Sausage & Kale Soup

This week, one of the books my daughter brought home for reading homework was Stone Soup.  If you have never read the book, the story is about an impoverished town that comes together to share the small amounts of food they have to create a large and scrumptious kettle of soup. Reading about a “little bit of meat, a little bit of beans, and a little bit of carrots” got me thinking that a hearty soup was just the ticket for this weekend.  Not only would I get to use the last bit of kale from my garden, but it also would give me a vehicle to get more beans into the kid’s diet. 

 Sausage and Kale Soup

I chose mild Italian sausage as my “little bit of meat” since it would add a lot of flavor.  I rounded out the soup with kale, black beans, carrots, onions, and chicken broth.  The soup was delicious without being too heavy. The kids thought it was a fun way to bring the book to life. Stone soup never tasted so good!

Sausage and Kale Soup

Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb mild Italian sausage, without casing
12 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onions
3 cups kale
One 15 ounce can or black beans, drained


Add the sausage to a large pot and brown and crumble over medium heat.  When the sausage is cooked through, add the stock, carrots, and onions.  Bring to a boil and add the kale and black beans.  Cook for until the kale is wilted, then serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.


shortcut potato leek soup

Shortcut Potato Leek Soup

A few months back I wrote about seven ways to eat broccoli in a week which was inspired by a conversation with a client.  Today’s Shortcut Potato Leek Soup was also inspired by a client.  Recently the team was teasing him because he was raving about these potatoes he was enjoying. Since they were talking about food I tuned in . . .  only to find out he was talking about instant potatoes.  Hmm – the last time I had tried instant potatoes (which had been eons ago) they were a grainy, tasteless mess. Undaunted, the client came in the next day and handed me and a few others a package of the potatoes with a proclamation that we would to love them and that I should use them in a blog. I’m sure the look on my face suggested otherwise, but I promised I would try them.

That very night I subjected my family to the instant potato experiment. To my utter shock they were fantastic. In fact they nearly tasted the way my grandmother used to make potatoes, which were loved by my family.  OK, these I could eat – in fact, the jury is still out on whether I use them on Thanksgiving if I run out of time cooking.

shortcut potato leek soup

Now that you have the background on why my recipe includes instant potatoes, I can describe the recipe.  My client was correct, I have been tinkering with the instant potatoes in recipes to bring down the prep time which lead to this Shortcut Potato Leek Soup recipe. The prep time is focused on sautéing the leek and garlic and the potatoes get a quick stir-in in the end. The resulting recipe is a thick soup with just enough texture interest from the leeks and bacon. 

I am looking forward to having this as a quick dinner recipe for those cold winter nights when you just have a taste for a bowl of soup.

shortcut potato leek soup

Shortcut Potato Leek Soup

3 whole leeks
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
2 cups stock*
4 cups milk, divided
½ teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
One 8.4 ounce (or two, 3 – 4 ounce) package of instant mashed potatoes**
Cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)


Remove the root part and dark green part of the leeks, then wash the remaining white/light green stems well.  Chop the washed leeks and set aside.

In a large stock pot melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add The leeks and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the garlic and saute for an additional two minutes.  Add the stock, 2 cups of milk, thyme, oregano, and pepper and heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining milk and the contents of the instant mashed potato packet(s) until smooth.  Laddle into bowls, garnish with crumbled bacon if desired, and serve.


Note:* This soup is thick; if you like thinner soup add 1-2 cups more of stock.

**The mashed potatoes that inspired this post are Honest Earth. If you have trouble finding them I have also tried the Idahoan brand and found it pretty good.


Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Back in May, I tried a new-to-me version of mushroom soup while on a work trip: Hungarian Mushroom Soup.  I had never heard of it before and I was intrigued.  When the dish arrived it was burnt sienna in color, and was a creamy soup with meaty chunks of mushroom. My guess was that the vibrant color was due to paprika, a classic Hungarian spice, but I wondered what other tweaks to cream of mushroom soup were typical for the Hungarian version.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

After some research, it appears that a few other swaps are common to Hungarian Mushroom Soup: fresh dill instead of thyme, beef stock instead of chicken stock/white wine, and a bit of soy sauce in the base.  The fresh dill gets used both in the base of the soup as well as a garnish, offering a fresh flavor profile to the soup.  While the recipe steps are similar to a  classic cream of mushroom soup, the ingredient swaps result in a hearty and noticeably spicy version of the soup.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

As the weather turns colder I am looking forward to trying a bunch of new soups, and this Hungarian Mushroom Soup is likely to stay in rotation.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups yellow onion, diced
16 oz baby bella mushrooms
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Sour cream (optional)


Melt 1 tablespoons of butter in saute pan. Saute the onions for five minutes and then add the mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 -10 minutes until the mushrooms are browned.

In a large pot melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and stir in the flour, constantly whisking for several minutes until the mixture is a rich, caramelized brown. Add the milk, stock, and soy sauce, still whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the paprika, dill, slat and pepper and simmer until the mixture becomes thick, about 5-8 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve, garnish with sour cream and additional dill, if desired.


Corn Gazpacho

Corn Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of my favorite summertime meals. A refreshing soup that helps you beat the heat, it is also a light dish that packs in quite a few servings of vegetables. Instead of the tomato based version I enjoyed in my youth, or the my zucchini gazpacho, I decided to make a Corn Gazpacho the last few weeks.

 I stocked up on fresh corn on the cob, roasted them on the grill, and then cut the kernels off the cob to use in both the soup base and as filler.  Tomatoes, green pepper, and onions add great flavor and texture to this summertime soup.

Corn Gazpacho

 If you don’t have the fresh ingredients on hand (or are just feeling lazy, which was my case last week) this Corn Gazpacho can be made with frozen ingredients. Frozen, diced onions and green peppers make for a super easy addition.  Just make sure that if you use the frozen vegetables that you do cook the soup as my recipe suggest, as there have been too many contaminated frozen food stories lately and it is best to follow packaging instructions for heating. While I know this means that you have to turn on the stove briefly, the fantastic flavor will outweight the minimal cooking time.

Corn Gazpacho

Corn Gazpacho

12 small/medium ears of corn or two, 12 ounce bags of frozen corn
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green peppers
2 teaspoons  Mrs. Dash(R) chicken grilling blend
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
4 roma tomatoes, diced (~1.5 cups)
Microgreens (optional)


Heat a grill to medium/high heat.  Remove the husks from the corn and grill, turning frequently, for 15 minutes or until cobs are roasted to desired doneness. Let the cobs cool, then cut from the cobs and chop the kernels.  Add half of the kernels to a large pot and add the vegetable stock. Blend with an immersion blender, then add in onions, green peppers, remaining corn, Mrs. Dash,  salt, garlic powder,tomato, and oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve; garnish with microgreens if desired.

If using frozen vegetables: Add one bag of corn and the vegetable stock to a pot and bring to a boil. Blend with an immersion blender, then add in onions, green peppers, remaining corn, Mrs. Dash,  salt, garlic powder, and oil.  Bring to a boil then remove from heat and let cool. Stir in tomatoes. Refrigerate until ready to serve; garnish with microgreens if desired.


Langostino Lobster Bisque

Langostino Lobster Bisque

Whenever I am in a restaurant and see Lobster Bisque on the menu, I am draw to the dish just like a kid to candy.  I can’t seem to consider any other appetizer and my entrée selection is impacted by the need to first consume a bowl of this delicious soup.  On a recent trips to my local warehouse store, I happened to find a bag of Langostino lobster tails – small, pre-cooked and pre-peeled lobster tails.  With the hardest part of cooking lobster completed for me, I couldn’t resist splurging on a bag to make Langostino Lobster Bisque.

langostino lobster

Langostino lobster is another name for squat lobster, which is actually a different classification than the Maine or spiny lobster. Though that doesn’t bother me, since this crustacean cousin tastes nearly identical to the Maine or spiny lobster and is easier on the budget.

Lobster Bisque

I started my soup by first sautéing onions, carrots, and celery, and then rounding out the broth with the addition of tomato paste, stock, garlic, savory, tarragon, and sherry. The broth is thickened with both whipping cream and roux, creating a rich, velvety soup.  The Langostino lobster is used pureed into the soup as well as left as generous lumps of meat to make a satisfying dish.  My husband and I enjoyed this as a special dinner for Christmas Eve and we look forward to making our Valentine’s Day dinner extra special by whipping up another batch of the Langostino Lobster Bisque.  The real question is: will making this bisque at home break me of my bisque-as-the-appetizer habit?

Langostino Lobster Bisque

Langostino Lobster Bisque

8 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced carrots
¼ cup tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried savory
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup cream sherry
¾ lb cooked and peeled Langostino lobster tails, thawed
2 cups Heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Grated parmesan cheese
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot and saute onion, carrots, and celery for 8-10 minutes or until soft.  Remove half of the veggies from the pan and set aside.  Add tomato paste to the pot and roast for 1 minute, then adds stock, garlic, savory, tarragon, and sherry. Bring to a boil, add ¼ pound of Langostino lobster and blend using an immersion blender.  Add cream and return to a boil. In the meantime, make a roux by melting the remaining butter in a nonstick pan and then adding the flour and stirring until mixed and flour begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir the roux into the soup.  Once the soup has thickened, add back the reserved veggies and remaining Langostino lobster, as well as the salt and pepper. Let the lobster warm in the soup for a few minutes, then serve the soup with parmesan.



Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom Soup

In the winter months my family is a huge fan of soup. It is an easy, warm meal that we enjoy for both lunch and dinner, plus it is one of the best ways to get my kids to eat a variety of vegetables in one sitting. Typically, my go-to recipe is chicken soup, starting with homemade stock using leftover rotisserie chicken. These days I often use rice instead of noodles, to make the soup gluten free (and because it is an easy leftover addition). This month I decided to change it up a bit and added both wild rice blend and mushrooms, resulting in a hearty and stew-like consistency Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom Soup.

Chicken,WildRice, and mushroom5

It is so good that sometimes I am torn between packing it up for my weeks-worth of lunches or actually leaving enough for the rest of my family to have some too. Since I love my family, I do share the batch, it just means that it doesn’t last past 2 days in our house.

Chicken,WildRice, and mushroom

While I usually make my own stock, I decided to write the recipe below for pre-made stock for easier replication. I recommend tasting your soup for salt prior to adding the amount I have listed below since I tend to start from a low sodium base. The other great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be halved or doubled.

Chicken,WildRice, and mushroom

I’m looking forward to enjoying this soup – and others! – all winter.

Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
16 cups chicken stock
3 cups diced carrots
3 cups diced celery
3 cups chopped, precooked chicken
3 cups wild rice blend
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet, and cook the mushrooms until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms, along with the stock, carrots, celery, and chicken to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the wild rice blend and reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour longer, or until the rice is tender and the soup has thickened. Stir in the salt and pepper. Serve; allow to cool and then store leftovers in the refrigerator.


Sweet Potato and Curry Corn Chowder

For the first course at my Thanksgiving meal I usually start with a festive salad, but this year I wanted to try a soup. While smooth, root based soups typically abound for the holiday meal, I wanted to go for a chunky, curry corn chowder.

sweet Potato Chowder

One of the key ingredients I wanted to use is sweet potatoes.   I LOVE sweet potatoes, but my husband doesn’t care for them. Somehow that doesn’t stop me from picking up a large bag full this time of year. My thinking is that if I sneak them into a soup so filled with other vegetables, maybe he won’t even notice that they are there.

In addition to the sweet potatoes, I used a variety of other vegetables: carrots, celery, onion and corn, plus acorn squash to thicken the soup, eliminating the need for flour or corn starch (whoo hoo – gluten free!). To give it a kick, I stirred in just a bit of hot madras curry powder. Not only did it add just a hint of exotic flavor, it ramped up the golden hue of the soup.

The resulting sweet potato & curry corn chowder is a perfect start for a Thanksgiving meal – full of fall flavor yet not too rich that you can’t enjoy the rest of your meal. But why wait for a holiday meal? It is easy to whip together and is a great addition to any dinner feast or a tired lunch box.

sweet Potato Chowder


Sweet Potato and Curry Corn Chowder

2 lb acorn squash
¼ cup butter
¼ cup diced shallots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
3 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
2 cups frozen corn kernels
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cashew milk
2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
Crumbled, precooked bacon (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Cut the acorn squash in half and place cut side down in a 9×13 inch pan filled with 1 in of water. Roast for 1 hour or until flesh becomes soft.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, celery, and carrots. Saute for 3 minutes to soften, then add garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add the sweet potato, corn, stock, and cashew milk and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes or until the sweet potato pieces are tender. Scoop the acorn squash flesh from the skin (equals about 3 cups) and add to a food processor, along with 1 cup of hot liquid from the soup. Blend the acorn squash until smooth, and then add to the soup pot; stir to mix evenly. Add the curry powder and salt to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Ladle into bowls and serve with crumbled bacon, if desired.


Stir Fry Soup

Every now and then I like to try something different, like this Stir Fry Soup. Presented with an overabundance of vegetables in the refrigerator and a desire to clear out some of the other lesser-used items (like oyster sauce) in my stockpile it seemed like the right time to experiment with an Asian inspired dish.

Stir Fry Soup

One of the great things about this Stir Fry Soup is that it benefits greatly from the crisp textures of the carrots and snow peas, meaning cooking time is quick, making it a great dish to try, even in summer. The addition of the oyster sauce and lime, both typically seen in Thai cooking, give the soup a unique and well balanced flavor without being overpowering.

Stir Fry Soup

Go ahead and make a quick batch, since I’m sure you’ll be delighted (whether lunch or dinner) with this Stir Fry Soup. Don’t forget to trade out your usual accompaniment of crackers for the equally as crisp rice noodles!

Stir Fry Soup


Stir Fry Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
½ cup chopped carrots
4 cups chicken broth
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cumin
¾ lb firm tofu, cubed
6 ounces snow peas
Cilantro (optional)
Rice noodles (optional)


In a large pot, heat oil and then add mushrooms. Brown for 5 minutes, then add carrots and cook for 1 minute more. Add broth, lime juice, lime zest, oyster sauce, onion powder, ginger, and cumin and bring to a low boil. Add tofu and snow peas and cook for 3 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls and serve, garnishing with cilantro and rice noodles, if desired.


Port Wine Cheese Soup (a.ka. Pretzel Soup)

Just before Christmas in 2014 my husband asked my daughter what she wanted to eat on Christmas Day. She said, “yummy soup made by mommy. PRETZEL SOUP!”

Pretzel soup?  I had never made pretzel soup before, but like any self-respecting foodie I accepted the challenge. First step – what pairs well with pretzels? Cheese was the first thing that came to mind. As a kid I loved dipping my pretzels into port wine cheese, so why not make a port wine cheese soup with pretzel croutons?


A bit of sautéed shallots, roux, and equal parts chicken stock and half & half create the base, then an entire container of port wine cheese is stirred in.

The creamy soup gets flavored with some black pepper, garlic powder, and salt before being garnished with fresh thyme and honey-mustard pretzel pieces.


While it might not be a soup entirely made of pretzels, the port wine cheese soup pairs perfectly well with the pretzel bites for a stick-to-your-ribs soup. Given the cold weather and snow storms sweeping the country this week, this soup is just the thing to warm you up!


Port Wine Cheese Soup (a.k.a. Pretzel Soup)

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 cup diced shallots

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cup chicken stock

2 cups ½ & ½

14 oz jar Port Wine Cheese spread

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Fresh thyme (to taste)

Honey-mustard pretzels bits as croutons (to taste)


Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the flour and stir for about 2 minutes, or until just fragrant. Add the stock and the ½ & ½. Bring to a low boil and add the port wine cheese. Cook until the cheese spread is melted into the soup and the soup begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Laddle into bowls and serve with fresh thyme and pretzels.


Zucchini & Sweet Pepper Gazpacho

As is typical, I brought home a bounty of fresh vegetables from the local farmers market this week. Since there is no time like the present, I decided a refreshing gazpacho was in order for lunch.

Gazpacho, a chilled soup originating from Spain, typically consists of pureed tomato, chopped vegetables and a garnish of croutons or hard-boiled eggs. I’ve taken a more liberal approach to my version of gazpacho today, and replaced the tomato with zucchini and sweet peppers.


I started with two globe zucchini, two sweet red peppers (one Italian Bullhorn and the other Aconcagua) and one ear of Peaches & Cream corn.

I decided to serve the soup in the globe zucchini, so I cut the tops off the squash and scooped out the insides, saving the insides for the soup. Next I diced the peppers after removing the seeds and membranes, and then cut the corn kernels off the cob.


I reserved a bit of the peppers and corn to stir into the soup later, and placed the rest in a food processor with the zucchini meat and water and pureed until smooth. I then poured the soup into a large bowl, and stirred in the remainder of my ingredients, including green onions and horseradish.

To serve, I poured some into by globe zucchini bowls, making sure to include crackers on the side. This zucchini-pepper gazpacho was just as refreshing as the tomato-based variety, and a most tasty lunch!



Zucchini & Sweet Pepper Gazpacho

2 globe zucchini
1 ear sweet corn
2 sweet red peppers
3 green onions, diced
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons grated horseradish
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper


Cut off the top of the globe squash and reserve, then scoop out the insides of the squash, leaving about ¼ inch shell. Place the squash meat in a food processor and refrigerate the squash bowls and bowl tops until ready to serve. Remove the corn kernels from the ear of corn, and then remove the sees and membranes from the peppers and dice the peppers. Reserve ¼ cup of both the corn and peppers, and add the remainder to the food processor. Blend the squash, corn, and peppers until smooth, and then pour into a large bowl. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients and chill until ready to serve. Serve in the squash bowls, or cups.