Italian Chicken and Orzo Soup


It’s soup season!  Think of this one as a spin on traditional chicken noodle, loaded with veggies and some orzo pasta. Start to finish, it will be ready in just under an hour.  I do hope this recipe helps you stay warm and healthy this winter!

Italian Chicken and Orzo Soup (serves 6)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound skinless chicken breast

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 quart chicken stock

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup orzo pasta

3 cups baby spinach

parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large pot, heat oil. Sauté onion and celery until onion is translucent. Add oregano, garlic and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Sprinkle in salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add chicken, stock, water, and tomatoes. When brought to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (partially covered) for 30 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and shred with fork. In the meantime, add the orzo and simmer aggressively for 10 minutes. When pasta is done, return chicken to pot and add parsley and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve into bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Mother’s Day Menu


This is my mom and me teaching a class together, ‘Cooking with Mom’ this week.

Here is a Myplate2yours Mother’s Day menu.  Three easy recipes that either the seasoned chef or annual ‘Mother’s Day’ cook can follow.  It is always a treat when mom can take a break from menu planning and prep…but she may be up for helping, if asked!

Enjoy your day!

Here it is:

White Gazpacho Soup

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Lemon Panna Cotta

Zesty Cioppino

Zesty CioppinoThis is the dish my mom and I prepared for our class last week at Marcel’s Lunch in Nonnie’s Italian Kitchen.  It is super yummy and very easy to make.  Start to finish it can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  The fish/seafood in the recipe can be varied depending on your family’s preferences, simply substitute equal portions of fish and shellfish to suit your tastes.

Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad…it’s so tasty your family will wonder who is coming for dinner!

Zesty Cioppino (serves 6 main dish portions)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 cups diced sweet onion (1 large)

2 green peppers, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms (8 ounces)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon each: dried basil and dried oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Ground black pepper, to taste

2 cans (16 ounces each) diced tomatoes

6 ounces tomato paste

1 cup white wine

1 cup vegetable broth

6 ounces canned all-white crabmeat

1 pound frozen shrimp, shelled and deveined

8 ounces firm white fish fillets (cod or halibut)

12 fresh mussels, rinsed with beards removed

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, dried herbs, salt, and red pepper. Cook until mushrooms are softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, and broth. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the fish. Make sure pieces are submerged. Adjust heat for fish to cook in a slow boil until fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in crabmeat, shrimp and mussels. Heat until mussels open and shrimp is opaque, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread! Enjoy!


Mom and I have another class together on May 6, Cooking with Mom.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!  Click here for more information and to register!


Meatless Monday: White Gazpacho Soup

White Gazpacho

A fall treat!  Crisp cucumbers and sweet grapes!  Its an easy, healthy, lunch or snack.  I made this soup in a class last week and saw guests trying to lick their bowls (their identities will remain confidential).  Enjoy!

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Fresh Dill (serves 4-6)

1/2 pound green grapes

1/3 cup almonds, toasted

1 English cucumber, seedless and sliced into 1 inch pieces

2 green onions, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 clove garlic

3 tablespoons fresh dill

2 tablespoons non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Place grapes in freezer (reserving 6 for garnish). In a food processor, process almonds, garlic and dill until chopped. Add frozen grapes, cucumbers, onions, milk, yogurt, and vinegar. Process until pureed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and more vinegar, as needed. Blend in EVOO with a drizzle. Serve with sliced grapes (cut side up) as garnish.


Creamy White Bean Soup with Baby Spinach & Lemon

Baby Spinach

Now that spring has officially arrived, I like to defy the cold temperatures outside by incorporating some spring vegetables into my cooking.  You saw the Broiled Asparagus with Balsamic earlier this month!  Here is Creamy White Bean Soup with Baby Spinach & Lemon, fresh spring flavors despite the cold temperatures (at least here in the Midwest).  Enjoy!

Creamy White Bean Soup with Baby Spinach & Lemon (serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 small carrot, sliced

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2, 16 ounce cans cannellini beans (or Great Northern Beans), rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups packed baby spinach

Fresh juice and zest from 1/2 lemon

In a large saucepan, heat oil.  Cook onion, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  Stir in beans, chicken broth, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 15 minutes. 

Remove 1 cup of bean mixture from soup.  With an immersion blender (or in a food processor), blend remaining soup until smooth.  Combine reserved beans with pureed soup and bring to a boil.  Add spinach and lemon juice.  Season with additional salt and pepper, as needed.  Serve in bowls and garnish with lemon zest. 

This recipe was adapted from one on

Red Beans and Rice Soup

school closedThe kids are home for another day.  It’s too cold to go to the grocery store.  What to make for dinner?  Here’s the perfect recipe: Red Beans and Rice Soup!  I’m hoping you’ll already have these items in your pantry.  What makes this soup special is homemade Cajun spices.  It’s also quick to make!  Sometimes I will garnish this soup with sweet chicken sausage, the kind that is precooked.  Just slice up a package (usually 4 or 5 links) and throw into the soup to heat at the end.  This soup will warm your heart on a very cold day!  Enjoy!

Red Beans and Rice Soup (serves 6)A mixture of beans and spices for cooking

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 small yellow bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (recipe* below)

6 cups vegetable broth

3 cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups cooked brown rice

3 green onions, sliced

In a large pot heat oil over medium heat oil and sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery and until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add broth and beans and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Add rice and green onions and cook to heat contents thoroughly.  Remove from heat and season as needed.

*Cajun Seasoning

2 ½ tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Combine salt, oregano, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper in small sealed bag.  Shake to mix.  Store unused portion in the sealed bag.

Pumpkin-Pear Soup

Pumpkin-Pear Soup

I’ve been on a roll with posting ‘orange’ recipes in the past few weeks: Baked Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Pumpkin Pudding, and Warm Sweet Potato, Lentil, Apple Salad.  Here’s the one I promised last week, Pumpkin-Pear Soup.  It was featured in a class I recently taught at Marcel’s, Easy Fall Soups and Quick Bread.  My friend Molly attended the class and has made this soup twice since.  The original recipe uses an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Molly uses a stand blender to puree her soup.  I’ve listed both versions in the recipe below.

The finished taste of this soup is rich and creamy.  Your family may be surprised to find there is no cream in this soup.  Molly’s was!

Pear-Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Pepitas (serves 6)

2 ripe pears

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

3 tablespoons sage leaves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

15 ounce can pumpkin puree

4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth

Juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon)

Cut pears in half.  Slice one half into matchsticks.  In a small bowl, combine matchsticks with lemon juice and one tablespoon chopped sage.  Set aside. Dice remaining 1-1/2 pears for the soup.

In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and pears.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.  Add sage, allspice, salt and pepper.  Stir to heat spices.

Immersion blender version:  Add pumpkin and broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Cover partially allowing steam to vent, for 10 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Molly’s blender version:  Blend contents of the stockpot with some of the broth in a blender. Return contents to pot and add pumpkin and remaining broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Cover (allow a slight vent) and cook for 10 minutes.

All:  Portion soup into 6 bowls and garnish with reserved pear and pepitas.  Enjoy!!

No Cook Summer Meal: Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho SoupWhen it gets hot outside, I do my best to keep heat out of the kitchen.  The oven and stove top stay off when no-cook meals are on the menu. This easy, tasty Gazpacho soup is one of my favorites.  I’m teaching more favorite no-cook meals this Tuesday, July 9,  6:30-8pm at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.  On the menu is a Shrimp and Mango Wrap with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Summer Fruit and Veggie Slaw, and Creamy Chocolate Almond Frosty.  If you can join me, please register HERE.

Here’s the Summer Gazpacho Soup recipe to help keep the heat off in your kitchen. Enjoy!

Summer Gazpacho (serves 4-6)

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

2 red bell peppers, seeded

4 ripe plum tomatoes

1 red onion

3 cloves garlic

3 cups tomato juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

juice from 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, if desired

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and red onion into 1 inch cubes.  Put half of veggies into food processor.   Blend until puréed to desired texture, 15-20 seconds.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat with remaining veggies and garlic.  Pour into the bowl and stir in the tomato juice, oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly to  blend.  Season to taste and add cumin, if desired.  Chill before serving.

The recipe was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 1999

Adzuki and Potato Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Adzuki beans and miso paste may not be staples in your kitchen or even on your grocery list.  But please don’t let some unique ingredients deter you from trying this delicious soup!

Adzuki beans (also called aduki) are a small red bean used in Asian dishes and often in sweets.  For this recipe, I found a canned version from Eden Organic.  If you use dried beans, reserve about 1 cup of the bean’s soaking water for the soup.

Miso paste is a staple in Asian markets but commonly found in the Asian sections of general grocery stores.  It is a fermented soybean product and is known for the umami taste it contributes to a dish.

Start to finish in under 30 minutes, your mouth will be so happy with the savory flavors that emerge from this soup!

Adzuki and Potato Miso Soup (serves 6)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 can adzuki (aduki) beans (do not drain)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 bunches green onions, white and green parts chopped separately, divided

¾ cup dried shiitake mushrooms, crumbled

1 pound small red potatoes, quartered

2-4 tablespoons miso paste

Heat oil in large saucepan.  Add white parts of green onions, sprinkle with salt and cover.  Cook 5 to 7 minutes until onions are soft.  Add 4 cups vegetable stock, beans, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, keep covered, and cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Stir miso into 1 cup of soup broth and add back to soup.  Simmer until heated through.  Season with more miso and/or salt to taste.  Sprinkle with green parts of onion before serving.  Enjoy!

Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto

Winter Veg Soup with Pesto

It’s perfect soup weather here in the Midwest.  When I made Myplate2yours Everybody Loves Tortellini Soup for lunch today, it reminded me of another quick & delicious soup I want to share.  Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto is full of flavor and features nutritional powerhouses like sweet potatoes and kale.  The pesto adds a great ‘pop’ of flavor but if you don’t have the time or ingredients to make it, the recipe can be modified:  first, add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pot with the leeks and celery.  Then, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried basil and 1 teaspoon of dried parsley to the simmering soup.  OR, you can make the pesto ahead of time and refrigerate (or freeze) the pesto for future use.  Enjoy!

Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto (serves 6-8)

¼ cup olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced (Clean well…First, I cut off both ends and cut vertically.  Then I rinse each section thoroughly to remove the sandy grit it’s grown in)

2 celery stalks, sliced

1-15 ounce canned petite diced tomato, undrained

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 cups vegetable (vegan) or chicken stock

1 cup water

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (I prefer red garnets)

1/2 cup orzo pasta (omit for gluten-free)

1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 pound kale leaves, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

Basil-Mint pesto (recipe below*)

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, cook leeks and celery until slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes and paste, stock, potatoes and pasta.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover until vegetables are tender, 10-20 minutes.  Add beans and kale, heat thoroughly and season to taste.  Serve in individual bowls with a heaping tablespoon of pesto on top.  Enjoy the soup by stirring in the pesto to combine. YUM!!

*Basil-Mint Pesto

1-1/2 cup basil

½ cup mint

¼ cup parsley

½ cup hazelnuts or pine nuts, toasted

4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

1/4 cup EVOO

Blend first 6 ingredients in a food processor.  Occasionally scrape down sides to blend evenly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil to blend.  Adjust oil amount, as needed, for proper consistency.  Makes 1 cup.