Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Amazing Fall Soup Recipes

If there's one thing I love about fall, it's the cooler weather. Cooler weather means boots, leggings, hot chocolate, fires in the fire place, soups, and snuggling - just to name a few things I love about fall. If you're looking for some ideas for you and your significant other (and/or family!), wander on over to my post "5 Things To Do During the Fall" and see what else I love about fall! One of my favorite parts about fall is the fact that it is no longer "too hot" for soup. I love soup. It's so comforting and warm. Soups are truly my comfort foods. (yes, you read that right - other comfort foods include macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken dip, and cookie cake with LOTS of icing). Back to the soups. In the spirit of my little blog miniseries "The 5's of Fall," I've included my top 5 favorite soups (with recipes!) for you to peruse, possibly make, and enjoy! I can't promise that they are all low-calorie or super healthy, but they are super yummy!
Original Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

1. Broccoli Cheese Soup (With Ham!) 
4 heads broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets
Olive oil
Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 stick unsalted butter
1 whole onion, diced (we substituted 3 cloves of garlic due to onion allergies)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I use gluten-free flour)
4 cups whole milk (we used 2%)
2 cups half-and-half
Nutmeg (just a pinch)
1/2 pound of ham (optional), cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups grated cheese (we used sharp cheddar)
1 cup chicken broth (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Take the broccoli florets, cut in half, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the florets on a baking sheet with the cut-side down on the sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the florets crisp and become slightly brown.
2. While the florets are cooking, melt the butter in a fairly large pot over medium heat. If you would like, add 1 whole onion, diced, and cook about 3-4 minutes until they are softened. If not, sprinkle flour on top of the butter and stir to combine. Cook until the flour is absorbed (about 1 minute). Add the milk and half-and-half. Add a dash of nutmeg, then the broccoli florets, a small dash of salt, plenty of pepper, and the ham. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer until broccoli is tender (about 20-30 minutes). Stir in the cheest. Allow it to melt completely.
3. Taste. Add salt and pepper to season to your taste. Using a hand blender, break up the broccoli until the soup is more of a puree consistency. If you have a food processor, you can use this instead. Make sure you break up the soup into 2 batches if you use to the food processor. If needed, pour a smidge of chicken broth in to thin the mixture out.
4. Serve, garnished with grated cheese.

2. Vegetable Beef Stew on Mashed Potatoes
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 lb stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup red wine (that you are willing to sacrifice. We generally use Bordeaux, but the dryer the wine the better the flavor!)
Salt & Pepper
4 small potatoes, or 2 sweet potatoes (optional, particularly if serving on mashed potatoes)
1 cup green beans
4-6 small carrots (4 doesn't seem to be enough to me sometimes)
1 cup tomatoes

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
1/2 c heavy cream

1. Heat pressure cooker, add oil and brown the meat slightly.
2. Place vegetables over the meat, and pour in 1 cup red wine.
3. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 10 minutes with pressure regulator rocking slowly.
4. While the soup is cooking, place the cubed potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Make sure you skim the starch foam off the top occasionally. Drain potatoes and place in a blender/food processor (or use a hand mixer!).
5. Return saucepan to stovetop, and place on low heat. Add garlic and heavy cream to saucepan. Heat until cream begins to simmer. then add to blender (or place potatoes in saucepan and use hand mixer). Blend until potatoes are totally smooth puree. Add skim milk, as necessary, to thin to taste.
6. Scoop one ladle-full of mashed potatoes into a large soup bowl. Using the bottom of the ladle, form a bowl-like shape out of the mashed potatoes by pressing a "crater" into the mashed potatoes.
7. Ladle a healthy serving of beef stew on top.
8. Enjoy!

3. Copycat Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

1 Cup chicken breasts cooked and diced (we just shredded a rotisserie chicken instead)
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 quart half-and-half
15 oz can chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. potato gnocchi (You can buy this, but we made our own. It's super simple, and recipes are ALL over the internet!)

1. In the bottom of a medium-to-large pot, saute the butter, garlic, and olive oil on medium heat. When the garlic becomes translucent, add in the flour a little at a time, creating a roux. Let this cook for about 1 minute. Then add in the half-and-half.
2. Cook gnocchi according to package directions (we just made our own right before starting step 1. Super easy. I have not heard good things about the store-bought gnocchi. What I have gathered is that you need to buy the gnocchi in the refrigerated section, not the dry gnocchi on the shelves).
3. Into the roux, dump the carrots and chicken pieces. Once the mixture thickens, add the chicken broth.
4. Once everything has thickened back up, add in the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings. Simmer on medium heat until the soup is heated through.

4. Chicken and Dumplings
1 Rotisserie chicken
32 oz. chicken broth
11 oz. can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Pillsbury biscuits
1 cup flour
Salt & Pepper

1. Shred the meat off the rotisserie chicken. (This is J's job. I hate getting my hands dirty.)
2. In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
3. Pour in the cream of chicken soup and shredded chicken pieces. Stir well. Splash in salt and pepper to taste.
4. While this is heating through, taking the biscuits and pull them apart, making sure to separate the top of the biscuit from the bottom. You should have 2 thinner sections for each biscuit. Cut each piece into quarters. Dip the pieces into the flour. Place the biscuit pieces gently on top of the soup.
5. Gently poke the bread down, randomly, while cooking for about 10 minutes. Don't stir too much or the dumplings will break apart. Once the dumplings are cooked, you're done!
6. Serve. Enjoy!

**Side note, we sometimes add peas and carrots so it's like a chicken pot pie soup! Amazing! :)

5. Brunswick Stew
1.5 pounds of BBQ pork from your local BBQ place
1 Cup BBQ Sauce
2-16 oz cans tomatoes
1 can cream of corn
1 can reg whole kernel corn
1 Tbsp sugar

1. Squish up tomates with clean hands and break up the BBQ really well.
2. With clean hands, mix up all the parts with some TLC.
3. Place in crockpot and cook overnight (or all day) on low.
4. Enjoy!

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