Chicken Marsala Soup

Mushrooms. Morel, oyster, shiitake, maitake, enoki, chanterelle…no matter the type of mushroom, I love them. Well, I expect I would. There are actually over 14,000 species of mushrooms, only about half of which are okay to eat. Earthy, hearty, even meaty…they are the steak of the vegetable world. I had a large container of my favorite workhorse mushroom, creminis, in the fridge and was in the mood for some soup. Creminis are actually immature Portobello mushrooms, and often found as Baby Bellas. I browsed the web for some mushroom soup ideas and found a few chicken and mushroom recipes that looked good. One called for dry sherry, and that’s when it hit me: Chicken Marsala Soup!

This recipe has all things Chicken Marsala in a hearty, comforting soup; chicken, marsala, mushrooms, garlic, butter, pasta, and spinach for some color! I use organic chicken bone broth here, but you can substitute chicken broth or stock. I prefer bone broth for soups for the simple reason that it has more flavor, as it simmers for a very long time. As a bonus, it has more gut-healing gelatin and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Additional note about mushrooms. They have a high water content, and when you cook them, they will release juices. They are also porous, so I recommend not washing mushrooms. If they have dirt on them, take a damp cloth and wipe them off.

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4 Tbsp Kerrygold butter, divided
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Wondra flour
2/3 cup Marsala wine, divided
6 cups organic bone broth
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken is great)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 ounces uncooked dry pasta, your choice of shape (I used egg noodles in this version)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Couple of shakes of Maggi Seasoning Sauce (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste

Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges.
Serve with fresh, crusty Italian bread.

Melt half of the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened and browned. Transfer mushrooms to a separate bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the stockpot along with the diced onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring until fragrant. Sprinkle the Wondra flour on the onion and garlic mixture and stir until completely combined.

Grab the good stuff – the Marsala – and add 1/3 cup to the stockpot. Deglaze the stockpot, using a wooden spoon to free any of those delicious brown bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of Marsala wine, chicken bone broth, shredded chicken, fresh or dried thyme, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Do not let it boil or it will burn off all the Marsala.

Reduce heat to medium and add the dry pasta. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring periodically, until the pasta is al dente. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the stockpot, along with the heavy cream and baby spinach. Stir until they are completely combined, and the spinach begins to wilt. Taste the soup and season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Give the Maggi Seasoning Sauce a couple of shakes into the pot and remove the thyme sprigs if using fresh thyme. Bring back to just a simmer; do not boil. Move the stockpot off the heat.

Note: If at some point, you brought the soup to a boil for a few minutes you can bring back that true Marsala taste at the end by adding a splash with your seasonings.

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Ladle into bowls, and hit each bowl with a squeeze of lemon. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges; crusty, Italian bread on the side.

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Enjoy!! 🙂

 

 

 

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

With the cold weather we’re having, I thought that soup would be a great idea for the weekend, with leftovers for the week. Poked around on the web and found a couple of recipes for stuffed cabbage soup. I had pretty much everything already in the house, so this one was fairly easy to whip up.

Since it’s a Sunday, I decided to spend some time cooking instead of throwing everything in the Instant Pot. I’m also on a sugar detox, so adapted this recipe from The Recipe Critic to be a bit healthier and detox friendly.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Let’s talk ingredients! As I move to a more whole food, healthier lifestyle, I learn more everyday about the quality of food in our markets and what to avoid. Believe me, there is A LOT that should be avoided. Here are my tips:

  • Use organic, grass-fed ground beef from a trusted local source. I’m not going to get into a discussion on factory farming. 😊
  • All salt is not the same. Typical table salt is highly processed and ends up being around 99% sodium chloride, which makes it very easy to exceed a recommended daily intake. My standard choice now is Himalayan Pink Salt (HPS). HPS contains about 85% sodium chloride, and the remainder contains over 80 minerals have many health benefits. Organics has a great article describing the differences.
  • San Marzano tomatoes – I LOVE them. You may have wondered how a small town near Naples, Italy, produces enough of these wonderful gems to supply supermarkets year-round. It doesn’t. In fact, only about 5% of the San Marzano tomato products are authentic (ref. Food & Wine article). Read the label before spending your money. Here are the things to look for to make sure you’re getting the real deal:
    • San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, either whole or in fillets. Tomatoes that are jarred or those that are labeled ‘puree,’ ‘chopped,’ ‘diced,’ ‘sauce,’ or ‘organic’ are not San Marzanos.
    • Look for the words ‘Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.’ on the can; and the symbols of the Consorzio and the D.O.P., the latter of which identifies European regional food products protected by law. The Consorzio assigns a number to each can, labeled as ‘N° XXXXXXX.’ If you do not see these things, don’t pay the premium price.
  • White rice, bad – highly processed and stripped of nutrients. In this recipe, I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend, which turned out to be an excellent, hearty addition.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Kerrygold butter, divided
1 medium head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges and sliced thickly
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes, not drained
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (or 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes)
3 cups Swanson organic beef stock
3 cups cooked Lundberg Wild Blend rice

INSTRUCTIONS

If you’re using a rice cooker, start your rice now. Mine took about 50 minutes to cook. Follow directions on your rice to prepare 3 cups of cooked rice.

Heat a dutch oven over high heat and add the ground beef; season well with the Himalayan pink salt and coarse black pepper. Crumble the ground beef into large crumbles, and make sure to get a good brown on it. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-high, and add half of the butter to the pan followed by the chopped onions. Saute the onions for 4-5 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until it becomes fragrant. Do not brown the garlic. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pan and set aside.

Keep the pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and cabbage. Cook until cabbage is wilted and browned.

Pulse the can of San Marzanos in a blender until like crushed tomatoes. Do not process until pureed. Of course, skip this step if you’re using crushed tomatoes.

Add the beef and onion/garlic mixture into the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beef stock. Let simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

If you are cooking rice on the stove or in an Instant Pot, start it now. Follow the directions on the rice to make 3 cups of cooked rice.

After 30 minutes of simmering (and when the rice is done) add the rice just before serving, and stir gently. Enjoy! 😊

Tomato and Bread Soup – Pappa al Pomodoro

Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite professional chefs, specializing in Italian and Italian-American cuisine; I’ve used a number of her recipes for inspiration. She’s the author of eight cookbooks, five of which are accompanied by a national series on Public Television. Her style of cooking is fresh, authentic Italian; based heavily on family traditions. In an interview, Lidia expressed her opinion on food and family:

‘Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.’

The lovely dish I made today, Tomato and Bread Soup, is a bright summer meal; the tomatoes and basil bursting with flavor, and the bread adding a hearty texture. I made this with canned San Marzano tomatoes, but I will definitely try it later in the summer when tomatoes are at peak season. I also left the crusts on the Italian bread, as I like some of the bread to stay in small chunks. If you’d prefer the bread to completely disintegrate, remove the crusts before adding to the soup.

Tomato and Bread Soup

I adapted this recipe from ‘Lidia’s Favorite Recipes’. This is a great cookbook to start with if you don’t have one of her cookbooks and want to try some wonderful Italian dishes.

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
Three 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
Five 1/2 inch thick slices of stale Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 fresh basil leaves, washed
Freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy pot. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to wilt, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a large bowl, or with a food mill. If you’re crushing with your hands, be careful – some of them burst with juice when crushed.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add the vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add the bread and basil leaves to the pot and bring it back to a boil. Drop the heat so the soup is still simmering, low to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread. The soup will be silky and dense after about 40 minutes.

Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve in warm bowls, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Provide grated parmigiana-reggiano on the side. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 quarts; serves 8.