Monthly Archives: March 2015

Black Bean Salsa Soup

By | March 30, 2015
Black Bean Salsa Soup

Great flavor from a few simple ingredients. That’s what this Black Bean Salsa Soup is all about. And easy too! With a few cans of black beans, a jar of your favorite tomato salsa and some classic herbs and spices, you can serve an excellent and meat-free soup in a jiffy. A couple key points here: the Mexican oregano gives this an earthy flavor that the more popular Turkish oregano that’s used to flavor Italian dishes can’t duplicate. I also like using Coconut Oil with black beans because it adds just a hint of the Tropics, but feel free to substitute olive oil or unsalted butter if you like.

Black Bean Salsa Soup Ingredients

Black Bean Salsa Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water. Reserve 1 can.
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 16 ounces salsa
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Sour cream for garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat
  2. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano and cook 2 minutes
  4. Pour in a bit of the chicken stock to deglaze the soup pot, stirring up any stickies from the bottom of the pot
  5. Add 3 cans of black beans and the salsa; mix to incorporate
  6. Pour in remaining chicken stock and bring to boil
  7. Reduce to simmer and blend the beans and soup with an immersion blender to desired consistency
  8. Pour in the final can of black beans and heat soup through
  9. Finish with lime juice
  10. Serve topped with a spoonful of sour cream and chopped cilantro

Melt 1 tablespoon Coconut OilCook Onions 5 minutesAdd garlic, chili powder, cumin and oreganoCook vegetable spice mixtureDeglaze with a bit of chicken stockVegetable mixture deglazedPour in 3 cans of black beansPour in 16 ounces salsaStir wellPour in rest of chicken stockBlend soup with immersion blenderPour in final can of black beansPour in lime juiceBlack Bean Salsa Soup Ingredients

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

By | March 26, 2015

Rich, creamy and slightly decadent, this cheesy broccoli cauliflower soup is nonetheless absolutely delicious and sure to impress your family and friends. If you like broccoli or cauliflower, then you’ll need no convincing here. But if not everyone shares your love of cruciferous vegetables, this is the soup to bring them on board. Serve this to those who say, “I don’t like broccoli,” or “Cauliflower is gross,” and get ready for a change of attitude!

You can use fresh or frozen broccoli and cauliflower with equally excellent results. Don’t worry about chopping the vegetables too fine if you plan to blend them later as this recipe suggests. The salmon seasoning might seem like an odd thing to include in a non-seafood soup, but it goes very well with cauliflower and rich, cheesy dishes. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to substitute an equal amount of Old Bay, Cajun or creole seasoning. The lemon juice, added right at the end, helps temper the richness of the cheese and gives the finished dish a nice bit of brightness.
Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped roughly
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped roughly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Salmon Magic Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of celery soup
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot melt the butter over medium heat
  2. Stir in the onions and cook 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic, salmon seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook 2 minutes
  4. Drop in the broccoli and cauliflower and give everything a good stir
  5. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender
  7. With an immersion blender, puree some of the vegetables, breaking up the larger pieces (this creates a more interesting texture and makes the soup easier to eat)
  8. Pour in the half-and-half and cans of soup
  9. Stir well to fully incorporate
  10. Add the tabasco sauce and cheese
  11. Keep stirring until cheese has melted into the soup
  12. Pour in lemon juice and serve
Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Venezuelan Chicken Cheese Soup (Chupe Criollo)

By | March 23, 2015
Chupe Criollo and Corn Chips

Known as Chupe Criollo (Creole Soup) in Venezuela, this soup is really a chowder in disguise featuring chicken, cheese, corn, potatoes and one of my favorite herbs – cilantro. In fact, the recipe calls for an entire bunch of cilantro! Whereas cilantro is often used to finish a dish, here part of it is tossed in near the beginning to infuse the broth while the rest is added before serving to give it a final fresh herby punch. Since this is a chicken-and-cheese soup, traditionally you would dump in 4 to 6 ounces of cheese and let it dissolve into the soup shortly before serving. However, other recipes for Chupe Criollo advised against adding a bunch of cheese to the soup unless the entire pot will be eaten the same day it is cooked. The problem being that the cheese collects at the bottom of the soup pot in a large lump. I decided to serve the cheese on the side, and have it available to top off the soup instead of melt in it. Even if that’s not entirely authentic, I can assure you that this is an extremely delicious soup and a great introduction to South American cooking.

Chupe Criollo Ingredients

Venezuelan Chicken Cheese Soup (Chupe Criollo)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Venezuelan
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water
  • 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 4 to 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven or soup pot and heat over medium
  2. Dump in the onions and cook 5 minutes
  3. Stir in the garlic, half the cilantro, cumin and cook for 2 minutes more
  4. Add the chicken breast, pour in the stock and bring to a boil
  5. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked
  6. Remove chicken, cut into shreds and return to the pot
  7. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes, or so, until fork tender
  8. Dump in the corn and remaining cilantro; pour in the milk and stir well
  9. Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed
  10. Bring mixture to a simmer and serve topped with shredded mozzarella cheese (It’s also great with a few pickled jalapeno pepper slices, too)
Notes
I had a fully-cooked chicken breast on hand and used it for this go-round. In case you're wondering why that chicken was already cooked!

Heat Olive OilCook onion for 5 minutesAdd garlicStir in cilantroAdd cuminCook herbs and spicesCooked herb and spice mixtureAdd chickenPour in chicken brothReturn shredded chicken to potStir in chickenStir in potatoesCook potatoesAdd cornAdd remaining cilantroPour in evaporated milkMix togetherTop soup with mozzarella cheeseChupe Criollo

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Old World Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup

By | March 19, 2015
Old World Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup

On St. Patrick’s Day 2015, I made this Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup to be served at Rich Cuisine’s Wednesday Bakery in Superior, Wisconsin. I wanted the soup to speak of the flavors of Ireland and complement the featured bread of the day, a hearty Polish Dill bread. So, with cabbage, kielbasa and caraway in hand I went to work.

Green CabbagePolish KielbasaCaraway Seeds

When it comes to cabbage, it seems people either love it or loathe it. I suspect people who don’t like it have been served overcooked cabbage. And overcooked cabbage is repulsive. When cooked correctly, cabbage is mellow and delicious. And that’s the character of this soup. It is comforting, warming and a soup to turn suspicious diners into cabbage converts.

Vegeta

My secret ingredient is Vegeta Gourmet Seasoning & Soup Mix. Vegeta is a popular seasoning in Central and Eastern Europe, where it is used to flavor numerous dishes, just like seasoning salt is used in the United States.

Old World Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Polish
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 pound smoked kielbasa sausage, sliced in half lengthwise twice and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta Gourmet Seasoning & Soup Mix
Instructions
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot and heat over medium
  2. Stir in the onions and carrots and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Dump in the garlic, kielbasa and caraway seeds and cook 3 minutes
  4. Pour in the stock along with salt and pepper and bring mixture to a boil
  5. Stir in the cabbage, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice and simmer 15 to 20 minutes longer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spatula into small pieces
  7. Add the Vegeta seasoning during the last 10 minutes of cooking
Notes
This recipe makes a very large batch of soup. Feel free to cut it in half for a smaller crowd. Otherwise, this soup makes very tasty leftovers.

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Greek Meatball Lemon Rice Soup

By | March 17, 2015
Greek Meatball Lemon Rice Soup

Lemony soups are very popular in Greece, where a basic broth is often padded with orzo or rice along with lemon juice to make a fresh-tasting soup with a citrus tang. Pieces of cooked chicken are a common protein add-on, but I wanted to do something a little different. For this Greek-influenced soup, I use a package of heat-and-eat frozen meatballs and bring them to life by quickly “cooking” them in a bed of sautéed onions before assembling the rest of the soup. You can increase the tartness of this soup with extra lemon juice; however, I recommend starting with 1/8 cup lemon juice and tasting before adding more.

Lemon Rice Meatball Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Greek
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound frozen meatballs
  • ½ cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained thoroughly
  • ⅛-¼ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat
  2. Drop in the onions and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the meatballs and continue cooking for 2 minutes
  4. Stir in the rice and mix well
  5. Add ½ cup parsley and lemon zest
  6. Pour in broth and bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes
  8. Add lemon juice and taste
  9. Stir in remaining ¼ cup parsley and stir
  10. Taste for seasoning and top with grated Pecorino Romano

Meatball Lemon Rice Soup IngredientsHeat Olive Oil

Saute onionAdd meatballs to onionsAdd basmati riceAdd parsleyAdd parsleyStir in lemon zestPour in brothPour in lemon juiceAdd remaining parsleyGarnish with Pecorino Romano Cheese

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

 

 

 

 
Author:

Nigerian Pepper Soup

By | March 12, 2015
Pepper soup finished

I find the foods and cooking of the many nations within West Africa fascinating – especially when it comes to soups and stews. In Nigeria, to take one country as an example, it is common to combine ingredients such as beef or chicken with smoked fish and other seafood in the same soup pot. And palm oil is often used not as a cooking fat but to flavor and add color to soups. There is a real sense of freedom in this type of cooking as well as the creativity to work with what’s available.

One of the most common soups of this very large region is Pepper Soup. There are as many different recipes for pepper soup as there are for chicken noodle soup, and pepper soup is in many ways West Africa’s chicken noodle soup – a comfort food that tastes like home.

After researching and reviewing dozens of pepper soup recipes, I came up with my own “Nigerian” version, using chicken as the “meat” and dried crayfish as the seafood. Traditional pepper soup recipes generally call for cooking an entire chicken in the pot, and I will do that another time around. For convenience, I chose boneless chicken thighs and left a bit of the fat on them to help flavor the soup. Sweet potatoes are common in West African cuisine so I added a couple of those for additional texture and body. And palm oil is a must. Now, for the seasoning…

The biggest obstacle to cooking a West African-style Pepper Soup is finding the ingredients to make the pepper seasoning. Many of these spices are not easily found in the U.S. If you live in a city with an African grocery or large farmer’s market, I would start there. Otherwise, you can do what I did and order a ready-to-cook Pepper Soup Seasoning mix online. The seasoning mix looks like curry powder, but the primary taste is pepper – different than black pepper but peppery all the same. Alligator Pepper – one of those spices common to West African cooking – is listed as the primary ingredient.

This is a very intriguing and delicious soup. The peppery spiciness is contrasted yet complemented by the smoky saltiness of the dried crayfish. Pepper soup is often reputed to have restorative powers, and is a favorite pick-me-up after a late night on the town, and it’s this see-saw balance of pepper and salt that I believe makes it so.

Pepper Soup Ingredients

Nigerian Pepper Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: African
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions
  • 15-ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Pepper Soup seasoning
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons dried crayfish, ground with mortar and pestle
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Lime juice
Instructions
  1. Cut 1 onion into thin slices and line the bottom of a Dutch oven or soup pot with half of the onion
  2. Lay the chicken thighs on top of the onion pieces and cover with the remaining half an onion
  3. Sprinkle the Pepper Soup seasoning over the chicken and onions
  4. Drop in the sweet potatoes, pour in water, add bay leaf and heat to a boil
  5. Reduce heat to medium and let cook 20 to 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through
  6. Remove chicken, cut into small pieces and return to the Dutch oven
  7. Take the remaining onion and dice it, quarter the garlic clove
  8. Drop onion and garlic into a food processor or blender along with the tomatoes and process until smooth
  9. Add the pureed vegetable mixture to the soup
  10. Stir in the dried crayfish and palm oil and let soup simmer for 20 minutes
  11. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed
  12. Finish with a drizzle or two of lime juice

Place chicken over onionsPepper soup spice seasoningAdd remaining onion half and spiceCut sweet potato into diceAdd sweet potatoPour in water and bay leafRemove cooked chickenCut cooked chicken into diceReturn chicken to soupDried crayfishGrind dried crayfishAdd ground crayfish and palm oilPlace onion and garlic in food processorAdd tomato to food processor

Process vegetables to smooth pureePour in vegetable pureeCook for 20 minutes moreServe pepper soup

If you are interested in learning more about the foods and cooking techniques of West Africa, I highly recommend the following cookbooks:

Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal (Pierre Thiam) – This hardcover cookbook introduced me to strange and exotic ingredients such as guedj (a dried, fermented fish), kong (a Senegalese smoked catfish) and fonio (a grain with a long history of use in West African cooking). There is a great variety of recipes here, with color photos of many finished dishes. The book also contains many images of day-to-day life in Senegal, and while they are interesting I would have preferred the space be devoted to more recipes. Even so, this is a great addition to any ethnic cookbook collection. And although not soup-related, Thiam’s recipe for grilled chicken with lime-onion sauce is worth the cost of the book alone. An amazing summertime dish!

Principles of Cooking in West Africa: Learn the Art of African Heritage Foo Foo and Soup Cooking  (Raymond Essang) – As the title suggests, this cookbook places a greater emphasis on soups and stews, although it contains recipes for everything from breads to beverages. Many of the recipes call for difficult-to-find ingredients, so go in with an adventuresome spirit and the expectation that you’ll need to do some digging to bring some of these dishes together. To me, these recipes seem to represent the “soul food” of West Africa and have an authenticity that makes them just as fun to read as to prepare. If the book has a downside, it’s the lack of images. There are no photos. And some recipes suggest quantities like as “needed,” which isn’t very helpful when you’re trying to re-create something that may be entirely new to you. But I still love this cookbook.

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

 

Hot and Sour Chinese Ramen Tofu Vegetable Soup

By | March 7, 2015
Hot and Sour Chinese Ramen Tofu Vegetable Soup

This Hot and Sour Chinese Vegetable soup can be prepared entirely in a wok, taking advantage of the cookware’s quick-cooking capabilities and wide sides to keep anything from jumping out. A wok is really a versatile tool, and I love using mine for stir-frying as well as for making soups on the quick. If you don’t own a wok, it’s a worthy investment. I purchased a 14-inch Carbon Steel Wok from the Wok Shop two years ago and have been very happy with it.

So with wok on the burner, I set out on a busy Wednesday night to make a tasty vegetable soup with ingredients I had on hand and that wouldn’t take long to prep and cook. I started with tofu, Napa cabbage, carrots and garlic. Deep in the back of one cupboard I found a package of Ramen noodles and decided to add those, minus the seasoning packet, for some extra body. And for more speedy convenience, some Swanson’s Chinese-style Hot and Sour broth. This was my first soup using a packaged hot-and-sour broth, and it added plenty of flavor out of the gate. I was suspect that it would be more sour than hot, but that’s not the case. One of the broth’s primary ingredients is cayenne pepper, and this liquid does have a bite. My wife thought it was quite spicy, so you might want to cut the broth with some water if you’re not a spice lover. I, on the other hand, drizzled some Sriracha sauce over mine for a final burst of heat. Verdict? A very nice Asian-style veggie soup that came together quickly, was fun to make and had plenty of contrasting textures. Most importantly, it was a very flavorful soup.

Hot and Sour Chinese Vegetable Soup Ingredients

Hot and Sour Chinese Ramen Tofu Vegetable Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 Napa cabbage, cut into thin strips, washed and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 quart Swanson Chinese Hot & Sour broth
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 package extra firm Tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 package Ramen noodles, any flavor (save spice packet for another use)
  • Salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Drain liquid thoroughly from tofu and cut into ½-inch cubes
  2. Put the peanut oil into a wok and heat over high
  3. Add the tofu and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes
  4. Remove tofu and let drain on paper towels
  5. Add the garlic and carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes
  6. Stir in the cabbage, reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes
  7. Pour in the broth and increase heat
  8. Break the Ramen noodles into smaller pieces, add to the wok and cook until tender
  9. Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired
  10. Put the tofu back into the wok and mix everything together

 

Chop, wash and rinse Napa cabbageCut tofu into 1/2-inch cubesHeat peanut oil over high heatAdd tofu to wokStir-fry tofu until brownedStir-fry carrots and garlicAdd Napa cabbageStir-fry vegetablesPour in brothCook Ramen noodlesCook Ramen noodles until tender

Return tofu to wokHeat soup throughServe soupHot and Sour Chinese Vegetable Soup

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Hungarian Goulash Soup

By | March 6, 2015
Hungarian Goulash Soup

Hungarian goulash is one of that country’s best-known and loved dishes and one we generally think of as a stew, but originally goulash was closer to a soup than a stew and this Goulash Soup Recipe version reflects those origins. Stew meets soup in this rich Goulash Soup full of the flavors of Hungary.

Hungarian Goulash Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Hungarian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound stew beef, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons lard, butter or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh parsley sprigs, chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Drop the lard into a Dutch oven or soup pot and melt it over medium heat
  2. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes or until translucent
  3. Add beef and sprinkle paprika and caraway over the meat and onions
  4. Pour in ¼ cup water and stir until mixture begins to bubble
  5. Pour in 2 quarts beef broth and add bell pepper, carrots and potatoes
  6. Let the mixture simmer until beef and vegetables are tender
  7. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and additional paprika as desired
  8. Pour into bowls and top with chopped fresh parsley or your favorite herbs

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

What is the Best Chili Seasoning Packet Mix?

By | March 1, 2015
Chili Seasoning Packet Mixes Compared

If you think all chili seasoning packet mixes are the same…
you are wrong.
Dead wrong.

The next time you’re in the grocery store and decide you’re going to make chili from one of those handy chili seasoning packet mixes, consider this: your chili and your diners are depending on you making the right decision. And that means purchasing the chili seasoning mix that will deliver the best flavor.

What is the best chili seasoning packet mix?

We set out to find the best chili seasoning packet mix that can be purchased locally here in Superior, Wisconsin, although most of these can be purchased across the U.S. There are certainly mail-order options for chili seasoning mixes, but I wanted to treat this as if I were going into the grocery on a weeknight and relying on that selection alone. After all, when it’s dinner time we can’t be waiting for a delivery!

I purchased five different but common chili seasoning mixes from my local grocery store (Super One Foods). The criteria was that each mix must call for the same preparation and ingredients to make a fair comparison between the group. Each of these packets called for first browning 1 pound of ground beef before adding a 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes and a 15-ounce can of Kidney beans (undrained). The chili was then meant to simmer 10 minutes before serving.

Tomatoes and Kidney Beans

On a digital scale, I weighed exactly 16 ounces of ground beef for five different mixes and put the meat into individual containers to await cooking. The beef was browned in a large skillet over medium-high heat and then drained of excess fat. The seasoning packet contents were then stirred into the beef before adding tomatoes and beans. After mixing thoroughly, each chili was covered and allowed to simmer for 10 minutes. I then placed the individual chili into its own container in an electric buffet server that uses water to keep things warm. The skillet and utensils were washed thoroughly between each batch of chili to ensure there was no cross-contamination from the previous batch. This isn’t science, but I wanted to keep this comparison as objective as possible.

Browning Beef

Stir in Chili Seasoning Mix

Add tomatoes

Add kidney beans

Mix chili ingredients thoroughly

Cover and simmer 10 minutes

Each chili in its own serving container

Each chili seasoning mix was tasted by 9 judges

 

Nine Tasters were asked to rate each chili on a scale of 1 to 5, with half-scores (i.e. 3.5) allowed. Each chili was judged “naked,” without any additional seasonings or toppings. What you see is what you get.

Chili Seasoning Mix Rating Scale

1 = Poor
2 = Fair
3 = Good
4 = Very Good
5 = Excellent

The contenders:

Tempo Old Style Southwestern Chili Mix

Tempo Chili Mix

Tempo Chili Mix, backTempo Chili Mix Ingredients

 

 Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Chili Seasoning Mix

Mrs. Dash Chili Seasoning Mix

Mrs. Dash Chili Seasoning Mix, Back

McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix

McCormick Chili Mix, Front

McCormick Chili Mix, Back

 French’s Chili-O Original Seasoning Mix

French's Chili-O Mix, front

French's Chili-O Mix, back

Durkee Original Chili Seasoning Mix

Durkee Chili Seasoning Mix, front

Durkee, Chili Seasoning Mix, Back

 

 The Verdict:

Each chili was judged by nine individual tasters, who provided a numerical rating and optional comments. The ratings were added and then averaged. From worst to first, here are the final results:

5th Place (last): Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Chili Seasoning Mix – Final Score = 1.5 out of 5

Mrs. Dash Chili Seasoning Mix, Front
Overall, tasters were unimpressed with this mix, with comments ranging from: “very bland” and “flavorless” to “Is there seasoning in this?” This was the only mix without salt as an ingredient, and it seems that chili without salt is a lot like other food without salt – seriously in need of flavor.

4th Place: Tempo Old Style Southwestern Chili Mix – Final Score = 2.4 out of 5

Tempo Chili Mix
I was probably most intrigued by this mix because of its ingredients. Whereas the other four mixes described either chili pepper or wheat flour as the primary ingredient, Tempo starts off with dextrose – aka glucose – a type of sugar. I’m not sure what makes this mix “Southwestern,” but it didn’t fare much better than Mrs. Dash. Tasters comments included, “mild and tomato taste,” “tomato-sauce taste with no bite” to “filling but bland.”

3rd Place: McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix – Final Score = 2.6 out of 5

McCormick Chili Mix, Front
Going into the competition, I thought McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix would come out on top as it seems to among the best-known of the packaged mixes, but I was wrong. It ended up being the middle-of-the-road entry, with two tasters describing a heavier cumin flavor than the others. One taster judged this chili to have “nice aroma” but a “chemical flavor.”

1st Place (tie): French’s Chili-O Original Seasoning Mix/Durkee Original Chili Seasoning Mix – Final Score = 3.4 out of 5

French's Chili-O Mix, front

Durkee Chili Seasoning Mix, front
French’s and Durkee’s chili seasoning mixes were given the best marks by eight out of nine judges, with each tallying a final average of 3.4 out of a possible 5. French’s received three ratings of 4, the only mix to do so, and with only one judge giving it a a score lower than 3, who said it had a “bit more spice but lacks body.” Three tasters described French’s chili as “tangy” while another noted it as “slightly citrus-y, with more chili taste.” Another said, “really liked the spice of this.

The Durkee mix made an equally strong showing, with one rating of 4 and another of 4.5 – the highest mark given to any mix. Comments included, “Nice smell and good taste!” and “good flavor and enough spice.” However, even with the high marks, four of the nine judges found this mix to be salty. Their comments, “saltier and a bit more heat,” “spiciest, salt,” “very salty” and “too salty for me.”

Conclusion:

I admit – I was very surprised by how much variation and flavor differences were evident and noted by the tasters in this Chili Seasoning Mix Packet Showdown. Even though we declared two champions, this is not meant to be a comprehensive assessment of all available chili seasoning mixes, but the first in a quest to find the best one. In this case, you have the best two!

There’s little doubt that the best chili comes from using pure chili powder and cooking it low and slow, but in a pinch we all could use some help with dinner now and again. That’s where the good old chili seasoning mix packet comes in. If you’re faced with the same choices at your grocery store, eSoupRecipes.com and its helpful chili tasters recommend French’s Chili-O Seasoning Mix or Durkee Original Chili Seasoning Mix.

So tell us, what is your favorite chili seasoning mix? Which ones should we include in the next Chili Seasoning Mix Packet Showdown?

Looking for the perfect soup pot to cook up your next batch of chili? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.