Tag Archives: hearty

Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup

7 Sep

Cooler days and school back in session means that the crockpot has returned to it’s semi-permanent position on my kitchen countertop.  Hungry for some flavorful, slow-cooked food and eager to have food ready with little effort, I started searching around for some new recipes to try in the crockpot.  I spotted a Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup on Pinterest that looked mighty tasty, the only problem of course, all that dairy.  Looking through the ingredients, I figured that it wouldn’t be very hard to substitute the dairy for non-dairy counterparts, and while I was at it I decided to reduce the calories from the original version.  With all new recipes, it feels like a real crapshoot whether anyone will eat it, let alone enjoy it.

This recipe?  Jackpot.  Jackpot in the Crockpot.

Creamy and slightly cheesy, the base of this soup tastes a tiny bit like the sauce in Chef Boyardee’s canned pasta, which normally would not make it a ringing endorsement in my book.  HOWEVER, the kids totally loved it.  And the more I had, the more I loved it too.  Slightly rich, hearty, and low in calories, this soup might be one of our new favorite things.

After replacing the dairy ingredients in the original recipe (butter, parmesan, half and half) with non-dairy counter parts (non-dairy butter, Daiya mozzarella, soy cream), I was worried that the resulting soup would not be thick and creamy enough.  To make sure that the soup was not too thin, I added ingredients in two batches, pureeing the first half to create a thicker base.  The resulting flavor and texture was terrific, helped to thicken up the soup, and allowed me to reduce some of the fat and calorie-laden ingredients (this recipe is about 35% lower in calories than the original).  This recipe makes a pretty big batch of soup, which worked out great here because it has been requested for dinner and lunch several times.  I’m not sure if it will freeze well, and this time, I won’t even have the chance to try.

Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup
Serving size: 1 c.
Serves: 11

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, divided
1-1/2 c. carrots, cut into bite-sized bits, divided
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1/4 c. onion, cut into big chunks
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. fresh herbs (mix of basil and oregano)
4 c. chicken broth
2 T. non-dairy margarine
1/4 c. flour
1 c. soy cream
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. Daiya mozzerella
Salt and pepper to taste

Add one can tomatoes, half the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, and chicken broth to a crockpot.  Cook on low for 5 hours.  After 5 hours, use a hand blender to puree the soup until no chunks remain.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add flour and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add cream and stir until the flour mixture breaks up into the liquid and becomes a thick sauce.  Add 1 c. of soup from the crockpot, stirring until well-combined.  Add another cup of soup from the crockpot if any doughy chunks remain.  When everything has been combined and the sauce has thickened, add to the crockpot and stir.  Add remaining tomatoes, carrots, cannellini beans, and mozzerella, then stir to combine.  Cover and cook for an additional hour.

Serve.

 

Estimated calories:  143 cal/serving

Print it: Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup

Notes:
– If you would like to replace my non-dairy replacements with dairy versions, I’d recommend using butter, shredded part-skim mozzerella, and half and half in the same amounts noted here.

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Venison Whiskey Stew

18 Jan

Lately, when it comes to dinner, I have faced two problems:
1. I don’t know what I feel like eating.
2. I’ve had a recent string of failed recipes.  The kind of failures that no one wants to eat, including me.

So yesterday, when it occurred to me that what I could really go for was some hearty stew, I was so happy.  Problem #1 solved.  Once that was behind me, I practically crossed my fingers the whole time I made dinner, hoping that Problem #2 wouldn’t show up along the way.

I am happy to report (super, super happy) that this recipe was delicious.  So good, that I was glad to have it again for lunch.  Looked forward to it, even.

From start to finish, this stew is pretty quick to make.  After some prep work, it comes together quickly and finishes in around 15 minutes.  Whiskey, tomato paste, and beef broth form a flavorful base for this thick, chunky stew.  It is very hearty, but still came in at 200 calories per serving.  For me that means I can add a little crusty bread and some fruit to the meal which makes it much more satisfying without too many calories.  I loved the stew, and will definitely make it again.

Regarding the whiskey:
1. I used 2GINGERS Irish Whiskey.  It was delicious, but you could substitute your favorite whiskey (and I know you have one).
2. If you don’t have any whiskey, you could substitute  bourbon, brandy, red wine, or dark beer.  Each one would add a lot of flavor to this stew.
3. If you would like to make it alcohol-free, it would lose some of the flavor that the whiskey brings, but would still make a mighty tasty stew. If you omit the alcohol altogether, add an extra 1/2 c. of beef broth and an extra tablespoon of tomato paste.

Venison Whiskey Stew
Serving size: 1 c.
Serves: 6

1 T. olive oil
1 lb. venison cutlets, cut into 1” pieces
2 c. carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
2 T. flour
1/2 c. whiskey
3 c. beef broth
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add venison and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove venison and set aside.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes.  Add flour, stir until well combined and cook for about a minute.  Add whiskey and stir to combine, it should start to thicken and bubble.  Add beef broth and tomato paste, stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Stir in fresh parsley and serve.

Estimated calories:  200 cal/serving

Print it: Venison Whiskey Stew

Notes:
– If you don’t have any venison, or don’t care for wild game, sirloin would be a great substitution.  For this recipe, subbing an equal amount of sirloin would add about 70 cal/serving
– Don’t like mushrooms?  You must be my brother Ryan!  Whether you are Ryan or someone else, you can leave out the mushrooms but you may want to add something else in its place like diced potato, sweet potato, or red bell pepper would be my top choices.
– This recipe would be a good contender for the crockpot.  However, to build up the base of the soup, it really needs to start out in the pan.  The last 15-20 minutes of cooking could be replaced with 2-4 hours in the crockpot on low.  The advantage here is that you could start the whole thing out earlier in the day, and serve it up when you are ready.

Italian Meatball Soup

23 Nov

Next week, when you’re so sick of turkey and turkey related goods, this is the meal to make.  It is easy, delicious, and light, all of which will be totally welcome.

Making this soup is super easy and most of the cooking is done in the crock pot.  Dice up a few things, open a can, toss in the rest and let it cook for 6-8 hours if you can wait that long.  It is hard, because this recipe will make your house smell like heaven (if heaven smells like Italy, which some might argue would be just).

Before you get started, there is one thing about this recipe that is very different from those that I usually make.  Most of the time, I am fully in favor of substituting ingredients based on what is on hand.  This recipe is the exception – there is one ingredient that you CANNOT DO WITHOUT.  Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle.

Never heard of it?  Neither had I, until this summer when I was at a Penzey’s store with my cousins Julia and Jenine.  They told me about how much they loved the Sandwich Sprinkle.   “It makes any sandwich awesome,” they said.  “You can put it on anything and the kids will eat it,” they told me.  They are trustworthy gals, so I picked one up.  To be very honest, I expected to like it fine but thought it was unlikely to be THAT remarkable.   And seriously, not only were they right, but I do not think that they did it justice.  I put it on sandwiches, use it to make croutons, mix it with cream cheese for my bagel, add it to soup, you could even SHAKE IT ON YOUR TONGUE AND BE HAPPY.  It is that delicious, and you should order one today.  Get a good-sized one, you won’t be sorry.

Italian Meatball Soup

Serves: 8
Serving size: 1 c.

1 lb. cooked meatballs, halved or quartered
4 c. beef broth
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. carrots, diced
1 c. potato, peeled and cubed
2 T. onion, diced
1 t. Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle
1/2 t. Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset (Italian Herb Blend)

Add all ingredients to a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Estimated Calories:  170 cal/serving

Print it: Italian Meatball Soup

Notes:
– If you’d like, you can add some shredded parmesan to the soup, like I did in the picture.  I thought it was good, but liked it just fine without it so I skipped it every other time I had the soup.  If you add parmesan, 1 T. of shredded parmesan adds 21 cal/serving
– I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset herb blend, but if you don’t have that, you could try another Italian herb blend.  It is pretty good though, so if you’re ordering some Sandwich Sprinkle anyway you might want to give it a try.
– For the meatball recipe, I used a modified version of the kind made at Buca (this recipe, but without the romano cheese and panko instead of the Italian breadcrumbs).  However, you could use any recipe you like, frozen meatballs, seasoned or plain.  Just make sure they are cooked before you throw them into the pot.