Mexican pho

When one of your very best friends comes home from Maryland, you drop everything to make her whatever sounds good. And when she comes home in the fall, what sounds good is soup. And Mexican.
I wanted something simple to pair with this, and came across my pho recipe from last winter – clean flavors, fun toppings. And thinking Mexican made me think tortilla soup. Ta done – Mexican pho was born! This would be equally good with a quesadilla side, or even just queso and chips.
Mexican Pho
Simple and satisfying, it’s like the LBD of Mexican food – dress it up any way you want!
You’ll need:
  • 8 c chicken broth – low sodium
  • 2 c chicken (rotisserie leftover roasted chicken works – you can also add 2-3 raw chicken breasts and shred before serving)
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional lime wedges, minced cilantro, avocado, queso fresco, tortilla strips and jalapeño slices – to serve
Get cooking: 
  1. Place all ingredients (chicken broth through pepper) in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Heat on low for 4 hours, or high for 8 (you can cut the time down if your chicken is already cooked.)
  3. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with plenty of minced cilantro and jalapeño slices.

Baked potato soup

This time of year is fickle. The skies promise sunshine, it peeks through the clouds with a shy anticipation – but snatches back and sends us cold winds on the turn of a dime. Everything is brown. And wet. And not growing yet. Oh, and my migraines are terrible. It makes me crabby.

When I am crabby, I crave comfort food – enter baked potato soup. You need something to cheer your weary bones? This is hearty, and comforting. You need some fun in your life? If a bacon-topped bowl of goodness isn’t fun, I don’t know what is. You need something easy for dinner? My friends, dive into this delicious bowl.

There are a million different recipes for baked potato soup – mine balances the line between decadent and decidedly not terrible for you. It’s filling, relatively fast and fairly hard to ruin. Also, cheese. And bacon. Who can be crabby in the face of that?

Baked potato soup
Potatoes. Bacon. Cheese. I rest my case.

You’ll need:

  • 6 potatoes (I like yukon golds or klondike rose), baked* and diced
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 lb. of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ bunch green onions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper

*Fast method for baking potatoes:

Prick potatoes on each side with a fork. Microwave for 8 minutes, flip, and microwave 7-8 minutes more.

Get cooking:

  1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Deglaze pan with chicken broth, adding potatoes, cream cheese and half of cheddar cheese. Stir, breaking up potatoes into smaller chunks with the spoon, and allow cheese to melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Garnish with bacon, cheese and scallions.

Brazilian Shrimp Soup

I love to entertain – except for those nights. Nights when you don’t want to clean. Nights after a wretched day. Those nights when you just want to cook something soul-warming, put on your PJs, open a bottle of wine – and call your best friends. Because you’re scared of them seeing your house. Even on those awful nights, Merrill will still come over – in her PJs, homework and Oscar (her dog) in tow. My house can be a mess, I usually am a mess – but we make some room on the couch to eat, laugh and relax. She requested this recipe during a ‘couch date’ – but, as always, we fiddled a bit. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but you’ll probably have most laying around already.

Brazilian Shrimp Soup
The perfect classed-up comfort food – Brazilian shrimp soup.

 

Based on:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/brazilian-shrimp-soup

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 t red-pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cans light coconut milk
  • 2 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and cut in half horizontally
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 1/2 t cajun seasoning
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • Salt, pepper, sriracha to taste

Get cooking:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften (about 10 minutes.)
  2. Add the rice, red pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the shrimp. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3 to 5 minutes. erve in large bowls garnished with lemons, sriracha and parsley.

Splendid Butternut Squash Soup

I’m sure this recipe was inspired by someone, somewhere, but I’ve honestly been making it for so long that I couldn’t tell you where. The first winter David and I were married, we lived right by a local place called Horrocks that sells incredible produce for a great price. Kind of like an indoor farmer’s market, it was right down the road from our first apartment, and I bought a LOT of our veggies there. The problem (that still continues to be a ‘problem’ for me, let’s be real) was discerning how to only cook/buy food for two people. Case in point – for a few weeks that winter, all squash varieties were on sale for 19 cents a pound. 19 cents!!! Are you joking???? I bought a ton. A TON. Of squash. We had squash, I kid you not, every night for two weeks, until David finally begged me to find a new vegetable. But this soup is one of the creations that came out of it, and I continue to get compliments. The key, I tell everyone, is in the apples – it adds the perfect amount of sweetness. This is great side dish or is hearty enough for a meal on its own.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed with seeds removed
  • 1-2 apples, cored and cubed (You can peel if you want, but you don’t have to – also, the number depends on how sweet your want your soup.)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T thyme
  • 1 T rosemary
  • 1 T herbes de provence or basil
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1 t curry (Optional – I like it, but that’s me.)
  • 1 t brown sugar (Again, I prefer just the sweetness of the apple, but it’s up to taste.)
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 box chicken stock

Get cooking:

You can do this two ways:

1. Combine everything but the stock on a baking sheet, mix well, and roast at 450 under squash is tender. Boil chicken stock, add roasted veggies and puree with immersion blender until smooth. Heat until bubbling and serve. (I like it topped with goat or blue cheese, but again, just me.)

2. Saute squash, apples, onion and garlic in oil for 5-10 minutes (you’ll want to make sure you chop them smaller for this), add spices and stock and then boil until everything is tender – blend and serve like above.