Turtle Soup

“I gotta little Cajun in my soul.”

At least for me, Turtle Soup is the benchmark for Cajun cuisine. My first introduction was at Ernest’s in Shreveport when I was a teenager. Over these past many years I’ve sampled Turtle Soup whenever I can find it on a menu … I even enjoyed “Mock Turtle Soup” at the original Ralph & Kacoo’s … undoubtedly the best though, was at Commander’s Palace in NOLA.

The posting of this recipe marks the first of what will be several resulting in my attending several cooking classes at a NOLA culinary school in March, 2017 … an account of that experience can be read in a story appearing on this website under Rambling, Rants, & Misc. Stuff.

This recipe comes from Crescent City Cooks of NOLA. This is not a simple recipe; it is not a quick-to-prepare recipe … however, the result is well worth the effort and the time spent!

Ingredients:

1 pound turtle meat (may substitute veal or lean sirloin)
1-2 quarts water/seafood stock
½ cup high-heat cooking oil
½ cup flour
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 Tbsps tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
4 stalks green onion, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste (low sodium preferred)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp allspice
½ cup dry sherry
4 boiled eggs, chopped

Directions:

1. Put the turtle meat in a pot with water slightly covering the meat. Simmer until done, approximately 30 minutes. Remove the meat and rough chop it and then finely shred it in a food processor.

I forgot the warm, crusty french bread!


2. Finely dice or pulse the onion, bell pepper and celery in a food processor. Finely dice or pulse the tomatoes in a food processor. Hold separately. Mince the garlic.
3. Make the roux: heat oil on medium high heat to just below smoke point; add flour. Stir constantly, adjusting the heat down to medium when roux begins to smoke. Cook to a rich chocolate color.
4. To the roux, add prepared onion, bell pepper and celery. Add 3 pinches of salt and 1 Tbsp of Cajun/Creole seasoning. Sauté on medium for about 10 minutes until the mixture is glossy.
5. To the roux, add tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook down the tomatoes for another 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for two minutes and add the prepared turtle meat. Add bay leaf and allspice.
6. Simmer on low, covered for about 45 minutes. Add the parsley and green onion tops, and adjust seasoning if desired.
7. Serve with dry sherry, if desired, and/or chopped, hard-boiled egg.
Serves 8 to 12

Beef & Mushroom Stew

“Nourish the body, feed the soul.”

This will likely be my last post for 2016 but the timing is perfect. Much of the country has been hit by a cold front so what better time to prepare a hot, rich beef stew. I first saw this recipe several places on the Internet and I believe I’ve tracked it’s origin to Campbells.com and this was my inspiration. Of course, I made a few small changes on my recipe!

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef bottom round (rump) roast or chuck pot roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (or substitute Kosher salt)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed French Onion Soup

Beef & Mushroom Stew


1 cup Burgundy or other dry red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
10 ounces mushrooms, cut in half or sliced (about 3 cups)
6 ounces baby carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup water, divided

Directions:
1. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag add the pepper and Adobo to 1/4 cup of flour. Place the beef in the bag and shake it to coat with the flour. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned, stirring often.
2. Stir the beef, soup, wine, garlic, Italian seasoning, mushrooms, carrots, shallot and potatoes with 1/4 cup of water in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or until the beef is fork-tender.
4. Stir the remaining flour and water in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Stir the flour mixture in the cooker. Increase the heat to HIGH. Cover and cook for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens.

TexMex Chicken-Tortilla Soup

“Happiness is hot soup on a cold day.”

This recipe originally appeared in a 1997 issue of Cooking Light magazine and, in addition to being delicious it is indeed light in calories, fat, and sodium. Because I can’t resist modifying original recipes, I’m afraid you’ll find this one a bit different from the 1997 version.

Still cooking in the pot and only 10 minutes away from being ready!

Still cooking in the pot and only 10 minutes away from being ready!


INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped or minced shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 10 ounces)
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (optional for more spicy heat)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
15 oz. of canned diced peeled tomatoes (Mexican style such as Mild Ro-Tel), undrained
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat reduced-sodium tomato soup (such as Campbell’s Healthy Request), undiluted
1 1/4 cups crushed unsalted baked tortilla chips (about 16)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the next 10 ingredients (chicken through tomato soup); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Ladle soup into bowls; top with tortilla chips and sour cream. Garnish with fresh Cilantro.

Taco Soup

“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course.” Virginia Woolf

Our family friend, Sandra Herring, gave us this recipe after serving it at one of my wife’s girls’ getaways at the lake house. I hope Sandra won’t mind too much that I have altered it just a bit because that’s something I do with almost all recipes … mostly to drive Karen crazy!

In the pot, ready to serve

In the pot, ready to serve


Ingredients:

1 lb Ground Meat, turkey, beef or chicken (I prefer lean turkey)
1 med Shallot, minced
1 can (11oz) White Shoepeg Corn, drained
1 can Black Beans, drained & washed
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained & washed
1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth, low sodium
1 can Tomatoes, Mexican-style
1 can Rotel Tomatoes, mild (or hot depending on your tastes)
1 pkg Ranch Dressing dry mix
1 pkg Taco mix, low sodium
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Odobo Mexican seasoning
1 T Cilantro, freeze-dried & chopped (this ingredient is Optional)
Too good to be true!

Too good to be true!


Instructions:
1. Cook/brown the ground meat with the shallot and drain
2. Unless you prefer large chunky diced tomatoes, I suggest you slightly chop up the tomatoes in a blender (just a spin or two)
3. Mix all the ingredients in a soup pot
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
5. Serve in soup bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream & sprinkled with grated cheese … tortilla chips on the side. Optional toppings include fresh chopped Cilantro and/or Tabasco sauce to the individual’s tastes.

Ranch White Chicken Chili (CrockPot)

“Warm thoughts. Soup puts the heart at ease…” A. Escoffier

In Texas, and for that matter most of the U.S., we’ve been experiencing a really miserable cold spell so I’ve been trying to eat as many “keep you warm” dishes that I can find and this is one of them. Although recipes similar to this one are available on dozens of websites, I chose as my inspiration Stacey Little’s recipe on his site named Southern Bite and I was so pleased with it that I changed very few of his original ingredients. Stacey has hundreds of unbelievable recipes (including a great cookbook offer) on his site and I strongly encourage you to give him a look-see.

Prep Time: 30 min – Cooking time: 5-7 hours
Serves 6

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds chicken breasts or tenders, boneless, skinless
• 2 – 15 oz. cans white Great Northern beans, drained
• 1 – 11 oz. can of white shoepeg corn, drained (or 1 ½ cups of frozen white corn)
• 1 medium shallot, minced (orig. recipe called for onion)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 package ranch dressing mix
• 1 – 4 oz. canned chopped mild green chiles
• 3 – cups of chicken broth
• 2 – tsps cumin
• 2 – tsps oregano
• 2 – chicken bullion cubes
• 1/4 – tsp smoked salt
• 1/4 – tsp white pepper

Toppings:
• Tabasco, optional topping
• sour cream, optional topping
• chopped fresh cilantro
• shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or cheddar
• tortilla chips

White Chicken Chili (made in a crockpot)

White Chicken Chili (made in a crockpot)


Directions:

1. In the crock of a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine the broth, shallot, garlic, cumin, oregano, bullion cubes, salt & pepper and ranch dressing powder. Add the chicken breasts to the broth, cover, and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and add the drained beans, chilies, and corn. Add additional (but carefully) salt and pepper to taste. Return the lid to the slow cooker and cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken, beans, and corn are heated through. Serve with a dollop of fresh sour cream, grated cheese and fresh cilantro.

Tortilla Soup (In a CrockPot)

“Soup is the song of the hearth … and the home.” L.P. De Gouy

Thanks to my wife’s suggestions, I am finally beginning to use Pinterest and already I’m convinced that it is an ideal way to discover new and exciting recipes. I am trying to eat a little healthier while remaining true to my Texas heritage and this recipe meets both goals. Although I’ve altered it a bit, the recipe remains pretty close to how Jennifer Miller originally posted it on her Miller Musings website. I encourage you to visit her site, she has some really great recipes … unfortunately, as of March 2015, I can longer find a link to the site.

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 10oz can of Ro-Tel (I like the Mild)
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes (I prefer Hunt’s Fire Roasted)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 med. Shallot, finely chopped or minced
2 14.5oz cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 pkg of Taco seasoning (I prefer Old El Paso, low sodium)
½ T dried cilantro

Toppings

tortilla chips (packaged in strips)
sour cream
shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
fresh cilantro
avocado pieces (optional)

Instructions

Cooking in the crockpot

Cooking in the crockpot


Put everything but the chicken and the toppings into the crockpot and stir to mix. Put chicken tenders on top of mixture and make sure they’re covered by the liquid. Cook on high 6 hours or low 8-9 hours. Before serving remove the chicken from the soup using tongs or a slotted spoon and shred if they haven’t already fallen apart. Return chicken to the crockpot, stir to combine.
Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup


To serve put a few tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, ladle soup over the tortilla chips, top with shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. I like to add small pieces of fresh, ripe avocado as they really add to the flavor of the soup.

Makes 6 Servings

Northern Italian Bean Soup

“No matter where I serve my guests…. they seem to like my kitchen the best…”

Many years ago I got hooked on Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli soup … I just couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to cook it at home so I tried dozens of recipes off the Internet and finally came up with an acceptable one. Then, shortly after we married, one cold evening my wife and I decided we wanted a nice hot Italian soup … I wanted to use my Pasta e Fagioli recipe and she wanted to use a recipe she had enjoyed at a Marshall Symphony League function for Northern Italian Bean Soup … well, you know who won and I’m certainly glad she did because this is absolutely the best darn bean (fagioli) soup I have ever had! This soup is the main reason that I enjoy cold weather. I don’t know why, but it is even better warmed over as a leftover than it was the first time around. Although it has never lasted long enough in our home to test this theory, this soup should freeze well for later use.

Ingredients:
1 medium shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
3 cans beef broth, low sodium
2 cans Italian tomatoes, diced, low sodium
3 cans great northern beans, undrained
1 dozen fresh spinach leaves, or more if needed
1 each zucchini, julianned

Directions:
Brown and drain the ground beef. In a large pot, mince and saute the shallot with the minced or crushed garlic and then add the crumbled browned meat. Add the beef broth, the diced Italian tomatoes and the beans. Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. Wash the spinach and trim the stems. Julianne cut the zucchini into 2 to 3 inch pieces like skinny french fries. Add the spinach and zucchini to the pot. When the spinach wilts, the soup is ready. Sprinkle with parmesan or Romano cheese when serving.

(NOTE- Photos will be posted asap.)

Peanut Bisque

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.” L.P. De Gouy

Undoubtedly, my favorite culinary memory of the 1980’s was Bob Daniel’s Peanut Bisque at the famous Durham House in Waxahachie, Texas.  The restaurant was located in an old Victorian house near the downtown area and I remember having to make reservations over a month in advance for each visit, and even then having to park a block away because limousines from Dallas lined both sides of the street.  Other than creamy tomato when I was home sick, I never cared much for soup … however, since peanut butter has always been a mainstay, it was easy to fall in love with Peanut Bisque.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups celery, minced or liquefied
1/2 cup white onion, minced or liquefied
3 Tablespoons flour
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I prefer Peter Pan or Bama)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
3 drops Tabasco hot pepper sauce250-peanutB01

INSTRUCTIONS:
Melt butter.  Add celery and onion and cook until tender.  Put into blender and liquify.  Return to pan and add flour stirring with a wire whisk.  Gradually add chicken broth and cook until thickened and mixture comes to a boil. Stir in peanut butter, salt, pepper, paprika and Tabasco.  Remove from heat and add cream; return to heat and bring to serving temperature but below boiling.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped chives for serving.  Will refrigerate for one week.