Category Archives: Soups and Stews

Celebrate Spring with a Tasty Asparagus Soup

If you like asparagus, you will love this tasty, fresh soup made with asparagus and leeks. Of course, I added bacon, because everything’s better with bacon, isn’t it? But it is optional in this recipe if you’d like to keep it pure. The recipe also calls for white wine, which is also optional. It adds a slightly different flavor and sophistication to the soup, but it works equally well without it.

The recipe yields four 1 cup servings, which makes it nice entry course for dinner. If you combine it with a salad and a slice of low carb bread, then you have a lovely lunch.

Asparagus, Leek, & Bacon Cream Soup

1 Leek, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons White Wine (optional)
2 slices thick Bacon, cut into pieces and fried until crisp
1/2 lb Asparagus, chopped in 1-inch pieces
3 cups Chicken Broth
Pinch White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2/3 cup Cream

Clean and thinly slice the leek until the green leaves are too tough to use. Put into a colander and thoroughly wash to make sure any dirt is removed. Heat the butter in a medium pot and sauté the leeks for about 2 minutes. Add white wine (if using) or 2 tablespoons of chicken stock to keep the leeks moist.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the chopped asparagus, then add the rest to the pot with 2 cups of the chicken stock. Add seasonings, stir until mixed, then simmer for about 30 minutes.
Season with pepper.

Scoop 1 cup of the mixture and puree in a blender, then repeat with the rest of the soup mixture. Put back in the pot and add the remaining stock. Stir in the cream, bacon and reserved asparagus and heat over medium heat until hot. Serve.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories: 188.5 Fat: 16 g Net Carbs: 6.2 g Protein: 4.1 g

Savory Pork Stew for St. Patrick’s Day

Hard to believe that we’re almost to the end of February with only a week left in the month. I’m already thinking ahead to spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. We’ve had enough rain and snow in northern Nevada this winter that I think the spring should be spectacular this year. I’ve started to get a jump on recipes for the season and one I tried this past weekend is a variation of an Irish Stew.

Mostly a true Irish Stew, if there is one, would use lamb in it. While lamb is okay. it’s not my first choice for meat. To be honest, I prefer pork over lamb or beef, so I was happy to find this recipe from one of my favorite online people, Chef John, that uses pork and Brussels sprouts, which he calls baby cabbages. I don’t think that’s exactly accurate, but I do like sprouts so it’s fine with me. I expect, you could cut cabbage into quarters, cook them in water for a few minutes, then pop them into the stew for the last five minutes and they would work quite well. I only made a couple of minor changes to Chef John’s stew. Check out his recipe and video here.

This stew is delicious, very savory, easy to make, and best of all, low in carbs. I find the pork is more tender than beef and is, I’m sorry little piggies, a favorite taste of mine. You could still make the stew with beef or chicken, if you prefer.

I cheated a little and bought my fresh carrots already cut into slices. It worked well.

Savory Pork Irish Stew

3 pounds boneless Pork Shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
Salt and ground Black Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1 cup Onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all purpose Flour*
1 Bay Leaf
8 ounces Dark Beer, like Guinness
2 cups Chicken Broth
3 Carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks Celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh Parsley
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
12 Brussels Sprouts, halved

*low carb flours don’t work well as a thickener

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add pork cubes in batches, cooking and stirring until they are lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl and do the next batch until they are all done. Set aside.

To the pan, add butter, then add the onions and cook the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about thirty seconds. Add flour; cook and stir until it is mixed in completely. Add beer to the pot, then add the cornstarch mixture and a bay leaf. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens.

Add pork, carrots, celery, and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in parsley and balsamic vinegar. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to simmer until the pork is tender, about two hours.

Heat a pot of water to a boil, then add the halved Brussels sprouts and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the sprouts, then add to the stew and cook until the sprouts are fork-tender, around 5 more minutes.
Serve with Irish Soda Bread or a cauliflower/turnip mash to complete the meal.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories 623 Fat: 44.3 g Net Carbs: 8 g Protein: 42.1 g

Southwestern Turkey Soup

With these chilly, wet winter nights, I just love a good warming bowl of soup. Doesn’t everybody?

If you’re like me, you probably still have leftover turkey from the holidays and you’ve probably frozen it for later use. Am I right?  Well, before you tossed the carcass, I hope you boiled the bird frame to make turkey broth because it will come in handy in this recipe.  But if you didn’t, you can use chicken broth, even the already prepared kind, to replace it.

I found this simple-to-make recipe on line and adapted it just a little to suit me. It calls for 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, but I also used a zesty chile spice BBQ rub powder in it to add a little more spice.  You could add finely chopped cauliflower (1 cup before chopping = 0.5 net carbs) to give a little more bulk to the soup without adding too many carbs.

Southwest Style Turkey Soup

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked Turkey or Chicken
4 cups Turkey or Chicken Broth
1 (28 ounce) can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 (7 ounce) can chopped Green Chile Peppers
12 oz. Pico de Gallo
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 cup chopped Green Onions
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese

In a large pot, add the turkey or chicken, broth, canned tomatoes, green chiles, Pico de Gallo, lime juice, cayenne pepper, cumin, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil,then lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes until it thickens. Stir often and use the stirring spoon to break down the whole tomatoes into smaller bits.

Peel and chop the avocado into pieces.

Use a measuring cup to scoop 1 cup into bowls, then add a tablespoon of avocado, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1/3 cup cheese to garnish. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories: 219.6 Fat: 11.1 g Net Carbs: 7.2 g Protein: 20.3 g

If you like, you could also garnish with a tablespoon of Sour Cream.

Slow Cooker East Texas Jambalaya

Hey, y’all!  This here recipe is a variation of one PK’s mother, Toni Kelly, used to make and we’ve adapted it a little to make it low carb and add more meat to it. The changes are in the choices of vegetables and tomatoes that go into it.  Always, a southern recipe includes the “holy trinity” of Cajun-cooking, which is celery, bell peppers, and onions.  This is a delicious and slightly spicy dish that warms you up on a cold day and just bursts with flavor as you eat it.

And it is pretty easy to make.  If you want to put it on before you leave for work, then do the prep work, including lightly cooking the chicken and bell pepper, onions, and celery the night before and refrigerating until morning when you put it all in the slow cooker.  Then just add the rest of the ingredients, except the shrimp and mushrooms, put it on low to cook all day.  When you come home, check the seasoning mix, adjust, then add the shrimp and mushrooms and cook for another 30 minutes to cook the shrimp.

You want to look for the lowest net carbs for the tomatoes that you can find. Check the nutrition information on the back of the can, which is per serving, and find the carbohydrate count, then subtract the fiber. This is the net carb count of one serving. I used canned tomatoes that were 8 net carbs per cup for the calculation. You can add more chicken without increasing the carb count, but the calorie count will go up accordingly. If you are making chicken only, then use two whole breasts (4 of the half breasts).

1 whole Chicken Breast, skin removed
1 link Andouille Sausage
1 oz. can whole or diced, peeled Tomatoes
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubes (optional)
1 cup Green Bell Peppers cut into strips
1 cup Zucchini, (Green and Yellow), sliced
3 stalks Celery, trimmed and chopped
1 cup Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Mushrooms, sliced
6 oz. Shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1/2 cup Ham, diced
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon Garlic
1/2 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
1/2 cup Onions, Chopped
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Puree

Cut chicken into cubes or small bite-sized pieces. Cut the sausage into small pieces and dice the ham. In a large skillet, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and over medium heat, sauté the garlic, celery, and onion until the onion sweats and softens a little, then add to the slow cooker. Add green peppers to the skillet, then the chicken. Add a little more olive oil if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes to just get the chicken to start to firm up. This is mostly to add flavor to it before adding to the cooker. Put the chicken and peppers in the cooker.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, chicken broth, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Turn the cooker on High and cook for 1 hour, then reduce it to low setting. Let cook for two hours. Check the seasonings in the sauce and adjust if needed, then add the ham and the pumpkin puree. The pumpkin will work to thicken the sauce and adds a little flavor. Cook another 30 minutes, then add the shrimp and the mushrooms. Cook another 30 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through, but not overcooked.

Serve with cauli-rice or stir-fried angel hair cabbage to keep the carbohydrates low. The butternut squash adds an interesting flavor to the Jambalaya, but can be omitted, which will also reduce the number of carbs per serving. Makes 8 servings, about 3/4 cup each.

Nutrition info with Butternut Squash per serving:
(doesn’t include the cauli-rice or cabbage)
Calories: 150 Fat: 5.1 g Net Carbs: 7.6 g Protein: 16.3 g

Nutrition info without Butternut Squash per serving:
(doesn’t include the cauli-rice or cabbage)
Calories: 140 Fat: 5.0 g Net Carbs: 5.6 g Protein: 16.1 g

Notes: Jambalaya is a flexible stew, but almost always includes chicken and the “holy trinity” of southern cooking, but the vegetable and meat choices vary with personal taste. You can add other vegetables such as okra, green beans, cauliflower, carrots or broccoli. The carbs will vary a little based on what you add, but it will be close.

Typical net carb (nc) values of the possible add-ins per half cup diced or chopped:
Okra – 1.6 g nc; Green Beans (fresh) – 2.0 g nc; Cauliflower – 1.3 g nc; Carrots – 4.3 g nc; Broccoli – 1.0 nc; Butternut Squash – 7.8 g nc; Turnip Greens – 1.1 g nc; Turnips – 3.0 g nc; Kohlrabi – 1.5 g nc; White Potato – 10 g nc


Cottage Pie is Comfort Food

When winter is howling at the windows and the temperatures are dropping into the red zone of the thermometer, it’s time to look for warming, hearty food dishes that make you feel secure. One of those is the Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie. The basic difference between the two is the meat used for the filling. Strictly speaking, if it’s lamb, you have a Shepherd’s Pie. Any other filling is a Cottage Pie.

This Cottage Pie is made with minced up beef or ground beef. I found a package of chopped carne asada, which is basically steak meat cut in tiny pieces, at my grocery store or you can it into small bites yourself. Instead of using potatoes, I used a combination of cauliflower, turnips, and kohlrabi to make the mashed vegetables to top off the stew-like filling. You can use all cauliflower or any combination of the vegetables that you prefer.

This dish tastes wonderful and it fills you up with a warming winter dish that won’t add unwanted pounds.

Cottage Pie

1 lb ground or minced Beef
2 slices of thick-sliced Bacon
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
1 large Carrot, diced
1 cup Green Beans, diced, cooked
1 tablespoon Low Carb Flour
1/2 cup diced Turnips
1 cup Cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup Kohlrabi, chopped
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream
1 cup Beef Broth
2 tablespoons Butter
Seasoning Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder, optional
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees(F.)

Cook turnips, cauliflower and kohlrabi in a pan of water until tender. Drain well, then mash with a masher or in a food processor. Add cream, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Cook bacon in a heavy skillet, drain on a paper towel. Pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon, then add the garlic and onion and lightly brown. Add the beef and stir fry until lightly browned. Stir in the mushrooms and cook a few minutes. Mix the low carb flour into the beef broth and add to the skillet and bring to a boil. Break the bacon into pieces and add to the pan along with the cooked carrots and green beans and cook until the mixture thickens.

Pour into an 8×8 baking pan. Smooth the turnip and cauliflower mixture over the top to form a top crust. Sprinkle optional cheddar cheese over the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Let cool about five minutes, then serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories:480 Fat:35.9 g Net Carbs:4.6 g Protein: 31 g