Crock-Pot Onion Soup

Kelly Here:

The weather turned much cooler here this weekend… about 50 degrees cooler than the previous weekend!  As I drove to church, I heard a commercial for a furnace company with a jingle entitled, “Polar Vortex 2″… yikes!

As the weather turns cooler, our menu changes to heartier dishes like chili, stews and soup. One of my favorite soups to order when I’m out is French Onion soup.  As I’m aging, I am less able to handle the high sodium content found in restaurant soups.  I was very excited to find this recipe for Crock-Pot French Onion soup that I could make with reduced sodium beef broth.

This recipe was super easy on the preparation but does take most of the day to cook.  The biggest challenge was finding where our crock-pot was stored in the basement!

photo 1

I cut up sweet onions and added 1/4 cup of smart balance margarine.  Of course I put 5 instead of the 2 onions noted in the recipe. This was the longest part… cooking them on low for 6 hours.

photo 4

Then add 2 cans of beef broth.  I used College Inn lower sodium beef broth in a resealable carton.  We had another 2 hours of heavenly scents in our house as it cooked.

Finally, I placed the soup in an oven safe bowl and topped with a slice of whole grain bread and provolone cheese.  I placed the bowl in toaster oven broiler for 2 minutes but you could also put in microwave to melt cheese, or shave/grate cheese on top of soup.

photo 5

Absolutely delicious and I should still be able to wear my rings tomorrow!  Thanks Janet W for this yummy and easy recipe from page 20 of the cookbook.



Bonus recipe – Good Friday soup

o sacred head

Good Friday

When Jacob was little, like maybe around 7 or 8, he told us that the Good Friday service was his favorite out of all the services of the year. Really? Not Christmas or Easter? Nope. Good Friday. Why? we wondered. He liked the visual element of it–the gradual darkening of the church as each of the seven candles is extinguished. And he especially liked the drama at the end with the “grave” being “shut,” when the pastor slams a book shut to signify the closing of the tomb.

Now, I’m not sure which service he’d identify as a favorite, but I can see why this would appeal to a child. Children get antsy at church because there’s not too much going on. I mean, there’s a pastor, there’s the organist, maybe some special music that can be interesting to watch (especially if it’s the handbells that play!). We adorn our churches with stained glass and banners, but even so, these are static images–much different from the interactive gizmos of today.

Good Friday services, like the movie, The Passion of the Christ, give us perspective. We place ourselves at the foot of the cross, breathing repentant prayers, and rejoicing in the forgiveness and grace of God. It’s not a sad day. It’s somber, but it’s more awe-filled than sad. I am amazed that God would stoop so low, to raise me up, to trade places with me and forgive my shortcomings.

And that is worth celebrating.

Bean or Lentil Soup

I’ll admit it–that title sounds a bit odd. I mean, how do you commemorate Good Friday with food? However, unless you choose to fast, it’s fairly certain that you’re eating on Good Friday. So why not make it somehow fitting with the day?

Here’s the great thing about bean soup: it’s cheap. It’s also healthy. And if you do it right, it can be quite tasty. But it’s also restrained. We don’t have the exuberant luxury of Easter’s lamb and gravy, lamb butter, desserts, and cocktails. We restrain our feasting with a simple but filling soup so the preacher has the strength to get through the service!

I try to start with dried beans because a) they’re cheap; b) they don’t have the sodium content that some canned beans do; and c) with some planning, it’s not difficult to re-hydrate them yourself. The other great thing about dried beans is they keep in the cupboard forever. I pulled out a batch that I’d previously mixed up to make this soup and soaked them, starting on Thursday morning. I used the same pan for soaking and cooking. First, I rinsed the beans, and then covered them with water to sit on the stovetop for at least 24 hours.

After about a day, the beans are ready to become part of the soup. I dumped off the old water, and started with fresh to again cover the beans. To that, I added chicken bouillon (beef would work too), diced carrots, onion, and celery. Usually at this point, I’d add polish sausage (the turkey ones are great). Throw in some water and seasonings, and you’ve got a great soup. Serve with some crusty bread, and then head out to your local congregation for a Good Friday Tenebrae service, like we have at Redeemer at 7 p.m. See you there!


Soup – DiDi’s Tortellini Soup

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Sharon A.’s Tortellini Soup (which was delicious, by the way). This other tortellini soup recipe comes from DiDi H., and while it is somewhat similar, each one is worth trying, for sure!

Here’s the long and the short of this recipe.

The short of it: make this. Today.

The long of it? Make this. Today if not sooner.

Tortellini soup, where have you been all my life?

One thing I’d suggest is adding another can of chicken broth. Sharon’s recipe calls for 7 cups of beef broth, and that was about the right amount so the liquid doesn’t get all sucked up into the pasta. (And yes that is the technical term.)

Other than the tortellini the soup is quite healthy. In it are beans spinach, peppers, chicken broth, and I used turkey polish sausage. Lean protein, veggies, and a little stick-to-your-ribs pasta.


DiDi suggested adding the pasta only at the very end; I did so about 15 minutes before serving.


And here it is all ready for eating.


I admire DiDi so much: her grace, her faith, her style. She knows the right thing to say at the right time, and is always so kind and generous. Thank you, DiDi, for being such a great friend.

Soup – Tortellini Soup


Okay, Bronwyn and Cher, grade my photo. I hope I get an A+!


I adventured down to the Little Red Schoolhouse in Willow Springs on Saturday morning last weekend for a photo meet-up. My camera, just a simple point-and-shoot paled in comparison to some of the equipment these pros brought along. But it was fun!

My best pic was this one of the robin. Here are a couple of others.


The large lake was mostly ice-covered, but that didn’t stop the migrating birds from making a pit stop there. Saw lots of geese, gulls, and even two sandhill cranes.


One of the other participants had gotten some great pics of beavers at the same location just a few days before, but we didn’t spot any. We got good views of lichen, moss, fallen leaves, mud, and ice, though!


Tortellini Soup

We have had some glimpses of spring the last couple of weeks–along with reminders of winter. Some warmer temps along with snow storms. So, I judge that it’s still soup weather. ≥÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷oplllllllllllllllllllllll

Sorry about that…my cat walked across my keyboard.



This soup is delicious! The flavor is rich and sausage-y. The little bit of red wine gives it some body too.




Soup – Stan’s Sunday Football Chili


This is the stained glass at the front of Redeemer Lutheran in Elmhurst. It’s not a fabulous picture but still decent enough for you to see the row of Jesuses. (That sounded weird). I was thinking about this today during church. The Bible teaches different ways that Jesus approaches us. He is the crucified Lord, whose death on the cross paid for the sins of the world. He is also the conquering hero, victorious over sin, death, and the power of the devil.

In these windows, on the middle left, Jesus is shown on the cross as our Savior. At his feet are Mary, His mother, and John, His faithful disciple, in whose care He placed His mother. In the middle is the risen Christ. Scott preached a sermon recently about this. I mean, if we really believe that Jesus raised from the dead, why is it that we are so hesitant to call on Him in times of need? He is the conquerer over death. What else could there be to overcome that He has not already overcome? The third image is of Christus Victor–the victorious Christ over sin, death, and the devil. It’s out of focus, but he has his red victory banner in this image.

During a prayer on Sunday morning, my dear friend DiDi prayed: “Lord, from the steeple to the pencils in the pews, this building is Yours.” I loved that. The church is the Lord’s, and we are just the stewards of it.

Stan’s Football Chili

Okay, it is true that Stan’s name is on this recipe, but I have to wonder if his dietician wife was behind it. Here’s why: I started adding ingredients to the crock pot, as “Stan” directed, but it was one vegetable after another until the whole pot was full of vegetables and I had to mash down the veggies to fit in the ground turkey.


Here’s the pot with the first two ingredients–16 oz. bags of frozen diced onions and tricolor pepper. Did you notice they are already filling up half the pot? Something’s fishy here…

I recently learned that frozen chopped spinach is a great option nutrient-wise to use in cooked foods. You don’t really lose much with frozen spinach as opposed to fresh. Now, I’m wondering the same thing about frozen onion and peppers. Because it’s certainly easier–that’s for sure.


After the onions and peppers, you add chili beans and tomatoes, and then top it all with ground turkey and chili powder. At this point, I was squishing down the vegetables so the lid would go on.

I’m sort of a chili powder hog, and I usually add 2-3 tablespoons per pot, but other than that, this recipe saves on:

– calories

– sodium

– and sneaks a lot of nutrients in there with the veggies!

So thank you, “Stan,” for that!

Soup – Taco Soup

The Fonz


The Fonz! Live and in person!

I went to a fun event this morning. Anderson’s Bookshop (in Naperville and Downers Grove) hosted this wonderful children’s lit event and had six keynote speakers, including Henry Winkler, who has co-written a number of books about Hank Zipzer, a boy with dyslexia.

Winkler told about how he did very poorly in school because he learned differently, and didn’t know it was dyslexia that slowed him down until he was 31 years old.

It was very different from the cool, suave, has-it-goin-on Fonzie character from Happy Days. His parents, strict and unsupportive, did not help him with his challenges, but belittled him. You could hear the hurt in his voice.

But I loved what he said about life. He said you have to have tenacity and gratitude. Tenacity to get where you want to go, and gratitude to be grateful when you get there.

He also shared images of his years before launching his writing career.

Here he is in the 60s.


Here he is as the Fonz.


And here he is presenting his leather coat from his Happy Days to the Smithsonian.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI grew up on Happy Days, so I was a bit star-struck to see this little man in his teal North Face jacket walking amid the crowd, just a regular joe.

But that was what struck me about the whole morning. All of these big-name children’s authors are just regular joes. Some speak well. Some mumble. Some have interesting stories to tell. Some I wouldn’t connect with as much. But all of them are just regular people, taking ideas and turning them into stories.

But I owe big thanks to Lawrene at Elmhurst Public Library for suggesting my name to Anderson’s so that I could attend the event. Thank you, Lawrene, and thank you, Anderson’s!

Taco Soup

My father-in-law served us some taco soup a year or so ago, and I loved it. It was in the midst of my dying gallbladder so it didn’t sit well with me. But it was delicious! And I’ve made it many times since post-gallbladder and loved it, before and after eating it. Patti G.’s recipe (p. 23) is not exactly the same as my father-in-law’s recipe, but quite similar. His calls for kidney beans instead of the Great Northern beans in this one. I had extra black beans on hand, so I used them instead of the Navy beans. Now the house is smelling delicious–very taco-y.


This is super easy to make, just brown the beef and toss in all of the other ingredients.


And here it is, simmering away, filling the house with deliciousness. Yum!

Soup – Clam Chowder

Cooking a Meal – Revised

Since I’ve been sick the last two days, I’ve been able to get caught up on some reading. As usual, I have out at least 20 books from the library, and I just can’t seem to shake my interest in pioneer living and the covered wagon journeys so many of our forebears took.

Most interesting, I think, is this book, Best of Covered Wagon Women:

best of

The wagon trains that snaked across the Great Plains in the 1850s and following were remarkably well-documented by diarists. There are actually 11 volumes in this series. I’m reading this “Best of” book now. The women describe the massive amounts of groceries, equipment, clothing, and more that they had to carry in what amounts to about the size of today’s mini-van.

So I’m amending my previous (whiny) post on the 32 steps it takes to cook a meal. Yes, it does take me 32 steps, but think of how many MORE steps it took these intrepid “overlanders.”

Not only did they make all of their dishes from scratch, but they had to make the clothes on their backs and the candles lighting their work. Their fortitude amazes me.

New England Clam Chowder

So today’s dish is relatively simple. Again–I’m in new territory here since I’ve never made clam chowder before. I think my brother David has some leaning toward Manhattan Clam Chowder, but the creamy New England version is usually the more popular in America.

I happened to have Martha Stewart’s Martha’s American Food cookbook on hand, and took a look at her chowder recipe. She calls for: “5 dozen littleneck clams, picked over.” Boy, am I glad that Julie W. in her recipe specified canned clams. Especially because I wouldn’t know a littleneck clam from a bigneck one.

I also think it’s interesting that we have two chowder recipes in our very Midwestern cookbook. Kelly Q.’s amazing crab bisque and this clam chowder. They seem so east coast to me, but I’m so glad they’re in our cookbook.

So Jacob just breezed home long enough to change clothes. He said his friends claimed he “reeked” of onion from me cooking the onion for this soup. Oh, brother. I seriously doubt it was that bad since it was only half an onion. The drama!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnyhoo, here is the soup, pre-cream addition. Julie notes in the recipe that the soup can “rest” at this point and the cream added at the last minute. Good tip! That’s what I did. I had an hour or so to kill before dinner, so I just took the pot of the burner and then added the cream mixture last.



And here’s how it came out. This was terrific! I liked the suggestion of using cayenne pepper to taste. I could have even added a little bit more, but the soup was flavorful, rich, and creamy. Great for a winter night!



Soup – French Onion

Sick Days

If having the flu feels like getting hit by a truck, then I guess that’s what I have right now. I’ve slept 16 of my last 19 hours, and still feel kind of woozy. But at least I’m not coughing that much.

My cats are the best companions. So basically having a sick day means I get to hang out with my kitties. And that’s always a good thing.

French Onion Soup

We sat down together around bowls of steaming French Onion soup (p. 21) on Monday of this week. This is another contribution from Jeff W., friend and fabulous cook. I mean, seriously, I doubt if he’s ever burned a single thing in his life or set off any smoke alarms–ever. That is a common occurrence in my home.

Who but the French would come up with a soup made with nothing but onions?

I mean, I understand other vegetables. Take potatoes. Potatoes are delicious. Of course a soup should be made from them. Or butternut squash. Squash would make another delicious soup. Even split peas. But onions?

I’ve had French onion soup before, but never made it. I figured there was something else that went into the soup. I mean, how does it get all brown and cheesy?

Now I’ve figured it out. So, the pan started off with just butter and oil. And you cook the onions and keep cooking them and keep cooking them and keep cooking them until they are carmel colored, hence brown-looking.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere are my onions pre-carmel-color.

Then, you add a 1/2 c. of white wine to “de-glaze the bottom of the pot.” Well, I didn’t exactly know what de-glaze meant, but I figured it referred to getting all the brown bits off the bottom. So I did that. Which was handy because then it meant the pot would be easier to wash.

Then I added the beef broth, the rest of the wine, salt and pepper, and that was it. Finito!

On the top, Jeff recommends adding French bread and Gruyere cheese and heating it under the broiler. Well, my broiler is broken, so we had to make do with the microwave.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBut I think it came out pretty darn good.

Don’t you?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo maybe I can cook French after all!

Soup – Chunky Sweet Potato Soup

Spurring one another on

On Thursday nights, we meet at Redeemer for handbell practice. At our last practice, I noticed how my folder partner always helps me stay on track. Our notes are right next to each other (I play A and B, she plays C and D), and even though I think she more often helps me, on rare occasion the favor goes the other way. We together can figure out a difficult measure, or she’ll help me find a note I’d missed.

It made me think of this verse:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25).

I like this because lately, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been needing a lot of persistence to meet my healthy goals. And sometimes when my motivation is flagging, my friends get me back on track, Rita, Cher, Sherry, and Laura especially lately.

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The weather in Chicago this winter has ground us all down this year. Polar vortexes and snowstorms, one after another, have worn on us all. So I’ve decided to give us all a picture of hope–hope for spring and good things to come.


Some year, I’d love to travel to the Netherlands to see the tulips. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Chunky Sweet Potato Soup

Well, this was delicious (p. 58). As Scott said, it was “savory with a hint of sweetness.” Linda F. accredited this recipe to Good Housekeeping from 2011, and sure enough I found the recipe on the Good Housekeeping website. Since it’s free and available online, I decided to add it. I made some adjustments, which I noted below. It’s quite healthy too–as you can see from the list of ingredients. Lots of good veggies.

  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (I chopped mine roughly)
  • 1 medium red pepper, finely chopped (I chopped mine roughly)
  • 3 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) smoked paprika (I used regular paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  •  Salt and pepper (I used 1/2 t. salt and no pepper–forgot to add it, but it was fine without)
  • 1 quart(s) lower-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 pound(s) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 can(s) (14 ounces each) lower-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cup(s) water (I left this out)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 Hass avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup(s) packed fresh cilantro leaves


  1. In 5- to 6-quart sauce pot, heat oil on medium. Add onion and red pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 2 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add broth, potatoes, beans, water, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender. Puree until smooth; return to pot. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve, garnished with avocado and cilantro, with lime.


Thank you, Linda, for pointing us to this delicious addition. And thank you for leading our kids at Sunday school. We look forward to a great year!

Bonus recipe – Green Soup

So true, no?

So true, no?

I discovered this recipe last year in a newspaper, and made it all winter. Eating all those greens in the winter when everything is bleak and dead was oddly comforting. Mind you, this meatless, extremely green recipe didn’t go over big with hubby or son, but that’s okay. I make a big batch on Sundays to take in my lunches during the week.
Green Soup
Author: Anna Thomas, adapted by Julie Stiegemeyer
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup rice (brown, black, whatever you like)
  • 1 big bunch kale (3-4 cups)
  • Bag of baby spinach
  • 32 oz carton of organic chicken or veg broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add chopped onions and a sprinkle of sea salt; cook over medium heat until onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 3 cups of water, ½ teaspoon of sea salt and brown rice in soup pot. Heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.


Remove tough stems from kale and mustard greens and discard. When rice has cooked 15 minutes, add greens and return to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Add onions into rice/greens pot. Add spinach, vegetable broth and cayenne pepper. Return to simmer and cook 5 minutes or so, until spinach is tender but still bright green.


Add lemon juice. Add soup to blender and thoroughly blend until pureed and very smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate and use for lunches.