Kale Pancetta Bean Soup

Into the Instant Pot:

  • 1 pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans
  • 2 qts water
  • 1 carrot, halved or in thirds
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1-2 stalks of celery + leaves, very roughly chopped
  • 2 t. kosher salt

Manual pressure, high, for 30 minutes, natural release (did 32 min. first time, probably needed a little less time)

Skim off the aromatics, pour beans and cooking liquid into a pot or bowl to hold. Rinse out Pot liner, return to Pot.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 4 oz. package of diced pancetta
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • large bunch of kale, cut into thin ribbons, stems removed
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • salt + pepper
  • apple cider vinegar

Turn on Saute function, add pancetta. Render out the fat. Add onion and garlic to the pot, saute until soft. Deglaze with chicken stock. Add the carrots, kale, and beans + cooking liquid.

Manual pressure, high, 5 minutes. 10 minute natural release.

Using saute function, reduce the soup to desired thickness. Add salt (probably at least 1 t. additional kosher) and 1-2 t. of apple cider vinegar.


Next time, maybe saute the pancetta first, saute onions/garlic, add dried beans for the cooking time, and then finish with the carrots/kale for 5 min, the reduce.  Save some steps now that the beans’ cook time is a known factor. (Maybe broth wouldn’t be as flavorful without the first round of aromatics?)



Amber’s Wendy’s Chili

My slight adaption of a Wendy’s copycat chili recipe.  Our household chili.

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3 (16 oz) cans of beans – pinto, black, kidney, etc.
  • 1 C. diced onion
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 1- 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2-3 t. cumin
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1 16 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 t. black pepper
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 C. water
  1. Brown the meat, drain any excessive fat.
  2. Add onions and celery, saute until starting to soften.
  3. Add spices, saute for a minute or so, then add tomatoes, water, salt and pepper.
  4. Bring  to a simmer, and cook for a couple of hours.  

(Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of masa harina/fine cornmeal for flavor and thickening. )

Creamy Chicken and Potato Chowder

This was so easy and so good.  I doubted the thickening technique, because boiling low fat dairy is always a risk, but I looked away for too long and the whole mix was at a rolling boil and it didn’t break!  Win.

Adapted from a Taste of Home.

  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 C. chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon Chicken base)
  • 1# potatoes (about 2 med.), cubed.
  • 2-3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 C. cooked chicken breast/leftover rotisserie meat
  • 1/2 C. frozen peas
  • 1/2 C. frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cup milk
  • dried parsley
  • fresh chives, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute onion in butter until soft.
  2. Add broth, potatoes, and carrots, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for ~15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add chicken, corn, peas, a few shakes of parsley. 
  5. Combine flour and milk, stir until smooth, stir to soup pot. 
  6. Bring mix just to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. 
  7. Add small handful of fresh with chives.





Cauliflower and Aged Cheddar Soup

This soup is amazing. I’ve made it twice, and this last time is perfection; I’ll never make it another way.  Rosemary instead of the original recipe’s thyme is just the best.  Use a good cheddar, but this soup is really good even without it (and without, it’s vegan!)

Adapted from Closet Cooking.

  • small head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 16oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 C.  chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 1/2 C. aged white cheddar, shredded

First, roast the cauliflower and garlic:
Rub garlic cloves with a bit of the oil and seal up in a small foil packet. Toss florets with oil then sprinkle with salt and spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Put the foil packet of garlic on the sheet along with the cauliflower. Roast for about 35 min around 375*-400*, tossing florets a couple of times, until cauliflower is turning golden brown with some darker brown spots.

Saute the chopped onions in a soup pot over medium heat until translucent – about 5-7 minutes.  Add rosemary.  When cauliflower and garlic are done, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the onion mix and mash with the back of a spoon. Stir to incorporate garlic.  Add in the beans, the cauliflower, and the stock.  Add salt (1/2 t. or so.) Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree soup to a smooth consistency, then stir in shredded cheese.



Vegetable Lentil Soup

A slight adaption of a much beloved Spicy Lentil soup recipe given to me by a friend:

Warning: this is a giant batch of soup. Makes about 6 qts.  Halve for more reasonable amount. Freezes well.


  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups of lentils (I used a 16 oz bag of french green lentils and a 16 oz bag of split red lentils. Any mix is fine.)
  • 3 or 4 celery ribs, with leaves for extra flavor
  • 2 medium Spanish or Red onions
  • [addition:  8 oz. package of cremini mushrooms, chopped]
  • 4 or 5 carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 qts of chicken or vegetable stock  (I used chicken base)
  • 2-3 T. red wine  vinegar
  • 1 clamshell or bag of baby spinach (I bet baby kale would be good here too.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • [2 jalapenos or other chile of choice, or a few tbsp of horseradish mustard for less spicy  – optional.  I opted out.]

In 8-qt pot heat olive oil. Add coarsely chopped veggies (not spinach), sprinkle with kosher salt, and saute until onions are soft but not brown and the mushrooms release their water (~ 10 mins). Add lentils and continue to saute about 2 more mins. Add stock and simmer until lentils are soft. Right before lentils seem done add spinach, red wine  vinegar, salt and pepper and horseradish mustard if you are using them.


This soup is FANTASTIC.  The red split lentils basically dissolved, giving the soup some body, and the french green lentils stayed perfectly tender but not falling apart. Great texture.  I was skeptical about having no herbs or other flavorings, but it really doesn’t need a thing.  Will definitely make again. Once we eat all the quarts we froze from this batch!



Harvest Minestrone Soup

From MindBodyGreen


  • 1 sweet onion – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks – medium diced
  • 4 carrots – medium diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
  • 2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces
  • [1 bell pepper – medium diced] omitted
  • [addition: 6-8 cremini mushrooms, diced]
  • [addition: 2 small chunks of parmesan rind]
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • [2 28-ounce cans of water] I only used about 1/2 a can of water
  • [1 tetra pak/4 C low sodium chicken broth]
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • [1 15-ounce can of chickpeas] I used 2 cans of cannellini
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups kale – stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
  • [2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary]
  • [2 teaspoons dried parsley]
  • [grated romano cheese]
  • [fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon]

Large stockpot + oil, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add garlic and cook for about one minute.

Add zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, parmesan rinds, rosemary, parsley, canned beans, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the kale and romano cheese, cook until kale wilts.

Add juice of 1 lemon, taste for seasoning

I cooked this even longer than above to let the veggies get soft and flavors to mingle

Verdict: Delicious!

What’s for Dinner: Chicken and Noodles

Last night I finally got to make Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Noodles.  Made as directed, but with lots of extra carrots, and definitely included the onion.

At the end, it seemed a little flat, so I added a little spoonful of chicken base and the juice of about half a lemon. PERFECT.  I think the lemon is mandatory in the future.

Reames noodles were just as good as she said.  And – bonus – they didn’t seem to soak up all the broth in the leftovers.