Category Archives: soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

You may remember several weeks ago I promised tales of cutting up a whole chicken into parts for a recipe. Well, I did cut up the chicken, and aside from a lot of swearing and my accidentally separating the leg from the thigh and ending up with one piece that looked like a stump, it went pretty well. Unfortunately, I was too covered in chicken juice to take pictures as I went. But after that, I threw the carcass and neck in the freezer, remembering that I always wanted to make my own chicken stock. A couple weeks later I decided to throw them in the slow cooker and see what happened.

I used a whole frozen chicken carcass, 1 onion, quartered (sources advise you to leave the skin on), 2 carrots (quartered), 2 stalks of celery (also quartered, leaves and all), a healthy palmful of mixed italian herbs, and some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If I had a bay leaf, I would have used that. Similarly, if you have fresh herbs instead of the dry stuff I used, that would be excellent.

I threw everything in the slow cooker, added water to cover the bones, and put it on low overnight. In the morning, I had stock, sort of! Strain the stock through a colander to catch the big pieces, and then again through a fine mesh strainer to get the many little bits of junk you don’t want in your soup. Now comes the tricky part. You want to remove the chicken fat from the stock. I have read that the easiest way to do this is to refrigerate the stock until the fat hardens, and you can peel it off the top in a layer. I was antsy to use the stock though, so I attempted to skim it off with a measuring cup. Word to the wise: if at all possible, use the refrigerator method.

And that’s it! Homemade stock for any soup you want!


Mid-Week Quickie: Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

hot soup. cold day. yes.

I only really want soup on two occasions: when it’s cold and miserable outside, and when I’m sick. Both of those things happen to be true today. Yesterday I made a really easy slow cooker split pea soup, and tonight, as I regretted not having any chicken stock left to make the noodle soup my sore throat was begging for, I decided to make stock. Yes, I realize that thought process isn’t exactly normal. But it really took no effort, you’ll see! Anyway, tomorrow I will put up the stock recipe with pictures of how it came out, but for now, I will leave you with instructions for the easiest split pea soup you never realized you could make.

16 oz bag split peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (i didn’t have enough, so i used about 3 cups of chicken stock, 5 cups of water, and 2 chicken bouilion cubes)
1 onion
1 large carrot, peeled
1 large stalk celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

this is the best part – there are almost no instructions. in the morning, mince up the carrot, celery and onion (either by hand or zap them in the food processor), add all the ingredients to the slow cooker with a few turns of the pepper grinder and a pinch of salt (careful – the stock is already salty), and put that cooker on low. go enjoy your day and come back in 8-10 hours. badabing, badaboom, you come home to a steaming pot of soup!

note: traditional split-pea soup is cooked with a hambone for flavor. i don’t eat pork anymore. do as you will.


I saw Giada DeLaurentis make this recipe a couple of years ago and always meant to try it, but never got around to it. It’s for Ribollita, an italian soup that she serves over toasted ciabatta bread. I skipped the bread and made some substantial changes to the ingredients (becuase I was missing about half of them) but it came out better than I could have hoped. You can see the original here.

My Ribollita
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 roma tomatoes, diced (tip: use a serrated knife to dice soft tomatoes without crushing them!)
3 cups chicken broth or stock (I used Imagine brand organic free range chicken broth – it was excellent)
whole package swiss chard (this was about 10 large leaves), rinsed, with the hard center stalk cut out, and torn into big pieces.
salt and pepper
italian herbs – whatever you’ve got. I used “italian herb mix”.
a piece of parmesan rind if you’ve got it
15-oz can of cannellini beans

1. Sautee onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add a few hearty pinches of salt and a bunch of ground black pepper to the onions – eyeball this, but err on the side of caution with the salt – you can always add more later. If the onions start browning quickly, lower the heat.
2. When the onions are translucent and turning golden brown, add the tomato paste and stir to dissolve.
3. Add the tomatoes and a couple tablespoons of chicken broth, and stir. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the chard, stir and cover. Let cook 5 minutes, or until the chard is nicely wilted, stirring halfway through. Yes, it looks like a lot when you put it in, but fear not – the chard will shrink a huge amount as it cooks, and you will get the perfect amount of leafy green goodness in your soup.
5. Add the rest of the broth, the parmesan rind, and the italian seasoning, and the white beans, and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low to simmer.
6. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve topped with grated parmesan.

this is the part where it gets really hard to wait 30 minutes while it simmers

"Maybe next time just follow the recipe" Khao Soi Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

So I recently started subscribing to Food & Wine magazine, and last week read this article that made me really, really want a coconut curry noodle soup. I kept thinking about it, since I (thought) I had all the ingredients I needed, and finally I decided to take a break from homework and create this dish I’d been drooling over. I found a recipe for the dish on Recipezaar and set about making it, only to realize I didn’t have the requisite red curry paste. Hmm, what’s an amateur foodie to do? Naturally, I substituted extra curry powder for the curry paste, in the same quantity called for. As it turned out, this was a huge mistake. The soup was overpoweringly curry-y (yes, I just invented that word.) The delicate coconut, chicken and scallion flavors were completely overwhelmed by the massive shock of curry. So folks, do as I say and not as I do. Follow the recipe. It looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s really quite simple and fast once you gather them all from the depths of your cabinets and refrigerator drawers.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste or panang curry paste
  • 3/4 lb boneless chicken (I used tenders because it’s what I keep in the freezer, but thighs would also be delicious if you prefer dark meat), cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk. I used the Organic Light coconut milk – eliminates the guilt factor of this soup.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric or curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Assorted vegetables as desired. I used some sliced zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper from the freezer, left over from the ratatouille the week before.
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 lb noodles – I used round udon because they sold it at my local store. You could improvise as you’d like.
  • 1/3 c. coarsely chopped shallot – I omitted this, didn’t have any.
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (leave this out if you are like me and loathe cilantro)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions


  1. Put water on to boil for your noodles.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and then add the garlic. Toss well and add the red curry paste, mashing and stirring to soften it in the oil, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then to brown it evenly and mix it with the curry paste.
  3. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, turmeric, soy sauce, sugar, salt and any additional vegetables you desire, and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through. At this point, add the noodles to the boiling water. Make sure you set a timer to drain and rinse the noodles when their time in the bathtub is up.
  4. Stir in lime juice, remove from heat, and stir in noodles.
  5. Sprinkle each serving with shallots, scallions and cilantro if you’re into that sort of thing.
The almost-finished soup, simmering away. Deceptively pretty.

***Update: I re-made the soup using green curry paste instead of red, and the correct amount of curry powder, with tofu instead of chicken. For vegetables, I used sliced baby bella mushrooms and a few handfuls of spinach. It was MUCH improved. Make sure you taste it for seasoning before you serve it – it may need salt.

"So good you’ll forget the leaves don’t change color in Austin" Fall Squash Soup

After a string of cloudy, muggy days, the humidity broke, and a cold front brought rainy, chilly fall weather to Austin. Not that I’m complaining – my East Coast friends and family have been tolerating this weather for a month already. And let’s be honest – I see most things as an opportunity to cook or eat, weather changes included. So I woke up to the gray drizzle this morning, and thought soup was in order. This soup is easy and tastes luxurious, in spite of actually being very healthful. The milk makes it velvety, rich and perfect for a cold afternoon.

Thanks for Rachel for inspiring this recipe. She told me she had made an easy sweet potato-zucchini soup, so I adapted her recipe to the ingredients I had in the refrigerator. Don’t be afraid to get creative with ingredients or garnishes. Rachel added cannellini beans for protein to make a meal out of the soup; I like chopped jack cheese stirred into mine. Salty crumbled bacon would offset the sweetness of the squash nicely, or stir in al dente orzo to add texture and bulk.

-Olive oil for sauteeing
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-Butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cubed
-Any other squash you have lying around -I used a local sunburst squash – peeled, seeded and chopped
-1 orange bell pepper – quartered
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1 cup chicken stock, or vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup
– 2/3 cup milk (I used skim with a splash of half and half – you could go richer or lighter depending on the milk you use, but if you use cream, you must add it after the blending step! It will curdle if you simmer it.)
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pot. Saute onion over medium-low heat until translucent. Try to avoid browning the onion at this point. **Tip: To sweat onions faster, add a sprinkle of salt – the salt draws moisture out of the onion!
2. Add the squash, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic. Sautee on medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
3. At this point, pull out the bell pepper quarters, and peel them. The peel should come away from the flesh easily. Return them to the pot.
3. Add the milk and stock. Stir, reduce heat to very low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if the milk separates a little – when you blend the soup, it will all be integrated.
4. Pour the whole mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender if you have one. Blend until completely pureed.
5. Garnish and serve!