Middle Eastern Chicken + Black Bean Soup

Middle Eastern Chicken + Black Bean Soup

Jon’s favorite dinners are ones that have spicy and exotic flavors.  He loves curry, and last year I introduced our family to some other blends like Berbere and Ras El Hanout.  Ras El Hanout is a seasoning blend found in Middle Eastern cooking and is made of coriander, turmeric, cardamom, sea salt, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  It is a nice flavor for chicken and many vegetables too, like eggplant or peppers.

Soups are one of my favorite things to make because you can change it up any way you want!  Plus you can often do it in the slow cooker.  If you want to do this on the stove top, you can.  You could also follow steps 1-4, then add the rest of the ingredients to the Dutch oven –then cover it, and put it in a 300 degree oven for about 2 hours.  Any method would work, and the Dutch oven to oven method is probably closer to authentic.  But sometimes I don’t have time for authentic, and it’s easier to just put it in the slow cooker!



Total Time7 hours (Hands-On Time1 hour)


Difficulty LevelEasy




Vegetable oil as needed

½ red onion, small dicedbest

1 green bell pepper, small diced

4 tablespoons Ras El Hanout

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cumin

8 ounces dry white wine, such as Sauv Blanc

4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, small diced

3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 10.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in green chiles

6-10 cups chicken broth

Freshly chopped cilantro

Plain Greek yogurt




  1. Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom of a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the onion and pepper, and saute over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the Ras El Hanout, ginger, and cumin, and continue to cook with the vegetables for another 2-3 minutes.


    the veggies, dried spices, and wine right before adding it the the slow cooker

  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any bits from the pan.
  5. Add the diced chicken to the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker.
  6. Add the sautéed vegetables on top of the chicken, and stir gently to mix.
  7. Add the drained black beans, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth (as needed) to the slow cooker.
  8. Cook on high for 6 hours, stirring every once or twice to break the chicken and vegetables up.
  9. Serve hot with freshly chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Provincial Fish Stew

Provincial Fish Stew

Once of my favorite restaurant dishes to order is bouillabaisse, because it’s light, filling, and it’s really hard to make at home (so many ingredients, etc).  This is my Americanized, simplified version of a European fisherman stew.  You can make the whole thing in about one hour, and you don’t need saffron or a bunch of different types of fish. 

I made this with frozen flounder, but any whitefish will do, or you could even use shrimp or salmon.  I didn’t even let the flounder defrost all the way before cutting it, and it’s actually easier that way.  Same goes for slicing beef or chicken –if it’s still almost frozen, it’s much easier to cut up.  You can use your favorite white wine for this because that’s what I did.  I love Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s what I always drink and use for cooking if I can.  And Seaglass is my favorite brand –I like every wine of theirs I’ve tried, but especially the Sauv Blanc. 

Another thing you could do with this soup is add 1-2 cups of small diced potatoes at the beginning with the carrots and onion to make this soup more substantial.  Just remember to add plenty of cooking time while sautéing (about 10 extra minutes) and extra time when simmering (about 15 minutes).  But use your best judgment.  I eat this soup plain, but it would go great with some crusty bread and parmesan cheese if you wanted to make it special. 


Total Time:  1 hour and 15 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy



Olive oil

1 onion, peeled and small diced

2 carrots, peeled and small diced


my favorite

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 bottle dry white wine (like Sauv Blanc)

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

3 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1 pound whitefish filets

Juice of 2 lemons

Fresh chopped parsley



  1. Heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and sauté until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, basil, and thyme. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic and dried herbs.
  3. Add the bottle of white wine, and bring everything up to a boil for 5 minutes, then down to medium heat for 5 more minutes.best
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Bring it up to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover, and cook for 45 minutes.
  6. While the soup cooks, cut the fish into 1 inch pieces. Keep refrigerated until it’s time to add them to the soup.
  7. After 45 minutes, taste, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the fish to the soup, and stir in gently. Don’t let the soup come back up to a boil.  Cook over medium low for another 5-10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  8. Right before serving, squeeze in the juice from the lemons, and add the chopped parsley.

(adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Chicken Artichoke Stew

Chicken Artichoke Stew

If something is called a stew instead of a soup, it seems more filling, doesn’t it?  When I think of soup, I think of something thinner and not a whole meal, but a stew feels substantial, and like I don’t need to explain myself to a table of hungry kids and a full grown husband. 

This is French inspired, but I’m not pretending it’s completely authentic.  I just really love artichokes. I made this casserole last year (actually my first recipe since I started blogging on the reg), and since then I’ve really started using frozen artichokes a lot.  I like that they aren’t stored in a flavored seasoning, and it works really well for dishes like this.  I didn’t want a bunch of extra seasonings going in here because artichokes are so special and delicate.

Tarragon and thyme are a really good complement for artichokes, chicken makes it more substantial, and the wine really enhances everything.  If you don’t like to cook with alcohol, you can always use more chicken stock instead.  But artichokes + tarragon + white wine (especially Sauv blanc) is soooo good. 

Unfortunately this isn’t a set-forget-soup, but it’s still pretty easy.  And of course, Basic Baked Chicken is one of my favorite go-to’s.  Having the chicken recipe makes the whole recipe doable on a weeknight because you can cook the chicken up to 3 days in advance. 


Total Time:  90 Minutes (not including the chicken)

Serves:  6 dinner portions

Difficulty Level:  Easy



2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 shallots, small diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 medium sized red potatoes, washed and small diced

Drizzle of olive oil

12 ounces of Sauvignon Blanc

8 cups of chicken stock

Basic Baked Chicken, diced into bite-sized chunks (3 breasts)

4 whole sprigs fresh thyme

3 tablespoons dried tarragon

1 box of frozen artichoke heart quarters

1 1/2 cup of frozen petite peas

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Freshly chopped tarragon (for garnish)

French bread



  1. To a French or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter. Once it melts, add the shallots, and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the diced red potatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir, and cook sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to brown the edges.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.
  4. Add the chicken stock. Bring everything up to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to low. Add the diced chicken, thyme, and tarragon.  Stir, and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the artichokes. Cook for another 15 minutes.
  7. Add the peas. Cook for another 5 minutes, just to heat the peas through.
  8. Taste the soup, and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh tarragon, and a slice of French bread.


Chicken Parmesan Soup + Crispy Parmesan Wafers

Chicken Parmesan Soup

If you read LNF on the regular, you may have noticed my habit of turning plated food into soups –like this, this, or this.  And Chicken Parmesan is one of my all-time favorite Sunday dinners.  So…let’s combine them!  This version is a lot lighter because nothing is breaded or fried.  You’ll get all the flavors of the original. 

Plus I’ve got 2 crunchy, crispy toppings to mimic the crunchy, crispy breading on the original.  First I’m making Crispy Parmesan Wafers, and then I’m making toasty Italian bread crumbs to sprinkle right on top.  These are both super simple and quick to make, and you do them both ahead of time if you want.  In fact, you can do all the components of this ahead of time, and let the soup simmer on low all day if you want. 

Since this soup is served over pasta, it’s a meal on its own.  I used whole wheat macaroni, but ditalini or even mini rigatoni would be good, too.  As long as it’s bite-sized.  This is another recipe that uses my old standard, Basic Baked Chicken (get the recipe here).


Total Time:  1 hourcover

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty Level:  Easy



Olive oil

½ yellow onion, small diced

2 green bell peppers, small diced

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

4 fresh garlic cloves, minced

Basic Baked Chicken (4 small or 3 larger breasts, small diced)

36 ounces of your favorite marinara sauce

6-8 cups chicken broth

1 pound whole wheat macaroni, cooked and drained

Toasted Breadcrumbs (method follows)

Crispy Parmesan Wafers (method follows)



  1. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large soup pot or French oven over medium heat.
  2. When you can smell the oil heating up, add the diced onion and bell peppers. Stir to coat with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, oregano, basil, and parsley.  Stir again, and let it cook on medium for 5-6 minutes, or until vegetables become translucent.
  3. Add the garlic cloves, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully so you don’t burn the garlic.
  4. Add the diced baked chicken, marinara sauce, and chicken broth. Bring soup up to a rolling (not rapid because it will splatter everywhere!) boil, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for at least 35 minutes uncovered. If you are going to let it simmer longer (which is better!), cover the pot, and reduce heat to low.
  6. Serve hot over macaroni. Immediately before serving, garnish with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan crisps (methods follow).



For the toasted breadcrumbs:  Spread about ½ cup of Italian style breadcrumbs out of a toaster-chz.jpgoven-sized pan.  Toast in your toaster oven for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn.  Toss, and sprinkle over soup.

For the parmesan wafers:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a half sheet pan with a silicone baking sheet.  Scoop heaping tablespoons onto the pan.  Bake at 400 for 4-5 minutes, watching carefully.  After you remove them from the oven, let them come down to room temperature before serving over soup.




Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

Turkey chili is one of the first things I cooked in a Crock Pot.  Chili is definitely one of my favorite things to make in the cooler months, and I love customizing it.  I make lots of types of chili:  crunchy taco chili, white bean chili, vegetarian chili, and  steak and beer chili.  But turkey chili is the kind I make most often because you use an inexpensive meat, and there is almost no work involved. 

I love food with lots of color and texture, so I use as many types of beans and veggies as possible. 

  I love substituting stuff in chili.  Just like with the salsa, you can substitute taco sauce or Rotel tomatoes.  Whatever you have that saves you from making another trip to the store.  I’m writing this recipe as if I were making my ideal turkey chili and have exactly the ingredients I want.

This time I used fresh bell peppers because I had some in the fridge, but you can also use the frozen pepper stir fry if that’s easier.  It has peppers and onions, so no chopping at all. 

For garnishes, I love a variety.  My favorite healthy ones are a dollop of Greek yogurt, salted avocado, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, or diced tomatoes (or pico de gallo).  I also love tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream if I’m not counting calories.  But who am I kidding, I am always counting calories. 

[Note:  I wrote this recipe in Sept. 2016.  I held it over because I hated the photos.  Then I re-did the photos with my point-and-shoot and thought they were much better.  Then I finally got a “real” camera, and now I don’t like these photos anymore, but I’m just tired of sitting on this recipe because it IS delicious!]


Total Time:  6-8 hoursimg_6258

Serves: 8

Difficulty Level:  Easy



1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 onion

1 ¼ pounds lean ground turkey

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 ½ tablespoons of cumin

1 ½ tablespoons of chipotle powder

2 teaspoons of paprika

2 teaspoons of garlic

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of coriander

1 can of dark red kidney beans

1 can of black beans

1 can of pinto beans

1 can of whole kernel corn

1 16 ounce can of tomato sauce

16 ounces of salsa

1-2 cups of water

1-2 beef or chicken bouillon cubes



  1. Dice the bell peppers and onion into a medium, chunky dice.  Add to the Crock Pot.
  2. Add the ground turkey on top of the vegetables.
  3. Add the Calabria chili paste and all the dried spices.
  4. Drain and rinse all the beans, and add to the pot.
  5. Add the tomato sauce. Add the corn and the liquid from the can to the pot.  Add the salsa.
  6. Add the water and bouillon, 1-2 cups or cubes depending on how thick or soupy you want it.
  7. Cook for 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Remove cover to stir and break apart turkey a few times while it’s cooking.
  8. Serve with your favorite garnishes.






Quinoa + Chicken Stuffed Pepper Soup

Quinoa + Chicken Stuffed Pepper Soup

This is the lightened up version of my Stuffed Pepper Casserole.  The casserole is already pretty healthy, but the soup is even healthier.  And it’s just as filling.  I like to flavor stuffed pepper things with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  I know stuffed peppers aren’t a Greek recipe, but I feel like the flavors of the soup need to be bold and savory, but not necessarily spicy. 

I didn’t start using Worcestershire sauce regularly until about a year ago.  If you’re cooking a meat or dinner dish, and it’s missing something, but you’re not sure what…add some Worcestershire sauce.  It’s especially good with beef.  Since I don’t eat beef very often, I use it when I’m mimicking beef flavors (like in this soup). 

Traditional stuffed peppers are filled with rice, but I just felt like doing something different.  I use quinoa in this soup, but you can always use rice if you want to.  For this recipe, I’m using my 5 ½ quart French oven, but you can definitely adapt it to a slow cooker!  Add all the ingredients in the same order I’ve listed below, and cook for 6 hours on high, stirring once or twice.

I always serve Stuffed Pepper Soup with hot sauce, grated cheddar or mozzarella, and sour cream.


Total Time:  2 hours (but longer is better)featured

Serves: 8

Difficulty Level:  Easy



Extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ red bell pepper, diced small

1 green bell pepper, diced small

1 medium sized onion, diced small

2 large (or 3 small) garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 pounds lean ground chicken

1 cup quinoa

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

24 ounces marinara sauce

48 to 60 ounces water

2 tablespoons of beef bouillon powder



  1. Heat a French oven over medium heat. Add olive oil.
  2. When you can smell the oil, add the diced bell peppers and onion. Sauté over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, and dried thyme. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the ground chicken. Brown the chicken while breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the quinoa, Worcestershire sauce, marinara sauce, water, and bouillon powder.
  6. Bring the soup up to a boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking for at least 1 ½ hours (but longer is better).
  8. Serve hot with grated cheddar or mozzarella, sour cream, and hot sauce.

Vegetable and Polenta Soup with Crispy Bacon

Vegetable and Polenta Soup with Crispy Bacon

This recipe is a variation of a soup I made for Jon right after we got married.  He briefly decided to become a vegetarian for some reason, and I found this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.  I just substituted vegetable broth for chicken broth, and there you go. 

Jon’s vegetarianism is long gone, and it has literally been years since I’d even thought about this soup.  As I was writing Pretty Things for December, I took note of one especially pretty dish:  Martha Stewart’s Sicilian Beef Stew.  Her version goes over mashed potatoes, but I think it would be better over polenta.  I was so inspired that I’ve decided to make that for our Christmas Eve dinner, along with Persimmon Pudding—both new dishes I’m really looking forward to! 

I went ahead and got the polenta to go with the beef stew, and it jogged my memory about this soup.  Adding polenta to the soup is kind of an alternative to adding rice or pasta.  It makes it more filling and a little creamy.  Growing up in the Deep South, I never heard of polenta until I was an adult.  But of course I’d heard of grits.  Polenta and grits are almost exactly the same thing.good

This time, though, since we’re all meat-eaters again, I decided to up the ante with bacon and some white wine.  I have to say, I like my version of the soup better than the original.  I decided to cook the bacon first, remove it, and add it back at the very end because I wanted it to be crispy on top of the soup –not soft inside the soup.




Total Time:  1 hour and 15 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy



1 pound of bacon, diced

1 onion, medium diced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into half moons

2 large zucchini, cut into half moons

4 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

1- 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes

10 whole sprigs of fresh thyme

8-10 cups of chicken broth

1 cup white wine

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon of basil pesto

1 cup polenta

½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, add the diced bacon.  Cook until the bacon is done and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon, and place it on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  3. Cook the onion and the carrot in the bacon fat for about 5-6 minutes. Add the zucchini, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic powder, oregano, diced tomatoes with juice, thyme (sprigs and all), chicken broth, white wine, Worcestershire sauce, and pesto.
  5. Bring the soup up to a boil, and cook with the lid off for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the polenta, cover, and continue to cook for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Right before serving, add the parsley.
  8. Serve hot and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese and the cooked bacon.

(inspired by Giada de Laurentiis)