Smoked Sausage Potato Soup

This soup is a spin on the Portuguese Caldo Verde, but with the addition of saffron and smoked paprika instead. The recipe was a happy experiment and one that I've made quite a few times since, even though I have a slight aversion to cooking the same meal twice. The appeal of blistered potatoes in a deeply flavorful broth just can't be denied. 
I use smoked andouille sausage but please feel free to substitute chorizo or any other smoked sausage. Saffron is optional but it gives the potatoes a lovely golden glow and the broth a wonderful aroma. I was fortunate to receive quite a bit from friend recently and well, the rest is history.

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Ingredients:

2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1lb smoked sausage, sliced (chorizo, andouille etc.)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp red pepper flakes
6 medium potatoes, peeled + diced
8 cups chicken stock
Pinch of saffron (totally optional)
4 cups kale, spinach or collards

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and brown (3-5 minutes). Add onion, garlic, paprika + red pepper to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes until fragrant.

Add potatoes, stock & saffron. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender. Use the back of a fork to smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot - This will thicken the soup & provide a creamier texture.

Add greens and simmer for 5 minutes more then serve.

I like to set some of the browned sausage aside in the beginning and add to the soup afterwards for crispy texture. I do not add extra salt as the stock and sausage is quite salty on their own, but please season to your taste afterwards.
Alternatively, sauté in the Instant Pot then add everything else & cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Don’t skip mashing of some of the potatoes.

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Roasted Chicken Thighs & Saucy Rosemary Beans

When I was young but confident enough in my ability to cook, my mother awarded me with the opportunity to prepare supper twice per week. There was a time where we really didn't have much and beans were plentiful. The funny thing is, it didn't feel that way to us. We never felt deprived and through all of that I learned the value of improvisation in cooking. I have many bean recipes and this one is my favorite :) It's a recipe for two people because that's how many there are in my house but you might want to double or triple it. 

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Ingredients:

2 skin-on chicken thighs
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning OR my favorite chicken spice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (or 2-3 regular cups freshly cooked, up to you!)
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar OR fresh lemon juice
6 cups fresh spinach

Method:

Season chicken with cajun seasoning and set aside (best to do this the day before, covering and placing in the fridge overnight for maximum flavor). Preheat oven to 375F. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat then add chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear until skin is crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile add olive oil, garlic, celery, onion, celery and green pepper to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent (5 minutes). Add chopped rosemary, beans, worcestershire sauce and stock. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, add black pepper and red wine vinegar or lemon juice. This will brighten it up with some acidity. Stir and divide between two bowls. Rinse your saucepan and sauté spinach in a little olive oil.

When chicken is done, plate beans and place spinach on top followed by chicken. I love to add some fresh rosemary and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, maybe some lemon zest and season to taste. 

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Instant Pot Hawaij Spiced Chicken with Zhug

This recipe is sponsored by Pompeian. Their range of extra virgin olive oils and organic vinegars are staples in my kitchen and I am thrilled to bring you this easy weeknight dish in partnership with them.

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I am a big fan of chicken and those of you who follow me on Instagram are probably aware of that but let's face it...sometimes it gets a little how can I say? Boring?
Lately, there has been an influx of amazing products that make it easy to transform a humble bird with the flavors and fragrances of faraway places. Deep, savory Middle Eastern flavors are so popular right now and for good reason. Amazing spices and blends like hawaij, ras el hanout, berbere, sumac and sauces like zhug liven the palate and make people at the table go "Wow!"
I can get behind that. If we are going to eat chicken AGAIN let it be bold in flavor and even better, let it be quick to prepare. If you can prep the bird a day ahead of time and let it soak in that marinade, this recipe will only take about 45 minutes start to finish in your Instant Pot. That includes coming to pressure (5-10 minutes) and releasing pressure naturally (10 minutes). This is a more realistic time than recipes that promise a 15 minute start to finish process. Thankfully you can walk away from an Instant Pot and prepare sides, pour yourself a glass of wine, fold laundry (maybe not) or set the table while you take in the intoxicating aroma of Hawaij Chicken cooking. 

 Hawaij - A Yemenite Spice Blend mostly used for soups and stews, but don't let that limit your experiments! 

Hawaij - A Yemenite Spice Blend mostly used for soups and stews, but don't let that limit your experiments! 

What is Hawaij? A Middle Eastern spice blend that often includes a mix of turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander and sometimes clove. You can purchase it online or make your own, I'll include an easy basic recipe below that you can customize to suit your taste. I love combining it with Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil, especially when going the non-traditional route of using it as a marinade. Bold flavor needs a stronger oil.

Easy Hawaij Blend:

Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate.
— Plautus

3 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons kosher salt

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Instant Pot Hawaij Spiced Chicken

Ingredients:
1 2.5lb (small) whole chicken OR chicken pieces
1/4 cup Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Hawaij spice blend
2 tablespoons kosher salt (fine grain works well)
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Optional to serve:  Parsley, Red Onion & Tomato Salad
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sumac powder
1 tablespoon Pompeian Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Method:
Combine Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Hawaij spice and salt in a small bowl.  With your hands, rub the marinade onto the chicken to season every inch, inside and outside. Ideally, this step should be done a day ahead of time to ensure an evenly seasoned bird. 

Turn the Instant Pot on, making sure that pressure is set to HIGH. Place sliced onion and garlic in the inner pot and cover with stock. Place chicken on top of the onions, breast side up, then close the lid and set the valve to "sealing." Set the timer for 18 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to steam a little and then seal, starting the timer.
Prepare the salad by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Once the timer on your Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally - Do not manually release the pressure valve. When the pressure gauge drops, remove chicken and serve whole or cut into pieces. I like to place the chicken on a baking sheet or tray and crisp it up in a 450F oven set to "broil" for 5-8 minutes.  The gravy created in the Instant Pot while cooking the chicken is delicious poured over the bird, especially when served with rice. 
Sprinkle chicken with toasted almonds and optional salad.

Try it with my version of  Zhug, a Yemenite green hot sauce that delivers another punch thanks to serrano peppers. Find the easy recipe below:

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Smoked Sausage & Lentil Soup

Hi! This is one of those meals that I just love but never cook using a recipe. After a few Instagram friends asking about the recipe, I am placing it here on my blog for you to try. 

A few notes: It's a recipe that can either be called a soup or stew, depending on how much stock you choose to add. Please adjust seasonings as you see fit - I cook it intuitively so the measurements are always different. The one thing that ties it all together though, is beautifully fragrant Berbere Spice. 

What is Berbere? Berbere is a spice mixture whose constituent elements usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. It is a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Thanks Wikipedia. 

Here is a great recipe to make your own, but I also purchase mine online. As for the sausage portion, I use smoked beef sausage from a local butcher but feel free to use your favorite. The most important thing is that it has enough smoke to flavor this dish. Andouille is great, so is Chorizo or Keilbasa. Pick one and roll with it - It's all delicious.

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup fresh diced red pepper

1 lb (450grams) smoked sausage, sliced into 1" discs

1 1/2 tbsp Ethiopian Berbere spice 

1 tbsp Smoked Paprika (Highly recommend Penzey's)

1/2 tbsp ground cumin

2 cups dry lentils

2 quarts intense stock (I use beef. Substitute with 2 stock cubes and 2 quarts water combined)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp sugar

4 cups diced carrot

1 tbsp kosher salt 

1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp fresh parsley

Optional for serving: Plain yogurt, Zest & Juice of 1 lemon, fresh parsley

Not optional: Crusty bread with good butter! :)


Method:

Add olive oil, onions, garlic, ginger, celery and red pepper to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir until onions are translucent (3-5 minutes). Increase heat then add sausage, berbere, smoked paprika and cumin. Cook until the fat starts to render and everything is fragrant (5 minutes).

Add all remaining ingredients, stir to combine and lower heat to medium. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring now and then, until the lentils are cooked through and the soup has thickened. I like to leave it a little longer and break up some of the lentils with a potato masher for creaminess. Add the lemon juice, more fresh parsley, adjust the seasoning and add a dollop of plain yogurt right before serving. 

Serves 4 hungry people.