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Category: Soups/Stews

Ham and Potato Soup

Ham and Potato Soup

A rich and creamy soup, loaded with chunks of potatoes and ham plus bits of scallions. Simmered in a stock full of flavor from one of a cook’s favorite tools – the hambone!

After Easter I popped the remainder of the holiday ham along with the bone in the freezer. Growing up in a family where no decent cook would waste leftovers, I learned early in life the value of a hambone. So typically when I buy a ham I grab a bone-in ham. But on the occasion that I pick up a small ham – which are often boneless – I always ask for a hambone. Cooking with this “scrap” of meat is one of the first kitchen treasures I learned about from my Mom. Whether she was cooking a pot of beans or a pea soup, this was her secret weapon!

This soup transforms leftovers into a feast. It’s similar to a basic potato soup but elevated with simple ingredients. Sweet onions and Yukon gold potatoes are cooked in a savory chicken stock along with that fabulous hambone, followed with a generous handful of scallions and bits of ham.

As the soup cooks the essence of the hambone seeps into the stock and the tender potatoes. Then it’s finished with half and half and  just enough flour to lightly thicken the stock. The result is a soup that satisfies you to your core!

Ladle up and top with chopped scallions and fresh parsley. Leftovers easily and deliciously reinvented!

Ham and Potato Soup

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium sweet onion chopped, about 1-1/2 cups

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes – about 6 cups

4 cups chicken stock

1 hambone

2 cups chopped ham, about four to five slices, 1/4″ thick each

3 scallions, chopped, about ½ cup, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 cups half and half

4 tablespoons flour

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the potatoes, along with the kosher salt and pepper tossing into the onions, butter and olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken stock into the stockpot and nestle the hambone down into the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the chopped ham and scallions, cover and continue simmering until the scallions are tender, about 10 minutes.

Mix the half and half with the flour until smooth. Remove the hambone and pour the half and half mixture into the soup.

Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the soup has thickened slightly and the potatoes are very tender.

Garnish with additional chopped scallions and freshly chopped parsley.

Serves 6.

Ham and Potato Soup, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

April 29, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

A rich and creamy soup, loaded with chunks of potatoes and ham plus bits of scallions. Simmered in a stock full of flavor from one of a cook’s favorite tools – a hambone!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes - about 6 cups
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 hambone
  • 2 cups chopped ham, about 4 to 5 ¼” thick slices
  • 3 scallions, chopped, about ½ cup, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Melt butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté under tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Step 2 Add the potatoes, along with the kosher salt and pepper tossing into the onions, butter and olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
  • Step 3 Pour the chicken stock into the stockpot and nestle the hambone down into the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Step 4 Stir in the chopped ham and scallions and simmer until the scallions are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 5 Mix the half and half with the flour until smooth. Remove the hambone and pour the half and half mixture into the soup.
  • Step 6 Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the soup has thickened slightly and the potatoes are very tender.
  • Step 7 Garnish with additional chopped scallions and freshly chopped parsley.
Mediterranean Stew

Mediterranean Stew

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. Full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

If you overdid it on the Valentine’s Day candy this dish is a great antidote! I’ve flipped past this recipe for years and finally decided to give it a try – feeling it would either be wonderful or “what was I thinking”! It is wonderful!

There are recipes I try when the Engineer is out of pocket. Though he is far more willing to try new foods and dishes than he was when we first met, he still has his moments. (It’s a work in progress!) The ingredients are all things I love – eggplant, fennel, sweet onion, garlic, Kalamata olives, plump tomatoes – and a splash of white wine!

This is a great meal for a relaxing weekend. Once you prep the ingredients it comes together quickly. Start with the eggplant. Though it’s not always necessary to peel eggplant, I tend to err on the side of caution. Sometimes the peel of an eggplant can be tough and bitter.

Season the tender chunks of chicken with a simple sprinkling of kosher salt. The chicken is cooked in the essence of the fennel and onion. You can certainly use shrimp – just toss them in the stew the last five minutes or so – you don’t want to overcook them or they’ll become tough.

Infuse the freshness of herbs while the stew simmers through a bouquet garni.

It’s a simple thing to make – all you need is cheesecloth and kitchen twine. But if you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can use dried herbs.

Lemon zest and an additional pop of fresh parsley added at the end subtly elevate these spectacular flavors.

Serve with an extra dash of parsley, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a toasted baguette.

Mediterranean Stew

For the bouquet garni:

6 sprigs fresh parsley

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

For the stew:

1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces

1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups

1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¾ cup dry white wine

1 can Italian or San Marzona tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces

2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving

Shredded Parmesan for serving

To make the bouquet garni:

Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth.

Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.

Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.

In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.

Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base.

Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.

Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes. Remove the bundle of herb and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.

Mediterranean Stew, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 15, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. This beautiful stew is full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the bouquet garni:
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • For the stew:
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can Roma tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving
  • Shredded Parmesan for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the bouquet garni:
  • Step 2 Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.
  • Step 3 Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.
  • Step 4 Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.
  • Step 5 In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.
  • Step 6 Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Step 7 Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Step 8 Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.
  • Step 9 Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes.
  • Step 10 Remove the bundle of herbs and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Step 11 Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
  • Step 12 Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.
Salsa Verde Chicken Chili

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili

How to best describe this dish? In a word it’s wonderful! It’s a chili full of roasted chicken, a bounty of hearty legumes and spicy Southwestern flavors!

Emily and I share a love for entertaining and have found that soup dinners are a fun way to feed a crowd. We make two or three different soups then set out small cups or bowls and let folks sample a little of each – and no shaming if some make a second loop! And on a recent trip to Atlanta Emily hosted a chili dinner and this was one of the two types of chili on her menu.

Best of all, this is a perfect dish for last minute entertaining. With most of us having easy access to roasted chickens this chili comes together quickly.

The chili starts with pops of flavor from onion, those smoky notes of poblano peppers, sweet corn and those fragrant spices of cumin and chili pepper.

Black beans, navy beans and Great Northern beans add to a slightly creamy texture.

Salsa verde – that vibrant green salsa made with tomatillos – combines with fresh cilantro and lime to bring an unexpected brightness to the dish. Toss in white corn tortilla chips and you’ll see this chili comes together in a most delicious way.

A quick note on cilantro – if you’re one of those people whose taste buds don’t get along with this herb – feel free to use fresh parsley instead.

Ladle up a bowl, top it with fresh tomatoes, ripe avocados, cilantro and cotija cheese. Your guests will be making another trip around the stove!

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped sweet onion, about 1 medium onion

1-1/4 cups chopped poblano peppers, about 2 large peppers that have been seeded and the membrane removed

1 package frozen white corn, 16-ounces

2 teaspoons ground chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 cups chopped roasted chicken, 1 chicken or 2 if you only use the breast meat

1 jar salsa verde (tomatillo salsa), 16-ounces

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces

1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces

1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces

2 cups crushed white corn tortilla chips

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro*

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 2 limes

3 cups chicken stock

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Cherry tomatoes, ripe avocado, cilantro and shredded or crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese for serving

*If you are one of those folks who have an adverse taste reaction to cilantro feel free to substitute with fresh parsley.

Pour the olive oil into a large Dutch oven placed over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and the peppers are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Toss in the corn and stir together with the onion and peppers.

Add the chili powder and the cumin along with the roasted chicken and the beans. Pour in the salsa verde and stir to mix together.

Add the crushed chips and the chopped cilantro. Pour in the chicken stock, the kosher salt and the black pepper.

Cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until all the ingredients are heated through and the chips have softened into the chili.

Serve with your favorite toppings. Serves 6.

Add additional chicken stock as needed to reheat any leftovers.

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

January 28, 2019
: Serves 6.

How to best describe this dish? In a word it’s wonderful! It’s a chili full of roasted chicken, a bounty of hearty legumes and spicy Southwestern flavors!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion, about 1 medium onion
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped poblano peppers, about 2 large peppers that have been seeded and the membrane removed
  • 1 package frozen white corn, 16-ounces
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cups chopped roasted chicken, 1 chicken or 2 if you only use the breast meat
  • 1 jar salsa verde (tomatillo salsa), 16-ounces
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces
  • 1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounces
  • 2 cups crushed white corn tortilla chips
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro*
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 2 limes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes, ripe avocado, cilantro and shredded or crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese for serving
  • *If you are one of those folks who have an adverse taste reaction to cilantro feel free to substitute with fresh parsley.
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the olive oil into a large Dutch oven placed over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and the peppers are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 2 Toss in the corn and stir together with the onion and peppers.
  • Step 3 Add the chili powder and the cumin along with the roasted chicken and the beans. Pour in the salsa verde and stir to mix together.
  • Step 4 Add the crushed chips and the chopped cilantro. Pour in the chicken stock, the kosher salt and the black pepper.
  • Step 5 Cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until all the ingredients are heated through and the chips have softened into the chili.
  • Step 6 Serve with your favorite toppings.
  • Step 7 Add additional chicken stock as needed to reheat any leftovers.
Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

Rich and savory with chunks of tender new potatoes and flaky white fish simmered in a luscious broth highlighted by the essence of thyme.

Though I spend hours in the kitchen there are nights when I have limited time to make dinner. Soup is a perfect way to tackle a meal and satisfy the Engineer in my life – and this has become one of my “go to” recipes. It’s a wonderful chowder that comes together in fairly short order and with limited prep time.

Chowders are such delightful and hearty members of the soup family – and they’re a meal on their own. They come loaded with sweet onions and chunks of potatoes simmered in a base thickened with a buttery roux and finished with a touch of cream.

And though most of us are more familiar with clam or corn chowders this version with white fish well is equally wonderful. You can use your favorite white fish – I’ve used halibut, Pollock and cod. In a pinch I’ve tossed in fillets of catfish or tilapia with surprisingly good results. Savory tones come from the onion and fresh thyme. New or russet potatoes are simmered until tender in a base of seafood stock and white wine.

Cooking time for the fish will vary depending on the thickness and type of your fish fillets, so start with the shortest cooking time and cook just until the fish is opaque. The beauty of this chowder, it’s easy to keep all the items on hand with fish in the freezer, onions, potatoes and cartons of stock in your pantry. And you can use dried thyme in place of fresh.

Top with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and serve with a toasted baguette. Dinner is on the table!

Fish Chowder

6 tablespoons butter, divided

½ sweet onion, chopped – about 1 cup

3 new potatoes, scrubbed and diced into bite-size pieces, about 3-1/2 cups

4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme, divided

4 tablespoons flour, divided

¼ cup dry white wine

5 cups seafood stock*

½ cup clam juice

½ to 1 tablespoon concentrated vegetable stock, such as Better Than Bouillon

1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound firm white fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, haddock or Pollock

Fresh parsley for garnish

*If you can’t find seafood stock you can also use vegetable stock.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Toss in the chopped onion and the new potatoes along with about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves stripped from the stem. Cook until the onions and potatoes are becoming tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the flour, stirring to coat the vegetables and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the white wine, the seafood stock, clam juice, ½ tablespoon of the concentrated vegetable stock, the remaining sprigs of thyme, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and the black pepper. If you’re using dried thyme add 1 teaspoon in place of the fresh.

Continue cooking over medium heat stirring until the base of the chowder has thickened and the potatoes are tender and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Check for seasoning, adding the additional ½ tablespoon of concentrated vegetable stock and ½ teaspoon kosher salt if needed. The amount of concentrated stock and kosher salt will vary depending upon the seafood stock and concentrated vegetable stock you use.

At this point you can hold the chowder base or even refrigerate it overnight. About ten minutes before you’re ready to serve the chowder add the fish to the hot chowder base. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low.

Continue cooking the chowder for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes apart. The cooking time for the fish will vary depending upon the thickness of the fillet.Gently break up the fish then pour in the cream and warm through for about 3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and top with chopped fresh parsley.

To reheat any leftovers, warm gently over medium-low heat. The chowder will thicken after refrigeration – you can thin by adding additional stock or half and half.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Fish Chowder, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

January 16, 2019
: Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Rich and savory with chunks of tender new potatoes and flaky white fish simmered in a luscious broth highlighted by the essence of thyme.

By:

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • ½ sweet onion, chopped – about 1 cup
  • 3 new potatoes, scrubbed and diced into bite-size pieces, about 3-1/2 cups
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme, divided*
  • 4 tablespoons flour, divided
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups seafood stock*
  • ½ cup clam juice
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon concentrated vegetable stock, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound firm white fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, haddock or Pollock
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • *You can substitute fresh thyme with 1 teaspoon dried thyme. And if you can’t find seafood stock you can also use vegetable stock.
Directions
  • Step 1 Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Step 2 Toss in the chopped onion and the new potatoes along with about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves stripped from the stem. Cook until the onions and potatoes are becoming tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the flour, stirring to coat the vegetables and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Step 4 Pour in the white wine, the seafood stock, clam juice, ½ tablespoon of the concentrated vegetable stock, the remaining sprigs of thyme, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and the black pepper. If you’re using dried thyme add 1 teaspoon in place of the fresh.
  • Step 5 Continue cooking over medium heat stirring until the base of the chowder has thickened and the potatoes are tender and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Step 6 Check for seasoning, adding the additional ½ tablespoon of concentrated vegetable stock and ½ teaspoon kosher salt if needed. The amount of concentrated stock and kosher salt will vary depending upon the seafood stock and concentrated vegetable stock you use.
  • Step 7 At this point you can hold the chowder base or even refrigerate it overnight.
  • Step 8 About ten minutes before you’re ready to serve the chowder add the fish to the hot chowder base. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low.
  • Step 9 Continue cooking the chowder for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes apart. The cooking time for the fish will vary depending upon the thickness of the fillet.
  • Step 10 Gently break up the fish. Pour in the cream and warm through for about 3 minutes.
  • Step 11 Ladle into bowls and top with chopped fresh parsley.
  • Step 12 To reheat any leftovers, warm gently over medium-low heat. The chowder will thicken after refrigeration – you can thin by adding additional stock or half and half.
Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John

This old Southern dish takes the lowly black-eyed pea then mixes and mingles it with fluffy rice. Made using the “holy trinity” of Southern cooking – sweet onion, celery and bell pepper – Hoppin’ John is loaded with flavor making for the perfect bowl of comfort!

Being raised in Texas we held to the belief that for a bit of luck in the upcoming year one should eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day or at least the first week of the New Year. Though my Dad was never a big fan of this particular legume, feeling it was better left as feed for the livestock we made certain he had a bite or two just in case!

Hoppin’ John is blend of black-eyed peas and rice. But the trick to the flavor punch is packing the dish with beautiful aromatics of onion, celery, pepper and garlic along with fresh thyme. Start by rendering bacon, then simmer the peas in a rich chicken stock and an additional pop with a touch of Creole seasoning.

Start with fresh peas if you’re lucky enough to find them but if not, frozen black-eyed peas are now frequently available. Allow yourself plenty of time for the peas to cook and become very tender, about an hour. You can also cook the peas in advance then finish with the rice before you’re ready to serve.

There are two common methods when it comes to cooking the rice and finishing this dish. One version cooks the rice in the pan with peas and all the cooking stock resulting in more of a soup. In the second version, the rice is cooked separately using cooking stock skimmed from the peas, loading the rice with a mouth full of goodness.

Then the remaining stock is removed from the peas before the cooked rice is added into the peas. If you want more of a soup you can certainly leave the extra stock.

Hearty enough for a main dish or wonderful as a side, there’s no need to wait for New Year’s to make this soul-satisfying Southern classic – Hoppin’ John is wonderful any day of the year!

Hoppin’ John

This recipe makes a large batch – enough to easily feed six to eight.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 slices of bacon, sliced into pieces

4 stalks celery chopped, about 1-3/4 cups

1 large sweet onion chopped, about 2 to 2-1/2 cups

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped, about 1-1/2 cups

4 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

8 cups chicken stock

2 packages fresh peas, 12-ounces each, about 4 cups – rinsed and sorted

1-1/2 cups Basmati or Jasmine rice

Fresh parsley for garnish

In a large stockpot heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pieces of bacon and cook until the bacon renders its fat and just starts to crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the chopped celery, sweet onion, bell pepper and garlic. Continue cooking over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.

Toss in the fresh thyme, kosher salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the peas are very tender – about 45 minutes to one hour.

In a medium saucepan heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the rice and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes to lightly toast the rice.

Skim off 3 cups of the cooking stock and add to the rice. Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. When the rice is cooked fluff it with a fork.

Drain the remaining liquid from the cooked peas and add the cooked rice, about 1 cup at a time. You can add all the rice if you like more rice to peas, less if you like more peas.

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

You can reheat this dish in the oven by adding a bit of reserved cooking stock, cover and heat at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Hoppin' John, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

January 2, 2019
: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The lowly black-eyed pea mixes and mingles with fluffy rice making for the perfect bowl of comfort!

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 slices of bacon, sliced into pieces
  • 4 stalks celery chopped, about 1-3/4 cups
  • 1 large sweet onion chopped, about 2 to 2-1/2 cups
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
  • 4 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 packages fresh peas, 12-ounces each, about 4 cups – rinsed and sorted
  • 1-1/2 cups Basmati or Jasmine rice
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 In a large stockpot heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pieces of bacon and cook until the bacon renders its fat and just starts to crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Step 2 Add the chopped celery, sweet onion, bell pepper and garlic. Continue cooking over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Step 3 Toss in the fresh thyme, kosher salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Step 4 Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the peas are very tender – about 45 minutes to one hour.
  • Step 5 In a medium saucepan heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the rice and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes to lightly toast the rice.
  • Step 6 Skim off 3 cups of the cooking stock and add to the rice. Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. When the rice is cooked fluff it with a fork.
  • Step 7 Drain the remaining liquid from the cooked peas and add the cooked rice, about 1 cup at a time. You can add all the rice if you like more rice to peas, less if you like more peas. If you want more of a soup just leave the extra cooking stock in the pan.
  • Step 8 Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
  • Step 9 You can reheat this dish in the oven by adding a bit of reserved cooking stock, cover and heat at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

Savory notes from fresh leeks along with thyme and garlic provide the perfect accent to golden roasted butternut squash. A soul-satisfying soup perfect for a cold winter night.

With the holiday season in full swing your life is no doubt a bit hectic. This is a gorgeous soup, simple to make and full of flavor. Most butternut squash seem to have an almost cloyingly sweet taste. Instead, this version is rustic, almost hearty. Butternut squash are cooked with fresh leeks, thyme and garlic then simmered in a rich chicken stock.

Roasting butternut squash is easy enough to do – just a brush or two of olive oil and a dash of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. But butternut squash is now readily available in the freezer section of most food markets. If you’re in a pinch for time, using this option will cut one step off the recipe making it even quicker to get on the table.

The squash, leeks, garlic and thyme simmer for a short bit on the stovetop to meld the flavors.

Then the soup is pureed and a touch of half and half is added to create a creamy soup.

The stockings are hopefully hung and gifts are mostly wrapped. So take a minute or two, settle back and enjoy this warm soup on a cold winter’s night!

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

2 butternut squash, about 4 to 5 pounds fresh or three 10-ounce packages, frozen. You want about 6 cups of squash for the soup.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided

3 tablespoons butter

3 leeks, root end and green portion trimmed, thoroughly cleaned* and chopped. See note below.

7 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

5 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons concentrated chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon

½ cup half and half

Shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese for serving

For roasted butternut squash:

Split the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and brush the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper.

Place the squash with the cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with a cooking spray.

Roast the squash in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the pieces of squash are cooked through and tender. When cool enough to handle scoop out the squash. You should have about 10 cups of squash.

For the soup:

Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and melt the 3 tablespoons of butter with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped leeks and thyme and sauté until the leeks are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Stir in the squash plus the chicken stock, concentrated chicken base, the remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove the sprigs of thyme and using an immersion blender puree the soup until it’s smooth.

Stir in the half and half and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to heat through.

Serve with shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese.

Serves 6 to 8.

*Cleaning leeks is an important step. As the leaves push up through the ground they capture a lot of dirt along the way. To clean, cut the dark green leaves down to the light green part of the leek. Then cut an “X” about 3” to 4” from the leaves down towards the bulb.

Place the leeks cut side down in a large measuring cup or bowl filled with cold water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes to let the leeks open up a bit. Chop and rinse the leeks under cold running water to make sure all the dirt is removed.

Butternut Squash Leek Soup, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

December 21, 2018
: Serves 6 to 8.

Savory notes of leeks along with thyme and garlic are the perfect accent to golden roasted butternut squash creating a soul-satisfying soup perfect for a cold winter night.

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 butternut squash, about 4 to 5 pounds fresh or three 10-ounce packages, frozen. You want about 6 cups of squash for the soup.
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 leeks, root end and green portion trimmed, thoroughly cleaned* and chopped
  • 7 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • ½ cup half and half
  • Shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 For roasted butternut squash:
  • Step 2 Split the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and brush the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper.
  • Step 3 Place the squash with the cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with a cooking spray. Roast the squash in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the pieces of squash are cooked through and tender. When cool enough to handle scoop out the squash. You should have about 10 cups of squash.
  • Step 4 For the soup:
  • Step 5 Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and melt the 3 tablespoons of butter with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped leeks and thyme and sauté until the leeks are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Step 6 Stir in the squash plus the chicken stock, concentrated chicken base, the remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • Step 7 Remove the sprigs of thyme and using an immersion blender puree the soup until it’s smooth.
  • Step 8 Stir in the half and half and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to heat through.
  • Step 9 Serve with shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese.
  • Step 10 *Cleaning leeks is an important step. As the leaves push up through the ground they capture a lot of dirt along the way. To clean, cut the dark green leaves down to the light green part of the leek. Then cut an “X” about 3” to 4” from the leaves down towards the bulb. Place the leeks cut side down in a large measuring cup or bowl filled with cold water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes to let the leeks open up a bit. Rinse the leeks under cold running water to make sure all the dirt is removed.
Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

A soup with a creamy, luxurious texture. The color is vibrant and the flavor is slightly savory, yet bright with a subtle edge of sweetness.

This falls into the category of something simple, quick and “what do I have on hand”! So take those three or four sweet potatoes left from your Thanksgiving feast – pair them with onions and carrots, toss in some ginger, simmer in a rich chicken stock and you’ve got a fabulous soup.

If it could be said about vegetables then this mix makes for strange bedfellows. It’s a beautiful blending of random items – onions, fresh carrots, sweet potatoes and spicy notes of ginger. And somehow it works – really well!

This soup is easy to make and comes together in less than an hour using pantry staples. You only need to add a small amount of cream but in a pinch you can use milk or half and half – just enough to soften the edges.

To get that silky texture an immersion blender is always my “go to” when pureeing soups. It takes just a few minutes and you’ve got a perfectly blended soup. Minimal effort, minimal mess.

Top with a sprinkling of crystalized ginger and you have a unique combination that makes for a delightful first course or full meal!

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, sliced thin, about 3 cups

1 pound carrots, about 6 carrots scrubbed or peeled and cut into pieces

2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

4 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons chicken concentrate, such as Better Than Bouillon

1-3/4 teaspoons ground ginger

½ cup heavy cream

Crystalized ginger for garnish

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they’re tender and slightly translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the carrots and the sweet potatoes with the kosher salt, pepper, chicken stock and chicken concentrate and stir to combine.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or until the carrots and the sweet potatoes are tender. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until smooth.

Add the ground ginger and the cream then heat through for about 10 minutes.

Garnish with a sprinkling of crystalized ginger.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

November 28, 2018
: Serves 6

A soup with a creamy, luxurious texture. The color is vibrant and the flavor is slightly savory, yet bright with a subtle edge of sweetness.

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin, about 3 cups
  • 1 pound carrots, about 6 carrots scrubbed or peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chicken concentrate, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Crystalized ginger for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  • Step 2 Add the onions and sauté until they’re tender and slightly translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the carrots and the sweet potatoes with the kosher salt, pepper, chicken stock and chicken concentrate and stir to combine.
  • Step 4 Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or until the carrots and the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Step 5 Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until smooth.
  • Step 6 Add the ground ginger and the cream then heat through for about 10 minutes.
  • Step 7 Garnish with a sprinkling of crystalized ginger.
Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

A creamy chicken stew filled with chunks of tender white meat, potatoes and sweet carrots all nestled underneath plump, fluffy biscuit-like dumplings.

Winter decided to bypass fall and move on into North Texas making it a perfect night for homemade Chicken and Dumplings! This is a country dish and one made in many Southern kitchens but it’s certainly not exclusive to the South. Like any great soup or stew it takes a little patience to develop depth in flavors, starting with the base. Start by stewing chicken in a rich stock along with a bounty of herbs – parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves – along with beautiful aromatics of sweet onions and celery.

Fresh carrots and new potatoes are added to round out the stew in a subtle way.

The chicken and the vegetables are simmered until tender then the stock is thickened with a stock and milk-based rue. Now we’re ready for fluffy dumplings to be cooked on top!

And when it comes to dumplings there are two schools of thought in the South – rolled and cut or drop dumplings. Though my Grandmother made the rolled and cut version my Mom preferred drop dumplings. They’re much like a biscuit so we’re off to a good start!

But making dumplings with just flour and milk can lead to a less than exciting finish for this succulent stew you’ve produced. Instead, these dumplings are full of savory notes from a dash of poultry seasoning, a bit of ground sage and parsley.

Comforting and creamy – a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly night!

Chicken and Dumplings

3 to 3-1/2 pounds chicken breasts, preferably bone-in and skin on

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, or about 4 teaspoons dried

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or about 2 teaspoons dried and crushed

8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme, or about 2 teaspoons dried

3 bay leaves

1 cup chopped celery, about 1-1/2 stalks

1 cup chopped sweet onion, about 1 small onion

9 cups chicken stock, divided

1 tablespoon concentrated chicken base, such as “Better Than Bouillon”

1-1/2 cups sliced carrots, about 4 carrots

3 cups cubed new potatoes, about 3 to 4 potatoes – peeled

1-1/2 cups milk

5 tablespoons flour

Place the chicken in a large stockpot with the parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, plus the chopped celery and onion.

Add 8 cups of the chicken stock along with the concentrated chicken base and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for an additional hour or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.

Remove the chicken from the stock and transfer to a pan or bowl until it’s cool enough to handle. Then remove the meat and shred or chop into bite size pieces.

Combine the remaining cup of stock with the milk and the flour. Whisk until the flour is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the stockpot, whisking to blend well.

Cook over medium heat until the stock thickens, about 15 minutes. While the stock thickens, mix the dough for the dumplings.

For the dumplings:

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

¼ teaspoon ground sage

½ teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1-1/2 cups milk

Combine the flour with the baking powder, poultry seasoning, ground sage, parsley, kosher salt and pepper. Stir in the milk.

Mix until blended together.

Once the stock has thickened, return the shredded chicken to the stockpot.

Using a tablespoon or a small (1”) or medium-size (1-3/4”) ice cream scoop measure out equal amounts of the dumpling dough and gently drop on top of the chicken and stock. Do not stir! The dumplings will plump up as they cook.

Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until the tops of the dumplings are “dry” and no longer sticky to the touch.

Serves 6 to 8.

Chicken and Dumplings, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

November 12, 2018
: Serves 6 to 8.

A creamy chicken stew filled with chunks of tender white meat, potatoes and sweet carrots sit hiding underneath plump, fluffy biscuit-like dumplings.

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 to 3-1/2 pounds chicken breasts, preferably bone-in and skin on
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, or about 4 teaspoons dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or about 2 teaspoons dried and crushed
  • 8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme, or about 2 teaspoons dried
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped celery, about 1-1/2 stalks
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion, about 1 small onion
  • 9 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon concentrated chicken base, such as “Better Than Bouillon”
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced carrots, about 4 carrots
  • 3 cups cubed new potatoes, about 3 to 4 potatoes – peeled
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • For the dumplings:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
Directions
  • Step 1 Place the chicken in a large stockpot with the parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, plus the chopped celery and onion.
  • Step 2 Add 8 cups of the chicken stock along with the concentrated chicken base and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for an additional hour or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
  • Step 4 Remove the chicken from the stock and transfer to a pan or bowl until it’s cool enough to handle. Then remove the meat and shred or chop into bite size pieces.
  • Step 5 Combine the remaining cup of stock with the milk and the flour. Whisk until the flour is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the stockpot, whisking to blend well.
  • Step 6 Cook over medium heat until the stock thickens, about 15 minutes. While the stock thickens, mix the dough for the dumplings.
  • Step 7 For the dumplings:
  • Step 8 Combine the flour with the baking powder, poultry seasoning, ground sage, parsley, kosher salt and pepper. Stir in the milk and mix until blended.
  • Step 9 To finish:
  • Step 10 Once the stock has thickened, return the shredded chicken to the stockpot.
  • Step 11 Using a tablespoon or a small (1”) or medium-size (1-3/4”) ice cream scoop measure out equal amounts of the dumpling dough and gently drop on top of the chicken and stock. Do not stir! The dumplings will plump up as they cook.
  • Step 12 Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until the tops of the dumplings are “dry” and no longer sticky to the touch.
Lentil Stew with Roasted Salmon Fillets

Lentil Stew with Roasted Salmon Fillets

A comforting lentil stew starts with a beautiful base of aromatics before it’s finished with a delicate roasted salmon fillet.

Years ago I made this dish frequently but for some reason I had all but forgotten about it. Until recently. We were out and about running errands and had stopped to grab a bite when I spotted lentil stew the menu. Sadly, it didn’t come close to matching my expectations. Lackluster flavors and oh, so few lentils in the lentil stew. So, I came home, combed through my recipes and set out to satisfy my taste buds. Like any great stew there are layers of tastes and textures. This one starts with sweet onions, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic and fresh thyme, creating a delicious foundation.

But unlike a beef stew, lentil stew requires only a short amount of your time and is on the table in less than an hour. And the flavors don’t miss a beat!

To get things moving along soak the lentils in hot water while you sauté the vegetables – this gives them a jumpstart in cooking.

Then simmer the soaked legumes along with the vegetables in a rich chicken stock, deepened with savory tomato paste and sprigs of fresh thyme.

And though you could stop here, why would you? Top the stew with fresh center cut salmon fillets, brushed with olive oil and seasoned simply with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. A quick sear before a short roast in the oven and dinner is ready.

Easy, flavorful and soul satisfying!

Lentil Stew with Roasted Salmon Fillets

1 cup green or brown dried lentils, about 1 cup

3 to 4 cups boiling water

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet onion, quartered and sliced thin, about 2-1/2 cups

2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green portion only, about 3 leeks*

1-1/2 cups celery, sliced thin, about 2 to 3 stalks

4 to 5 small carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and sliced thin, about 2 cups

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided – or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided – or to taste

4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon concentrated chicken base

1 small can tomato paste, 6-ounces

5 to 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

4 center cut salmon fillets, about 1-1/2 pounds

Heat the oven to 400-degrees. Place the lentils in a large heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the lentils and let them stand for about 20 minutes. While the lentils soak, sauté the vegetables. In a large, deep sauté pan, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, the leeks, the celery and the carrots.

Sauté the vegetables until they are mostly tender and the onion and leeks are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, the chicken base, tomato paste, and the thyme sprigs.

Bring to the stew to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are cooked through and tender. Check for seasoning, adding additional kosher salt and pepper if needed. Keep the stew warm over low heat while you cook the salmon.

While the lentils are cooking brush both sides of the salmon with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the flesh side with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let the salmon rest at room temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes.

You can leave your salmon fillet whole or cut into individual servings.

Lightly spray a large ovenproof skillet with a cooking spray. Place the pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the pan is hot, place the salmon fillets flesh side down. Leave them in place without moving for 3 minutes.

Flip the fillets over and place in a 400-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flaky. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon. Do not overcook or the salmon will be dry.

To serve, ladle the lentil stew in a wide soup bowl and gently place the salmon fillet on top.

To reheat any leftovers:

Warm the lentil stew over medium heat in a covered saucepan, adding extra chicken stock if needed. As soon as the stew is hot nestle the remaining salmon into the stew. Cover and warm for an additional 10 minutes until the fish is warmed through.

*Cleaning leeks is an important step. As the leaves push up through the ground they capture a lot of dirt along the way. To clean, trim the dark green leaves off, down to the light green part of the leek. Then cut an “X” about 3” to 4” from the leaves down towards the bulb.

Place the leeks cut side down in a large measuring cup or bowl filled with cold water. Let them soak for about 10 to 20 minutes to let the leeks open up a bit. Rinse the leeks under cold running water to make sure all the dirt is removed. Trim the root end of the bulb and you’re all set. You can clean the leeks ahead of time. After trimming and cleaning wrap the leeks in a paper towel and store them in a sealed bag or container.

Lentil Stew with Roasted Salmon Fillets

October 26, 2018
: Serves 4

A comforting lentil stew starts with a beautiful base of aromatics before it’s finished with a delicate roasted salmon fillet.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup green or brown dried lentils, about 1 cup
  • 3 to 4 cups boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered and sliced thin, about 2-1/2 cups
  • 2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green portion only, about 3 leeks*
  • 1-1/2 cups celery, sliced thin, about 2 to 3 stalks
  • 4 to 5 small carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and sliced thin, about 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided – or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided – or to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon concentrated chicken base
  • 1 small can tomato paste, 6-ounces
  • 5 to 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 4 center cut salmon fillets, about 1-1/2 pounds
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the oven to 400-degrees.
  • Step 2 Place the lentils in a large heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the lentils and let them stand for about 20 minutes. While the lentils soak, sauté the vegetables.
  • Step 3 In a large, deep sauté pan, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, the leeks, the celery and the carrots. Sauté the vegetables until they are mostly tender and the onion and leeks are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 4 Add the garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Step 5 Stir in the chicken stock, the chicken base, tomato paste, and the thyme sprigs.
  • Step 6 Bring to the stew to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are cooked through and tender. Check for seasoning, adding additional kosher salt and pepper if needed. Keep the stew warm over low heat while you cook the salmon.
  • Step 7 While the lentils are cooking brush both sides of the salmon with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the flesh side with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let the salmon rest at room temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 8 Lightly spray a large ovenproof skillet with a cooking spray. Place the pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the pan is hot, place the salmon fillets flesh side down. Leave them in place without moving for 3 minutes.
  • Step 9 Flip the fillets over and place in a 400-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flaky. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon. Do not overcook or the salmon will be dry.
  • Step 10 To serve, ladle the lentil stew in a wide soup bowl and gently place the salmon fillet on top.
  • Step 11 To reheat any leftovers:
  • Step 12 Warm the lentil stew over medium heat in a covered saucepan, adding extra chicken stock if needed. As soon as the stew is hot nestle the remaining salmon into the stew. Cover and warm for an additional 10 minutes until the fish is warmed through.
  • Step 13 *Cleaning leeks is an important step. As the leaves push up through the ground they capture a lot of dirt along the way. To clean, trim the dark green leaves off, down to the light green part of the leek. Then cut an “X” about 3” to 4” from the leaves down towards the bulb. Place the leeks cut side down in a large measuring cup or bowl filled with cold water. Let them soak for about 10 to 20 minutes to let the leeks open up a bit. Rinse the leeks under cold running water to make sure all the dirt is removed. Trim the root end of the bulb and you’re all set. You can clean the leeks ahead of time. After trimming and cleaning wrap the leeks in a paper towel and store them in a sealed bag or container.
Classic Beef Stew

Classic Beef Stew

With cold weather blowing into North Texas there’s no better way to warm up than with a big steaming batch of beef stew.

Loaded with chunks of tender beef and a mountain of vegetables, this is the epitome of comfort simmered low and slow in red wine and rich beef stock.

Beef stew was a staple in our family. It was the perfect meal for a crowd and hearty enough to feed a crew of hungry cowboys, warming them from the cold Texas Panhandle winds.

Often made from Sunday’s leftover pot roast, chunks of beef were surrounded with sweet onions, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes and green beans or peas.

The choice of beef was always – and still is – chuck roast. With its heavy marbling it is the ideal cut for a long braising. I use about 5 pounds of meat because the engineer likes beef but adjust to suit your preferences. Season the meat before cooking and allow it to rest for a bit before searing in hot oil. This is your first step to those layers of flavor.

When choosing a wine for the stew, select a good red wine, one that you also enjoy drinking. Rule of thumb that always applies – if it’s not good enough to drink it’s not good enough for cooking! If you use a heartier wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon you’re stew will have a bolder flavor. If you want a milder note, go for a Pinot Noir.

This recipe makes a large batch so it’s wonderful for a soup dinner or a tailgate gathering. If your guest list is on the small side, just cut the recipe in half. But keep in mind – the leftovers are wonderful!

Classic Beef Stew

4 to 5 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into small pieces about 1-1/2”

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed for cooking the meat

1 large sweet onion, about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds, quartered and sliced

1 bottle good red wine such as a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or red blend, about 3-1/3 cups

4 cups beef broth

1 small can tomato paste, 6-ounces

3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1-1/2 pounds new potatoes, about 6, cubed – about 4 to 5 cups

½ pounds haricots verts or other green beans*, cut into 2” pieces – about 3 cups

4 to 5 carrots, scrubbed or peeled, cut into 2” pieces – about 3 cups

½ pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced – about 4 cups

2 packages frozen corn, 10-ounces each

1 to 2 cans plum tomatoes, 15-ounces each – broken up into pieces (If you like more of a tomato flavor, use both cans.)

1 to 2 tablespoons beef base, preferably “Better than Bouillon”

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons flour

Spread the beef out in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with the kosher salt and black pepper. Let the meat rest for about 20 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven warm the oil over moderately high heat – just slightly above medium heat. When the oil is hot, place a portion of the meat in the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and continue cooking until all the meat has been browned. Note: Cooking the meat in batches allows the meat to brown and not steam, creating that wonderful fond and a layer of flavor in the stew. If the temperature in the pan drops, allow it to warm back up before continuing, adding additional oil if needed.

After all the meat is cooked, add the sliced onions to the pan and cook until they are tender and somewhat translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour the wine into the stockpot with the onions, stirring to deglaze the bits left in the bottom of the pan.

Return the beef to the pan and add the beef broth, the tomato paste, the bay leaves, dried thyme, dried parsley and brown sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Add the potatoes, haricots verts, carrots, mushrooms, corn and tomatoes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the beef base. Cover and continue cooking on medium low for 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender and cooked through. Check for seasoning, adding the additional beef base if needed.

Blend the butter and flour together. Stir it into the stew to “tighten” the stock.

Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves 8 to 10.

Classic Beef Stew, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

October 15, 2018
: 8 to 10

Loaded with chunks of tender beef and a mountain of vegetables, this is the epitome of comfort simmered low and slow in red wine and rich beef stock.

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 to 5 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into small pieces about 1-1/2”
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed for cooking the meat
  • 1 large sweet onion, about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds, quartered and sliced
  • 1 bottle good red wine such as a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or red blend, about 3-1/3 cups
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 small can tomato paste, 6-ounces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 pounds new potatoes, about 6, cubed – about 4 to 5 cups
  • ½ pounds haricots verts or other green beans*, cut into 2” pieces – about 3 cups
  • 4 to 5 carrots, scrubbed or peeled, cut into 2” pieces – about 3 cups
  • ½ pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced – about 4 cups
  • 2 packages frozen corn, 10-ounces each
  • 1 to 2 cans plum tomatoes, 15-ounces each – broken up into pieces (If you like more of a tomato flavor, use both cans.)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons beef base, preferably “Better than Bouillon”
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons flour
Directions
  • Step 1 Spread the beef out in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with the kosher salt and black pepper. Let the meat rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Step 2 In a large Dutch oven warm the oil over moderately high heat – just slightly above medium heat. When the oil is hot, place a portion of the meat in the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and continue cooking until all the meat has been browned.
  • Step 3 Note: Cooking the meat in batches allows the meat to brown and not steam, creating that wonderful fond and a layer of flavor in the stew. If the temperature in the pan drops, allow it to warm back up before continuing, adding additional oil if needed.
  • Step 4 After all the meat is cooked, add the sliced onions to the pan and cook until they are tender and somewhat translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Step 5 Pour the wine into the stockpot with the onions, stirring to deglaze the bits left in the bottom of the pan.
  • Step 6 Return the beef to the pan and add the beef broth, the tomato paste, the bay leaves, dried thyme, dried parsley and brown sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
  • Step 7 Add the potatoes, haricots verts, carrots, mushrooms, corn and tomatoes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the beef base. Cover and continue cooking on medium low for 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender and cooked through. Check for seasoning, adding the additional beef base if needed.
  • Step 8 Blend the butter and flour together. Stir it into the stew to “tighten” the stock. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.