Soup weather
by Deirdre Long
Nov 27, 2012 | 2207 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pretzel Cheddar Soup. Photo: Associated Press
Pretzel Cheddar Soup. Photo: Associated Press
It’s official. Autumn is here. Leaves are falling, Thanksgiving is over and — at some point — the weather here in Alabama will stay cold. When that day comes, these recipes will fill you up and ward off the chill.

Pretzel Cheddar Soup

Prep time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

4 ounces bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium leek, white part only, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
12-ounce bottle ale
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 pound very sharp cheddar, grated
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup broken pretzels

In a large deep pot, such as a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy and browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel, leaving the drippings in the pot.

Add the onion, leek, carrots and celery to the pot. Increase heat to medium-high and saute the vegetables until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, ale and cayenne. Stir continuously while returning to a simmer.

Add the chicken broth and milk and mix well. Return to a simmer, then cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot over low heat, then stir in the cheese, a little at a time. Do not allow the soup to boil. Season with salt and black pepper. Ladle into crocks or bowls and serve topped with broken pretzels.

Speedy Beef and Butternut Stew

Prep time: 45 minutes
(15 minutes active)
Servings: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the beef, in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides but still rare at the center, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a plate.

Return the saucepan to the heat and add the squash and carrots. If the pan is too dry to easily saute the vegetables, you can add a splash of olive oil.

Saute until the squash begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, then continue to cook until the onion is tender, about another 6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, broth, paprika, thyme and mustard powder. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots and squash are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Return the beef to the pot, as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate.

Simmer for 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

Fire-Roasted Tomato and Veggie Chili

Prep time: 1 1/2 hours
(30 minutes active)
Servings: 6

1 large head garlic
Olive oil
1 pound sliced button mushrooms
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and chopped
Kosher salt
1 pint grape tomatoes
Two 10-ounce cans Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with mild roasted green chilies)
14 1/2-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked black beluga lentils (or one 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed)
15-ounce can chili beans
12-ounce bottle beer
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 to 3 teaspoons ancho chili powder
5 to 10 shakes hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
Ground black pepper
Chopped scallions, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers, to serve

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Remove the outer layer of papery skin from garlic.

Slice off the top 1/2-inch from pointy top of the head. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil, then roast for 40 minutes, or until the cloves are golden-brown and soft. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high, heat a healthy splash of olive oil.

Add the mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Set aside until the garlic has cooled.

Return the pot to medium heat. Add the roasted garlic by squeezing each clove out of its papery skin.

Add all three tomato varieties (grape, Rotel and fire-roasted), lentils, chili beans, beer and tomato paste. Mix well, then bring to a gentle boil. Stir in both chili powders.

Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until thickened and the tomatoes are cooked down. You may need to mash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Serve with scallions, cheddar cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers for topping.

— Recipes from the Associated Press
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