Category Archives: soups and stews

I love soup. It’s easier than you think to make. One tool I use often in soups: immersion blender. Get yo’self one.

Ramen – My Interpretation

My version of easy home-cooked "Ramen" using store-bought Ramen noodles. Cheap, easy, tasty.

My version of easy home-cooked “Ramen” using store-bought Ramen noodles. Cheap, easy, tasty.

Most evenings I have a plan. But this one evening I did not. I ate leftovers for a very late lunch so by the time dinner rolled around I had no desire to cook nor did I have ANY clue what to make. Usually on nights like this the kids eat cereal and I make something special later after the kids are in bed for daddy and mommy. But this evening Josie asked for Ramen noodles. So I got out two packages. I had an idea!

My version of Ramen was born. Now, I am fully aware this is not a traditional Ramen noodle dish that you would eat in an authentic Asian restaurant. The broth and noodles are homemade in a true Ramen dish. This is simply MY version. Frugal, quick, and tasty.

Ramen – Jessie’s Asian Noodle Experience


Check your fridge for yummy goodies to add to the soup. I used sliced leftover baked sweet potato, which I reheated a bit. Very thinly sliced beef barely cooked in a bit of olive oil with a splash of  low-sodium soy sauce. (If you check the butcher case you can find thinly sliced ‘steak sub’ quality steak. That will be perfect for this dish.)

Bean sprouts would be good. Sliced mushrooms would be good. Slivers of carrot would be good. Finely diced jalapeno pepper or pickled banana peppers would be good.

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan that has a lid.
  • Add 2 packs of Ramen, BUT ONLY ONE packet of flavoring.
  • Turn the heat to low and sprinkle in a handful of baby spinach and submerge the spinach so it wilts.
  • Add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice OR rice wine vinegar to the pot and place a lid on it.
  • Meanwhile, get two big bowls ready because this comes together quickly.
  • Poach or pan fry 2 eggs. You want that yolk to spill out into the broth.
  • Place the broth and noodles in the bowls. Top with the sliced sweet potatoes (or whatever veggies you have), the steak, and the egg.
  • Drizzle the whole dish with toasted sesame oil, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, and some prepared teriyaki wok sauce/marinade. (I have a bottle of prepared stuff. The prepared stuff is thicker than straight teriyaki and is often blended with other flavors like sesame or sweet chili or mandarin orange.)

This isn’t really as much of a recipe as it is a suggestion.

The end result is bursting with flavor and makes you think you are eating a fancy restaurant quality meal. Don’t forget to eat it with chopsticks! It’s Umami at it’s finest. That ‘fifth taste’ that is hard to describe. It’s rich, savory, deep, mmm…. so delicious.





Spicy Southern Style Stew

Years ago I found a recipe on All Recipes called Sunday Gumbo. I never made it exactly as it was written because I never had the right spices and I didn’t use okra. But it helped guide me when I was venturing out to bigger and better one-pot meals. I have written a recipe all my own but I am not calling it Gumbo or Jambalaya. I’m calling it a stew. Spicy Southern Style Stew… because I don’t want to insult anyone by calling it something it is not.

Spicy Southern Style Stew

Boom! Spicy Southern Style Stew!

Boom! Spicy Southern Style Stew!

  • 1 pound package of sweet Italian sausage links
  • one small sweet onion
  • 2 Cups of chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  •  2 T Ketchup
  •  1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  •  1/2 tsp cumin
  •  1 tsp red pepper flakes
  •  1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 small bay leaves or one large leaf
  • 1/2 C uncooked instant brown rice
  • 1 Cup peeled, thawed shrimp

Before you start, if you have frozen shrimp with the shells on, place about 1 cup of shrimp in a single layer on a plate with cool water. It will thaw by the time you need it.

1 pound package of sweet Italian sausage links  cut into bite size pieces and browned in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven or just a heavy bottomed pan. (You can use hot Italian sausage if you’d like even MORE spice)

Remove the sausage from the pan and drain most of the fat.

Add one small sweet onion, diced, to the pan.

Place sausage back in the pan with the onion and sautee and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Add 2 Cups of chopped cooked chicken and toss around with the sausage and onions. (If your chicken is raw cook it with the sausage and onions. I just happened to have leftover cooked chicken.)

Here comes the flavor:  1 T Worcestershire sauce, 2 T Ketchup, 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves,  1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp garlic powder

stir to coat the chicken, sausage and onions with these flavors

now add 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 small bay leaves or one large leaf

Add 1/2 C uncooked instant brown rice and stir.

cooking the stew BEFORE adding the shrimp

cooking the stew BEFORE adding the shrimp

Turn your attention to the shrimp. If you have cheesecloth you can place the shrimp shells in the cheesecloth and tie it up and place it in the stew. It adds flavor! If you don’t have cheesecloth, it’s no big deal to just skip this step.

shrimp shells in cheese cloth allow the flavor to permeate the stew.

shrimp shells in cheese cloth allow the flavor to permeate the stew.

Add the 1 Cup peeled, thawed shrimp to the stew and push down into the broth to cook. It will only take about 5 minutes.

raw shrimp added

raw shrimp added

It doesn’t take long for the shrimp to turn pink. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp so go. Eat some. Eat some now.

shrimp are done!

shrimp are done!

Remove the cheesecloth and squeeze it out to get all the yummy shrimpy broth out of it. Then put the leftovers in a container and put it in the fridge and eat it again tomorrow. It’ll be even better!!!

Sausage and potato soup from Homemade Ham Stock

Find the recipe for Sausage and Mixed Potatoes here.

Take leftovers of that meal and add ham stock to it. Voila. Soup. Seriously. That’s it.

Of course, if you want to know how to make a delicious ham stock you can do this:

Baked Spiral Ham and Ham Stock Recipe

Place a seven to eight pound spiral sliced ham (with bone) into a roasting pan. Drizzle the ham with 1/4 cup of honey and smear dijon mustard all over the outside. Add 1/2 cup of water to the base of the pan. And about 1/2 cup of white wine (water, beer or lemon lime soda would work too). You need one cup of liquid. Seal the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and baked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. (Usually it’s 15 minutes per pound of meat.) Check the label. Make sure you are reheating a ready-to-eat ham and not cooking a RAW ham. If it’s a raw ham, I can’t help you. I’ve never made one of those. Follow the directions. ;-)

Once it comes up to temp you are ready to EAT the ham. Or pull the ham from the bone and freeze for future meals. Pour the broth from the roasting pan into a fat separating measuring cup and pour the broth into a large stock pot (discarding the fat) and add 4 cups of water. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off. Taste it. It could be REALLY salty. If so, add more water and stir and simmer again for 15 minutes. There ya’ go. Ham stock.

Allow to cool a bit and place into quart size canning jars (leaving a full one inch of space from the top of the liquid to the rim of the jar) and place in the fridge. Once completely cooled you can place in the freezer for up to a year. I made the ham the same day I made the Sausage and Mixed potatoes so I used the broth and the leftovers and made soup. It’s a very loose broth. Crackers are this soup’s best friend.

Ham & bean soup

ham and bean soup with rivels

ham and bean soup with rivels

This recipe is great for that leftover chunk of ham you are tired of picking at. Boiling the broth for hours makes the meat fall apart.


1 good size chunk 3-4 pounds of baked ham (it’s okay to use leftover glazed ham from a dinner. The sweet glaze flavor just helps develop the broth)

2 unpeeled potatoes cut into cubes (I used a baked one from Easter dinner and then added a raw one. The baked one falls apart and adds a starchiness to the broth that helps thicken it. The raw one cooks in the broth and is perfect alongside the beans and ham.)

8 Cups broth and water (I had 3 cups chicken broth leftover from another recipe so I used that and used water to make up the difference.) – obviously, if you have ham broth or beef broth, that would work too. Or all water would work too. You just have to add bullion or tons of herbs. Taste and adjust as you go.

2 cans white beans drained and rinsed. I used Cannellini and navy beans. You could also use dry beans and follow the directions to cook them. (Any beans would work. Well, not baked beans. That would be weird.)

You can add a carrot and a celery stalk diced, too. I forgot both. ;-)

one hard boiled egg diced

flour, salt, water for rivels

thyme, salt, pepper, ground mustard powder, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic powder, parsley, white wine, sherry vinegar, etc. whatever herbs and spices you like. Again, sprinkle, stir, taste, repeat.


Throw the broth/water, beans, and ham into a pot. Turn it on low and put a lid on it. Cut up the potatoes, carrots and celery (if desired) and add next. Add herbs and spices and a little salt. (if you are using dried beans, and not canned beans, you should put about a teaspoon of salt in now.) Cook for about an hour on low. Stirring every once in awhile to keep it from sticking. Potatoes and beans are very starchy and will stick… Go take a nap and let it simmer for another hour or so. I usually cook my ham and bean soup for about 3 hours on low. Then at the end bring to a boil and add the rivels.

REMOVE BAY LEAVES if you used them at this point.

Pull the ham out by tongs and place in a big bowl so you can pick through it. Using two forks pull the ham apart from all the icky parts and put the ham back in the pot. Throw the rest out for a neighborhood animal to eat.

Now, if you want the soup thicker, you can use an immersion blender to break up some of the beans and potatoes. It will thicken the soup naturally. Or, you can take a scoop of beans out and place on a plate and smash the crap out of them with a fork and put them back in the soup. Either way. ;-)

Bring the soup to a boil.

Meanwhile put about 1/2 Cup of flour into a bowl, an 1/8 tsp of salt, and about a 1/4 cup of water and mix with a fork. It should be thick and sticky. If it’s too runny, add more flour. Too thick add more water. Using clean fingers or a fork grab little blobs of the flour mixture and carefully drop into the boiling broth. Don’t worry about having consistent sizes. I had one that was about 3 inches long tonight in my soup and another one that looked like a little bird with a beak and a wing. Rivels are fun. ;-)

Now add the chopped hard boiled egg.  Stir for awhile. Cook maybe 3-4 minutes at a steady boil. This cooks the flour in the rivels and breaks up the egg so the yolk is sprinkled throughout the soup.

Serve warm with crackers.

Pork & wild rice soup

I love making soup.  It’s one of my favorite comforts during the cold months; warm soup. It’s so easy and delicious. And it’s different every time. And it freezes well. And it makes a great gift in a big canning jar. Aaah soup. I love you. And really, it’s so easy to make… unless of course you are trying to imitate some thick concoction with little tiny sirloin burgers in it… you need not buy another can all your life.

pork and rice soup

pork and rice soup

This is what I did:
Pork with wild rice.

Crock potted my chili lime (dry rub from Pampered Chef) pork shoulder with a large sliced onion, 1 Cup orange juice & 1/2 Cup water until it shred easily with a fork. Pulled some pork for sandwiches and gobbled them up. Put the leftovers in the fridge overnight to cool.

Soup day: Removed fat. Put orange juice, water, pork broth & onions in pot over low heat with a bunch of stuff*. Used the immersion blender to purée the onions in the orange juice, water, pork broth from the crock pot. Added raw carrots, uncooked wild rice, & shredded pork …that’s it. Bring to a boil and cover so rice cooks in the broth. So yummy.

*stuff = spices and liquids to add layers of flavors. I never follow a recipe exactly so… for this one I’d guess I added garlic powder, sherry wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. until it had a flavor I liked. The point is, TRY MAKING SOUP. Once you cook the meat, you just have to skim the fat off (waiting a day after it sits in the fridge is the easiest because the fat just pops off like a hockey puck) and add what you want to the broth. Voila! Soup is served!