Chicken Corn Chowder

IMG_7604
This Polar Vortex has me in soup mood. I’m a cold weather kind of girl, but this is just way too cold! Seriously, as I was walking into work this morning, I couldn’t believe how the cold air hurt. I mean, it really stung my face. It’s not a very long walk (like two minutes), from the parking lot to the building where I work, but it honestly felt like I walked a mile. That short walk in the frigid air set the tone for the rest of the day. I was chilled to the bone. All day.

When I got home from work today, I couldn’t have been happier that I had made a huge pot of chicken corn chowder last night. It’s one of Michael’s favorite soups, and when I make it, I have to make it big. He’ll eat it all night, and the next day. The container of leftover soup was the prettiest sight I’d ever seen!

IMG_7589

You know, any kind of soup is comfort food; but when you add cheese to it, and make it thick and creamy; it just adds that highest level of comfort that we all desire. That’s exactly what this soup does, and I can honestly understand why this is one of Mike’s favorites.

Although I don’t make it often, I do love to make this soup, and it is another one out of my “quick and easy” recipes. It’s made from rotisserie chicken from my beloved Wegmans; boxed chicken stock, a quart of half and half, frozen corn, and some fresh vegetables. It takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. An hour and 15 minutes to cook down, and 15 minutes to cut up the vegetables! It’s a no fuss kind of meal, just perfect for this type of weather when all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket to keep warm!

Life is good. Life is “Polar Vortex makes me want to make soup” kind of good… Keep warm and safe!

IMG_7596

Chicken Corn Chowder

This pot of soup would easily feed my family of five when everyone was home, and with leftovers for dinner the next day, and snacks all night for Mike. When I make it in my 8 quart soup pot, it is filled to the brim. In my house, every last drop is eaten over a period of two to three days; but you can easily cut the recipe in half!

IMG_7581

I have to come clean. When I was at Wegmans buying the ingredients, I wanted to find some breadsticks to go with the soup. I saw this really cute bag of crackers on the shelf in the Italian Section. I didn’t have my reading glasses with me, and the bag was printed in Italian. I thought they were crackers. Well, they’re not crackers. They’re cookies. What I thought looked like salt, is actually sugar. I was expecting a kind of pretzel type of flavor, but got kind of like a shortbread flavor, and I must say rather delicious…just not to dunk in the soup! If anything, they looked cute in the photos!  I really need to learn to speak Italian!  Francesca?  A little help here?!

IMG_7597

IMG_7650

The Ingredients:
2 store bought rotisserie chickens, meat removed from bones, and cut into bite size pieces
2 – 32 oz cartons culinary chicken stock
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 quart Half and Half
2 – 16 oz bags frozen corn
1 ½ lb Velveeta processed cheese spread (Hey, I didn’t say this was calorie free!)
1 tsp salt to begin with, and add more after to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
¼ tsp cayenne (or more, depending on your heat preference)

Shredded Cheddar and chopped bacon for garnish (optional)

In a large soup pot, add the chicken, chicken stock, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, salt and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.

Add the Half and Half, corn, cheese spread, white pepper, and cayenne. Cook for ½ hour until thickened.

Serve immediately with shredded cheddar and chopped bacon as a garnish. And breadsticks! Or cute little cookies with roosters on them… whatever tickles your fancy!

IMG_7613

Sausage and Bean Soup

This weekend started out with so many plans.  But…I almost want to call this a failed weekend, because the man who invented weekends really didn’t think it through.    He should have realized that the weekend should begin on Friday, with a few more hours added to both Saturday and Sunday.  Therefore, I did not have enough time to get everything done that I wanted to do.

IMG_7015

I wanted to get through this massive pile of laundry that has been building up for the last couple of months.  I don’t know how it piles up, it just does.  I’ve never been able to keep up with laundry, and I’d have to say it’s my biggest weakness.  I guess I’d rather be cooking, shopping, ANYTHING, rather than doing laundry.  I’m not sorry for this weakness….One thing I know for sure, is that when I’m 95, I’ll be sitting on my front porch sipping a glass of lemonade thinking about how I’m glad that I spent my life doing the things that I love….rather than sitting there thinking how happy I am that I had clean clothes throughout my life!  Sometimes my priorities might seem a little off, but it’s all good.  Right?  But in the end, laundry was my priority for the weekend, and I did manage to get through that pile.

Anyway, getting back to my failed weekend.  I also wanted to start baking Christmas cookies. On Friday night, I pulled all of my cookie recipes out, and put them somewhere.  I say put them somewhere, because I can’t remember where. I’m afraid that they might be in the garbage.  Maybe I absent-mindedly threw them in the garbage while I was cleaning the kitchen.  I was in slight panic mode, but they’re pretty much all of my mom’s recipes, so I left a message for my father to scan them and email them to me.  Mom to the rescue once again…and the recipes are now back in my possession!

I thought I had a ton of eggs in the fridge… Nope.  I had six.  I thought I had anise oil in my spice cabinet, but all I had was ½ teaspoon in the bottle.  The rest of the bottles are cinnamon oil.   I swear I bought a brand new bag of sugar.  I had about 2 cups in my container.  I should have read the signs that it just wasn’t the weekend to make cookies…but of course…I didn’t.

Instead, I had a little under what I needed of anise oil to make my first batch of biscotti, and I figured I would at least get them made.  ….And…..I burned them.  You know why?  Because I was downstairs throwing clothes into the washer and dryer; and folding dried clothes.  See what I mean? Laundry is the root of all evil.  I swear to you, it truly is.   As I’m sitting here typing this, I’m looking at a trash bin with burned biscotti.

I was totally unprepared for cookie baking… as a haphazard baker always is!

So, as I stood in my kitchen folding towels, I couldn’t help but feel a little cranky.  That’s when I decided to stop and regroup. But how?  Well, that’s an easy answer! Make myself a pot of Sausage and Bean soup….and…. as my friend Jamison told me…Relax.

The soup was just what the doctor ordered. Just chopping the vegetables, frying the sausage..and then the soup simmering on the stove, along with the gooey bits of cheese with every bite, was the perfect antidote that this girl needed to make everything all right with the world again.

It’s so rich and flavorful, a rustically delicious soup for a cold, and unprepared day. Honestly, if you were serving this soup to your guests, they would never believe that this soup takes only an hour and a half or so from start to finish.  It’s just that good.

I’ll start my cookies tomorrow night…in the meantime, let’s start a petition about those weekend hours…

IMG_7021

Sausage and Bean Soup

½ pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 – 15.5 oz can Cannellini beans, drained
1 large potato, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 – 32 oz container chicken stock
½ cup grated romano cheese
4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 – 6 oz bag fresh baby spinach
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Romano cheese for garnish
Crushed red pepper for garnish

IMG_7006

IMG_7008

IMG_7011

In a soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.  Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it apart into bite size pieces as it cooks. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the chicken stock, cannellini beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about one hour. Add the romano and pepper jack cheeses, and stir until melted into the soup.  So the baby spinach doesn’t get all wilted and discolored, it will be the very last ingredient added to the soup.  Once you add it to the pot, it only takes a couple of minutes for the spinach to cook down.

Serve immediately, with romano cheese and crushed red pepper for garnish.

Enjoy!

IMG_7024