Fast and Easy Cheese Tortellini Soup

cup of soup with colored cheese tortellini and chicken broth

I thought weeknights were exhausting when my kids were little and barely doing any extra curricular activities aside from one dance class or soccer practice between Monday and Friday.  Well, that has certainly changed to being home just long enough to devour a meal that didn’t come out of a box or the pizza place down the street.  (I employ both of these dinner strategies, by the way, I just try not to make it a daily occurrence.) During these hectic fall days filled with Friday night football games, Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving preparations, it’s nice to know that there is a super simple and fast recipe to pull out for dinner that will please just about everyone at the table.  Who doesn’t like soft pasta filled with cheese, some bright vegetables warmed in flavorful chicken broth?  If you are at my house, I’m not asking, I’m just putting it on the table and serving it with crusty bread.  Yes, you can have seconds.  No, you may not watch T.V. before you do your homework. Continue reading

Autumn Vegetable Soup

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a bowl of vegetable soup with carrots, tomatoes, onions and fresh kale

The middle of October on Cape Cod is not only Autumn but it can also mean Indian Summer.  Gloriously warm days in the 70’s, reminiscent of summertime with clear blue skies that get chilly as the sun sets.  Forgetting to bring a sweatshirt to Ava’s field hockey game because it was as hot as a late August day at 3:00pm can lead to me shivering in the stands by half time as the sun dips behind the treeline.  A warm meal is welcome after a long day of work, school, games and homework but we are still not ready for heavier fare.  Colder evenings signal the kale growing in the garden and soon a light frost will sweeten up the root vegetables in the ground.  But until then, a few carrots and a bunch of kale add to the bright colors in this soup and a loaf of crusty bread is always a welcome addition to make it a meal. Continue reading

Mexican Corn Soup

Fresh corn soup with tomatoes and cream

I can’t wait for summer to make this soup. But don’t fret if you read this post months from now, in the middle of winter.  Although it’s best made with fresh corn and ripe on the vine tomatoes, a bag of frozen corn and a good can of petite diced tomatoes do the trick, too.  Somehow I manage to forget about this recipe in the winter months when I feel the need for hardier fare.  Perhaps I should remember to make this gem a bit more often instead of waiting to see corn appear on the local farm stands.

P.S.  As I was transposing this recipe from my mother’s recipe card, I noticed for the first time the note at the bottom of the recipe about Corn and Shrimp Soup.  Where have I been?  I must try this next time!

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Creamy Tomato Soup with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Chives

tomato soup in pot with chives and bacon

Oh tomatoes!  I cannot wait until they are heavy on the vine, bursting with juice and seeds, ready for BLT’s, tomato sandwiches on homemade white bread, slathered with mayonnaise, cut into wedges ready to scoop up chunky blue cheese dip, or just sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Since the fresh, native ones haven’t arrived yet, I will satisfy my tomato craving with this soup.  All that is required is a few cans of good tomatoes along with the other ingredients that jazz up the flavor.  It reminds me a little of a cross between a BLT and a thick tomato soup that would go great with a melty, gooey grilled cheese sandwich for dunking.

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Pureed Provencal White Bean Soup

pureed soup made with white beans, lamb, white wine, carrots, celery, onions and garlic served with crusty bread and Parmesan cheese with a rosemary garnish

I love Ina Garten. Everything about her is chic and fabulous right down to her tailored navy blue shirts . She lives a glamorous life in the Hamptons where she cooks and hangs out with her friends in her gorgeous home and perfectly kept gardens. Her food is simple and rustic yet still perfectly in tune with whatever type of party she is hosting. And the best part is that she never forgets the most important ingredient: the cocktails.

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Mellow Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili with carrots, black beans, poblano peppers, topped with cheddar cheese and pickled jalapenos

It’s mellow because most of my customers don’t want things to be “too spicy”. It’s vegetarian but doesn’t have a ton of beans because as I have noted before, I don’t like that many beans. It works. There is enough layered spices and different kinds of not so hot peppers to add flavor. Thick and satisfying without being filling. Garnish it up with whatever you like: shredded cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, crushed tortilla chips and if you want to add the spice like I do, add a heaping helping of pickled jalapenos.

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Mellow Vegetarian Chili

2 poblano peppers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium sized onion, chopped

salt and pepper

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped mushrooms

3/4 cup black or green olives, chopped

2 tablespoons olive juice

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomotoes

1 4 oz. can mild green chilis

1 32 oz. can tomato puree

1 small can tomato paste

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 12 oz. can lager ( I used Coors Light)

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 pinch cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

Blacken skins of poblano peppers under a broiler or directly on the flame of a gas stove burner. Place peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes. Remove and scrape off charred skin. Remove stem and seeds from peppers and chop. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add poblano peppers, scallions, red pepper, carrots and celery. Continue to cook until red pepper, carrots and celery are crisp/tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms, olives and olive juice (from jar). Cook for 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Bring chili to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for one hour.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, lime wedges, jalapeno slices or whatever makes you happy.

Vegetable Minestrone with Parsley Parmesan Puree

springtime vegetable soup, carrots, white beans, parsley and Parmesan cheese puree on top

Bright orange carrots, a light tomato broth with beans and sausage. All of this topped off with a springtime green parsley and Parmesan cheese puree. What more could you want other than for the snow to hurry up and melt?

I am sure I can speak for everyone here on Cape Cod, “If I hear talk of another “Nor’easter” predicted this month, I am going to scream!” So, here’s to the arrival of Spring. At least it says so on the calendar, even if the weather doesn’t want to cooperate!

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