Butternut Squash & Cider Soup

Butternut squash soup seems like a fall a no-brainer. I wanted apple in there and was going to grate some into it, but then I couldn’t bear to undo how silky smooth it was. Then I went to apple cider. It was like pouring liquid gold in there! So good! This is vegetarian, almost dairy-free, and an easy one to prep and freeze, or to have the ingredients
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Cider Soup

Butternut Squash & Apple Cider Soup

Ingredients: (for ~3 servings)

1 squash (~3 cups of chopped squash)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup broth
3/4 cup apple cider
salt, pepper, and Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

Cook the butternut squash. (I pressured cooked mine according to the appliance’s instructions- I pealed it, scooped out the seeds, and chopped a bit.)
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Cider Soup
Cook until totally cooked through. (I cooked it in the pressure cooker with a little water for 4 minutes.)
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Cider Soup
In a large pot, cook the butter until it browns – just after it foams, watch it brown and then quickly remove the whole pot from the heat so it doesn’t burn. Quickly add in the squash, then the stock, and cook for about 10 minutes over low heat.
Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Cider Soup
Add in the cider and cook for another 10 minutes.
Enjoy with a sprinkle of parmesan and some cracked black pepper and salt as desired.

I loved this! The brown butter and the apple cider make it so special. I had 2 meal-portions and another smaller portion I froze for another time. My butternut squash was pretty petite- moreso than a usual one.

The pressure cooker made this so fast and easy. It pulverized it, which was perfect for this case but not what I’d always want. My teething-1-year old might say something different though!
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Cider Soup

Greek Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

One little box of orzo pasta seems to have about 10 lives. Soup felt like a good idea to make in advance and to pack for lunch. This one was ohh-so-amazing despite seeming ordinary so I might need to whip it up again. At first I thought about a small batch but then I added in the remainder of my box of orzo and kept adding broth to keep it soupy. I absolutely loved the lemon and found it really comforting.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Orzo Chicken Soup

Greek Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

Ingredients: (for ~5 servings)

~1 1/2 cups roasted chicken (~1/3 of a roasted chicken)
4 cups water (to make chicken broth from the roasted chicken bones, or 4 cups broth)
1/2 onion
2 large carrots, chopped (or 2 cups baby carrots)
1 lemon
1 cup orzo
2 tablespoons (~8 sprigs) of fresh oregano

Directions:

Remove the roasted chicken from the bone and reserve 1/3 of the chicken for this soup. (I froze the rest & used some in enchiladas and some became chicken salad.)
Place the chicken bones, chicken skin, the carrot ends, onion peal, and oregano sprigs into a large pot with 4-5 cups of water. Heat to medium high heat and cook for 15 minutes.
While making the broth (homemade broth is really good and so worth it), in a heavy pot saute the onion in olive oil for 10 minutes over medium heat, then add the carrots when the onion is getting clear.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Orzo Chicken Soup
Strain the bones and veggie remains and put the chicken broth into the pot with the onions and carrots.
Add in the chicken and juice from the lemon and cook for about 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Orzo Chicken Soup
Pour the orzo into the pot and cover the pot to cook for 10 minutes.
Add in the oregano, stir well, and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Orzo Chicken Soup

The lemon makessss this soup. It is so flavorful from the lemon and the oregano to instantly transport you to the Mediterranean. I made mine super thick so I added water just before heating come lunchtime at work. Baby carrots are a little bit funny but they’re so perfectly all the same size!

It feels very Barefoot-Contessa to say “if you don’t make your own, pre-made broth is OK too”. This is just an easy time to use a roasted chicken and make some broth with the bones, carrot tops, onion peal, and oregano sprigs. I froze some and it tasted great but some of the orzo broke down a bit in the freezing/defrosting/warming and stirring. I can deal with that though.

Kale Pesto Soup with White Beans & Sausage

I made a big batch of kale pesto awhile ago and froze a few servings. I was thinking about uses for this flavor-packed sauce other than on pasta. I added some to soup in place of the traditional chopped kale in soup with white bean and sausage. This soup is comforting, super flavorful, and such a balanced meal.

The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto
This was ideal for a lunch on a cool day and then I packed the other servings up to bring for lunch at work. This whole packing-lunch thing is tricky as I was out of the habit when I got lunch at work. Soups have been good for lunch variety and I love that it doesn’t have to be made in a mass quantity.

The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto Soup

Kale Pesto Soup with White Beans & Sausage (for ~4 servings)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup kale pesto
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 small potatoes
2 cups fresh spinach
1 can white beans
1-2 links chicken sausage

Directions:

Heat broth in a large pot over low heat.
Cook the potato. Chop the sausage and the spinach. Rinse the beans.
Add everything to the broth and cook for 30 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto Soup
Serve & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto Soup
This had such amazing flavor from the pesto. I used spinach as the greens in there for more mild flavor and texture but any other would work well too. I only had 1 sausage link so I upped the beans and potato.

I have a cocktail-mocktail coming up next. Stay tuned!

Sweet & Smokey Chili

Tis the season for all the cold-weather food. I wanted to re-do chili with a sweeter approach using some maple and sweet potato. Seriously, your next batch of chili neeeeds sweet potato. Even spicy chili benefits from a touch of sweetness and variety from the beans.

The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
I topped it with shredded cheddar and corn chips. It was great, and ensures plenty of leftovers! I prepped and cooked it a bit one night, then cooked again when serving it. The little one was into it! He loves beans but isn’t always loving foods all cooked together. Anything served with chips is a win with him!

Ingredients: (for ~6 servings)

1 lbs ground chicken/pork/turkey (I used ground pork this time)
1 large onion, diced
1, 28 oz can ground tomato
1, 4 oz can green chilis
1, 15.5 oz can kidney beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1, 15.5 oz can black beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tbs cumin powder
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs salt
1 cup water
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Brown the ground meat then drain off the grease in a large pot.
In the same pan, saute the onion until caramelized and golden brown.
Then return the meat into the pot over medium-low heat, and add in the ground tomatoes, beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, pepper, salt, water, and liquid smoke.
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
Stir well.
Cook the sweet potato, then chop and add into the chili.
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
Simmer over low for 30-60 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes, then refrigerated, and cooked again when serving it.)
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
I loved the flavors without the heat. The sweet potato makes it filling, chunky, and flavorful. It freezes well too!

Creamless Tomato Soup

I’m back! I was just too crazy to blog during my busiest time at work. I’m proud to say it was a success and now I’m super ready to embrace the season! I made this Creamless Tomato Soup as a super quick lunch that I thought was especially nice after a filling holiday weekend. There isn’t any cream or bread to thicken this soup and the white beans add that element with the bonus of some protein. Now you just need a grilled cheese!

The Three Bite Rule - Creamless Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1, 28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup red wine, optional

Directions:

Saute the garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy pot, over low heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste, kitchen ready tomatoes, white beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Creamless Tomato Soup
Blend either with an immersion blender, or carefully labeled into a blender or food processor.
Return to the pot and add in the oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
(Optional: add in some veggie stock or water if too thick.)
Serve and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Creamless Tomato Soup
I think the herbs make this soup.

Lasagna Soup

I was feelin’ lasagna but wanted to speed it up and not have to bake it forever. This soup was quick and hit all the flavors I wanted! I went a tiny bit heavy handed with the red wine, so I cooked it down a bit to mellow that out. The dollop of ricotta allowed me to gently swirl it around to melt with the meaty bites and the wavy noodles.

The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:

2 Italian Sausage links
4 lasagna noodles
28oz can Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes
1 tbs garlic, minced
3 tbs cup red wine
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbs ricotta cheese

Directions:

In a large skillet, remove the casing and cook the sausage over medium heat. Break up the pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook just until cooked through.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add in the lasagna noodles.
Drain the sausage and add it to a heavy pot with the canned tomatoes, garlic, wine, and Italian seasoning over medium heat.
When the pasta is al dente, drain and cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/2 inch pieces (think spoon size).
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Soup
Stir well and reduce heat. Taste and add salt as needed and Parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Soup
Serve with a dollop of ricotta. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Soup
This is totally the speedy way to have the taste of lasagna without all the steps. I made this just before vacation so I also appreciated not having a lot of leftovers, or filling up the freezer. I have a serious love affair with ricotta so this was right up my ally. I would also try it in individual ramekins with ricotta at the bottom and mozzarella on the top. How fun would those be?!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

I don’t make soup often enough and this was one I made in stages. It was really good practice to cook in shifts of however long the little one was napping. I baked the chicken when I had the oven on for dinner one night and I made the rice the next morning when I had a few minutes. This soup was so easy and one I’ll definitely make again.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4 servings)

4 chicken thighs
wild rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
5 carrots (approx. 2 cups)
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1% milk)
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Bake chicken until cooked through. (I used a few boneless, skinless thighs and a few drumsticks and then made some broth from the drumstick bones). Cut the chicken into spoon-sized chunks. Prepare rice according to the package directions. (I used Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice Mix which definitely added to the soup flavor).
In a large pot, add the chicken, rice, and broth over low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Cut up the carrots into coins (steam/boil/cook first if eating the soup upon completion, or let raw carrot pieces cook in the soup if you’ll let it simmer longer).
Add the carrots, thyme, & water to the pot.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Cook for 20 minutes then add the milk/cream. (Cook longer if the carrots are raw).
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. I didn’t add any salt because the rice mix had a flavor packet that seemed like plenty.

I loved this. I went heavy on the carrots but you could add celery, onions, or whatever veggies you have. The thyme is what makes me think warm, comfort food like stuffing or pot pie.

Add more water when warming any leftovers.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

HAAAPPY New Year! New Year’s Eve isn’t really my thing. I loooved an annual party Mr. J and I could walk to back in our city days, but other festivities never interested me. The holiday seemed like amateur hour where people who don’t normally go out feel like they have to go somewhere. The bars were always overstuffed and there was so much pressure for it to be a perfect night at a bar with a crazy cover charge. I used to make bank babysitting…$100 for a few hours circa 2002. I wonder what the going rate is now?!

I figured soup was appropriate for New Year’s Day for something easy, comforting, and pretty healthy while you hang around, make resolutions, or nurse a hangover.

The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

1-28 oz can of Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes (or chopped San Marzano tomatoes)
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup red wine
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
Salt & Pepper
12 oz frozen cheese tortellini
splash of cream or dollop of cream cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large heavy pot, heat tomatoes over medium low heat.
Add in broth and garlic.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Add in basil, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Next add in the wine and tortellini. Then cover and cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Reduce heat to low for another 5 minutes of cook-time.
Then add a splash of cream or 1 tsp creamed cheese, if desired. Add more broth or water to thin the soup, if desired.
Enjoy!
(if prepping ahead of time, don’t put the tortellini in too early or they’ll be mush when you go to eat it)

I like this one for the simplicity. It is so easy and is almost like a very saucy pasta dish. Maybe that’s why I like it. It has such pure tomato and basil flavors with tender tortellini bites. I add the tiniest bit of cream to cut the acidity a bit, but not enough to make it a creamy soup.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
So, any New Year’s Resolutions out there? I feel like folks love to jump on crazy healthy post-holiday diet/exercise plans. I don’t know that those really stick, but I love Cooking Light’s 12 Healthy Habits. There’s a different one each month and they’re a bit more do-able, like: eat more fruits/veggies; ease up on the salt; get moving; etc. Plus you get a new one each month so there’s no falling off the bandwagon.

I’ve thought of a few goals for 2015: 
year of the: _earring?__  (still TBD, here are some past “year of the ___” & some ideas I’m still tossing around)
make more salad dressings
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take
recreate restaurant menu items
be more adventurous with my reading selections
use the crockpot more
#seafoodsunday once a month

Here were my goals for 2014: 
year of: having more fresh flowers
send more mail
make Pinterest pins a reality
cook with yeast
try a spin class
make more cocktails

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

I was thinking about what convenience items are worth the spurge. I especially was thinking about it while trying to get the knife through some butternut squashes. Those suckers are definitely tough to cut so it can be your call if you want to save some dollars and halve the squash yourself, orrrr if you want to pay to get it all skinned and chopped. I cut through them but didn’t peal before roasting. It was super easy to scoop it out once they were cooked.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4-6 servings)

2 small butternut squash
2 large apples, pealed & chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
3 tbs half and half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Cut the squash in half and roast for 45-60 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
In a large pot, heat to medium high heat and add in the apples and onion with butter. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the apples are soft. The butter will get all bubbly and brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Scoop out the squash seeds and spoon the squash pulp into the pot with the apples and onion.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Add in the stock and cook for 5 minutes or so.
Transfer into a blender or blend with an immersion blender then return to the pot.
Season with salt and pepper. Add more stock if it is too thick for your liking.
Add in the cream and stir well.

I loved this. It was so good with a touch of sweetness from the apple and I toasted some sourdough for dunking. I froze the rest and will be so glad to pull it out of the freezer some day when I’m not into making dinner. I know, the apples just keep appearing…that’ll be over soon.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Bailee oversaw the whole operation. She likes to know what is happening in the kitchen if there’s food around and she wanted to say hi.
IMG_4592

Potato Soup with Loaded Potato Toppings

New England is in that in-between winter and spring time so I have (at least) one more truly wintery meals…don’t hold me to it. The warm days remind me that spring is coming and the cold days give one last chance to wear a favorite sweater one more time, or to make one more hearty meal. I wanted to do a potato soup and figured I’d mix it up with the “loaded” potato ingredients being toppings. This soup relies on some pureed potato to thicken it. I also thought some sweet potato in there would be fun.

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced fine
4 potatoes, pealed and cooked
1 sweet potato, pealed and cooked
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup half & half or cream
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
4 slices of bacon
2 green onions
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Boil or bake the potatoes until cooked through.
In a heavy pot or dutch oven, cook the onions for about 5 minutes in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent and soft.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Add the chicken/veggie stock. Be sure so scrape the bottom to mix throughly.
Add in the cream and wine, reducing the heat to medium low.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, chop them into bite-sized chunks. Add half the potato & half the sweet potato into the pot.
Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp in a flat pan. Add a teaspoon of the bacon drippings into the soup pot, discarding the rest.
Chop the green onions and grate the cheddar.
Carefully ladle most of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Or, use an immersion blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Return to the pot, adding the rest of the potatoes & sweet potatoes.
Add in garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add more broth if it is too thick.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Top with shredded cheddar, green onions, and bacon!
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings

This was really good. Toppings make everything more exciting to have the cheese, bacon, and onions for toppings instead of cooked within the soup. I didn’t blend it all the way but I loved it thickened with the potato, rather than a ton more cream, butter, or anything else. By blending it then adding in more chunks on purpose, you get the best of both worlds!

I don’t make soup all the time but this seemed so appropriate on a Sunday night with a pretzel roll to dunk.