Leftover Challenge: Chicken and Orzo Soup

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One of the my favorite things to do for dinner is to roast a whole chicken. That, with some roasted veggies and a nice roll or slice of bread, makes for a satisfying meal that is also fitness friendly! This is actually one of the most requested dinners from my hubby and our two kids.

It is just the two of here in Tucson, so I knew that this nice, big roaster would easily pull double duty the next day. I always choose the largest bird I can find, this one is just over 6 lbs. I pat it dry, stuff the cavity with a lemon, onion and whatever herbs I have that will go bad soon. I tie him up, rub olive oil over the skin and add salt and pepper. This gets popped into a 400-425°F preheated oven for about an hour and a half (until the temp reads 155-160°F). After a 10 minute rest we are ready to carve and eat.

After dinner I spend a few minutes picking the carcass clean! I am looking for about a pound of left over meat to use the next day in the soup. And that is where we start now!

This soup is low in fat so we need some serious flavor help. I find that smoked paprika and red pepper flakes are great flavor additions.

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I am not a fan of regular paprika but the smoked version really adds some depth. White wine adds some much needed acid, and you only need a cup. I detest opening a full bottle of wine for 1 cup, and I don’t want to spend a lot on wine that I am only using for cooking. I have found this wonderful 4 pack of pinot sold in most grocery stores. 1 little bottle is just about 1 cup.

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So no waste and it is not expensive. They sell red wine four packs as well and I keep both on hand for these sorts of recipes. Back to the soup!

Heat 1 tablespoon or so in a 4-6 quart pot and add 1 finely chopped onion. After the onion becomes translucent add the minced garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes, cook for 2-3 minutes longer.

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Now add the acidic ingredients, 4 chopped plum tomatoes and the white wine. A quick word about the tomatoes. I like to core and remove the seeds because they add no actual flavor and too much water to the soup.

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Add the chicken broth and bring the soup to a boil. While the pot is cooking away, prepare your chicken. Chop about 1 pound of cooked chicken into bite sized pieces.

And, rinse and drain 1 15 oz. can of navy beans.

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Now is also a good time to cook the orzo. You may be thinking “why don’t I just dump the orzo into the soup and cook it all together?” The answer is yes, absolutely you could do that! But, unless you are feeding a crowd and will eat the entire pot of soup that day, I would advise against that. The pasta will break down in the presence of the acids and become mushy. Not a texture we enjoy here! Also, if you prepare the orzo separately then people can add as much or as little as they like, depending on their carb needs 🙂

I, sadly, did not have another pot to make the pasta so had to improvise. My deep skillet did the trick! While the orzo is cooking, add the chicken and beans to the soup and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through.

Near the end, add the mushrooms and peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The final addition is the spinach, it only needs to wilt and you want to retain the bright green so add this last before plating.

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And that’s it! Time to serve it up. Add the orzo to the bowl, don’t worry if it is not hot the soup will take care of that.

If the kids don’t like soup, they might like the orzo with a little butter or marinara. You can make as much or as little orzo as your family requires.

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You can use store bought rotisserie chicken for an even faster meal prep.

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I have also made this with both pork and uncooked chicken. Just take a pound of either and cut into 1 inch cubes. Brown the cubes on all sides in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, you don’t need to cook the meat through as it will continue to cook in the soup. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then proceed with the recipe (make sure to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan when you add the wine and tomatoes, this is great for flavoring the soup!)

My favorite dinner rolls to serve with this are found here.

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Chicken and orzo soup, a great way to transform that chicken from last night!

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Chicken and Orzo Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 Tablespoon Olive oil

-1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

-4 cloves garlic, finely minced

-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

-4 plum tomatoes, chopped

-1 cup white wine

-4 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 pound cooked chicken or pork, cut into 1 inch cubes

-1 15oz. can white beans, or navy beans

-4 oz mushrooms, sliced

-6 oz. frozen peas or corn

-2-4 oz. fresh spinach

-1/2 to 1 box Orzo pasta, cooked and drained

 

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add wine and tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits.
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the cooked chicken and beans and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through. Reduce to a simmer.
  6. Prepare the Orzo as per package instructions, drain and set aside
  7. Add mushrooms and peas (or corn, or both) and stir thoroughly. Add the spinach at the end. Serve over the orzo. 
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French-Irish Beef Stew, the short version!

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Back in December (almost 1 year ago!) I posted a recipe that I called French-Irish Beef Stew. I explained that the name reflected the marriage of both a traditional French Bourgeon and a hearty Irish stew, full of potatoes and other veggies. We do love that recipe but it requires an overnight step making it a two day process. Don’t get me wrong, the time is totally worth it! But sometimes we want dinner a little faster than that, so this version was born!

I began by dicing five slices of applewood smoked bacon and browning it in a Tablespoon of olive oil in a 6 quart, Dutch oven.

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The bacon was removed from the pan and set aside for later. The beef cubes were dried well with paper towels to facilitate browning. Salt and pepper were added and the beef was seared in the hot oil on all sides. This was done in batches, and in a single layer, to ensure that the beef did not sweat and was able to caramelize properly. This was added to the pan of bacon for later.

The batches take time, but it is a really important step to develop the flavor fully. While the beef was cooking I began prepping the vegetables.

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Two yellow onions were diced, as well as several cloves of garlic

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The carrots were cut into 1 inch pieces, on the bias

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Three Yukon Gold potatoes were diced

When the last batch of beef came out of the pot, the onions, carrots and potatoes were added and cooked for 10-15 minutes until the onions became translucent.

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After that time, the garlic was added and the mixture cooked for another minute or so. Then the beef and bacon were reintroduced to the pot.

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Now comes the good stuff! 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine was added along with enough beef broth to cover the contents.

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Finally, tomato paste and thyme were stirred into the mixture. The pot was covered and placed into an oven, set at 250°F for 1 hour and a half, or until the veggies and beef were fork tender.

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The next addition was the sautéed mushrooms, which I like to do separately and then add to the stew near the end. You could put them directly into the stew but by preparing them independently it will add another level of flavor.

I happen to have some fancy mushrooms left over from a different recipe. I made “fancy mushroom toast” earlier in the week. If you haven’t had that, I do recommend it!

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Fancy Mushroom Toast, with 5 different types of mushrooms

You could use any type of mushroom for this stew, I just happen to have purchased more than I needed for the toasts! Sauté the mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil, until soft and dark brown in color. Reserve for later.

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When the stew is done cooking add the sautéed mushrooms and we like to add frozen peas (the Irish side again). The stew needs to be thickened at this point and I like to use a beurre manié. (so French!)

 

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Combine 2 T of butter with 2 T flour to make a paste. You will be able to add as much or as little as you like to thicken your sauce to your liking.

 

 

Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 15 minutes to make sure the flour taste has cooked off and that the components are heated through.

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Now you are ready plate it up! I added a little chopped parsley and a big spoon.

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Enjoy this one!

French-Irish Stew, the Short Version

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A hearty stew that marries the best of classic, rich French techniques with the earthy notes of an Irish stew.

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-4-6 slices applewood bacon, diced (about 8 oz)

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 inch cubes

-kosher salt

-fresh ground pepper

-2 yellow onions, cut into 1 inch cubes

-1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes

-1 lb. small Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered

-3 – 5 garlic cloves, minced

-1 750ml bottle of red wine

-2 c. beef broth (or enough to cover the meat and veggies)

-1 T tomato paste

-1 t. fresh thyme leaves (or ½ t dried thyme leaves)

-1 T kosher salt

-2 t. fresh ground pepper

 

-4 T room temperature unsalted butter, divided

-2 T all purpose flour

-8 oz. fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

-1 10oz. package of frozen peas

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven at 250° F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and reserve for later.
  3. Completely dry all the beef cubes with paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste and sear the beef in the bacon fat in small batches. Do not crowd the pan, take your time and sear all the sides. Remove the beef and store it with the bacon for later.
  4. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes to the pot and allow to brown for 15 to 20 minutes, or until your desired doneness. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the bottle wine over the stew and add enough of the beef broth to cover the meat and vegetables.
  6. Add the tomato paste, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the reserved beef and bacon, and any accumulated juices from the pan into the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and put into the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  7. When the stew is done in the oven place on the stove over medium heat. Combine 2 T of butter with the flour to make a paste. Add the beurre manié in small batches by stirring into the stew, it will begin to thicken immediately. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2T of butter. Add the mushrooms and peas to the stew and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Season to taste. 

 

 

7 Days, 7 Photos Challenge, Day 5

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day”.

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Today I would like to tag Arbie to take up the challenge!

Kaiserschmarren! Hard to pronounce, easy to eat!

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The lovely and talented Karin from The Austrian Dish posted this recipe for a sweet pancake called Kaiserschmarren. I was already thinking about making breakfast for dinner one night since the weather has turned decidedly fall like around here. When I saw Karin’s recipe I had to go for it, even though I had no idea how to pronounce it!

I contacted Karin and asked a few questions which she graciously answered, then set to work! The first step was to rehydrate raisins in either rum, bourbon or water. I chose cranberries because we prefer them, and let them soak in water for 30 minutes while I worked on the next step. I separated the eggs and whipped the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until stiff peaks formed. The yolks were combined with the sugars and mixed until light, fluffy and pale yellow.

The flour and milk were added to the yolk mixture, alternating between the dry and liquid and mixing between additions. The melted butter was next.

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The egg whites were then folded into the mixture.

So far, this is a fairly straight forward pancake recipe. Until now! The batter is poured into hot pans with tight fitting lids. Karin told me to make sure that the batter was not deeper than 3cm to allow room for puffing up! Which they do, quite a bit. I wanted to use a cast iron pan because that was what I had! I added the batter and scattered the cranberries over the top. I watched them cook, until the bubbles formed to indicate it was time to flip. Karin recommended that they be cut into quarters to make them easier to turn, so that is what I did!

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The flip went okish!

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The cast iron pan did cook a little faster, but we were ok with that. I decided to add some maple sausage and berries to make a full breakfast/dinner.

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We had some whiskey syrup that we received as a Christmas gift last year. This was delicious on the Kaiserschmarren.

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We will certainly be making and eating this again! Thanks for a great recipe Karin!

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Pulled Pork with Lemon and Garlic on a Potato Herb Roll

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I have been making this pulled pork for quite some time. It is one of our favorite preparations and, if there is a healthier way to make a pork sandwich, then this is it. But, the real star of this dish is the potato herb rolls that I can customize with with any herbs that will complement whatever fillings will be in the sandwich. In this case the pork is made with garlic and lemon so I used thyme, rosemary, dried parsley and onion powder to flavor the rolls.

The pulled pork could not be easier, in fact I hesitate to call this a recipe. I take a 4-5 pound pork shoulder and trim off any excess fat. It goes into a slower cooker and I add several garlic cloves, 1 large lemon cut into quarters or two smaller lemons halved. To ensure the pork is not dry I add about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of low sodium chicken stock. Thats it! It cooks on low for 8 hours or until it falls apart.

Near the end of the cooking process, I remove the lemons and garlic and reserve the latter for the sandwich. The garlic is perfectly roasted and spreads easily on the roll if you are interested in doing so-and I always do!

Of course, rolls form scratch do take a little more time and effort but are so worth it.

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I use a 6 quart stand mixer with a dough hook attachment for these rolls. You can use a small mixer but note that the final dough will be about 4 1/2 pounds in weight. Most 4 quart mixers will be fine with that, but you could half the recipe if needed. I made 24, 3 oz sandwich rolls from that amount of dough, which would yield about 35, 2 oz dinner rolls. These rolls freeze very well and you could store the extra for several weeks and then refresh as needed.

You will begin by combining all the ingredients, minus the herbs into the mixing bowl and adding temperature controlled water (not shown). In my kitchen I use water at 100°F but anywhere from 80-100°F will work. Mix on low to incorporate then turn to medium to knead for 7-9 minutes. What you are looking for is what is called a “window pane”. This lets you know when the dough has reached its correct gluten development. There is no real mystery about this step. After ~about 7 minutes, turn off the mixer and pull out a small amount of the dough, it will be slightly sticky. Stretch the dough between your thumbs and forefingers into the shape of a rectangle. If the dough breaks it is not ready, the gluten strands are too short. Continue kneading. The dough temperature should be rising as well, and it will be near 77°F to 80°F when the dough is fully developed. Keep checking these two parameters. Eventually, your window pane will be strong, and transparent. Light should be able to show through the dough, without ripping or tearing, as it will be so thin it appears to be a “window”.IMG_1851

Add whatever freshly chopped or dried herbs you want and mix just until the additions are incorporated and evenly distributed.

Cover the dough and allow it to ferment until doubled (about an hour).

Now you can punch it down to degas and divide into the portion size you desire. Shape and place on a parchment lined sheet to proof until 70-80% larger in size.

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Once proofed they need an egg wash and a sprinkle of sea salt. Since I was not adding salt to the pork, I was generous with this!

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Bake, without steam, at 375°F for ~20 minutes or until golden brown.

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These are wonderful on their own or with any type of sandwich you wish to build. The smaller dinner roll version is great with soups and stews as well.

Of course, we had pulled pork in the slow cooker! I shredded the pork and we built our sandwiches. We went with arugula and a grilled pineapple relish with candied peppers! An outstanding combination!

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Let me know if you try either of these recipes!

Pulled Pork with Lemon and Garlic

  • Servings: 24, 3oz rolls
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This Pulled Pork has no added salt or sugar. The lemon and garlic add wonderful flavor

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-4 to 5 pound pork shoulder or pork butt, trimmed of excess fat

-5 to 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

-2 small lemons, halved

-low sodium chicken broth or water

-grilled pineapple salsa

-arugula

-potato herb rolls (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Place the pork shoulder, garlic and lemon halves into a slow cooker. Add broth or water to about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch on the bottom. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  2. Near the end of the cooking time, remove the lemons and reserve the garlic for the sandwich build. Continue cooking the pork until if falls apart easily. Shred the meat with two forks and keep the meat warm in the slow cooker.
  3. Build the sandwich with a potato herb roll spread with the reserved garlic (if using), add the grilled pineapple relish, pulled pork and arugula.

Potato Herb Rolls

  • Servings: 24, 3oz. rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

These Potato herb rolls can be customized with any herbs you would like to use to complement your meal.

Credit: On Baking, Text book, 3rd edition

Ingredients

-2 lb 2 oz. Bread flour

-3 oz. Potato flour

-1 oz. Instant yeast

-21 fl. oz. Water, temperature controlled 80°F to 100°F

-2 Eggs

-1.5 oz. Dry milk powder

-2.5 oz. Granulated sugar

-3/4 oz. Salt

-3 fl. oz. Olive oil

Suggested Herbs:

-1 oz. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped or 1/2 oz. dried

-2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

-2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

-1 teaspoon onion powder

-1 teaspoon garlic powder

-1 teaspoon Black pepper

-Egg wash, as needed

-Kosher salt or fleur de sel, as needed

Directions

  1. Place flours, yeast, water, eggs, milk powder, sugar, salt, and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed to combine then knead on medium speed until a window pane is achieved and the dough is 77°F (about 7-9 min.). Add in the herbs and mix until the herbs are well distributed throughout the dough.
  2. Cover the dough and ferment until doubled in size (~1 hour).
  3. Punch down the dough and portion into 3 oz pieces. Shape and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.
  4. Proof until the rolls are 70-80% in volume.
  5. Carefully brush the proofed rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the salt.
  6. Bake without steam at 375°F for ~20 minutes until golden brown.

 

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Three layer Lasagna

We have a crazy schedule this next week. As a family, we are all over the place! Our son has a performance one night, my husband is working two nights, we are rock climbing a couple days and we have 17 miles on the half marathon training schedule this week! We need some easy, fast, quality fuel that any one of us can just throw into the oven or microwave whenever we find time for a meal. So, I made a recipe that always delivers! It’s one that I have been tinkering with for a few years. I finally have decided that it is exactly how I want it. This three layer lasagna will feed us for the week, and it will taste just as good next Friday as it does tonight on Sunday.

There are a couple components to make before the assembly but they are simple and quick. I started with the preparation of the noodles. I followed the package instructions and intentionally under cooked the pasta as it will continue the baking process after assembly of the lasagna.

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I placed the par boiled noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet and coated them with olive oil to prevent sticking. Next I started on the tomato meat sauce.

I sautéed the onion and garlic first then added the sweet Italian sausage and cooked until the pink color was gone. Then the tomato products, seasoning, and herbs were added and the mixture simmered until thickened. The final component was the cheese mixture which included ricotta, goat cheese, pecorino and parmesan. There are a total of five cheeses in this recipe!

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Then it was time to assemble the final product. I like to use a larger baking dish (10 in X 17 in) and place the noodles along the short side, 6 lasagna noodle fit for each layer.

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The layers are as follows: 1/3 of the tomato meat sauce, 1/2 of the cheese mixture, 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, and repeat.

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The final layer has the last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, 1/3 mozzarella and big handfuls of more pecorino and parmesan cheese. Since all the components are already cooked the lasagna only needs to heat through and brown on top. I garnish with fresh herbs at the end.

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I made a quick garlic bread to finish the meal and we were ready to eat!

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You can view the recipe by clicking on the link below, I hope you give it a try!

 

three layer lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

I have been battling a cold for a few days now, and the weather here has been non-stop rain. At least it hasn’t been too cold to run, just trying to get in a work out between rain showers has been tricky. So, between my cold and the rain I have been yearning for some good comfort food. When I saw this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod I knew I had to make it. I love their blog, if you haven’t checked it out you really should! I didn’t stray too far from their vegan recipe, but I did not have vegetable broth and used chicken broth instead, I used cashew milk instead of almond and I did feel the need to add a little balsamic vinegar to round out the flavor. It is a keeper!

I started with the classic mirepoix of onion, celery and carrots, diced and heated in a large dutch oven with olive oil. Minced garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste were added after the veggies had softened.

The crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers, broth, sugar, dried thyme and red pepper flakes were added and the mixture simmered for another 15-20 minutes.

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The milk and basil were incorporated 

Now it was time to break out my immersion blender.

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And that was it! The soup was ready for the bowl. But I wanted comfort food remember? I went back to the Dutch Oven Bread that I made the day before. There was not a lot left but a couple slices would work. I spread them with some pesto and added thinly sliced apples, cheddar, ham, grated gruyere and popped them under the broiler while the soup bubbled away.

This was the meal my cold wanted and my soul needed, and it came together in about 30 minutes!

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I garnished with some candied seeds 

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If it is still winter at your house, I strongly recommend this recipe! Enjoy!