Lentil and Fennel Soup with Ham

Lentil & fennel SoupSoup is just a perfect meal! And when you add in some life giving Lentils it gets even better. Lentils are high in folate and high in fiber. Another addition to this healthy soup is Fennel Bulb, touted as one of the worlds healthiest foods. The combination of Fennel and Lentils is just plain delicious. We are told that we should be getting about 25-35 grams of fiber per day. That’s hard to do today. If you are not eating fresh vegetables and cooking your own meals daily then you are probably eating some processed foods. Processed food are pretty much devoid of any fiber and don’t get me started on what actually is in processed foods. However, this soup, although not the traditional soup made after a ham dinner, is awesome. Split pea soup is a great soup also, but if you are looking to change it up a bit, here it is.


3 qts water in a 6 qt pot
leftover hambone with excess ham removed.
Dice up any ham removed from bone and set aside until end. Any excess fat can simmer for two hours with hambone
2 carrots diced 1/4 ”
2 stalks celery diced 1/4 ”
1 onion peeled and diced 1/4″
3 c. Dried lentils
1 fennel bulb, diced 1/4″
4 small bay leaves

Simmer for two hours, remove fat and bones.
Add diced ham, as much as you like.
Turn off heat
Season with…
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 stick butter
1 to 2 tsp Chicken base, as needed.
fresh chopped Parsley


Chicken Soup

chicken soupI just love chicken soup, the way way my grandmother Asunta and my father Tony used to make it. You can use any pasta you want but, I am partial to bow ties(farfalle). They always used the little tiny balls called Acini di pepe. There are no rules as in most dishes. I used all the veggies I had on hand in the fridge. I have left out the tomatoes before and added potatoes, thickened it, and made stew, with dumplings. My gramma used to use rice instead of pasta, quite often. Make it how you like. This version is really awesome and I am quite certain you will love it if you make it. I found out that my nephews family was sick, so I decided to make it and get it over to them as soon as I could. This soup came together from start to Finish in exactly 2 hours. I didn’t need all of the chicken so I cut off a breast and saved it. Tomorrow for lunch we will have chicken salad sandwiches. Or you can freeze it for another meal. One more thing…if you feel like being thrifty, save the carcass, bones and fat from the chicken. Either freeze for later or put in a pot with water, celery, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns, and a carrot. Simmer it for 4-6 hours, strain it and you have your own chicken stock. I bag it up in ziploc freezer bags and freeze.

Chicken Soup

1 whole all natural chicken 2.5 lbs or bigger
2-32 oz. boxes organic chicken broth
Place chicken into a large covered pot with the broth. Boil on medium for approx 1 hour and 15 min or so.
In separate pot on med high heat…
1 c. Diced onions
2 c. Diced carrots
1 c. Diced celery
1/2  c. Olive oil
Cook 20 minutes add…
1 to 1 1/2 cups of diced leeks
2 c. Chopped kale, stems removed
Cook another 20 minutes on low with a 1/2 c. Chicken broth, cover the pot. After 20 minutes shut off. Add…
1 c. Fresh spinach stir in and cover, set aside.
When chicken has cooked, pull it out of the broth and let the chicken cool so you can debone it. Reserve one breast for chicken salad or sandwiches, unless you need it in the soup. Leave the stock simmering
Add 2 c. Water
Add 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes 26 oz, bring to a slow boil again
Add 1 3/4 c. of mini farfalle pasta or whatever you like.
Cover and simmer on low 20 minutes, turn off.
While the pasta is cooking, debone and cut up chicken.
Check the flavor of the broth and add better than bouillon chicken base 1 tsp at a time. I added 3 tsp. base.

better than bouillon






Add the cut up and deboned chicken meat
Add the vegetables, stir and serve. If I had fresh parsley, I would have put that in. Soups on, Now enjoy!
chix soup

Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder

IMG_0400I’ve always loved corn chowder, but rarely make it. My son, Eric was the only one in the house that liked it and now, he lives in Texas. It was a treat to finally make this again. It came out so yummy, that I may need a nap. Yup, I over indulged!  With the snow coming down, I must say, it’s a perfect day for creamy corn chowder. I will need to be making some soup deliveries, hopefully the roads aren’t too bad.

Corn Chowder
7 qt pot ~ serves 8 ~ prep time 40 minutes

4 1/2 c. diced potatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped raw bacon
4 cups of frozen whole kernal corn, thawed
1/4 c. flour
1 c. half and half
1/2 stick butter
3 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
3 TBSP Honey
fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
optional-1/2 cup heavy cream
optional-minced or granulated garlic

In a 7 qt. pot
4 cups water
4 1/2 c. diced potatoes 1 inch cubes, peeled. As the soup cooks the potatoes will wear down to smaller chunks, so start with a bigger dice. You can always cut them when eating.
boil 20 minutes until tender
remove 1/2 cup of cooked potatoes, set aside to cool for a few minutes

In a Saute pan, cook until bacon fat has rendered and onions are translucent
1/2 onion diced
1/2 cup chopped raw bacon, about 4 slices
Add to the pot with the potatoes
Add 3 c. whole Kernal corn, I use frozen and thawed

Grab a blender
1 c. half and half or heavy cream
1/4 c. flour
1 c. whole kernal corn, I use frozen and thawed
1/2 stick of butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
3 Tbsp Honey
warm potatoes
Blend until pureed
add to the pot with potatoes, corn and bacon.
Bring the soup almost to a boil and stir constantly, but gently.
The flour will start to thicken up your soup. When the soup has cooked for about 15 minutes.
Stir in:
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

At this point, you would adjust your seasoning and thickening. If you want more salt and pepper add it. If you like it thicker, than you can take 1/2 cup of heavy cream and whisk into it 1-2 tbsp of flour until dissolved. Add to the pot and stir until dissolved, simmering on med. heat.

I know 1/4 tsp. doesn’t seem like much salt, that’s because the chicken base is where the salt is. Be careful when adding chicken base and salt, because it doesn’t take much to over power it.

This is for David! Enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana

zuppaAs published in a magazine by Olive Garden! It really is the real deal. Obviously, it will always taste a little different, unless we knew exactly what brand of sausage they use, and we do not. So, use the sausage you love and it will be great. My lovely Aunt Carmela, cut the article out of a magazine, and mailed it to me during the restaurant days. I used to call it Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup. This soup recipe always made my good friend Trish, so happy when I made it. One thing I recommend to you, for various reasons is, when you open a pound of bacon, always pull out two slices and chop it and freeze it in a baggie. It really is handy when you want to make this soup or another recipe I will be posting later. The thing is, when we go out and order breakfast, we usually get two slices of bacon with a breakfast, right! But, when we are home and we cook a pound and we always eat 4-5 slices. So, do yourself a favor and eliminate 2 slices from your temptations and save them for a later date. Besides it blows, when you have to buy a whole pound for a recipe. The other thing that’s nice is when you buy a package of sausage, you always get 6 links and you only need 3 for this soup. Now, you can freeze the other 3 and you have another batch ready from the freezer, all you need is the Kale. I’d like to recommend you seek out the Organic Kale, it has become readily available at most of the stores I go to and it doesn’t add a chemical flavor to your soup! However, in a perfect world, I recommend you buy, organic potatoes, no nitrate bacon, all natural sausage, and organic Better than Bouillon chicken base too. Enough said on that subject!

Zuppa Toscana
serves 8-10 people

3 Links Hot Italian Sausage, remove from the casing and cook and crumble while cooking
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 slices chopped bacon chopped
saute sausage, onions, and bacon until onions are translucent and bacon fat has been rendered down
2-30oz box or Organic chicken broth OR use 8 cups of water and season the water with Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base.
3 medium potatos or more if you like a lot, cubed into 1″ cubes
2 cups chopped Kale, I like alot of kale and use the whole bunch, but you dont have to. Remove the stems and discard. Chop the leaves into small pieces.
Cover the pot and cook over med high heat for 25 – 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.
turn off heat
add 1 c. heavy cream
add 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Taste the soup, if it needs flavor add chicken base.
stir and serve with crusty rolls.