Bored Cook In The Kitchen

Tried and true recipes, new twists on old favorites, and new dishes to expand my family's palate.

Category Archives: Soups & Stews

Beef Barley Soup

Do you love soup as much as I do?  I could eat soup three times a day, everyday for a month and never be sick of it.

My husband has another opinion.  He likes soup, but for him it’s a lunch item accompanied by a sandwich.  For me, it’s a meal.  For my children it means grilled cheese, because soup for dinner has to be shared with grilled cheese sandwiches or they won’t eat it.  My family is fickle and they make me crazy sometimes.

If you checked out my Smothered Roast Beef recipe from the other day, I hinted that the leftovers from that dish would be used in another recipe.  This is that recipe. 

And before any of you balk at this I’m going to tell you upfront that some of the gravy from that roast beef is used as the base of this soup.  Don’t go thinking that is weird, gravy in soup, because if you remember that gravy was made with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.  So really, it’s only fitting for it to be in this soup.  And it works.  Very well, I might add.

I make this in the slow cooker and it works out perfectly fine.


  • 1 1/2 Cups Diced Leftover Roast Beef
  • 4 Cups Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 Cup Leftover Gravy
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery, diced
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3/4 Cup Small Pearl Barley
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in the slower cook leaving out the barley.

Stir well, season accordingly, cover and set to low.  Allow to cook on low for 4 hours.  At the end of 4 hours, stir in the barley and cover.  Allow to continue cooking for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until barley is tender.

Serve up with some grilled cheese. 



Mini Meatball & Alphabet Soup

This is enjoyed by both kids and adults and you hear nothing but slurping when I serve it up.  In fact, I haven’t made this in a while and making it the other night brought comments from my four-year old daughter like, “Mom, this is the best dinner ever.”  Wouldn’t it be great if you got to hear that every night? 

The original recipe for this soup was inspired by the traditional Stracciatella soup.  Stracciatella in Italian means “torn rags”.  The soup got that name for the egg that is swirled through the soup and breaks up to look like torn rags.  If you don’t know it by now, I hate eggs. I cook and bake with them yes, but you won’t ever see me eat an egg in its natural state.  I cannot and will not and that’s just the way it is.  So I certainly have no intention of ever adding an egg to this recipe.  Okay, I did add it to the meatball mixture, but that’s different.

Also, in a typical Stracciatella soup you would add some shredded spinach, which to me would have been perfect.  However, my children have an aversion to anything green and it took awhile just to talk them around the parsley that was flecked in the meatballs.  Sometimes I will split up the batch of soup and add the spinach to half and leave it out of the other half.  And since spinach cooks up quick enough, you can always add it to your own dish before serving. 

Whichever version you choose, with our without spinach, this is a simple but delicious soup.  The recipe I’m providing below is a double batch since I always serve up one batch and then freeze the second batch for a later day.  You can cut the recipe in half if you want to just make it for a single family meal.  I serve this with some grilled cheese sandwiches and call it a night.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (use low sodium or homemade if possible)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup dry tiny pasta such as alphabet, orzo, or other
  • few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin my filling a large stock pot with the chicken broth and water.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the broth to boil, mix up the meat, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, egg, onions, parsley, salt and pepper.  Roll the meatball mixture into tiny meatballs about 1/2″ in size. 

Once the broth is boiling, add the meatballs carefully to the broth along with the pasta.  Turn heat to low and allow the pasta and meatballs to fully cook.  The meatballs will float at first, but will eventually sink to the bottom.   Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Once done, serve up immediately with some extra parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top. 


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Slow Cooker Taco Soup

This is one of those simple meals I throw together for a night when I know I’m not going to have time to cook.  Tuesday is the day of the week this works best for me since it’s always a busy day at our house. 

You can just as easily make this on the stove, but I like the ease of the slow cooker for this because I start it early in the day and don’t need to stir or do another thing to it.  Dinner is ready and I can just serve it up.  It’s also a favorite in our house since all of my children love taco anything.  Well, everyone except my daughter.  She will eat tacos and nachos but won’t eat this soup. 

There are several different ways I make this and the options to change it up are unlimited.  I’ll give you the basic recipe I’ve followed for years, and one you can find almost anywhere, and then the options you can choose from to change it up.


Serves 6 (with leftovers since it’s always better the next day!)

  • 2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
  • 1 28 oz. Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 1 Can of Corn, drained
  • 1 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Packet Goya Sazon (in the orange box) *optional
  • 1 1/2 cans Water (use the empty tomato can to measure) 
  • Top with some shredded cheddar, sour cream and broken up tortilla chips.

Preheat your slow cooker. 

On the stove, brown the ground beef or turkey along with the onion.  When done, drain with a slotted spoon and add to the slow cooker.

Then add all the other ingredients, stir well and cover.  Set to cook on high for 4 or 5 hours or low for 6 to 7 hours.  Once the soup begins to bubble in the slow cooker it’s done.

You can of course eat this just as is.  But it’s even better if you add some shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and a few crushed up tortilla chips.  Stir it all together and enjoy!

Option #2:

Replace the beef or turkey with leftover shredded chicken.  You can also throw in a can of green chiles if you want a little spice, or leave them out.

Option #3: 

Replace the same amount of regular petite cut tomatoes with Fire Roasted Tomatoes instead.  This adds a delicious smokey flavor to the soup.

Option #4:

Replace the 28 oz. can of tomatoes with 1 15 oz. can of Rotel and 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes.

There are probably a million on variations you could make to call this your own.  Start out with the basic recipe, which is good just as it is, and go from there.  Enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup For The Soul

Yesterday was a damp, rainy, miserable day.  The perfect day for some homemade chicken soup. 

I’m a big soup eater and I could pretty much live on soup alone on a daily basis.  This is just one version of chicken soup that I love to make, but I have another version with rice that I will share with you another day.  I actually think the rice version is my favorite, but my family is more into the noodle thing.  No complaints from me. 

I use my homemade chicken broth for this recipe which you can check out here.  Make a huge vat of it and then freeze it in individual quart containers.  You will never want for chicken broth again. I promise.  Except for when you don’t remember that you used the last quart of it in a previous recipe and reach for it to find there is none left.  That’s when you run to the store and buy some. 

I roasted up some split chicken breasts on the bone by adding some salt and pepper, throwing them on a baking sheet and roasting at 350 degrees for an hour.  Once done, I removed the skin, allowed them to cool a bit, and then shredded about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chicken for the soup.  You can use a leftover rotisserie chicken from the store, or any leftover chicken you have.  Do what works for you.

For this version I used the thin egg noodles, but sometimes I’ll use the wide ones as well.  Nobody has a preference for which noodles to use which makes life easier.

Serve this up with some grilled cheese sandwiches and you have a comforting meal on a cold fall day.

Chicken Noodle Soup:

  • 2 Quarts Chicken Broth, if store-bought, use low sodium
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Chicken
  • 1 Large Stalk Celery, diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots, diced
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 2 Cups Thin Egg Noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the butter and then add the celery, carrots and onion.  Allow to soften but not turn brown.

Add the chicken broth, chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Add the egg noodles and stir.  Here I turn off the heat and cover the pot.  After about 10 minutes I remove the cover and serve.  If you like a thicker soup, add extra noodles. 

Taste again for seasoning and add any additional salt or pepper you feel the soup needs.

Serve up in a bowl with some crackers and enjoy!

Moroccan Chicken

Really this should be named Chicken Tajine, but since the Tajine is the actual cooking apparatus you use to cook this in, and since I didn’t have one, I’m going to just go with Moroccan Chicken.

I was watching Food Network the other day and there was an episode on Barefoot Contessa entitled “Cooking for Beginners.”  And their feature recipe was from the personal chef for Steven Spielberg who was making Chicken Tajine.  She too did not use a Tajine, but instead a dutch oven to cook it in. Perfect!  I got me one of those! 

I immediately decided to make the chicken and planned on having it Tuesday night for dinner.  It was earlier in the day that I actually looked at the directions and realized the chicken should marinate for a good 24 hours.   I knew my wait would  be longer.  So I marinated the chicken and allowed it to do its thing with all those spices for a good 24 hours. 

While the process seems long, in truth, the dish could not have been easier to make.  This is a perfect dish for the chilly fall weather, and is something easy enough that you can have it all cooking in one pot on the stove if you are pressed for time the night you plan to serve it.

There are a few changes I made to the recipe, and I will list the recipe and the way I prepared this dish below, with a * next to the parts of the recipe I adapted for my kitchen.  Visit the original recipe shown on Barefoot Contessa, Moroccan Chicken Tajine from Ina Garten and try it either way.

As a note, this recipe calls for preserved lemons.  They do tell you how to make these yourself during the show, the problem is, again, it’s something that needs to be done ahead of time, by actual weeks.  They do say you can buy them preserved as well, but I couldn’t find them locally.  My adaption of the recipe shows you how I made up for this, and it definitely lended a strong lemon flavor which is something I love in a dish.

Moroccan Chicken:

Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Episode “Cooking for Beginners”

Serves 4

  • *3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Kosher/Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Large Spanish Onion, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil (NOT Olive Oil)
  • * 1 Large Lemon, juiced and then cut into 6 pieces
  • * 4 Split Chicken Breasts on the bone, each cut in half yielding 8 pieces
  • Stems from 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Parsley, tied with twine
  • Stems from 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro, tied with twine
  • 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Parsley Leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • *1 1/2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • *1 Envelope of Goya Sazon (Con Azafran) in the orange/purple/yellow box.
  • 1 Cup Pitted Greek or Moroccan Olives

The day before you plan to make this dish, mix together the cumin, ginger, paprika, pepper, salt, 1/2 of the grated onion, canola oil and the juice of one lemon in a bowl and set to the side.  After the lemon is juiced and pitted, slice the lemon skin into 6 pieces and add to the marinade.

Meanwhile, using a meat clever, cut the split chicken breasts in half.  Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade of the chicken.  Seal the bag, and using your hands, work the bag so that the marinade covers each chicken piece.  Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day, place the chicken and the marinade, with the lemon slices,  in the bottom of a large dutch oven.  Add the tied stems of the cilantro and parsley to the dutch oven.  Add the chicken broth and the Goya Sazon packet to the pot.  Stir together and bring to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer for 40 to 45 minutes.

Once done, uncover the pot and remove the chicken to a dish.  Cover with foil.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to reduce by almost half. 

While the sauce is reducing, chop the leaves from the parsley and cilantro and set to the side.

Once reduced, remove the tied cilantro and parsley stems from the pot and discard.  Uncover the chicken and remove the skin and discard.  Add the chicken back to the pot, along with the chopped cilantro, parsley, and the olives.  Allow the sauce and the chicken to simmer for an additional five minutes, then remove to a serving dish and pour the sauce over the top.

Serve over rice or with some torn pita bread for dipping.


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