Philly Cheesesteak Soup

Cover-Philly-Cheesesteak-Soup

Here in Philly we have a thing for Cheesesteaks. I think that kind of goes without saying. There’s always the big debate about who has the best cheesesteaks in Philly. Some people have a strong opinion about it. When I’m asked who has the best cheesesteak, my answer is always Jim’s. I agree with many other people in Philly that say that Pat’s and Geno’s is way overrated. They are tourist traps. And they just aren’t that good in my opinion. [Read more…]

Souper Bowl Sunday ~ Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Welcome to a special edition of Souper Bowl Sunday! If you remember, a few years back I did a “Souper Bowl Sunday” series and featured a different soup each week? Well now that the weather is cooler I’m back for a special edition! The weather is cooling down and it’s not too warm out to have soup. There are days where we still have to use the air conditioner, but overall it’s pretty nice outside. When I leave for work in the morning I love that I’m not sweating as soon as I step foot out of the door!

One of my favorite comforts foods is Lasagna. It’s always packed with so much flavor and there are always tons of leftovers to have for lunch the next day or to freeze for later. There are so many different things you can add to change up Lasagna so it’s not always the same. One of my favorite things to do is to add ground Italian sausage and spinach to my Lasagna. The sausage adds so much more flavor and the spinach gives you those extra nutrients!

I came across this Lasagna Soup and knew that I had to make it. I made something similar once before – Meatball Soup. But I had these cute little Mafalda noodles so I knew they’d work perfectly! If you don’t have those you can just use the broken up lasagna noodles or feel free to use any other kind of noodle.

This is the perfect soup to eat while watching Football! Go Eagles!! [Read more…]

Souper Bowl Sunday [’11] ~ Week Nine ~ Chicken and Dumplings

I was looking for some Comfort Food, and it occurred to me that I saw a recipe from Tyler Florence for Chicken and Dumplings. I remember that it got some rave reviews so I decided that I’d make that. You see, I’ve never had Chicken and Dumplings before, so this was something new for me to try.  I knew that I couldn’t go wrong if I was making my own stock, so I decided to follow his recipe from the very beginning.

Chicken and Stock:

  • 1 (3 to 31/2 pound) whole organic chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 head garlic, split through the equator
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

For the stock:

Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water.

Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of fat and scum as it cooks. When done remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces – the stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.

For the dumplings:

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

To prepare sauce:

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the flour to make a roux.

Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions. Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer.


Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture.

The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy.

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Okay…I’ve got to be honest here. I really wasn’t a huge fan of this. The Dumplings…were just so bland. They really didn’t have much flavor at all. I was a quite disappointed. I added a little bit of Penzeys Chicken Soup base to the sauce part because I thought it could use some extra flavor. I don’t know. I think this would be a good base for Chicken Pot Pie…but I just wasn’t diggin’ the dumplings.

I added some onion, shallot, carrot and celery to the chicken stock. I also had to add a corn starch mixture to the sauce to thicken it, because the roux at the beginning just didn’t cut it.  And those pearl onions? I would definitely leave those out the next time. I wasn’t a fan of them at all. And we always leave peas out because we do not care for them.

So I would have to say that this week’s recipe was a bit of a disappointment. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out.

Next week is one curly fry’s BYE WEEK, so we’ll see you in two weeks!

Souper Bowl Sunday [’11] ~ Week 8 ~ French Onion Soup

This weekend was sort of crazy weather-wise. When I went out to get my coffee on Saturday morning, I was walking through a lot of slush and it was sleeting. Winter has come a little early this year, and I’ll have to say I’m not ready for it yet. I love Fall, and I feel like Fall gets shorter every year. And that’s a bummer. Because I feel like it’s either 110 degrees or 10 degrees! And my perfect temperature is 60-65 degrees. I guess I need to move, lol! Here in the city we didn’t really get any snow, but friends & family in the suburbs got upward of 6 inches.

French Onion Soup is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s the perfect soup to warm you up on a cold day. I wanted to try a different type of Onions Soup, so I came up with a Four Onion Soup. I added a few new flavors in there, and I was pretty happy with how it came out.

  • 2 medium Red Onions, sliced
  • 2 medium Sweet Onions, sliced
  • 4 Shallots, sliced
  • 3 Leeks,  cut into chunks
  • 4 Garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 stick of Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 32 oz + 4 oz Beef Broth
  • 2 tablespoons Brandy
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon (or add at the end to taste) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Bread Cubes, toasted
  • Gruyere Cheese
  • Sharp Provolone

Chop up your Leeks, Red Onions, Sweet Onions and Shallots.


I love to caramelize my onions in the crock pot. I love to do it low and slow. I feel like they really get a chance to caramelize and the flavor is exceptional. I usually put the onions in the crock pot the night before I need them. I put a stick of butter in a crock pot and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Add the onions and the garlic cloves.

Let it go! I stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn. Just make sure that your crock pot isn’t too big, otherwise it will burn. I let them cook down and caramelize until they are a nice mahogany color. From start to finish, they are probably in the crock pot for about twenty hours or so. You can cook yours as long as you’d like though. You can prepare them stove top if that is your preference.

Pour 32 oz of Beef Broth into a Dutch Oven. Bring to a boil. Mix the corn starch with the 4 oz of Beef Broth and add it into the other Broth. It will thicken. Once it’s thickened, add in the caramelized onions and all of their juices. Add in the brandy,  salt, pepper and thyme.

I let it cook (on low) for a little while to let all of the flavors marry. It’s your decision how long you let it go. I probably let mine go for about an hour, but that’s definitely not necessary.

When you’re ready to eat, ladle some of the soup into a crock.

Sprinkle some grated Gruyere Cheese over the soup.


Add in your toasted bread cubes.

Top with some good Sharp Provolone cheese. I love to use the slices.

Throw under the broiler for about 4 minutes or until bubbly!

I was very happy with how this came out. I really liked the flavors that the different onions brought to the soup. In the past I’ve always just used sweet onions, but I really love the four different onions together. This soup definitely warmed me up. And who doesn’t love all of that ooey gooey cheese?!

Souper Bowl Sunday [’11] ~ Week 7 ~ Mustard Herb Beef Stew

I love fall. The leaves are changing, it’s getting cooler out, and it’s getting darker earlier in the evening. This is the perfect weather for some Beef Stew. I wanted some Stew, but I wanted to try a different recipe from my tried & true Emeril’s Beef Stew that I always use.  I came across a recipe for Mustard-Herb Beef Stew and I thought that sounded delicious!  I had a bunch of fresh herbs on hand so this would be the perfect opportunity to use them!

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut in 1-to 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 – 10 ounce cipolini onions, peeled, or 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in wedges
  • 4 carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounce package cremini mushrooms, halved if large
  • 8 tiny Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 14 ounce can beef broth
  • 1 12 ounce bottle dark porter beer or non-alcoholic beer
  • 1 bay leaf

In large bowl combine flour, parsley, thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Add beef, a few pieces at a time; stir to coat. Reserve leftover flour mixture.

In 6-quart Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef.

 

Stir in onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes.

 

Cook and stir 3 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, mustard, and remaining flour mixture.

 

Add broth, beer, and bay leaf.

 

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 to 1-1/4 hours until beef is tender.

 
Remove and discard bay leaf.


Serve with crusty bread.

The weather has been absolutely perfect this weekend. A little bit of a chill, but not too cold. To me, this is the perfect weather for stew! As I usually do, I made a few changes to the stew, but nothing major.

  • I added in 1/2 cup celery with the Vegetables.
  • I tossed the beef with some Emeril Essence before putting it in the flour mixture.
  • I used Baby Bella mushrooms in place of cremini because that’s what I had on hand.
  • I added a little extra beer to the stew because I felt like it needed it. So in turn I had to mix a little bit of beef broth with flour and add that in to thicken it a bit more.
  • I added in about 1/4 cup of cream at the very end. I love the richness it gives the stew.

Overall I thought that the stew was pretty good. It’s not my absolute favorite beef stew, but it’s not bad. I enjoyed the flavor that the mustard gave it. I didn’t quite put as much mustard in that it called for. I was a bit nervous that it would be too mustard-y. But add the amount you want, and you can always put in more if you desire.