We’re having a January cold spell, and right now the temperature outside is a whopping 6 degrees. Which means my family wants nothing but soup for dinner. One of our all-time favorites is this winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou. It’s packed with bold flavor and healthy veggies.
This red, green and white soup is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, so sometimes I call it “Christmas minestrone.” We usually don’t have a heavy dinner Christmas Eve, because we’ve already stuffed ourselves at an annual family party during the day. After celebrating with a million and one relatives, we go home, make some minestrone, and play board games until it’s time to hang our stockings.
I’m always looking for recipes that are simple, tasty and healthy, and this 30-Minute Chicken Chili is all of those things. It’s spicy and satisfying, and it cooks up quickly with just a few staple ingredients. My family loves my Smoky Chipotle Turkey Chili recipe, but this chicken chili is lighter and less expensive to make. It’s more of a broth-based soup than a meaty chili.
There’s something so satisfying about a plate of pasta with a hearty, flavorful marinara sauce. It’s a meal that can be put together in a hurry, when you’re low on groceries or have no idea what to make, and it’s inexpensive but still delicious.
When my husband and I were dating, he pretty much lived on pasta. At the time, we were both waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and they gave us a free plate of pasta every shift. I’m pretty sure he would have eaten spaghetti and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. His Italian mama made him spaghetti at home, too, always with her homemade sauce.
Over the years, I’ve developed my own marinara sauce recipe, and I usually make it using the pressure cooker or Crock-Pot. My recipe uses carrots and celery in addition to tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a touch of extra virgin of olive oil. I love having this sauce on hand, to top pasta, grilled chicken or zucchini noodles, or to use as a dip for breadsticks. You can also use it for baked pasta dishes like Allie’s Baked Caprese Tortellini.
Everybody likes a dish they can customize, and that might be one of the reasons Mexican posole is trending in California and other parts of the U.S. Posole is certainly not new, but it seems to be gaining in popularity. Like Vietnamese pho, posole is a flavorful soup that individual diners top with fresh vegetables at the table. There are green chile and red chile versions of posole, usually made with chicken or pork.
This easy green posole recipe is made with fresh chiles and tomatillos, so it’s not as quick as my red posole, which gets its chile flavor from canned enchilada sauce. I still call it easy, though, especially because you can cook it hands-free using an electric pressure cooker or crock-pot. This recipe makes a big batch of soup, so you can freeze some of it in small containers for individual meals, or freeze half to serve for dinner later on a night you don’t have time to cook.
I’ve been using a pressure cooker for years – the old-fashioned kind with a rattly weight that sits on the top and a 1950s-looking pressure gauge. I love it for its ability to make food taste like it’s been cooking for hours, even when it’s only been cooking for 30 minutes or so. This past Christmas, I got a fancy electric pressure cooker, and it’s my favorite new toy. So far, I’ve mostly used the electric pressure cooker to make soup, including this easy red posole.
Posole (or pozole) is a classic Mexican soup or stew of meat, vegetables, chiles and hominy. If you’re not familiar with hominy, it’s big kernels of corn that have the outer husk removed. Hominy doesn’t taste like sweet corn, but more like the maize used to make tortillas or tortilla chips.
There are red versions of posole, usually made with pork, and green versions, usually made with chicken. Diners add fresh toppings – often sliced radishes, cabbage, diced onion, avocado, fresh cilantro or lime wedges – to their bowls of hot soup.
Traditional posole recipes involve soaking dried hominy and dried chiles, and stewing bony cuts of pork. This quick and easy version uses canned hominy and boneless pork loin, and it gets much of its flavor from a can of enchilada sauce. Pressure cooking makes this soup taste like it’s been simmering for hours. If you prefer, you can get the same effect from a slow cooker.
Hummus and I go way back. Back to the early ’90s, in fact. It’s a long story, but my daughter Allison – yes, the same Allison who is my FoodLove blogging partner – could not swallow solid food for the first couple of years of her life. Everything she ate had to be pureed, mashed, or chopped into tiny pieces. I was in graduate school in Chicago at the time, and Allison had a nanny – a lovely, tall, rail-thin young woman from Israel named Iris. Iris was sympathetic about Allie’s eating problems, and one day she told me, “I’m going to teach you how to make the most wonderful food, that my mom makes at home in Israel.” That’s when I learned how to make hummus.
Iris didn’t seem too impressed by my hummus-making efforts, and I’m sure my early attempts at hummus didn’t compare with her mother’s. But I thought it was a miracle. Here was a food that was nutritious, easy to make, inexpensive and delicious, that my daughter could eat. Bonus – my husband and I loved it, too! So I like to brag that I knew hummus before hummus was cool – in the United States, at least. Now you can buy hummus at every grocery store or 7-11, or by the half gallon at Costco, but it’s a lot cheaper to make it for yourself. I like to try different varieties of hummus, but my favorite is the traditional Middle Eastern style, flavored with lemon, garlic, cumin, parsley and olive oil.