Category Archives: Soup

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.

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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

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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.

Lean Bison Vegetable Soup

Lean bison vegetable soup. ABalancedLIfeCooks.comOne of my absolute favorite things is when readers make a recipe from my blog. It still boggles my mind that that’s even possible. I have no idea how often it happens, but my heart does flips when I receive a text or email from a friend or relative saying they made one of these dishes. I love my little corner of the Interwebs here so much. It’s my deepest hope that maybe, just maybe, if you cook one of these recipes it will make your day a little brighter/tastier/easier/happier.

The reason I mention cooking recipes from this site is because I do it all the time! I recently updated one of my all-time favorite meals, vegetable beef soup with this winner right here. It still checks all of my meat and veggies soup must-haves (chunks of meat, frozen veggies, silky potato and tomatoey red wine broth), but I streamlined the instructions and lightened it up by using bison instead of beef. Oh my is it good. Bonus: it’s completely weeknight doable.

If you ever happen to make something from here (even if we’ve never met!) and then happen to share it online I would be so touched if you tagged it with the hashtag #abalancedlifecooks. I always do!

Lean bison vegetable soup. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Lean Bison Vegetable Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 pound bison stew meat, trimmed of any fat
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 32 oz container low-sodium beef broth
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables (such as carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, keep skin on & slice into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Salt & pepper

Preparation

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add bison in batches (be sure not to crowd) and brown on each side. Once browned, transfer to a plate and add another batch to the pot. (It took me 3 batches to brown all of the meat). Set plate aside.

To the pot, add onion and celery and sautee until onion becomes translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, frozen vegetables, potatoes, and wine to the pot. Return meat to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Roasted Tomato & Corn Soup

Roasted tomato & Corn soup

Roasted tomato & corn soup

I know what you’re thinking. Soup? In the summer? Just stay with me here. You won’t be disappointed.

Farmers market fresh tomatoes roasted in the oven until they spill their juices and slightly caramelize. Sweet kernels sliced off the cob cooked until they’re just golden around the edges. Bell pepper singed on an open flame and peeled down to its soft flesh. Now add all that to slightly sauteed yellow and red onions plus a fiery jalapeno. Some chili powder and seasonings. A little bit of vegetable broth. Then whip everything into a frenzy with an immersion or regular blender.

You feel me now?

If you’re like a certain someone I know and you love when food is a vehicle for toppers, well, then you’re in luck. The options are endless: Freshly chopped cilantro, chunks of buttery avocado, shreds of salty tortilla chips, I could go on…

Despite its creamy texture there’s not a drop of dairy in here–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just foods from the earth hanging out in your soup bowl getting along famously.

Summer is served

Summer is served

Roasted Tomato & Corn Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced in half horizontally

Olive oil

4-6 ears of corn, kernels sliced off the cob, cobs discarded (or saved for future endeavors)

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)

3 garlic cloves, minced

About 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tsp chili powder

Salt & pepper

For garnish: Cilantro, avocado, paprika

Preparation

Heat oven to 375. Place tomatoes flesh side down in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Roast until tomatoes get soft and juicy, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Spread the corn in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges begin to turn light brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Place bell pepper directly on the flame of a gas burner turned on high. Sear the pepper and use tongs to turn until each side is charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Place pepper in a brown paper bag and close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the skins and seeds. Chop pepper.

When the tomatoes have cooled slightly, peel off the skins and discard.

In a soup pot, heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute yellow onion, red onion, jalapeno, and garlic until onions soften, about five minutes. To the pot add the tomatoes including any accumulated juices, half of the corn, and red pepper. Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add enough vegetable broth to cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Using an immersion blender (or adding to a blender in batches), blend until just smooth. It’s okay if some smaller chunks of vegetables remain. Add the remaining corn to the pot and serve with desired garnishes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Chicken Vegetable Soup via ABalancedLifeCooks.com

After 6.5 years of working from home, I did something for the very first time on Friday. At around 1:30pm I put on my PJ’s, shut the curtains, and climbed into bed.  I felt a cold coming on and could barely focus any more. So I got into bed and slept for a few hours. I can’t believe I’m admitting this here, but there you have it. In some way I think it represented a minor milestone: I gave myself exactly what I needed in that moment.

When I woke up to take the dogs for a walk outside it was cold and rainy. The worst, right? I knew there was just one thing that could heal it all: Homemade soup. I grabbed my canvas bags and drove to Whole Foods. There, I stocked up on as many antioxidant-rich foods as I could find. I chose those I could conceivably fit into my soup without requiring too much prep work.

Healthy ingredients

Healthy ingredients

It took about 30 minutes and turned out to be the most delicious soup I’ve ever made. Every single bite is packed with so many different flavors, textures, and nutrients. I sauteed a chopped jalapeno with the onions and garlic, which gave the broth a huge kick of flavor and heat that I’m sure played a role in helping me feel better. Because when I woke up the next morning, I was fine. Miraculous soup, I’m telling you!

When serving, I tossed in a bowl full of whole wheat cooked spaghetti (leftover from Robert’s birthday dinner the night before of spaghetti and meat sauce.) I love having some kind of grain/carb in soup, but I’m sure it would be just as delicious without it.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

5 carrots, chopped

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 can or tetra pak no salt added garbanzo beans (do not drain)

14.5 oz can no salt added fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat roughly chopped

2 bunches Swiss chard (I used one green and one rainbow), ribs remove leaves chopped

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz cooked whole wheat spaghetti or other pasta/grain (optional)

Preparation

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, jalapeño, and carrots until veggies soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans (with liquid), tomatoes, and chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, add chard and parsley. Simmer until greens wilt, about 5 minutes. Add spaghetti, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

White Bean & Vegetable Soup

White Bean Soup (with lots of veggies!)

See that blue bowl in the picture above? I can safely say it’s one of the strongest bowls in the world–as is my entire multicolor collection of Fiesta Dinnerware. Want to know how I can tell? Lately, when I’m away and there are dirty dishes in the sink, Remy, our big 70-pound goldendoodle lifts the dishes out of the sink and licks them clean. So when I come home I find the dish, intact, somewhere on the floor. He has yet to break a single one of them! Of course I’ve been trying to minimize occasions where I leave dishes in the sink when I’m not at home (for the sake of his teeth), but it’s pretty darn impressive. I’d like to register for more neutral tableware when we get around to that (secretly can’t wait!), but I’m not sure anything else could possibly stand up to the Jaws of Remy.

Speaking of registering, if anyone has any insight as to whether it’s better to register at Sur La Table or William Sonoma for kitchen stuff, please please please share it with me. I’ve read pros and cons about both and am completely torn. (I’m still in shock that we actually get to go through this process and am already so, so grateful.)

So let’s talk soup. This is a reallllly basic recipe you can whip up during the week that’s totally packed with veggies and beans. (I had to balance out Sunday’s dinner and all of the leftovers we’ve been eating.)

DSCN2119

I learned a little trick from my sister (thanks L!) that made a huge difference in my soup making that I’ll now pass on to you: Don’t drain and rinse all of the beans. Adding some of the liquid that’s in the beans gives it a little bit of thickness/starchiness so the broth isn’t totally watery. I’m the first one to wave the red flag and exclaim “What about the sodium!? What about the BPA!?” So hear me out. Number one: Buy beans in BPA-free packaging. Next, use low-sodium vegetable broth, no-salt added tomatoes and don’t add any additional salt while cooking. You won’t need any anyway!

White Bean & Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

About 3 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern Beans (see instructions below regarding draining & rinsing)

1 (14.5 oz) can diced no-salt added tomatoes

1 bunch green chard, ribs removed and cut into pieces (or other green such as baby spinach, collard greens, or kale)

Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and saute until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth. Drain and rinse one can of beans and add to soup. With the other can, add about 1/2 to 3/4 of the contents of the can (including liquid) into the soup. Drain and rinse the rest and add beans to soup. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add greens and cook about 5 minutes more until wilted. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste, just before serving.