Super Easy Cucumber Gazpacho Recipe

Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho

Summer-like weather finally(!) arrived in northern Wisconsin this weekend, with temps “soaring” into the upper 70s. It was a perfect opportunity for the first gazpacho of the year. This Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho features a wealth of green vegetables and can be put together quickly. No cooking is required and all the ingredients can be dumped together into a food processor or blender for a soup that comes together in about 1 minute.

There are many variations on gazpacho, but this easy recipe for gazpacho is one of my favorites. It’s bursting with freshness and I love the cool flavors of the cucumbers fighting it out with the spicier jalapeno pepper and bit of hot sauce. If you prefer your soup mild, feel free to leave the jalapeno out – it will still be delicious.

And even if you think you don’t like cold soups, give this one a try.  I bet it will change your mind about cold soups and give your something else to enjoy throughout the summer months.

Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 10 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Greek yogurt to top
  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth
  2. Transfer to a bowl or non-reactive container and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until very cold
  3. Serve in small cups topped with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and additional cilantro, if desired


Put ingredients into food processorPuree until smoothGarnish with Greek YogurtSpicy Cucumber Gazpacho




Venezuelan Chicken Cheese Soup (Chupe Criollo)

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)
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Venezuelan
  • 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
  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)
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.

In fact, I was surprised at how cheap I was able to buy the 6 quart Lodge Dutch Oven from the listing on Amazon.

See Current Price Now


Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Soup with Niter Kibbeh

Serve with yogurt and bread

I love lentils and lentil soup, but after a while I get tired of the same old-same old and know it’s time to mix it up.

The plan?

What better way to perk up lentils than to bring in the flavors of Ethiopia, one of the world’s most ancient cuisines?

Butter made better

This Spicy Ethiopian Lentil soup’s base flavor begins with a spiced clarified butter called Niter Kibbeh. You can purchase Niter Kibbeh online or at an African grocery, but it’s more fun and satisfying to make your own. This gorgeous, golden-yellow elixir is deliciously aromatic and seductive. I couldn’t help taking the lid off the jar and passing it back and forth with my wife, each of us inhaling deeply as if the Niter Kibbeh were some fresh blossom of spring. There is clarified butter and then there is Niter Kibbeh. It is amazing.

But what about the spicy?

What gives this soup its kick is the use of Berbere (pronounced bear-bear-EH). Berbere is a signature spice mix of Ethiopia with a rich, reddish color.  It consists of numerous spices including allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper. The latter is usually the primary ingredient, which gives Berbere its fiery character.

This Berbere recipe from Chef Marcus Samuelsson is a very good one. Otherwise, you can purchase a ready-to-go Berbere spice mix online.

Let’s begin with the Niter Kibbeh!

Niter Kibbeh

Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Soup with Niter Kibbeh
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Butter
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 3 cloves, whole
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium saucepan
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat
  3. When the butter is foamy white on top, add the remaining ingredients and mix well
  4. Turn the heat down to low and let the mixture simmer untouched for about 45 minutes
  5. Eventually, the solids will collect on the bottom of the saucepan
  6. Line a colander with four folds of wet cheesecloth and pour the mixture through it into a heat-proof bowl or saucepan
  7. The liquid should be clear and free of any solids. If not, pour through cheesecloth again.
  8. Discard the solids and cheesecloth
  9. Allow the liquid to cool; then transfer to a clean jar – you will get about 2 cups of Niter Kibbeh
  10. When refrigerated, the Niter Kebbeh will become solid and is good for about 3 months

1 pound butter cubesMelt ButterAdd vegetables and spicesMix well and reduce to simmerSimmer 45 minutesSolids will collect on the bottomStrain through cheeseclothOnly liquid should remain after strainingPour Niter Kibbeh into clean jarNiter Kibbeh ready for use

Now, onto the Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Soup!

Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Soup Ingredients

Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Soup with Niter Kibbeh
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • ¼ cup Niter Kibbeh
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Berbere
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 15-ounce canned tomatoes, diced
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan Pink salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt the Niter Kibbeh over medium heat
  2. Stir in the onions and cook 4 minutes
  3. Add garlic, Berbere, cumin, paprika and cook 1 minute
  4. Mix in the lentils and stir to coat with the onion-spice mixture
  5. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 to 40 minutes, until lentils are cooked
  7. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and let simmer another 10 minutes
  8. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Top with a spoonful or two of thick plain yogurt

Add Niter Kibbeh to Dutch OvenMelt Niter KibbehStir in onionsCook onions 4 minutesAdd spices and garlicCook spice mixtureStir in lentilsPour in Chicken StockAdd tomatoes and tomato pasteStir togetherSimmer 10 minutesServe with yogurt and breadServe with thick Greek Yogurt


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.






Nigerian Pepper Soup with Chicken (Recipe)

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 Spice Mix online. The seasoning mix looks like curry powder, but the primary taste is pepper – different than black pepper but peppery all the same.

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.

How To Make Nigerian Pepper Soup

Pepper Soup Ingredients

Nigerian Pepper Soup Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: African
Serves: 8
  • 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
  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.



Vegetarian Taco Soup with Ranch Dressing – Meatless and Amazing!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

For this Vegetarian Taco Soup Recipe, Ranch Dressing helps give the mixture a fresh and bright flavor. This taco soup recipe is also easy to make, and can be assembled very quickly using a handful of ingredients most of us keep in our cupboards: Ranch Dressing Mix Packet, Taco Seasoning, beans and tomatoes. The only wild card here is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), which can be found in most grocery stores either in the aisle where baking goods are kept, in the organic foods section and online. The Rotel tomatoes with chilies give it some extra bite, and I use Penzeys Bold Taco Seasoning instead of a packet mix. If you don’t like spicy taco soup, use a can of regular crushed tomatoes and a packet of mild taco seasoning. Bottom line: this meatless taco soup is very flavorful and adaptable.

Vegetarian Taco Soup Ingredients

What is Textured Vegetable Protein?

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is a dried soy product that looks like bulgur wheat, except the individual protein “grains” of TVP have a more ragged and crunchy appearance (see the photo below for comparison). TVP is convenient because you can keep it in the cupboard and bring it out when needed. You don’t have to refrigerate it or defrost it before using. TVP can be rehydrated easily with water or your favorite broth, generally in a 1:1 ratio: 1 cup of TVP to 1 cup of liquid.

TVP and Bulgur Wheat

TVP (left) and Bulgur Wheat (right) look similar, but TVP has a crunchier texture and more jagged appearance.

What does TVP taste like?

TVP doesn’t really taste like much when it is reconstituted using water. The flavor is that of a neutral grain, something like bulgur wheat. However, TVP is like a flavor sponge and quickly takes on the essence of its surrounding ingredients, making it perfect to use in well-seasoned soups. It also has a crumbly texture that is similar to ground meat, so it is a natural veggie substitute for recipes calling for ground beef or ground turkey.

How much TVP is equal to a pound of ground beef?

For recipes that call for 1 pound of ground beef, the equivalent amount of dried Textured Vegetable Protein would be 1 cup. Once the TVP is rehydrated with an equal amount of liquid (1 cup dry TVP to 1 cup liquid), the grains swell and increase in volume.

Vegetarian Taco Soup with Ranch Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup dry Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 15-ounce can red beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water
  • 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water
  • 28-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or 1 packet taco seasoning mix)
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning mix (you can’t go wrong with Hidden Valley)
  • 1½ cups water
  1. Put the TVP in a small saucepan, pour over it the boiling water and stir
  2. Let sit 5 minutes to rehydrate
  3. In a Dutch oven or soup pot add the olive oil and heat over medium
  4. Stir in the onions and cook 5 minutes
  5. Add the TVP and cook for 2 minutes
  6. Pour in the taco seasoning and ranch seasoning; stir well to coat and cook for another minute or so
  7. Add the beans, tomatoes, water and bring soup to a boil
  8. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes
  9. Garnish with your favorite taco toppings, such as shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapeno pepper slices, cilantro and/or lime juice.
  10. Serve with corn chips and your favorite beverage


Add TVP to small saucepan

Add boiling water to TVP

TVP after rehydrating 5 minutes

Cook onion in olive oil 5 minutes

Stir in TVP

Cook TVP and onions 2 minutes

Add taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix

Cook seasonings 1 minute

Add beans, tomatoes and water

Serve soup

Serve with your favorite taco toppings


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

Old World Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup

On St. Patrick’s Day, I make 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.


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
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Polish
Serves: 16
  • 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
  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
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.

How Kitchari and Maharagwe became “Kitcharagwe”


One of the greatest joys of making soup – and cooking in general – is being able to travel anywhere in the world for lunch or dinner. I don’t mean hopping on a private jet and telling the pilot, “take me to Spain.” No, the travel is through food and the flavors, ingredients and concepts that form the culinary landscape of a place.

I’m starting a new service called Soup Escapes. Over time, it will be offering free roundtrip travel to every country on Earth via soup bowl. Today, we will be visiting India and Kenya for a taste of two staple dishes – Kitchari and Maharagwe.

Kitchari is a basic “soup” of rice and yellow moong dal that is popular in Ayurvedic circles. It is often eaten as the primary meal for those on a detox regimen, because it provides a complete protein and is easy to digest – Kitchari is usually cooked to a porridge-like consistency. Turmeric, coriander and cumin are typically used to flavor the dish, with vegetables such as onions and carrots tossed in for added texture and taste.

Maharagwe is a Kenyan vegetarian dish of red kidney beans simmered in a sauce of coconut milk, tomatoes, turmeric and hot peppers. It is cooked to a thick consistency and eaten with rice or other starches.

I thought the base flavors of Maharagwe would work well to flavor Kitchari, and the rice and dal could stand in place of kidney beans. So, I brought the two together and turned them into a soup I call, “Kitcharagwe.” To shake things up even further, I put in an equal amount of red lentils and moong dal for a nice color contrast of red and yellow. A pound of boneless chicken cut into bite-sized pieces gives this soup extra body and flavor. Oregano might seem like an odd herb to include, but it pops up in many soup and stew recipes across sub-Saharan Africa. Many times the suggested amounts are “as needed” or “to taste.” Not very helpful advice, so I tossed in enough oregano to impart its flavor without making this taste like some bizarre pizza sauce. I also mixed in a handful of raisins (totally optional).

I’m always tempted to top curries with cilantro, but this time I went with fresh mint as the finishing herb. The tingle of the mint helps balance the richness of the coconut milk. Nestled with a few cashew halves, this Kitcharagwe is a stew-like soup that can stand on its own. And now, it has a name of its own!

Chicken Kitcharagwe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Indian African
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • ½ cup red lentils, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • ½ cup yellow moong dal, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 pound boneless chicken, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Turkish oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1, 14½-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (more if you want a thinner soup)
  • 1, 14-ounce can coconut milk
  1. Soak lentils and moong dal for 2 hours in cold water; drain and rinse
  2. Melt ghee in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat
  3. Stir in onion and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add chicken and spices and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, mixing everything well to coat chicken
  5. Drop in rice, lentils, moong dal, tomatoes and chicken broth
  6. Bring to boil and reduce heat
  7. Simmer 25 to 30 minutes, partially covered, until rice, lentils and dal are tender
  8. Pour in coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes
  9. Serve, topped with fresh mint and cashews


Melt ghee

Saute onions

Add boneless chicken

Spices and herbs

Add spices and herbs

Saute chicken with spices

Add basmati rice, red lentils, moon dal and tomatoes

Pour in chicken broth

Cook soup 30 minutes

Add coconut milk



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.



Manitoba Ham and Bean Soup

Manitoba Ham and Bean Soup

A recent trip to Whiteshell Provincial Park, in eastern Manitoba, was the inspiration behind a very tasty, rib-sticking ham and bean soup. Journeying through this immense park of more than 2,700 square kilometers was just the ticket to kick-start ideas for a new recipe twist on an old favorite soup.

Sunrise over the Rennie River in Whiteshell Provincial Park

An abundance of fresh air was just the spark. Days spent hiking over the ancient rocks of the Canadian Shield, circling blue lakes and forests dotted with jack pines brought things into clearer focus. And then there was the wildlife – American White Pelicans scooping their bills into rushing water in search of fish; trumpeter swans guarding their nest; otters swimming playfully in the Rennie River; groundhogs, snakes, red fox; and the nighttime cacophony of spring peepers and their amphibian comrades turning sluggish ponds into symphonic bursts of music. And sunrises that cast a purplish glow over the morning that seemed from a dream (my wife Terrie took that great photo from the deck of our cottage at Inverness Falls Resort!)

Alright, but what about the soup?!

Keep It Simple

Ham and bean soup is a longtime favorite of mine, and growing up it I ate it often. The simplest things are often the best so I hesitate to get too fancy with a benchmark, but this soup is the absolute best ham and bean soup I have ever tasted. And I’m not just saying that because I made it.

4 Secrets to the Best Ham and Bean Soup

The keys here are fourfold: Most ham and bean soups call for a ham bone or ham hock. I use a smoked ham chip, which has a ton of smoky flavor and the meat is decidedly leaner and more abundant than from a hock. If you have never cooked with one, here is your chance.

Next, my dried herb of choice is savory. 6 Dried Herbs Every Soup Maker Needs and assert it is a flavoring that should have greater appeal. It is far more popular in Canada, and now you know that secret.

I like food with a bit of bite, so I tipped in a cup of spicy hot vegetable juice for a bit of heat and to give the soup a bit of acidity.

To give balance to the spice, I added some real maple syrup for the perfect mix of smoke, heat and sweet. This soup has great depth of flavor and reveals more of itself with each spoonful.

Manitoba Ham and Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Canadian
Serves: 8-10
  • 2 cups navy beans
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 smoked ham chip
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 carrots, trimmed and diced
  • 1 cup V8 spicy hot vegetable juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon savory
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Rinse beans thoroughly in cold water and pick out any weird bits
  2. Place beans in a large saucepan or pot and cover with cold water by at least 1 inch
  3. Let beans soak overnight
  4. Drain beans and rinse thoroughly again with cold water
  5. Pour beans into large Dutch Oven
  6. Add ham chip and water
  7. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover
  8. Let simmer for 2 hours
  9. Remove ham chip, chop off meat and return to pot
  10. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil once again
  11. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until beans are soft
  12. Soup is ready!


Soak navy beans overnigh

Add beans and ham chip to Dutch Oven

Pour in water

Remove ham chip

Shred ham

Return ham to soup

Add vegetables to soup

Bean soup spices

Add spices

Simmer soup 1 hour more

Cook until beans are tender

Manitoba Ham and Bean 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.





Beef Biryani Soup

Beef biryani soup spice mix

Biryani is a classic Indian dish of rice and meat lavished with spices that is often served on festive occasions. When you taste it, you’ll understand why.

Made Tender with Yogurt

Imagine stew beef; velvety, in a coating of yogurt.

Yogurt is a much-used marinade for Indian cooking. It is a fantastic tenderizer and works great to coat beef, chicken or lamb in whatever herbs and spices you choose to apply. And it’s very forgiving – if you leave your dish draped in yogurt a couple extra hours there is no harm done.

So we first yogurt-ize and spice the beef.

And then the Biryani is…

Made awesome with spices

Infused with flavor – redolent with cayenne, coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric and ginger

Simmered, Oh, so slow!

Then we take the marinated beef mixture and slow-cook it in a bath of onions and clarified butter until it’s Sunday-roast tender…

Lentils and Rice come to the Party!

You know they want to!

Biryani… Become Soup!

And then – and only then – do we take the final liberty and add beef broth to make Biryani “soup.”

Biryani soup ingredients

Beef Biryani Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Indian, African
Serves: 8
  • 1 pound stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup red lentils, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • ¾ cup basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 onion, minced
  1. Put the beef into a plastic bag or non-reactive container and add the yogurt, cayenne pepper, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander and garlic
  2. Let marinade for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours
  3. Drop ghee into a large Dutch oven and melt over medium heat
  4. Toss in onion and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes
  5. Add beef mixture and cook until beef browns on outside
  6. Pour in water and reduce heat to simmer
  7. Cover and let simmer 1 hour, until beef is fork tender
  8. Stir in lentils and rice and pour in beef broth
  9. Bring to boil
  10. Cook for 20 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender
  11. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Beef and yogurt

Marinate beef


Biryani soup spice mixture

Add spices and yogurt to beef

Beef marinade mix

Add 1 tablespoon ghee to Dutch oven

Melt ghee

Saute onion until translucent

Add beef mixture


Brown beef mixture

Pour in water

Simmer 1 hour

Add lentils and rice

Pour in beef broth

Chop fresh cilantro

Beef Biryani 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.

Mashed Potato Ham and Cheese Soup

Mashed Potato Ham and Cheese Soup

Ever wonder what to do with a pile of leftover mashed potatoes? Make soup, of course!

This Mashed Potato Ham and Cheese Soup is a very easy recipe to use up the stragglers in the refrigerator, including ham, cheese and corn. And it’s very versatile, too. If you don’t have ham, substitute chicken or bacon. The corn could be replaced with peas, broccoli or cauliflower – whatever you like.

Don’t let the simplicity of the preparation fool you. It is an excellent potato soup outright – rich, creamy and hearty.

Mashed Potato Ham and Cheese Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups cubed ham
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup corn (frozen, canned or fresh)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh parsley
  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the butter over medium-low heat
  2. Stir in the onions and cook 5 minutes, or until soft
  3. Add the garlic and ham pieces and cook 2 to 3 minutes more
  4. Pour in the milk, half-and-half and chicken broth and stir
  5. Add the potatoes and corn and mix well, until thoroughly incorporated
  6. Stir in the the salt, pepper, paprika
  7. Add the cheese and heat through until melted
  8. Finish with a bit of chopped fresh parsley, a dusting of paprika and more cheese, if desired

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.