Category Archives: Soups, Stews, Chili and Gumbo

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I do have excuses, and they are valid. One is that I’ve started working full-time. I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between work life and family/home life. Another thing was daylight savings time. When I work and then go run my errands, come home and help the kiddo with homework then start cooking, we don’t eat until later and pictures really do NOT look good in artificial light. But I’m going to try to do better, I promise.

Today’s recipe was definitely a keeper. I realize it’s starting to get warmer out but some people like me enjoy a good soup anyway. I did take a few shortcuts, but we were really impressed with the depth of flavor. I’ve tinkered with a few different chicken tortilla soups and this is the first that I’ve really liked. And it reheated well too. 🙂

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. olive oil (another one)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel
32 oz. chicken stock
3 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
3 tbsp. cornmeal
1 bag tortilla strips (usually in the salad topping section)
desired garnishes: sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, salsa, cheese, cilantro

Preheat oven to 375. Mix the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil on the chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small bit of the mixed seasonings over the chicken, reserving the rest for later. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then shred using two forks. Set the shredded chicken aside.

In a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the vegetables, stirring to combine. Cook until tender, adding the rest of the seasoning mix. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Add the can of Rotel, chicken stock, water, tomato paste an beans. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook 45 minutes, uncovered.

In a small dish, mix the cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup and stir well, simmer another 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve with the tortilla strips and desired garnishes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

“It’s gumbo weather” is a phrase you hear a lot in Louisiana.  What is gumbo weather?  Well basically any temperature under 80 degrees! We had a cool weekend last weekend and I bet you could smell roux cooking from one end of the state to the other!

I couldn’t believe that my gumbo recipe wasn’t on my blog.  I still can’t believe it.  I have several other versions of gumbo but this is a basic traditional version.  I opt to use chicken broth and stock to make it richer and more flavorful.  I’ve heard we are supposed to have a cold winter, so better keep the recipe handy!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
A Cooking With Christen Original


1 carton chicken broth
1 carton chicken stock
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
1 bag frozen cut okra, cooked down (I cook it in oil until it’s not “slimy” anymore)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pkg boneless chicken thighs – raw and cut up (I try to cut some of the fat off)
1 pkg smoked sausage or andouille, cut into bite size pieces
1 cooking spoon full of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves if you have some
Salt & Tony’s – season to taste
½ cup oil
½ cup flour

Note:  I have never actually measured my seasonings so just do taste tests and add until it tastes good.


Make a roux:  heat oil in large stockpot.  Once hot, add flour and stir constantly until it’s the color of a brown paper bag.  It’s time consuming but it’s the key.  Make sure to scrape the sides and corners of the pot.

While you’re making your roux, put your sausage in a microwave-safe bowl and add water just till the sausage is covered.  Microwave for about 8 minutes.  Drain in the sink into a colander and rinse well.  You want to get some of that fatty grease out.

Once your roux is brown enough, add onion, bell pepper and minced garlic, cook until veggies are soft.  Add Rotel, chicken broth and chicken stock, stir well and let heat up again to a slow boil.  This is a good time to start adding the rest of your dry seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.

Once boiling again, add chicken, sausage and okra and let simmer about an hour and a half or until chicken is cooked through.  The longer you let it cook, the better it will taste.  If it looks too thick, you can add more chicken broth or water

Check seasonings and add anything you find it might be missing.

Serve over rice or for the traditional southern Louisiana version, serve over potato salad.



Summer Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar

The other day I went to my parents house and in an offhand way, my dad mentioned that he had cooked some squash.  I glanced at the dish and sure enough, yep looked like squash.  I started getting ready to go out to dinner with some friends and before I left, I snuck a taste of the squash, just a bite for the road.  And I immediately did a double-take.

That’s right.  This unassuming dish (see photo below) is full of amazing flavor.  Apparently the pairing of this ingredient list results in magic.  The picture doesn’t look like much I know, but really, give this a try.  You won’t be sorry.  The only thing you’ll be sorry about is that you didn’t quadruple the recipe!

(Note:  I have no idea where my dad got this recipe from)

Summer Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar

Summer Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar

Summer Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar
Recipe shared by my dad, before that I don’t know!

4-6 medium yellow squash, sliced into rounds
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1.5 tbsp. brown sugar


In a pot, melt the butter, then add the chopped onion.  Saute’ until onion is starting to get tender, then add the sliced squash rounds.  Add the rest of the seasonings and stir well.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the squash is soft.  Remove the cover and continue cooking, until the liquid makes a thicker glaze.  Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Best Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup

I just LOVE broccoli cheese soup.  Back in my (much) younger days, I worked as a waitress at Applebee’s and on the day of the week that broccoli cheese soup was scheduled, they would always run out because the wait staff would eat it all.  Not just me. 😉  It was great.

I’ve tried a few recipes over the years and they were all fine but this one is the recipe I’ve been looking for, but didn’t know it.  It’s heavenly.  It’s thick, creamy, velvety….I could go on and on.  Make sure you have some nice bread to sop up every last bite, we used crescent rolls because I’m a crescent roll freak.  This soup is SO good that even my super picky daughter ate a few bites and declared it yummy!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

1 stick butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup cooking sherry
2 16-oz pkgs. frozen broccoli, or fresh (I used 2 heads fresh)
4 cans chicken broth
1 2-lb. loaf Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 cups milk (I used 1% but who are we kidding with all this cheese and butter?!)
1 tbsp garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup water

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt and start to saute’.  Add the cooking sherry and cook until the onions are soft.  Add the broccoli, toss to mix in all the onions, then add the cans of chicken broth.  Simmer uncovered until the broccoli is soft, it may take a little while longer with fresh broccoli.

Once the broccoli is soft, slowly start adding in the cheese cubes, stirring well, until it is all added and melted.  Add the milk and garlic powder and mix in well.  Watch your heat now because the cheese will easily stick to the bottom of the pot, stir often.

In a bowl, mix together the cold water and cornstarch and add to the soup.  Bring up to a low boil then reduce the heat, the soup will thicken.  Once it’s ready you’ll want to turn it off so it doesn’t stick.


Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Cochon and Cochon Butcher in New Orleans are two yummy restaurants.  A few years ago before I had eaten there, I looked up their menu online and was interested to see that they had some recipes posted.  One was for a black-eyed pea gumbo.  I was intrigued and saved the recipe.

Over the last few years I always thought about making that recipe, but it always seemed like something my guests would be weirded out at.  Finally I decided to just make it and see what happened.  I got all the ingredients before actually reading the recipe, and seeing that the pork was to be smoked.  My husband was at work and the weather report was calling for rain the next day, so if it was going to be smoked it was going to be me doing it.  After consulting with both my dad and my husband on the phone (many phone calls!) I was proud to say I smoked the meat all on my own.  I used pecan wood and a Hunters Game Rub from the Baton Rouge company Red Stick Spice.  I was so excited by the great smoke ring the meat had.

And my guests?  Loved it.  In fact, the guest that was the most skeptical asked for the recipe!  It had a ton of flavor and wasn’t hard at all to make – instead of smoking the meat you could always go to a bbq joint and get some already smoked pork.  I’m sure the original recipe intended for you to use fresh black eye peas and greens, but I just didn’t have the time and the canned worked just fine.  There was not a whole lot of black eye peas, if you want more of that you can use two cans.

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo
Recipe adapted from Cochon

1 cup oil/bacon grease
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon
1 carton chicken broth
1 carton beef stock
1 can chicken broth
1 can beef broth
1 package frozen seasoning blend
1 spoon minced garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp file’ powder
4 tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2-3/4 tbsp salt
6 cups water
1 can black eye peas, rinsed and drained
1 can turnip greens, liquid drained (I used the Glory brand seasoned greens)
3 lb. smoked pork butt, cubed
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 package sausage, cut into small rounds


In a small skillet, cook the four slices bacon until crisp.  Set the bacon aside and pour the bacon grease into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add vegetable oil to the bacon grease, until it makes 1 cup oil/bacon grease.  Pour the oil into a large stockpot and heat over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the flour and make a roux – you want it to be the same brown as a paper bag.  Stir often, getting the corners of the pot to prevent burning.

Once the roux has reached the desired color, add your seasoning blend and minced garlic.  Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are tender, thenadd the water to break up the roux.  Once it comes to a slow boil again, add the rest of the ingredients.  Crumble the bacon and add it in as well.  Simmer a few hours, stirring occasionally.  Skim the oil off of the top then taste for seasonings.  Serve over rice or potato salad, or bot

My Smoked Pork Butt 🙂

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Check out the smoke ring!

Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

I love tomato basil soup, and so do a few friends I know (ahem, Morgan) so this recipe should appeal to you.  Plus, it’s a crockpot recipe, which just makes it that much better!

I spotted this recipe on Pinterest recently and didn’t take long at all to decide to make it.  It was definitely my kind of crockpot recipe, just throw it all in there, turn it on and go on about your day!  Despite having finely chopped the veggies, once it was done they were still a bit chunkier than I had in mind, so I simply used my immersion blender and puree’d them up.  Perfecto!

Seriously, this was so delicious and simple, and really budget friendly so I have a feeling it will be gracing our table often.  We had the soup with a side salad, but I’m betting a grilled cheese sandwich would be great also!

Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
Recipe from 365 Days of Slow-Cooking

2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onion
1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 tbsp fresh
1 tbsp dried basil, or 1/4 cup fresh
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half, warmed (I used fat-free)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add all of the ingredients through the bay leaf to the crockpot (which has been sprayed with nonstick spray).  Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until the vegetables are soft.

Thirty minutes before serving, melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat, then add the butter.  Stir constantly for 5 minutes, then add one cup of the hot soup to this roux.  Once all mixed, add another three cups.  Whisk until smooth, then add all of this back to the crockpot.  Add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half and your seasonings.  Taste for seasoning and add extra seasoning or extra basil and oregano as needed.  Cover and cook for another thirty minutes on LOW before serving.

If needed, you can use an immersion blender and puree.


Crockpot Lentil Soup

I’ve never been a big fan of beans so lately I’ve been trying to “train” myself to like them.  It’s working.  I’m now a fan of black beans, so I figured I’d branch out some and bought a package of lentils.  I see lots of recipes for lentils, so after looking through some I decided to go with a crockpot recipe.

This was super easy to make, you just throw everything into the crockpot.  It is very hearty, despite being a meat-free soup.  If you’re wondering, lentils are very earthy, they sort of remind me of black-eyed peas, just with a different texture.  In fact, this soup reminded me a lot in taste of the black-eyed pea soup I make.  My husband was skeptical he loved it, so did my three-year old daughter.  It makes  a ton, so you can freeze some for a rainy day!

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Crockpot Lentil Soup
Recipe adapted from I Was Born to Cook

1 pkg dry lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can sliced carrots, with juice
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasonings
2 bay leaves
7 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
6-8 shakes of hot sauce


Place all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on LOW for 12 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Discard bay leaves and serve.