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White Bean and Kale Minestrone

This soup is really good, despite being very simple.  How awesome is that?  I found this recipe on a really cool website that I came across recently, called Cookus Interruptus.  It’s a cooking website from the author of a book called Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole FoodsThe website features about 100 recipes, many of which come from the book, and best of all, they’re each accompanied by great videos, which are both instructive and hilarious.  Their shtick is trying to cook meals amid the chaos of wacky family members, and it’s a fun way to learn good but relatively simple dishes made from whole foods.  I highly recommend poking around the site and checking out some of their videos.  You’ll enjoy your visit.

This is one of the recipes that caught my eye, for White Bean and Kale Minestrone.  That it was called “minestrone” struck me as odd, since I think of minestrone as a red vegetable soup with kidney beans and little pasta noodles.  So I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that minestrone is actually a somewhat generic term for a wide variety of soups or stews, which often feature seasonal vegetables and sometimes pasta.  But the defining feature seems to be that the soup has a bean base (and according to some, those should be roman beans, aka cranberry or borlotti beans to be genuine–but we won’t split hairs).  So I guess this qualifies as a minestrone due to the beans and bean broth that form the base of the soup.  Whatever you call it, it was delicious, despite being very simple and easy to make.  It’s also very healthful, consisting mainly of two highly nutritious ingredients: beans, which are a great source of protein and fiber; and kale, a leafy vegetable full of all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  We’ll definitely be making this again. Read the rest of this entry »


Split-pea soup

I need your help on this one, family.  I vaguely remember some story we used to read, or maybe it was a Shel Silverstein poem, that involved split-pea soup, portraying it as something rather gross.  Do any of you remember?  If not, I may have to scour the bookshelf in Kristin’s old room when we’re out there in June.  Anyway, we made split-pea soup for dinner tonight.  It was the first time I’ve had it (that I recall), and it was quite good.  It had a very pleasant, pea-centric vegetable flavor, with a nice bacony smokiness owing to the smoked ham hocks we cooked it with.  

The soup itself was good, but it was made great in delicious sourdough bread bowls.  For the bread bowls, I used the same sourdough bread recipe I’ve posted in the past.  The recipe as posted will make 8 bread bowls (I scaled it to 3/4 of the posted recipe, to make 6 bowls)  Each loaf should be about the 250g if you have a scale, or about the size of a baseball (perhaps a bit smaller) when you form the loaves.  You can let them rise in small cereal or soup bowls (preferably ones with tall sides rather than wide, shallow bowls), lined with flour-dusted cotten cloths (like cloth napkins, scraps of muslin, or whatever you have around).  Instead of making slashes across the loaves, I sliced a circle around the top, which makes it easier to cut out the top for the bread bowl.  Once the loaves are baked and cooled, just slice off the top, then cut around the sides of the loaf and use a spoon to dig out the interior crumb to make the bread bowl.  I’d put these up against Panera, or any other sourdough bread bowls you might find anywhere–they were that good.  Read the rest of this entry »

This is a great recipe for Baked Potato Soup that I got from Grandma Johnson.  We love it!!!  This recipe makes a lot, so either cut it in half, or plan on having leftovers! 

 4 baked potatoes (regular sized potatoes work.  If you use big baking potatoes, you only need 2)

2/3 c. butter

1/2 c. chopped celery

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 c. flour

6 c. milk

1/2 teas. pepper

3/4 teas. salt

2 cubes chicken bouillon

8 ounces sour cream

1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese, divided

 Bake the potatoes, skin and cut up into small pieces.  Saute celery in small amount of butter until tender.  Melt the 2/3 c. butter in sauce pan over low heat.  Add flour, stir until smooth.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.  Cook over medium heat until it just starts to bubble.  Add potatoes, salt, pepper, green onion, bouillon cubes and 1 c. of the cheese.  Cook until heated through.  Add sour cream.  Add more milk if the soup is too thick.   Top with remaining cheese after serving.

 This recipe is quick and easy, and we love it!  Hope you all enjoy it too!

For Christmas I got a cookbook that has copycat recipes in it.  This is one that we love to make.



  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half (I used 1% milk and it still tasted really good)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I have made it with nutmeg and without.  I like it better with out)  


  1. Saute the onion in 1 tablespoon of melted butter.  Set aside
  2. Using a wire whisk, combine the remaining 4 table spoons melted butter and flour in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the half-and-half (I added the milk fast the first time and it took a little longer to get it all mixed).  Add the chicken broth, whisking all the time.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli, carrots and onions.  Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. By now the soup should be thick.  Pour batches into blender and puree (I only puree half.  I liked the big pieces of broccoli in my soup)
  7. Return the puree to the pot and place over low heat.  Add the cheese and stir until well blended.

I some times make this in the morning when things are a little slower.  I put it in the fridge in the pot and pull it out right before dinner.

One of my favorite desserts is carrot cake.  We found this recipe that is the best carrot cake I have tasted.  Here is the link:  We add a small can of crushed pineapple also.  If you make this cake it is best to make homemade cream cheese frosting.

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