Delicious soups and tips on planning, planting a garden

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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This is a great time of year to begin thinking and planning a garden spot you'll look forward to seeing. Please consider planting one of the most beautiful, yet easy to grow, plants - the daylily. Don't confuse it with the Oriental Lily. Daylilies are so forgiving, even if your soil is not the best.

The green foliage is always pretty even if the plant is not blooming during April through June. You're invited to learn more about dayliles when you attend the North Texas Daylily Society which meets the third Thursday of every month, excluding June and July, at the Botanic Garden Camellia Room at 7 p.m. We always have a delicious dinner and wonderful guest speakers, as well as exciting upcoming events. At our January meeting, friend Susan Austin wowed the club with her delicious and easy to make soup, which I am featuring in the column today. I tried it and it is a real winner so clip, save and try it out. Thank you Susan.

Susan's Southwest Mexican Soup

She cooked this in the Crock-pot, I did it in a Dutch oven.

• Cook and shred chicken, 3 or 4 chicken breasts. To save time, buy them already roasted or charbroiled from the market.

• 1 can black beans

• 1 can of corn

• 1 cup favorite salsa

• 1 cup chicken broth (We like organic brands.)

• 1 taco seasoning envelope

1. Cook slowly.

2. At the end of the cooking time add 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese, which can be low-fat if wanted.

3. Susan added Mexican rice to this recipe. I didn't because of time issues, but it's still VERY good.

We served this with tortilla strips on top and had a small green salad, and dinner was ready quickly.

What grandma didn't teach me:

For fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch of baking soda as well as milk and butter.

Chicken is easily skinned and boned if slightly frozen.

One of the most indispensable convenience foods is frozen chopped onions. One cup of these treasures equals one large onion, chopped.

Tip of the week:

Look in your freezer to use up any foods before they get too old. Remember all those black-eyed peas we shelled last July? I stumbled on to this recipe using my frozen black-eyed peas.

Thompson's Black-eyed Pea Chowder

• 1/4 pound bacon-diced

(We are now buying the bacon that is free of sodium nitrites and nitrates.)

• 2 cups chopped celery

• 2 cups chopped green bell pepper

• 2 cups chopped white, or sweet, onion

• 1 can beef consommé

• 2 cans (1 pound each) tomatoes

• About 2 pounds frozen blackeyed peas OR 2 cans (1 pound each) of canned blackeyes

1. Sauté bacon with celery, green pepper and onion.

2. Add tomatoes, peas, and consommé; simmer 30-40 minutes.

3. Serve in soup bowls and we like it with jalapeno cornbread.

This serves 6-8.

Dee Dee's Broccoli Soup

• 1/4 cup vegetable oil

• 1 medium diced onion

• 1 large russet potato-peeled and diced

• 2/3 cup diced celery (about 3-4 stalks)

• 2 garlic cloves-minced

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1 bunch broccoli-rinsed, drained and chopped

• 5 cups organic chicken broth

• 1 teaspoon dried basil

• Salt to taste

1. Heat oil and then add onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring until tender.

2. Add potato, celery, garlic and cayenne pepper.

3. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in broccoli, broth, and basil.

5. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

6. Place in blender or food processor and puree. Return to saucepan and heat.

This yields 12-14 servings and is fantastic as a leftover a few days later.

Optional:

• 2 cups of cream or half and half can be added to make a creamed soup.

Fruit Dessert:

We are only having fruit this month, and no heavy desserts. Although I did spy some Junior Mints and M&M's in the glove box of our car. I didn't put them in there! Could it be the Mikester misses my desserts? Hmm.

Fresh Pineapple

After buying one, we wait a few days until the top stem can easily release its leaves. If I can pull one out, most likely it's ripe. The outside also is less green in color. Carefully cut off the top, then the sides. You will need to remove the core, leaving the fruit only. We cut ours up in chunks and have it for breakfast or over cottage cheese- the juice is also delicious over the cottage cheese.

• The pansies are really thriving after that last feeding and I have been hand watering them also. We need rain.

Have a great week in Parker County and plan on joining, or attending one daylily meeting and you'll see why we think it's so special. The February meeting is Feb. 20. Members will be discussing the ways they prepare and enrich their various soils. I know we have clay here and I like to bring in vegetable compost as well as throwing coffee grounds in various flower beds.

Next week, I'll include a couple of recipes you will want to try real soon.

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