Spicy Chicken & Sausage Soup

Autumn is my favorite season. Sweaters, boots, cider, stretch pants….. Okay, stretch pants are year-round over here, sue me. But still, autumn is easily the greatest season for food. It’s September but here in DC, it’s still brutally hot. We cranked up the air today and brought in the new season with a super hearty, flavorful and filling soup.

When it comes to my comfort foods measurements are never exact. You go with the flow, you taste and adjust. You wiggle when you get it perfect. Well, I wiggle. I don’t know what you do.

I love any excuse to pull out Big Red, my large Le Creuset dutch oven (thanks Trina!). You want to use a large, heavy bottomed pot for this dish because it is a one-pot wonder. Everything is happening in that pot. Everything.

Ingredients:

Two large chicken breasts

3 spicy Italian sausages

4 garlic cloves

2 large carrots

3 celery stalks

1 small onion, or ½ of a large onion

½ green bell pepper

1 can of black beans

1-16 oz can of crushed tomato

1 carton of low-sodium chicken broth (always, always low-sodium)

Few tbsp of your preferred cooking oil

1 tsp of fish oil (don’t ask, just do it. Trust me. MAJOR NOM FACTOR)

Spices & such:

Kosher salt, pepper.

Garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, crushed red pepper, oregano, parsley- thyme would work really well, too.

This is an example of measurem-who!? I just eyeball, but you can start with about a tsp of the first three spices, ½ tsp for the remaining ingredients, and adjust as you taste. Always taste, taste, taste!

 

Prepping is the name of the game. Chop up your veg right away. Just get it over with, when it’s go-time you can just dump it right in the pot and keep on moving.

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In your heavy-bottom pot over med heat, add about 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Add your sausage, I made little sausage balls. Allow the sausage to caramelize and brown, the bottom of the pan may start to change color. That is nothing but food’s way of saying, “hey, you. here’s some love”. Seriously, this is a good sign. You do not want the sausage to cook through. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl.

If the pot is beginning to dry, add another tbsp of oil. Add your chopped chicken breast to the pan. Season with kosher salt and pepper. You want the chicken to brown up and add to the brown love marks on the pan. Once the chicken is mostly cooked, carefully transfer to a bowl.

In the very same pot, right on top of all of that #BrownLove, you’re going to add your holy trinity (onions, bell pepper and celery) and your carrot. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and stir. Allow the vegetables to sweat, they will become very aromatic. It’s intoxicating, really. When you smell the trinity you know major NOMS are about to occur.

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As the veg starts to sweat, you’ll notice the brown bits start to loosen up. Now, this is where magic happens.

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Once the vegetables start to soften,  you’re going to add your spices. Stir it up really well and just keep moving the veg around the pot. We don’t want to burn the spices, we just want to toast them a bit. Bring out some of that aroma and flavor.

 

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The veg will be releasing some moisture, which is why this doesn’t look dry. And, would you look at that!? The #BrownLove is mostly off of the pot and incorporated in the veg. FLAVOR! Now, you’re going to add a capful of red wine vinegar and a tsp of fish oil to this. You want to stir to incorporate. I will admit. This part is a bit funky, but it is adding some major nuance and umami.

(Umami. The sophisticated sister to Nom. You’re welcome for that useless and totally made up bit of information).

Now, you’re going to add your chicken broth and your crushed tomato. Stir well to incorporate. Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down low. Allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes, then you’re going to add your chicken and sausage back into the mix. The sausage and the chicken are going to finish cooking gently in the simmering soup. After about 5 minutes you can go on and add your beans. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

 

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That line of soup residue? That means the soup has reduced. That means the flavors are more concentrated. That means….Yes, you guessed it: NOM. At this point, you really just want to taste and tinker. More salt? More garlic? (The answer to more garlic is always “yes” in this house.) This is your dish, adjust as your tastebuds demand. I wound up adding a smidge more fish sauce and another pinch of salt.

Mason demanded a taste and told me it was “deeeeelicious.”

So, clearly it’s amazing.

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(Notice the darker color. Reduced -> concentrated flavor -> NOM)

 

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At the last minute I decided to serve it with some cornbread so I whipped some of that up. I’ll do a post on that another day. But just know this is some sweet, salty and moist conrbread. It’ll make you wanna cuss.

 

Wait. This is my blog.

This cornbread is good as shit. So is the soup. Trust me.

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

#TT: Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes

Thrifty or Throwback Thursday? It’s the inaugural post, we’ll figure that out as we grow. For the #TT posts I intend to revisit dishes that I’ve previously posted to IG (but did not include recipes)*

I know that there are certain posts that some of you have messaged me about. So, this #TT series will be your opportunity to get your hands on those recipes!

This #TT will be in honor of our housewarming. My family and I recently moved to Washington, DC. We warmed our home with old friends, new friends and family. It was a blast! And there was so. much. food. I barely ate but, as most cooks do, I tasted along the way so I was full before I could put my feet up.

There were jerk chicken sliders. There was a spicy pineapple slaw. Turkey burger sliders. Veggie packed lasagna. And the star of the show- Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes. That’s a mouthful and they were a mouthful.

NOM!

 

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These are a basic vanilla cupcake that are topped with a simple maple buttercream.

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Where’s the booze!? I know that’s why you’re here. Booze and bacon, I’m getting to it. So, instead of incorporating the booze into the batter, I chose to make a simple syrup with the bourbon. That beautiful twankle and glisten on the cupcakes? Bourbon simple syrup. But Alexa, is that all the booze in these cupcakes!? Oh. Oh, absolutely not. That very same boozy simple syrup was poured onto each and every single cupcake before the buttercream topping. Yes. You’re welcome.

 

And obviously. The bacons.

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Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes 

Yields 12-18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup of sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup of milk

 

For the buttercream:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)

3 ½ cups powdered sugar

6 tbsp pure maple syrup

pinch of sea salt

 

For the simple syrup:

½ cup of water

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of bourbon

 

For THE (candied) BACONS:

¼- ½ lb bacon

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp bourbon

 

For the simple vanilla cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake tin
  2. In a large bowl or your stand mixer (you should totally invest in a stand mixer) place the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy on med-high speed
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time until well combined; add the vanilla and scrape the sides. Mix until smooth, about one minute on med-high speed.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together baking powder and flour
  5. Pour in some of the flour mixture, some of the milk and alternate until incorporated fully
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ full
  7. Place them in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, you want a golden top.
  8. Do the handy dandy toothpick test
  9. Place tin on a cooling rack; after a few minutes remove the cupcakes from the tin
  10. Once fully cooled use a tooth pick to poke a half dozen holes in the cupcakes; carefully spoon the syrup over the cupcakes. The cake will absorb the flavorful liquid.
  11. After, you can go on and frost them bad boys!

For the buttercream:

  1. In a large bowl or a stand mixer that is fitted with the whisk attachment (I told you a stand mixer is a good investment), whip the butter for about 30 seconds
  2. Add the powdered sugar very carefully, one cup at a time. You do not want to inhale a sugar cloud. Trust me.
  3. Scrape the sides; alternate the speed from slow (as you pour) and then med-high to incorporate well for each addition
  4. Scrape down the sides and slowly add the maple syrup
  5. Mix on med-high for about four minutes until the buttercream comes together and is nice and fluffy.
  6. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes prior to icing the cupcakes

For the boozy simple syrup:

  1. Pour ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar into a sauce pan
  2. Heat the ingredients until fully dissolved, whisk constantly
  3. Add ½ cup of booze and stir to incorporate
  4. Taste, taste, taste! Adjust accordingly, if needed. I vaguely remember adding more booze. Don’t be like me (be like me, they were amazing!)
  5. Let simmer until it thickens up like a syrup

For THE (candied) BACONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the bacon in half so that they’re easier to manage
  3. In a small mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, maple syrup and bourbon
  4. Place the bacon in the bowl and toss to coat evenly
  5. While the bacon rests in the boozy mixture, line a baking sheet with foil and top with a baking rack
  6. Lay the bacon on the rack in a single layer
  7. Back 20-30 minutes, or until just crispy. Because there is sugar, this bacon can and will burn very quickly so pay close attention as it nears the 20 minute mark.
  8. Let cool and then chop up
  9. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top of the frosted cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

(*Due to the nature of these posts, images and recipes may not be as thorough as newly posted content. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.)

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved