Orzo, Spinach, Lemon and Chicken Soup

ChickenOrzoLemonSpinachSoup

This savory soup has been known to chase away the blues, sniffly noses and mulligrubs! It takes less time to prepare than any other soup I make, has a fresh pick-me-up flavor (courtesy of the lemon juice), is healthy (no cream in this baby), and I believe could be made gluten-free just by substituting rice for the orzo. What are you waiting for? Quick, run to the kitchen and start cooking!

This soup was inspired by a recipe from the “New England Soup Factory Cookbook“, if you are going to have only one soup cookbook, it should be this one. Of course Poppy has to modify everything at least a little … so here is Poppy’s version!


Difficulty: easy-peasy!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • (1) rotisserie chicken (pulled into smallish pieces)
  • ¾ cup orzo
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 6 ozs. baby spinach (coarsely chopped)
  • garlic salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper (or to taste)

EasyTastyHealthy

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in your stock pot on high heat. Add the orzo, reduce the heat to medium, keeping a slow boil and cook for 5-6 minutes. Once the orzo is done, drizzle in the beaten eggs, stirring constantly until the eggs have cooked into threads. Add the chicken meat, spinach, garlic salt, pepper and ½ of the lemon juice. Why only ½ of the lemon juice, Poppy? Because all lemons are not created equal, this is where you start tweaking …(tweaking, not twerking, don’t get the two confused). Slowly add more of the lemon juice and black pepper until you get the taste you want. You can always add more lemon juice but you can’t take it out …(not even by twerking)!

ChickenOrzoLemonSpinachSoupPint

Chicken Dumpling, Black Pepper Soup

Chicken Dumpling Soup

Is there anything in the kitchen more under-appreciated or ubiquitous than black pepper? And what’s with this word, “ubiquitous”? I see it everywhere!

If you don’t like the taste of pepper then move on to the next post, there is nothing to see here. However if you enjoy a good brothy (is that a word?) soup with a little bite then keep reading.

I wish I could tell you that I made my own dumplings from scratch, roasted my chicken and created the chicken broth myself … but I would be lying big time. I took the lazy way out and still managed to create some delicious soup using frozen dumplings, rotisserie chicken and ready-made chicken broth.

EasyTastyHealthy


Difficulty: Can’t mess this up!

Ingredients:

  • (1) rotisserie chicken (use approx. ⅔’s )
  • 6 ozs. frozen flat dumplings
  • (3) stalks celery
  • (1) small yellow onion
  • (3) large cloves of garlic
  • (1) medium carrot
  • 62 ozs. low sodium chicken stock
  • ½ pint Half & Half
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • coarse ground black pepper

Started by adding the low sodium chicken broth to your stockpot and bring it to a simmer. Use half of the package of frozen flat dumplings (about 6 ozs). I know the recipe calls for a lot of chicken broth, but it reduces and becomes more concentrated during the preparation, no need to add any chicken bouillon. As I added the frozen dumplings, I broke them in half … not that it affects the taste in any way, it just makes the soup easier to eat with a spoon. As the dumplings cook (about 20 minutes), dice the celery and onion and sautéed them in a tbsp. of butter and equal amount of EVOO. While the celery and onions are adding their aromas to the kitchen, finely chop 3 large cloves of garlic. Add those to the onion-celery mix when the onions are translucent. Keep sautéing while you grate a medium-sized carrot directly into the broth.

Separate the meat from the rotisserie chicken into small pieces. I didn’t want this to turn into a stew or even a chowder, so I only used about ⅔ of the chicken meat, saving one breast for another use. Add that to the broth along with the celery, onion, garlic mix and keep simmering. Add the Half & Half (you could use cream of course) and the hot sauce. Now it’s time for the black pepper to make it’s entrance. As a noob food-blogger, I didn’t measure the black pepper I added, partly because I was grinding it from my pepper mill directly into the soup. Set your pepper mill to coarse and crank at least 10 times into the broth. Let simmer for a few minutes then taste. I can tell you that I added at least another 10 turns of the pepper mill, probably more, but use your own judgement, keep tasting the broth … you can always add more pepper, taking it out is … well, impossible.

Keep simmering a few more minutes before serving, let it rest a bit then serve to your hungry family and friends.

Sidenote: My plan is to start using a decent SLR for my food photography, but up until this point all the photos you see on the blog have been taken with my iPhone 5. (I’m old enough to remember when you used phones for calling people … crazy)

Chicken-Dumpling-Black-Pepper-Soup

Tuscan Ham, Bean and Spinach Soup

TuscanSoup

 See what I did there? Just by adding “Tuscan” to the name, this soup sounds so much more refined … unlike my “Layered Veggie Thingy”! (I’m learning)

This soup is quick and easy to throw together, lots of fiber, low in calories and full of flavor.

EasyTastyHealthy 

The Cannellini beans are the stars of this soup, packed with protein, iron, magnesium and folate they are the perfect complement to the ham and spinach. Since I don’t plan anything but my vacations very far in advance, I just use canned beans rather than soaking the dried beans overnight and cooking them.


Difficulty: Souper easy!

Ingredients:

  • (3) cans Cannellini beans
  • (1) can chili beans in chili sauce
  • 10 ozs. diced ham
  • 5 ozs. baby spinach (chopped)
  • 48 ozs. low sodium chicken stock
  • (1) tsp. minced garlic
  • (1) tbsp. hot sauce (Frank’s or similar)
  • ground black pepper (to taste)

Drain and rinse the 3 cans of Cannellini beans, add 2 of the cans to your stockpot. If there is a trick to this recipe at all, it is using a potato masher to mash the beans in the bottom of your stockpot. This will thicken the soup and change it from just being some beans floating around in chicken broth to a rich hearty bean broth.

After the beans are sufficiently smashed add some of the chicken broth and stir, making sure that none of the beans are stuck to the bottom of your stockpot, because no one likes burnt beans in their soup! Add the rest of the chicken stock, the remaining can of Cannellini beans, the chili beans with their sauce, the ham, then start warming.

If you are lucky enough to have a good ham bone by all means use it, it will kick the flavor way up, if not dicing a ham steak will suffice, which it what I did this time.

While everything in the stockpot is heating, wilt the chopped spinach in a skillet with a drizzle of EVOO. Once it is thoroughly wilted add the minced garlic and continue heating for another minute.

Add the spinach-garlic mix to the soup along with a tablespoon of Frank’s hot sauce and a generous grind of coarse black pepper. Let it simmer a few minutes then taste the broth. Add more pepper or hot sauce as needed or perhaps a pinch of chili powder or Cajun seasoning. Simmer a few more minutes then serve with a crusty bread or cornbread. Yum!

Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas

ChickenEnchilladas

This qualifies for one of Poppy’s “Holy Trinity of Cooking” awards.

EasyTastyHealthy

Do winning lotto tickets magically appear when you cut into this warm, spicy and delicious meal … NO … but it is easy, tasty and healthy … (don’t get greedy)!

Difficulty: You won’t break a sweat (unless you make it too spicy)!

Ingredients: 

  • (1) rotisserie chicken
  • flour tortillas (taco size)
  • (1) large sweet onion
  • (1) green bell pepper
  • salsa (medium heat)
  • 10 ozs. enchilada sauce (mild heat)
  • grated cheese (mild cheddar or mexican blend)
  • coarse ground black pepper
  • soy sauce based steak sauce (Dale’s or similar)

Warm the oven to 375°

Cut the onion and green pepper into long strips and start sautéing on medium-medium low heat in a tbsp. of butter and equal amount of EVOO. Stir periodically until the onions start to turn translucent. Add 2 tbsp of Dale’s steak sauce or similar soy based steak sauce. Add a very generous grind of coarse black pepper, stir, remove from heat and set aside. This part of the prep will take about 10 minutes … while the onions and peppers are sautéing, make yourself useful and start pulling the meat off the rotisserie chicken.

OnionsPepper2

Now we are ready to start the enchilada assembly line. If you want to start playing Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” it would be totally appropriate. I usually microwave the tortillas while they are still in their plastic bag for 15-30 seconds just to warm and soften them up for this step. Then it’s just a matter of making a line of chicken meat, 2 tbsp. of salsa, couple pinches of shredded cheese and a row of the onion-pepper mix … fold the sides over enough to trap the ingredients then roll those babies up.

ReadyToRoll

Place the seam-side down in an oiled, deep-sided, oven-proof skillet. I can usually fit 7-8 in the skillet. Pour on the enchilada sauce, making sure to coat them all. Then add a ridge of shredded cheese on top of each enchilada. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes or until you see the sauce bubbling … remove, let cool for a few minutes and prepare yourself for the compliments you are about to receive for this “easy-tasty-healthy” dish!

You sharp-eyed readers have probably noticed the pot of beans in the background of the feature photo. This the perfect side for the enchiladas. I almost wish I could find a way to make this sound very complicated … I’m afraid of losing my food-bloggers license if I just tell you to open a couple of cans and heat the mixture, but there is not much more to it than that and it doesn’t really need complicating.

OK, if you have your can openers at ready, let’s do this … drumroll … open a can of black beans (pinto if you prefer), drain but don’t rinse, place in saucepan. Open a can of refried beans, add those to the saucepan along with a scant tsp. of diced garlic and a tbsp. of the steak sauce … heat until warm … top with a pinch of shredded cheese.

PintEnchiladas

Poppy’s Steak Bites

Not my prettiest photo, but here are some steak bites with roasted cauliflower and roasted sweet onions.
Not my prettiest photo, but here are some steak bites served with roasted cauliflower and roasted sweet onions.

Know someone who loves to eat steak but can’t be bothered with cutting it up or cutting around the bones and fat?  Steak bites are the answer.

“Why steak bites rather than whole steaks, Poppy”?

Several good reasons; steak bites are bite-sized (duh), and easy to eat. There is less waste, everyone can help themselves to as much or as little steak as they want. In our family 3 good sized steaks can feed 4-5 people when served with sides. Maybe Poppy spoils his family or perhaps he is the lazy one. Continue reading “Poppy’s Steak Bites”

Poppy’s Potato-Cheddar-Sausage Soup

It was a dark and stormy night. Cop cars suddenly converged on a house just a few doors down from me. Moments later though the mist I could see them leading a ghostly figure away in handcuffs. Apparently this person had failed to provide hot, hearty soup for their family.

Yes, some weather is so miserable that’s it’s actually a crime not to make a batch of creamy, comforting, delicious soup … don’t be that person. Poppy is here to help!

 Poppy's Potato-Cheddar-Sausage Soup

Introducing Poppy’s “Potato-Cheddar-Sausage Soup”.

In Poppy’s not-so-humble opinion, a good potato soup should be creamy yet have some chunky goodness to it. Start by peeling and dicing 6 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes into ¼” cubes. Drop the potato cubes into 48 ozs. of low sodium chicken broth. If you’re ambitious and want to make your own broth, go for it, but that’s a topic for another day. Crank up the heat and cover your stockpot. Continue reading “Poppy’s Potato-Cheddar-Sausage Soup”

Poppy’s Favorite Flatbread Pizza

FlatBread1

Once a scrambled egg walked into a pizza parlor. He asked the waiter if he could have something to drink. The waiter said “Sorry, we don’t serve breakfast.”

… rimshot! (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Ahh, the joys of making a flatbread pizza … talk about a blank canvas, the options are limitless and it’s almost impossible to mess up!

This is one of Poppy’s favorites and in the universe of pizzas, it’s one of the healthier ones … start with a good flatbread (duh). Our local grocery carries some that are made just for pizza. Continue reading “Poppy’s Favorite Flatbread Pizza”