savories

Chicken Tortilla Soup with The Works

Welcome to my first savory recipe in some time huh? I knew we’d meet again. Now, anyone who has ever stayed at my house knows that this is my “company meal” (back me up here guys). Like, you know when you want to show off to your guests so you really pull out all the stops and make something extra impressive? That’s what this soup is all about. I literally love soup so much and this one is the most perfect combination of spicy, warming, filling, and just about the most satisfying lunch/ dinner/ maybe breakfast (idk I don’t judge) in the whole wide world. This masterpiece comes adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and because I am always doing more work than I need to, the thing that makes this soup really special is the addition of homemade tortilla chips and all the toppings you could ever imagine. It’s so important to my family in fact, that when I mentioned to my mom that this was what I was writing about for today, she couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t posted this yet. I figure now with the chill of winter in the air it’s the perfect time.

This dish is a labor of love and although there’s a lot of prep work and moving parts, it will be well worth it. Plus, you can feel no guilt in putting your guests to work as sous chefs because the soup is its own reward!

I’m going to keep things here short because we all know what the star of this post is, but quick! Here are 5 things to be happy about today:

ONE. Freshly fried restaurant tortilla chips and pico de gallo (can you tell I’m in a mood?).

TWO. Nights where you have no plans so you take a long shower, do a face mask, and really treat yourself.

THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.

FOUR. Embroidered flowers.

FIVE. Blue Planet (I & II) and their accompanying soundtracks.

Let’s get souping! Yes, I did make soup a verb, someone call the dictionary ASAP.
Serves: 8-12 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

3 tsp ground cumin
2½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion (about 3-4 onions)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 10-ounce cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
8 cups chicken broth
6 Tbsp tomato paste
8 cups hot water
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons cornmeal
Corn Tortillas
Diced avocado
Chopped cilantro
Diced red onion
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet and drizzle each one with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the spice mixture over each piece of chicken, then reserve the rest. Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow to cool completely before shredding.

TWO. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Add remaining spice mixture and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

THREE. Add the shredded chicken, the cans of Rotel with their juice, the chicken broth, the tomato paste, and hot water. Stir to combine, then cover and bring to a boil.

FOUR. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of water, and add to the soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the soup is simmering, brush a stack of corn tortillas with olive oil, slice into uniform strips (or wedges), lay out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. You could also fry them in a skillet of oil on the stovetop, but this just makes more chips in one go. Take 5 extra corn tortillas (unbaked) and slice them into uniform strips and add to the soup.

SIX. To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into each bowl, then promptly lose your mind adding as much of the toppings as you can fit.

Welcome to the rest of your life where the only thing you’ll want to eat is this soup. XoxoxoxoxD

savories

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts

About a month ago, my grandpa (one of the smartest cooks I know), gifted me his copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and wow I have never been more excited or honored. I’ve been steadily building an arsenal of cookbooks, because there’s something really special about flipping through them (as opposed to constantly scrolling through my phone), turning to the same splattered pages to find an especially loved recipe covered in notes and annotations. As I was reading through this particular cookbook, it became more and more clear to me that these recipes were HARD. Like several hours and countless steps and French everywhere hard. BUT, then I came across the recipe for Soup À L’Oignon, and I knew it was the perfect first try. If you’re nervous about taking on a large cooking venture, soup is always the way to start- its recipes often allow for more wiggle room, which means that you’re free to experiment and less likely to make a meal-ruining mistake, plus the options are literally ENDLESS.

Traditionally, French Onion Soup is served “gratinee” with a lid of melted cheese on top and a circle of bread soaking up the liquid inside, but my lack of oven-safe soup crocks made this impossible. Instead, I give you these mini crostinis, brushed with olive oil and toasted, rubbed with a clove of garlic, and piled high with gruyere melted to perfection.

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The more bread the merrier am I right!!

The beauty of this soup is how the flavors develop in the slow 2 hour cooking process, and there just is no way to rush that kind of goodness. The key is the caramelizing of the onions, because obviously that’s the star of this dish and every other ingredient is there to enhance it’s rich, warm flavor. It’s also important to note that aside from the slicing of said onions, watch your eyes btw because I was CRYING, the hardest part about making this soup is opening the bottle of wine (and helping yourself to an obligatory while-I’m-cooking glass).

This is the perfect warming winter soup, and I’m pretty sure it’s magical because almost as soon as we had finished our bowls, we looked outside to see the most beautiful dusting of powdery snow illuminated by the street lamps.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that no matter how many people are actually home, I always cook for at least 10 people, so I was skeptical when the recipe claimed to serve 6-8 but only called for 2 quarts of stock, so I started messing around with the proportions of liquid. In the end, I’d say that Julia Child’s original recipe would probably serve 6-8 in small appetizer portions, but if you are looking to eat this for dinner as I was, this recipe will serve about the same number in larger portions. Let’s go!

IMG_1096
My favorite cooking companions- a good cookbook and yet another episode of The Office…anyone else??

Makes: 6-8 dinner portions
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~2.5 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

Soup Ingredients:

6 cups yellow onions, sliced (it seems like a lot, but they shrink a ton)
4 tbs salted butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp sugar (to help with caramelization)
¼ tsp ground thyme
4 tbs flour
8 cups beef stock + 2 cups water
¾ dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
3 tbs Cognac (a little goes a long way)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grated gruyere or swiss cheese (to top)

Steps:

1. In a heavy-bottom soup pot, heat the butter and oil, and add in the sliced onions. Cook slowly with the pot covered for 15 minutes.

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I need to invest in a pair of goggles to chop this many onions again.

2. Uncover and raise the heat to medium. Add in the salt, sugar, and thyme, then stir. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even caramelization. While the onions are cooking, heat the stock and water in a separate pot to steaming, not quite boiling. Once the onions have turned a deep golden brown (to resemble the color of brown sugar), move to step 3.

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This is about halfway there! LOOK how much they shrink as they cook!!

3. At this point, add in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste, stirring constantly.

4. Remove the soup pot from the heat and add in the heated stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon to incorporate all the delicious bits stuck to the bottom. Taste test here and adjust your salt and pepper as you see fit. (Tip: though I’ve never tried it personally, APPARENTLY if you find your soup over-salted, toss in a few halved potatoes, and they will naturally soak up some of the salt. The more you know!!)

5. Add the wine, and then simmer the soup partially uncovered for another 30 to 40 minutes. Just before you serve, stir in the cognac. When serving, I like to put some shredded cheese in the bowl before pouring in the soup so that it gets melty, and then top with several of the gruyere toasts (recipe below). Once the toast soaks up some of the broth it gets soft enough for you to break with your spoon and get some excellent cheese pulls. If you want a pop of green as well, you can always sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

YUM!

Gruyere Toast Ingredients:

1 loaf french bread
2 cups shredded gruyere (or swiss if you’d prefer)
Olive Oil (for brushing)
Clove of garlic, peeled but whole

Steps: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Slice the loaf into thin rounds and brush with olive oil. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and toast until they begin to get golden on the tops, about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and rub the top of each piece of bread with the garlic clove (very carefully, the bread is SO hot). Top each toast with a generous amount of shredded cheese, and return to the oven. Broil on high for a few minutes, watching very carefully because the cheese can go from melty to burnt in a second.

3. Top your soup with as many of these as you like, and marvel at how such simple ingredients can taste so magical.

Enjoy!! xoxoxoD

This post is dedicated to Jake, I can only hope to be half the cook you are, thank you for your wisdom and cookbooks!!

savories

The Best Minestrone Ever.

This is probably one of my most important recipes, adapted from a Food52 article titled “How To Make Vegetarian Minestrone Soup without a Recipe”, which can be read here. I realize that it seems odd to create a recipe based off an article telling you you don’t need a recipe, but hear me out. While studying abroad in Florence during my junior year of college, my roommate and I ran out of money within the first 5 minutes (Italian leather and cornettos with crema, I literally couldn’t STOP myself), and realized that we were going to have to be able to cook more of our own meals if we were going to make it out of the country without being completely broke. Not wanting to venture too far away from the Italian flavors we were coming to know and love, I came across this article and got to work.

The basic beauty of this soup is that you can basically just use whatever you have around the house, which makes it incredibly versatile. However, after one try, the following combination became such a staple to our friend group that, 2 years later, I still make it the exact same way at every reunion. A classic minestrone includes all the good stuff- veggies, pasta, lots of cheese (the best part really), and takes on a slightly different flavor with each adjustment. Soup can sometimes seem daunting, but it’s SO satisfying to watch it come together, and this is a great recipe for a beginner to start with, or for a more experienced cook to mess around with. A word of advice? If the whole quantity of soup is not being eaten in one sitting, you may want to cook the pasta in a separate pot and add it into the soup before serving, or else be prepared to add more chicken broth/ water the next time you heat it, as the pasta absorbs most of the broth overnight, making it much thicker and less of a soup consistency. P.S. If you do make changes/ adjustments, I would LOVE to hear how they turn out. Enjoy!! xoxoD

Ingredients:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-sized yellow onions; diced
5 (or 6) carrots; peeled and diced
4 stalks celery; diced
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 red bell peppers; diced
3 leek stalks; thoroughly cleaned and sliced into thin half-moons
4-5 yukon gold potatoes; peeled and diced into chunks
2 cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth if you’re going vegetarian)
2 cans white beans; drained and rinsed
1 box dried pasta (Any short pasta will work, I like rigatoni or large shells)
A few handfuls fresh spinach leaves; washed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Wedge of parmesan cheese; freshly grated (for serving)

Steps:

1. Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed soup pot and heat on medium. Add onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and peppers, and cook until they soften and the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant but not brown. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Next, add potatoes and stir briefly to incorporate with the rest of the veggies. Pour in both cans of crushed tomatoes, the chicken broth, and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (low heat), cooking until the potatoes are tender when tested with a fork, 20-30 minutes.

3. Add the drained, rinsed beans, and heat through, about 5 minutes. If using uncooked pasta, toss in towards the end, until the pasta is al dente. Toss in spinach leaves and mix until they begin to wilt (the measurement is general because it’s totally up to you, and spinach shrinks up so a few handfuls always ends up being less than you’d think).

4. Serve with a generous grating of parmesan cheese, and a large piece of crusty bread. Then lie on the floor for a while and wonder if you’ll ever not be full again!

This recipe is dedicated to my Firenze family who I hope still want me around now that I have revealed this secret recipe.