Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
You know that I’m a big lover of soups, especially when the weather starts getting cooler. With Hubby and me following a keto diet these days, I was
curious what keto soups were available. However, it turns out there are a lot. I recently made a slow cooker taco soup. It was super easy and we all three liked it, although Daughter and Hubby both suggested I add chopped jalapenos next time. She’s quite the chip off the old block. I’ll also double it next time as it just didn’t make enough. A few days later, I made a keto broccoli cheese soup. I thought it was very good and just knew Daughter would love it, as her favorite vegetable is broccoli. However, she promptly informed me that she doesn’t care for broccoli in soup. Oh well. Although they ate the soup, I sensed that they both found it a little ho hum. That’s okay – just left more for me. If you discover, or are aware of, any good keto soups, please let me know. I love having a pot of soup simmering on the stove or in the slow cooker as we move from fall into winter.
Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup
— 2 cups broccoli, chopped
— 1 cup heavy whipping cream
— 2 tablespoon butter
— 4 cups water
— 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
— 1 small onion
— 2 cloves garlic
— 1 teaspoon chili powder
— Salt and pepper to taste
— ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, optional
— ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum, optional
• In a medium pot melt the butter. Saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
• Add the water, heavy whipping cream, and broccoli to the pot. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium-low or until the broccoli is tender.
• Remove from the heat. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, and the sharp cheddar cheese. Stir well until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Serve hot.
Keto Slow Cooker Taco Soup
— 2 lbs. ground beef
— 16 oz. cream cheese, softened, cubed
— 10 oz. canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chiles
— 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
— 1 tablespoon cumin
— ½ teaspoon paprika
— ½ teaspoon pepper
— ½ teaspoon salt
— ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
— 3 cups beef broth
— 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
— 3 tablespoons sour cream, optional for garnish
— 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, optional for garnish
— ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, optional for garnish
• In a large pan over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain excess grease.
• To slow cooker, add browned ground beef, cubed cream cheese, canned tomatoes with green chiles, chili powder, cumin, paprika, pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine ingredients. Add beef broth and heavy cream and stir again.
• Set slow cooker to high for 4 hours. After cooking, stir the mixture before transferring soup to bowls and top with desired garnishes.
Do’s and don’ts for your Thanksgiving wine
Worriers like me are already thinking “What wines should I get for Thanksgiving?” Good news. There is help at hand. My survey of Thanksgiving wine advice suggests some do’s and don’ts that should make your life easier:
- Don’t try to duplicate the Pilgrims. They didn’t drink wine. They had brought more barrels of beer on the voyage than barrels of water. By the time they got to Plymouth all of the Pilgrims’ beer was gone! The sailors refused to leave them any of the crew’s beer, afraid that the ship would run out of beer on the journey home. So, the pilgrims got creative, and made do with a kind of homemade beer described in a popular poem of the time. “We shall be contented and think it no fault, for we shall make liquor to sweeten our lips of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut tree chips and other green cornstalks we make our best beer.” For those who didn’t like beer, several varieties of apples were plentiful for making hard cider. From the description in the poem, the cider sounds a lot better than the beer!
- For Thanksgiving, versatility is the name of the game. Get wines that go with lots of foods prepared in lots of ways. There are so many different foods prepared in so many ways that you can’t possibly match a wine with all of them. In the good old days, grandma almost always baked her turkey in the oven. Nowadays grandma may be too old to lift a 20-pound turkey. She might even forget to put it in the oven at 6 a.m. Let the kids do it, but they may deep fry it, or barbecue it, or smoke it, or whatever. Dressing may be all over the lot – you may want the dressing of your childhood, but I like mine with oysters! Cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, just a few of the dishes you may be served. Get wines that go well with lots of these.
- Remember, the wine is NOT the star of the show. The food and the people are the stars. The wine is just part of the supporting cast. The guests may criticize your hairdo or your clothes, but unless you serve something outlandish, they won’t criticize your choice of wine. A wise old psychologist friend used to say, “don’t worry about what other people are thinking about you; in fact, they aren’t – they are thinking about themselves.” The same goes with the wine … they are thinking about food and friends, not your wine.
- Do honor tradition. If Tday is a family affair for you, this is not the first time these people have had Thanksgiving together – they have traditions and expectations. Honor those. Our family has champagne at 12 and eats dinner at 1 p.m. For the bubbly, we drink prosecco. This year I am bringing the wine and I suggested to the host that I might bring several different kinds of bubbly … maybe a Spanish Cava and traditionally made champagne. Dead silence greeted my suggestion.
- The single most important thing is simply this, DON’T RUN OUT OF WINE. Those cooking the food are always afraid they will run out of food and always prepare too much. So too should you with the wine. How much is enough? One bottle per consuming adult may seem like too much – until you run out! One Tday I had gotten eight bottles of prosecco for eight or 10 drinkers and at the end of the day I could not believe that we had drunk the entire 8 bottles. The good news was that the eight was enough … I hope. And, if you have leftovers, you can always take it home or give it to departing guests!
- Give guests a choice. Even though you can probably predict what most people will drink, there is always somebody who wants something else – “I don’t like champagne,” “Red wine give me a headache,” “White wine gives me heartburn,” or, “I don’t drink wine … do you have any beer?” Keep handy a few bottles of your non-dominant wine – red, or white, or a six-pack of Bud Light. Let the guests drink what they choose! And some guests will want to change wines along the way!
- So, if I want a prosecco, or a red wine, or a white wine, what kind should I get? For all of them, get a low alcohol wine (less than 14%ABV) – the day can get long, and the heavy high alcohol wines begin to weigh on us over the hours. With prosecco, there is lot of good prosecco available locally for $12-15 a bottle and it is almost always low alcohol. Remember – get Brut, the dry kind, and remember to serve it cold, on ice, maybe 40-45 degrees. For red wine, get a light, bright red – pinot noir is often mentioned, or Beaujolais, or a zinfandel – especially if you are having ham as well as turkey. If cabernet sauvignon is your very favorite wine, serve that, although most experts suggest you save that for dark red meat. For the whites, get a light, bright wine – a sauvignon blanc goes well with anything, and we have lots of those available locally. Avoid the heavily oaked chardonnays, but an unoaked chardonnay can work well.
- Last but not least, here are some tips gathered from articles, experience, and friends:
•Don’t talk about politics or religion. You may be surprised to learn that others in your family don’t see eye to eye with you. Don’t go there, especially after a couple of glasses of wine.
•Don’t talk about calories, your waist or your weight. With a feast like this, nobody wants somebody asking, “How many calories are in the pecan pie?”
•Do talk to everyone and treat them nice. You never know … you may be in their will!!
•Don’t monopolize the conversation. Let’s face it, some of us are hyper-verbal. Some of us have nobody to talk to. As people (especially men) age, they sometimes have a tendency to … well, you know. Don’t let it happen to you!
Whatever you do, have a good Thanksgiving. Remember this uniquely American holiday. Take a minute to count your blessings and be thankful. If things should get a little testy (as sometimes happens in families), remember our motto: De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est – there is no accounting for taste.