Slow Cooker Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This soup is like a hug. Comforting, warming, cozy. A brief note on my alterations is below the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup wild rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in chicken stock, wild rice, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Add mushrooms during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and half and half, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir chicken and milk mixture into the slow cooker. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Notes: My family doesn’t enjoy mushrooms whatsoever, so I omitted them. Some commenters noted a lack of flavor, and after a bit of research I figured the mushrooms add umami—and I needed to replace it. Beef broth, fish sauce, and soy sauce were all options, and as it turned out I only had soy sauce in the fridge. It worked wonderfully! I added enough to suit my tastebuds and the flavor was just right. As a final point, the soup does get mushier by the next day but that hasn’t bothered my family.

Apple Bread

applebread

This recipe from Genius Kitchen is just what you need for a cozy fall (or winter—it’s snowing here!) day. It’ll warm up your house, your heart, and your belly. Yum. I’ve tweaked the recipe some, so refer back to Genius Kitchen’s page for the original. This yields two loaves, as all good quick bread recipes should.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups diced apples (large dice is nice), no skins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon flour

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt and baking powder together.

Beat eggs and add sugar and oil. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Stir in apples.

Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Creamy Tortellini Tomato Soup

I found this recipe online and changed the title to represent it more clearly. Pretty sure I added more broth and cream than it called for, but I followed the rest exactly. Loved the addition of spinach! This soup is delicious, though as I wrote on my blog, next time I probably won’t add tortellini or perhaps I’ll try another creamy tomato soup per personal preference.

koselig_tortellini_tomato

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. flour
3 c. chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 tbsp. tomato paste
4 c. cheese tortellini
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 c. spinach, packed
1/3 c. cream
2 tbsp. basil, thinly sliced for garnish

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and flour and whisk to combine. Cook 1 more minute.

Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and tortellini. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until tortellini is cooked, about 10 minutes.

Add the cream and parmesan and stir to combine. Add spinach and let wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil and serve.

Ultimate Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Searing the meat on the stovetop first was the winning step for this pot roast. I also liked that it didn’t call for any creamed soups but still had a lot of flavor. My one troublesome point with pot roasts continues to be finding a cut of meat with enough fat marbling the roast to be delicious at the end of the day without being too fatty. Oh well! The gravy here was helpful in that regard.

INGREDIENTS

4-5 pound chuck roast
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound carrots peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons cold water
minced parsley optional, to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Season the chuck roast with the Kosher salt, pepper and thyme.

Heat pan on stovetop, then add the canola oil and when it ripples and is hot add in the roast and brown, deeply, for 4-5 minutes on each side.

In your slow cooker add the carrots, potatoes and garlic. Lay the beef on top, then add the beef broth and cover, cooking on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

In the last hour mix your cornstarch and water and add it to the slow cooker to thicken the sauce or you can take the food out when done cooking, and add the leftover liquid to a small saucepan with the cornstarch/water mixture and cook on high for just 2-3 minutes until the liquid is thickened into a gravy.

Pour the gravy over the meat and garnish with parsley if desired.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Very flavorful soup adapted slightly from this recipe. Better than what you will buy at most restaurants.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 – 10oz can red enchilada sauce
1 – 10oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1 – 15oz can chili beans in mild sauce
1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 oz can fire-roasted corn, drained
3 & 1/4 cups Swanson Chicken Stock
1/2 t ground cumin
3/4 t paprika
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 & 1/2 t chili powder
4 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened
1 package (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 cups pre-shredded rotisserie chicken
Toppings: sour cream, avocado, fresh lime, and fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Place a large dutch oven or pot over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once oil once it is hot and shimmering, add diced onion. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.

Pour in enchilada sauce, the undrained fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained chili beans, drained and rinsed black beans, drained corn, and chicken stock or broth. Stir to combine and increase the heat to high. While it’s heating through to a boil, add in the cumin, paprika, seasoned salt, pepper, and chili powder. Stir again.

Meanwhile, cube the cream cheese into small cubes (it should be very softened — melt in microwave). Once the soup is boiling, stir in the cream cheese. Briskly whisk the soup until the cream cheese completely melts into the soup. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

Stir in the rotisserie chicken.
Serve with your favorite toppings such as sour cream (we use fat free), a chopped avocado, fresh lime juice, tortilla strips, fresh chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, guac, etc. — whatever you like best!

Kale, Sausage & White Bean Soup

koselig_kale_sausage_whitebeans

Plucked from Dinner: A Love Story on a chilly night in December when my family needed something real to eat. This recipe is very close to Zuppa Toscana, only a bit healthier as there’s no added cream and we’ve got beans instead of potatoes.

1 onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
S&P, to taste
1/2 t red pepper flakes
4-6 links (about 1.25lb) Italian chicken or pork sausage, casings removed
1-32oz chicken broth
1-14oz can diced tomatoes
2-14oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, chopped into small pieces
Drizzle of red wine vinegar (about 2 T)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Saute onion in a Dutch oven over med-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, s&p, pepper flakes and cook, stirring 1 minute.

Add in sausage and brown until cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil. Add kale, simmer until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in a drizzle of red wine vinegar and serve stew with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

**I substituted 1lb milk pork sausage for the links, and—gasp!—didn’t have any garlic in my pantry but made do with garlic powder.

Pork Shoulder Ragu

koselig_porkshoulderragu

I tried this recipe after a recommendation from our friends Lindsey and Bethany. It’s a good one! Getting it in the oven on time was my biggest challenge, but after that, it’s SO SO simple. Great flavor & hard to mess up, this one’s a winner.

2 to 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (I used Trader Joe’s Hot Chili Sauce)
Pappardelle
Freshly grated Parmesean

Preheat oven to 325°F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes in all.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3-4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.) Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm.

**I try to always include the recipe as its creator intended, and then share my own changes below. I used sriracha for the hot sauce (and estimated rather than measured), and replaced pappardelle with egg noodles. No fresh herbs, used dried instead. Other thoughts are recorded at www.tredways.org.