Non-tweaked Recipes: Soups

Continuing my series on non-tweaked recipes I often make, I thought I’d do soups and chili for the winter weather.

Brrr…(Hey, you Northerners just hush)

Later this week North Texas is finally getting some cold weather. Starting Thursday we’re getting lows in the 20s and a few days in the teens. I for one, welcome our Cold-Miser Overlord. One, we’ve had really mild winters the past few years (barely below freezing) and mosquitos are horrible during the summer. So I welcome the freezing temperatures in hopes of killing these f’kers.

Let them die!

The other reason is chili and soup season. It’s real hard to have a piping hot bowl of red, with the fire going and a movie on Netflix with your partner when you’re in shorts and a t-shirt. Freezing weather means soups & chilis to me. Something comforting for these two to go hand-in-hand.

So of course I’m excited. Nothing like having a hearty soup in the crock pot, simmering all day and the family can just ladle a bowl whenever they feel like it.

Chicken at Hart White Chicken Chili

Chili on the smoker, but a crock pot works just as well.

I won’t get into too much detail on this as I had a separate blog already on here. But in the blog link, I used the smoker. I can safely tell you, throwing everything in a crock pot, set it to low and let it work its magic all day as you stirred occasionally does just as well.

Hart-attack Chili

Ah, a good ol’ bowl of red. Yes, I will stand by my Texas heritage and say chili contains no beans. (Although, admittedly, it’s really not that bad with them in there) but this recipe has no beans, and I implore you, try it this way first before you add fillers like beans or even (shudder) pasta or rice. Who does that? Animals!

This is my own recipe and should probably be its own blog entry, but keeping with the theme of this topic I decided to add it. (BTW, did I mention, this won my company’s chili cook-off three times and once at my church’s chili cook-off?)

  • 4 pounds beef tri-tip, chopped
  • 1 pound chorizo
  • 2 Tbls rendered bacon fat
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbls garlic powder
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1 Tbls salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine black pepper
  • 4 Tbls chili powder
  • 2 Tbls New Mexico Hatch pepper powder
  • 1 Tbls cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pequin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper
  • 1 to 2 14 ounce cans chicken broth
  • 1 six ounce can Tomato Sauce
  1. Sauté onion and green pepper in rendered bacon fat in a 3 quart pot
  2. Add garlic powder and half of chili powder
  3. Add half a can of chicken broth, mix well and set aside
  4. Brown chorizo and beef in a skillet about one pound at a time
  5. Drain and add meat to onion mix
  6. Add remaining chili powder and remaining can of chicken broth
  7. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat
  8. Add tomato sauce, cumin, chipotle pepper and pequin powder
  9. Add more broth as needed and cook until meat is tender, about two to three hours

Although this talks about sautéing in a pot, etc, this also does well in a crock pot. I would sauté the vegetables first just to get some caramelization and flavors, but after that, yea, dump everything in and set to low and let it cook for 8 hours, stirring occasionally and add chicken broth as needed.

Eat with homemade corn bread or make Frito pie, or even just as-is.

One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta

One-pot wonder, indeed

I haven’t tried this in a crock pot, but with pasta involved, I don’t think I will, but this is a nice, light but hearty pasta soup to fix. It’s a dump & cook which is a nice alternative to the bazillion steps required (like when I fixed Pho).

I got the recipe from Domestic Superhero and like I said, it’s super easy to make. Dump. Boil. Distribute. Garnish and serve.

Occasionally we add grilled chicken just to give some protein, but this is fine as-is personally.

Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

Olive Garden’s crown jewel of soups

I worked at Olive Garden from ’89-’92 as a waiter and bartender. Back then, they offered a lunch special called Soup, Salad & Breadsticks (probably still offer this) where you get unlimited of all three for $4.95. Soup choices included Minestrone (a vegetable soup) or Pasta e Fagioli, with is a beef & bean soup with pasta. Almost like an Italian chili. Meaty & hearty, especially on cold days. I loved this stuff and would almost always sneak a bowl for lunch between shifts.

I found a copy cat recipe at Damn Delicious. However, as mentioned my family has celiac and cannot have traditional pasta, so we substitute usually with pasta shells or similar since gluten free Ditalini pasta isn’t available at local grocers and you need to special order them.

Other than cooking the sausage first, another dump in the pot and let simmer for 8 hours. One suggestion, cook, drain and cool the pasta and keep it separate from the soup and just add it as you dish out bowls. Even when storing for leftovers. The pasta continues to absorb the liquids until it becomes this gelatinous blob. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still delicious, but the liquid to solid ratio is off.

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Another Olive Garden soup we discovered was this. This was pre-family diagnosed with celiac and our middle child wanted to go here for his birthday. He tried this soup and is his absolute favorite soup to eat. And I gotta admit, this is pretty tasty (I don’t kid myself, thinking this is ‘true’ Italian food, but it’s good so I’m content with that).

But now, post-celiac diagnosed, I had to find a substitute for the gnocchi (which is probably my favorite comfort dumpling/pasta)

May the GF gods be praised!

Thankfully, Kroger carries a gluten free gnocchi that’s readily available. Other than that substitute, everything else is fixed as-is. Now, I haven’t tried this in a crock pot so I don’t know how well this would work so, you were warned. And I would do the same rules about cooking and keeping the pasta separate and add to the servings as needed. These also tend to start absorbing, and with the potato starch, it gets gummy real quick.

And that’s it. My go-to soups and chilis I make that the family loves. And with 3-4 cold weather days ahead, I can’t wait to make each of them.

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