5 Soups We Are Loving This Fall

If a huge stockpot of soup were a person, I’d make sure she knew she was obligated to be my best friend for life.

I mean, the therapeutic chopping, the aromatic boiling, and the soul-filling warmth… but soup hasn’t usually been a go-to in our house because Joel prefers meat and potatoes to broth. I get it. Not everyone wants Pumpkin Chicken Chipotle Soup in summer. spring. winter. and fall… but, MY cravings can be unbearable.

It used to be that every time Joel went out of town for the week, I’d hunker down with my favorite online cookbook (which has a killer Black Friday sale coming!) and hatch a plan to see if me and the kids could eat a different soup each night.

BUT… SOUP RELEGATION NO MORE! Because I have found some soups that are hearty, wholesome and have enough meat to suit my man and are welcomed at our table any night of the week.

5 soups we are loving this fall

5 Soups We Are Loving This Fall

Pumpkin Chicken Chipotle Soup (because I am literally salivating now) 

Adapted from Life In Grace’s blog–one of my all-time faves!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 boxes of good chicken stock
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)  the smaller sized can ~14 oz
  • 3 cup cooked chicken (1 rotisserie chicken pulled) or 3 c. diced potatoes for a vegetarian option (could also use frozen hash browns)
  • 1 package of microwaveable quinoa/rice mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 t. chipotles chopped very fine (It comes in a small can in the Mexican section of the store and is packed in a heavy sauce—it has a lot of heat so be cautious. I freeze the remainder of the can for the next time I make this soup which will be about a week later :)
  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To begin, saute the veggies in the oil and butter until carrots are almost tender.   Always salt as you go along and then adjust the salt at the end.   Don’t wait until the very end to add salt or your dish will lack a depth of flavor.  Add garlic after the veggies have cooked about 5 minutes.
  2. Then add chicken stock, pumpkin, chicken, rice and all the spices.
  3. Cook at medium to high heat  for about 45 minutes to an hour or until rice is tender.
  4. Turn heat down to simmer.
  5. Add sour cream or yogurt and whisk so that no lumps remain and then add cream.   Taste and re-season. I always add more honey to balance the heat of the chipotles but DON’T leave out the chipotles.  The smokey flavor makes the soup.  It just wouldn’t be the same without them!  Enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Copy Cat Soup)

Adapted from one of my favorite food blogs!

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 boxes chicken broth
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. While you’re preparing the soup, you can be making the bacon by baking it in the oven. Place bacon on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and put in a cold oven. Let the temperature rise to 375 and about the time the oven is pre-heated your bacon will be crispy! Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet and cook Italian sausage until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in sausage and spinach until spinach begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Adapted from Life In Grace, basically I love everything she shares!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp butter and a few swirls of olive oil (about 2 T.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 15 baby carrots, diced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 boxes good chicken stock (she–and now I always use Kitchen Basics, it’s rich and hearty and tasty)
  • 1/2 box mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie chickens are your soup’s best friend!)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few springs of thyme (could use dry a teaspoon of dry poultry seasoning instead)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Melt 3 T. of butter in a big soup pot, along with a few swirls of olive oil.
  • Saute the onions and carrots and add salt and pepper to taste (you will adjust the salt/pepper at the end but add some now!)
  • Add the flour and let it cook for about a minute, as you stir it around the pan
  • Add the chicken stock and stir well, to deglaze the flour bits from the bottom of the pan
  • Add the potatoes, chicken and mushrooms and cook for 10-15 on medium heat, until the potatoes start to soften
  • When the potatoes are slightly soft, add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 15 min or so and then it can sit with the lid on until you’re ready to serve. Serve with biscuits! Walmart has several great frozen options.

White Chicken Chili

Adapted from both DD and a new blog I’ve been enjoying called Grace Table.

Ingredients

  • 4 boxes chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (1 whole chicken)
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar of salsa verde
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves and some leftover for garnish
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Stir in chicken broth, chicken, beans, salsa verde and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add yogurt, cream, honey and cilantro
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro, sour cream, and/or Monterrey jack cheese if desired.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This is certainly too yummy for me to have thought it up on my own, but I can’t seem to find the source from when I posted it years ago…

Ingredients:

  • 1 5-lb bag of potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp of thinly sliced green onions
  • 6 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups of cheese ( I used 1 wedge of gruyere cheese & a block of sharp cheddar–both of which I HIGHLY recommend…it provides a tangy, smokey flava’ flav.)
  • 1 package of bacon

Directions:

I do this part the night before: Preheat oven to 425. Scrub potatoes thoroughly with a brush; pat dry with paper towels. Prick with a fork. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; gently scoop pulp from each potato. Break up any large pieces. Discard skin (or add some if you like the skin.)

In a large saucepan, cook the green onions in hot butter until tender; stir in flour, chives, salt and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir for 12-15 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Add potato pulp and half the cheese; stir until cheese melts. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Make bacon as instructed.

Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon. Enjoy!

Okay, and one more, just because I can’t stop thinking about it is listed here…I love me some Mexican Crack Soup and it’s SO EASY TO MAKE. 

How to Host a Book Club (Also Known As How to Have a Social Life in Your 30’s)

How To Host A Book Club

Do you remember the (potentially traumatic) day you had to transition from elementary school to middle school?

It sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.

Gone were the days of readalouds and recess. (Weren’t those the best?!) Now you’re on your own trying to navigate the combination lock on your very first locker in time to find your homeroom. You make it in time and you’re feeling great in your Limited Too jeans, but then you glance around with shocking awareness realizing you hardly know a soul…and you have to figure out how to make friends.

Things don’t go extremely well during those years of discovering Noxema, how it feels to get broken up with on your parent’s answering machine and dumpster dives to find missing retainers. But you make it through just in time to enter high school.

Same song second verse. How on earth do you make friends when you don’t even have a driver’s license?!?

And then they expect you to go off to college? Well, at least there you have CRU, the Baptist Student Union and the Spanish Club hounding you to join their groups. But even for your average extrovert, it’s still fairly terrifying.

But what NO ONE prepares you for is life.after.college…your family is hours away and there are no mandatory dorm floor meetings. All youre left with is a sterile apartment painted in contractor beige and the shocking awareness that you have to figure out how to make big girl friendships…yet again.

What’s a girl to do when she is supposed to be adulting and all she wants are familiar, safe, meaningful connections?

In every season of life-from that middle school girl to being a new mom-I’ve had to face the question marks and fears of finding community. And every time I have asked the Lord to provide friends, He has heard my prayer and answered with a resounding YES.

I remember being a newlywed in a brand new town, my husband and I were desperate to find “couple friends”. We were married in August and by October were semi-needing other people to talk to so we started praying nightly and asking the Lord to provide us with community. We shamelessly invited any couple we met from church and work into our home to eat Hamburger Helper. Lots of Cheesy Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper to be more exact. And you know, by the time Christmas rolled around, we had enough new friends to throw the tackiest Christmas sweater party you’ve ever seen. (Note: we were throwing tacky christmas sweater parties before tacky Christmas sweater parties were an overdone thing.)

Now as a mom of two, it takes serious creativity to have some semblance of a social life. I know that adding anything to the family calendar will likely run me a pretty penny per hour for babysitting or a frazzled husband doing bath time solo. And often I’m so tired that by 8 pm, I’d rather be in my bed than glazed over in someone else’s living room. It takes hard work and intentionality to find authentic friendship in your 30’s (okay, really ever), but it is completely worth it…and here’s a magical silver bullet that has made it possible for me…

#BOOKCLUB

For some people it’s Bunco or The Bachelor, but for me and my group of 15-20 friends, gathering once every 6-8 weeks has been the key to having a social life while trying to raise a family. Book Club for me feels like Bible study group meets coffee date with friends. So intentional and so fun.  

How To Host A Book Club

Here’s how our group does it:

  1. Pick a book you’ve been wanting to read and a date about a month out that works for you. (I promise this is the most challenging part. If you can do this, you are guaranteed a social life.)
  2. Invite a few co-workers, church friends and neighbors to join you for a book club–no commitment, just come, hang and discuss. Pajamas welcome, make-up discouraged. People will come, I promise.
  3. Ask any of the eager beavers who are all in to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert.
  4. Read the book and text a quote or two the week before you meet.
  5. Google and see if there are provided discussion questions for your book, chances are there will be! Print those out or make up your own, cut them in strips and put into a bowl to pass around and have people ask the group and/or answer.
  6. Make your favorite appetizer and dessert and set out some cozy drinks.
  7. Show people genuine hospitality vs. entertainment. You have nothing to prove, only an atmosphere of meaningful connection to extend.
  8. Hang out, enjoy getting to know each other over good food, then transition to discussion. Start by painting a picture of what it could look like to share life together over a few good books every 6-8 weeks and how being transparent and vulnerable could profoundly enrich your lives and the lives of others. If people latch on to this idea, they can host and lead discussion next time!
  9. Discuss the book and see how God knits your hearts together.
  10. Set up a GroupMe (literally my favorite app on the planet) where you can communicate with the group during the weeks you’re not meeting. On our “Not Your Momma’s Book Club” GroupMe we share everything from family recipes and favorite podcasts to serious prayer requests and funny cat videos.

That’s it! I’m telling you. Being a part of a book club has been the constant in my crazy and the meaningful, intentional time with other women who have made me a better wife, mom and friend.

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Here are some of the books our group has enjoyed reading and discussing:

There are so many other great ones, but these have given us incredible food for thought and have mentored our friend group toward greater Christ-likeness. I am so thankful for the other women in my life who prioritize our Book Club and who take me back to that blissful feeling of readalouds and recess. Because weren’t those just the best?!

 

Join us on our wild adventure of following Him & loving them!