I love soup. In the winter there is no better way to warm up than a cup of hot, delicious soup. Trouble is, most good soups have a “cream of something” base; not exactly the most healthy ingredient. I’ve been meaning to make my own substitute for cream-of- soup, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. So I figured I’d give something new a try. Continue reading Cauliflower Soup
I don’t measure when I cook. I don’t measure mostly out of laziness; I just don’t have time to grab my measuring cups/spoons and try to pin down a precise formula for whatever it is I’m making. I just throw things in a pot, based on past experiences of what works and what doesn’t, and hope for the best. It’s something I’m trying to change about myself. Since I have no written recipe I can never duplicate results when they turn out well. So this time I actually measured stuff AND wrote it down! Well, sort of. I measured everything, and then tried to remember what I had done after it was cooked. Some measurements may be a little off…
My recent foray into Potato Chowder made me realize how easy delicious soup can be so I tried it again last night. This time I took my mom’s advice of making the base out of butter, flour and milk. I also added a chicken dish I had made a while ago, but, of course, never measured or wrote down. But it was delicious so I figured I’d try again.
Meg’s Cajun Rum Chicken
Makes… several servings.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- olive oil (oops, forgot to measure this one. Maybe 2 Tbsp?)
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
- 2 Tbsp spiced rum
- 1 tsp Penzey’s Cajun seasoning
- Cut chicken into strips. Mine were probably 3″ long, 1-2″ wide and 1/2″ or less thick
- Add olive oil, worcestershire sauce, cajun seasoning and rum to a pan; stir until the cajun seasoning is evenly distributed. Add the chicken and stir to coat evenly
- Cook chicken, covered, over medium heat until done (should be 162°F at center of thickest piece), flipping once during cooking
Notes for next time: Double the rum, worcestershire sauce and cajun seasoning. Or only use 2 chicken breasts.
Meg’s Corn & Mushroom Chowder
Makes 3-4 servings
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 1-2 C milk
- 1 can whole kernel corn
- 1 can mushrooms
- 1/2 tsp Penzey’s dried oregano
- 1 tsp Penzey’s dried basil
- 1/8 tsp Penzey’s garlic powder
- Hot sauce (we are partial to Louisianna Hot Sauce)
- 1/4 tsp dried parsley
- pinch or two of kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp drippings from Cajun Rum Chicken (optional, but STRONGLY recommended)
- Shredded Cajun Rum Chicken (optional)
- Melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the flour to make a nice, thick-ish paste. In a saucepan (I say this because I melted in a microwave and whisked in a smallish bowl, then transferred to a sauce pan) add the milk, stirring all the while, to get the consistency you want for your soup.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and heat through, giving a little time for the spices to really work through the liquid.
- Optional: The chicken drippings. Up until this point it’s a vegetarian chowder, and it tastes… ok. When I added the rum/olive oil/worcestershire/chicken broth it became delicious.
- Optional 2: Shred some of the Cajun Rum chicken and stir it into the soup! This was my original intention, but my timing was way off so the chicken ended up being served on the side. I did shred some up and stick it in my soup for lunch today. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Notes for next time: less corn and mushrooms or more soup base (butter, flour, milk). Also, use fresh mushrooms.
A note about my selling out to Penzey’s: Well it’s simple. Their spices are the best, hands down. You’d never believe the difference between the dried spices you get in the grocery store and those you get from Penzey’s. They’re much fresher and smell amazing. They are pricey, though. We are working, slowly, on our collection of Penzey’s spices but it’s worth it. The spices are more flavorful than store-bought spices so you end up having to use less and they last longer. If you can, definitely invest in some key spices from Penzey’s like oregano and basil. Your food will thank you for it!
I normally try to stick to a new recipe pretty closely, without changing anything the first time I make it. But there are exceptions as I learn more about my tastes, what works for me and what doesn’t. The Potato Bacon Chowder recipe I found at AllRecipes.com is one that I tried to stick to, but changed a little. My notes are in green below.
- 2 cups peeled, cubed potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
- 1 cup water (I found this was not enough. It boiled away before the potatoes were done)
- 8 bacon strips
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (ewe. Celery is gross. I did not use it and never, ever will)
- 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted (I used cream of mushroom)
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I omitted this at first because I thought the bacon would provide enough salt, but I was very, very wrong)
- Dash pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (I didn’t use this because I didn’t have any)
- 1-2 tsp dried basil
- In a covered 3-qt. saucepan, cook potatoes in water until tender.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet until crisp; remove to paper towels to drain.
- In the same skillet, saute onion and celery in drippings until tender; drain. Add to undrained potatoes.
- Stir in soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until heated through (do not boil).
- Crumble bacon; set aside 1/4 cup. Add remaining bacon to soup along with parsley. Sprinkle with reserved bacon when serving.
Next time I will add more basil, possibly some oregano, and maybe even a dash or two of hot sauce. It was just a little too bland for my taste. I will add maybe 1/2 cup more potatoes too. A word of warning: do not add the bacon right away if you intend to make the chowder ahead of time and serve it the next day. It gets chewy and gross. Add it just before serving if you make it earlier. Honestly, though, I hate making bacon. It’s delicious, but it’s messy and I hate having to wipe down the stove surface, the side of the refrigerator, the floor surrounding the stove, the countertop next to the stove, all the things on the countertop… ugh. I might get lazy next time and just buy bacon bits.