I just got back from a visit “home” – to St. Louis where I had spent most of my life. It was mostly chilly, cloudy, and rainy. Brrrrr! But we had left cloudy days here in Arizona and returned to cloudy days, with cool temperatures. So I am feeling like I need soup and chili and other hot dishes. Not to mention my hostess and sister-in-law mentioned making some ham and bean soup… So here are a few recipes for soups we like in cool/cold weather.

Chili
I used to use ground beef in chili but mostly don’t anymore. You can certainly add some to your version of this, in addition to or in place of the grains. Also, I like a fair amount of spice but have been called wimpy, so adjust the spices according to your palate. Cornbread goes nicely with this!

About 2 cups cooked farro or barley or wheat berries
About 2 cups cooked beans (navy, black, pinto, cranberry, or combination)
1 15 oz. can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 medium-large onion
1-2 T. chili powder
½ – 1 t. crushed dried red chilies
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the grains according to directions for the type you choose, but not quite as long – they should be par-cooked. Cook the beans the same way – according to type but remove from heat and drain when they are still quite firm. These will cook more in the chili mix.
Chop the onion and saute in water or bit of oil until softened. Stir in the spices and cook ~ one minute. Add the tomatoes with the juices. Add the grains and beans. Stir to combine, bring to a good simmer, then reduce the heat for a slow simmer. Cook about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir several times and check liquid level – if it’s getting too dry add a bit of water or if too wet for your taste turn the heat up a bit.

 

Juan’s Chicken Soup
I may have shared this one before. It’s a spicy soup, so if you are shy of heat you may want to skip it or tone it down with less Rotel style tomatoes. Quick to make, yummy to eat!

2 boneless chicken breasts without skin or 2-3 boneless chicken thighs without skin
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 10 oz. cans Rotel® tomatoes with green chilies
½ large onion, chopped
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4-5 oz. frozen sliced okra
1 T. Worchestershire® sauce
½ c. brown rice
Put all ingredients into large pot. Bring to a boil, stir. Turn heat to low and simmer 45 minutes (to cook rice). Simmer at least 30 if not adding rice. Remove chicken and cut into chunks then stir back in to the soup.

 

Ham & Bean Soup
What better use for the ham bone left from a holiday dinner? Soup! This is a classic and there are probably hundreds of ways to make it. But here is mine. I use a crock pot, start this in the morning, and it’s ready by dinner time.

1 pound split peas or small white beans
Large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
Hot water
Ham bone, we prefer it with some meat still on
Black pepper
Salt*

If you use split peas, no need to soak. If you are using small white beans, you may want to refer to this page on how to cook them. (I have always soaked dried beans so have not tried not soaking them for this recipe. So I would soak them overnight and probably use the soaking water in the next steps.)
Put the peas/beans in the crock pot and add hot water to cover them about 2 inches. Add the ham bone and onion, bay leaves, and pepper. Stir. *Salt – I do not add salt until the soup is nearly done. Ham can have quite a bit of salt in it, so I prefer to let it flavor the soup and add salt if needed at the end.
Turn the crock pot on high to get it heated, if you have time before dashing off to work; then turn to low. If not, just start it on low. Stir a few times during the day, if you can. Check the peas/beans for doneness after 8-9 hours, they should be ready. Remove the ham bone and cut off any meat that didn’t fall off and add it back to the soup. Taste for salt, stir well, enjoy!

 

Coconut Curry Kale and Sweet Potato Soup
My variation of one I found in Vegetarian Times magazine. This soup has a lot going on! Don’t worry that it is hard just because there are a lot of ingredients.

Large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium head bok choy, chopped, and leafy parts separated from white parts
1 t. chili powder
1 t. curry powder
~ 1 t. cinnamon
~ 1 t. cumin
< 1 t. cayenne pepper, to taste
4-6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
1 large sweet potato, diced
~ ½ bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
Arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch, optional
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put ingredients onion through lentils into a large pot, using 4 cups broth and only the white parts of bok choy. Stir to blend. Bring to low boil then reduce heat to low simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to check liquid level; add more broth if the soup is too thick. The lentils should be tender by now.
Add the diced sweet potato and cook 15 minutes more or until potato is tender. Add the kale and the bok choy leaves and cook another 8-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If the soup is too brothy, you can mix about 2 T. cornstarch or arrowroot into a little water and add to the soup, bring the heat up and stir until broth thickens a bit.

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