Thursday, September 15, 2011

Soups and Stews

I know this section needs a lot of revision, but this draft is pretty solid. Am I missing any good recipes? I would love suggestions!

[edit]I forgot potato cheese soup!
[edit]There, I fixed it.

Soups and Stews

This section covers soups and stews made with fresh ingredients. For soups and stews made with pre-cooked meats and vegetables, see Quick Meals, #.

Classic Chicken Soup

There are endless ways to make soup, but this one is useful if you are looking for that traditional, comforting bowl of chicken soup. Although this recipe calls for raw chicken, if you have cooked chicken that you would like to turn into soup, you can use this recipe, and add the cooked chicken at the end, right before serving. Or, you can use the Quick Soup recipe (recipe #).

Raw chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Chicken stock or broth
Uncooked pasta or grain (you may want to use a grain with a shorter cooking time)
Carrots, chopped
Celery, chopped
Onion, chopped
Garlic, minced (or garlic powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
(optional) spices such as French Four-Spice, Lemon Pepper, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Old World Seasoning (#)

In the bottom of the soup pot, first sauté the onion and the chicken in a bit of oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic just as the chicken is almost done cooking. When the chicken is cooked, add everything else. Bring to a gentle boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta or grain are tender.


Borscht is a traditional vegetable soup from Eastern and Central Europe. There are many variants. This is not a traditional borscht, but like many versions of borscht, it contains beets, which turn the soup a wonderful pink or purple color. Purple cabbage will make this soup even more vibrantly colored, and gives it a sweet flavor.

This soup is also fantastic with ham in place of chicken. A vegetarian version can be made with vegetable broth and no meat.

(optional) cooked chicken, or ham, or cooked sausage
Chicken, pork, or vegetable stock or broth
Shredded cabbage
Potato, cut small
chopped beets
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped or dried onion
Garlic, minced (or garlic powder)
(optional) spices such as Lemon Pepper, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Old World Seasoning (#)
(optional) heavy cream or sour cream

Put all of the ingredients except for the cream in a soup pot, and simmer until the cabbage and potato are soft. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, or add sour cream as a garnish.

French Onion Soup

5 to 10 onions, sliced thin
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
4 cups beef or veggie broth
(optional) 1 or 2 cups chopped or ground beef
(optional) spices such as French Four-Spice or Parisian Bonnes Herbes (#)

Thinly slice the onions. Melt the butter in a soup pot, and over medium heat, stir the onion in the butter for at least 20 minutes, until the onions are soft and sweet. While you are cooking, if the onions start to brown, add a little water to keep them moist. If you are adding beef to the soup, remove the onions and brown the beef. Then set aside the beef and put the onions back in the pot.

Add the flour to the onions and continue to stir over medium heat for a few more minutes. Then add the beef broth. Return the beef to the pot and simmer until the meat is cooked.

French Onion Soup is traditionally topped with Swiss cheese melted on toast. Follow the Cheese Bread recipe to make this.


With a jar of curry spices, a can of pureed vegetables, and some chopped vegetables and meats, you can put together a quick and nutritious meal.

In a pot combine:

1 15 ounce can of pureed pumpkin, pureed sweet potato, or other vegetable, or a small can of tomato paste
1 or 2 cups of water
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
(optional) minced or dried garlic
(optional) minced or dried ginger
(optional) one or two tablespoons sugar

Bring this sauce to a simmer. Then, if you want meat in your curry, add:

1 pound of raw meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

Simmer the meat until it is cooked through. While the meat cooks, chop up vegetables. You can use pre-cooked meats instead of raw meat; add it to the curry right before serving. You can also use tofu instead of meat, or omit the meat entirely and throw in some more vegetables. You could also substitute paneer, a delicious Indian cheese, if you are lucky enough to live near an Indian grocery store.

4 or more cups of vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces.

Possible vegetables for this dish include bell pepper, carrot, beet, turnip, broccoli, cauliflower, potato, peas, and onion. Frozen vegetables can also be used. Combine two or three vegetables for best results. Continue to simmer the pot, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.

Serve over rice. This feeds 3 or 4 people.

Chicken Bean Stew

½ lb boneless chicken
2 cups frozen beans (or one or two drained cans of beans)
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin, or spices such as French Four-Spice, Lemon Pepper, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Old World Seasoning (#)
1 tbsp oil
1 bullion cube plus two cups of water (or two cups of chicken stock)
Cooked rice (optional)
Black pepper
Salt (optional)

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Coat with the flour and cumin, and brown it in the oil. (The flour is optional - it is there to thicken the sauce.) Dice the carrots and celery, and toss them in the pot. (Other veggies can be used here, instead, such as onion, potato, kale, etc.) Add the water and bullion (or chicken stock), bring to a boil, and simmer five or ten minutes, until the chicken and veggies are cooked. Add the beans, and heat until everything is bubbly and delicious. Season with salt and pepper. Eat as-is, or over rice. Serves three to six people, depending on how much rice you serve it with.

Beef Stroganoff

This hearty Russian stew is best when served over egg noodles, but any pasta or boiled grain works well.

2 or more tbsp butter or oil
1 lb raw beef, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 or 3 cups of milk
1 box or more of mushrooms, sliced
2 or 3 onions, sliced thin
1 or 2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt, plus extra to taste
1/8 tsp pepper, plus extra to taste
Dill or spices such as Lemon Pepper or Old World Seasoning (#)
Garlic, dried or minced fresh

Heat 1 tbsp of the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat until hot. Sauté the onions and mushrooms in this until they are done to your satisfaction. Remove these from the pan and set them aside.

Combine the flour with 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Pour this over the chopped beef, and stir until the beef is coated. Heat another tablespoon of butter or oil, and brown the meat in this. Once the meat is somewhat browned, add the milk and the garlic, turn the heat up a bit, and stir with a spoon or a whisk as the milk comes to a boil. The browned flour from the meat will thicken the milk. Let this boil for a couple of minutes, and then add the vegetables back to the pan. Add dill or other spices to taste, and add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Beef Stew

Beef is the most traditional meat used for stew, but almost any meat works in this recipe: pork, chicken, turkey, etc. If you use what the store sells as “stew beef”, or chuck roast, or other tough cut of meat can tenderize the meat by simmering the stew for an hour or so. Other types of meat won’t need to cook for so long.

Stew that uses a tough cut of meat also benefits by using vegetables that can withstand being cooked for a long time, such as potato, carrot, turnip, onion, mushroom, parsnip, or winter squash. Delicate vegetables can be added to a stew, but are best when added shortly before serving. Examples of these include peas, broccoli, leafy greens, and summer squash.

1 tbsp butter or oil
1 lb raw beef (or other meat), chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 or 3 cups of beef broth (or chicken (#), or other broth)
1 or 2 tbsp flour
3 or 4 cups of diced vegetables. (See above for suggestions.)
1/8 tsp pepper, plus extra to taste
Salt to taste
(optional) spices such as French Four-Spice, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Old World Seasoning (#)

Combine the flour with 1/8 tsp pepper. Pour this over the chopped meat, and stir until the meat is coated. Heat another tablespoon of butter or oil, and brown the meat in this. Once the meat is somewhat browned, add the broth, turn the heat up a bit, and stir with a spoon or a whisk to break up the flour clumps. The browned flour from the meat will thicken the broth. Once boiling, add the vegetables back to the pan, and reduce the heat so that the stew simmers. Let the pot sit for ten minutes, if you are using a delicate meat. Let it simmer for at least a half hour if you are using tough meat. A few minutes before serving, add tender vegetables if you are using any. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary, plus any optional spices you wish to try.


Ratatouille is a stew designed to make use of summer garden vegetables. This is a dish that only makes sense to make during the height of the summer, when these vegetables a cheap and at their peak of flavor.

Ratatouille can be served on its own, or with pasta or boiled grains (#). Although untraditional, this dish can be made more filling by adding beans, meat, or cheese.

This feeds three or four people, depending on how many extras you add, and if you serve it with pasta or grain.

2 tbsp butter or oil, preferably olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 2 smaller eggplants)
2 or 3 zucchini or summer squash, cut into large bite-sized pieces
3 to 6 tomatoes, chopped roughly into chunks
3 or so cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 or 2 onions, chopped
(optional) chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, etc.
(optional) spices such as French Four-Spice, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Italian (#)
(optional) grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese
(optional) 1 cup of cubed ham, cooked chicken, or other cooked meat
(optional) 1 drained 15-oz can of garbanzo beans or white beans, or two cups cooked or frozen
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. When melted or hot, add the onion. Stir the onion over the heat for a couple of minutes, and then add the garlic. Stir for another minute or two. Then add the remaining vegetables, including optional vegetables. Stir occasionally over the next ten or 15 minutes. The tomato will break down, forming a liquid for he other vegetables to simmer in. Taste the eggplant occasionally - when it is cooked to your liking, the ratatouille is done cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste, and any optional spices you wish to try. If using any meats or beans, add them to the pot and continue cooking until they are sufficiently warm. If you want to use cheese, sprinkle it over the ratatouille as you serve it.

Potato Cheese Soup

This is a good warming winter soup. Feeds two to four, depending on how many optionals you add.

Usually when you add cheese to a soup, you must first add cream so that the cheese doesn’t melt into unpleasant lumps. However, something about this soup makes the cream unnecessary. But you can add cream anyway if you like the taste.

4 to 10 potatoes, depending on the size of the potatoes
3 or 4 cups of water or any sort of stock (such as chicken #)
(optional) 1 cup of milk
4 ounces or more of grated cheddar or other cheese
(optional) ½ cup of cream or half-n-half
(optional) chopped vegetables, cooked or raw, such as carrot, onion, broccoli, mushrooms, plus 1 tbsp butter or oil
(optional) fresh greens, chopped
(optional) ham or other cooked meat
(optional) spices such as French Four-Spice, Parisian Bonnes Herbes, or Italian (#)
Salt and pepper to taste

If you wish to add raw veggetables to this recipe, start by heating the butter or oil in the bottom of your soup pot over medium heat. Saute the vegetables until done to your liking. Then move the vegetables aside to a bowl and continue using the same pot for cooking the potatoes.

If you are using russet potatoes, or if you dislike potato skins, you may want to peel your potatoes. Otherwise, scrub the potatoes clean and leave the skins on. Roughly chop the potatoes. The smaller you chop them, the less time they will take to cook.

Put the potatoes in the pot and add the water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and put a lid on the pot. Every ten minutes or so, stick a fork in the potato pieces. When the fork slides in without resistence, turn off the heat, and use a potato masher in the pot to squish the potatoes. (For a smoother texture, you can put the soup through a blender in batches.)

Add the optional milk or cream, and stir in the grated cheese. Do not boil the soup once the cheese has been added, or the cheese will curdle!

Finally, add the optional spices, cooked vegetables, cooked meats, and/or raw chopped greens. Apply low heat if the soup needs to be warmed back up. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Try these variants:

Beefy Potato soup with Swiss cheese, beef stock, pot roast, onions, and Parisian Bonnes Herbes.

“Baked” Potato soup with chicken stock, cheddar, green onions, cooked bacon, and spinach.

Italian Potato Soup with vegetable stock, cream, parmasan and mozerella cheeses, tomato, greens, and Italian spices #.

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