Roasted Red Pepper Soup

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of preparing a prom dinner for my son Gregory, his date, and several of their friends at the Benton County Historical Society’s Ray House in Vinton, Iowa. The dinner menu had a very classic theme: A roasted red pepper soup for a starter, filet mignon with a herb steak butter, herbed potato mashers, green beans almondine, and finally a crème brûlée for dessert. This soup can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

I will be sharing a couple of the recipes from this dinner in my next couple posts. First is the roasted red pepper soup.


4 Red Bell Peppers roasted, seeded & peeled
2 tablespoons Butter
1 Red Onion Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
4 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Kosher Salt And Pepper to taste


Saute onions and garlic in butter until soft. Add red peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice. Process in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place back on stove until ready to serve.

Additional note

This soup can easily be made the day before, but if you roast the peppers in advance it goes together very quickly. Serves 4-6. I float a sprig of basil or parsley on top for a nice colorful touch. I often add a dollop of crème fraîche when serving but it’s great naked!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here’s a very easy soup that is just a little out of the ordinary. It’s a nice change of pace from chilli with all the great Southwest flavors. I feel the freshly sliced avocado adds a wonderful element and the chipotle peppers gives a nice smoky flavor to the soup.


2 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
1 medium onion, cut up
2 clove garlic
4 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sugar
8 cups chicken broth
1 ½ lbs cooked chicken breast shredded
2 or 3 chipotle peppers and a little adobo sauce from the can

Serving additions

shredded Monterey jack cheese
avocados sliced into strips
Tortilla chips
Sour cream


In blender or food processor combine undrained tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, chipotle pepper and sugar. Cover and blend till nearly smooth. Put mixture into a large pot with chicken broth and chicken. Bring to boiling. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

When serving, in this order, put crunched tortilla chips in a bowl with cheese, avocados, and sour cream. Ladle soup over; serve immediately. See picture below.

Chili — Nothing like a good bowl of red on a cold winter day


You can’t have just one bowl of this chili. I use shredded chuck roast and shredded pork roast instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The beef and pork compliment each other and gives chili a flavor and mouth feel you just can’t get with ground beef. This is how chili should be made.



1.5 lbs Combination of shredded chuck roast and pork butt roast (Recipe follows)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Onion
4 T Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic
1 Can Mexican Styles Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cans Red Kidney Beans (Optional)
1 46 oz Can Tasty Tom (Spicy V8 will also work but Tasty Tom is better)


Heat olive oil in large stew pot. Add onion and chili powder and sauté until onion just begins to get tender. Side Note: Sautéing the chili powder along with the onions brings out a somewhat smokey flavor to the powder. Add shredded beef and heat until warm. Add tomatoes, beans and Tasty Tom. Heat until chili begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like.

Shredded Beef or Pork


beef roast or pork butt roast – trimmed of fat approximately 2 to 3 pounds
1 onion – coarsely chopped
4.5 oz jar minced garlic – unless you want to mince all that garlic
1 to 2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub the beef thoroughly with olive oil. Generously season both sides of the roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Spread entire jar of minced garlic on top side of roast. Top with onion. Add bay leaves and wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil sealing the edges all around with tight crimps. Place the meat in a baking dish and bake for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the beef is tender enough to fall apart. If you hear much sizzling as the meat cooks, turn the heat down.

When the beef is fork-tender, unwrap the top of the foil package, push aside
the onions, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let the meat cool. Shred it into long shreds with a fork. Beef may be stored in the refrigerator (for up to a week) or frozen. I use this style of shredded beef and pork for tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chili, shepherd’s pie or any other recipe in place of ground meat.

Fall is the perfect time for comfort foods

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, football, the colors, my birthday and most of all, all the wonderful comfort foods. This past weekend, Susan and I hosted the Eastern Iowa Wine Club at our home. It was an enjoyable evening with good friends, food, and really good wine. It was also an opportunity for me to cook some of these comfort foods that I really enjoy. The night’s menu consisted of a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup, Wine Braised Short Ribs, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The hit of the night was the soup.

I am of the opinion that people need to eat more squash. It is versatile, delicious and so very good for you. There isn’t too much you can’t do with squash. Here is a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup creation I came up with for the night. Please bear in mind that I was cooking for 16 people. If you half this recipe you should be good with plenty left over. It is every bit as good warmed up.


Approximately 8 pounds of roasted butternut squash
Three carrots
Three stalks celery
Two small to medium sized onions
Several cloves of garlic
8 cups chicken broth
Olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
Two canned Chipotle peppers.


Roasting the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice squash length wise in half and scoop out seeds. Rub olive oil over cut side of squash and place face up on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg. Roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Making the soup
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and sauté until soften, about 10 minutes. Scoop flesh from roasted butternut squash into pot. Add chicken broth and diced Chipotle peppers along with some adobe sauce from peppers. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Working in small batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Stir in cream and serve.

Here is what I did for the Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs. I served them over a Rosemary Thyme Whipped Potato. Again, the following recipe was for 16 people. You will want to cut this recipe down.


Approximately 16 pounds of beef short ribs
6 carrots thickly sliced
6celery stalks thickly sliced
2 medium sized onion coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil
2 750ml bottle of decent hearty red wine


Preheat oven to 325° F. Season ribs with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a large dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. Remove ribs and clean out pot. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened; about 4 minutes. Add the Rosemary and Thyme and pour in the bottle of wine. Brink to boil. Add ribs back and cover pot with lid. Place into oven. Let braise for 3 hours.

Serve with potatoes, rice, noodles or some other starch.

I know, I know, most people turn their nose at Brussels sprouts. That is more than likely because all they have ever eaten are bitter, boiled sprouts. Roast these puppies until they begin to caramelize and you have a totally different and delectable treat. Here is my recipe:


Brussels spouts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano (aged at least 18 months)


Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the stem end off of each sprout and remove the outer leaves. Add enough olive oil to evenly coat the sprouts. Season sprouts with Kosher salt and pepper. Then drizzle Balsamic vinegar over sprouts. Roast sprouts for about 40 minutes stirring about every 10 minutes until they are evenly brown. Shred Parmigiano Reggiano over sprouts and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and serve.

A great day for soup: Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup


I’m not opposed to taking a few shortcuts now and then in the kitchen. Especially when it comes to dried beans and lentils which can take forever to prepare. Here is a quick and easy black bean soup recipe that hit the spot on this cold, dreary evening. This soup can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
1 C Chicken or vegetable broth
3 cans (15 ounces each) Black Beans
Black pepper
Shredded cheese
Fresh herb, like basil


Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about five minutes then stir in cumin, chili powder and oregano and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth. Puree one can of black beans, add to pot. Add second can of black beans (do not puree). Drain and rinse last can of black beans and add to pot (do not puree).

Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often. Add black pepper to taste.

Top with salsa, shredded cheese and fresh herb.