Sausage & Grits Chowder

A bowl of steaming grits is a Southern wake-up call in many homes, mine included.

While I love grits, I’ve been a bit jaded with the same ol’, same ol’ breakfasty/brunchy blend. A lot of recipes for a pairing of grits and anything incorporate TONS of butter, cheese and eggs. My version is somewhat conservative when it comes to making a typical meal of it. For example, there’s no butter, or eggs, and the cheese was only a garnish. It’s going against the grain, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, Grandma’s grits aren’t only for breakfast or brunch anymore.

Move over shrimp & grits. We’ve upgraded. Sausage & Grits are an award winning combo, and while a chowder may not be a ‘typical’ use for grits in my neck of the woods, one bite and you might be calling it Southern Heaven.

Sausage & Grits Chowder

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sausage & Grits Chowder 2

recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

1 lb sausage
2 cans Cream of Potato soup
1 (14.75 oz) can cream corn
3 cups milk
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup quick grits
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

4 Sons 'R' Us: sausage & grits chowder

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of broth to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of quick grits. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes, until grits are done, stirring often.
2. Brown sausage over medium-high heat in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven. Stir in Cream of Potato soup, cream corn, 2 1/2 cups milk and cajun seasoning. Stir in cooked grits. If soup is too thick, add more milk. Simmer over low heat until heated through, approximately 10 minutes.
3. Serve with toast & shredded cheddar cheese for garnishing.

Chicken Florentine Soup

The hubs and I happened to be out to lunch a while back. Kid-less. Don’t sound so shocked! We were both over-due for an hour where we could feel and eat like adults, without wiping other peoples’ faces, and listening to lip-smacking in between chews. I happened to be idly perusing the menu, listening to some story the hubs was telling, when my eyes caught on something. Chicken Florentine…in a soup? Say whaaaat?? I mean I love Chicken Florentine. We make it all the time with pasta. Well, not all the time, that would be like the calorie equivalent of an atomic bomb, but you get my drift. And, soup itself, in any form, is a staple for my soul. I had to have it. Had to. It was a beautiful thing. It was glorious. And I just knew I had to find a way to make my own version at home because there were bound to be some intense cravings, and possible withdraws. And those don’t make for a fun Mom, and you know, when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

This here is my precious, but I don’t wanna do the whole Smeagol devolving into Gollum thing so, in the interest of self preservation, I decided I had to share it with you asap.

Chicken Florentine Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Florentine Soup

about 1 lb, or 2 medium, boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup half and half
3 cups fresh baby spinach

Feel free to round out this romantically,  rustic one-dish meal with warm crusty bread. You’ll definitely use it to soak up the every last drop of it’s richly flavored broth.

Directions

1. Cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces and season with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a 2-3 qt saucepan. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pan and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 min or until onions are translucent. Add garlic, thyme & cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add flour to the vegetables, stirring to coat them all, and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken stock slowly to mixture. Cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and soup thickens.
4. Add the Half & Half & cook and stir until thickened. Add Chicken and Spinach, cooking for another 5-10 min. Check the seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne to taste.
5. Serve with a slice of that warm, crusty bread and enjoy!

Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

I love my Christmas ham. I truly do. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas dinner without it. Even more than a good ham, I love all the leftovers! Typically I dice them up and bag them in meal-sized portions and stock my freezer with them. Even the fat and bone gets saved for flavoring beans and the like. This healthy ham and lentil soup is one of my favorite recipes to use leftover ham in. Hearty and heart-healthy, it’s a perfect after the holidays meal. Once you’re done chopping, walk away while it simmers and relax as the flavors slowly combine. Are you sticking with yoga pants after indulging just a little too much in the past week? Lentils are low in fat, but high in protein and fiber. A perfect way to fill up and fuel up without worrying. Take a deep breath, enjoy a warm bowl of soup, and smile. You’ve made it through another chaotic holiday intact.

Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ham & Lentil Soup

recipe originally from Closet Cooking

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion,chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups ham broth, chicken broth or chicken stock
1 cup lentils
2 cups ham, diced
1 ham bone (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
pepper to taste
1 bunch spinach, rinsed, trimmed and roughly chopped

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.
2. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, a few minutes.
4. Add the stock, lentils, ham, ham bone, oregano, bay leaf and thyme and simmer, covered on low heat for an hour.
Remove from heat and stir in the spinach.

Warm Sausage & Kale Soup

Even when we’re all bundled up, with the cold weather settling in, after an afternoon spent outside with the kids I tend to need a little something extra to warm me up when I finally make it back inside, after herding the boys in to wash up for dinner. A pot of this soup hot on the stove is always just what the doctor ordered. It’s incredibly hearty & flavorful, and it includes an abundance of ‘good for you’ ingredients. Just one warm bowl of this Winter-weather fighting soup and the chill you brought in with you will magically melt away.

Warm Sausage & Kale Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Warm Sausage & Kale Soup

recipe adapted from Wine and Glue

1 lb package of Sweet Italian Sausages, casings removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tsp minced garlic
8 oz package white mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
32 oz chicken broth
1 cup noodles, elbow or small shells
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Directions

1. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat add 2 tbsp olive oil and cook sausage until no longer pink, between five and seven minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, drain sausage.
2. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and mushrooms, breaking up the mushrooms as you add them.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft, about five minutes.
3. Toss in the kale, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook until the kale is wilted, about five minutes.
4. Add the chicken broth, and bring it to a boil.  Then add the noodles and cook about a minute shy of the package directions.
5. Toss in the beans, and stir in until they heat through. Serve with crusty bread & let it warm you up!

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

This is one of my new favorite summer soups! It has the perfect blend of light creaminess with the curry flavor I crave, without being too spicy. I am not a fan of coconut, but this is one of the rare instances where there’s an exception to that rule. The vague hint of coconut isn’t at all overpowering. This is my kind of ‘Thai’! While this may not appeal to an authentic Thai food enthusiast, it was everything I was looking for. This soup is perfect for someone who loves a good creamy chicken and rice soup and an Asian flair.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

recipe adapted from Foodtastic Mom

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp prepared Thai curry paste, green or red depending on preference
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, or dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste, stirring to combine evenly.
  2. Add all the vegetables and salt and saute for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  4.  Add stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes to allow rice to fully cook.
  5. Add the cooked chicken, coconut milk, lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Stir well and allow to heat through.
  6. Remove soup from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary with more salt or sugar.
  7. Serve soup sprinkled with more fresh cilantro and a drizzle of Sirarcha sauce, if desired.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup

Are you wondering what you’re going to do with the abundance of leftovers after Easter dinner Sunday? Ham sandwiches or biscuits can only go so far. Dice that ham up and save it! This soup is delicious and is a perfect way to make use of those saved leftovers. I loved that it gave us the chicken cordon bleu taste we were craving, in a cheaper and easier form. I served it with some oatmeal pull-apart rolls, and every one of my guys had two bowls. There were no leftovers!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup

  •  2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, about 1 cup diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 5 medium russet potatoes,washed, peeled, and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 cup shredded chicken, cooked
  • 1 cup ham, diced

Directions

  1. Place washed, peeled, and cubed potatoes into a large pot and add the chicken broth. Cover.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender.
  3. In a separate pot, or pan, melt butter. Add onions and saute until soft.
  4. Add garlic, and saute 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add flour to the pan and whisk together with the onions and garlic. Let the mixture cook about 1 minute.
  6. Slowly add the milk, a 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly. The only lumps you should see should be the onions.
  7. Continue adding milk and whisking constantly until all the milk has been evenly incorporated.
  8. Bring the roux to a simmer and let it heat until thickened, about 5 minutes, whisking often.
  9. Add the thickened roux to the potatoes and chicken broth in the large pot.
  10. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes in the pot until there’s minimal chunks.
  11.  Turn the heat to low, and add the chicken and ham.
  12. Add salt and pepper to soup to taste.
  13. When heated through, add the swiss and stir until melted and evenly incorporated.
  14. Serve.

Lasagna Soup

I love soup. I mean, I really love soup. Most people, I’ve found, prefer soup to warm them up on a cold winter night.  I don’t just relegate soup to only winter weather advisory days, but feel it is an all-encompassing  meal, even in Summer. I could eat soup 365 days a year and be a very happy camper. That being said, I do have four hungry boys, and a hungry husband who prefer their soups to be hearty so I’m always trying to find soups that can stand alone as a satisfying meal. I’m pretty sure, when I met my husband, he was convinced a soup could never be a ‘manly’ meal, and definitely never a meal he would feel ‘stuffed’ after. I’m pretty sure that unspoken ‘I told you so’ is the elephant in the room every time he naps after eating just ‘soup.’

Given my husband’s Italian heritage, and our love of all things pasta, I figured I would give  Paula Dean’s lasagna soup recipe a try. Naturally, my guys were skeptical about any recipes’ ability to make a soup, however hearty, truly taste like one of their all time favorite pasta bakes; however, they’re always up for trying anything new that I put out on our table. Boy, were they blown away by the finished product! It really did taste like, you guessed it, lasagna. I did make a few changes to suit my tastes and make it a little less soupy, but it only enhanced the flavors and left everyone feeling all warm, fuzzy, and full afterwards.

UPDATE: Wow. It’s been 2 years and I’m finally getting around to updating this recipe’s photos. Trust me, it needed to happen. I’ve left the original posted at the bottom for your viewing enjoyment. Or not. 😉 We don’t always go the crust bread loaf route when serving this. Another favorite is pairing it with slices of Texas toast that have been toasted and then slathered with our homemade Italian garlic butter. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Lasagna Soup

Tastes Like Lasagna Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper; chopped (I omitted)
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6-8 cups chicken broth (depending on desired consistency)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups broken lasagna, pappardelle, or egg noodles
1 & 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 loaf of ‘crusty’ bread, optional

Directions

1. In a large skillet combine ground beef, ground sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef and sausage are cooked through and crumbled. Drain.
2. Transfer meat mixture to a large stew pot and add in broth, tomatoes, sauce, thyme, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, and salt.
3. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat.
4. Reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add in noodles and continue simmering until noodles are tender.
6. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
7. Serve soup and garnish each bowl with shredded mozzarella and a piece of warm, crusty bread.

Aaaaaand, here’s the original photo:

Lasagna Soup