Lentil Soup with Ham

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I cooked a ham for Christmas dinner this year. When I cook ham, I usually buy a very small boneless ham because only two of us will eat it. This year I bought a bigger, semi-boneless ham. It was actually less expensive than a smaller ham, but now I have tons of leftover ham. I’ll freeze some and then get creative with the rest. This should be interesting. : )

Lentil Soup with Ham

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 cups chicken(or vegetable) broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup of ham, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the dried lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the diced ham and zucchini and cook until the lentils have reached the desired level of  tenderness, 10 to 20 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

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Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

This is a riff on my Minestrone recipe. I bought some ravioletti (mini ravioli) on clearance at Aldi for 74¢ and thought it would be a nice, hearty substitution for pasta. I adore it. I have also made this soup using tortellini.

Ravioletti

If you want a brothier soup, feel free to add some additional vegetable broth or water.

Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
8 cups vegetable stock
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 – 3 tsp. dried basil
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes and their juices
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 package ravioletti (mini ravioli), your choice of filling
salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to soften 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook until tender, another 4 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté for a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook yet another minute. Add veggie stock, kidney beans, basil, and diced tomatoes. Raise heat and bring the soup to a boil. Add the zucchini and ravioletti; return the soup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until the zucchini and ravioletti are tender. Stir in the spinach and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and serve.


Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).


Jambalaya with Sausage

Once or twice a year, I am able to get sausage super cheap at Publix by pairing coupons with a sale (BOGO). I have been using http://www.southernsavers.com to match coupons with sales for years now. I think the website/app is a wonderful tool to help save lots of money. It certainly helps me stick to my grocery budget.

By getting the sausage for a steal, I was able to make this batch of Jambalaya with Sausage for under $5. Thrifty. It’s a super easy recipe that makes plenty to have again another day.

Using the frozen vegetable seasoning blend is very convenient and helps get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Great for a weekday meal.

Jambalaya with Sausage

12 ounce package rope sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked  Sausage, but Andouille sausage would be perfect)
10 ounce package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (I used Publix brand with onions, celery, sweet red & green peppers, and parsley)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 cups long-grained white rice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon your favorite Cajun seasoning mix (homemade or store-bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste

Slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook over medium-high heat in a large soup pot until evenly browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add the frozen vegetable seasoning blend to the hot sausage drippings. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning mix, and cayenne to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid has cooked out. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Easy Chicken Posole

Easy Chicken Posole

This is one of my all-time favorite meals. It’s easy, delicious, comforting, and makes a big batch that ensures leftovers for future meals.

If you like your posole a little more on the brothy side, feel free to add an additional cup of water (or chicken broth) to the recipe.

Easy Chicken Posole

5 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
2 poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, and chopped (or a 4 ounce can diced green chiles, drained or 3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped)
4 15.5 ounce cans white hominy, drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (and their juices)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

grated cheese (I like cheddar)
shredded green cabbage
thinly sliced radishes

Bring 5 cups of chicken broth and the chicken breasts to boil in soup pot. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and reserve the cooking liquid in the pot. Let the chicken cool.

Add the chopped roasted poblanos (or canned green chiles or chopped jalapenos), drained hominy, diced tomatoes (and their juices), Mexican oregano, and ground cumin to the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Shred the chicken while the posole is coming to a boil. Once it does, added the shredded chicken and cook until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Season the posole to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve in bowls. Let everyone top their posole with cheese, shredded cabbage, and sliced radishes.


Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

I really like this flavorful, brothy soup. The gnocchi, Italian dumplings, and chicken make this soup more substantial. You can find packages of pre-made gnocchi by the dried pasta in the grocery store.

This soup is pretty quick to fix, but you can save time by using part of a rotisserie chicken (just add at the same time as the gnocchi) or leftover cooked chicken in the soup.

Gnocchi

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juices
1 16 oz. package of potato gnocchi
2 cups fresh baby spinach
5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, chicken pieces, and diced tomatoes and their juices. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. When the soup comes to a boil, add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi rises to the top, about 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and fresh basil and take the soup off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Grated Parmesan cheese can be sprinkled on top just before eating, if desired.


Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

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This is a nice change from a heavier, spicier beef chili. I like this dish a little more on the soupy side. If you like a thicker chili, add less chicken broth and definitely add the masa harina to help thicken. Serve the Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili with cornbread or fresh tortillas.

I think this could easily be made into a crockpot freezer meal. Add all of the ingredients except for the canned beans and masa harina to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze flat. You could make several at one time and have them on hand for easy crockpot meals. The day before cooking, place the frozen bag in the refrigerator to defrost. Place the defrosted contents of the bag in the crockpot with the drained canned white beans and cook 6 – 8 hours on low or 3 – 4 hours on high. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry 30 minutes before serving.

chicken-and-white-bean-chili

Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large breasts)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed and finely chopped
1 4 ounce can roasted chopped green chiles, drained (or the equivalent of chiles you roasted yourself)
2 15.5 ounce cans white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, Navy), drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Masa Harina mixed with enough water to make a slurry

Possible toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded (Monterrey jack, pepper jack are great options)
avocado, sliced
lime wedges
serranos, sliced

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the cumin, coriander, paprika, Mexican oregano, cayenne, and salt over the chicken. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, roasted chiles, white beans, corn, and chicken broth. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high 3 -4 hours.

30 minutes before serving, remove the chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry and continue to cook 30 minutes until the chili is thickened.

Serve and let each person customize their toppings.