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Easy Quick Chicken Tortilla Soup and How to Add Flavor to Quick Soups

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup txt

When it comes to dinner, I’m an obsessive planner.  With a full time job and an hour commute and two kids, my dinnertime meals are regimented.  But lunch is more spur of the moment.  Not exactly an afterthought, but definitely more of a “What do I feel like eating today?” meal.  And sometimes what I feel like eating is soup.

And when I feel like eating soup, I don’t mean soup-three-hours-from-now-after-simmering-0n-the-stovetop, but soup within the next thirty minutes or so, like this Chicken Tortilla Soup.   It comes together quickly without sacrificing flavor. Without the long simmering, I’m looking for ways to add flavor fast.  Some of my favorite ways to add quick flavor to soups are:

  1. Use good broth.  You CAN make soup from water, but if you’re looking for a fast soup, a good broth is essential.  Making your own is great, but I also like the flavors of Trader Joe’s Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth (Not reduced sodium), and Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Reduced Sodium OK in this case).
  2. Use add-ins that add a lot of up front flavor.  A carrot will yield its secret over time, but if you’re looking for fast, you want to add ingredients that carry a lot of flavor from the start.  This Mexican-inspired soup uses salsa and chilies to add a big punch of flavor.
  3. Toppings!  Plain soup is just that – plain.  Toppings take the soup to a whole new level, like in this cauliflower soup recipe.   This Chicken Tortilla Soup gets tortillas, cheese, avocados, cilantro – the possibilities are endless.

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Speculoos-Dipped Strawberries

Biscoff Strawberries TXT

Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  Some of us dismiss it as a cheesy Hallmark holiday.  Some of us revel in the traditional chocolate and champagne.  Some are happy to celebrate their loved ones, some are unbearably lonely, and some are just plain angry.  Love does that to us.

I’m no expert, but as I get closer to middle age than youth, I can tell you this about love:  love is surprising.  Sometimes the beginning of love is surprising – it can come when you don’t expect it to.  And sometimes the end of love is (sadly) surprising.  But there are a lot of surprises in the middle, too.

The surprises can be good – a grand romantic gesture you never expected from your significant other – or great – the way your heart fills to bursting when a child enters your family, and then fills even more when another child comes along.  They can be bad – discovering that your spouse has been behaving in a way that you never would expect, that shocks and hurts you – or just sad – realizing your relationship isn’t where you thought it would be.

Don’t mean to go all Richard Curtis on you all – I can get a bit maudlin this time of year – but I hope you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with people you love – your spouse, your girlfriends, your children, your family, or your dog (because is there any purer love?  I don’t think so.)  And treat them to something a little surprising.

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Miso Pork Tenderloin with Apple Ginger Relish

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Ginger Relish

The holidays are over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I love the lights and the cookies and the carols and the cocktails and the feasting as much as (or more than) anyone else, but I admit to welcoming the calm space of January, when a little austerity doesn’t go amiss. In the new year, we are all looking for food that’s a little lighter and fresher.

Lighter and fresher doesn’t have to be less flavorful, however. In the last year I’ve made a dedicated effort to cook more with fruits and vegetables, and I’ve been thrilled with the flavor and variety they’ve brought to my diet. That’s why I’m pleased to be partnering with Opal Apples and Kitchen Play to bring you this fresh and flavorful recipe for the New Year.

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Sourdough Stuffing with Caramelized Onions and Chard

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Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can be hidebound by tradition.  Even the most adventurous eater has certain holiday rules that make Thanksgiving dinner more than just a lot of food.  For some, jellied canned cranberry sauce is required.  For others, they have to have grandma’s sweet potato casserole.   My husband has to have pumpkin pie.  My parents once shared Thanksgiving dinner with otherwise reasonable people who insisted on green bean casserole with condensed cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions (I actually love the stuff, but it’s not part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  Which mostly involves making everything from scratch.)

I consider myself pretty open minded with regards to Thanksgiving.  Obviously – turkey.  And cranberry sauce in some form.  Some vegetables are nice. Some form of pie.  I don’t even need rolls.   There is one dish, however, without which Thanksgiving is just not worth celebrating – and that’s my dad’s old-fashioned fresh sage stuffing  (Coincidentally, today is my dad’s birthday. Happy birthday, dad. I miss you).  This is not that.
Chard Stuffing Ingredients
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Pasta with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Cashel Blue Cheese

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I have resisted pasta for many years. Other people can’t get enough of it – I could take it or leave it. But life in our household has been pretty crazy lately, and I have been embracing pasta as a way to get dinner on the table relatively quickly instead of having to resort to eating crackers. (It’s happened.)

I think the problem is I’m not really a fan of traditional spaghetti sauce. My husband has taken to complaining that we never have a jar of spaghetti sauce in the house (he asked if we could make a bid for normalcy and just have a jar of Prego), while I’ve never felt the lack. Once I started to move away from the tomato sauces, pasta got a lot more interesting.
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This one was inspired by  a gorgeous wheel of Irish Cashel Blue cheese that the kind folks at Kerrygold USA sent me.   I’ve been a fan of their grass fed butter for years, but I won a year’s supply of butter and cheese at the Big Traveling Potluck and that has made be a convert to their amazing Irish cheeses.  They have several cheddar and cheddar type cheeses that are amazing, but my favorite is probably the Cashel Blue.  I shared the wheel with family members but immediately regretted it – I wanted more blue cheese for myself!  Even my mom, who has been a diehard French Roquefort snob for years said this is her new favorite blue.

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