Friday, December 18, 2015

Food Friday - Soup-er Easy Meals for Busy Days!

from Kris B.

Seven days and counting....this time next week, Christmas morning will be over.  And after that, just as quickly it will be 2016!  How is it that some days it feels like the days drag on and on and then all of the sudden you have no idea where the time went?  I wish I understood this phenomenon.

Our big sit-down family meal on Christmas is brunch.  Food service later in the day is usually limited to a big pot of chili or soup that I made ahead, brunch leftover, and/or whatever  anyone would like to fix for themselves.  As a church musician, I sing for two services on Christmas Eve, the second being midnight Mass.  By the time I get home and finish up the last Christmas chores, it is very late when I get to bed.  I always look forward to a nap on Christmas afternoon.  No cooking for me!

This week's recipe is a simple and hearty vegetable beef soup.  As is the case with many soups, it tastes better on the second day so it works perfectly with my make-ahead plan.


2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
4 ribs of celery, sliced
4 potatoes, any kind, cut into 1" cubes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can cut green beans, rinsed
1 15.25 oz can kernel corn, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Slice and dice the potatoes,  onion, carrots, and celery.

Place the vegetables and ground beef to your soup pot. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.  Drain off any fat.  Add to the beef the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans, corn, and potatoes.  Mix well.  Add the bay leaves and desired seasonings.  Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water to the soup mixture.  This soup is thick, almost like a stew.  If you want more broth, either add more water or some beef or vegetable broth to achieve your desired consistency.

Simmer the soup covered until the potatoes are done, about an hour.

If you are making this soup ahead, let it cool and then refrigerate.  Reheat on the stove when ready to serve.

from Tracey G

Pea soup was a nemesis of mine for ages, and I'm not sure why, it's a super easy soup to make. I think part of my trouble was I tried to make it more complicated than it is! LOL It's taken me years to finally get it the way I want it - and it's based on an Ina Garten recipe, that I then tweaked a few things here and there to my own taste. But it has finally gotten me the recipe for split pea soup that I've always wanted and it comes out consistently every time for the flavor I'm looking for! It does make a large batch, so usually we have it for dinner one night, then there's enough to freeze for another meal and sometimes I can get a couple lunch portions frozen out of it too. :-) It is one of those things that does the miracle crazy thickening so I make sure to have extra chicken broth/stock on hand for the left-overs and to thin down as needed as it's cooking - water works well too, but I like to use the broth or stock as it adds a little more oomph to it all the way around. Serve it with some yummy bread and a nice salad and it's a great fall or winter meal - or if you're like me it's an any time of the  year meal! :-)

I usually lighten up on the salt in recipes, out of habit from when I was taking care of my mom and her special dietary needs - and it's just one I've continued with. And that let's everyone season their individual servings to their taste.

Split Pea Soup

Serves 10-12

1 to 1 1/2 c chopped yellow onions (1-2 onions)
1 tbsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp pepper
4 c diced carrots
2 c diced potatoes
2 lbs dried split green peas
16  cups chicken stock or water

In an 8-qt stock pot or Dutch oven on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano until the onions are translucent, about 12-15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1 1/2 lbs of split peas and chicken broth/stock or water. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered about 40 minutes. Skim off foam while cooking. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes or until all the peas are soft. Stir frequently to keep the solids from sticking and burning on the bottom. Serve hot. 

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