everyday food made simple

cheesy lasagna soup

A few months ago, it was brought to my attention by an ER doctor at work that he noticed something particular about Minnesotans’ grammar when it comes to a certain phrase, and after he mentioned it, I couldn’t help but notice it more and more.

QUESTION: when you’re asking someone if they would like to accompany you somewhere, what would you say?

Would you say: 1) “Would you like to come with me?”, or 2) “Would you like to come with?”

Did you pick 1)? I thought so. That’s how I say it too. And I’m pretty sure that’s how you’re supposed to say it. But apparently if you grew up in Minnesota, you would choose 2).

Now I’m not an English teacher, nor is my grammar the best in the world, but is anyone else with me when I say 2) doesn’t seem like a complete sentence whatsoever?? I mean, “come with me?” “come with us?” “come with us to go shopping?” “come with me to see a movie?”

The possibilities are endless. Next time someone asks me if I “would like to come with?”, I’m tempted to respond, “come with who?”

Seriously, if you’re from Minnesota or know someone from around the area, pay attention to how they word it next time and tell me I’m not the only one surrounded by people who talk like that.

[ahem Brian and Lori]

Now that we’ve got all that serious business out of the way, let’s move on to something better… like this cheesy, hearty, stick-to-your-bones lasagna soup with lots and lots of cheese.

cheesy lasagna soup

It tastes just like lasagna, minus all the work, and we’re definitely not sacrificing on any of the flavors either. There is no need to spend time layering everything; instead, just throw everything in a pot and let simmer. It’s so much easier and comes together much much quicker, and I mean just look at that cheese…!!

cheesy lasagna soup

cheesy lasagna soup

cheesy lasagna soup

Do you like cheese? I like cheese. I mean who doesn’t like cheese? And if you’re from Minnesota, there’s no excuse to not liking cheese.

However, I don’t particularly care for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (or any sort of crumbly lumpy cheese), so I only used mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. If you’re into the lumpy cheeses, you can definitely use a mixture of everything.

Also, I used lasagna noodles to make it resemble like actual lasagna, but you can always use other smaller pasta shapes if you like… or whatever you have on hand, especially if you’re trying to clean out your cupboards!

 cheesy lasagna soup 

cheesy lasagna soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon EVOO
  2. 12 oz ground Italian sausage
  3. 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  7. 28 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  8. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  9. 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  13. 8 oz lasagna noodles, broken up in small pieces, uncooked
  14. 2 and 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  15. 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Using the remaining oil/fat in the pot, sautee the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute or two. Add in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and broken lasagna noodle pieces. Return the sausage back into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the soup boils, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked through. Make sure to give the soup a few stirs every few minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine both cheeses in a small bowl, mix it around with a spoon and set aside.
  4. Turn your oven's broiler on. Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and generously sprinkle a good layer of cheese over the tops. Place until the broiler for just a few minutes, keeping an eye on it the entire time, and remove soup from the oven as soon as the cheese starts to turn brown and bubbly. Remove from oven, let rest for a minute or two, and serve immediately.
  5. Serves 4-6
Adapted from Center Cut Cook
Adapted from Center Cut Cook
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
 Recipe adapted from Center Cut Cook

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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You may have noticed the lack of posts the past few weeks. I have been super stressed about my national boards exam that’s coming up in three weeks, so I have been using all my free time to cram as much information into my little head as possible. As a result, SEF has been neglected for quite some time. I have decided that I’m going to wait until my exam is over to take better care of SEF and dedicate more time to writing more posts. I have already created a bunch of recipes (10, to be exact) and have photographed my creations; however, since I spend most of my time editing them and creating blog posts, I’m going to put them on hold until April 13th. I promise SEF will be updated on a more regular basis after that – there will be some pretty delicious blog posts coming in the near future!

So, as my gift to you until April 13th, I present to you this wonderfully easy recipe that involves one of everyone’s favorite kitchen gadget – the Crockpot.

My favorite soups of all time are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. baked potato soup
  2. Olive Garden’s zuppa toscana
  3. creamy chicken and wild rice soup

Throughout the past 10 months SEF has existed, I managed to recreate and blog about #1 and #2 on that list. Naturally, it was time for me to find a family-approved recipe for creamy chicken and wild rice soup.

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And this recipe is definitely going to be recreated again (and again) throughout the year. Brian and I both agreed it was so delicious that we were calling dibs on leftovers for work. Good thing this recipe yielded an entire Crockpot of soup! Even then, it still didn’t last more than 3 days in our house…

Rewind to about a year ago: I attempted to make chicken and wild rice soup on the stove… And that attempt had failed miserably. It tasted weird, had a funny consistency, and ended up getting dumped in the trash. Needless to say, my confidence in making creamy chicken wild rice soup was a little shot after that, and we both had to scramble and find something else to eat that night.

I think Brian was also a little skeptical when he heard I was going to try to give our favorite soup another try in the Crockpot. I can’t lie, I think I was too. But it was freezing cold outside, I was feeling lazy, and comfort food in the Crockpot was all that I really wanted for dinner.

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This soup is amazing! It’s incredibly creamy and it’s filled with hearty vegetables and tons of juicy shredded chicken. Have you ever had Panera’s chicken and wild rice soup? If you haven’t – try it. It’s delicious. It’s the only soup we ever get there, and this TASTES JUST LIKE IT.

I’m still in awe at how good this soup is, and even better – how easy it is to make!

The steps are pretty simple: throw the veggies, wild rice, chicken stock, and chicken into the Crockpot. Let them sit and hang out and get to know each other for 7 hours. When the chicken is fork tender, take it out and shred it with a fork. Put it back into the Crockpot to soak up more of the yummy juices. Meanwhile, you make the creamy base on the stove…. this is where you should pay attention, simply because it took me three tries to get it right. Trust me, you’ll thank me later :)

When making your creamy base on the stove, melt the butter over low heat. Then add in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly throughout each addition. The milk must also be added only 1/2 cup at a time as well. This is suuuuuper important – the first few times I tried, I added all the flour in at once, whisked, and added all the milk in at once. Somehow it just doesn’t work that way – it became super lumpy and gross, and I contemplated whether we should just make it “chicken and wild rice soup” instead of “creamy chicken and wild rice soup”. The stubbornness in me wasn’t about to let some butter and flour stand in the way of me and my dinner, so 3 sticks of butter later, I finally got the results I wanted.

The trick is to whisk constantly on LOW heat. When I say constantly, I mean it – whisk that sucker the entire time. Don’t walk away from the stove. Don’t even go on Instagram or Facebook. It’ll seem like it’s taking forever for the mixture to start bubbling, but I promise patience pays off in the end.

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crockpot creamy chicken wild rice soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  2. 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  3. 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  4. 1 small onion, diced
  5. 2 celery sticks, diced
  6. 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  7. 1 heaping teaspoon poultry seasoning
  8. 1/2 cup butter
  9. 3/4 cup flour
  10. 2 cups milk + 2 additional cups
  11. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the diced carrots, onion, and celery in the crockpot, then place the chicken breast on top. Sprinkle poultry seasoning over the chicken.
  2. Rinse the wild rice, and add to crockpot. Then add in the chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until chicken is fork tender. Remove chicken onto a cutting board, let cool and shred with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back into the crockpot.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and cook until it starts to bubble. Slowly whisk the milk in with the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, just until it starts to thicken. Add this to the rice and chicken in the crockpot, stir to combine. If mixture is too thick, add additional milk (or water) until it reaches the desired consistency. Serve immediately.
  4. Serves 6
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
So there. Next time there’s a snowstorm in the forecast and all you want to do is snuggle on the couch in warm fuzzy blankets drinking hot peppermint cocoa in front of the fireplace, I’ve got dinner covered for you (trust me, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a snowstorm in April here in Minnesota).

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Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Food. It’s what brings people together in this world. It’s part of each country’s culture, and it also has a tendency to define and shape one’s eating habits and preferences later in life. And often times, it is attached to some sort of a memory.

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The smell of certain foods as you’re walking down the street, the sight of certain foods you see on TV, magazines, or billboards, can all elicit some sort of a response deep down from the limbic system in your brain. When you eat certain foods, it may remind you of a special occasion or bring back certain memories.

Maybe it was the first time you tried something and liked it. Maybe it brought you back to your childhood. Maybe it reminded you of mom’s home cooking. Maybe you got really sick after eating it and never wanted to eat it again. Maybe you ate that same thing for three weeks in a row and would be totally fine if you’d never see that food for the rest of your life.

…you get the idea. What I’m basically saying is that food has the power to transport us back to a place and time, which is exactly what happened when I took the first bite of today’s recipe.

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The Taiwanese beef noodle soup is something the Taiwanese is proud of. Along with bubble tea, it was originally created in Taiwan, and is often named in the top 5 things people need to try when visiting the country. It’s so popular that it has its own festival! Other famous items from the island include stinky tofu, oyster omelet, braised pork rice, shaved ice, pineapple cake…… I can go on and on, but I know that’s not why you’re here (but if you’re interested, you can get a list of must-eats here, here, and here).

Many older generations of Taiwanese people do not eat beef. The reason behind it is because Taiwan used to be a big farming country, and oxen and water buffalo were the main farm animals that helped the farmers with their crops every year. Naturally, many farming families found it wrong to eat the meat from those who had a hand in helping them grow crops, subsequently helping them put food on their tables.

Growing up, all my grandparents didn’t eat beef. My mom (until this day), also strongly insists that we don’t eat beef at all. My sister, my dad, and I have never been able to eat beef whenever we are out with my mom. It’s just how it is – no ifs, ands, or buts.

Even though my dad grew up with parents who didn’t eat beef, as he grew older, he would occasionally eat beef every once in a blue moon when the craving came. My dad, who knows me best in our family, always knew that I would also have cravings for beef that were often left unfulfilled because of our “house rules”.

I remember back in middle school, I would always stop by his work to head home together for the day. We would walk down the bustling busy city streets in the hot humid summer evenings together, his briefcase strap over his shoulder, and he would put his arm around my shoulder and say, “why don’t we go get some beef noodle soup for dinner?”

It was like a secret between the two of us – we would secretly go out for beef noodle soup, and we would never tell mom. This usually happened when my mom wasn’t able to make it home in time for dinner – whenever she asked what we had for dinner, we would always tell her, “oh, we just had some noodles, that’s all.” We were sneaky like that, and he was my partner in crime… we were little rebels who broke mom’s rules together.

I’m pretty sure my mom never found out about our rule-breaking behaviors… I guess she does now – sorry mom!

Anyway, the whole point of walking dragging you down memory lane is to tell you that this noodle soup is divine. The moment I took that first sip of the broth, I was transported back to 10 years ago, secretly eating beef noodle soup at some mom-and-pop shop with my dad. This recipe is spot-on on flavor… I was in heaven.

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The broth is nice and salty, the beef is tender with just the right amount of fat on it, and the noodles are nice and chewy. It really is the perfect combination! The ginger, garlic, peppercorns, star anise, soy sauce and the doubanjiang are the base for the broth that you slowly cook your beef in for the next 2.5 hours – the smell will make your mouth water, but it’s 110% worth the wait!

I chose to cook the noodle in a separate pot. I also cooked some baby bok choy to go with it as well. If you can’t get your hands on baby bok choy, some spinach or napa cabbage would work too. Once everything is ready to be served, then place the noodles in a large bowl, and ladle the beef and broth into the bowl. Top with your veggies, and you’ve got yourself a bowl of authentic Taiwanese beef noodle soup!

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Next time my parents come visit, I’m going to make this to share with my dad… behind my mom’s back, of course :)

taiwanese beef noodle soup
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons EVOO, divided
  2. 2-2.5 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
  3. 6 large slices of ginger
  4. 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  5. 2 medium plum tomatoes, finely diced
  6. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang - I found mine at the local Asian grocery store)
  8. 1 cup Chinese rice wine
  9. 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  10. 2 whole star anise cloves
  11. 3/4 cup soy sauce
  12. 2 and 1/2 quarts water
  13. 2 lbs Asian wheat noodles, cooked
  14. A handful of baby bok choy, spinach, or napa cabbage, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the pot in a single layer and cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes until browned. Then stir and cook until all the sides are nicely browned. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process again with 1 tablespoon of EVOO and the remaining beef. Transfer beef to the plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO to the same pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add in the sliced ginger and garlic cloves, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the diced tomatoes and stir for another minute. Then add in the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Finally, add in the chili bean paste (doubanjiang) and stir until the mixture starts to bubble.
  3. Add the beef back to the pot, then add the rice wine and cook for 1 minute. This would be a good time to scrape up all the yummy brown bits crusted on the bottom of the pot. Add in the star anise, peppercorns, soy sauce, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 2.5 hours, or until the beef is tender.
  4. Using tongs, remove the all the beef cubes from the broth and set aside. Carefully strain the soup over a mesh strainer into another similarly sized pot to catch the ginger, garlic, star anise, etc. Pick up any small beef cubes from the strained mixture, then return the beef cubes back into the broth.
  5. If desired, heat the soup back up over medium heat and wilt some greens with the soup.
  6. When ready to serve, place noodles on the bottom of individual serving bowls. Ladle the soup and beef chunks into bowls. Serve immediately.
  7. Serves 4-6 people
Adapted from Serious Eats
Adapted from Serious Eats
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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One of the things about living in Minnesota (land of the cold and snow), is that you just crave something that would warm your insides for dinner during the cold winter months. That’s also why Crockpot meals and soups are very popular in our household. Loaded/baked potato soup is one of our favorites whenever we go out and eat, so I decided to give it a whirl and make it at home.

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This soup was a hit and Brian loved it – he even ate the leftovers the next day, which is rare for someone who typically doesn’t care much for leftovers. It’s basically how I gauge how good a meal is – if he’s voluntarily eating leftovers, it must be pretty dang good.

If potato soup is also one of your favorites, you need to make this! Creamy potato soup loaded with bacon and cheese – talk about carb overload! But man it sure is delicious and worth every single calorie. I didn’t feel bad one bit about eating half a pot of this creamy soup. It is winter after all, which is a good enough reason… gotta start on that extra fat storage to keep us warm!

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loaded potato soup
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Ingredients
  1. 6 slices of bacon, diced and cooked
  2. 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 3 and 1/2 cups skim milk
  5. 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  6. 2 green onions, thinly sliced, reserving a bit of the greens for topping, if desired
  7. 1 and 1/2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  8. 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until lightly browned, then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook and whisk constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes and green onions.
  2. Bring soup to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Serve immediately and garnish with bacon, cheese, and additional green onions if desired.
  4. Serves 4
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Soft, velvety potatoes in a creamy soup, contrasted with crisp, smoky bacon bits with ooey gooey shredded sharp cheddar cheese – this soup won’t disappoint and is perfect for a cold winter night!

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The soup, eaten by itself, can be pretty plain and boring – it’s the toppings that make it so delicious! Each person can also top it with whatever toppings they want – more cheese, less cheese, no green onions, more bacon (YESS please!), no bacon (who does that?!)… everything tastes better with more cheese and bacon!

I think next time I’m going to double the amount of bacon and put half of it in with the soup as it simmers, so there’s plenty of bacon in every single bite. If any of you try this recipe and make it that way, let me know how it turns out!

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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This is perhaps the best thing I have ever made in the Crockpot. Ever. Now granted I haven’t made a whole lot of different things in the Crockpot, but this one is amazing (if I may say so myself) and it will definitely be a repeat for my next busy homework-filled day.

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I’ve been finding the perfect recipe for a traditional Chinese/Taiwanese noodle soup broth, and I think this might be it. It literally brought me back home and I think I almost shed a tear when I tasted it for the first time today. I almost felt like I was transported back in time: finding some tiny little hole-in-the-wall noodle shop on the streets of Taiwan, sitting with my family at a small table on metal stools, waiting for our food to be cooked. Most of these restaurants only have big industrial fans during the hot summer months, so we usually sit somewhere near a fan. As if we weren’t hot enough, we usually all order noodle soup (I think I order noodle soup half the time not because of the noodles, but simply because I love the “soup” part of it).

Noodle soup has a special place in my heart. It’s usually something that can made within 15, 20 minutes with a variety of ingredients, so we ate a lot of it growing up, especially when my parents didn’t have much time to cook after coming home from work. Now when I say “noodle soup”, I don’t mean the American “chicken noodle soup”. The Asian version is very different and in my (biased) opinion, tastes way better :)

Anyway, back to soup… I used a pork butt roast for this rather than a pork shoulder – you can definitely use a pork shoulder if you’d like. The pork butt is slightly fattier, but it also gives the broth an amazing flavor as well.

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The combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and star anise play an important part in making this a true authentic Taiwanese/Chinese dish. I added about 1.5 cups of water after taking the roast out to dilute the broth a little bit more; however, if you prefer your broth on the more concentrated and salty side, feel free to omit the additional water. I used Napa cabbage as my vegetable simply because that was all my grocery store had at the time, but if you prefer bok choy, that’ll work as well.

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slow cooker asian pork and noodle soup
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  2. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  3. 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  4. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  5. 1-2" piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  6. 2 pieces star anise
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 3 pounds pork butt roast
  9. 1.5 cups water
  10. 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  11. 3-4 oz dried Mai-Fun noodles
Instructions
  1. In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise and salt. Add the pork, then cover and cook on low 8 hours, or until pork is fork tender.
  2. Remove pork and place on a large plate. Shred with a fork and set aside.
  3. Add the water, Napa cabbage, and noodles to the slow cooker, making sure they are submerged. Cover and cook for 30 more minutes, or until noodles are done.
  4. Divide the noodles, Napa cabbage, and pork among bowls, then ladle in the broth.
  5. Serves 3
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Not only is the flavor of this soup very nostalgic to me, it also makes the house smell like a little hole-in-the-wall Taiwanese noodle place. I placed the roast in the slow cooker this morning before leaving for class, and when I came back 8 hours later, I could smell the deliciousness before I even opened the front door. Not to mention finding a recipe this delicious that only requires a Crockpot is always a win in my book!

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Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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