Potato-Bean Soup

Potato-Bean Soup

Warmer weather is on it’s way and soon we’ll be saying goodbye to soup season. Here’s one you will want to try before cold weather comes to an end.

Potato-Bean Soup

from Better Home and Gardens Soups and Stews Book


2 medium carrots, shredded (1 cup)
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups chicken broth or stock
3 cups cubed, peeled potatoes
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dairy sour cream or plain non-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper to your taste


Over medium heat, sauté carrots, celery and garlic in butter until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add chicken stock, potatoes and dill. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered until potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Mash half of the potatoes, then stir in the beans.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream and cornstarch; stir into the soup mixture. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Serves 4-6.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Have a chill or feeling down? Forget that nasty canned soup. This recipe is so simple, you’ll never look back. Made with a store bought rotisserie chicken or left overs from your own roasted chicken, this soup will cure what ails you, or at least make you feel so good you’ll think it did.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1-32 ounce box plus 3-14.5 ounce cans chicken broth or stock
1/2 cups chopped parsley
1- two pound rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 teaspoon italian herb seasoning
2 cups pasta noodles (I used Casarecce)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grape seed or olive oil

Skin and de-bone chicken. Shred meat or chop into bite size pieces.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Sauté vegetables until soft. Add broth and italian seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add pasta and cook according to directions for al dente.

Add chicken and parsley, simmer 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

Summer has ended and fall weather is nipping at it’s heels. Cooler days and nights are beckoning for hearty autumn fare.

This thick, flavorful soup is all that and more. Abundantly rich with vegetables and pasta this traditional italian dish is hearty and comforting; the ideal meal for the cool nights ahead. Salad and crusty warm bread make the perfect sides. And let’s not forget a glass of your favorite vino.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

adapted from “All About Pasta & Noodles” by Irma


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium celery stalk with leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp packed finely chopped fresh parley

2 large cloves garlic, minced

One 14 oz can crushed whole tomatoes with juice

One 15 to 19 oz can cannellini, great northern or pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup (1 inch) pieces green beans

1 cup small frozen lima beans

2 cups packed (1inch) pieces escarole, curly endive, or swiss chard, washed and dried

1 cup elbow or shell macaroni

Salt and ground black pepper

¼ cup grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onion, carrots, celery and parsley and sauté until vegetables are soft, 10-15 minutes.

Add in garlic and stir for one minute. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add beans and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add escarole, endive or chard. Cover and simmer low for 5 minutes. Add pasta and salt to taste. Continue to simmer until pasta is tender, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Ladle into serving bowls and top with grated cheese.

Pasta e fagioli 2

Serves 8 as a first course,  4 as a main course.

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

Spring is around the corner so I want to give you all one more soup recipe before warmer days set in. This is a delicious take on an Olive Garden favorite.  Who wouldn’t love this creamy chicken soup full of billowy potato dumplings? I like to use mini gnocchi and get a dumpling in every bite.

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat recipe)

1 cup chicken breast, cooked and diced or shredded
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups low fat or regular 1/2 and 1/2
½ cup celery, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup carrots, finely diced
½ cup onion, finely diced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried or fresh parsley
1 pound potato gnocchi – regular or mini
1 tablespoon corn starch
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Rub a large skin on split chicken breast with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Use a instant read thermometer to check for doneness. (165 degrees). Cool, remove skin and bone and dice. (You can also use the breast from a store bought rotisserie chicken).

In a dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion, celery and carrots until tender. Add garlic and spinach and cook until spinach has wilted. Add broth, thyme and parsley. Increase heat and bring to a high simmer. Add gnocchi. Lower heat and continue to simmer 10 minutes, until gnocchi floats to top. Add chicken.

Mix cornstarch with half and half and add to soup. Stir in well. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring back to a simmer for a couple of minutes then remove from heat and serve. Top with freshly grated parmesan if desired.  If soup is too thick you can add milk or broth to thin.

Light Italian Wedding Soup

Light Italian Wedding Soup

This popular soup made of meatballs and greens may be light on calories, but it’s loaded with flavor.  Traditionally made with pork and beef,  this healthy version calls for lean ground turkey. You may substitute your favorite greens –  kale, collards or spinach, for the escarole. Whatever you choose, you will find this Italian-American classic to be hearty and delicious.

Light Italian Wedding Soup

Adapted from Everyday Food, January 2008

Serves 6


  • 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey (93 percent lean)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 heads escarole (2 pounds total), cored, trimmed, and coarsely chopped


Mix ground turkey with breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roll into 1 inch balls.

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Sauté onion over medium heat until translucent. Add chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Carefully add meatballs and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until meatballs float to surface. Do not stir or you will break up the meatballs.

Add escarole to the top of the pot. Cover and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Cheesy Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower Chowder

If you’re looking for a low carb alternative to potato soup, this may be it.  Full of healthy vegetables, I added cheese, half and half, cayenne and my favorite vegetable seasoning to the original recipe for added creaminess and flavor.

Cheesy Cauliflower Chowder

adapted from Damn Delicious

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup low fat half and half
1 medium sized head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup sharp grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s Fox Point Seasoning (optional)

Saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in melted butter in a large soup pot over medium heat until tender. Add chopped cauliflower and bay leaf. Continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, until cauliflower is at the al dente stage. Do not overcook or cauliflower will be mushy.

Add in flour and stir in for about 1 minute, until flour is cooked. Add half and half and broth and stir until slightly thickened. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Because the size of the vegetables will vary, you may want to add additional half and half if soup is too thick.

Fox Point seasoning  is a vegetable seasoning made of salt, dried shallots, chives, garlic, onion and green peppercorns that adds great flavor. Fox Point is available online if you don’t have a Penzey’s store in your area. There are similar seasonings in your grocery store. Experiment with your favorite seasonings to get the results you are looking for.

Add chopped parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Corn and Potato Chowder

Corn and Potato Chowder

Here’s a  savory stew that’s perfect for these cold winter nights. Made with simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry, you’ll have a delicious dinner ready in no time.

Corn and Potato Chowder

You will need:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup low fat half & half, warmed in microwave
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed in microwave
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 cups diced yukon gold potatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 small sweet onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fresh or dried parsley
6 slices Pork or Turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

Sauté  onion in a large soup pot over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and corn and continue to sauté for 3 additional minutes.

Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Whisk in warmed milk, then add chicken broth, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Bring heat up to medium-high, then add potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

When potatoes are done remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with bacon pieces and parsley, if desired. Serve with cornbread.

Makes 6 servings



Roasted Tomato Soup with Three Cheese & Prosciutto Panini

Roasted Tomato Soup with 3 Cheese & Proscuitto Panini

It’s late October and lucky for me I still have tomatoes on the vine in my garden. These late red beauties have perfect timing. Cool autumn weather has arrived and I have a craving for spicy tomato soup and a thick gooey grilled cheese sandwich. This roasted tomato soup recipe from 12 tomatoes is super easy and has a delicious smokey flavor. Pair it up with my Three Cheese & Prosciutto Panini and you’ve got a dynamic duo.

Roasted Tomato Soup

adapted from 12 Tomatoes


  • 5 large tomatoes, cut into 3/4″ slices
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 1/2 jalapeno, cut in half lengthwise, seeded
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (or chipotle sauce, see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • a few tablespoons heavy cream or creme fraiche


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat well. Roast until tender, 20-25 minutes.

roasted tomato soup 1

Put roasted vegetables into a Vitamix or blender with paprika, basil, salt, pepper,  vegetable broth and cream. Blend to a smooth puree.  Pour into soup pot and simmer over low heat 10 -15 minutes.  Add additional seasonings as desired.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and croutons.  Makes 4 servings.

Note: if you can’t find smoked paprika, you can use a chipotle or adobo sauce instead. Start with 1 teaspoon and add more according to your taste.

Three Cheese & Prosciutto Panini

Country Italian Bread

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Thinly sliced prosciutto

Sliced or shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Sliced Monterey Jack Cheese

Freshly grated parmesan

Slice bread for sandwiches. Spread pesto on insides of both slices. Layer jack cheese, prosciutto, mozzarella and  parmesan on one slice of bread. Top with 2nd slice. Butter top of bread and place butter side down on panini press. Butter top side of sandwich. Press lid tightly and grill until bread is toasted and cheese has melted.


Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

A fabulous soup for a fabulous fall day. Creamy, cheesy, delicious. Even if you are not a big fan of broccoli, you will love this soup. Puree it smooth or leave it chunky; the choice is yours. Great as a sandwich side or main dish.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

(adapted from Food Network Kitchen’s Panera Bread copy-cat recipe)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion chopped

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups half and half

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if you have it.

4 cups broccoli florets

1 large carrot, diced

2 – 1/2 cups grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, melt butter and sauté onions until soft. Add flour and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in half and half until smooth and creamy.

Add nutmeg, broth and bay leaves.

Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated pepper.

Simmer over medium low heat 20 minutes.

Add broccoli and carrots and continue to simmer another 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Remove bay leaves and puree in a blender. (or in pot with immersion blender) Leave in some chunks of broccoli if you wish.

Return soup to pot and add cheese. Stir over medium heat until melted. Add more salt or pepper as needed. Garnish with additional grated cheese.  Serves 4.

Goes great with sourdough or beer batter bread.

Mother’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegtable Beef Soup

My mother spent most of her life in the kitchen.  With 7 children and a hard working husband, she had plenty of hungry mouths to feed. Cooking was never her favorite past time- “let’s get this meal over with” she’d often say, but she managed to turn out some incredible down home cooking. She never used a recipe; never owned a recipe book but she made the best biscuits, cornbread, greens, grits and pies. All meat was fried and all vegetables were seasoned with bacon drippings. She was not a chef by any means, but that little woman was a fabulous southern cook and we were blessed with 3 hot meals everyday. Sadly, there are no recipes to pass down and these days, Mother is unable to recall those details.

This soup is one she made often. I recreated it as best I could by memory and added my own twist.  It is a savory, hearty meal that warms my soul on those chilly days and takes me back to that little house on the red dirt road.  Now if I could only re-create those biscuits.

Mother will be 98 on October 4th. Happy Birthday, Mary Helen. This one’s for you.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Serves 8-10

1-14 oz can diced tomatoes

1-15 oz can tomato sauce

½ pound stew beef, cut into bite size pieces

One large onion, chopped

1 large or 2 small stalks celery, sliced

2 14.5 ounce cans beef broth plus 1 can water

2 cups potatoes, small diced

2 carrots, sliced

¼ tsp tarragon

¼ tsp thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup elbow macaroni

1 cup frozen green peas

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, saute onions and beef until beef is browned and onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the macaroni and peas. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, 30-45 minutes. Add pasta, cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Add peas.  Simmer 5 minutes more. Serve with cornbread.

me and mother

Mother’s Day 2013