Bean and Kale Ragout

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Do you ever find yourself torn between wanting something healthy for dinner, and not wanting to spend a lot of time slaving over a stove? Well, my friends, this is the recipe for you.

This main dish stew is healthy, easy to prepare, and full of comforting flavor. Plus, you’ll probably spend more time chopping the vegetables (which really doesn’t take that long) than you will at the stove.

All of the ingredients are combined in a big pot and then left to get better acquainted, while you relax with a glass of wine (just a suggestion), and look forward to the flavorful white beans and tender kale. Now do you see why I love one-pot meals?

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Add the olive oil to an extra-deep skillet (a dutch oven or large pot will work too) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and kale and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the onions soften and the kale wilts.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juice), garlic, chicken broth, bay leaves, oregano, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Cover and simmer until the kale is tender, about 45 minutes. (Now’s your time to relax – don’t forget your glass of wine!)

Stir in the beans and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take a bite (careful, it’s hot!) and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread, or try my Olive Oil Toast recipe. Enjoy!

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Ham and Lentil Soup

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This hearty and flavorful soup is a wonderful way to use the leftovers from your holiday ham. The lentils are a nice deviation from the typical ham and bean soup, and add a wonderful texture. Even the picky eaters in my family (a.k.a. my children) devoured this soup.

Ingredients
1 cup dried lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (is it just me, or does dried thyme taste like dirt?)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
2 cups chopped, cooked ham

Rinse the lentils under cold water, drain, and set aside.

Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add the celery, carrots, and onions and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the minced garlic, lentils, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, thyme, basil, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, water, ketchup, and spinach and stir well to combine. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times prevent the lentils from sticking.

If desired, puree the soup slightly with a stick blender (or in a regular blender) to thicken the soup. Stir in the chopped ham, cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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This soup is full of flavor and has a rich, velvety feel in your mouth. It’s comforting, and satisfying, and seriously good. Add a grilled cheese sandwich and a salad for a wonderful meatless lunch or dinner.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 butternut squash (2-3 pounds), peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, curry powder, and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft.

Add the butternut squash, pears, and garlic, and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the spices from burning.

Add the chicken broth to the pot, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can puree the soup in batches using a regular blender.

Stir in the half and half, serve hot, and enjoy!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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This healthy and hearty slow-cooker soup not only tastes great, but is a breeze to prepare. Simply toss the ingredients into your Crockpot in the morning, and you will have a warm and flavorful dinner waiting for you when you get home! You don’t have to remember to thaw out the chicken the day before either . . . just add the chicken to the Crockpot while it’s still frozen and the chicken will turn out completely tender by dinner time. This makes about 8 servings.

Ingredients
3-4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, etc)
Lime wedges

Add the frozen chicken, diced tomatoes (with juice), enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, garlic, and chicken broth to a Crockpot. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, bay leaf, frozen corn, and cilantro. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours.

Before serving, remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred using two forks. Return the shredded chicken back to the Crockpot.

Serve the soup with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, and lime wedges.

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Cioppino

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My husband had a hankering for cioppino this week, so I found this great recipe and made a few changes to suit our taste. Cioppino is a flavorful broth overflowing with all kinds of yummy seafood. It looks somewhat intimidating to make, but it’s actually pretty simple – and the results are worth the effort! This recipe will serve 4-5 people.

Ingredients
1/3 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 pound bay scallops
9 small clams
9 mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 whole cooked crab or 3/4 cup crabmeat
1 small cod fillet, cubed
Cracked black pepper
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Melt butter in a large stockpot, over medium-low heat. Add the onions and parsley and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft.

Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, basil, thyme, oregano, and wine to the pot. Mix well. Cover and simmer at least 30 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until clams open. Add the shrimp, scallops, crab, and cod, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Ladle soup into bowls and add fresh cracked pepper and a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Serve with warm, crusty bread!

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Butternut Squash Soup

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My friend Melissa gave me this recipe for a wonderful fall soup! It would be a perfect first course to your holiday dinner, or add a salad and some crusty bread for a comforting meal. Choose your favorite apples for this recipe. I used Braeburn, but Gala or Fuji would work well too.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 butternut squash (approx. 2 lbs) peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 large apples peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup apple juice
4 cups vegetable stock (plus 1 cup for thinning the soup)
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Sour cream (optional)
Croutons (optional)

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is soft. Add the butternut squash, apples, and nutmeg and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butternut squash starts to get soft and fuzzy looking around the edges, about 12 minutes.

Add the apple juice and vegetable stock, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaf and thyme and simmer until squash is soft about 25 minutes.

Puree the soup with a stick blender, or in batches using a regular blender. Add additional vegetable stock in small increments until you reach your desired consistency. Serve hot with a dollop (I love that word) of sour cream and croutons, if desired.

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Sausage and Kale Soup

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and no matter how delicious your turkey was, it does tend to lose its appeal after eating it five meals in a row. If you’re ready for something different, whip up a batch of this delicious sausage and kale soup. Flavorful Italian sausage combines with potatoes and tender kale (not the kind you see at salad bars) to create a satisfying main dish soup. Be sure to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they have dense flesh and hold their shape when cooked.

Ingredients
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package Italian sausage links (mild or spicy)
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bunch fresh dinosaur kale (a.k.a. Lacinato kale)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the thick portion of the stem from the kale leaves and then chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Add the chopped leaves to a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set the potatoes and kale aside.

Remove casing (a.k.a. skin) from sausage by scoring the casing with a sharp knife down the length of the sausage and then peeling off the casing. Add the sausage and chopped onion to a frying pan and cook over medium heat, using a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces. Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Place the cooked sausage and onion in a large pot. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add the chopped kale and continue cooking until kale is tender.

Remove the soup from heat, stir in the evaporated milk, and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite Italian bread.

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Split Pea Soup

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Mmm, I love this soup. It’s creamy, and filling, and healthy too! Oh, and it’s kid-approved. Serve it with warm buttered bread for a comforting, cold-weather dinner.

Ingredients
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound dried split peas
1 pound ham bone, 1 cup chopped ham, or 6 strips of bacon chopped and cooked
1 bay leaf
1 32oz carton of chicken broth
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, sauté the onions and carrots in oil. Add the split peas, ham bone (or chopped ham or bacon), bay leaf, chicken broth; season with salt and pepper. If needed add additional water or chicken broth to completely cover the peas. Bring to a boil.

Cover, and simmer until there are no whole peas left, about 2 hours. While it is cooking, check to see if the liquid has evaporated. You may need to add more water as the soup continues to cook.

Serve hot with your favorite crusty bread.

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