Nana's Chili Recipe and Other Soups and Stews

When the temperature drops, and it's cold and snowy (or even just rainy outside), what is more comforting than a hearty homemade chili, soup, or stew, to warm us up and delight our palate? I love to buy a wonderful crusty French or Italian bread to go with it – for dipping in the soup or stew or just slathering with butter. Add a salad and you have a meal fit for a King (or Queen)!

I have some great recipes to share with you to help “winterize” your soul! Just scroll down to get my very best chicken soup recipe, beef stew recipe, chili recipe and potato soup recipe.

Chili Recipe
When it comes to chili, each of us is different as to how spicy we like it! I have added the amount of chili powder to make it spicy enough for my family, but if after tasting you would like more spice, just add another teaspoon or two of chili powder, let it simmer for a few minutes and then taste again. To make a REALLY hot chili, add more hot pepper flakes to taste.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large or 3 small cloves garlic
1 pound ground beef (use ground beef containing no more than 15% fat, if possible)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon leaf oregano (crumbled)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
3 - 15 ounce cans crushed tomatoes (undrained)
2 – 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 – 15 ounce cans red kidney beans

Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook till soft (about 5 minutes). Add ground beef and cook till it loses its pink color. Drain the fat out if needed. Transfer the meat mixture into a large pot or kettle.

Add all the spices and mix well. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and cook until very hot; then add kidney beans. Simmer at a low temperature for at least 30 minutes so all the flavors mingle together. Stir often and keep a lid on it so the chili sauce will not spatter out all over the stove. Make sure the chili does not boil or it could burn on the bottom of the pot. Add a little water if too thick.

Ladle chili beans into bowls and add grated cheddar cheese and chopped sweet onion, if desired.

Cornbread goes nicely with chili beans or a crunchy French or Italian bread for sopping up the sauce.

Chicken Soup Recipe
Cold weather and chicken soup go together hand in hand! Especially if a person has a cold or the flu: Research has shown that chicken soup is about the best natural remedy that one can take – and a most delicious one at that!

2 1/2 – 3 pound chicken, cut up
2 onions
3 stalks celery with leaves attached
2 carrots
1 tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups noodles, uncooked

Put chicken pieces into a large pot or kettle that has a lid. Cover chicken completely with water. Add 1 onion cut into quarters, the top 2 or 3 inches of the celery (including leaves), the carrots (cut into big chunks), l bay leaf, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Cover pot with lid and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours until the chicken is very tender. Add more water if necessary to keep chicken covered. Turn off heat and remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon onto a plate to cool.

Strain the broth to remove the vegetables and throw them away. Let the broth cool briefly and then refrigerate until the fat solidifies on surface. Using a slotted spoon, lift off the fat and discard.

Meanwhile, take the chicken off the bones and cut into bite sized pieces. Add the chicken to the chicken broth. Add 1 cup diced celery, 1 cup diced onion, 1 bay leaf, and more salt and pepper if needed. Add noodles and simmer until both the celery and the noodles are tender.

Great served with cheese and crackers!

Beef Stew
This is such a delicious stew, one I have been making for about 25 or more years. Adding the tomato paste at the end gives it a wonderfully sweet tomato flavor and thickens it as well. I know that some of you will have a notion to delete the peas, but the peas are what I believe gives this stew its most delicious fresh taste.

2 pounds beef stew meat
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
2-3 medium sized potatoes
3 carrots
3/4 – 1 cup frozen peas (I use Birds Eye Deluxe Tiny Tender Peas because they are so fresh tasting and sweet.)

In a large skillet, brown the beef stew meat in about 1 tablespoon oil. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often. Add salt, sugar, worcestershire sauce, and pepper and stir well.

Transfer the meat mixture to a large cooking pot or kettle that has a lid. Make sure you scrape all the flavorful beef stew residue from the bottom of the skillet into the pot. (Adding a small amount of water to it and then scraping it out gets the last bit.)

Add 3 cups of water to the stew meat mixture and one bay leaf. Cover the pot with the lid and cook until meat is very tender – about 1 1/2 hours. Keep at a low temperature so that the beef stew simmers nicely, but isn't boiling. Stir often.

After the meat is tender, add diced potatoes and sliced carrots. Cook until the veggies are soft. Stir in one 6 ounce can tomato paste and then the frozen peas. Keep cooking on low, stirring often, until peas are just tender, but not overcooked.

Beef stew is great served with buttermilk biscuits or French bread and a tossed green salad.