Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve realized my cooking style leans more towards the “mix it and leave it” mentality.  Meaning that I like to throw things together, but then leave it to stew/bake/cook.  I don’t like high maintenance cooking that require a lot of time. 

With that being said, here’s my 4 person recipe for beef barley tomato soup/stew.  The reason for the stew part at the end?  If you don’t use all 4 portions right away, then the barley will “drink up” all the tomato juice and water which means there won’t be a lot of liquid.   

  • 1 lb of Angus beef chuck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (28oz) of chopped diced tomatoes, don’t drain!
  • 2 cup of water
  • 1 TBSP beef bouillon (or 2 cubes)
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP Italian Seasonings
  • 1 cup of uncooked barley
  • Salt & pepper

Brown the beef in a sauce pan with2 tsp olive oil and on high heat.  You want to brown the meat, not cook it.   Once the meat is brown, set aside.

Beef Barley Tomato Soup

Now using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil (about 1 tsp-2 tsp).  Add the shallots and garlic until brown.  Next add the tomatoes, water, beef bouillon, Bay leaves, Italian Seasonings, and barley. 

Return to the meat that’s cooled down and chop into bite-sized chunks.  Add to the soup. 

Beef Barley Tomato Soup

Let it cook for at least 1 hour on low, but stir occasionally.  Don’t let it boil. 

Beef Barley Tomato Soup  Beef Barley Tomato Soup

It has a nice tomato-beef flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the senses with spices and it’s an easy soup to make!

I had bought a package of wonton wrappers at the grocery store, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them until I found this very easy and cheap recipe for wonton soup.  According to the Web site, to serve for 4 it costs $3/bowl.  That’s really cheap!

I actually followed the recipe exactly, but instead of using pork, I used ground turkey.  It was equally delicious and lower in fat. 

Here are my photos of the wontons:

Pork Wonton Soup  Pork Wonton Soup  Pork Wonton Soup  Pork Wonton Soup

But here’s the only problem I had — my wontons all stuck together after being cooked.  Since it was just for me and my lunches, it didn’t bother me.  But if you wanted to make them for others, you’ll want to fix that.  How?  Here are some suggestions I’ve found:

Let me know if you try any of these methods and which one works (or doesn’t) for you!

I love Boston Clam Chowder.  It’s just so deliciously awesome.  And to me, few things say winter better than clam chowder.

While I have a great chili recipe, I don’t have a great clam chowder recipe. 

I thought I’d try this clam chowder recipe, but it’s not quite what I’m looking for.  I’m not sure what was off…was it not as creamy as I wanted?  I put in almost 2x the amount of clams so there was a definite clam flavor!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I’m still looking for THE recipe…

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of my clam chowder either!  I’m so surprised — I swear I thought I did!

Yum, chili.  I love it.  The biggest problem I have though is that most recipes are for 10-12 servings — entirely too much for one person.  And then I end up having, what seems like, an endless supply of chili. 

So here’s my spicy and delicious recipe for 4-6 servings of chili.  If you want to make this Midwestern chili, add noodles (whether it’s macaroni or spaghetti).  Pour the chili over the spaghetti noodles with Parmesan cheese and it’s like pasta.  Add macaroni noodles and it thickens up the chili. 

  • 2 cups of a mixture of ground turkey and ground Angus sirloin
  • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 TBSP of Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 TBSP chili powder (add less if you don’t like heat!)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (add less if you don’t like heat!)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) of dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Brown the ground turkey and Angus sirloin mixture until brown.  Set aside.

Now in a quart-size sauce pan over medium heat, add Extra Virgin Olive Oil and onions and garlic until translucent.  Then add Worcester sauce and the rest of the spices (don’t add salt & pepper yet).  Mix everything together well until they’re well combined and make an almost thick paste (takes less than a minute for this to occur).  Now add the diced tomatoes and dark red kidney beans.  Add 1 cup of water.  Add the cooked ground turkey and sirloin mixture.  

Low fat Spicy Chili

Taste everything to make sure it’s seasoned to your liking.  Be careful though — the heat will get more intense the longer you let it sit so don’t add too much! 

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for at least 2 hours.

Low fat Spicy Chili Recipe After 2 Hours of Simmering

Periodically check to make sure it’s not boiling and there’s enough liquid.  If it seems dry, add water. 


I love the fall — it’s my favorite season. It’s the crispness in the air and most importantly, the fact you can make soup!  Although the last few days have been in the 80s!

After going to Suki Asia for their $10 udon with mushroom and tofu soup, I knew I could make  it and make it even better.  So that’s what I set out to do. 

Here’s how I made 4 large bowls:

  • 6 cups of beef broth
  • 1 package of udon noodles
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 peeled carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of fresh spinach (opt)
  • 4 baby bok choy, halved
  • 1 /3 cup of thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 1/3 cup of bean sprouts
  • cilantro for garnish

Heat the beef broth until boiling.  Then put in the udon noodles and dried shiitake mushrooms.  The noodles take only 5-10 minutes to cook so once they’re soft, take them out of the pot and into your serving containers.  Now the mushrooms should be softening so take them out and chop into strips, then add back to the broth. 

Homemade Udon Mushroom & Veggie Soup  Homemade Udon Mushroom & Veggie Soup

Next add the carrots, spinach, baby bok choy, and onions.  Once the veggies get soft, then add the bean sprouts. 

Now mix everything together — noodles and the broth with the veggies into your serving containers.  Put cilantro on top and enjoy. 

Homemade Udon Mushroom & Veggie Soup

My lunch buddy who raved about Suki Asia noodles said mine were better.  But the big difference is that I put a lot of veggies in mine versus theirs.  Their broth wasn’t beef, it might have been miso and chicken?  I can’t quite put my finger on it…either way, mine was way cheaper and healthier than Suki Asia.  But I still like their udon and mushroom soup. 

Yes, you could just open a can of chicken noodle soup, but let’s be honest.  It’s not the same.  So I thought this recipe would help ease anyone who is homesick, actually sick, or just craving some delicious soup.  It’s my college student recipe that will take only 20 minutes to make.

  • 6 cups of chicken stock (homemade broth is ideal, but you can use bouillon cubes and follow the label’s directions)
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever veggies you like — I used what was in my freezer — corn and peas and put in 1 cup of each)
  • 2 cup of pasta noodles (or 1 cup of cooked rice — making microwaveable rice is easier if you don’t have access to a stove to cook the pasta)
  • 1/2  cup cooked chicken, chopped (get the chicken meat from your dorm kitchen) or you can also quickly cook a couple of chicken breast on your George Foreman grill
  • Salt & pepper

Heat the chicken stock until boiling.  Then put the uncooked noodles in and cook until soft.  Don’t drain!  Your pasta will have a great chicken flavor by combining these two steps together.  Then add the frozen mixed vegetables until they’re thawed and cooked (about 5-7 minutes).  Now add the chicken.  Add salt and pepper and then serve. 

20-minute Chicken Noodle Soup  20-minute Chicken Noodle Soup


Yum, mushroom!  I love them.  I have yet to eat a mushroom I didn’t love…portabella, cremini, shiitake, even the simple button mushrooms. 

With the weather cooling down and my container of heavy cream ready to expire, I decided to make some cream of mushroom soup from scratch.

It’s ridiculously easy and the outcome is so delicious. 

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 containers of mushrooms — I used button, baby portabella, and cremini
    • Half of them should be sliced while the other half are chopped
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup-1/2 cup flour
  • 1.5 cup of chicken stock (homemade is preferred, but bouillon cubes work too)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Parsley, chopped

In a medium pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter.  Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until they’re softened (about 4-6 minutes) on medium heat (at no point during this recipe, should your ingredients ever boil — boiling is not good).  Remove from the pan.

Cream of Mushroom Soup  Cream of Mushroom Soup  Cream of Mushroom Soup 

Put another 2 TBSP of butter and add the chopped onions and the chopped mushrooms on medium heat.  Cook until the onions are soft. 

Now put 1/4 cup of flour in the pan and stir constantly to thicken the onions and mushrooms.  Next add about 1.5 cups of chicken stock.  Keep mixing.  At this point, you’ll probably need to add another 1/4 cup of flour to thicken everything.  BUT, if it’s thickening on it’s own, DON’T ADD MORE. 

Here’s where you can reduce the fat content of the soup.  For full fat, add a cup of whipped cream.  For a lower in fat, add only 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of low-fat milk.  It won’t be quite the same, but it will be good. 

Keep stirring until mixed.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Cream of Mushroom Soup  Cream of Mushroom Soup

This makes about 4-6 cups of soup.  It’s so good!

It was raining outside and I was already on my way to the grocery store.  So that’s when I made the decision to make pho — at home.

Now I’ve read and found numerous recipes on how to make Pho stock at home.  And I have to be honest, there’s a lot of ingredients (e.g. Oxtail) that I don’t have readily available.  Also, when you think about it, it’s so much cheaper to eat it out then to make it home. 

Unless you have pho stock, which I bought at the Asian grocery store.  I put about 3-4 cups of water and 2 TBSP of pho stock.  Then I added the cooked rice noodles (to cook, boil in water until soft — about 5-10 minutes). 

Pho Soup Base  Homemade Pho Soup

Then add: 

  • 2 TBSP very finely sliced white onions
  • 1 TBSP Hoisin sauce
  • 1 TBSP Sriracha sauce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Basil
  • Slice jalapenos (fresh is preferred, but what you find in a can/jar works too)
  • Cilantro (opt)
  • Lime
  • Thinly sliced beef (whatever cut you prefer — to cut it thin, freeze it for 30-45 minutes and then cut)

Delicious!  I’m definitely making this whenever I’m too lazy to go out and grab a bowl of Pho!

Homemade Pho

So again, cookbooks have multiple glass noodle soup recipes.  But here’s the compilation of all of them:

  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white/yellow onion
  • 2 TBSP green onion/scallions chopped
  • 1 can of drained straw mushrooms
  • 1 10 oz rice noodles
  • 2 1/2 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1/2 uncooked clean shrimp, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro

First, cook the rice noodles.  I know you’re supposed to put the noodles into water and let them soak for 2-4 hours, but I think the noodles are too tough.  So I prefer boiling water and then putting in the rice noodles for 5-10 minutes.  You can also boil the water, add noodles, and then remove from heat with a cover for 5-10 minutes.

Then combine the pork, 2 TBSP cilantro, and 1 minced garlic clove into golf ball sized balls. 

Glass Noodle with Pork Cilantro Balls

Put the chicken stock into the wok and heat.  Once simmering, add the remaining cilantro and pork balls. 

Glass Noodle with Pork Cilantro Balls

Reduce the heat when the pork is almost done cooking.  Add the shrimp, white/yellow onion, mushrooms, cooked noodles, scallions, fish sauce, and sugar. 

Glass Noodle with Pork Cilantro Balls

Mix and serve.  It’s seriously delicious. 

Glass Noodle Soup with Pork Cilantro Balls

While I wasn’t able to try out their free salad, I was looking forward to trying Chop’t

  • Food:I ordered the Kebab Cobb Salad (not on their take-out menu but on their menu board at the restaurant) with romaine, red onions, crispy flat bread, Goat Cheese (didn’t have Feta that day), and vinaigrette dressing.  You also get a whole wheat roll. 

Chop't Kebab Salad


  • Service: The way it works is that you pick whether you want a salad or sandwich.  Since I ordered a salad, I’ll talk about what happens next.  You order from the guy with the clipboard, not the people behind the counter.  They mix it together into a big bowl.  Then they pass it to the guy with the big chopping boards.  That guy is the one who pours out your salad ingredients and then uses his double-bladed mezzaluna knife to cut up all the ingredients.  It’s not finely chopped, more coarsely chopped.  Then they put it into your to-go container.   
  • Atmosphere: It’s very casual with high stools and counters. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I thought the salad was good — I think it’s exactly like High Noon, but with more topping options.  They say they deliver, but there’s no mention of it on their menu.  Their menu can be found here: Chop’t Menu Page 1; Chop’t Menu Page 2; Chop’t Menu Page 3; Chop’t Menu Page 4


  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 AM-9 PM; Saturday 11-5 PM; Sundays closed
  • Address: 1300 Connecticut Ave NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-875-2888

When I was in high school, I worked in a restaurant that was known for its soup.  My favorite soup they served was chicken dumpling, but I haven’t had it in years. 

I stumbled across this chicken dumpling soup recipe from Emeril Lagasse and have made it numerous times.  It tastes just as good (if not better) than what I had in high school and I can promise it’s healthier! 

It’s actually quite an easy recipe, since most of the ingredients and directions are for the chicken broth.  

The dumplings don’t freeze too well, but you usually don’t have a lot left over anyway.

As I mentioned in the black bean soup recipe, I make my own chicken broth.  I have for the last year or so because I think store bought chicken broth has too much salt and too little flavor.  The other reason, making chicken broth is quite possibly one of the easiest things in the world.  Plus, you can freeze it and use it as needed. 

My chicken broth recipe isn’t structured, but here it is:

  • 8 qt stock pot
  • 1 organic whole chicken, skin on (5-6 lbs)
  • 1 bag of carrots
  • 1 bag of celery
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 2-3 medium bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Mrs. Dash No Salt Seasoning (cheating, but I like the flavor this offers)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Chicken Stock  Homemade Chicken Broth

Cut up the carrots, celery, and onion (rough chop is fine).  Throw the chicken in the stock pot.  Fill the pot 2/3 full with water.  Put it on the stove over medium heat with the cover on.  Stir every 30 minutes-1 hour.  Keep tasting to make sure you put enough seasonings in the pot.  I usually leave it on for 2-3 hours.

Once it’s done, take the chicken out and put it in a bowl to cool.  Strain the vegetables out (if you’re making chicken dumpling soup, vegetable, or something where you can use them, keep them). 

When the chicken cools, remove it from the bone and throw away the skin.  Sometimes, I’ll eat the chicken and don’t put it in the soup.  It works great either way.

This makes a lot of broth so be prepared with plastic containers!  I use this in my soups, making edamame (instead of water b/c it gives great flavor), etc. 

I also will heat the broth with rice noodles, veggies, and chicken with Sriracha sauce for a great, quick, and healthy dinner.

Earlier this month, we were having a bit of a heat wave.  In fact, there were a few days when it was over 90 degrees.  So thankfully, it’s cooled down and is finally fall in DC.  So in the spirit of it being fall, I thought I’d share a fantastic soup recipe.

Actually, it’s not mine.  It’s Dave Lieberman’s recipe, another Food Network chef.  I saw his black bean soup recipe last year on his Good Deal with David Lieberman show and have made it several times.  I’ve gotten some good reviews and think it’s super easy to make.

I agree with his commentary that hickory smoked bacon gives it better flavor than standard (or turkey) bacon.  But the standard (or turkey) bacon works too.

The great thing about this recipe is that it has ingredients that are easily found in your local grocery store.  It’s healthy (minus the bacon).  I also don’t use cheese or sour cream (unless I have guests).

Finally, I make my own chicken broth.

Black Bean Soup