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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rustic Mexican Chicken Soup

Sunday was wedding dress shopping day with my cousin Sarah and I woke up sick!  Fever, cough, the whole 9 yards!  I was so bummed!  All day I kept wanting something really hot and spicy to take care of my sinuses.  I couldn't get off the couch and I couldn't believe it!  I mean, how many more times will I be asked to help shop for a wedding dress??? 

Well, now that I'm recovered, I still want something hot and spicy and Rick Bayless was going to provide his Rustic Ranch Style Soup.  Ok, he wasn't really stopping by to cook for me, but his recipe was the impetus for my version of this hot and spicy mexican chicken soup.  It's pretty close to the original.  I love to serve this in glass bowls because it's so pretty!

This is a great dish for Cinco De Mayo coming fast on May 5th! I've always wanted to serve this with hot and spicy fresh homemade corn fritters!  Hmmm...I think that may have to be my Cinco De Mayo menu, along with the obligatory margarita's!

One tip, when I seed jalepeno's, I use a small melon-ball tool..scoops those seeds right out.

Rustic Mexican Chicken Soup
4 quarts chicken broth (homemade is best!)
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 large head of garlic, unpeeled

3 fresh jalapeƱo chiles, stemmed, julienned into thin sticks
1 medium white onion, diced
4 large ripe tomatoes, diced or canned diced in a pinch
Salt to taste
1.5 cup rough chopped cilantro
About 1 cup coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I don't always include this...but it's delicious)

1 lime, cut into wedges
2 c. frozen corn, defrosted
1/4 c. milk

1. Measure the broth into a large (6-quart) pot and add the chicken bouillon. Slice the unpeeled head of garlic in half width-wise and add both halves to the broth (yes, the papery skin on the garlic goes in). Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour.  Remove the garlic and discard.

2. While the broth is simmering, cut the chiles in half lengthwise, and cut out the seed pod. Slice into very thin lengthwise strips, and set aside with the diced onion and tomatoes.
Season the broth with salt, then add the chiles and onion, partially cover and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, corn and optional chicken and simmer another 3 minutes, then ladle into warm bowls. Pass the lime separately for each to squeeze in to their liking.  I also like to add a splash of milk, just to make the dish opaque.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

Today we woke up sleepy to a dreary rainy and quite chilly morning.  Over coffee I decided that tonight we would have soup for dinner.  We are a soup family, and nothing is as much a comfort food as soup on a cold rainy day.
My freezer pantry is dwindling and my usual staples, stew beef and a whole chicken were not to be found.  I found some ground venison and ground pork, so it was going to be Italian Wedding Soup today.  I even managed to have the itsy bitsy round pasta.  At some point I purchased acini di pepe pasta with wedding soup in mind.  I've used plain old elbow macaroni in a pinch.
Jack helped me with the tiny meatballs, that, of course, grew larger the longer he helped.  He really hates getting his hands messy, so this was a good therapy for him. 

I just tasted the soup for seasoning and now I'm regretting not having the forethought to make my friend Cindy's French Bread!  Each time I make her bread, my dinner guests think  it is store bought.  That's how well it turns out.  Next time, I'll think ahead.

Italian Wedding Soup


  • 1 small onion,chopped very fine or grated
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves (or dry if you don't have fresh)
  • 1 large egg or 2 medium eggs, mixed
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs, freshly ground in the food processor
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
  • 8 ounces ground venison
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 12 cups chicken broth or equivalent bouillon cubes and water.
  • 1 pack frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the meatballs: Stir the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Make the meatballs small and roughly the same size. Save them on a baking sheet.
To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pasta.  When the pasta is about half way done, add the spinach and bring to a boil again.  Add  meatballs  and simmer until the meatballs are cooked. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, the goal here is to form thin stands of egg.  Serve soup with parmesan cheese and warm bread or rolls.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Family Friday Feast - Thai Asparagus-Shrimp

Tonight, we were hanging together as a family all prepared to watch the much Jack-anticipated episode of Ghost Hunters Alcatraz in preparation for our trip to San Francisco in May.  Jack is a new-comer to Ghost Hunters and I imagine this will scare the pants off him...but, he is going to be 12 in 2 short months, so I'm allowing this.  We wrestled with what to have for dinner...chinese take-out, pizza...nada, we're tired of our limited options.  I suggested that Joe have some Father/Son time with Jack on the Wii and I'd whip something up for dinner.

The result was a spicy-hot, nutty shrimp, asparagus Thai inspired dish.  My friend Laura brought a wonderful Thai Aparagus salad to our Easter celebration and this creation was completely inspired by her dish!

I had asparagus on hand and always have a bag of frozen shrimp and I knew I had cellophane noodles that Joe purchased at an Asian grocery longer ago than I'm willing to admit.  I thought if I could recreate something similar to the salad Laura brought to Easter and served it over cellophane noodles, it just might be a new favorite!  Armed with my new, lovely, heart shaped measuring spoons that Christy sent to me, I was ready to cook!

Thai Asparagus-Shrimp over Cellophane Noodles

1 bag frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined
2 bundles fresh aparagus
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t powdered ginger
1/2 t sesame oil
1 T Thai fish sauce
3-4 T peanut butter
handful of basil, chopped for garnish
1 bag cellophane noodles

1.  Chop asparagus into bite size pieces and steam for 4 minutes or so, then throw it into a colander.

2.  Place cellophane noodles into boiling water for 5 minutes or until translucent, then put them in a colander and rinse with cold water.

3.  In a wok or a skillet, heat 2T oil along with the sesame oil.  Once it is very hot, add the garlic, ginger, and the fish sauce.  Sautee for a minute or so.

4.  Add the shrimp to the wok or skillet along with many tablespoons of the chili garlic sauce.  Saute until the shrimp are pink.

5.  Add 3 T of peanut butter to the sauteed shrimp mixture and stir it in well.

6.  Add asparagus to the shrimp and mix well.

7.  Place the cellophane noodles on a plate, top with the shrimp-asparagus mixture and garnish with chopped basil.

This dish was sooooo delicious!  My family enjoyed the spicyness and this was seriously HOT. The last minute addition of the peanut butter was P-perfect, the cellophane noodles that had been hanging around in my kitchen pantry were also a perfect complement to the fabulous spicy hot, sweat inducing shrimp and asparagus.  Truly a Thai inspired dinner!

I'm looking forward to our trip to San Francisco...chinatown is calling me to purchase a great wok while I'm visiting!