Hi! Elizabeth here. I’m calling this post "Go-To Meals" Part 2. Anna shared her family’s "go-to meals" in her post last week. Read it here. I’m definitely adopting their yearly tradition--Anna, Dan,
My family’s current "go-to meals"
There are definitely some that have fallen off the list over the years. I plan to bring them back into our rotation and share them with you in a future post.
- Bacon, Black Eyed Pea, and Kale Soup recipe below (or ragu over pasta or oven polenta)
- Black bean and beef tacos with guac, salsa, cheese, and sour cream--and sometimes rice or corn
- Pasta Carbonara and salad with mustard vinaigrette
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken with rice and sugar snap peas
- Chili, cornbread (made with Jiffy mix), and salad
- Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and grated ricotta salata (summer)
- White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup, salad, and bread
- Spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs, salad and bread
- Trader Joe’s Mandarin Chicken, rice, and green beans
- Taco Soup, tortilla chips, and guacamole
- Mustard Salmon, couscous (or rice), and broccoli
- Lemon Shrimp over pasta, salad,
- Bell and Evans chicken tenders, roasted new potatoes, broccoli
- Pasta with sausage, sage, fontina, and kale with salad and bread
- Pasta with Pesto, salad, and bread
- Italian sausages, potatoes, and shredded brussels sprouts (or broccoli or green beans)
- Tomato soup and
open-facedtoasted cheese sandwiches with salad (or raw veggies)
Meals don’t have to be complicated to be nourishing or to provide an opportunity to gather together to eat.
What does this list tell me? That I rely A LOT on broccoli and salad as sides. Perhaps it’s time to branch out a bit!? I'm going to refer to Anna's post here on simple sides when I'm planning meals over the coming weeks.
One of My Family’s "Go-To Meals": Bacon, Black Eyed Pea, and Kale Soup
Everyone in my house likes a version of this soup.
My 11-year-old, Ellie, only likes the broth. The bowl she serves herself is often mostly broth with just a few beans. Caroline, my 14-year-old, loves this soup except for the kale. The bowl she serves herself is typically the complete opposite of Ellie’s bowl. Caroline loves the beans and prefers less broth. I don’t worry that neither likes kale. The kale cooks in the broth, so some of the nutrients from the kale find their way into the tasty, parmesan-infused broth. And eventually, they might end up trying the kale again.
I’ve made this soup for years. It’s inspired by/adapted from a pasta recipe, Orecchiette with Shell Beans, Proscuitto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures: Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef.
It’s quick and easy. And I typically have the ingredients on hand. It can truly be made in 30 minutes!
At some point, I decided to change the recipe up a bit. I began adding a lot more broth, a hunk of parmesan cheese (this gives the broth a lovely rich flavor), and black-eyed peas.
And it slowly transformed into soup, rather than a sauce for pasta.
Sometimes, I serve this over polenta--not as a "go-to meal" though! Served over polenta is a great option for a nice dinner and it’s great for a crowd, too. During a few Christmases at Chad’s parent's (there’s always a crowd), I made a big batch of the soup and served it over polenta along with a salad. Then we used the leftovers as soup for lunches.
Here it is served over pasta. I love serving it over orecchiette (which means little ears) pasta
If you’d like to make this without the bacon, I’d suggest adding fresh basil or a couple of tablespoons of pesto to the soup just before serving.
Easy Bacon, Black Eyed Pea and Kale Soup
- 4 slices of bacon cut into small strips
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
- 3 cans black eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 1 can white beans drained and rinsed
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 2 x 3 inch hunk of parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas thawed
- 2 cups kale washed and torn
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- Stack the 4 slices of bacon and cut into strips crosswise. Place the bacon in a large pot over medium-medium low heat. Cook the bacon until it is crisped--about 10 minutes.
- While the bacon is cooking, peel and chop the garlic; drain and rinse the beans in a colander, and rinse and tear the kale; and cut off a piece of parmesan cheese.
- Once the bacon is crisp, add the chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes. Next add the beans, stock, water, parmesan hunk and salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Next add the peas and kale and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- Serve as a soup or serve over pasta for a quick and easy tasty weeknight meal.