We live near my mom. Squeal! We are about 45 minutes from my mom and Keith and about 55 minutes from the slopes so we feel like we're in the perfect location. This is such a treat for all of us. (Hopefully we haven't worn out our welcome with her husband yet. :) ) We drove in to Denver on Saturday afternoon so that I could attend a Champagne and Chocolate birthday party. No one at the whole entire party needed help tying their shoelaces or cutting their food up. Revolutionary might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was definitely out of my element. It was such fun! Jim held down the fort with the kids at my mom's house and my date was a friend from high school who lives in Denver. It was fun to catch up with her more and meet many new people.
On Sunday the whole family went to brunch and then my mom, Isaac, Audrey, Elliot, and I went to see A Christmas Carol at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. What a fun show. Well, it was more fun after I peeled Elliot off of my lap once the ghost of Jacob Marley (not Bob Marley, like I accidentally told him in the bathroom at intermission) left the stage. That was creepy!
I didn't take pictures because I'm forgetful and much more focused on having fun that snapping pictures. I mean, other than these really high quality cell phone pictures. Bad blogger. Naughty blogger. Position available immediately: now hiring someone to follow us around and snap pictures of us having fun and debating if I need to cover up the automatic flusher in the public restroom or if kids are old enough and capable enough to do that themselves. Ah, the things that parents have to say out loud. Crazy, I tell you. (please note the lack of coats in the middle of December. Mind-blowing to the tried-and-true Minnesotans.)
Now we're home (I'm writing this on Sunday night) and kids are sleeping and I'm typing here and about to finish up some school planning for the week. We live on a dead end road at the top of a little mountain (maybe they call it a hill here, but to born and bred Midwesterners, this is a mountain) with only three houses past us. I've seen a few cars drive down towards town and I just keep thinking, "Haven't you already taken your bra off? How can you be leaving at this hour?" Living the high life, people. Every day.
Weekend? Check. Soup time.
Soup, soup, how I love you. One pot covers protein and vegetables. Add a salad and bread or crackers and we're set for the meal. The longer it simmers the more delectable it is. They work really well in crockpots. What's not to love?
Thankfully most of my kids love soup. I have one hold-out who doesn't like how everything is combined together. To solve this problem I either puree his soup or give him a plate and he separates everything onto the plate and eats it that way. This year is the first year that he's eaten it without complaint a few times so I think we're really close to a 100% soup loving house. This matters to me. Probably more than it should. But soup fills the belly and warms the spirit and makes the house smell wonderful. I just love it after a cold winter's day. As if that weren't obvious.
Here are three soups that we work into the winter rotation fairly often.
1: Black Bean and Lentil Chili
It's hearty, full of veggies, smoky, with a hint of sweet. Mmmm. It's delicious. The lentils are usually pleasing and filling enough that tried and trued carnivores don't miss the meat too much. And if they complain too much tell them to hush or cook for themselves. As a vegetarian who very rarely cooks meat, it almost always has disastrous results. I am so fearful of undercooking the meat and passing on a food borne illness that I cook the meat until it is hardly recognizable. If Jim's home I have him taste test before things get out of hand, but sometimes he unexectedly works late when meat is on the menu. That is bad. So, where was I? Hearty, delicious chili ready for some sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt, and some shredded cheese over the top. It is a hit with all four kids and both grown ups here.
P.S. I always add extra carrots.
2: Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice Soup in the crockpot
I cannot verify the deliciousness of this soup, but the kids and Jim practically lick their bowls and ask for it every week or two so I'm assuming it's great. I love it because it goes in the crockpot and then I'm done with it. Can we talk about the crockpot? Getting married didn't do it. Having kid didn't do it. Purchasing a home didn't do it. I felt like a grown-up when I realized that I loved the crockpot so much and counted it as one of the vest inventions in the land. Chopping stuff and dropping it in the crockpot in the morning to have it ready for the evening is just the best. There. I've admitted it. I'm an old woman and I love the crockpot. So sue me!
P.S. I always double it. Always. Also, I use real veggies, not canned. Less sodium, more wholesome goodness. I also use more carrots and celery than it says. I also don't use wine since we never have it in our house.
3: Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Soup
This soup with a crusty loaf of fresh bread and a salad is just right for a cold winter's night. It's another vegetarian soup, but it is universally loved at our house.Well, Asher hasn't had it because it's a little heavy on the garlic for his liking, but the day will come and he'll love it. This recipe comes from the back of a can of Bush's Garbanzo beans. I usually cook dry beans for recipes that use beans because of that pesky sodium again, but it works either way. And I always double it. Because of the pasta, it is necessary to add water when reheating the soup for leftovers. God bless leftovers.
1 c. medium pasta shell
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp dried rosemary or 3 TBSP fresh
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
3 carrots, chopped
2 cans (16 oz cooked) garbanzo beans
2 TBP parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
Cook pasta according to directions. At the same time, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 cups water, tomatoes, carrots, and beans. Reserve one cup of the whole beans. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Puree vegetable mixture in blender or food processor and return to saucepan. Add pasta and remaining whole beans and heat through, adding water if soup is too thick. (soup is always too thick at this point) Ladle into bowls, top with cheese and fresh rosemary, if desired.
Help us add to our soup repertoire. Share your favorite soup recipe(s) below. Thanks! Stay warm.