Category Archives: Soup

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Soup

Three posts in one week! It’s a miracle! After being away from this blog during our whirlwind spring of weddings and travel it is soooo good to be back. I hope I’m not boring you too much with the Whole 30 thing. I promise not to talk about it allllll the time. Really, I’m just making good, clean food here. You can label it whatever you want or don’t label it at all. Just make it, enjoy it, and feel good. That’s all anyone can ask for, right?

This week I had a mega hankering for my favorite slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. It was a little chillier here in Chicago (though still nice) so I knew it would be great for lunches. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint.

I updated my favorite slow cooker chicken tortilla soup recipe by ditching the beans and corn and packing in even more veggies than before. The result was stellar. It has all of the same kick and flavors as my beloved recipe with an even greater nutritional bonus. That’s what I call a win-win.

Soup’s on!

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1.5 lbs)
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, mined
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup salsa (read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any funky ingredients like sugar)
  • 2 to 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • Juice of 1 lime

Preparation

Place the chicken breasts, tomatoes, and chicken broth in the slow cooker. In a microwave-safe glass bowl add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, garlic, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Mix to coat everything evenly in oil and spices. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 2 more minutes. Stir. If veggies aren’t softened, microwave 1-2 more minutes. Dump the veggies into the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. When it’s done cooking, remove chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return chicken to slow cooker. Mix in salsa and spinach. Continue cooking on low for 15 to 30 minutes more. Right before serving, squeeze juice of one lime.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla SoupWell, shucks. I’m a day late posting a Cinco de Mayo recipe. But once you make this soup you won’t care what day it is, what time it is, or what year it is. You’ll just be focused on shoveling it into your mouth quickly enough. This recipe completely took me by surprise in the best possible way. I dumped the ingredients into the slow cooker Sunday morning and hoped for the best. I was absolutely thrilled when I lifted the lid, took a taste, and discovered it was bursting with flavor. A happy dance in the kitchen ensued. It’s among the best tortilla soups I’ve ever had!

My love for tortilla soup is well established. I order it everywhere. I even have a vegetarian tortilla soup recipe here. And oh man do I still love that recipe. But THIS. This one is a keeper, too. Sometimes you just want some chicken in your tortilla soup and you want to use the convenience of a slow cooker. Feel free to top your soup with whatever you like–cilantro, chunks of avocado, fresh lime juice, or some cheese all work great. I kept it suuuuper simple and just crumbled some tortilla chips on top. It’s so easy and tasty. I’m already planning to continue the fiesta and put it on our menu for next week. I think you should, too!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1.5 lbs)
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I recommend one that says “fire-roasted” or “chipotle” for a smoky taste)
  • 1 15 oz can (or box) of kidney beans or black beans, undrained
  •  1 cup frozen corn
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Any toppers of your choice: cilantro, avocado, cheese, sour cream, lime juice
  • Tortilla chips for topping/dipping/snacking

Preparation

Place the chicken breasts through the bay leaf in the slow cooker. Combine onion, garlic, jalapeño, and olive oil in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave in 1 to 2 minute increments, stirring after each one until onion is softened, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Add to slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. When it’s done cooking, remove chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return chicken to slow cooker. Stir, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve in bowls with toppings of your choice such as cilantro, diced avocado, cheese, sour cream, or lime juice. Serve with tortilla chips.

 

 

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sending a big, fat virtual hug to you all today.

Are you doing anything fun with your friends or sweetheart? Robert and I are planning a low-key night at home. I’m making this Greek Chicken and Potatoes {an absolute favorite} for dinner. Then we’ll catch up on DVR–maybe some Olympics, Bachelor, or House of Cards {!!!} A perfectly relaxing evening if you ask me. Robert’s working craaaaazy hours for months so any amount of time we get to spend together is special whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.

I was perfectly happy to stay in this year, but I was thinking back to this time just a few years ago. We’d only been dating for two months when Valentine’s rolled around. He sent me the most beautiful pink roses, which were completely unexpected, and took me on a date to a fabulous Chicago restaurant called Perennial Virant. I was smitten. Although I’m not one to typically give into the V-Day hype {see: sweatpants and DVR} I had never felt more special in my life.

It’s probably a little late to suggest something you can make for Valentine’s Day if you’re cooking tonight, but I hope you keep this soup in mind for some time soon.

I’ve tried to make the perfect beef barley soup for years and I have finally done it. Truly, this is the last beef barley recipe I ever need. Jackpot! It’s rich, a perfect balance of chunky and brothy, and I even snuck some spinach in there, too. I ate this throughout the week and was totally bummed when it was all gone. Time to make another pot!

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • Parsley for garnish

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add beef stew meat, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until cooked through. Remove meat to a bowl and set aside.

To the pot, add onion and leek. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery, saute about 5 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic cloves, and dried thyme. Cook 5 minutes more. Add beef broth, water, barley and meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until barley is cooked and softened, about 25 minutes. Add spinach, cook until wilted. Serve soup with chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

Sausage Sweet Potato Soup

Sausage Sweet Potato SoupI kind of feel the need to start this post with an apology. We’ve been eating this soup all winter long and I’m just getting around to sharing it with you now. So guys, I’m sorry.

After making yet another pot of it this weekend, I’m finally here to tell you about it. It’s simple, extremely flavorful (especially for a broth-based soup that’s not even made with homemade broth), and totally healthy.

You start by browning a pound of spicy Italian chicken sausage (or any kind you like). Scoop that out and add some fresh onions, garlic, and leek to the pot to really boost the flavor. Dump in your carrots and celery. Add the sausage back to the pot along with sweet potato chunks, chicken broth, and a little water. Once you’ve reached a boil add your greens and parsley. I typically use swiss chard, but you can use anything that strikes your fancy–spinach, kale, and collard greens all work great, too. Keep things at a simmer for about 20 minutes and dig in!

I can confirm that this soup heals all. As much as I like to keep things happy around here I also like to stay honest. So I’ll admit I’ve been fighting a case of the winter blahs this year (it’s hard not to with the constant grey skies, snow, and cold). At the same time, I could feel a cold creeping in late last week that had me down for the count throughout this weekend. A few spoonfuls of this soup helped me keep in mind that despite my sniffles and sighs, you can always take a moment to savor the good stuff and remember that neither will last forever. Though I sure wish this soup would!

Sausage Sweet Potato Soup

Sausage  Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound raw spicy Italian chicken sausage (casings removed), or any kind of sausage you like
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (be sure to clean thoroughly, they collect a lot of sand/dirt)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (or other green) stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. (Once it’s cooked, I like to take a wooden spoon and break it up into really little pieces.) Transfer sausage from pot to a bowl and set aside.

Add additional olive oil, about 1 Tbsp, to pot if needed. Add onion, garlic, and leek. Season with some salt and pepper. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add celery and carrot to pot. Saute until they start to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Return sausage to the pot. Add the sweet potato, chicken broth, and water. Raise heat and bring to a boil.

Add swiss chard and parsley to pot. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender about 20 minutes.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili. ABalancedLifecooks.comThis chili makes me so stinkin’ happy I can hardly stand it. It is soooooooo good. If I made it once a week every week for the rest of the winter I’d be one seriously happy camper. All of the credit goes to my sister, Leah, who’s tweaked this recipe over time to get it just right. The recipe, however, only lived in her brain…until now!

All day Tuesday while I’m sure she was doing more important lawyering things, I sent her a flood of emails to get the deets: ingredients, quantities, instructions. The good stuff.

Be sure to give yourself some time while cooking it. Maybe save it for a Sunday afternoon when there’s a holiday movie on TV. It takes a little while to brown the chicken and cook down the liquid so it slightly thickens, but it’s worth every single second–and then some. The longer your chili cooks the better it tastes.

In addition to your usual suspects like tender chunks of chicken, white beans, corn, and heaps of spices I love that she sneaks swiss chard in here, too. I mean…what? Yeah, not the first chili ingredient you’d imagine. But trust me, you’ll love it. Or at least you’ll barely notice it.

Serve your chili with some chopped avocado and cilantro and a delicious pile of buttery cornbread. Not only is it hearty and healthy, we loved eating leftovers for as long as they lasted.

White Chicken Chili. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

White Chicken Chili

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
  • Salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine or beer (enough to deglaze the pan – you may need more or less)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 (15 oz) cans white beans, drain and rinse all but one*
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, chiffonade leaves
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper

Preparation

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a big stock pot. In two separate batches, brown chicken breast two at a time, about 5-8 minutes per side. Chicken doesn’t have to fully cook through. Remove to a plate and set aside.

To the pot, add onion and leek. Saute until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño, sauté about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, and fennel seeds if using. Coat vegetables in spices and toast in pan, about 1-2 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Pour wine or beer into pot and use a wooden spoon to deglaze bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth, white beans, and all four whole chicken breasts to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 60 minutes.

Transfer chicken from the pot to a cutting board. Remove skin, pull chicken off the bone, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones, place chopped chicken meat back into the pot. Add the swiss chard, corn, and crushed chili pepper. Cook about 10 minutes more until corn is heated through.

To serve, ladle chili into bowls. Top with any toppings of your choice such as avocado, cilantro, or cheese.

*In order to avoid BPA, I limit cooking with canned foods as much as possible. I almost always use organic beans from Whole Foods that come in a cardboard box/TetraPak. Since I know they’re not as widely available I use the word “cans” in the ingredients to avoid confusion.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. ABalancedLifeCooks.comTortilla soup is one of those foods I’m absolutely crazy about. My love for tortilla soup was ignited on our trip to Cabo earlier this year. I ate it every single day. Although the resort had some fabulous restaurants, I was perfectly happy with a giant bowl of tortilla soup for dinner each night topped with plenty of crunchy tortilla chips and avocado chunks. I also recently remembered that I ate tortilla soup the day we got engaged so of course this love affair was meant to be.

As much as I adore tortilla soup, I’m really picky about it, too. It can’t be too creamy. It can’t be too broth-y either. It has to have just the right balance of tomato-y broth with a slow-burn heat plus delicious ingredients like black beans and hominy. Speaking of which, have you tried hominy before? It’s soooo good. Hominy are dried and soaked corn kernels (you buy them already like that, usually in a can, and drain and rinse them like you would beans). It lends a perfect chewy texture and very subtle flavor. You can find it in the Spanish/Latin foods section at your supermarket. I’m happy to say this is the closest I’ve come to a tortilla soup that tastes like the endless bowls I had in Cabo. I hope you love it, too. And, as promised, this is another meat-free recipe to help keep things balanced around here.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Have a great week!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 32 oz low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 14 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • Cilantro

Preparation

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Stack tortillas and slice into thin strips. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on a baking sheet. Add tortilla strips, toss with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer. Bake 8-10 minutes until crispy like tortilla chips. Season with salt while still hot.

At the same time, place whole poblano pepper on top rack of oven. Cook about 5 minutes until warmed through. Once cool enough to handle, remove seeds and ribs and chop.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and poblano. Saute until onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add cumin and cook about 30 seconds. Pour in vegetable stock, tomatoes, hominy, and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened.

To serve: Spread a layer of cooked tortilla strips on bottom of bowl. Add soup. Let sit 1-2 minutes until chips soften. Top with more tortilla strips, avocado chunks, and chopped cilantro.

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

Slo

Brrrrrrrr! It’s downright wintery around these parts and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Monday it SNOWED big fat fluffy flakes. I love the cold! I love the snow, skiing, sweaters, cozy blankets, comforting foods, fires, hot mugs of tea, baking cookies…I could go on. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune when this weather lingers well into March and April– sometimes even May, ugh–but for now, I’m one happy camper.

Whether you’re as psyched about the frigid temps as I am or wish you were tanning on a caribbean beach, I have a meal that will warm you right to the core: Slow cooker 11 bean soup. It’s vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. I’ve noticed there aren’t enough meatless meals around these parts. I’m going to change that for you!

I have a secret behind this meal that takes very little work: Use a dried bean soup mix. I’m sure you’ve seen them before–the packages usually contain dried beans and a spice packet. Except in the recipe below, we’ll toss all of the instructions aside and use mine instead. Deal? Deal. I used this mix by Frontier Soups that I found on our honeymoon. You can buy it online. Another good option is Hearty Eleven Bean Soup from World Market. Any kind will do (and it doesn’t need to have exactly 11 kinds of beans) as long as it already includes a spice packet. Then you just chop up some veggies, dump it all into the slow cooker, and stir in some tomatoes and spinach at the end. Wrap your chilled hands around a warm bowl of this soup, cozy up to someone you love, and I promise we’ll all make it through the winter just fine.

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 package dried bean soup mix with a bouquet garni (packet) of herbs such as Frontier Soups Hearty Meals Minnesota Heartland Eleven Bean Soup 
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 (32 oz) cartons of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a slow cooker, add dried bean soup mix, bouquet garni of herbs, carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add tomatoes and spinach. Cook about 10-15 minutes longer until spinach is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.