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Soup fest

By Angie Sutton


October is soup season and what a better way to celebrate the changing of the leaves and crisp air than with a warm bowl of comforting stew or soup. Stop over at the Apron Strings website for a quick and easy focaccia bread recipe that will sop up just about any broth with a tasty finish.

What I love most about soup is the comforting aspect. Okay, so I also like that it’s easy to prepare and essentially creates very few dishes to wash. Soup has a tendency to slow the pace around a busy household if even for just 15 or 20 minutes. The smell has them asking when dinner will be ready, and the anticipation of when that delicious smelling meal will be on the table swells when the serving bowls appear on the counter. We eagerly file through the line and make our way to the table. The silence of the first few minutes when we are sitting and tasting our hot meal brings a tentative calm.

These brothy creations combine a protein, vegetable and an opportunity to experiment with herbs and spices. Garnishes are nice when you have a few extra moments, unless it is cheese and that is mandatory at Sutton Central. Soup is the perfect leftover meal by itself or paired with a sandwich or salad on day two. Most soups freeze well in individual servings for up to 30 days, but those with noodles may be lesser quality upon thawing.

Stop by next week as we celebrate Crocktoberfest with more delicious and hearty soup and stew recipes.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Stew

The chunky cut vegetables in this stew make it a hearty and filling meal. The Italian inspiration lends itself well to substitutions based on what your family likes. If your cabinet is lacking fennel seeds and rosemary leaves, fill in with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or Herbes De Provence. Serve with focaccia bread sturdy enough for dunking!

6 to 8 boneless chicken thighs, fat removed and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 small-medium onion, diced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
12 baby potatoes, left whole or cut in half
1 (32-oz.) contained chicken stock
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed with side of knife
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Just before serving:

1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp salt

Toss chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste and fennel seeds into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Just before serving, combine the corn starch with the water and mix until no lumps remain. Add the water/cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and salt.

Adapted from sweetpeasandsaffron.com.

Apron Strings Note: Easily substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes and add a 15-oz can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed).

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup

This was a winner at Sutton Central and passed the 8-year-old’s picky palate, minus the green pepper pieces. The fresh herbs make this recipe pop, but you can easily add 1/2 tablespoon dried basil leaves and 1 tsp. oregano as a substitute. Served with garlic breadsticks, this recipe is a keeper.

1 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. chopped white onion
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c. penne pasta, uncooked

In a slow cooker, stir together garlic, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, chicken, broth, onion, 1/2 cup cheese, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook on low 7 hours. Transfer chicken breasts to cutting board and coarsely shred; return to slow cooker. Stir in pasta. Cook on high 30 minutes longer or until pasta is cooked al dente. Top individual servings with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from foxeslovelemons.com.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Most of us have our favorite chicken noodle soup comfort recipe that’s a standard in our recipe box. A fellow blogger at cookingclassy.com shared her favorite combination of herbs and how she finishes her soup with a splash of fresh lemon juice. The flavor is a bit different than our standard chicken soup recipe at Sutton Central, but this one had the 8-year-old asking for seconds. This soup lends itself well to wide egg noodles or kluski noodles.

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 1/4-inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped 1/4-inch thick
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. tap water
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp. celery seed, finely crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 c. uncooked wide egg noodles
3 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a slow cooker, add whole chicken breasts, diced carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Drizzle olive oil over top then add in chicken broth, water, thyme, rosemary, celery seed, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Remove cooked chicken and allow to rest 10 minutes, then dice into bite size pieces. Meanwhile, add egg noodles and parsley to slow cooker. Increase temperature to high, cover and cook 10 minutes longer (or until noodles are tender). Stir in lemon juice and toss in cooked, diced chicken.

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