The Soup That Was: A GF Speedy Potato Soup

No photo for the soup today. Seems the battery was dead on the only camera within reach when the soup was done. AND… if there is one thing I have learned with TWO little ones at home it is this:

Eat when you can because someone is bound to need something as soon as the spoon heads toward your mouth.

Yesterday was one of those days… and today is not looking much better.  I think maybe I’m just wiser.  (Or wishful?)  By the time I had the Chicklet settled down, the Peanut was up and ready to parrrrrtay!  Needless to say, neither their naps nor their activities seemed to be on the same schedule yesterday.  And while that is helpful when it comes to feeding time for THEM.. .it means there isn’t much time for me to think about what I might need to be eating.

When my mom was here helping out, she mentioned the importance of convenient foods.  And then she realized that most of the foods she was thinking of are hardly convenient for people who are gluten-free, not to mention inexpensive if they do exist.  (Or tasty, I should add while I’m at it.)  So, when we hit the grocery store after she left, I made sure to throw some things in the cart that are truly convenient, healthy and easy to keep on hand.  I have Oikos Greek Yogurt in the fridge, some cheese sticks, GF pretzels, Nutella, a huge array of fruit/veggies,etc.  To make it even easier, I made sure there was some pre-prepped stuff that normally I would do myself to save money and enjoy fresher flavors.  For example, I bought a jar of pre-crushed garlic cloves in olive oil and some Pacific Foods GF broth/soups.  I knew this stuff would come in handy when I was cooking for just me.

I even had hidden a little chocolate treat in my purse for the Chicklet and I to have nibbles from in the afternoon.  (It was probably more for me, admittedly, as she truly prefers to munch on fruit first.)  I knew I was in trouble yesterday when the girls bothhad about 15 minutes of overlapping sleep and I noticed how freakin’ hungry I was!  It must have been 2:30PM and the last time I had eaten was 6:20AM when I had a banana before the day got rolling.  While I had been drinking coffee and water, that was just not enough.  I wanted food….. NOW!

I actually contemplated the nutritional value and pay-off/costs of eating the chocolate treat for my mid-afternoon lunch.  I wondered if the sugar-high it would provide would last until my Love got home from work after 5:30pm.  I had convinced myself that the calories were a non-issue as I would have been consuming the same (or more!) with a “real lunch”.  And then I realized I was contemplating the nutritional values of the lunches  I see my high school students eating.  Yeap.  Time to make something to eat.  But it had to be fast.

Enter Stage Right:  shredded refrigerated potatoes.  I thought about scrambling an egg and tossing in some potatoes, but really I was craving soup, not breakfast.  So out of the need for food in under 15 minutes, I made the best soup ever.  The quantities listed below are COMPLETE ESTIMATES as there was no time for note-taking nor measuring.  I was hungry!  (Even the photo was sacrificed for sustenance while the battery charged.)

So the next time you are in a hurry for food, just open your fridge.  It will be there.  Yes, there are more elaborate meals you can make.  But sometimes there is nothing more satisfying that a good bowl of soup.  Even the Chicklet would agree with that statement.  She’s the one who polished this bowl of soup off when she awoke from her nap.

Please be sure to check your ingredients.  All of mine are gluten-free.  (Even the cheese – Sargento’s Pepper Jack – is gluten free.)

Gluten Free Pepper Jack & Potato Soup
Serves 1.5 people for lunch

Ingredients (quantities are estimated)
2/3 cup shredded refrigerator potatoes (Simply Potatoes are gluten free)
1 1/2 cup + chicken broth (Pacific Foods is gluten free)
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 slice pepper jack cheese (Sargento’s is gluten free)
2 – 3 Tablespoons half and half
OPTIONAL:  Bacon bits (Hormel is gluten free), ham or turkey slices/chopped, chopped green onion or scallions or parsley, etc


  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil, potatoes, minced onion and garlic.  Stir until fragrant (or 1 – 2 minutes).
  2. Add chicken broth to cover potatoes plus a little more (about 1/4 cup more).  The potatoes will absorb the broth while cooking.  Too little broth will make for a pasty potato soup.  Keep your broth handy. You can always add more as the cooking continues.
  3. Simmer the potatoes until tender.  Drop pieces of the sliced cheese on top of the soup.  Stir in completely.  Use an immersion blender or small blender to cream the potatoes/soup.
  4. Add a couple spoonfuls of hot soup to the half and half (to avoid heating the half and half too fast and curdling it) and then add it back into the soup.  Stir until smooth.
  5. Sprinkle your soup with crumbled bacon bits or chopped green onion, etc
  6. Try to eat it all before your toddler spies you munching and smells the goodness.  She’s going to want some too!  (Or maybe just be smarter than I am and make enough for the two of you to begin with!)

Happy Gluten-Free Eating!

GF Tortilla Soup

GF Tortilla Soup, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Sorry for the blogging lags, everyone. I really do have things to share… just not a lot of computer time to share them!

And forgive the photo… it was taking without much broth so you could see the ingredients and with a HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO begging for MORE MORE MORE in the background. (Okay… so she’s hardly a hippo in her teeny bod, but you get it, right?)

Yesterday we had a visit from our social worker. Adoption doesn’t end at the arrival of the baby. Nope, there are six more months of social worker visits, reports, photos back to Korea for foster mom/birth mom and Korean social workers, doctor forms, etc. After six months, we can then officially petition the courts for Zoe to become legally OURS OURS OURS! (After that, we start the whole process for her to get her Certificate of Citizenship for the US, new birth records, social security, etc…. a whole new paperchase that HOPEFULLY will *not* last as long as the first several!)  The great news:  we will most likely be able to begin our “finalization” paperwork in September.  This news just about brought me to tears.  She is already such a natural part of who we are.  I can not even begin to imagine my life without her in it.  OH!  Soon she will be ours on paper too!  (Thank goodness heart-strings DON’T need paperwork!)

Oh! Could you not just eat up this cuteness!?!?!?!


I had an enjoyable little fruit/coffee luncheon with the social worker while Zoe climbed all over me, played a little next to us and read her books. Really though, she just wanted to sit in my lap so she could eat my fruit and watch the social worker. She’s quite the monkey, but was also well behaved for her almost 15 month old self. She even “said” (sign language) please when asking to get up on my lap. (Let’s not mention the fact that she wanted to put her feet all over the table though, k?)

When the social worker left, I put Z down for her nap and then began to clean up the book piles, the luncheon dishes, pay the bills, organize my menu plan, etc. (Yes! I’m back to menu planning! I think it will help save my sanity once I return to work…. what do you think?) I realized that I had forgotten to pick up the pork chops for dinner (oops) but that I had some frozen chicken breasts. Menu plan swap-a-roo and TA-DAH! It’s tortilla soup night instead of pork chop night!

Here’s the beauty of this: the chicken breasts did not defrost in time. I had even popped them in the microwave for the defrost… didn’t work because the two breasts were clumped together. Ah, well. I figured this was probably MUCH more like a typical work-week anyway. I often forget to defrost something for dinner the next night and have to rush or pick something up on the way home. I know Zoe is probably NOT going to be happy with me if we have to stop for groceries after a long day at daycare (at first, anyway), so this was good practice.

And guess what? This soup came together in a snap. And Zoe likes it! (Okay.. she ate the carrots, black beans, avocado and a few bites of chicken…LOL) I’m sure as her ability to chew grows, this will be something that she will like more and more because she can add her own toppings – thus making a food adventure at dinner. My nephews said they would like that idea too!

So… all you non-defrosting folks – worry not! This will work with your partially frozen chicken breast too! In fact, I think it made cubing the chicken that much easier.

If you are up for a great tasting soup with a decent amount of veggies, I highly suggest this. In fact, I was quite happy to realize that I had made enough for today’s lunch for all three of us too!

Gluten Free Tortilla Soup
Makes enough for dinner for 4
1 – 15oz. can organic diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. can organic black beans
3 pasilla peppers (large, mild peppers)
3 medium-large carrots (1 cup diced carrot)
1 sweet onion (1 1/2 cups diced onion)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 chicken breasts
4 -5 cups of water or chicken stock  (tastes better with stock, IMHO)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (or more depending on taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
2 jalapeños, diced (optional: can be used as a topping or soup ingredient)
6-8 old GF corn tortillas (fried to a crisp and sliced/chopped) OR GF corn tortilla chips
sour cream (for topping)
avocado, diced (for topping)


  1. Char the pasilla peppers over an open flame or under your broiler until blackened ALL OVER.  Put the charred peppers into a paper bag and set aside while you prep the remaining ingredients.
  2. Chop and prep your carrots, onion, corn (if using fresh), garlic, tomatoes (if using fresh), and cilantro.
  3. Over medium-high heat in a stock pot, saute onion, carrot and half of the garlic in olive oil until the onion begins to become slightly golden and the carrots are tender (about 5 – 6 minutes).
  4. While the onion, carrot and garlic saute, cube your chicken breasts into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes.  (This is really quite easy if your chicken is still semi-frozen!)
  5. Once the onion/carrot/garlic mixture is ready, add the chopped chicken and the remaining garlic.  Stir frequently and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, remove the pasilla peppers from the paper bag (feel free to reserve any juices from the peppers and add it to the pot!).  Under cool water, rub your fingers over the peppers to remove the skin.  The charred skin will come off easily.  Remove the stem end and seed the peppers.  Once you have completed this with all 3 peppers, cut each pepper into strips and then dice/chop the pepper into smaller pieces.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the chopped peppers, black beans, corn, tomatoes and cilantro. Stir.  Add the stock or water.  (Add the diced jalapeño at this stage IF you want a hotter soup otherwise reserve it for people to add to their own individual soup bowls.)
  8. Add the seasonings and taste.  Adjust the seasonings to your preferences, PLEASE!  (Sometimes we add much more chile powder or cumin, but rarely do we add too much more oregano).  (Other spices to consider:  red pepper flakes, a touch of fennel, green onion, pasilla chile powder, tabasco sauce, etc.)
  9. Heat thoroughly. Taste again… and again….. 🙂  While this is heating, fry up some old corn tortillas in olive oil (additional) until golden or browned.  Drain and cool.  Slice into strips then chop into chunks.  Reserve for topping soup bowls.
  10. Serve soup along side bowls of toppings for people to make their own adventure (or top and serve).  Top with:  diced avocado, a  handful of tortilla strips or tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling in diced jalapeño.  You may even enjoy some more cilantro sprinkled on top.

I hope you enjoy this.  We really like it.  I think I will add some fall vegies as we get them in too.  It will be great with slices of autumn squash etc.  Yum!!

Happy GF Eating!


PS.  My next post will be about sugar cookies.  Zoe and I have been taste-testing and today I brought some over to my sister’s house for her and her boys (husband and 2 boys) to taste and vote on.  There’s definitely a love of both recipes I’ve been playing with.  Guess I will have to make more before I decide which recipe to post!  Or…. better yet:  How do you like your sugar cookies?

Salmon Chowder – Gluten free, of course

Okay, so photos of chowder are not the easiest. I’m sad to report that this photo does not do justice to the chowder. Because OH MAN. It hit the spot tonight!

I started making salmon and fish chowders a few years ago… and that was after several years of turning my nose up at the thought of fish chowder or fish soups. Quite honestly, the only type of fishy-soup/chowder I liked was Clam Chowder (New England style). And then, a few years ago, I had the best fish soup I had ever eaten in my life in a Chinese restaurant with my in-laws. Sometimes the beauty of not speaking the language is the willingness to eat what you are given. (Don’t worry, my father-in-law always orders gluten-free goodies for me at the Chinese restaurants. It’s helpful to have a native speaker making the requests, that’s for sure!)

Since that meal, I’ve tried to find gluten free fish chowders when we are out and about, but alas… most of them are prepared with a roux (butter and flour) or have flour added at the end to thicken the soup. It was at this point that I caved and decided to make my own. My Love had been telling me how easy chowders are to make, so now was the time.

Tonight I made another version of my Salmon Chowder. My original recipe (from July 2005) used clams and a few slices of ham or bacon and I didn’t have either of those on hand. But tonight, I found a little can of green chiles and some great parsnips in the fridge just waiting to be gobbled up. Couple those goodies with a pound and a half of some incredible fresh salmon and I have been dreaming of Salmon Chowder all day.

There is a brisk snap of cold in the air tonight. It’s actually the kind of weather I enjoy – although truth be told, I like my cold weather WITH sunshine, but that doesn’t happen around here all the time. And tomorrow, the weather reports are predicting a ton of rain and wind (read = 3 inches in 12 hours!). I think soup was the perfect thing to make to get my body ready for the wet chill that is about to set in.

Since this recipe makes MUCH more chowder than the two of us could possibly eat in one meal (or two!), it’s resting nicely in its pot in the fridge for lunch and dinner tomorrow too. I’ll probably make some corn bread or corn sticks or skillet corn bread to accompany it at the last meal. For lunch, I’m thinking some fabulous Caesar Salads with Salmon Chowder. (Yes, there is no school tomorrow in honor of Veteran’s Day in the US… thus my leisurely lunch plans rather than the soup and an apple to go which is what it would have been.)

I’m going to lay out the basic Chowder recipe here. Keep in mind, it’s very, very versatile. If you don’t have salmon on hand, use another firm fish (like cod). Don’t have the same veggies? Mix it up! You get the idea.

Above all, just eat it to feel good. Your body will thank you.

Salmon Chowder
1 tablespoon butter or rice bran oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 shallot finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large parsnips, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small can of green chiles
1 15ounces can of corn (kernels, not creamed)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (GF, of course)
3 cups of diced potatoes
1 1/2 pounds salmon (skinned, de-boned, and cut in to chunks)
salt & pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 can low fat or no fat evaporated milk (optional)
1/4 cup sorghum flour (optional)


  1. Heat large dutch oven/soup pot over medium high. Add butter. Saute onion, garlic, shallot, carrots, parsnips and celery until tender. (About 5-6 minutes).
  2. Add 3 cups of the broth (reserve one cup), green chiles, corn and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. (About 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your potato dices.)
  3. Add the seasonings (salt/pepper, paprika, tarragon, red pepper flakes, etc) and taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Add the salmon and stir in to the broth. Simmer another 10 minutes or until the salmon is mostly cooked. Taste again. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Mix the sorghum flour in to the remaining one cup of broth. Add to the chowder (this will thicken it a bit.) Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the can of evaporated milk to make the chowder creamy.

Happy soup days, all!

GF: Curried Chicken and Rice Soup

I’ve lost my voice. I have a sore throat. Neither of these two things bode well for a woman who makes her living by talking. I suppose some teachers can get away with talking less, but a foreign language teacher? Um. No. It doesn’t work.

I went to bed with a scratchy throat and woke up at 5:00AM unable to breathe and unable to talk. My love insisted that I call in sick and stay in bed. Didn’t take much to convince me either.

The other night I had felt a cold coming on. My love was out grocery shopping (usually a task we do together with joy). I had stayed home under a blanket. He called and I gave him a list of things to make chicken and rice soup. I knew I was going to need it.

And then this morning arrived. Soup started calling the minute I finally rose from bed. My plan was to at least move to another room to be a bump on a log there. The dog/blanket was a bonus. (Love that dog! He is the best blanket in the world!)

While I was chopping garlic and shallots for my soup (with the pup underfoot), I began to change my typical plain-Jane recipe. I don’t know why. But it worked for me. I will make this one again and vary the veggies I use. For now, I am satisfied. I’ve eaten two bowls of soup (unheard of when I’m sick!) and have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Hooray! (Wait… did I really just cheer for leftovers? OMG. I did.)

I hope you like this as well. Some curry soup recipes call for a thickener of flour and water to be added to the soup. I used rice in the soup to give it more bulk and thicken. I wonder now if I will add more broth next time or lessen the amount of rice. The picture (not pretty, but tasty!) above is the second bowl of soup – after it had sat for quite a while and the rice began absorbing more and more of the broth. It was significantly thicker than the first bowl with was just right. Here’s the recipe I used this morning – although measurements are estimates as I was just tossing things into a pot. Take heart – it’s soup – you really can’t do anything wrong to it. 🙂

Curried Chicken and Rice Soup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, rough chopped
2 Tablespoons GF curry powder or homemade curry spice mix
1 can (15oz) coconut milk
6 cups chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes, cubed into 1/2″ cubes
1 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup long grain rice, rinsed but not soaked
2 organic chicken breasts, roughly chopped


  1. Once all of the items are prepped, heat your stock/soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the olive oil slides around the pan easily/water-like, add your onions and shallots. Saute until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic. Saute until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add the curry seasonings and stir together to spread the seasoning evenly.
  2. Add chopped chicken and brown quickly for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add rice. Stir well. Return to a boil briefly.
  5. Reduce heat to a slow simmer.
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Add frozen corn and stir for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  8. Stir to evenly distribute ingredients well.

Servce with warm toast and ginger ale if your throat is feeling like mine.
But I honestly hope it’s not!
Regardless, I hope you enjoy it!
Happy GF Eating!

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