Slow Cooked Lamb Shank Lentil Stew

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This one pot meal couldn’t be easier to make and will fill you up on a cold winter’s night!

Winter calls for savory meals slow cooked in what used to be called the crock pot.

Slow cooking breaks down meats, root veggies and other ingredients so digestion is easier when your body is working hard to stay warm. The shank bone intensifies the flavor and adds minerals for your bone and joint health. Lentils absorb the rich taste of the liquid at the end of cooking and enhances the hardiness of this meal.

1 large lamb shank bone
1 large onion, chopped
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 cups dices tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth plus more
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian flat parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 cup french green lentils, rinsed
Salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except lentils in slow cooker. Add more beef broth if needed. Set slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours, stirring every hour. Add lentils the last hour of cooking. When done, meat should fall “off the bone” and lentils should be soft but not mushy, absorbing much of the liquid to become stew-like consistency.  Cut any excess meat off the bone, add to the stew and discard the bone and bay leaf.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serves two.

Spicy Shredded Chicken Soup with Farro

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Chicken easily shreds off the bone after braising in the slow cooker for hours.

Nothing beats hot chicken soup on a cold winter day. And this recipe warms you up even more with some spice to create a little more heat. Dial down on the chili powder and omit chile seeds if you want a milder soup.

With the nice surprise of an artisan grain like farro instead of the usually rice, this is a one-pot one-bowl meal that everyone will love!

1 whole organic chicken, cut in pieces
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus more if needed
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots. peeled and cut into 1/4 inch discs
1/2 red pepper, chopped
4 Tablespoons flat Italian parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
32oz can peeled tomatoes
1 serrano chili, chopped (remove seeds for less “heat”)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup farro
salt and pepper to taste

Arrange all ingredients in layers in a slow cooker except chicken, broth and farro. Place chicken on top and pour in broth so that chicken is half covered and will braise in the liquid.  Cover and set cooking time for 8 hours. After approximately 5 hours, remove chicken breasts, shred chicken with a fork, cover and set aside. Continue cooking the remaining chicken and broth and in the final hour, add farro and more broth for a soupier consistency. When farro is fully cooked in the tomato-chicken broth, remove other chicken pieces and any bones, and discard. Skim off chicken fat on top with a spoon.  Add the shredded chicken to the pot and stir.  Ladle in soup bowls and garnish with extra parsley.  Serves 6.


Braised Chicken Tortilla Soup


When paired with Mexican spices, smoked paprika and lime, this soup stands out as one of my favorites!

The intense flavor of this dish comes from braising chicken breasts (not boneless) rubbed with chipotle oil combined with the right mixture of spices and a splash of citrusy lime. Use sprouted grain tortillas for texture and crunch!

2 chicken breasts with bones
1/4 cup chipotle oil
-or 1/4 cup olive oil mixed with 1 teaspoon chipotle spice (or 1/2 teaspoon chili powder plus 1/2 teaspoon cumin)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup orange, red and yellow peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalepeno pepper, minced
28 oz can peeled tomatoes
4 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup water
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Corn or sprouted-grain tortillas
Extra virgin olive oil

Rub chicken breasts with chipotle oil. Set aside for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom of heavy skillet with EVOO and heat to medium high. Brown chicken breasts on each side. Place chicken in a glass oven proof dish and fill with chicken broth. Cover with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until just cooked throughout. Remove from oven and cool enough to shred chicken with a fork, reserving the chicken broth.

In a large stock pot, place onion, peppers and garlic in 1/4 cup EVOO and saute until onions are translucent. Add jalepeno pepper and saute 1 – 2 minutes more. Pulse tomatoes in a food processor until chunky and add to stock pot. Add chicken broth (approximately 2 cups), cilantro, remaining spices and chicken plus 1 cup of water or more for desired consistency. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Coat bottom of a heavy skillet with olive oil and heat to medium high. Place tortilla and lightly brown. Flip and lightly brown other side. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. Cut into strips. Ladle soup in bowls and top with tortilla strips and chopped cilantro if desired.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Yogurt Chipotle Crema


Red pepper is the star here with added heat from chipotle peppers and tomatoes for sweetness.

Serve this bold red soup for Cinco de Mayo when it’s just too early for gazpacho.

This is a thick and creamy soup without the  cream. Adding the chipotle pepper makes it spicy, or stay mild and swirl in Yogurt Chipotle Crema for a nice finishing touch. Cilantro can replace the tarragon but it’s nice to have different flavors for a Mexican spread.

Ladle individual bowls at your buffet or serve in smaller “shooter” glasses.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

7 -10 small sweet red peppers
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz tomato juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional)
2 Tsblespoons taragon, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Place red peppers on a heated grill, turning all sides until charred. Place in a bag bag to sweat off the skin for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic with olive oil in a small stock pot until onion is translucent. Remove peppers from the bag, cut in half and remove seeds. Using a utility knife, scape off the charred skin being careful to not remove the roasted flesh. Some blackened bits will remain. Place red peppers and the remainder of the ingredients in a high speed blender and puree. Adding the chipotle pepper will make this soup spicy. Return to the stock pot and heat. Add 1/2 – 1 cup water if too thick. Serve with a dollop of Chipotle Crema. Makes 1 quart.

Yogurt Chipotle Crema

8 ounces plain greek yogurt
1 chipoltle pepper in adobo sauce
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a high speed  blender and puree.


Spring Green Pea Soup


Green as the Emerald Isle, this pea soup laced with tarragon is perfect for a spring day when you still want to warm up but with lighter fare.

This soup is like a bowl full of spring …. green and garden fresh!  But you don’t have to wait until your garden produces a bumper crop as flash frozen organic peas are readily available in your grocery store. If you can’t find sugar snap peas, substitute with more organic peas.

2 onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth
salt and white pepper to taste
1 16 ounce package organic frozen peas
8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

Saute onion and celery in EVOO in a medium stock pot until softened but not browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

In a separate pot, blanch sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and immerse into a ice water bath to preserve the green color. Boil peas for one minute, drain and add to the ice bath. Remove all peas from the ice bath and puree in a high speed blender. Push soup through a sieve to remove any remaining strings from the sugar snap peas. Serve with chopped parsley and chives on top if going vegan, or with a dollop of creme fraiche and applewood smoked uncured crumbled bacon for added flavor.  May be served hot or cold.

Creamy “No Cream” Butternut Squash Soup


Velvety smooth and non-dairy with just a pinch of spice makes this soup delightful on a winter’s day.

My butternut squash soup is laced with a bit of curry and a dash of chili. And it’s so easy to make when the cumbersome job of peeling a butternut squash is avoided. Slice it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds then bake in the oven in a bain-marie bath.

When ready to serve, sprinkle my Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Seeds on top or add a dollop of creme fraiche.

1 medium sized butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds removed
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

Place squash flat sides down in a 9 x 13 oven proof glass baking dish. Sprinkle carrots around the squash and fill the baking dish with an inch of water (bain-marie). Bake for approximately 1 hour or when a knife can be easily inserted into the squash. Let cool.  Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Place aside with the drained cooked carrots.

In a large stock pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Stir until softened. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool a bit. Puree with an emulsion blender or in a high powered blender (mine is a Vitamix).

Bison Chili


Bold, thick and chunky, this is a one bowl meal!

You can’t have Super Bowl Sunday without chili!

Grass fed bison or local beef  is a good choice to keep it flavorful and closer to it’s source.  I add garbanzo beans along with pinto and kidney beans for variety.

1 green pepper, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup masa flour
2 pounds ground bison or beef, preferable grass fed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chile spice blend with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder (I used D.L. Jardines’s)
4  15 ounce cans of dices tomatoes (I used Muir Glen’s organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 quart organic beef stock
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans
2 15 ounce cans kidney beans
2 15 ounce cans garbanzo beans
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, chopped

Chop first 4 ingredients and place in a large stock pot with olive oil over medium high heat. Saute until softened. Add masa flour and stir over lower heat for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to scorch. Remove from heat. In a skillet, brown meat. Drain some meat drippings into the stock pot for extra flavor and add chile spice blend, beef stock, tomatoes and beans.  Salt and pepper to taste and add pepper flakes. Simmer approximately 1 hour until reduced and thickened. Add zucchini and simmer 10 more minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Curry Lentil Stew with Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and keep this lentil stew vegan. Or add a dollop of yogurt to top it off — try super creamy sheep’s yogurt fresh from the farm.

Thicker than soup, this lentil stew spiced with curry, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and mustard seeds was the perfect one dish entree for our Feeding Your Soul group on a cold winter’s day.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa with toasted pumpkin seeds for a vegan-vegetarian delight!

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch rounds and then quartered
7 cups vegetable stock
1 pound lentils
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
13 ounces organic coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes cubes in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes or until soft but still firm and starting to caramelize on the edges. In a heavy stock pot, sauté onions, ginger, garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil on medium-high heat until onions are almost translucent. Mix in mustard seeds and spices. Add tomatoes, zucchini, stock and lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until lentils are softened but not mushy. Add sweet potatoes and coconut milk to the stew and stir a few minutes over medium heat until incorporated. Top off with fresh chopped cilantro.

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Vegetarian Lentil Stew recipe, Sept 1998.