Smokey Vegetable Soup With Pasta Smells Good and Tastes Good

Smell has a lot to do with appetite and how much food we eat. Years ago, a friend of mine caught a terrible cold and lost his sense of smell. He didn’t lose it for a week or so, he lost it for six months. “I didn’t want to eat,” he admitted, “and had to force myself do it.”

The smoky smell of this nutritious soup will bring all family members to the kitchen. But the best thing about it is that it’s made primarily with leftovers. My refrigerator seemed to be stocked with a little of this and a little of that. Not one to waste food, I started removing food cartons from the fridge and vegetables from the bin. It was time to make soup.

Some vegetable soup recipes are tomato-based, while others are meat-based. Clear and cream soups are in categories of their own. My goal was to make delicious soup packed with vegetables and flavor. I started with half of a leftover onion. I found some leftover ham and pre-cooked real bacon pieces in the meat drawer. It was time to start cooking.

When you make vegetable soup it’s wise to cut vegetables about the same size. This original recipe may also be made in a slow cooker. I wanted soup for lunch, so I made it in a large saucepan. Because I had some ring pasta in the pantry, that’s what I used. You may use any small pasta of your choice. If you have other vegetables on hand, such as zucchini, throw it in the pot.

As long as you’re making soup, you may as well make a big batch and freeze some for future meals.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large rib celery, sliced into small pieces

2 peeled carrots, sliced into small pieces

1 pound 10-ounce carton unsalted chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen green beans

14.5-ounce can petite tomatoes

1 cup ham, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup pre-cooked real bacon recipe pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup ring pasta


Pour olive oil into large soup kettle. Saute onion, celery and carrots over medium heat for about three minutes. Add all other ingredients, with the exception of the pasta. Cover and cook soup over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Add the pasta, cover and cook about 10 minutes more. Serve with French bread, crusty rolls or salty crackers. Makes about 10 servings.

Chicken-Mushroom Dinner Soup Is Filling, Nourishing, and Soothing

After I’ve been on a plane for hours, racing through airports, changing planes, and finally reaching my destination, I’m tired and hungry. I feel the same way after a long car trip. When I check into my hotel there are only three things I want to eat — soup, a roll, and a glass of wine.

Sometimes I have dessert, but this is rare for me. Before I order, I ask about the soup of the day. I also ask if the soup contains any soy protein because I’m allergic to it. Over the years, I’ve slurped some mighty tasty soup, and chicken is one of my favorites, including Goulash soup in Yugoslavia and mushroom soup in Poland.

Now that I’m my husband’s caregiver I have less time to make meals from scratch. Still, I want to prepare tempting and nutritious meals for my husband, who is paralyzed. Both of us like soup and the other day, when dark clouds were rolling in, and a storm was about to strike, I felt like soup. Dinner time was an hour away and I wondered what kind of soup I could make.

Fortunately, I had a rotisserie chicken in the refrigerator and two cans of mushroom soup in the pantry. A half hour later, fragrant mushroom soup with lots of chicken was simmering on the stove. My husband and I are salt sensitive, so I buy reduced sodium canned soup and salt-free broth. Mushroom soup can have a grayish color and, to give it more color, I added some carrots and tiny peas.

Personally, I like shredded chicken better than chunks. After I shredded half of the rotisserie chicken breast I had about two cups of meat. You may want to add more shredded chicken. Adding the sherry removes the canned taste of the soup. If you like mushrooms, you will enjoy this quick soup recipe, an ideal dinner after a busy day.


8-ounce box button mushrooms, brushed clean with a paper towel
4 tablespoons butter
26-ounce carton no-salt chicken broth
2 10 3/4-ounce cans reduced sodium mushroom soup
1/4 petite carrots, sliced into tiny coins
1 cup tiny frozen peas
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded chicken (1/2 rotisserie chicken breast)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra dry sherry (optional)


Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Melt butter in large pan and cook mushrooms over medium heat until they start to brown. Add the chicken broth, the undiluted canned soup, carrots, peas, shredded chicken, and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pan and simmer the soup for 15 minutes to cook vegetables. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dry sherry. Serve immediately with crackers or crusty bread and a glass of wine if you wish.

Spring Asparagus Soup With Parmesan and Romano Cheeses

After a long, and often brutal winter, Minnesotans are eager for spring. We watch for buds on trees and bulbs peeking through snow. The arrival of fresh asparagus in grocery stores is another sign of spring. If the asparagus is available, warmer days must be coming.

I wheeled by cart past the asparagus display — tall spears set in crushed ice — and then doubled back. Since I was cooking for one I didn’t need a large bunch of this spring vegetable. Still, I could buy some and use it in several ways. To stay fresh asparagus must be stored properly. I treat it like flowers. I cut off some of the woody stem part, plunk it in a glass of water, cover it with a plastic bag, and put it in the fridge.

This flavorful spring vegetable has many health benefits. “Asparagus Nutrition Facts,” an article on the Nutrition and You website, the vegetable is in calories, contains fiber, contains anti-oxidants, is rich in folates, contains vitamins E and K, plus copper and iron. According to the article, the spears were revered by Greeks and Romans.

I revere it, too, and that’s why I decided to use half of the bunch in stir-fry, and the other half in soup. An experienced cook, I decided to create my own recipe. On his way through the kitchen my grandson asked, “What are you making?” He seemed a bit surprised when I told him I was making soup. Later, when he had some for lunch he was more surprised.

“It’s good!” he exclaimed. I hope you think my recipe is good and will use this spring vegetable in many ways. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth if you are a vegetarian. For heartier soup add some cooked, shredded chicken. Here’s the recipe.


3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
26-ounce carton chicken broth (salted or unsalted)
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus
1 rib celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons red pepper, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
Salt to taste (may be omitted)
1/2 cup grated and mixed Parmesan-Romano cheese


Rinse asparagus and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer pieces to a microwave dish, add a little water, cover, and cook three minutes on high. Melt butter in soup kettle. Add in flour and cook for one minute, whisking constantly. Gradually add chicken broth, still whisking constantly. Continue whisking until any lumps are gone. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to soup kettle. Add all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on lowest setting for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Pass extra cheese if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Lean Ground Turkey – Vegetable Soup With Italian Herbs and Orzo, A Slow Cooker Meal

When I wheel my cart past the meat department I often see ground turkey. Magazines and cookbooks contain lots of ground chicken recipes, but few for ground turkey. “Maybe I should try it,” I thought to myself, and tossed a package into my cart.

When I got home I froze the meat. Weeks later, I noticed the package had frost on the top. I decided to use the meat before it developed freezer burn. What could I make? Though I had a recipe for Oriental meat balls and an unusual recipe for meatloaf, I didn’t feel like making them. It was 20 degrees outside, the wind was biting, and I felt like soup. Today’s efforts would be a culinary experiment,.

A few hours later I was eating flavorful, healthy soup. I found nutritional data for ground turkey on the Jennie-O website. The meat is packed with protein, contains Vitamin A, Iron, and calcium. The fat content per serving is 8.0 grams and the cholesterol is 80 milligrams — less than the 96 milligrams per serving in ground chicken.

I think this is a convenient, adaptable product. Ground meat requires no slicing or chopping and infuses broth with flavor. You don’t have to follow this recipe exactly and may add green beans, corn, or spinach to your soup. Just be sure to use several colors of vegetables. I’m happy to share this recipe with you.


1.2 pound package of lean ground turkey
10 3/4-ounce can cream of chicken soup
4 soup cans water
1 chicken bullion cube or 1 packet no-salt chicken bullion
1 rib celery, chopped
6 ounces (half a bag) of pre-washed petite carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 large Roma tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (more if you love garlic)
1 teaspoon Italian herb mix
1 teaspoon salt (may be omitted)
1/3 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)


Coat bottom of skillet with baking spray. Crumble turkey into skillet and cook over medium heat until opaque. Line slow cooker with cooking bag. Transfer turkey to slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients, with the exception of the orzo. Cover, set on low, and cook soup for three hours. Add orzo to soup and mix with rubber spatula. Turn setting to high, cover, and cook soup one more hour. Serve immediately with salty crackers or hard rolls. Makes 6-8 servings.

Roasted Carrots and Onions Go Great With Steak

My husband and I have visited San Francisco many times. Each time we visit we try to eat at new restaurants. One time we decided to have dinner at a steak restaurant, part of a national chain with a good reputation. Our dinner lived up to the reputation and we could have eaten it twice.

“What’s the vegetable this evening?” I asked the server.

“Roasted carrots and onions,” he replied. “It’s the only vegetable we have.”

While carrots and onions didn’t sound too exciting to me, I ordered the veggies and a side salad. As the server approached our table I could smell the steak and the vegetables. Both smelled fantastic and were fantastic.

Instead of starting with the steak, I took a bite of the veggie mixture, and nearly swooned. The slightly brown carrot chunks were sweet and the onions had melted into brown ribbons of gooey flavor. I wouldn’t have been upset if the roasted veggies were my entire meal, and enjoyed them as much as the steak.

Boiling veggies can reduce flavor, whereas roasting them brings out flavor. Jennifer Armentrout, in her Fine Cooking website article, “An Essential Guide to Roasting Vegetables,” says this cooking method has several advantages. It is “fairly quick and hands-off,” she writes. Armentrout thinks adding a dash of lemon juice brightens flavor and she also tosses veggies with Moroccan spices, or olive oil infused with rosemary and thyme. Garlic and soy sauce may add punches of flavor.

This cooking method also allows you to do your prep work hours ahead. For best results, cut the vegetables into uniform pieces. To prevent the vegetables from sticking, line the pan with non-stick foil, parchment paper. or coat it with baking spray. Make sure the veggie chunks are coated with olive oil. Roast at a high temperature, anywhere from 400 degrees to 475 degrees.

I had family members over for Sunday dinner recently and we had charcoal-grilled steak. I also served this side dish. Nobody asked for seconds on steak, but all, except one, asked for seconds on Roasted Carrots and Onions, and cleaned out the serving bowl. Here is my recipe.


2 pounds of carrots
1 very large yellow onion
3 tablespoons light olive oil (more if you think you need it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a rimmed pan with baking spray and set aside. Peel the carrots and cut into one-inch chunks. Scatter the chunks in the pan. Remove the paper skin from the onion and cut in half. Set the flat side on the cutting board and slice each half into crescents. Scatter the onions over the carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil. Using your fingers, toss the carrots and onions a bit to distribute the oil evenly. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs. Roast for 30-45 minutes, flipping the chunks with a spatula half way through the process. Remove from oven when the veggies start to brown. Makes six scrumptious servings. These veggies also go well with chicken, fish, pork, and ham.