Tuscan Lentil Soup

There is something very comforting about soup; it seems to nourish your soul as it feeds your body. You’ve never heard of a book series called, “Chicken Casserole for the Soul.” Don’t get me wrong, I love casseroles, but there’s just something about soup. Tuscan Lentil Soup.

Most soups fall into one of two categories: the kind that takes all day to cook (usually in the crock pot), and the kind that you can whip up in short order but still tastes delicious. I had picked up a bag of lentils while shopping because they’re high in protein, high in fiber, have vitamins and mineral, and are low in calories – perfect for our healthy diet. I’ve used them in salads before (Salad Swag: 3 Cures for the Common Salad) but we were looking for something warm and hearty for supper.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup

When searching for lentil soup recipes, I found this Pin by Natalie of Life Made Simple. Our family is trying to stick to a Mediterranian diet because it’s very healthy and still tasty, so this recipe really stood out. One look at the picture and my HH gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. It helped that we also had most of the ingredients on hand, so a quick trip to the store was all that was needed to start dinner.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include lots of veggies and aromatics, lentils, and Italian sausage. We had mild sausage, so I used that instead. I had some Progresso Tuscany chicken broth on hand and thought this would be the perfect use for it. (Take a look at those cute tomatoes that came from our garden!)

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Ingredients

Brown the sausage and onion.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage

Add the garlic and seasonings.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage & Seasonings

Stir in the broth, lentils, and potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini; simmer for 15 more minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Broth & Veggies

Wilt in the spinach for a couple of minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Spinach

Remove the bay leaf and the soup is done.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Done

Natalie recommends serving with parmesan shavings, so I grated some onto the soup.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Served

I served this with a hot-from-the-oven, crusty baguette. My HH loved the flavors and went back for seconds. This will be a regular in this family. And now for the Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.7 Pins

5 Pins Overall - MED.

Accuracy: The soup turned out exactly like the recipe, including the estimated prep and cook times. It was hearty and had a lot of flavor for less than an hour of cook time. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty:  There is a fair amount of prep work in cutting up the vegetables. Natalie uses a mandoline for her zucchini, but I’ve nearly lost fingertips using mine, and since I already had my French Chef knife out for the other ingredients I just used my trusty tool of choice. Once the prep work was done, this recipe was very simple to make. There wasn’t any pre-soaking of the lentils (I’m not sure why I thought there would be) or other extra steps. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Time:  From start to finish this took less than an hour. The prep work took about 10 minutes and the cook time was just under 40 minutes (of which roughly half an hour was for simmering). 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are common to my kitchen and this makes a BIG pot of soup. I had already bought the lentils and just needed to pick the tomatoes from our garden and buy a couple of ingredients – and the bread to go with it. When I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, the lentils soaked up so much of the chicken broth that I had to add another 3 or 4 cups to make it into soup again. We had supper and two lunches from this pot before we froze the rest so it wouldn’t go to waste. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This recipe is definitely going to be a regular for us. It is delicious, makes a lot, is low cost, and is healthy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

I’m a Daddy’s Girl. Always have been, always will be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom very dearly, and as I get older, I see the best parts of her in me. I know I’m blessed beyond words to have the parents that I do. But daddy was the first man in my life, and he set a very high bar as a standard for what to look for in a man. Even though it’s been more than 10 years since he’s walked this earth, I still get excited on his birthday. The quirky little memorable things are what I love to celebrate. He loved God, his family, Tab (does anyone remember that diet cola before there was Diet Coke or Pepsi?), butter pecan ice cream, Fritos & bean dip, mom’s chili when it was so spicy that the steam would peel paint, and he always seemed happy.

His favorite canned soup was Bean & Bacon. I’m pretty sure that Campbell’s has changed the recipe over the years, because it just doesn’t taste the same, nor does it have the same texture. Our family has been avoiding canned soups since they’re usually high in sodium and other “stuff” that we don’t want as a part of our diet. So when I saw this pin for Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup by Deborah of Taste and Tell, I looked up and smiled into the heavens and told dad that I was going to make this for him.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

You know how they say that girls usually marry a man like their dad? Yes! My HH is like my dad in so many ways – including a love of butter pecan ice cream, Fritos & bean dip, HE makes the chili, and he used to drink Tab. And guess what his favorite canned soup is. Go on – guess… Yup! So with my HH cheering me on, and daddy watching from above, let’s get on with this Pin Test!

There aren’t a lot of ingredients, which means that the flavors come from simple ingredients and should shine through (I hope).

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

 

Start with the bacon, cooking it until it’s rendered a good amount of fat and is nice and crispy.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Remove the bacon and most of the drippings, leaving a couple of tablespoons of the rendered fat to give flavor and to cook the mirepoix. (That’s equal parts of onions, carrots, and celery.) I seasoned with salt and pepper at this stage rather than waiting until the end. Once the aromatics are softened, add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Add the beans and broth and let it cook for an hour. The recipe says to remove half of the soup and blend in a blender or food processor, but that makes a lot of extra dishes and (in my world) potentially puts me in harms way. Instead, I used my immersion blender to pulse it enough times that it looks like it was about half blended and half whole beans and veggies.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Add the tomato sauce and 3/4 of the bacon, and let it heat through for another 5 minutes or so.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Serve and garnish with the reserved bacon.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

You can’t really see the beans in the bowl because they sink to the bottom and are covered by the broth, but they’re there. (Did you catch that beautifully correct grammar?) I have to say that daddy would have loved this soup – probably a lot more than the canned variety. I know the HH and I did. It was hearty, flavorful, and filling without being heavy. I liked that I could control the sodium levels (and add more bacon garnish, if I want to). So now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This soup brought back the memory of how the canned name-sake in my past used to taste. It was like a time machine in a bowl. The flavors were spot on, and the texture was creamy and rich. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The steps weren’t hard, but it’s not something for kids in the kitchen. Cooking bacon can cause grease burns from the popping and splattering if you have the heat too high. Also, the extra step of blending half of the soup, while necessary, comes with it’s risks. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep work only took about 20 minutes, but then add an hour of simmering time after that, plus one more time of heating it through and you’re looking at 1 1/2 hours to make from start to finish. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: This is a great soup if you’re on a budget The most expensive ingredient was the bacon, which I got on sale for less than $5, and I had leftover bacon for BLTs. The cans of beans were about $1 each, and I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. We can estimate them at $5 for everything. The recipe says 4 servings, but the HH and I got 6 good-sized servings out of the pot of soup. That’s less than $2 per serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

Practicality: If you like bacon, or have fond memories of bean and bacon soup, or if you like soup, this is a must-try recipe. My HH and I love this recipe, now one of our favorites, and I’ve made it twice now. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

Some of the best things in life can come from the most random and unexpected places. For example, a couple of weeks ago some colleagues and I were talking about Pinterest while sitting around the lunch table. I had mentioned the Olive Garden Copycat Minestrone Soup recipe that you make in a crock pot. Two of them piped up and mentioned the Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup – how it was the best thing EVER. Did I like it?

*Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.*

How had I missed this? I’ve eaten at the Olive Garden more times than I can count, but can’t remember seeing this on the menu, much less having had this soup. “Well, can’t you find a recipe on Pinterest?” And of course I did in about 2 seconds. This Pin by Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice came to the top of the search list.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Original Pin

Fast forward to Mother’s Day. My girls are on the other side of the country and the handsome hubby had to work. This year I was on my own, so I did what I wanted to do without any guilt. I thought about this soup and decided that it’s what I wanted for my Mother’s Day supper (along with a pitcher of Sunset Sangria – post to follow).

Wait, did someone ask, “what’s gnocchi”??? Gnocchi is this wonderful pasta made from potatoes that cooks into fluffy light clouds of pillowy pasta perfection. I went shopping and found this gnocchi at my Super Target. It was in the pasta aisle along with the rest of the Archer Farms brand pastas. I was lucky enough to hit the jackpot of savings that day; it was on sale, there was a Cartwheel discount, and I used my Red card. I love getting a good deal!

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Gnocchi

Here are the rest of the ingredients. Reeni suggested using a rotisserie chicken, so that’s what I did. I used the breast meat for the soup, and the rest went to other uses.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Ingredients

 

I regret to say that I made the soup and forgot to take the pictures. The good news is that it was such a basic soup recipe that I know you can do this. Heat the butter and olive oil, saute and season the aromatics, make a roux, add liquids and chicken, then the cooked gnocchi and spinach.

This is what it looked like in the pot when I remembered to grab a picture.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Soup

This is what it looked like in the bowl topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Done

And THIS is what it looked like with the garlic bread, salad, and Sangria. Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Supper Served

The taste was AMAZING! I completely agree with my work friends. The soup was creamy and rich, but not heavy. The gnocchi was light and almost creamy. It was so good that the handsome hubby had two and a half bowls.

So now for the Pintesting Results…

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

5 Pins Overall

 

Accuracy: Having never had the original soup, I’m basing this solely on Reenie’s recipe and her blog description. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve eaten this soup before or not. You’re bound to like it. It’s the kind of soup that hugs you from the inside out and the outside in.” The soup was restaurant quality, flavorful, and surprisingly easy to make. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty: This is a simple soup recipe, as stated above. The “worst” part, if you can call it that, was cooking the gnocchi in a separate pot. Many soup recipes have you to cook the pasta/noodles/rice/etc. in the soup. I have a feeling that due to the cream, it would have made the gnocchi heavy instead of fluffy. This would be a good recipe for a culinary novice. 4 PinsRated 4 Pins

Time: Reeni gave a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of 45 minutes. My prep time was about 10 minutes, perhaps because I cooked the gnocchi while the rest was cooking, and I used a rotisserie chicken? Start to finish I made the soup in about 30-35 minutes. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: The most expensive ingredient for this recipe was the rotisserie chicken, which I got in the cold deli section, at a cost of less than $6. I only used the breast meat, so figure about half of that. I already mentioned that I hit the savings jackpot on the gnocchi. The recipe made enough soup for supper plus a couple days of lunch leftovers. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality: This is a delicious soup that’s hearty enough to serve for supper with a salad and bread (as I did), but light enough that it can be served as a soup course if you’re entertaining with a multi-course meal. It came together easily and didn’t require any special equipment or cooking skills, and you don’t have to run to the Olive Garden every time you get a craving. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

***Just a note: I received no compensation from the Olive Garden or Target. All opinions are my own.***

 

 

 

Baked Potato Soup – a Fix It and Forget It recipe

This is the second in a series of posts based upon the baked potato. If you haven’t seen it yet, start with this post for Outback Style Baked Potatoes. You’ll need them for the Baked Potato Soup recipe in this post.

Well, baby, it’s still cold outside. In fact it’s even colder than it was when I started this series a couple of days ago. When I woke up this morning, the temperature was -9F with a windchill of -23F (that’s -23C and -31C respectively, for those who speak Celsius). Michigan is having a really cold winter to make up for the last couple of years.

Baked Potato Soup - Weather

This is definitely soup weather, and this recipe is one that my family has enjoyed for many years. It’s from the original Fix It and Forget It cookbook. In a way, today’s post is a little bit of a cheat for me. Instead of selecting a new recipe from Pinterest, I went online and searched until I found someone who had used the exact recipe.

Baked Potato Soup - Cook book - Pintesting

I was so thankful to see this post on the blog Three Picky Kids, and pinned it right away. Don’t judge me too harshly for cheating on this recipe. Once you try it, you’ll be very glad that I went through the extra effort to share it with you.

Baked Potato Soup - ORIGINAL PIN

Now you’re going to need baked potatoes to make baked potato soup. You can use the recipe from the Outback Style Baked Potatoes post or your favorite baked potato recipe, or microwave bake the potatoes (which is what I used to do).  Each way will give you properly cooked potatoes to use for the recipe, but having compared the taste of the oven baked vs. microwaved potatoes, I’d like to point out a couple of differences. The oven baked potatoes have a nicer flavor and texture, and you can use the potato skins for an appetizer or snack. The microwaved potatoes seem to release out of their skins a little easier. You can toss the skins in the garbage or compost bin.

Here are the baked potatoes. The recipe calls for 4 baked potatoes, but since mine were on the smaller side I used six. (Ignore the two on the top of the baking sheet for now. They’re for the third post in this series.)

Baked Potato Soup - Potatoes - Pintesting

This is the scooped out potato flesh that I set aside, per recipe instructions.

Baked Potato Soup - Potato Pulp - Pintesting

Next I made a roux of butter and flour, then added 2 of the 6 cups of milk.

Baked Potato Soup - Roux and Milk - Pintesting

Once blended, I added another 2 cups of milk.

Baked Potato Soup - Roux and more Milk - Pintesting

Now, since I’m already cheating on this post, I’m going to go hog wild and really give this a stretch. Instead of adding 2 more cups of milk, I’m going to add a secret ingredient.

Baked Potato Soup - The secret ingredient - Pintesting

Lots of potato soup recipes use chicken broth rather than milk. Since I was almost out of milk, I substituted 2 cups of chicken broth for the last 2 cups of milk. This is what it looked like.

Baked Potato Soup - Chicken Broth - Pintesting

Once this cooked until thickened and bubbly, I added the potato pulp,

Baked Potato Soup - Roux Milk Potatoes - Pintesting

salt and pepper,

Baked Potato Soup - S+P - Pintesting

the cheese,

Baked Potato Soup - Add Cheese - Pintesting

(stirring well with each addition to combine thoroughly)

Baked Potato Soup - Blend Cheese - Pintesting

the onions and bacon,

Baked Potato Soup - Add Bacon - Pintesting

and finally the sour cream. I turned off the heat at this point so the dairy wouldn’t scorch.

Baked Potato Soup - Add Sour Cream - Pintesting

The end result is a rich, thick, creamy, comforting soup that has all the goodness of a loaded baked potato.

Baked Potato Soup - Yum - Pintesting

It’s January, and many people have begun their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. If that’s you and you’re looking for a weight loss recipe, then this might not be the best recipe choice to try. Potatoes, cheese, bacon, and sour cream are not normally considered diet friendly foods. (You can cut back on any of the above, but it loses the loaded-baked-potato-ness if you do.) However, if you’re looking for something that’s going to warm you up and be fantastically delicious, then this is the recipe for you. Serve this with some fresh baked bread and I guarantee you’ll be the most popular person of the year (so far).

And now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  This creamy, hearty soup has been a family favorite for many years. The taste really captures a baked potato loaded with lots of my favorite toppings. The recipe posted on the Three Picky Kids blog was true to the Fix-It and Forget-It recipe with easy to follow directions. Substituting the 2 cups of chicken broth for 2 cups of milk did not take anything away from this recipe. It was just as flavorful, creamy, and hearty as it’s always been. 5-Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The first time that I made this recipe was the first time that I had made a roux. I felt like I had taken a huge step toward becoming a real cook. It’s a wonderful recipe for a beginner cook, but I would recommend getting all of your ingredients prepped and on hand before you start; potatoes baked and cooled, bacon cooked and crumbled*, cheese shredded, green onions chopped*, etc. Although the recipe is not complicated, because of the extra step for baking the potatoes I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Time:  The prep time for the recipe is roughly 45 minutes if you bake the potatoes in the oven, and roughly 20 minutes if you microwave them. The cook time is an additional 20-30 minutes. That adds up to about an hour, give or take. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

 

Cost:  While none of the ingredients are expensive, this recipe requires quite a few. The total comes to between $15-$20. You’ll have leftover ingredients to use if you want to make the potato skins, or anything else. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality:  This is practically one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever tasted. It makes enough to feed a family of four with leftovers for lunch – maybe. If you do have leftovers, the soup will thicken a lot in the refrigerator, so you’ll need to add more milk or broth to loosen it to the desired soup consistency. I did use the extra ingredients to make the next two posts for breakfast and appetizer. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

 

*Final Note* I don’t sell Pampered Chef products, but I do have quite a lot of them. When my Best friend became a Pampered Chef Consultant, I had to show my support. There was one product that really made the prep work go quickly in this recipe and I wanted to share it with you. The Salad Chopper was great for cutting up the green onions and bacon in no time flat. My hands didn’t get all greasy from crumbling the bacon, and everything was evenly cut to the same size – nice for presentation. It’s like two scissors connected with a scoop to catch everything, or to scoop salad ingredients for easy chopping in the salad bowl. I like that it’s dishwasher safe, and has a safety lock for protection for children and graceful people like me. Those blades are very sharp, which makes chopping up a salad very quick work.

Pampered Chef Salad Chopper

* Final Final Note*  I didn’t receive any compensation for this mini endorsement other than a “thank you” from my friend. This opinion is my own and not supported or paid for by Pampered Chef or any other company.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Today is National Tortellini Day, hooray! I love a day to celebrate pasta, and such a versatile one at that. Since I didn’t find out about this until I was at work for a couple of hours, I was thankful for the pinner who said of today’s recipe “apparently the best soup in the WORLD!” Challenge accepted. Let’s get cooking.

This was the original pin on my board. It originated from Krysten’s blog, Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen.

http://pinterest.com/pin/207869339022855635/

http://pinterest.com/pin/207869339022855635/

I did have to stop at the store after work to pick up a few ingredients, but nothing was out of the ordinary.

Tomato Tortellini Soup Ingredients

I sauteed the minced garlic in olive oil until it was sweating and just starting to brown,

Saute garlic in EVOO

then I added the rest of the ingredients except the tortellini and Parmesan cheese.

Combine everything except the cheese and tortellini

Let it come to a simmer then add the tortellini.

Stir and bring to a simmer

WARNING: your house is going to start smelling really amazing right about now. Do not give in to the urge to dive face first into the soup.

Add the tortelliniCook for 8 minutes until the pasta is done, but not mushy. Stir frequently so the tortellini will cook evenly.

Cook 8 minutesGarnish with Parmesan and serve to your hungry hubby or whoever you would like to feed. They will say “thank you”.

Serve with shredded Parmesan

 

The Tomato Tortellini Soup rated as follows:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe had a rich flavor reminiscent of something you would find in a nice Italian restaurant. My husband commented that the chopped sun-dried tomatoes gave an almost meaty texture, adding flavor but not acidity. Note: The recipe mentioned pepper, but none was listed in the ingredients, thus the 4 pins.

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: The hardest part of the recipe was chopping the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Messy, but easy.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: This is a good weeknight recipe. If you have everything on hand, you can have this on the table in 30 minutes or so. This includes the mincing, chopping and grating.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but the grocery had everything needed (and much was on sale!). The most expensive ingredients were the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes ($4) and the tortellini ($3.50).

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: While we didn’t think it was “the best soup in the WORLD”, we did like it very much. It is good comfort food on a cold rainy day.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL