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Category Archives: Soups and Stews

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Cuban Black Bean Soup with Ham Hocks & Rice

This is a traditional soup served in Cuba and Puerto Rico along with many other countries. My recipe is made with ham hocks and it’s served with a short grain rice. Red wine vinegar is sprinkled on at the table! It’s delish! I’ve made it for years!

The recipe is based on Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook recipe. It was published in 1975 and is a collection of The New York Times best recipes from their food pages

I was introduced to this soup in 1978 when I visited my cousin Donna Rountree and her family in San Juan Puerto Rico. She shared this cookbook with me. Donna entertained a lot and loved to use this cookbook! Her husband Dekle and daughter Jodie enjoyed her cooking too.

To serve the soup pour it hot into bowls. Then top with hot rice that’s been patted into a 1/3 cup measuring cup or something similar. Invert it onto the soup. Sprinkle with cilantro. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar at the table!

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Sautéed onion, green pepper and garlic
The sofrito: onion, green pepper & garlic with tomato & seasoning
Ham Hocks have a Rind, Meat & Bone
A Ham Hock After Cooking in Soup
The ham cut from the rind and bone
Black Bean Soup
Hot Rice Patted into 1/3 Measuring Cup


  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 ham hocks
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Cooked short grain rice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


  1. Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water to a depth of 1 inch above the top of the beans. Soak overnight. Drain.
  2. Add the olive oil to a heated large cooking pot. Add onion, garlic and green pepper. Sauté over low heat till onion is wilted.
  3. Add oregano, tomatoes and cilantro. Cook 2 minutes. This is the sofrito.
  4. Add the ham hocks, beans, and water to the cooking pot. Bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cover. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are thoroughly tender.
  5. Remove the ham hocks to a cutting board. Cut off the rind and discard. Cut off the meat and return to the pot. Discard the bones.
  6. Simmer another few minutes
  7. Dilute the soup with broth to your desired consistency if needed. The soup thickens with time and refrigeration.
  8. Serve piping hot in bowls
  9. Take the hot rice and press into a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measuring cup. Invert over bowl of soup and tap out. Make sure it’s hot rice. Cold rice won’t pop out of the cup
  10. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Add red wine vinegar at the table
  11. Voila!
Cuban Black Bean Soup!

Steamed Spinach with Garlic, Raisins and Pine Nuts


Food & Wine Magazine published this as Catalan-Style Spinach. It’s very light with a sweet and crunchy bite! This serves 8 generous portions using 40 oz raw spinach!


1/2 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water and then drained for plumping

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted in a hot fry pan

40 oz stemmed spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

Follow these steps:

  • In a very large cooking pot bring 1/2 cup water to a boil
  • Add half the spinach in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more
  • Cook over moderately high heat stirring until just wilted, about 5 minutes
  • Transfer to a colander to drain
  • Repeat with another 1/2 cup of water and remaining spinach
  • In a large saucepan heat olive oil until shimmering
  • Saute garlic over moderately high heat stirring constantly until fragrant. Don’t over cook
  • Stir in spinach, raisins and pine nuts and a generous pinch of salt
  • Cook stirring until spinach is hot, about 3 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot
  • Voila!




No Sear Lamb or Beef and Chickpea Stew

This is an easy one pot stew for lamb or beef. I chose lamb and was not disappointed! Add the greens at the very end just before serving. Serve with an earthy flavored yogurt such as Organic Valley Grassmilk Plain Yogurt

This delish lamb stew recipe comes from the cookbook Taste of Persia by Naomi DuGuid. She was featured on Christopher KimballsMilkStreetRadio where she shared this recipe. You can find it at: 


Butternut Squash Soup with Hot Honey


Butternut squash has a pale exterior and a deep orange flesh. I find it is a great substitute for European pumpkin.

This soup has a sweet and spicy taste that’s a nice surprise. I found it at Food52. Here’s my adaption

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ground dried ginger or more

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds or so, peeled, seeded and cut in medium pieces

3 cups chicken broth or more

2 tablespoons honey

1-2 teaspoons crushed dried red pepper flakes and seeds

1/2 cup cream

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • In a medium saucepan heat oil. Add onion and Saute until tender.
  • Add garlic, ginger and cumin. Stir quickly for 30 seconds only
  • Add squash and broth. Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer until very tender.
  • Remove from heat.Puree with a stick blender.
  • Add honey and hot pepper flakes. Simmer covered 5 minutes.
  • Stir in cream. If it’s too thick, add more broth and cream.
  • Add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Garnish with a drizzle of cream or a spoon of sour cream

This should be spicy! Add more red pepper flakes, ginger or honey as you like!

Seafood Stew

Jan Doty made this recipe for us this winter and Dave and I have made it several times since! The fresh tarragon provides a bright flavor. Adding the seafood at the very end allows for preparing most of the stew before guests arrive. Thank you again Jan for another outstanding recipe!

Seafood Stew

Seafood Stew

Poaching is an excellent way to cook seafood, since the cooking liquid makes a flavorful base for sauce. This recipe features a French technique called monter au beurre (to mount with butter), whereby chilled butter is whisked into the cooking liquid at the last minute to ensure a satiny sauce. We often double the recipe when entertaining which serves at least 10. A single recipe is written here.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry white wine

28 ounce carton of low sodium chicken stock and/or seafood stock (Swanson’s Cooking Stock is a favorite) (if you want a thicker soup, add 1/2 the amount of stock)

3/4 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined or more

3/4 pound large sea scallops, cut in half or more

1 pound cod, cut into 2 inch cubes

1 pound frozen baby clams, thawed (add liquid too)

1 pound frozen mussels, thawed (add liquid too)

2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1 and 1/2 cup chopped fresh plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon rind

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more as desired

  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven.
  • Add leek and garlic and cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomatoes, wine and broth and bring to a simmer at least 10 minutes. Keep at a low simmer covered until ready to serve.
  • When you are ready to serve, whisk the butter in.
  • Add the tarragon, lemon rind, salt, pepper and cayenne and bring broth to a boil.
  • Add the seafood and all it’s liquid.
  • Bring it up to a full boil.
  • Serve immediately with white rice or brown rice and crusty bread or naan/Arabic bread.



Sausage and Kale Saute

Sausage and Kale with Cauliflower Mash and Romano Cheese

Sausage and Kale with Cauliflower Mash and Romano Cheese

Enjoy this kale and meat delish dish, rich in K 1 and K 2. I found this recipe in Real Simple Magazine last fall and I made it even more “simple”, changing it from a crock pot recipe to a quick stove top sauté. Serve it with pasta, mashed potatoes, or my Cauliflower Mash. All are good. Cauliflower has fewer carbs and some alternative nutrients. The Romano cheese is not essential, but it’s a yummy addition.  We like spicy and try to avoid fat, so I used hot Italian turkey sausage which is perfect for us. The sweet Italian turkey sausage would be good too. Don’t be afraid to add a ton of kale. I use the entire bunch, removing the stems before chopping. It shrinks up a lot!

Kale is the rage for it’s richness in Vitamin K which was first discovered in the early 1930’s for it’s role in coagulation. Deficiencies in Vitamin K are rare, or at least for K 1.  There is also a K 2 where deficiencies are common.  In the 21st century we are learning of the impact K 2 has on our heart and bone health.

K 2 is found in liver, chicken, beef, bacon, ham, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy foods. Some studies indicate it may help strengthen our bones and prevent the accumulation of calcium in our veins and arteries. This is significant, considering that 20% of our atherosclerotic plaques are comprised of calcium.

K 2 is also found in a fermented soy food called natto. The studies of Japanese women indicate those who eat natto regularly have a lower risk of hip fracture. High doses of vitamin K 2 supplements are approved in Japan for the treatment of osteoporosis.

And it may matter that we eat meat that is grass fed, rather than grain fed. We get vitamin K 2 from animal foods because animals synthesize vitamin K 2 from K 1 which they get from the grass they eat.

Hard cheese is a better source of K 2 than other dairy foods. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so it makes sense it is found in high fat foods.  Interesting that eating high fat foods may help our hearts and bones!

At this time we can accurately measure our blood levels of K 1, but not K 2. In the meantime, we need to be aware of the food sources of vitamins K 1 and K 2 and know that K 2 deficiency is prevalent.

For more information on Vitamin K go to the link below:

Sausage and Kale Saute

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound hot or sweet Italian chicken or pork sausage links, casings removed

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped or diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Salt and pepper as desired

1 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped (about 7 cups or more)

  • Heat a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the oil.
  • Add onion and sauté until tender.
  • Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Do not brown!
  • Add sausage and break apart with a large spoon as it sautés.
  • Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, add the tomatoes and tomato paste and kale.
  • Mix and simmer 20 minutes.
  • I cook on an electric flat surface stove top. If you use a gas stove top, you may have to cover and/or add some water to prevent  sticking to the pan surface. I find cooking with gas is a drier heat. My next stove top will be gas 🙂
  • Serve in shallow bowls over Cauliflower Mash. Sprinkle with grated Romano cheese if desired. My favorite is the Locatelli brand.

Presto! Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho

Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho

Roasted Red Pepper Gazpacho

Quick Gazpacho From Your Pantry!

Quick Gazpacho From Your Pantry!

Ingredients Ready to Pulse and Whirl

Ingredients Ready to Pulse and Whirl

Although I love the intricacies of an elaborate recipe and in depth cooking techniques, I ADORE EASY when the taste is outstanding! Such is the case here today. Roasted red peppers found in jars on the shelves of our grocery stores are one of the best bargains and most time consuming ingredient you can find. You often will get three whole red bell peppers in one jar! The peppers can be kept whole or cut into various size pieces. Here we will chop them to a chunky consistency to make Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish style soup that is served cold. The soups are chopped or pureed mixtures which are red or white in color.  The red gazpachos are made primarily of tomatoes with broth and other vegetables. The white gazpachos are made of bread, almonds, cucumbers,broth and olive oil. I have eaten them pureed silky smooth and chopped to a super chunky hearty style.  I find the stick blenders are another easier device to use than the food processor. They are much less expensive, easier to clean and provide closer eye contact with the food you are chopping.

So, combine the following ingredients in your food processor or a large bowl to blend up with your stick blender:

1  12-oz jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained (you may choose to add all or some of this liquid to your soup. I added half)

2  14.5 oz cans No Added Salt diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups Lower Salt/Sodium Chicken Cooking Stock (My fav is Kitchen Basics)

2  Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon snipped tarragon

1 teaspoon celery seed (celery salt is a substitute)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pulse to desired consistency. Serve cold or at room temperature. Garnish and add at serving time some or all of the following:

Chopped cucumber

Chopped fresh tomato

Fresh tarragon sprig



Crushed red pepper flakes

Balsamic vinegar

Cioppino/San Francisco Fish Stew

Cioppino in our Garden

Cioppino in our Garden

Dave and I were in San Diego at Torrey Pines this past July where he was speaking at a conference called Scientific Updates. I was lucky to get the chance to go to such a beautiful place! I love exploring. Twice, dining out in La Jolla, Dave ordered versions of this rich broth and seafood. The flavors were amazing. Cioppino originates in San Francisco. The Mediterranean countries all have their versions.

This is a recipe he found online at Epicurious. He made one recipe last weekend and we both ate it 4 days in a row. There were a good 9 servings here! Low in fat, calories and carbs and full of flavor, protein,vitamins and minerals!  I added cooked short grain Arborio rice to mine. Dave is avoiding the carbs 😦 I prefer the rice to the original crusty French style bread.

Living in the Midwest we’ve experimented with various forms of shellfish. We prefer the frozen clams and mussels in the shells to the fresh. Can you believe they sell fresh mussels in Michigan? The frozen were meatier than the fresh. Calamari or squid are available cleaned and frozen. No more squid ink to deal with! None of the fish became tough with cooking and reheating.

Dave followed this recipe below with these additions:

  • Add 1 pound frozen clams in their shells
  • He used cod instead of halibut, which is not easy to find in Midland
  • Add a 2nd bottle of clam juice instead of the 8 oz water
  • Use a fennel bulb the size of a large fist
  • Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Serve with cooked rice (I prefer the short grained Arborio rice) and/or crusty French or crusty sourdough bread

The recipe is from Bon Appetit, December 2011:

Spicy Shrimp Soup

Spicy Shrimp Soup

Spicy Shrimp Soup

2 large poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth (Kitchen Basics brand :))

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

1 pound frozen shrimp, raw, peeled & deveined

1 cup frozen corn

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) rinsed and drained

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 or more tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

  • In a large 4-5 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil. Saute poblano and onion until tender. Add garlic and saute 1/2 minute.
  • Add broth, salt and crushed dried red pepper. Bring to a boil.
  • Add frozen shrimp, corn and drained beans. Return to a boil.
  • Simmer uncovered about 2 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque.
  • Stir in cilantro and lime juice.
  • Serve with avocado.
  • Makes 6 servings
  • This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, February 2013 issue

Super Fast Delish Cuban Black Bean Soup

Convenience foods like these make a great dinner!

Convenience foods like these make a great dinner!

Some recipes are not worth the time. Black Bean Soup made from dried black beans is one of them. My Super Fast Delish Dish takes fifteen minutes and you’re done! To limit the carbs and add fiber, serve with brown rice which I keep ready to serve in the frig. We eat brown rice at least once a week and always make extra for lunch and another dinner. This soup reminds me of a long ago visit to Puerto Rico where Cuban Black Bean Soup was everywhere.

In a medium saucepan saute until slightly tender:

1 green or red bell pepper, chopped


1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Saute and stir 1 minute.


1 15-ounce can Seasoned Black Beans (such as El Ebro brand or Kroger brand)

1 14.5-ounce can Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Diced Salsa Style (Kroger brand or any Hispanic style seasoned diced tomatoes)

Simmer 5 minutes.

Serve with brown rice. At the table add 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt and a splash of red wine vinegar to each serving.