Easy Crab and Corn Chowder

Easy Crab and Corn Chowder is quick soup that is tasty and reasonably healthy. One of the great cooking hacks in this post is the method for cooking the sweet corn. You will never boil sweet corn again.

Easy Crab and Corn Chowder
(Adapted from recipe of Robin Miller, Food Network, 2017)

Serves 4

3 pre-made crab cakes (Fresh Market is our preference)
6 ears sweet corn in their husks
3 bay leaves
5 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth (warmed to a simmer)
1 cup 2% milk
Crystal Hot Sauce to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup crispy bacon lardons

Working in batches of three, cook the sweet corn by microwaving for 4 minutes. Repeat. Set the corn aside to cool before husking. When cool enough pull the husks and any remaining silk – there shouldn’t be much with this method – from the ears. Cut the kernels off of the ears and set aside.

While the broth warms, place the crab cakes in a small Dutch oven and gently break them apart. Add the corn, bay leaves, several dashes of hot sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and bring the soup to a gentle boil, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer for another 2 minutes.

To serve, ladle the chowder into large shallow serving bowls and garnish with parsley and bacon.

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Ham and White Bean Soup with Fresh Spinach

Ham and White Bean Soup with Fresh Spinach makes use of that leftover ham and ham bone from Mother’s Day brunch along with extra vegetables in the crisper.

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Ham and White Bean Soup with Fresh Spinach
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 10 – 12

1 lb. leftover cooked ham plus ham bone
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
8 medium carrots, peeled
2 (48-oz.) cans fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
1 (48-oz.) jar Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 fresh bay leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
10 oz. fresh spinach leaves

Stem, seed and quarter all peppers. Chop one half of the peppers and carrots finely and one half coarsely. Add all finely chopped peppers and carrots, onion and garlic cloves to a large stockpot. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper and add red pepper flakes to taste. Saute vegetables over medium heat until soft. Add chicken broth and ham bone along with rosemary and bay leaves. Simmer for 1 hour.

Remover ham bone from broth and cut away any meat. Set aside Discard bone. Chop leftover hame into large bite-size chunks.

Remove rosemary sprigs and bay leaves, set aside. Using and immersion blender, puree the vegetables. Add 1/4 of the beans and pulse with the blender. Add the remaining beans, remaining larger pieces of pepper and carrot, and ham chunks. Add the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves back to the broth. Re-season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 hour more.

To serve: Ladle soup into large shallow bowls. Add a handful of spinach leaves to each bowl and allow the spinach to wilt in the hot broth. Serve with crusty bread.

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Smoky Black Bean Soup

Smoky Black Bean Soup is a classic recipe that is kicked up a notch with the addition of chipotle and adobo sauce.

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Smoky Black Bean Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped onion
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1 quart hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Sour cream for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Soften carrots, corn and onion, about 8 minutes. Season with salt.

Add garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook for about 1 minute. Add the beans and chipotle and sauce. Stir to combine. Add stock and 1 cup of water. Simmer and cook, covered, until thick and creamy, about 45 minutes.

Add lime juice and re-season with salt. Puree the soup using an emersion blender. Serve with cilantro and sour cream.

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Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

Ham and beans are a natural pair. When salty ham and the fibrous beans are combined in a soup they are simply magic. Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary adds aromatics rosemary and garlic to create rich flavors. This soup, like most soups and stews, is best made a head of time and refrigerated overnight.

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Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Makes about 6 quarts

2 pounds dried white cannellini beans
1 pound dried white navy beans
8 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 very large sprig or two smaller sprigs rosemary
4 quarts fat-free, lower-sodium chicken stock
3 large bay leaves
1 ham bone
3/4 lb. cooked ham in large, thick pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Drain and rinse well with cold water.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the onion with olive oil until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper. Add the celery and cook for another five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the ham pieces and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans, rosemary, chicken stock, ham bone and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are very soft.

Remove the rosemary, bay leaves and the ham bone, scraping any remaining meat from the bone back into the soup. Remove about one-third of the beans and some of the broth and pulse in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Return the pureed mixture back to the soup and let stand for at least one hour, or for best results refrigerated overnight, before reheating.

Reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty bread and the hot sauce of choice.

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Italian Sausage and Chicken Soup

There are few better comfort foods than the classic chicken soup. Italian Sausage Chicken Soup kicks up the flavor a bit through the addition of Italian sausage.

Chicken soup can be made with carcasses of previously roasted chickens or a whole chicken. To get the most flavor into the soup stock use the whole chicken but remove the chicken halfway through the cooking process to keep the meat firm. This recipe also requires that the vegetable used in making the stock be removed because they will be soggy if they are left in for the entire cooking process.

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Italian Sausage and Chicken Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

1 large whole chicken with most of skin and excess fat removed
4 carrots, halved and sliced crosswise
4 celery stalks, halved and sliced crosswise
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 32 oz. low-sodium, fat-free chicken stock
1 quart cold water
2 pounds Italian sausage (hot or mild)
3 carrots diced to 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch
3 celery stalks, diced to 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch
1 large zucchini, diced to 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2/3 cup small dry pasta or orzo

Combine the whole chicken, sliced carrots, sliced celery, onions, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, water and a dash of salt and pepper in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and simmer partially covered for 2 hours. After one hour remove the chicken from the pot. Allow the chicken to cool and break into large pieces. Remove meat from the chicken and reserve. Place the bones and any skin back in the pot for the remaining hour.

While the soup is simmering, grill the Italian sausage over medium direct heat about 10 minutes total. Refrigerate the cooked sausage.

After 2 hours of simmering, remove any remaining meat from the chicken bones. Discard the bones and any skin from the stock. Carefully remove the onions, carrots, celery, thyme and garlic from the stock.

Add the reserved chicken and sausage with the diced tomatoes to the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and the diced carrots, diced celery, zucchini and green beans. Add the dry pasta. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve warm with grated parmesan cheese and crusty warm bread.

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup is an Ample Bites family favorite. This soup is elegant enough to start a meal and hearty enough to serve alone as a meal. Ample Bites favorite way to serve Roasted Red Pepper Soup is alongside a grilled cheese sandwich or panini. The best thing about this soup is that, once the peppers are roasted and peeled, it takes less than 20 minutes to get it to the table.

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Makes 8 meal servings

6 red bell peppers, roasted and chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable stock, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional red and yellow peppers diced for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, onions, garlic and 2 1/3 cups vegetable stock. Boil for 5 minutes or until stock reduces in volume by about half. Lower heat to medium low and cook until the stock is fully absorbed and the onions are beginning to color. Season the onions with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle flour over the cooked onions and stir to incorporate. Gradually add remaining stock, stirring constantly. Add the chopped, roasted pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until almost smooth. Re-season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Allow the soup to cool for about 5 minutes before serving. To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and garnish with diced peppers and Parmesan cheese.

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White Bean Soup with Chile Oil

White Bean Soup with Chile Oil is a pleasant riff on a basic white bean soup. The Chile Oil, which is very easy to make, punches up the flavor of the dish.

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White Bean Soup with Chive Oil
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Epicurious, November 2012)

Makes 6 servings

2 cups dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and chopped
½ cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
½ cup chopped celery (about 2 medium)
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
11 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup half-and-half
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Chive Oil for drizzling (see recipe below)

Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches and let soak overnight. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, tomato, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of Chive Oil.

Chive Oil

1 bunch fresh chives
½ cup canola oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Blanch and ice bath the chives. Drain the chives and wrap them in a paper towel. Squeeze out excess water.

Put chives in a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve Transfer oil to a plastic squeeze bottle.

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Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup

Ample Bites froze some of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey to use in a soup. Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup uses Mexican flavors to produce a light soup that goes beyond the normal Turkey Noodle variations.

This soup incorporates a dash of unsweetened cocoa powder to impart a slight mole flavor. The soup is finished with baked tortilla strips and scallions, jalapenos, avocado and lime wedges.

Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Serves 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro stems, plus ½ cup cilantro leaves for garnish
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 1/4 tsp ground coriander, divided
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin, divided
2 1/4 tsp dried oregano, divided
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 6-inch corn tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray
3 cups cooked, shredded turkey breast
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced into rings
½ avocado, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large pot over medium heat add oil and heat 1 minute. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro stems, garlic, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Re-season with 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

While the soup is simmering, make tortilla strips. In a small bowl, combine the remaining coriander, cumin, oregano, ¼ teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper. Place the tortilla on a cutting board and lightly coat each side with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of the tortillas with the spice mixture, then slice into 1/8-to1/4-inch-thick strips. Place the strips on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until crisp, stirring midway through, for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Strain the broth into a bowl, discard the solids and return the broth to the pot. Add the shredded turkey and cook over medium heat until the turkey is warmed through, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide the soup between bowls and add some scallion, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro leaves and tortilla strips to each bowl. Serve with a lime wedge.

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