Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Black Bean Soup

Printable Recipe
Roasting the vegetables for this soup adds a depth of flavor that elevates this Black Bean soup well above the many others I've tried. The carrots and onion and garlic all sweeten in flavor and tomatoes lose their acidic edge in the roasting oven. And if you happen to be cooking something else one night, it's easy to slip in this pan of vegetables along with your roast or casserole or whatever and the next day you'll have them ready for your soup. 

Start with this. Peel and chop the carrots into thirds. Halve the tomatoes. Take the onion and sweet red pepper down to rough chunks about 1-2 inches square. They don't have to be pretty - we're just roasting now. And peel but leave the garlic clove whole. 

Now spread everything out on an oiled pan and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. You'll need a total of about 2 Tbs of oil. Sprinkle with about 1 Tbs of dried oregano, unless you're lucky enough to have fresh. Salt and pepper the whole lot and slide it into the 350 oven. It will need about 30-45 minutes to soften up and brown a little here and there. When the carrots are cooked through everything else should be ready. About half way through cooking give everything a turn with the spatula, too.

Before and after pics. You can see that there's only a bit of browning but everything has softened up.

For the soup, add most of 2 cans of black beans to a quart of chicken stock in a large pot. I saw "most" because I like to hold back about 1/2 a can since this whole mix is going to be pureed. 

If you've just cooked the vegetables (rather than the day before) you'll need to let them cool a bit so you can handle them enough to chop them up. 

I take out the carrots and chop into a fine dice rather than adding to the puree. But everything else goes into a heap on my cutting board and gets a rough chop before dropping it into the soup.

Now that I've gone on and on about the puree here's the highly complicated way to make it happen: Stick a handblender in there are give it a whirl. Done.

Take it down to whatever level of creamy blended soup you want. I like a little something to bite on so I don't blend it into oblivion. 

Finally, add the carrots and remaining beans and let it simmer along for 20 minutes or so for the flavors to meld. Taste and correct seasonings if needed - a little more salt or pepper or even a pinch of sugar. Sometime I add a tablespoon of chicken soup base to enrich. Now ladle it up and give it a dollop of sour cream or sprinkle of cheese and enjoy!

1 Large Onion
1 Clove Garlic
2-3 Carrots
1 Sweet Red Pepper
4 Roma Tomatoes
2 cans Black Beans
1 qt Chicken Stock
1 Tbs Oregano
2 Tbs Olive Oil

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cheaters Chicken and Dumplings

Printable Recipe

Chicken and Dumplin' comfort food on the table in 30 minutes? Yep, here's just the cheat to do it. I know, I know, Grandma can do it better, but this is a mighty good quick version that will lure you back for seconds every time. Here's the secret:

Get that cream o' chicken soup and a quart of stock bubbling along in a pot and I'll show you how to fake up some dumplins. I'm leaving out the "g"  because, who says dumplinG anyway?? Oh, and here's the soup seasoning: about 1 Tbs dry sage and a heaping Tbs chicken soup base for a flavor boost. I mix the base with a little hot water and whisk together before adding to the pot so it will disperse more evenly.
I use one can of any brand of quick biscuits. Roll each one out very thin, like less than 1/4" because you won't believe how much these things puff up when they hit the bubbling liquid. I use a pizza cutter to make rough little squares, again not very big because, you know, the puffing.
Now, your soupy base should be simmering by now, don't let it boil hard or too much will evaporate and you'll have a very salty result. If you can use no sodium broth it improves this recipe since canned soup is awfully high in salt. And don't get crazy and shake any extra salt into the pot without tasting! You won't need it, trust me. Drop in the soon-to-be-dumplins a few at a time to help them not stick together in an unattractive clump. I want my dumplins attractive, y'all.
And finally, give it the shredded chicken, around 2 cups. You're going to be eating in about 15-20 minutes! A note on the chicken: I use a very good brand of canned white chicken from Costco if I don't have left overs or haven't the time to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery to pull off the bone. But you can poach some chicken breasts to tear up for this if you really want the extra hassle.

And that's it, you're done. And you don't have to tell anybody how easy it was, but thanks cousin Gina for not keeping your secret when everybody at the fam reunion loved this dish.

2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Quart Chicken Broth

1 Tbs dry or rubbed Sage

1 Tbs Chicken Soup Base

1 can Biscuits

2 cups shredded Chicken

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