Tag Archives: beans

Beef & Barley (and everything else) Soup

Fritz’s parents arrive today!

His dad has a conference in the city next week, so they both decided to come early for a Father’s Day weekend visit.  Fritz and I are so excited to see them, it’s ridiculous.

I wanted to make a big pot of soup that I could keep in the fridge for those moments when someone is hungry but everyone else isn’t, or for a quick lunch, or those post-plane moments when you need sustenance in five minutes or death by starvation is imminent.

You know those moments.

Since we had a busy day yesterday, I want to reintroduce you to one of my good friends:  the Crock Pot.

Beef and Barley (and everything else) Soup

No ingredient list here, because every time I make this soup, it’s different.  Depends on what I have in the fridge and the cupboards.

Spray the Crock Pot with canola oil to get things going and start off with a meat and those important savory soup ingredients–for this soup, I used an onion and the tops with 1/2 lb of ground beef.  You could use anything–chicken, leftover steak, whatever.

I then added a giant pile of washed and chopped escarole.

Next, toss in the dried ingredients that are so convenient to have in the cupboard for moments like these.  I used 1/2 C barley, 1/2 C black beans, and about 1/4 C of lima beans.  These are very rough estimations.

Top with some salt ‘n’ peppa, a few sprigs of fresh thyme from the herb garden, and of course, a few bay leaves.  I also added two chicken bouillon cubes (that’s equivalent to two cups of broth once I add the water).

Finish off the whole thing with a can of diced tomatoes and several cans of water (I think I used the tomato can five times, which would be 14 ounces x five–a lot.  There’s a lot of dried things in there that will absorb a large quantity of water).

Set the Crock Pot on low for six hours, and go back to your to-do list for the day.  Once everything is accomplished, your soup will be ready to go.

Gorgeous, ain’t it?

I find it quite easy to see the beauty in beef and barley, especially when it involves my mom’s Hadley soup crock.  Love that thing.

The best part about this soup is that it is so versatile.  Last time I made this, I had no escarole, but I used turnips, added lentils, carrots, and garlic, and it came out beautifully.  Use up whatever you have that’s in danger of going to waste, and you are all set.

Have a beautiful day today!

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Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

Wow.  I had the most intense workout ever at the gym today.

I only went twice this week, and not even once the week before (midterms, ya know), so this morning I woke up motivated and ready to get back to my normal routine.  I went to my usual Friday morning total body conditioning class, but our instructer stepped it up fifty notches a notch.  We were lifting weights, doing squats, doing more squats, and workin’ our abs–one set for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat for a second set. On to the next muscle group, and like so for an entire hour.  My heartrate didn’t go down for a second after the first five minutes of class.

And now I feel like a giant bowl of shaky jello legs.

What a relief to come home to a big hearty bowl of soup–hopefully the last of the “winter soups” for the year.

Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

  • 1 lb pork (I used pork chops but I definitely would have used a (cheaper) shoulder or butt roast if I had one around)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 C dried beans, rinsed (I used navy, garbanzo, lima, and black beans)
  • 2 bottles beer–as a non-beer drinker, the type doesn’t matter much to me because it all tastes the same.  Those of you who disagree, use your special microbrews or whatever
  • 4 C beef/chicken/veggie broth
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 t sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

As with all crock pot soups (that’s why I love ’em!) this is quick-‘n’-easy.

Add the pork, onion, tomatoes, and spices into the pot.  Cover with the dried, rinsed beans and mix.

Pour a little beer over the top.

Actually, just pour in a lot.  We’re looking for that beery, cowboy, pork-and-beans on the open range taste here.

Add the broth, give it a good stir, and cover.  Set to cook on low for eight to ten hours.

While your soup is slowly cooking up a storm, check out how adorable Henry is, all snuggled up in his favorite spot on a rainy day:

I’m pretty sure Henry spends at least half of the day on the bed, rotating from the pillow on the left to the pillow on the right to foot of the bed on the left to foot of the bed on the right and so on and so forth.

It’s a good life.

Once the soup is ready (beans tender), remove the pork and pull it apart with forks.  Pork is the perfect meat for slow cooked stews.  Cheap and tough cuts of meat become tender and delicious.  Pigs were born for this.

Is that insenstive?  Sorry.

Open-range rugged rancher pork and beans taste achieved.  Perfection for the last winter soup of the year. 

See you tomorrow for a baking update!

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Meatless Monday: Moroccan Lentil Stew (Crock Pot)

Since I fairly recently made the “Recipes” page of this blog, I had an opportunity to review what we’ve eaten for the last few months.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how many vegetarian dishes I’ve made–looks like my Meatless Mondays paid off!  I believe that we are now officially out of the “forcing myself to do it” and into the “habit/lifestyle” phase.  Even Fritz doesn’t find it unusual to be eating meatless for a few days in a row (minus his lunchtime pastrami sandwiches, of course).  One of my friends posted a “top 30 health foods” list in her blog recently, and I was pleased to see that Fritz and I eat all of them, minus a few–like chard (ew)–on a regular basis.

So one benefit of food blogging–it’s like an intensive, long-term food diary.  Perfect for a little early-March life assessment.

Here’s a recipe for a sassy Moroccan-style vegetarian stew I made in the Crock Pot for tonight.  Set it up before work/school, turn it on low, and come home to a warm bowl of spicy lentils, beans, and vegetables.  Does it get better than that?

(Although I must say that the site I found the recipe inspiration on is written by a woman who apparently ate Crock Pot meals for an entire year.  Um…no.  I like to vary the texture of my meals, thank you very much.  Once a week, tops, is enough for me).

Moroccan Lentil Stew (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 C carrot, diced
  • 1″ piece ginger,peeled and minced (I used a bit more–I love ginger!)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed (or 2/3 C dried beans, which soaked overnight will equal about a 15 oz can)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (2/3 C dried beans, soaked overnight)
  • 1 C dried lentils (I used red lentils)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 C veggie broth, plus an extra 2 C water (more if you used dried beans)
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala (recipe coming soon!)
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Set the stage–plug your Crock Pot in.

Done.

Basically, dump all the ingredients into the pot, turn it on low, and go do what you want for a few hours (7, if you had my schedule). 

The more glamorous version is this: chop the veggies first (onion, carrots, and mince the ginger, too), toss those in.  Add the beans and lentils.  Top with spices.  Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and the broth.  Give it a quick stir.  If you used dried beans that soaked overnight, add a few extra cups of water.  Actually, even if you used regular beans, you might want to add some extra water.  Those lentils will suck it right up–but you can always add more when you get home (I did that, too).

The step you didn’t see?  I actually made the garam masala–I’ll show you how to do that in my next post.  Easy, and it smells so good. 

Like I said, cook on low for 6-8 hours, then serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s the antique version of Moroccan stew.  Here’s the regular:

Doesn’t that look heavenly?  This stew is nice and thick because the lentils break down as they cook and basically puree themselves (thank you lentils!). This stew also has a sweeter and warmer taste than most stews I make–I think that’s due to the generous amount of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I loved it.  Not overpowering, but definitely distinct.

Want to know the secret to all these patterned backgrounds?  I swore to myself that I would never tell, but I’ll betray my own confidence because it’s such and easy and cheap way to have fun food pictures when you don’t feel like making an elaborate set-up.  I just thought you would like to know.

I bought a humongous book of scrapbooking papers from Joann’s Fabrics at 50% off for $9.00.  There are a couple hundred square sheets of fabulous patterns–I just choose one, rip it out, toss on the table for pictures, and then stick it back in the book for another time.  I literally stumbled across the idea while I was looking for fabric to make pillow covers for the couch.

I love those cheap and easy inspirations, don’t you?

What’s one of the ways that you use everyday items for unusual and creative purposes?

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Protein-Packed Italian Soup

Hi everyone!

I’m at my parents’ house, relaxing and enjoying just being at home (while my laundry is washing).  No matter how old you get, it feels so good to be home, doesn’t it?  Plus, the laundry is free here!

Last night my sister Kristen had some friends over to watch Jersey Shore and we made “Snookie Monsters”, which are ice cream sandwiches based on a dessert from the resturaunt Tully’s.  I’ll blog that tomorrow–but be prepared–it is not a healthy recipe.  But they are delicious!

Last week I made Fritz a big pot o’ soup to help fortify him for long hours of studying (he has a test and a quiz today–good luck dental students!).  He said he’s been feeling tired lately, and we decided to take a look at our diet and make sure we are really getting enough veggies and the right kind of proteins.

And this soup was born.

Protein-Packed Italian Soup

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic. finely minced
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 C cooked red kidney beans
  • 1/2 C cooked lima beans
  • 1/2 C spinach (I used frozen leaf spinach)
  • 1/3 C red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T Italian herb mix, or you could use oregano, basil, and parsley if you don’t have a mix sitting around
  • 4 C beef, chicken, or vegetable broth

No picture of the ingredients, but you can use your imagination!  I used dried beans, and soaked and started cooking them before I started the rest of the soup.  They finished with the rest of the soup.

Brown the onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil, then add the ground turkey and cook thoroughly.  Add the rest of the ingredients and combine.  Cover with the broth, adding extra water if necessary to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil. 

Now would also be a good time for your husband and sous chef to wander over and check out whats happenin’.

Reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until beans and quinoa are fully cooked.

Add salt and pepper to taste–and then get ready to feel amazing.  The protein and veggies packed into your bowl is a perfect lunchtime pick-me-up for the next day.

 Plus, you need all the protein you can get when your car looks like this:

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Meatless Monday: 17 Bean Soup

Yeah, I know it’s not Monday, but I got busy studying last night (seriously!), and didn’t have a chance to post this until this morning.  Just pretend it’s not Tuesday for the next few minutes and we’ll be all set.

I thought it might be interesting to look up Meatless Mondays because my dad mentioned to me that it’s related to a lot of, shall we say, enthusiastic anti-meat campaigns.  I am clearly not anti-meat.  In fact, I am very pro-meat.  Too much, really, since I forget about vegetables and that’s largely why I decided to institute Meatless Mondays in the first place.  That and the cute alliteration.

I thought I was so clever thinking up the name, but it turns out that “Meatless Mondays” was coined during WWI (along with “Wheatless Wednesdays”) by the FDA to encourage families to help with the war effort.  It was reinstated in the second world war, and since then has been used by various campaigns for environmental and public health awareness.  I am all for awareness, but I wanted to differentiate between my Meatless Monday (eat more veggies!) and other campaigns (eat less meat!).  Though I won’t enter the issue of animal rights and ethics (since I’d like to let you have your own opinion), from what I’ve read, eating meat (even red meat) isn’t bad for you–unless you aren’t eating in moderation.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Like my dad wisely said,

“We’ve always known it’s most important to eat with moderation, variety, and balance”.

At least I think that’s what he said.  Something like that.

Anyway,

17 Bean Soup

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s dried 17 Bean mix (or whatever beans and grains you like)
  • 1 (large) leek, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 radishes, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 C veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

I saw this and couldn't resist buying--there's no way I'd ever buy 17 bags of dried beans and barley so it was nice to have a mix!

First, soak the beans overnight–cover so there are two inches of water on top of the beans and leave in the fridge.  Next day, rinse the beans with cool water a few times and let them drain.

Peel and dice the veggies, trying to keep them of roughly equal sizes so they cook evenly.  Cook them over medium-high heat in a large pot (that’s a lot of vegetables!) in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are softened and smell good enough to…well, eat.

Put them in the biggest pot you have, because I always make waay too much soup.

Mom bought me this pot last year and it's perfect for moments just like this

This is the fun part.  The reason I love making soup (and I definitely got this from my mom), is that you can add whatever you want and it almost always tastes amazing because soup is really easy to adjust!  I wasn’t going to add tomatoes at first, but when I tasted it I felt that it was lacking something–then I threw in some bay leaves, thyme, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper.  Sorry Fritz!  I love really peppery soups on a cold day.

I thought you might be amused to see the massive amount of leftovers I have.  Luckily Fritz and I bought some screw-top Gladware that we use to bring soup to school for lunch–hot soup really hits the spot at school when you are exhausted and need a pick-me-up.

wow.

I know.  It’s ridiculous.

Before I leave (to go study more…ugh!), I thought I’d give you a quick peak into the real mastermind behind my cookery.  Have you seen Ratatouille?  Henry is very much like the rat and he really knows how to put a meal together.  Here he is consulting the spice chart that Mom gave me (and I grew up using):

"Thyme? Or is this really more of a sage situation?"

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