Drowning in Soup? Week 4!

At first bite of this Meatball Rigatoni Soup, I was unimpressed. I liked it, but I wasn’t wowed. However, since it made about 8 servings, I had it for lunch later in the week – and THEN I was wowed. So it turns out, this is a soup that gets better after a little time. I am pretty sure the coworker that watched me awkwardly eat the delicious strings of mozzarella was equally wowed.

Meatball Rigatoni Soup

Tender mini meatballs, thick tomato sauce, rigatoni, and obviously, mozzarella. It was like combining the comfort of spaghetti & meatballs and tomato soup, all into one bowl. I used this recipe from The Cozy Apron and followed it pretty closely. Thoughts for next time – use marinara to avoid pureeing the tomatoes, try beef broth instead of chicken broth for a richer tasting soup, and cook the noodles right in the sauce, rather than separately and adding at the end. While I served this with bread the first time, I loved that this soup combined my protein, vegetables (fruit? the tomatoes?) and carbs all in one for a super filling meal.

For my second soup of the week, I chose Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Crema (or Sour Cream) from Smitten Kitchen. Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite recipe sources! I have made my own version of black bean soup with dried beans for years. It takes literally all day to cook the beans properly to get the right texture, so I just had to try making this in the instant pot. I will never again spend a day making black bean soup. It still took about an hour, however, the result was the best textured black bean soup I’ve ever had. The last steps is still to blend the beans with an immersion blender, and while I like just a little pieces of bean, I want the soup itself to be velvety. I did amp up the seasonings just a little bit, and added some chopped “fajita” chicken (seasoning blend below) after pureeing the beans. What made this soup even better was the toasted cumin in sour cream. Creme fraiche was pretty pricey, so I did toast cumin seeds and grind them, but I mixed them in sour cream and it was delightful.

Black Bean soup with Toasted Cumin Sour Cream. And obviously, guacamole & my favorite Trader Joe’s Elotes chips!

FAJITA CHICKEN MARINADE

Best marinated overnight – I don’t measure anything; adjust to your tastes. Chicken can be baked, sauteed, grilled, and used in endless recipes.

  • Seasoned salt, Cumin (ground), Cayenne pepper (just a pinch), Chili powder, Garlic powder
  • Lemon juice & olive oil

The week wouldn’t be complete without making some progress on my Half Baked Harvest challenge! I made 2 dinners and a cake this week; every recipe continues to be unique & delicious.

  • Chocolate Caramel Cake – the cake itself was amazing. The recipe called for 3 8-inch pans and I made it in 9-inch pans. The pans were almost overflowing, even after pulling out 2 ramekins’ worth for sample cakes. I struggled with the caramel and ended up making a Salted Caramel from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The ratio of ingredients was a little different but I’ve made Sally’s version a few times and it is always reliable. The cake was layered with ganache and salted caramel, and finished with a salted caramel buttercream. All in all – VERY rich and delicious, even though I had to execute a little different than the recipe suggested. The cake itself was perfect – so I may use it with other filling / frosting combinations in the near future. See my pictures below for how I weigh up the batter to ensure each cake is the same size, and how to sample your cake before cutting into the finished product!
  • Pomegranate Short Ribs with Smashed Sweet Potatoes – all made in the crock pot! I used boneless short ribs – which – I wouldn’t do again, but I grabbed the wrong ribs at the store. Pomegranate juice, onion, shallot & honey cooked with the ribs and sweet potatoes. The potatoes did not take as long as the meat to cook, so I took those out early and mashed them before added browned butter with thyme. The potatoes made the meal.
  • Moroccan Lemon Chicken Kebabs with Couscous Pilaf. The chicken was marinated overnight and should have been grilled, but I chose to use my cast iron skillet and skip the skewers. This was served with a couscous pilaf made with almonds and apricots, and served with harissa hummus and avocado. I love Mediterranean flavors – what seems like an odd combination of ingredients makes for such a flavorful meal that I’ll definitely be making again.

Only one week left of soup month!! Two more soups to go – what’s been your favorite idea so far?

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