Today’s Tasty Tip looks so yummy and relaxing. What a neat treat to have recipes that can cook while we whittle away at the list of things we need to get done. Jane sent four recipes. I’m going to hold out on you and print two today and two next week. So tune in next Tuesday for the “rest of the story”.

Thanks Jane!!

… and thanks for walking the road with me.


Season Your Greetings with Soups

Keep some simple soups in the slow cooker while shopping for last minute Christmas gifts. Stocking the pantry with several of these ingredients can ease the meal planning in the midst of the merry making. The key to slow cooker success, prior to serving stir in some fresh chopped herbs, top with sour cream or yogurt and top with those super thin tortilla chips. Double up these recipes, ladle into a canning jar, label with one of those fancy stick on labels and ta-da a gift of dinner for a frazzled friend thigh high in stick on bows.

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce
package dried black beans
1 tablespoon canned chipotle chilies, chopped
7 cups hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup seeded plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours. Transfer 2 cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of sour cream into each bowl. Sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro and serve.

*Chipotle chilies canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets and many supermarkets.

Test-kitchen tip: Add richness to slow-cooker soups by using a mixture of half broth and half water instead of only water.

Cheddar, Chive Potato Soup

4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 large clove garlic
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, or a mixture of sharp Cheddar and smoked Gouda
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or sour cream (optional)

1/4 cup crumbled sharp Cheddar cheese, for garnish

Place the potatoes and 1 cup of the stock in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or until the potatoes are just tender.

Transfer two-thirds of the potatoes to a food processor or blender, along with the cooking liquid. Add the garlic. Blend to the desired consistency: a blender will yield a smooth texture, a food processor a rough, rustic consistency.

Return the potato purée to the slow cooker and stir in the shredded cheese, the remaining 2/3 cup stock, and the chives. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes, or until the soup is well heated. Add extra stock or water if the soup is too thick. Break up the whole potato slices with a fork to achieve a texture that suits you. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream just before serving.

Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with the crumbled cheese, and serve immediately.

Southwestern Potato-Cheddar Soup:
For a Southwestern version of this soup, use cilantro instead of chives, and add 1 (4-ounce) can chopped roasted green chilies and 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander.


Mother, wife, accomplished speaker and author on hospitality and parenting, Jane Jarrell uses wit, charm, and stories from her own life to teach women practical ideas and creative solutions for life. Jane loves sharing simple solutions for families with a humorous approach to life.  For more on Jane visit her website at

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