept the ingredients super simple, and used what I had on hand. Traditionally, wontons are filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp, but I personally like to use ground chicken instead. It’s super lean, so there’s less of a risk of fat/grease leaking out when you boil them. Paired with the minced shrimp, they make the perfect canvas for the spices we will be adding in. Low-sodium chicken stock lets us control the amount of salt we add in, making it easy for anyone to customize according to their taste. Ad the add-ins once the wontons are complete totally take this dish to the next level.

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Yes, preparing wontons at home is a bit of a process, but I promise you, it’s totally worth it. I like to make double or triple for what I need when making this soup, because they freeze beautifully. Simply prepare them as followed, them placed them on a sheet tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After that, transfer them to a baggie and they will last until you next need them! That way, whenever you have a hankering for wonton soup, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Enjoy!

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Homemade Wonton Soup {recipe adapted from The Little Kitchen}

Deliciously warm and comforting, with the perfect amount of spice, this wonton soup is absolute perfection. 

Ingredients: Wonton Filling

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. shrimp {peeled, deveined and washed, finely diced}

1 cup of your favorite greens, finely shredded

3 green onions, finely diced

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

wonton wrappers

salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients: Broth/Soup Base 

8 to 10 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 large onion, peeled and sliced in half

1 lime, washed and sliced in half

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

1 head baby broccoli, washed and cut into florets

sliced green onions

optional add-ins/toppings: soy sauce, sriracha, soft-boiled egg, sesame oil, kale, arugula

To Prepare:

Add wonton filling ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix together, being sure to incorporate well. Everything should be smooth and well combined.

Add water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.

In another {larger} pot, add chicken broth, onion, lime and garlic. Turn onto low heat.

To make the wontons: Add 1/2 Tbsp. filling into the middle of a wonton wrapper, and fold it so that forms a triangle. Flatten out to ensure that there are no air bubbles when boiling. Using your fingers and thumb, pinch the wrapper shut. I find it helpful to lay out an entire baking sheet, brush all edges with a big of egg white, and make an assembly line of sorts…scoop all filling out, then go back and triangle, then go back and pinch shut.

Boil wontons 6 to 8 at a time for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to platter.

While cooking the wontons, increase the heat of the broth to high and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. 1 to 2 minutes before you are ready to serve, add in the baby broccoli florets and green onions.

To serve: place desired amount of wontons into a large soup bowl, and ladle broth over. Garnish with additional toppings.

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ramen bowls with chicken & vegetables

Broth-based soups are the perfect canvas for taking on any flavor you want to impart.

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Whether we’re talking a seafood or meat based, a vegetable base, or a combination of sorts, there is really no limit to the imagination what you can do with a good box of stock {or homemade, if you have that!}. It makes for an easy dish, and warms you to the core.

But sometimes, you want a soup that comes together quickly, no? Sure, using the crockpot is great, or letting it slowly simmer on the stovetop for an hour or so, but sometimes that just won’t do. Tempting as it is, you might want to call in take-out…I won’t judge! But next time you’re thinking of doing so, consider making this soup! It’s bursting with flavor, texture, and color. It comes together in just a quick bit, and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand. If not, go crazy and throw in a few substitutions! – short on arugula?…throw in some kale or spinach. – don’t have any chicken?…frozen shrimp would be great!

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This soup is adaptable to any palette, and soooooo.much.better than any take-out can deliver. It can be easily doubled or tripled for leftovers the next day, too!

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Ramen Bowls with Chicken &Vegetables {recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats, original recipe from Easy Gourmet}

Quick to put together and full of flavor, this ramen bowl will warm you through and through. I especially like it drizzled with some sriracha sauce for a bit of extra flavor – and even more drizzled if I’m feeling a bit under the weather. 

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sweet corn

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

8 ounces arugula

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock

6 ounces ramen noodes {I get them at a local Asian market; if that’s not available, a pack from the grocery store will work just fine!}

6 ounces cooked chicken

4 green onions, thinly sliced

optional: toasted sesame oil for drizzling, nori/seaweed pieces from serving

To Prepare:

Begin by soft boiling the eggs so that they can cool. Heat about three inches of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Once boiling, reduce the heat until it’s barely a simmer, add the eggs gently and cook for 6 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Let cool completely before peeling.

Prepare the ramen noodles by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Once there, drop in the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and add the corn, stirring to coat. Add in the onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Once warmed through and the onions are slightly translucent, transfer to a bowl.

Heat the chicken stock just until it’s boiling, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Begin preparing the ramen bowls. In separate sections {it makes for a pretty presentation!} add in the noodles, corn, arugula and chicken.

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Ladle broth over the top, and finish with sliced green onions. The eggs can be halved and served right in the soup, or on the side. Enjoy!

smokey sweet potato & chicken soup

Soup season is fiiiiiiiiiinally here! I couldn’t be more thrilled, although I’m sure y’all caught on to that already.

So, let’s talk. I’m the first to admit that even in the hottest, most humid parts of summer, I will crave soup. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. There’s just something that speaks to my soul about a bowl brimming with seasoned broth, emanating the most wonderful aromas. It’s divine.

So now that autumn has hit our quiet little town with full force {the leaves on the tree in our front yard have all fallen down, completely!} it’s time to embrace the heartier, more substantial side of the soup spectrum. Root vegetables, beans and squash find their way into my concoctions way more frequently than they do in the summer months – but that’s what this season is all about, no?

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This soup should be the way everyone welcomes autumn. Pulling out your largest stock pots and preparing to simmer a hearty mixture of vibrant sweet potatoes and a mixture of beans, this will stick to your ribs and leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not weighed down. You’re going to get a great mix of vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables we’re using here, plus a protein boost from the shredded chicken. It comes together quickly, and in just one pot {!}, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

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Smokey Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup {recipe adapted from The Gouda Life}

Easily adaptable to whatever root vegetables and beans you have on hand, this soup makes the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s filling but won’t leave you feeling stuffed. Made even more wonderful when topped with some roasted seeds {pumpkin or sunflower would be great here} and drizzled with a bit of creme fraiche, this is truly a one-pot wonder. I’d recommend making a double batch, if you’re feeling up to it – this freezes beautifully and defrosts easily. 

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large sweet potato, diced small {skins on or off}

3-4 cups cooked chicken, pulled or cut into slices

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. paprika {sweet or smoked}

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. oregano

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: 1 cup of your favorite greens {arugula, spinach, kale, or mustard greens would be ideal in here}

To Prepare:

Drizzle a large pot with a few glugs of olive oil, and turn the heat on to medium.

Add in the diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes, making sure to season with salt and pepper.

Add in the garlic, sweet potato, chicken, beans, and spices and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer {I covered the pot to trap in all the delicious steam, preventing evaporation of liquid. It may reach a boil if you do this, so don’t stray too far from the pot!}.

Let cook for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potato has softened. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If opting to stir in the greens, do it now and let them merry with the soup for about 1 minute.

Ladle the soup into bowls, and be sure to serve with toasted bread!

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Let’s Discuss: what are some of your favorite seasonal soups to make? Do you reserve soup for the cooler months only, or enjoy it year round?

mediterranean kale & sausage soup

Creamy white beans, boldly flavored sausage and bright vibrant kale – have I captured your attention yet, dears?

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I kept promising myself that as the days became warmer and the sun stayed out longer, I would try to wean myself of my winter soup addiction {does anyone remember the “promise” I made from an earlier post about chicken pho? AHEM}. I guess that there is just one habit I will never kick, and that is my love for soup.

We have truly had the weirdest of winter and spring this year. With weeks ranging in temperatures from below freezing to 70+ degrees, it makes it almost impossible to successfully meal plan! I kid you not – days ago I was in shorts and a tank top walking the pup, then not 24 hours later am I bundled in my favorite college hoodie and Uggs, curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace.

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Enter this soup. It was one of those cold, dreary days that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be winter or spring, so after getting home from work I began rummaging around in my pantry. I had bookmarked this particular recipe some time ago {I love it so much because it’s reminiscent of a soup my mom used to make} and I thought that this would be the prime opportunity to prepare it.

Essentially a one-pot wonder {you can easily brown the sausage in the soup pot, thus allowing the brown bits to further enhance the soup broth} it comes together in a matter of minutes. Prepping the vegetables while the sausage cooks saves you time even further – you really can’t mess this soup up! And fear not, if you’re short an ingredient or two it is easy to adapt – throw in some fresh baby spinach {or even frozen!..just make sure it’s drained} instead of kale; shredded chicken is a fine replacement for the sausage if you don’t have any on hand, or just omit for a vegetarian option {assuming you use a vegetable and not chicken-based sauce}. I also love the addition of the briny cheese rind- if you keep these on hand in your freezer, it is a MUST in this soup!

I would not be upset if you choose to double this recipe for easy weeknight dinners; in fact, I would encourage it! It freezes beautifully, and you can always add in additional greens when reheating for dinner. A little extra sausage is never a bad thing, either. I will freely admit that I’ve had this straight out of the bowl from the refrigerator; it is just as delicious cold as it is warm. Enjoy, my dears!

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Mediterranean Kale & Sausage Soup

{recipe adapted from Fine Cooking}

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, sliced (about 3 links)*
2 Tbs. olive oil
One-half small yellow onion, cut into small dice
1 medium carrot, cut into small dice
1 rib celery, cut into small dice
5 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1 lb. 3 oz. can cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked dried beans
1 lb. kale, rinsed, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups firmly packed)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)

*I added in a few pieces of parmesan rind during the cooking process – I always trim these off when I open a new block of cheese and toss them right into a freezer bag into the freezer. They add a wonderful depth of flavor to broth!

*I also added a few links of turkey sausage; a leaner option, the best of both worlds 

To Make:

Preheat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, and drizzle with olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add in the sliced Italian sausage {and turkey sausage if you’re using that as well}. Saute until cooked through, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess fat. Set aside.

In a large stockpot, drizzle in a generous amount of olive oil. Bring up to temperature, and add the onion. Cook stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about two minutes. Add in the celery and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and brown, about 2 more minutes. Be sure to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan – that’s flavor right there! Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute more. Add in the stock and cheese rind and bring to a boil over high heat.

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When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and stir in half the beans. Mash the other half with a fork {this helps to release the starch, a natural thickening agent} and fold into the soup.  Add in the kale and fold into the hot soup base, continuing to stir it in and the kale begins to wilt, about 10 to 15 minutes {I like my kale to stay slightly bitey, so I tend to err on the lower cooking time}. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty French bread for dipping.

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chicken pho

Yes, yes, I know – we’re halfway through April, and I have the audacity to post yet another soup recipe.

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But friends, I just couldn’t help myself. You see, there is something about pho {pronounced ‘fuh’} that keeps me coming back, time and time again. I love it. I would go as far to say that I would eat it once a week…because, frankly, I have been doing so for at least the past two months. I never tire of it.

Some of you may be asking yourself – “What is pho?”

Dating back to the early 20th century, pho is a noodle-based soup laced with meat and herbs, a popular street food in Vietnam. Often made to eat for breakfast, it’s typically made with rare-cooked strips of beef. A lesser common version replaces lean white chicken breast for the beef, a swap that I am more than happy with. Other meaty additions you might find in pho include tripe, meatballs, pork, and…innards. To each his own, right?

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What really makes this bowl of awesome stand apart from its more traditional “chicken noodle soup” brothers and sisters is the rich and complex broth. Marrying flavors together – we’re talking charred onions and roasted ginger, star anise and coriander, fennel and cloves – is truly what makes this stand far off and superior from any other soup that I have yet to taste. Slowly cooked and steeped together for hours, the flavor is truly unmatched. Please, I beseech you, please take the time to make the broth from scratch. Even if you just do it one time, you will not regret it {if you’re really planning ahead, make the broth one day and the soup the next – I often find it helpful to batch cook and spread the workload out}.

A savory “toppings bar”, if you’ll humor me, is the crowning glory to the chicken pho. As you finalize your broth and finish cooking off the noodles, you’l want to lay out your fresh herbs, citrus wedges, sauces {both spicy and sweet!}, and your tender pieces of cooked chicken. For me, the perfect bowl is a heaping mound of ramen noodles, a generous handful of the meaty chicken, then almost gluttonous amounts of snap peas, bean sprouts, slivered onion, and two or three large wedges of ripe lime. If I’m feeling particularly edgy, I may even thrown in a squirt or two of that silly red rooster, the infamous Sriracha sauce that we all know and love.

This soup is fully customize-able, so go to town when you build your bowl! Just make sure to enjoy the aromatics when cooking and eating, because it is honestly unlike anything else you’ll ever experience. I promise.

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Chicken Pho

{adapted, minimally, from Smitten Kitchen – previously adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking}

{serves 6}

IngredientsBroth
2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed
4 quarts cold water
3 pounds chicken bones or chicken wings {Iused a mix of chicken legs and chicken breasts, it was what I had on hand}
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound dried ramen noodles

*I added in a large bag, probably about 1 lb., of dried shiitake mushrooms*

Additional spices include coriander, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, black cardamoms,and cloves

Garnishes
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound mung bean sprouts {my grocery store hasn’t stocked these over the winter, so I used sugar snap peas}
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
Asian chili-garlic sauce {I set out Sriracha}
Hoisin sauce {I set out soy sauce}

Char onions and ginger:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the onions and ginger on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. {If you have a gas range, just char them a bit over a flame. It would save a lot of time.}

Cook the chicken:

Fill a large stockpot with the water and bring to a boil. Add the roasted onions and ginger, dried shiitake mushrooms, and the chicken bones or wings, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.

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Remove the chicken and finish the broth: Using tongs, transfer the chicken legs and breasts to a plate and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for 2 hours longer. Strain the chicken broth into a large soup pot and cook over high heat until reduced to 12 cups, about 15 minutes.

Prepare noodles:

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add in the noodles, then add them to the saucepan and boil over high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Divide the noodles between 6 large bowls and sprinkle with the scallion.

Finish and serve the soup:

Add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve with the bean sprouts, basil, lime wedges, jalapeños, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce and crispy shallots.

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* Note: Phan has you cook the noodles separately in water, so they can be drained and used as needed (this is what I did). I believe he’s concerned about them overcooking in the soup pot. Theoretically, you could of course save time by cooking the noodles in the broth pot while the chicken reheats, however, the noodles are likely to make the broth cloudy, when ideal pho usually has a pristine, clear broth.

 

Do ahead: The broth can be made ahead and refrigerated for two days, a great way to divide up this recipe.

cioppino {san francisco’s famous seafood stew}

At this point in my life, I’m about 6 hours (in all directions) from the nearest ocean. Virginia Beach, Ocean City, the Outer Banks – you name it, they are all far away. The hubs and I try to make it out to the beach at least once a year. Usually in those trips…and especially when family is involved, a big old seafood dinner is always on the books weeks in advance. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing better than a fresh piece of seafood, caught that day, and not far at all from where you’re dining. I wish I was fortunate enough to enjoy that luxury year round, but for now, special seafood dinners at the beach will have to do

…that is, until I started making cioppino.

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By no means am I trying to compare grocery store seafood to the fresh caught bounty of the shore, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, amiright? Sometimes, and I’ll be the first to admit it happens more often than not, I will get a craving for seafood so big I just have to do something about it. This is where cioppino comes into play, my dears. Easy to throw together, a one pot wonder, and the best part is that you can use whatever seafood you might like.

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I can remember the first time that I made this dish. I had just returned home from visiting my parents, and was lucky enough to hit up the wonder that is Trader Joe’s. A bag labelled “seafood medley” had caught my eye so I quickly snatched it up, not exactly knowing what I would do with it, but I knew it would be delicious. I ended up tossing it with some tomatoes, broth and veggies, and called it a night. It was tasty, to be sure, but certainly not spectacular.

The recipe I want to share with you all today is one that I happened upon when I was planning a date night menu for the hubs and I not too long ago. We always like to have one weekend night ‘in’ so to speak – we experiment with cocktails, and I whip up a few quick and easy dishes for dinner. Date night in comfy clothes…can I get an AMEN! I know you ladies are with me on this one.

But getting back on track. As I said, I was perusing different sites and this particular recipe caught my eye. Brimming with a variety of seafood, spices, and other wonderful flavors, I immediately knew that this would be it.

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This dish is truly easy to prepare; don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients and steps. The majority of the time you’ll dedicate to it is watching it on the stovetop, and the longer you let the tomatoes and broth merry with the wine and herbs, the better it will be. And you know how I mentioned this is perfect date night food? I’m not even kidding. It’s a wonderfully light dish, and won’t leave you feeling heavy afterward. So pour yourself a glass of white wine, settle in for the evening, and get to cooking. :)

Bon appetit!

~~~

Cioppino

{adapted slightly from American Food}

Note: Please, please, please make sure you use fresh and not frozen seafood when preparing this dish! It is going to make a difference in the final flavors of the cioppino. It’s worth the slight splurge. And by no means do you have to use the fish listed below – feel free to swap out whatever you may like! Shrimp would be wonderful, as would halibut, or any other thick white fish. 

Makes 6 large portions

Ingredients:

1/4 C. olive oil

1 rib celery, diced

1 onion, diced

2 (14 ounce) cans of tomatoes, one diced and one crushed

1 small can of canned clams, with the liquid

1 C. good chicken stock

6 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp.red pepper flakes, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 lb. cod, cut into 1″ strips

24 fresh scallops (I used a smaller scallop)

8-12 fresh clams

1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

In a large pot (I used my favorite Le Creuset braising pan), on medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the rest of the above ingredients, except the chicken stock, seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the chicken stock in every 10 minutes or so, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed.

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Add in the cod and cover, cooking for about 7 minutes. Add in the canned clams with their liquid, the scallops, and the clams. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the clams open.  Serve in large bowls and top with parsley. Make sure to serve lots of crusty bread on the side (I love a good French or sourdough loaf) and a good white wine!

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The cioppino, less the seafood, also freezes amazingly well. I like to scoop out half the broth before cooking the seafood, letting it cool in a freezer-safe container, and then storing it for a later meal. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator, and when you are ready to cook it, simply add it into your pot, bring to temperature and proceed to cook the fish in it as directed above. Two meals, one prep – it’s fabulous!