Yesterday, I had a package of chicken apple sausage and a craving for soup. I also had beans, onions and diced tomatoes in the pantry and carrots and celery in the fridge. I had a little bit of pesto that needed to be used. So, I created this recipe for dinner last night, which came together with about 15 minutes of prep and the amount of time it took for my InstantPot to go through the “soup” cycle.
The result was a delicious, hearty and healthy soup that my whole family enjoyed. My 13 year old rarely eats a large portion of soup, but she gobbled this one up. My husband went back for seconds.
The thing about chicken apple sausage is that it’s a great ingredient to have on hand, and it lasts a long time in the fridge. I make this easy roasted sausage and vegetable dish about once every other week because it’s hearty and healthy and SO SO EASY. I have also used it to make this chicken apple sausage pasta. But it’s fun to try new dishes for the same old ingredients, which is how this soup came to be.
The fantastic thing about this soup is that you can add whatever beans you have, whatever veggies you have (diced potatoes, parsnips, whatever other hearty veggies you like) and any seasonings your family enjoys. This recipe is a loose guide, so do whatever sounds good to you. If you prefer chicken broth over veggie, great! If you hate pesto, no worries. If you are a newer chef, once you get the hang of using recipes, you will start to feel more confident in adjusting them to your tastes.
This soup is full of very good things: beans are a wonderful source of protein and fiber and are a great example of a complex carbohydrate (complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and supply a lower more steady release of glucose into the blood stream, which help you feel fuller longer). The carrots and celery are high in antioxidants and fiber and contain vitamins and minerals like beta carotene and vitamin B6. Garlic and onions are from the allium family and have been linked to reduced risk for breast and colon cancers, not to mention that garlic is a natural antiviral and onions are anti-fungal. The tomatoes are high in lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant thought to protect the body against many different diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. You can feel good about making this soup and serving it to your family, not just because it’s delicious but because it’s nutrient rich.
2 x 15 oz cans of beans, any variety (good choices include white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and black beans) drained and rinsed
16 cups water or broth (if using water, see next ingredient)
1 package fully-cooked chicken apple sausage (I like Aidells)
2 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté carrots, celery, garlic and onion on medium high for about 5 minutes in oil, until starting to soften.
Add beans, tomatoes, water, and bouillon and stir.
Add the chicken apple sausage and stir.
Cover and cook on medium low for about 30 minutes, until flavors come together.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in pesto until fully incorporated (pesto is optional)
RECIPE NOTE: You can use an Instant Pot for this recipe. Simply follow instructions 1-3, and then put the lid on and set to “soup” setting. If you want to use a slow cooker, follow instructions 1-3 and put on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6.
Last week it was our turn to host Crappy Dinner Party, so we pulled out a bone-in ham from our deep freezer to smoke in my husband’s smoker. We were worried the ham might be dry but it was ridiculously good. Since we had some leftovers, we put the bone and the leftovers back in the freezer for another time.
Fast forward one week, and I was craving soup. I checked out my pantry and saw that I had green lentils, potatoes, and onions. In my fridge I had carrots and celery and Better Than Bouillon. I knew I had what I needed to make something really yummy. After reading several recipes and adjusting for what I had, here is the recipe that I created.
In a dutch oven or soup pot, place the soup bone, if you are using, and 12 cups of water (if using Better Than Bouillon) or stock and heat until boiling. Lower heat to simmer for at least an hour (I left mine on for several hours). Using a slotted spoon, remove the soup bone. If you are not using a soup bone, skip ahead to sautéing your vegetables. Add a few tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon if you aren’t using stock. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes minutes. To the pot of stock, stir in lentils and softened vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at least 10 minutes.
Finally, stir in potatoes and ham and simmer covered until potatoes are softened, at least 10 minutes. This soup can stay on simmer for a long time before serving.
We’re in it, people. It’s cold and flu season and everywhere you go someone has a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat, or worse. How do we keep ourselves healthy and energetic all season long? One approach is through our food choices. Excess sugar, processed carbs and too much alcohol will suppress our body’s ability to fight off infection (which is a shame because aren’t the holidays MOSTLY ABOUT SUGAR, CARBS AND COCKTAILS?!?!). I’m not advocating giving up your favorite holiday treats, because part of what keeps us healthy is not being stressed out. Also spending time enjoying ourselves with people we love is pretty high up on the list for immune-boosting activities, and if we are hyper focused on every little thing we put in our mouths, we will ruin it for ourselves and those around us.
However, what I would like to encourage is making the majority of your food choices healthy ones. So, when you are cooking/eating at home, which should be most of the time, make those meals impactful. Start every day with a healthy breakfast because it helps keep the rest of the day on track (click here, here, here or here for great breakfast choices). For lunch, choose something like a big salad with good quality proteins like chicken and chickpeas, and choose olive oil and vinegar dressing. Or, make a huge batch of soup on Sunday and eat it all week long. I love the hearty lentil soup I make all winter.
You want high quality protein, you want good sources of fiber and fat (the good kind, like olive oil, those found in nuts, coconut oil, and organic and grass fed meats). And pile on the vegetables and fruits. The more antioxidants you eat the better. They will reduce inflammation which will help fight off cold and flu bugs. They also contain natural antiviral and antibacterial agents.
Check out this recipe for Carrot Ginger Turmeric soup. Carrots are very high in vitamin A which is essential for a healthy immune system. Ginger and turmeric contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. It’s warming and soothing for the coldest days and will keep you nourished.
Stay tuned for more immune boosting recipes and information!
*If you don’t like coconut oil or are allergic, feel free to sub with olive oil.
As soon as the weather turns cooler here in the north, I start to crave hearty soups. I love them when they are full of vegetables because it means I don’t have to serve anything on the side except some crusty bread. I have a favorite soup that I make all winter and fall that also happens to be a favorite of my family. Whenever I tell my 11 year old that it’s what we are having for dinner, she gets really excited.
I was late to the lentil game, and now I can’t imagine what I did before them. Lentils are so full of protein and fiber and really make a soup an entire meal in a bowl. They felt intimidating to me for some reason. Now that I know I just have to rinse them and pick out any super weird looking ones, I’m good to go.
This recipe is inspired by a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Over the years I’ve made quite a few changes to it and I really do love my updated version. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
2 tablespoons olive oil (or just do what I do which is to pour some in a pot till it looks like enough)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, washed & chopped (I seriously don’t even peel them, just scrub)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large potato or 2 small potatoes, cubed (again, don’t peel them)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups vegetable broth (I love Better Than Bouillon)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. I love to use my prized Le Creuset Dutch oven that I received one year for Christmas. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and stir. Then, add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender (about 5-8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Do not let vegetables burn. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the potatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Now, add the broth and stir. Nestle the thyme sprigs in the mix and then bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Taste the soup and add any additionally salt and pepper (or more bouillon if using) it needs.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a large handful of fresh spinach into the bowl and mix to wilt. Serve with crusty warm bread. We are partial to sourdough rolls or garlic bread.
I continued to test the recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good this week, landing on the Chicken & White Bean Chili recipe because it seemed simple, approachable, and really tasty. I make a lot of soups and chilis once the weather starts to cool down. I usually double the recipe and put some in the freezer (lay flat in a freezer baggie) for a night when I’m too busy or lazy to cook.
Whenever I make a soup or chili recipe, I tend to double the vegetables called for. It’s such an easy way to get more vitamins, antioxidants and fiber into yours and your family’s tummies.
The alterations I made to this recipe were:
Add a can of kidney beans to the can of white beans called for.
Use chicken thighs instead of breasts (I find them less dry and more flavorful).
Use a teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon (the vegetable flavor). The recipe calls for the normal chili spices plus salt and pepper. I found when I tasted the chili it was a bit bland. Better Than Bouillon is a favorite of mine. I usually by the organic version and love that I don’t have to keep cans of chicken stock around in my pantry. It stays good forever and, unlike a half-used container of chicken stock, won’t make you feel guilty every time you see it in the fridge.
Add some of the chicken juice from cooking into the pot with the simmering beans and vegetables. It adds nutrients from the chicken, some depth to the mouth feel (I really hate that term, can we come up with something else collectively? Comment below with any suggestions!) and adds some yummy chicken flavor.
1.5 lbs of whatever chicken parts you want (I used thighs, and doubled the amount so I would have leftover roasted chicken to use later in the week)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt (I prefer sea salt but any will do)
2 small yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem discarded, diced (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced (add more if you love garlic)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika (the recipe calls for smoked paprika, but either variety is fine)
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 14 oz can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained (I added a second can of kidney beans)
Whatever toppings sound good to you (sour cream, cheese, cilantro, diced onion, etc)
Rub chicken with about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees, until just cooked through.
When meat is cooked and cooled a bit, shred the meet with two forks
Measure the spices and combine in a small bowl to add during the next step.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot on medium and sauté the onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are softened, about 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and another pinch of salt and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Break up tomatoes with a spoon.
Add beans and chicken to the pot (use bouillon now if you wish). Add about 1/3 cup water or more depending on how thick you want your soup.
Simmer another 15 or 20 minutes before tasting to determine the spices or salt and pepper you want to add.
Serve with toppings
My husband said the chili was “good, but not like oh my God I absolutely love this chili!”. He thought it needed a bit more chili powder and cumin to make it a true chili flavor and tasted more like a stew than a chili. My 10 year old daughter told me she likes my ground beef chili more. That being said, I really thought it was a solid recipe that I would go back to again if I wanted a variation from my ground beef chili that I usually make.
I picked up my CSA box yesterday that contained two fresh leeks and a bunch of carrots. Because it’s late August, my immediate thought was “I’ve got to make some soup!”. There was a time when I was petrified of leeks. Like, I had absolutely no idea how to use them or prepare them. I found myself intimidated. But I decided several years ago to just get over myself and once I went leek, I never went back. So, I got home from the farmer’s market, found a bag of potatoes in the pantry, and got to work. It was lunchtime and we were hungry so I didn’t stop to snap photos. Trust me, though, this is a soup you’ll want to make over and over again. Note: When leeks are unavailable, substitute any mild sweet onion such as Vidalia.
This soup is hearty without being overly heavy. It smells fantastic while cooking. My husband, who was outside doing yard work, kept catching whiffs of it as he walked by the back door and couldn’t resist asking for a sample before it was done. You will find yourself making this a go-to soup all fall and winter long.
2-3 Tablespooons butter (or olive oil if you want a vegan soup)
2 large leeks, washed well and chopped, white and light green parts
5 celery stalks, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth (I prefer using Better Than Bouillon)
6 large potatoes, scrubbed and quartered (I leave mine unpeeled, and you can use essentially any kind. Russets might get mushy if you care about that kind of thing.)
8 carrots, chopped (again, I wash mine well and leave unpeeled)
1 squash, any size, quartered (you can omit this, but I happen to have a lot from the CSA box to use)
1-2 teaspoons salt, depending on the salt content of your broth/bouillon
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Pepper to desired taste (generally 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When the pot is nice and hot, cook leeks and celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Make sure not to burn the vegetables.
Add the broth, potatoes, carrots, squash, garlic, salt (if desired) and bay leaf
Bring the soup to a boil and cook until potatoes and carrots are fork-soft (about 20 minutes). Remove bay leaf.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup in short bursts until you have a mixture of smooth and chunky soup. If you prefer totally creamy soup, use the blender until everything is combined. We prefer more of a “stew” consistency. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, a counter top blender would also work.)
Return the soup to the burner and simmer on low another 20 minutes or so to let the flavors come together completely.
This soup makes fantastic leftovers. The soup with thicken the longer it sits. If you want a thinner soup, just add some water or other liquid when you reheat.