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Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

Image via Wikipedia

You’ll see in my menu plan this week that I am planning on bringing back dinner.  The midday meal of yesteryear!  Whether a larger midday meal works for your family or not, crock pot cooking is extremely convenient.  So, if you are a “High for 4 hours” or a “Low for 8 hours” kind of gal, read on!

In theory, if I can plan ahead and get dinner (otherwise known as “lunch” :)) in the crock pot in the morning, either before or during breakfast prep, this should work like a dream.  Think about it!  This will mean that the bulk of the supper prep dishes that are usually staring at me (and often laughing) when I come downstairs after tucking the kids in will be done before noon.  Oh, that sounds so good.

The problem with crock pot cooking is that it can mean a lot of trial and error to find recipes your family loves.  And, if you are into eating real food, like we are, it can be difficult to find truly healthy crock pot dishes.  No canned cream soups allowed!  The following are some of my favorite sources for real food crock pot dishes:

  • Soups and stews – Just about any of your favorite soups and stews can be modified to cook in the crock pot.  If you plan to use ground beef, brown it before putting it in your crock pot.  Beans will need to be cooked ahead of time, or use canned, if you plan to eat the soup at noon.  If you plan to cook a cream soup in the crock pot, don’t add the cream or milk in the beginning.  If you add it about half an hour before serving, the results should be delicious.
  • Large Family Logistics – Kim Brenneman (who inspired me to use my crock pot more for the lunch meal!) has five yummy recipes specifically for the crock pot.  If you are not into eating meat, or are looking to save money by eating fewer meals with meat, these can easily be converted to meatless as well.  Also, check her easy lunches here.
  • Make It Fast, Cook It Slow – Stephanie O’Dea is a wonderful writer in addition to being a fantastic source of amazing crock pot recipes.  I happen to own both of her cookbooks, but all of those recipes, and many more, are available on her website.  And, bonus – they are also gluten-free!
  • Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival – Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking hosted a Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival back in 2009.  Who knew I would still be loving it in 2012!  There are definitely treasures in this link up.

These should absolutely be enough to inspire and motivate you to drag out your crock pot or to add a few new recipes to your usual line-up.  Come back here and let me know if you find any gems!  Or, just post your favorite recipe for us all right here in the comments.

I’ll be sharing this post with the readers over at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Good Cheap Eats.

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Every once in a while, while I am meal planning, I will ask the kids if they have any requests.  They asked me a few weeks ago to please include Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup on the menu.  So easy to please :).

I planned to just buy tomato soup from Trader Joe’s (is it obvious yet how much I love Trader Joe’s?) because Saturday is usually a night off from cooking for me.  Grilled cheese I can whip up, but homemade soup?  That is not a day off in my opinion.

But, as bad luck would have it, Trader Joe’s was completely out of tomato soup.  Even after I stared at the empty spot on the shelf for one whole minute with my mind spinning, it still wasn’t there.  Go figure.

So, I stood there steeping in the guilty-mom tea.  Tell the kids they have to go without the soup (even though they made a special request and have been waiting for this meal for three weeks) or suck it up and make the soup myself (even though I so look forward to my super-easy Saturday night dinners)?  Nice mom won out, and I decided, “How hard can it be?”

Turns out, not that hard!  Making homemade Cream of Tomato soup was relatively painless, and the result was quite delicious.  If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, or you just love tomato soup, give this tasty recipe a try.

Cream of Tomato Soup

From the kitchen of https://blessedrootsblog.wordpress.com

1 medium onion, chopped

4 T. butter

2 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes in tomato sauce (you could use all tomato sauce if you prefer your soup smooth)

2 cups half and half (TJ’s sells an organic version, for those of you who prefer that)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. dried basil (rub it between your palms to crush it very fine)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or you could use as many fresh cloves of garlic as you like, chopped fine and sautéed with the onion)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.  Chop onion and saute in the butter.  (Cook until onions and beginning to turn translucent and then add any fresh garlic if you are using it.)

2.  While the onions are cooking, empty your tomatoes into your blender, and blend until you reach the consistency you prefer.

3.  When onions are completely translucent, add the tomatoes and stir.  Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

4.  Turn off the heat and stir in the half and half, baking soda, basil, garlic powder (if not using fresh), salt and pepper.

5.  Return to heat to bring back up to serving temperature without bringing the soup to a boil.

Serve by itself or, of course, with the grilled cheese.

Enjoy!

I am sharing this recipe with the following:

Real Food Wednesay at Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop at Penniless Parenting

Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family

These Chicks Cooked at This Chick Cooks

Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

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italianbeefandbeansoverpastaban.jpg

Last week was the debut of Tammy’s Italian Beef and Beans at our house.  Her suggestion is to serve it over pasta.  You can see that in her beautiful photo above.  I actually chose to serve it as a soup.  Although, I think it would have worked out well to add pasta to the soup.

I doubled the recipe, and the only thing I changed from her original is that I only used two cans of tomatoes and omitted the red pepper flakes.  I could have sworn I had two large cans of tomatoes in my pantry.  While my ground beef was browning I realized that I actually had, um, none.  Mom to the rescue!  My mom lives in an apartment attached to our house, and I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing that is for all of us.  And quite convenient when I realize I am out of tomatoes mid-browning.  When I asked if she had any canned tomatoes, she happily offered one can.  I just didn’t have the heart to tell her I actually needed four.  I could only bring myself to ask for one more.  As it turned out, I think four would have been too much for my tastes.

The final verdict:  While it didn’t blow me away, we enjoyed it and I will make it again.  And really, when has a tomato beef stew ever blown me away?  Never.  Ok, then this is a keeper.  It is actually quite similar to another beef and black bean soup that I make, but with a slightly different combo of veggies, beans and seasonings.  Always good to keep things simple, yet interesting.

I appreciated that the recipe was easy to double, hearty enough to just add bread and salad or fruit and call it dinner, and like most stew type dishes, tasted even better the next day.

Italian Beef and Beans

(I doubled this to feed my family of seven, and we had leftovers.)

1 pound ground beef

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced (I always press mine.)

2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (or 4 cups fresh) (I used only 1 can for a single recipe and felt it was plenty.)

2 cups beef broth or water (I had to use water – I was out of broth.)

2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used sucanat.)

2 15.5 oz. cans of beans (Tammy suggests red or white kidneys or black beans.  I used all red kidneys.)

1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning (I don’t own this, so I just threw in two palmfuls of some combo of oregano, parsley and basil.)

1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (I omitted these as my family is wimpy when it comes to heat, so I don’t even own them.)

1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

In a large stock pot, brown your beef and drain.  (I always buy local, grass-fed beef which is lean, and I figure the fat is healthy, so I just brown the beef while I cook the veggies and skip the draining altogether.)  Dump in everything but the salt.

Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour to finish cooking veggies and allow the flavors to develop.  Add salt to taste.

Thank you Tammy for yet another winner!

Enjoy!

 

 

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