Beef + Vegetable + Wild Rice Stew (Revisited)

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A few years ago when I was in college, I worked at a restaurant called The Cheeseboard, which makes the best soups and my all-time favorite grilled cheese sandwich.  When I worked there, we would essentially just make a giant pot of soup with whatever we had laying in the fridge.  Some of my favorites included our potato soup which I would top with absurd amounts of cheddar and the tomato soup with I would obviously pair with the grilled cheese.  One time, the chef made a stew with beef, wild rice, and all kinds of vegetables, and it was one of the best beef stews I ever done had.  It also happened to be one of the days that I didn’t help make the soup, and I had no idea what he did, AND to top it all off, he never used recipes.  SO I decided to make my own version, and I wrote a post about it, and it was good, but it wasn’t one of the best stews I ever had.  After that, I pretty much just forgot about beef soup until approximately one week ago when I found a package of stew meat in my freezer.

After a few years of learning more about food, and re-reading my original beef + wild rice stew recipe, I realized I had done some cooking techniques that made little sense, and the ingredients were a little off for my tastes (3 years will do that to you I guess?).  So I decided to remake the recipe with some different ingredients and some updated techniques, and I have to say, I think this maybe is one of the best beef stews I’ve ever had.  Yay!!

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For starters, I learned that a good quality stew meat + broth makes a big difference in taste!  I used stew meat from Sanford Ranch Beef which my cousins own, but you can use whatever good-quality meat you can find.  Also, try to find a nice wild rice mix without any added seasonings or preservatives – those will affect the overall flavor of the soup.  For veggies, I use a mire poix with some squash, but next time I may add turnips or leeks!  Basically, whatever you have in the fridge.  Also, I serve the stew with either a mixed salad or charred broccoli and fresh, crusty whole-wheat bread!

The stew lasts well in the fridge and can even taste better after a few days.  The rice usually soaks up some of the broth, so try to have extra on hand for leftovers!!

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Beef + Wild Rice + Vegetable Stew
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. red wine
4-6 c. low-sodium beef broth*
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. marjoram or thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. hot sauce or cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. wild rice
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 zucchini, diced

In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and brown on all sides for a few minutes.  Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and set aside.  If necessary, add the remaining oil and saute the carrots, celery, and onion cooking until soft.  Add garlic, and let it cook until fragrant.

Lower the heat, and deglaze the pan with the red wine.  Stir and let it cook for a few minutes.  Add the beef broth, bay leaf, marjoram (or thyme), parsley, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the wild rice and cover the pot with a lid.  Simmer the stew for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender.

When the rice is cooked, add the peas and zucchini.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Serve with lots of crusty bread!

*I used 4 cups of broth which made a very thick stew.  The rice soaked it all up for leftovers, so I had to add more liquid.  If you like a brothy stew, add 6 cups!


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle & Sebastian

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Beef, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Soup

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With fall making its slow appearance, all I can think about is soup at all times.  Even when it’s too warm for soup (a.k.a. right now, or even in the summer), soup is a (not so) guilty pleasure that I look forward to year round.  Right in the midst of midterms and projects, I’m always looking for easy, one-pot meals that can be simmered away while I study.  Enter beef, vegetable, and wild rice soup: a wholesome meal made in my dutch oven served with crusty, whole-grain bread and a simple, garlic-y side salad.  After a long day, nothing is better than cuddling up on the couch with this soup.  I promise.

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This soup can be changed based on whatever veggies/meat you have in your fridge.  Add onions, turnips, potatoes, replace chicken for the beef, use brown rice instead of wild rice, add some thyme, etc.  Just throw your veggies, meat, and rice into a pot.  Walk away for an hour or so.  Come back.  Bask in the glory of fresh veggies + earthy rice + seasoned beef.  Dinner plans finalized.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 lb. stew meat, cubed

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 qt. low-sodium beef broth

1/2 c. red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Few drops Tabasco

1 beef bouillon cube

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. wild rice

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 zucchini, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Brown the beef for a few minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until it starts to sweat.  Add garlic and wild rice.  Slowly stir in beef broth, red wine, marjoram, parsley, Tabasco, bouillon cube, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables and wild rice are tender.  Lastly, add frozen peas, and zucchini.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

*Notes*

You can use full sodium beef broth and exclude the bouillon cube if you prefer.  I just like being able to control how much salt goes into the soup, and I found this yields the best results.

Zucchini and peas are added last so that they do not get too soggy,

*To make in a crockpot*: I have actually never done this, but I do not think it would be too hard.  Just ad all of the ingredients excluding the rice, peas, and zucchini.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Add rice, peas, and zucchini 30 minutes-1 hour before serving.

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XO Sara

*Song of the Day: Trailer Trash–Modest Mouse*

(Crockpot) Light Zuppa Toscana

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I have been surprisingly social all weekend.  I went to a football game on Friday (we won!) (Go Wolfpack!) and then my roommates and I spent the rest of the night with Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and Cards Against Humanity.  If you have never played Cards Against Humanity, let’s just introduce you to their slogan : A party game for horrible people.

And that it is.

Just take a look at their website.  Or check out this and this.

I also spent my Saturday night bar hopping with one of my best friends/pseudo cousin.  Except that I had to drive home so my bar hopping experience was mostly just me getting leaned on by a bunch of drunk people.

Good times right?

The whole drinking and Cards Against Humanity thing ties together because:

1. Most of the time, if you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you are simultaneously drinking.

And 2. When I told my roommate, “The only two games I know how to play are beer pong and Cards Against Humanity.  What does that say about me?”, his response was, “You’re an evil alcoholic.”

So there’s that.

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And now about Zuppa Toscana.  It is that delicious soup at Olive Garden with sausage, potatoes, and kale.  The broth is lightly creamy and a little spicy.

It is also 220 calories for a bowl of it at Olive Garden.  That doesn’t seem tooooo bad, until you consider that it has 15 g of fat and 990 mg of sodium in it.  And when you consider that you’re going to have another bowl of it.  And a glass (or two) of wine.  And probably some type of pasta.  And that salad, which also doesn’t seem too bad until you see that there are 150 calories, 10 g of fat, and 760 mg of sodium in it. Also, don’t forget that you’re going to eat like, 4 of those bread sticks (140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium)

Holy shit, what is in this stuff?

Anyways, I definitely recreated the recipe and lightened it up quite a bit.  I calculated it all up and it was about 350 calories per serving.  The recipe serves 4, so you get quite a big serving of soup for less than 400 calories.  Also, you just throw it in a crockpot.  So easy guys.

Ahem.

*thunderous applause*

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*The recipe was originally from Fix it and Forget it, but has been changed dramatically*

Ingredients:

6 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. whole milk or half and half

2 carrots, grated

3 russet potatoes, sliced

4 cups kale, chopped slightly

1 lb. turkey Italian sausage

Dash salt and pepper

Sprinkle of garlic powder

Sprinkle onion powder

1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

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Grate 2 carrots into your crockpot.

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Pour in chicken broth.

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And the whole milk/half and half.

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Slice up your potatoes.

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Add them to your broth.

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Brown the sausage.

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Add it to your broth.

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Sprinkle your spices!

Cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring every once in a while.

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1 hour, I REPEAT, 1 HOUR before serving, stir in kale.  If you do it any earlier, it will be grossly soggy.  Do you want soggy kale?  Do you?!

No.  You really don’t.

Serve with a light homemade salad and some whole wheat rolls.  Sprinkle it with a little parm.

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Yum yum yum.  This is definitely going to be my fall favorite.

Bonus: It’s gluten free naturally!

It doesn’t taste exactly like the Olive Garden version, but it’s pretty damn close for a light version.  Sometime (when you feel really naughty) go ahead and use regular chicken broth, cream, and pork Italian sausage.  Or just go to Olive Garden and really go all out.  I’m normally not a fan of chains, but I still love Olive Garden every once in a while.

But just make this, okay?

XO Sara

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

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I know that it’s June.  I know that it’s in the 90s and even reaches the 100s.  But I can’t get over soup.

However, it was 75 degrees in Reno all day today, which is totally acceptable soup weather if you ask me.

Especially if you’re making baked potato soup.  Baked potato soup is special.  Believe me.  I made it for a group of friends.  One claimed it was “the best she’s ever had”.  Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.

Ahem.

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On another note, do you fellow food bloggers ever notice random things in your photos?  Like a reflection of you taking a picture in the spoon?  Ha.

Before I give you this recipe, please note that I do not normally use “cream of anything” soups.  I really prefer to make most of my food from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to have a semi-homemade meal.  If you also do not like using cream soups, just give it a chance, you’ll thank me 😉 (Also, this soup definitely should only be eaten on occasion, for the sake of your waistline!)

Ingredients:

1-30 oz. package frozen hashbrowns (the cubed kind)

28 oz. chicken broth (may want more for thinner soup)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cheddar cheese soup

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings: bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions

In a crockpot, combine hashbrowns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese soup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.  30 minutes before serving, add cream cheese and stir until melted.

Top bowls of soup with bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, and green onions, or whatever you feel like 🙂

Serves about 6-8.

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I personally like to add lots of bacon and cheese.  Weird right?  Also, I served these with pretzel rolls from my local bakery.  Ah-may-zing.

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As I mentioned earlier, this is not a soup for those on a diet.  But it’s so easy, and so good for a crowd that you should make it for family dinner or movie night sometime.  And then let me know how you like it (or love it?).

*Bonus:  If made with gluten free cream soups, this recipe is perfectly gluten free!  Remove the bacon and it’s vegetarian!*

XO Sara