Slow Cooker Sunday: Butternut Squash Soup

Slow Cooker Sunday is back! Granted I will put the disclaimer in that I may not be posting every Sunday though. Thankfully I am covered for the next few Sunday’s as I have two recipes in my blog queue that I never posted. It’s a good thing recipes don’t expire! LOL! So, in honor of my first Slow Cooker Sunday post in a quite a few months and since its Fall I bring you a Butternut Squash Soup that’s super easy, super quick and super delicious!

Truthfully this soup couldn’t get any easier… I placed all the ingredients – butternut squash, chicken broth, coconut milk, chopped onion, brown sugar, soy sauce and crushed red pepper – in my slow cooker…

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And set it cook on low for 4 hours. Granted the before cooking and after cooking are pretty much the same, but, trust me this was 4 hours later.

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I then transferred the soup to a pot and used an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together until it was smooth. And then finally I stirred in lime juice, which really took the flavor of the soup up another notch. Citrus really does have a way of bringing out and bringing together different flavors. And that was it!

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Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chicken broth

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoon lime juice

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the lime juice.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 21/2 hours.

Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in lime juice and enjoy.

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Slow Cooker Sunday: Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

For this week’s Slow Cooker Sunday meal I’m bringing you a dish with flavors from North Africa, specifically Morocco. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food… Hence bringing together a multitude of wonderful flavors. So, it’s no surprise that this week’s Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew is full of flavor.

To begin I placed 2lbs. of cubed beef chuck in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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After mixing together ground ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl, I sprinkled it over the beef and tossed it to coat the meat.

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Next I added in a small diced onion and a can of peeled whole tomatoes (with the liquid) and crushed the tomatoes with my hands.

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And finally I put butternut squash chunks on top of everything and sprinkled salt over it and added water. If you cannot find fresh butternut squash use frozen instead.

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I cooked it on low for 7 hours and the aroma was amazing when I uncovered it.

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I served it over white rice and while it was delicious the first day it was even more so the following day as the flavors continued to develop.

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Slow Cooker Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 small onion, diced

1 28oz. can peeled whole tomatoes (with liquid)

1 butternut squash (about 2lbs.) peeled and cut unto 1 1/2 cubes

 

Directions:

Place the beef in the slow cooker.

In a small bowl mix together the ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle over the beef and toss to coat well.

Add the onion and tomatoes with their liquid and crush the tomatoes with your hand.

Place the butternut squash chunks on top and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 cups water.

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, until the beef is tender. Serve over rice.

 

From Food Network Magazine, October 2015. Reynolds Slow-Cooker Favorites

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chicken and Hominy Stew

Hey Everyone! For this week’s Slow Cooker Sunday I am bringing you a stew that those of you who are sensitive to spiciness may find too spicy and those of you on the other end of the spectrum will say “Where’s the spice?” I’m on the latter side of that statement. I truthfully didn’t think the stew had any kick to it but others who tried it did, but, not so much that they weren’t able to enjoy it. So, what is this stew? Well, it’s a Chicken and Hominy Stew.

Once again, this is another of my favorite types of slow cooker meals… Just chop, drain then add to the slow cooker and let the machine work its magic. After cutting boneless skinless chicken thighs into approximately 1-inch pieces I placed them in the bottom of my slow cooker. Next I added in 2 seeded and chopped poblano chile peppers, half a bunch of cilantro that I roughly chopped and two cans of hominy that I rinsed and drained. If you are wondering what exactly is hominy check out this link.

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I then added in my liquids… low-sodium chicken broth and a jar of mild salsa verde.

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And finally I added in two corn tortillas that I tore into small pieces. I then covered it and set it to cook on low for 7 hours. Now, if you have a programmable slow cooker you need not worry about your start time, but, if you have a slow cooker like mine – I have one that has a 4 and 6 hour cook setting for high and a 8 and 10 hour cook setting for low, and a separate warm setting – make sure you take note of your start time. You don’t want to “overcook” the soup and end up with chicken that’s on the verge of shredding. You want a bit of bite to this soup since it is a stew.

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And after 7 hours it was time to enjoy a bowl. I topped it with some chopped avocado and enjoyed it with an extra corn tortilla on the side. Overall there’s not one thing about this stew I would change. The flavors all worked well together and like I said earlier I definitely didn’t feel like it was too spicy, it was just right!

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Hominy Stew

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 15-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed

2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 16-ounce jar salsa verde

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 6-inch corn tortilla

Kosher salt

Options for topping:

sour cream

avocado, diced

cilantro, chopped

romaine lettuce heart, shredded

corn tortillas, warmed

Directions:

Add the chicken, hominy, peppers and cilantro to the slow cooker. Add the broth, salsa verde and salt and stir to combine. Next, tear the 2 corn tortillas into small pieces and add to the slow cooker. Give everything a good stir, cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

If serving with the tortillas, warm them according to the package directions. Top each serving of the stew with your favorite topping and enjoy. Serve with the warmed tortillas on the side.

*Please note I use a 5 1/2-quart slow cooker.

Recipe modified from The Food Network

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

For me any time is a good time for soup – it’s like ice cream; it can never be too cold or too hot to enjoy it. Especially since there are so many varieties of soups that can be enjoyed either hot or cold. But these days with the temperatures being so cold and every few days there is some sort of wintry mix falling from the skies hot soup is definitely the way to go! The other day while picking up some produce while grocery shopping – this is a common place (the produce section) where I get some of my cooking / baking ideas – the idea of making roasted tomato soup popped into my head. I had no idea what ingredients I needed but I figured tomatoes would be a good start and some basil. I knew I had the other basics at home that I assume I would need – yellow onions and garlic. I didn’t think I needed any specific type of tomato – i.e. plum, beefsteak, etc… – so I picked up a pack of six tomatoes but then when I got home and did some research I soon realized that I needed double that amount so I picked up another pack of six tomatoes the following day and I was ready to go.

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I began by slicing the tomatoes in half and tossing them with olive oil and kosher salt and placing them on a baking sheet.

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I then roasted them in a 400 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

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While the tomatoes cooled I chopped two yellow onions and minced four garlic cloves and sautéed both in two tablespoons each of unsalted butter and olive oil over medium heat. The smell of sautéing onions and garlic is probably one of my favorite aromas when it comes to cooking.

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Following that I added a quart of vegetable broth – I used College Inn’s Garden Vegetable Broth – the tomatoes and ten large basil leaves to the onion mixture.

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I brought the soup to a boil by raising the heat to high and then lowered the heat so the soup could simmer uncovered for about thirty minutes. I did a taste test and I already knew that this soup was a winner… The broth had a wonderful taste with a hint of the basil.

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I removed the pot from the heat and used an immersion blender to blend the mixture into a delicious creamy soup that still had bits of the basil in it. I seasoned it with some fresh ground pepper and it was ready to be enjoyed.

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While the soup was meant to be for dinner, I couldn’t wait to try it so I ladled a few spoons into a bowl and topped it with some shredded parmesan cheese and I was very happy with the result. I enjoyed a second bowl a few hours later along with a grilled cheese!

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

12 tomatoes (approximately 3 pounds) – halved

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

10 large basil leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for sautéing onions and garlic

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 quart vegetable broth

Fresh ground pepper for seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss tomatoes with olive oil and salt and spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

2. Sauté the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to brown.

3. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes and basil to the onion mixture and raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to low and simmer the soup uncovered for about 25 – 30 minutes, the tomatoes will looked stewed / poached.

4. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or blend in a blender or a food processor, until the soup is creamy and all of the tomatoes have been blended. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

The temperatures have begun to drop and it’s the perfect excuse to make warm and hearty soups, albeit I made this soup last week on a rainy day, which as we all know is also a perfect day for soup. I’ve actually made this soup a few times before after coming across it on a fellow blogger’s blog last year, but, this was the first time that I made the soup by roasting a whole butternut squash as opposed to the prepackaged chopped ones you sometimes see in the produce area and as crazy as it sounds, it made such a difference in the flavor.

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Luckily the butternut squash wasn’t as difficult to slice as the pumpkins were for the homemade puree I made. Granted the two slices weren’t perfectly equal but they were close enough. After I sliced them I cleaned out all of the pulp and seeds and placed the two halves on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I roasted them in a 425 F preheated oven for just shy of an hour, until they were fork tender.

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Along with the butternut squash I also roasted a large sweet potato which I peeled and cubed, the roasting time for the potato was considerably less, about 20 minutes. Once the butternut squashed cooled I removed the peel and chopped it into cubes as well. Of course I couldn’t help but trying a piece and it was absolutely delish. Roasting vegetables really brings out their inner sweetness.

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I then gathered all of the ingredients I needed for the soup along with the squash and sweet potato; 2 diced onions, minced ginger, coconut milk and vegetable stock.

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Now on to making the actual soup… I began by sautéing the onion and ginger until the onions were translucent. I then added in the cubed squash and sweet potato and finally the vegetable stock. Once I brought it to a boil over medium heat I reduced the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

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And finally using a handheld blender (immersion blender) I pureed the soup until it was smooth and then stirred in the coconut milk.

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I cannot say enough good things about this soup… There is sweetness from roasting the squash and the sweet potato and a hint of ginger that makes this soup so delicious. Another plus, it’s great for many who follow different types of diets… Its vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and all around healthy. Even those of you who are not keen on veggies will find this soup tasty!

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup – adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash sliced in half and pulp and seeds removed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and diced

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

4 cups vegetable stock

3/4 cup coconut milk

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Drizzle olive oil over squash and sweet potato; add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. On another baking sheet lay out the sweet potatoes. Cook the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Cook the squash for about 50 minutes, once again until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

4. Remove the peel from the squash and roughly cut it into large cubes and add it to the pot with the onions and ginger along with the sweet potato.

5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, making sure the squash is tender.

6. Using a handheld blender, puree the soup. Add the coconut milk and stir.

 

Chicken Corn Chowder

Many people don’t think of summer as the time to eat soup, but, some of the best soups can be made during the warmer months. Especially with the bounty of vegetables that are in-season. Just think of the amazing soups that can be made with watermelon, tomatoes and corn – all three of which have their peak season during the summer. A few years ago I made a Corn Chowder after attending a culinary event at a local Williams-Sonoma and I saw a Corn Zipper used and knew I had to have one. Well, that Corn Zipper has been sitting in a utensil drawer ever since then until last week when thinking of what to make for dinner I saw it and instantly knew what I wanted to make… Chicken Corn Chowder. Just in case you are wondering, a Corn Zipper is exactly what it sounds like, a tool that allows you to zip corn kernels right off of the cob. It’s much easier and safer than using a knife! As luck – or not so lucky depending on how you look at it – would have it I ended up making this chowder on a rainy day last week that resulted in some heavy flooding in my area so I was essentially rained-in. Hence, I took advantage of the day and also made a pesto sauce and a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake which I will be posting about within the next day or two.

Along with corn, the other vegetables I added to the chowder were celery, carrots, onion and potatoes.

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My lovely corn once it was shucked. I lucked out with picking perfect corn just by touch because it was way too crowded in the corn area of my supermarket to shuck it there.

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Here are the chicken and vegetables prepped and ready to go. I poached the chicken thighs in chicken stock along with salt, pepper and some spices (onion powder, garlic powder and oregano) for about 40 minutes. More than likely I cooked it longer than need be but since it was in liquid it didn’t dry out or anything. I diced up the celery, a carrot and the onion and mixed it together along with a minced garlic clove. And finally I cut two potatoes leaving them in large chunks so they wouldn’t break down while cooking.

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Using a large Dutch oven I began by sautéing the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in melted butter for two minutes – this is more or less a mirepoix. A true mirepoix calls for two parts onion and one part each of carrot and celery.

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I then added in a 1/2 cup of flour and stirred the mixture to make a roux. Once the roux had browned I set it aside and let it cool to room temperature.

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While the roux was cooling I combined the corn, potatoes and 3 cups of chicken stock in a pot and brought it to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. My gauge for the cooking time was the tenderness of the potatoes. I didn’t want them to be completely cooked through, but, I wanted them pretty close to being done. I then added the chicken stock mixture to the roux – a little at a time – whisking it briskly so it wouldn’t get lumpy and then returned it to the heat and brought it to a boil.

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Once the chowder came together – it was thick – I then heated 2 cups of half-and-half in a small saucepan and added it along with the chicken to the chowder and some salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. I let it simmer for about another 15-20 minutes so the chicken could heat through and the potatoes could finish cooking. This chowder was absolutely delicious and even better the next day.

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Chicken Corn Chowder – Adapted from here

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken stock

2 cups half-and-half

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into pieces (I poached two chicken thighs, but you could easily use a store bought cooked rotisserie chicken)

3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I used 4 ears of corn)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 clove garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

2 potatoes, cut into chunks

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. If you are choosing to cook your own chicken, prepare it whichever way you like. You could use leftovers or as I did simply poach the chicken with chicken stock and spices.

2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (or a large pot) over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook until the roux I lightly browned and then set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. In another pot combine the corn, potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add this to the roux slowly, whisking it so it doesn’t lump. Return the pot to the heat and bring it to a boil. The mixture should become very thick.

4. In a small saucepan, gently heat the half-and-half; stir it into the chowder along with the cooked chicken. Add the nutmeg and the salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat so the chowder can simmer and so the potatoes can finish cooking and the chicken can heat through.

5. Enjoy!

 

 

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Usually my idea of making soup is opening up a can of my favorite one, heating it up on the stove and then enjoying it, but since I have been cooking more I decided to give making soup from scratch a go. It’s always nice knowing exactly what you are eating as opposed to guessing what the vegetable is after it’s been masked by some thick, albeit yummy, chowder or liquid. I decided to start simple and go with a Lentil and Sausage Soup that I found on Allrecipes.

To start, I browned three links of sweet sausage over medium-high heat. I actually began by cooking the links slightly and then slicing them to finish browning them. It’s much easier to slice half cooked sausage as opposed to raw sausage.

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Next I added in one large onion, a celery stalk and a tablespoon of garlic, all chopped.

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After letting that sauté until the vegetables were tender I added in my lentils, 3 shredded carrots, water, chicken broth and diced tomatoes. I actually used diced tomatoes that were seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano which definitely added in some extra flavor.

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And finally I added in all of my spices: garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt & black pepper.

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After bringing the soup to a boil I then reduced the heat and let it simmer until the lentils were tender. While the directions said that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours my soup was done in about an hour.

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It was absolutely delicious and tasted even better the following day for lunch. I doubt I will be giving up those canned soups anytime soon, but, it’s definitely nice to know that making soup from scratch isn’t all that difficult.

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Lentil and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 large onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped garlic

1 16 oz. package dry lentils, rinsed

1 cup shredded carrot

8 cups water

2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes*

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley**

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1 tbsp. salt, or to taste

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 lb. ditalini pasta (optional – I chose not to add it in)

*I used 2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil & oregano

**I used 1 tsp. dried parsley

Directions

1. Place sausage in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Add onion, celery and chopped garlic, and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in lentils, carrot, water, chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender.

2. Stir in pasta, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.