Monday, January 30, 2017

Kale and White Bean Soup with Sausage

I'm often asked "what's your favorite thing to cook?" I can't name just one, but I do have a top 3 list.

First -simply for the way flavors come together and the ease of serving and cleanup - would be one-pot/one-pan/one baking dish dinners. Things like braised meats with veggies, stews, roasted chicken with potatoes and veggies, chicken or pork with a pan sauce, or skillet casseroles. I'm constantly looking for new one-pot creations!

Second is risotto. It's an elegant starter, entree or side, and it is extremely versatile. I have made risotto over 30 ways with all different ingredients and flavors from traditional to fusion recipes. I love the process, the gentle stirring, and watching the rice puff and soften as it turns into a creamy dish.

Finally, soup. You can spend hours simmering a complex soup or pull one together rather quickly (like the one in this post). I love building the flavors and slowly adding ingredients - I never make a dump soup in a crockpot. I love all kinds of soups - creamy, broth based, vegetarian, chicken, beef, traditional, international. I could eat soup daily, and in the colder months I often do. Any Sunday night you can find several containers of soup all packaged up for lunches for the week.

I created this soup because I had a bag of kale we didn't use up over the weekend. While I have used spinach and escarole in soups, to me kale is the perfect leafy green for soup. It wilts just enough to do well in a soup, but also holds up enough to add some great textures.

This soup, even before adding the sausage, had the most amazing, rich and perfectly salty flavor - the secret is including the Parmesan rind!  Just one tip before we get to the recipe - I prefer to keep the sausage separate from the soup until ready to serve. This keeps the soup from getting overly greasy or salty. The sausage you use is completely up to you - hot Italian, sweet, chicken, etc.

Kale and White Bean Soup with Sausage
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 4


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 14.5oz can of white beans
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 pinches Kosher salt
  • Small Parmesan rind
  • 6 c low sodium chicken broth 
  • 1.5 cups chopped Kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 lb cooked, crumbled sausage (your choice; I used hot Italian sausage)
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large soup pot
  • Add the onions and garlic; saute 2 minutes
  • Add the white beans, stir to combine.
  • Add the thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, Parmesan rind and broth. Stir, cover and let simmer 15 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add the kale. Simmer another 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. 
  • In the meantime, cook your sausage (breaking up to crumble) and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. 
  • Serve soup with 1-2 Tbsp of the cooked sausage. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Homemade Egg Noodles for Soup

No noodles for your soup? No problem! 
These homemade egg noodles come together quickly with just two ingredients and some muscle! 

A few weeks ago I was making a pot of my Homemade Chicken Soup when I walked to my pantry to grab a bag of egg noodles only to find I didn't have any!!! I really, really wanted noodles with my soup but did not feel like going back to the store in the cold rain.

So what's a girl to do? Make her own, of course!

I don't know why I decided so quickly that I'd make my own. I have never made my own pasta before, I don't have a pasta attachment, and I had no idea if it would be quick and easy or a big project.

Luckily, after just a bit of research, I realized I could do this quickly using a rolling pin, pizza cutter and some muscle. There are many different recipes out there, some using a dough hook, some using beaten eggs, some adding butter and or milk. Since it was my first time I went with a basic recipe using just eggs and four.

These aren't the prettiest noodles - they are more rustic - but you can't beat homemade noodles.

I learned a few things making these noodles. First, I really need to work on my upper body strength!! Rolling takes a lot of muscle, but then again I'm not that strong and I NEVER use a rolling pin so I'm not used to the motion.

 Second, you really want to get the dough thin and even. A few of my noodles were thicker on the ends or in the middle, so they didn't cook evenly.

Finally, along the same lines as rolling the dough out evenly, cut them evenly. All of your noodles should be the same width.

You can cook these noodles long or cut them into smaller shapes - it's up to you, what you prefer, and how you will be using them.

So the next time you are in need of noodles, give these a try!

Homemade Egg Noodles for Soup
Source: The Pioneer Woman
Note: this is for 2 people. The Pioneer Woman's rule of thumb for the recipe is # eggs = # ppl, and 1 c flour per every 2 eggs.

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 c all purpose flour
Make a well in the center of your pile of flour and crack in your eggs. Slowly mix together with your hands.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead (roll, punch, push, etc.) by hand until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to the surface as needed. 

Let the dough rest for a little while (10-15 min) before starting the next step - rolling 

When you're ready, roll out the dough using a rolling pin on a floured surface as thinly as it will go. 

Cut the dough into noodles (strips) using a knife or pizza cutter.

Please the cut noodles on a floured surface and allow them to dry before cooking.

To cook the noodles, just boil them in salted (salted!!!!) water for 2-3 minutes. Fresh noodles cook quickly so be careful not to overcook. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Homemade Chicken Soup

A homemade chicken soup with a healthy yet rich broth. 
If you haven't made chicken soup from scratch before, you have to try it - it's so easy! And if you HAVE made it, you have to try my trick for the most amazing broth. Read on! 

Homemade chicken soup is the ultimate healthy comfort food. Just smelling it simmering away on the stove makes you feel warm and relaxed. I love this soup so much that I have been making it every 2 weeks this fall and winter. 

There is nothing hard about making chicken soup from scratch. Its basically chicken, veggies and herbs simmered in water. 

But to give my chicken soup a richer flavor, there are two things that I love to do - 

First, browning the chicken and then deglazing the pan ensures that you get the most out of your chicken, and way more flavor than just simmering your chicken. 

Second, I puree the veggies once cooked and then add them back to the broth. This is still a broth based soup, but just a touch more thick and velvety from the pureed veggies. And just look at that color!

I use 2 split chicken breasts to make 6 servings of soup. Just 2 chicken breasts give you a lot of meat, so I'll often use 2/3 of it for serving in the soup, and then turn the rest into chicken salad for 2 lunches. So 8 servings of food from 2 chicken breasts that cost me $8? Can't beat that!

One final tip - if you like to eat your soup with noodles, cook the separately. If you cook them in the broth they will soak up (waste) too much of your broth. I made homemade noodles for the first time to go with this soup. Only 2 ingredients and no pasta attachment needed, just a rolling pin! Check out the recipe for the noodles here!

Homemade Chicken Soup
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 2 bone in split chicken breasts
  • Approx 1/2 tsp each salt, black pepper, dried thyme, poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped (including the leafy ends)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan
  • Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, thyme and poultry seasoning. Add the chicken to the pan and brown, approx 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a large soup pot. Take 1/4 c of your water and add it to the saute pan over high heat to deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the brown bits. Once you have scraped everything up, pour this water over the chicken in the soup pot.
  • Add your chopped veggies, the rest of the water and the bay leaf to the soup pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate; let cool and then pick all of the meat off.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer all of the veggies to a blender or cup of a handheld stick blender. Puree until smooth, and then return the puree to the broth. 
  • Adjust salt and pepper if needed before serving. Serve with chopped chicken and (optional) noodles.