Tuesday, January 4, 2011


It was 4:30 on a busy afternoon, and I'd put no thought into what we'd eat for dinner.  --Especially not enough forethought to have thawed out the chicken, one of the few things left in the freezer in enough quantity to make my tribe a meal.  It was time to clean up little bits of ingredients left from making other meals, and create something new.
These are the things I chose to work with

  • The last several muffin-cup sized chicken 'stocksicles'...about 6 cups
  • 2 frozen containers of evaporated milk, plus the last 12-oz can from the pantry (3 1/2 cups total)
  • The last 3+ cups of milk in the gallon jug
  • 1 lb of bacon which had been thawed for a weekend breakfast, but not used
  • The odd-sized and shaped remains of 3 blocks of cheese...2 pieces of sharp cheddar and 1 piece of pepper Jack.  When cut in 1/2" - 3/4" cubes, there was about 2 cups...maybe a pound?
  • A partial bag of frozen small shrimp, amounting to about a pound and a half
I had decided to concoct a variation of a family favorite, Shrimp-Cheese Soup.  I usually include broccoli in that for some extra fiber, vitamins, and distinctive flavor, but we didn't have any.  The bacon would add an additional flavor component not usually used in this dish, but to help further with nutrition and taste I grabbed
  • 32 oz frozen peas 
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa for fiber and vitamins...and to stretch the soup a bit
  • 1/2 cup  Feta cheese to deepen the cheesy flavor (I would usually use Parmesan, but we were out of that, too.)
One of the princes asked what we were having, and I told him, "I'm inventing."  During one of my jaunts upstairs to check on the Seahawks' game, Hubby asked what I was making, and I just told him, "Cheese Soup," to save the long explanation.
I started by rinsing the quinoa, then brought it to a boil in 3 cups of water, and turned it down to cook for 15 minutes.  Princess Eager jumped in to help by cooking the bacon, while I rinsed the peas and shrimp in a colander and left them in the prep sink to thaw and drain.  (Word to the wise:  Don't take your eyes off the heating soup to help your princess with the bacon and let it BOIL OVER.  What a mess.)
The soup was actually bubbling away in the stove drip pan.
When the quinoa was done, I added the milks.  I also mixed about 1/2 cup cornstarch with enough cold water to dissolve it.  I brought the soup to a boil, then added the cornstarch-water mix until it was thickened just a little, then dropped in the cheese cubes and crumbled Feta.  With the cheese melted and blended in, I added the peas, shrimp, and crumbled bacon.  I also seasoned with black pepper and garlic powder, to taste, and added a couple shakes of Cayenne pepper.
I stirred it, ladled it into bowls, and hoped my family would find it acceptable...
The boys looked at it and asked, "Is this Tapioca Soup?"  
I knew I could relax when Princess Artiste said, "I like this soup."
Hubby said, "I thought you said this was cheese soup....but you have everything good in here!"  Yay.  A success.

The quinoa will likely be something I add to my customary recipe from now on.  The family may demand the bacon, too, but I want the broccoli back.  It makes me feel better to include it to balance the fatty cheese.

Previous blog entry in which I discussed quinoa and 'stocksicles'

2010: New Cooking Techniques and Dishes I've Added to my Repertoire


  1. Of course they liked it. Bacon and cheese are always the secret ingredients. You could even hold the cheese LOL. Jane

  2. Haha...Of course, you're right! Bacon makes almost anything better. :-) Except for Princess Bossy, who was far, far away at the time.

  3. Haha...great minds and all. I also made a cleaning out the frig soup last night. I didn't have the forethought to take during pics, but did snap a pic of DH's bowl before he started eating, just in case.

  4. I have to get into the habit of taking more photos. When I was putting this post together, I wished I'd taken a pic of the pile of ingredients or something. All my posts are starting to look the same... Just something of a different color in the red pot!

  5. ...I wonder if the new, silver pot will be as photogenic! Haha

  6. Mmmmm...bacon and loads of cheese. Can't go wrong! Maybe I need to give quinoa another try. I made some a couple of years ago, and the result was really awful. It had a weird texture. No one would eat it (including me). Any foolproof quinoa recipes?

  7. I didn't think much of it the first time we tried it either. But I think the secret is lots of flavor around it, and sauciness helps. No one even noticed it in the soup, except for the appearance. I thought the kids would have a problem when I made Mexican/Spanish Rice with it, but they didn't care at all. Same with stir-fry when there's enough other texture going on, and a good sauce or strongish seasoning.

  8. That's why you don't need a scale! LOL! You just cook! You're creative. I'm so not.

    I enjoy quinoa. The red variety adds some color also, which can be good depending on what you're making.

  9. I've never tried red...Does it taste any different?

  10. Tapioca soup... cute! My prince would have loved it, if it had been true tapioca. I thought peas were supposed to be pretty high in fiber. Broccoli had calcium, but when you have milk and cheese in there, it puts that one meal over the top. That said, broccoli in soup is yummy!

    I cook the same way... throw things in. Smell is my primary gauge; taste is second. Appearance helps but I hit that only about 50% of the time. I made some broccoli cheese soup the other night but started with spinach and onions and pureed that with the thickened milk before adding the broccoli and cheese. DD1 claimed she didn't eat green foods (not true). If I hadn't pureed the spinach, she might have eaten it and it would have tasted the same. Oh well. I thought it was delicious.

    It reminded me of fondue -- do you ever do that?

  11. Broccoli is like a super food, it has so many good things in it. HIgher in folate and vitamins like A, C, and K than peas. Calcium is one of its lesser nutrients, and like you said, not really something I need it for in this recipe. Peas are good for fiber...Maybe I should put in both, since the cooked milk and cheese could use the counterbalance.

    One thing I've found to sneak spinach into is a berry smoothie. It changes the color, but not the taste.


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