This post is sponsored in conjunction with #UncommonFlavorsofEurope. I received product samples from the sponsor to aid in the creation of this post. All opinions are mine alone.
Do you know where your food is from? Do you know what’s in it? It’s a perpetual goal of mine to do better when it comes to food quality. We’ve made some big strides by joining our local CSA, but I’m always learning – and have learned there are some things you just can’t get locally.
Take, for example, Asiago PDO. True Asiago PDO is made only in the Asiago Plateau region of Italy – and has been made exactly the same way for more than 1000 years. PDO stands for “Protected Geographical Indication”, and is issued by the European Union. Foods baring the PDO designation have the strongest possible links to historical practices.
The weather is giving me whiplash. We keep going from unseasonably warm to snowstorm and back. Yesterday, we were at the park in light sweatshirts. Today, it’s snowing.
Luckily, that means it’s soup weather – and I just happen to have a great meatless soup to share as part of the Lenten dinner series!
This soup is pretty much veggie lasagna in a bowl. I’ve tried a bunch of lasagna-type soups and they never quite hit the spot because they lack the cheesy goodness that is lasagna. This version features an ingenious dollop of cheese on top. I love it!
1 yellow onion, diced
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. lasagna noodles
For the ricotta cheese topping
1 8 oz. container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
Generous pinch of salt
Add the onion, zucchini, garlic, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and black pepper to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
While the soup cooks, mix all ingredients for the cheese topping together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When the soup is done, prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, chop them up, and add to the soup.
Serve the soup topped with a dollop of cheese topping.
If you’re looking for a fun winter party idea – host a soup swap! Think, a cookie swap but instead of taking home piles of cookies you’re trying to avoid this time of year, you get to bring home some new, fun lunches and dinners.
It’s also a super easy party to throw. We have each family bring 5 quarts of soup – 4 frozen, to be swapped, and 1 to heat up for sampling. I set up a grilled cheese bar – bread, cheese, a bunch of toppings and a Panini press – and everyone makes sandwiches and then hangs out in the dining room or kitchen while the soup heats up.
We’ve done our soup sampling in rounds the last two years, in an effort to keep the soups warmer. We had 8 soups this year, so it was 2 rounds of 4 soups each. After sampling, we vote on best soups. I always get little bags of chocolates for the winners!
Then, we pick our soups draft-style. Everyone goes home with 4 quarts of different soups. And of course, there’s dessert. Such a fun way to spend a chilly January afternoon!
I’m really having a love/hate relationship with this cooler weather in the morning. I love fall and this summer was humid beyond belief so the break is so, so welcome. But it’s also reminder that winter’s knocking on the door. I feel like my favorite season is going to get crowded out fast this year so I’m trying to savor every minute of it.
This quick and easy soup is our first of the fall season. I always anticipate soups taking a lot time to prep but using a rotisserie chicken sped this along nicely. I loved the kick the hatch chilies gave it, but you could also use canned, chopped green chilies or omit the chilies altogether.
4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cumin
32 oz. chicken broth
4 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed and seeded, then diced
4 cups shredded chicken (or one whole rotisserie chicken)
Toppings: sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, avocado
Preheat the broiler. Half the tomatoes and place them cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and season with salt. Broil until the skins are beginning to blister and blacken, about 5 minutes.
In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about five minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices along with the chicken broth to the pot. Stir to combine and let simmer for 15 minutes. Puree with a hand blender, then stir in hatch chilies and chicken. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes and then serve.
On Saturday, I hosted one of the most fun get-togethers I’ve had in a while – a soup swap party. It was like a cookie swap, but more appropriate for January weather. Everyone brought 4 1-quart containers of soup for swapping and then some extra to sample.
As everyone arrived, I noted their soup on a chalkboard right outside the kitchen for everyone to see.
To go along with the soup, I set up a DIY grilled cheese bar for lunch. It was super easy and super fun.
Since things were super causal, I just laid out ingredients on a disposable table cloth and made quick notes to explain the flow of things and label ingredient choices.
1) Grab some bread – I had out wheat and white.
2) Add some cheese – there was a choice of American, Jalapeno Cheddar and Swiss.
3) Top it off – personalize your sandwich with regular mayonnaise, garlic mayonnaise, sriracha mayonnaise, ketchup, tomato slices, roasted red peppers, pickles, caramelized onions, pear slices, bacon and ham.
4) Heat it up – I had out two panini grills for toasting the creations.
And 5) Grab some soup. We heated up some of everyone’s soup and divided them into shot glasses. Add mini spoons and they were perfect for sampling!
After we’d eaten, we voted on soup awards and the winners took home mini bags of chocolates as recognition.
For favors, I found microwavable soup mugs at my favorite dollar store. I added mini loaves of homemade bread too, since they seemed like the perfect soup accompaniment.
For the kids that came, I filled their soup mugs with baby Goldfish crackers and picked out some fun coloring books.
At the end, we divided up the soup so everyone left with 4 quarts of soup.
It was such a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon – I’m already looking forward to next year’s soup swap!