Potato Soup

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Ingredients
6 strips bacon
1 head broccoli
1 tablespoon butter
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 small onion
6 potatoes
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 carton (4 cups) chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
1½ cups milk
1 8-ounce container sour cream
salt and pepper 

Method
Chop the broccoli, carrots, celery, onion and potatoes into small bite-sized pieces (taking care to separate the broccoli florets from the diced stock). Cut the bacon into small strips as well.

After the prep-work is done, fry the bacon strips in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once they’re fully cooked, remove the bacon from the pot and reserve the bacon pieces to top your soup. Remove all but approximately 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pot and discard. Add the broccoli stocks, carrots, celery and onion to the pot and cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, broccoli florets and butter to the pot and continue to cook and stir the vegetables for 3–4 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and a dash of salt and pepper, and allow the pot to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked. 

Scoop approximately 2/3 of the soup into a bowl and purée using a submersion blender (a food processor or blender work too, so long as you’re cautious while blending — hot liquid expands, and can be a little unpredictable when mixed). This can be done all at once, or in shifts, whatever you feel most comfortable with. Add the puréed mixture back into the pot, and pour in the milk, cream and 4 ounces of the shredded cheddar. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir continuously until all the cheese is melted.

Dish the soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, remaining shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of the reserved bacon.

Squash Bisque

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Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Impresses: 4–6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
2 cartons (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Method
Heat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss together olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, squash, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Divide veggie mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10–15 minutes.

Once veggies have cooled slightly, transfer one-third into a blender with one-third of the chicken broth. Purée until smooth and then pulse in one-third of the heavy cream. Pour into a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, stirring often. Repeat with the remaining veggies, broth and cream. 

Note: Depending on your blender size, this may take more than three rounds.

When ready to serve, ladle from the pot on the stove and drizzle in an extra splash of cream.

Fiery Steak Chili

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Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Impresses: 6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 16-ounce jar salsa verde
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup masa (corn flour)
3 cups beef broth
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Method
Cut trimmed steak into 1-inch cubes. 

Heat a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in oil, then steak.

Brown steak, creating a caramelized crust on all sides and stirring as needed.

Reduce heat to medium and add in onion, garlic and chipotle peppers. Stir and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until onions become slightly translucent. 

Stir in adobo sauce, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

Add in salsa verde, stir and cover. Let stew for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place masa into a small bowl and slowly pour in 2 cups of beef broth, stirring constantly with a fork until no lumps remain.

Remove lid and add in the remaining ingredients, including masa mixture and remaining 1 cup of beef broth. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving and topping with queso fresco.