Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

I really am loving having a slow cooker that works perfetly. After years of thinking they were all like that old one that I had (which wasn’t old really) that sucked I had pretty much sworn off of them. But not anymore!

Black bean soup. Thick, yummy, hearty, a bit of heat, delicious. That’s it. Make it ūüôā

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Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped medium
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium
  • 8¬†medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 medium smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 cup hot sauce (to taste)
  • fresh cilantro leaves chopped for garnish
  • fat free sour cream for garnish
  • chipotle sauce for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

 Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker and stir in the water, broth, black beans, ham hocks, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the soup has thickened and the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours.)

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove the ham hocks and any portion of them that may ramin in the soup (there are fat pieces and small bones so be careful to remove everything-a spider works best), let cool and discard. Puree 2 cups of the soup with a stick blender until smooth, then stir back into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste, and serve.

Note: I added some Frank’s Hot Sauce in the last step as the soup needed a bit of a kick. It didn’t make it spicy-just gave it some heat.¬† Add¬†it a little at a time¬†and stir¬†and taste until you reach your desired heat level.¬†When serving I added a few squirts of my Goya Chipotle Sauce, a spoonful of sour cream and cilantro. The Chipotle Sauce gave it another dimension of taste without adding too much more heat.

This soup also reheats well.

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated. Their notes:

 Editors’ Choice Cookbook Collection.  From The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

 Why this recipe works:

We found that unsoaked beans worked fine in our slow-cooker black bean soup recipe. It was well worth the time and effort to saut√© the aromatics before adding them to the cooker; the black bean soup recipe that skipped this step tasted flat. As for flavor, we knew we wanted a robust smoked pork presence. We tested our way through porky ingredients like bacon, kielbasa, ham, and ham hocks before deciding that the latter contributed all the depth we wanted. Once the soup was done‚ÄĒeight to 10 hours later‚ÄĒwe stripped the meat from the hocks and stirred it into the beans. (I did not do this as basically everything was off of the bone-I removed the pices of the hock from the soup with my strainer and discarded them).

PREP-AHEAD TRIPS:  can store the following ingredients together:

1. Cook the vegetables as described in step 1, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator.

2. Pick over and rinse the black beans and refrigerate.

If the soup becomes too thick as it sits, thin to the desired consistency with either water or broth.

Baked Potato Soup-slow cooker

The really chilly weather is here and I’ve been looking for a great potato soup recipe. I came across Pink Parsley’s recipe and adjusted it a bit to lessen the calories and also more to my taste. I used light cream and light cheese. It came out so well and even better-it’s lighter! Below is my version. This soup is FABULOUS!!! It’s really easy to make and you can adjust the toppings to whatever you’d like. Make it SOON!! You’ll be happy you did!

Baked Potato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp bacon grease (I keep some in the fridge. If you don’t cook the bacon for the toppings and keep 2 tbsp in the pan)
  • 5 small-medium¬†garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 lbs Russet potatoes (about 4), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 8oz¬†light sharp cheddar cheese, grated, (do not use pre-grated)
  • 3oz light colby jack cheese, grated, (do not use pre-grated)
  • 1/2 cup of light cream
  • 1/2 cup of light sour cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black¬†pepper, divided

Toppings:

  • light sharp cheddar cheese, grated (do¬† not use pre-grated)
  • sliced scallions
  • crispy bacon pieces
  • light sour cream

Place 2 tbsp bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until browned.  Then add the garlic, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until everything becomes fragrant. Then stir in the flour, stir it constantly for a minute or so until the flour is no longer white. Then stir in one cup of the chicken broth, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan, until the mixture has thickened. Then pour it into the slow cooker.

To the slow cooker add the remaining 3 cups chicken broth, all of the potatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours test¬†a piece of potato to¬†make sure it’s cooked through. If not cook it for a bit longer, until they’re to desired texture.¬† When the potatoes are done cooking place 3 cups (without liquid) into a bowl, add the light cream, and mash until smooth. Add them back into the slow cooker, stir in the sour cream and cheddar cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes or until¬†the cheese¬†is melty and has come together.¬† You can cook the bacon for the topping during the last 10 minutes.

Serve hot topped with sour cream, grated cheese, scallions and bacon bits or anything else you’d like on top.

Other topping ideas: crispy pancetta, a squirt of Dijon mustard, chives, creme fraiche–whatever you like!

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup-slow cooker

Well, 10 days after hurricane Sandy a snowy nor’easter showed up. I was SO glad that I had prepped some of the ingredients for this soup days before and then put it in the slow cooker in the morning before I left for work. Having a delicious soup waiting for me after work on a dark snowy night was great.

I like this recipe for many reasons. 1) it’s from Cook’s Illustrated so you know it will work¬† 2) there aren’t really many ingredients¬† 3) you can prep some of the ingredients days before¬† and then throw it together in 5 minutes¬† 4) it was really really tasty!!!

Note: if you’re using dried beans you’ll have to soak them overnight.

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, minced
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 8 teaspoons)
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans (2 1/4 cups), picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for serving)

 Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pancetta and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Transfer the pancetta and onion mixture to the slow cooker insert and stir in the water, broth, beans, Parmesan rind (if using), bay leaves, and pepper flakes until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, 10 to 12 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 8 to 9 hours.)
  3. 3. Add the rosemary sprig, cover, and continue to cook until lightly fragrant, about 15 minutes longer. Remove and discard the bay leaves, rosemary, and Parmesan rind (if using). Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve, sprinkling individual portions with the Parmesan and olive oil (if desired).

So the shortcut: cook up the onion and pancetta a few days beforehand (up to 3), put in an airtight container and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to¬† make the soup.

MMMM parmesan rind.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Years ago , I believe it was for my wedding shower (must’ve been 2005), I received a slow cooker.¬† It was from our registry, a Cuisinart 6qt, and it was pretty and shiny. Unfortunately it had the same problems many others had with the same cooker(so I see on the Amazon reviews)-a rattling cover, steam sneaking out and running down the side of the insert into the holder and making the screws rusty. In other words-I didn’t trust it. I used it maybe twice.

So recently I bought a new one–this gorgeous DeLonghi model from Amazon and I fired it up this weekend. It’s wonderful! It cooks evenly, it’s easy to clean and it’s gorgeous looking don’t you agree? I trolled the internet looking for reviews and this one consistently got the highest marks.¬† No rattling, no steam coming out. Just works like it says it will.

Here it is in action. I don’t have a lot of counter space but it still fits really well!!

Yummy Time!!

So anyway I wanted to use the new cooker and I looked all over for a good chicken soup recipe. As always, Gina at SkinnyTaste, came through. This is my adaptation of¬†her recipe. It was delicious!! You can make it spicy or not, up or lower the veggies and beans or use different beans. It’s very versatile. I¬†had a variety of fixings on the side to top it too-tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro,¬†avocado and chipotle sauce too.

Note: the Salsita, chipotle powder and chili powder are all to individual taste in the recipe below.

Slow Cooker Enchilada Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Salsita (chipotle hot sauce). Goya makes it. Or you can use 1 chipotle in adobo-but be careful-they’re hot. I found the Salsita gave a bit more control with the heat.
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • ¬†15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2¬†15 oz cans¬†corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • shredded¬†cheddar cheese for topping
  • fat-free sour cream for topping
  • tortilla chips for topping
  • avocado for topping

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and Salsita and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into crock pot.
  2. To the slow cooker add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt,  cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder and Salsita to taste. Serve in bowls and top as desired.

Santa Fe Soup

Winner winner chicken dinner!! Not only is this chili-like soup very delicious it’s a SNAP to make!! The ingredients are similar to chili but the liquid is much thinner.¬† Feel free to switch other beans in or use turkey. This makes¬† 4 quarts so, in my house, enough for 2 frozen containers and 3 containers for the next few days for lunch or dinner.¬† I think this would also be excellent with crushed tortilla chips on top or used to scoop out the soup. So versatile!! I will be making this all fall and winter!!

Santa Fe Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1¬†oz package ranch-stype dressing mix
  • 2 1&1/4 oz packages taco seasoning mix
  • 1 16oz can black beans, undrained
  • 1 16oz can kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 16oz can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can green chilis
  • 2 16oz cans yellow and white corn undrained
  • 2 cups water
  • Garnish: sour cream, grated sharp cheddar (not pre grated as it won’t melt properly), sliced green onions

Instructions: (I said it was really easy didn’t I? 1 step)

  1. Cook meat and onion together in a large stock pot until meat is browned and onion is soft. Stir in ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning into meat and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients with juices from all. Add water. Simmer for 2 hours.  If mixture is too thick gradually add additional water to desired thickness. Garnish with sour cream and/or cheese and/or sliced green onions.

Makes 4 quarts. Needs to simmer for 2 hours (but it’s worth it I promise!!)

Adapted from Recipies Worth Sharing cookbook. This is a GREAT book-all of the recipies are from various community cookbooks from all over the country. This particular recipe is from the community cookbook Food for Thought from Junior League of Birmingham, Inc.  Burmingham, Alabama.

Ribollita a/k/a memory of Florence in a bowl.

I have an obsession with Florence. A serious one. Now that the weather is starting to get cooler I couldn’t wait to make this thick, delicious, healthy soup. It reminds me of the last time I visited Florence which was in February of this year. The winter is a great time to go, by the way, as it’s absolutely empty! Anyway this was the 2nd time that I dined at Antico Fattore (the first time was in Sept. 2010). They serve this soup there and I can’t get enough of it. This recipe is pretty close to what I get there but, as always, there’s something missing. Perhaps the ambiance of Florence. Perhaps a secret ingredient that the restaurant throws in. Who knows. But having a bowl of this brings me right back to the inside of a small and cozy¬†restaurant on a small street on a cold night in the most enchanting city on earth. Enjoy!!

 

Notes: if you’re using dried beans you’ll need to give yourself 3 days to make this. If you’re using canned, 2 days.

Ribollita

  • 1/2 cup (4fl oz/125ml) extra virgin olive oil plus¬†more for seasoning
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes) coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (6oz/185g) canned plum (Roma) tomatoes (I used San Marzano) chopped
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero (tuscan cabbage) or kale, tough center stalks removed and cut into thick strips
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (21oz/655g) cooked cannellini beans (if using dried soaked overnight¬†or canned rinsed)
  • Leaves from 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 day old coarse country bread, preferrably unsalted, toasted

Instructions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and zucchini and saute until the vegetables are softened-about 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and 4 cups (32 fl oz/1 l) water then add cavolo nero (or kale), savoy cabbage and spinach. Raise the heat to high, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let cook until the greens are tender-about 45 minutes.
  2. Stir in the beans and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes longer. Add the thyme leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The following day, preheat the oven to 350f. Line a 2qt (2l) baking dish with the toasted bread and ladle the soup over the top. Bake, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon so that the bread slices break apart and blend with the soup, 20-25 minutes. Continue baking without stirring until a lightly browned crust forms on the top of the soup-about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Serve at the table directly from the dish. Season generously with olive oil and pepper.

Makes 6-8 servings. Serve with a nice Chianti!!

I bought this gorgeous loaf of the house bread from my local Fairway and it was perfect for this!

From Williams-Sonoma Florence

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