Tag Archives: quick

Sicilian-style Bean Soup: Pasta e Fagioli

It’s not “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” in this soup that makes it a standout. It is the garlic, basil, thyme and rosemary that waft through the air as the aroma of freshly made Sicilian Bean Soup simmers away on the stovetop.

For sometime now I have been an advocate of soups for dinner. It started with a simple Chicken Noodle fascination, but then it led to a Soup and Salad Diet while the hubby and I were engaged. Especially if you’re a harried mom, like me, using a few quick staples can allow you to pull together a fabulous meal with little prep but lots of satisfaction.

Now there are many lovely elements to a soup, such as health benefits and dimensional flavor without a lot of work. But I think one of the best qualities of soup is that it forces you to slow down and take a deep breath and savor it slowly. Much of my life suffers from the perpetual list of daily activities, and when it comes to mealtime, I feel forced to get it done as fast as possible. But soup forces me to slow down.

Although Pasta e Fagioli is a pretty varied soup in Italy, different regions have their own spin on it, it’s really considered a peasant’s soup. Ultimately, this is because all of the ingredients are pretty easily found on the farm and it can be diluted to last for days. In my version of this dish I’ve replaced the pancetta with  ground chicken. Some recipes for this soup include tomatoes. However, the versions that I have enjoyed the most have not included them, so I left them out.

Keep Your eye out for more soups to come from me this season. It’s such an easy mis-week meal I can’t resist.

Shopping List:

1 pound ground chicken

1/2 an onion diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium carrot, diced

14 oz.  low-sodium canned white beans

32 oz. chicken stock

1 cup water

2 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons fresh basil sliced thin (here’s a tip: use your kitchen scissors to cut it directly into the pot)

1 cup dry small pasta, like elbow or ditalini

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

1. In a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat saute the garlic and olive oil for a minute or until fragrant. Then cook the ground chicken and sliced onions until the meat is cooked through. This will take about 5-7 minutes.

2. At this point pour in the chicken broth, the water, the beans, the carrots and the herbs. Raise the heat and let it come to a boil.

3. Then toss in the pasta and cook according to the directions, about 7 minutes for the elbows I used.

4. Serve this topped with a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese in each bowl. Yes, you read right! We Sicilians like our cheese:)

Serves: 4-6

Lentil Chorizo Soup

Today was the first day of Fall in my book. That’s by LA standards, people! Yes. We had a bit of cloudiness that might suggest our warm weather is heading out. What better reason do I  need to post my first soup of the season.

This steaming bowl is inspired by a soup I have tasted a few times at MBPost, a new restaurant in town that is getting a lot of attention for a good reason. The food is fantastic at this swanky yet casual spot. My hubby and I have ordered a soup similar to this one on several occasions since the social house has opened. And each time it stands out as excellent. After the last time I thought why not try to make something similar at home. And that’s when I realized how easy this concoction really is.

Shopping List:

1 cup dry lentil beans, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water

half of a 12 oz. beef or pork chorizo, casing removed

32 oz. beef broth

cilantro

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, diced

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 lime juiced

1/4 cup light sour cream

Instructions:

1. Remove the casing from the chorizo and saute it with the onions in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  As you cook the chorizo, much of the fat will ooze out. And there is a lot of it. The first time I cooked chorizo I wasn’t sure it was really cooked because my test for ground meat is to check whether it’s firm or pink, but chorizo is super red in color. So, I just went by texture. It took about 8-10 minutes for the chorizo to look dry and felt firm to press.

2. After cooking the chorizo, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and drain it on paper towels, while you remove some of the grease from the pan. Leave about one teaspoon of the fat.

3. Return the pan to high heat this time, and add the lentils, chorizo and onions, garlic, carrots and broth. Bring all of this to a boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

4. To serve squeeze the lime into the soup, and then ladle the soup into bowls. Top each bowl with fresh chives and a teaspoon of sour cream and a nub of crusty bread. At the restaurant they serve it with a couple of steamed shrimp, but I didn’t take that extra step this time. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6.

Man,- I-Need-a-Beer Chicken

TGIF! At the end of the work week when dinner time creeps up all I really want is a beer, even though I don’t drink beer normally. It’s the idea, really. The opportunity to kick up my feet and relax instead of rushing around like I do all week. Well, this recipe is just what I need after a busy week. It cooks itself, while I toss back a cold one. Instead of ordering take-out pizza at the end of the week, treat yourself to a beer in your chicken.

Ok, so I think this recipe needs a little backstory. I’m sure you all are thinking What made Suzanne pour a beer over her chicken? It was no accident, although that would be a good story. It really came from our trip to Peru this summer. After tasting a cilantro infused lamb stew while, I became obsessed (to put it mildly) with recreating the recipe at home. After dinning at a few local Peruvian restaurants, I came to the realization that the dish that I loved so much in Peru, didn’t really exist in the Peruvian-American restaurants here.

After a little experimentation, I discovered the secret ingredient…beer! This is such an easy dish, you’ll want to make it mid-week too. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Enjoy!

Shopping List:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves whole garlic

6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 red or yellow pepper, roughly chopped

1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles

1 cup (approximately 1 bunch) of cilantro chopped

1 12-ounce dark beer (and an extra one for you)

1 cup no-salt added chicken stock

Instructions:

1. In a large ziploc bag place 1/4 cup flour and all of the chicken. Shake it around a bit so that each piece is coated.

2. Then, in a 6-quart pot on medium-high heat sear chicken in the olive oil and garlic for 3 minutes per side.

3. Pour in the remaining ingredients, cover it and let it come to a boil.

4.Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium/low and let it simmer uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

5. Serve over rice or with crusty bread, but don’t forget to squeeze that lime over the bowl before you dig in. And if you’ve finished that beer that you started…get yourself another. It is Friday after all.

Serves 3-4.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

On the way home from work you are fried, so you pick up a rotisserie chicken, only to serve it with rice and salad. And then you come to find that the chicken which looked so juicy at the market was pretty dry. Why succumb to eating it this way?

Ok, yeah, you’re short on time–we’ve all been there. I have fallen in to that trap quite often too. But I started to think about this type of chicken for what it is, a helper in creating a quick meal. There’s no way that chicken which has been sitting under heat lamps for the last 20 minutes is still moist. So why not improve upon it and transform it and still get dinner on the table fast.

And as school gets back to session and the kids start-up their busy schedules once again, I thought it would be nice to add a 20-minute meal to the blog. So many of us are rushing around as it is, sometimes it’s hard to find the creativity and the time to make something different. 

Shopping List:

2 cups shredded chicken (about 2 chicken breasts)

1 (12 oz.) can medium enchilada sauce

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup salsa

1 cup frozen mixed veggies (I used a carrot, pea and green bean mix)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup tortilla chips

2 limes

1 avocado, diced

Instructions:

1. In a medium-sized pot combine the chicken, enchilada sauce, chicken broth, salsa and frozen vegetables in the pot. Bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until all of the veggies are hot.

2. Now pull out 4 big bowls, I like the shallow ones for hearty soups and stews. Place at the bottom of each bowl a handful of tortilla chips that you have crushed in your hand and 1/4 of the avocado. Top with a couple of ladles of soup, then a big handful of cheese and squeeze a quarter of a lime in each bowl. Dig in!

Serves 4.