Phil's International Flair

Stock PhotoWelcome to the January issue of Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! This month's theme is Soups and Stews. There is nothing like a hearty stew or a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day. The soups and stews presented this month are diverse with regard to nationality, cooking style and preparation time. Be sure to check the Seasoned Cooking recipe index for recipes that have already been published here including Albondigas, and Pinto Bean Soup.

I have learned that having the right tools can make a formidable task much simpler. This is especially true when preparing stews. To this end, I have found that a pressure cooker is an invaluable time saver when it comes to making stew, chili, and many other meat based dishes. I sometimes pressure cook a pork or beef roast to shred the meat for tacos, flautas, enchiladas or chili con carne. More frequently, however, I use my 12 quart pressure cooker to make a quick stew for supper.

The recipes presented this month are from a chapter in my yet to be published book, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the recipes!

Soups and Stews

Beef Stew

This is an old standby in the American repertoire of cooking. This recipe lends itself well to the electric crockpot as the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and the crockpot can be turned on early in the day. The stew can then cook all day long, like while you are at work, and be ready at dinner time.

Any cut of beef can be used in this recipe, but the cheaper cuts, like shank meat, will produce a better flavor. In general, bones in a soup or stew will produce a richer and more nutrient stock. Trim most of the fat from the meat before using. Short ribs of beef make for an excellent and rich stew.

Kitchen tip: Some people peel carrots and potatoes. I use a scouring pad to scrub the vegetables under running water before cutting. It's faster, easier and takes less time. Also less waste and no danger of getting cut.

  • 3 lbs. lean beef cut into cubes
  • Oil or bacon grease for browning
  • 2 medium size diced onions
  • 3 stalks celery sliced into chunks
  • 4 medium size carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 medium size potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb. green beans sliced into 1" lengths
  • 4 T. flour (more if necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. Maggi seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Kitchen Bouquet

Coat the beef cubes in flour. In a skillet with just a little oil, sauté and braise the meat until brown on all sides. Transfer the meat to a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Also put in the bay leaf. Next, sauté the onions in the skillet to absorb the flavors and juices from the browned meat. Add the onions and any juice to the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for at least 3 to 4 hours or, until the meat is very tender. The longer you cook stew, the better it seems to get.

Next, add the carrots, green beans, celery and potatoes to the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste and the liquid seasonings. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Finally, just before serving, dissolve the flour in about ½ cup of cold water and add to the pot. Make sure that there are no lumps in the flour before adding to the stew. Stir constantly for about 5 more minutes until the stew thickens.

Serve stew with warm bread and butter. Sourdough French bread is a good choice.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 4 hours

Quick Beef Stew

  • 3 lbs. lean beef cut into cubes
  • Oil or bacon grease for browning
  • 2 medium size diced onions
  • 3 stalks celery sliced into chunks
  • 4 medium size carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 medium size potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb. green beans sliced into 1" lengths
  • 4 T. flour (more if necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. Maggi seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Kitchen Bouquet

Braise the chunks of meat with the onion in a pressure cooker and then add the water. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let cook under pressure for 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pressure cooker to a sink and run cold water over the lid to reduce the internal pressure. Remove the lid and add the vegetables and seasonings. Stir. Add a little water (or wine if the mood strikes) if necessary. Replace cover and bring to a boil again. Allow to cook under pressure for an additional 10 minutes. Cool lid with cold water and remove. Stir the ingredients and serve.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is an old favorite. It is especially good for nursing those youngsters or oldsters back to health when they aren't feeling well. There is even some medical evidence that chicken soup does assist in the healing process. Besides that, the kids seem to prefer chicken soup over just about any other kind (especially if it has lots of noodles).
  • 1 chicken, cut in halves or pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • ¼ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced, or one small can tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. summer savory
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg. egg noodles

Place chicken into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Allow chicken to simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour. Remove from the pot after cooking and set aside to cool. When chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones and dice the meat.

Skim the fat and residue from the liquid in the pot and add the vegetables and seasonings. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer the chicken and vegetables for about ½ hour. In a separate pot, cook the egg noodles for about 5 minutes, strain and rinse. Add the noodles to the soup stock about 4 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1½ hours


Menudo is a traditional soup of the poor people of northern Mexico. The sound of the ingredients may not appeal to most Americans, but the soup, when properly prepared, is delicious. It can be made mild or hot, depending upon personal tastes. It may be preferable to make the soup without chili as described below and provide the consumer with some red chili sauce to lend fire as one sees fit. This soup is often also served with a squeeze of lemon or lime, and a sprinkling of oregano.

This soup is time consuming to make but well worth the effort. It is a poor man's soup, but if you can manage to find it in a restaurant, it will probably be rather expensive. The cost of the ingredients for this recipe is about twenty dollars (1998), and the recipe would provide meals for well over a week for a family of hearty eaters.

This quantity of soup can be preserved by refrigeration or by freezing. The soup, once cooled, will be gelatinous in nature (like Jell-O), and can be easily scooped into freezer bags for storage.

The Mexican tradition is to make Menudo before the New Years celebrations because of its ability to ward off and cure hangovers. I'm not sure why, but it works! Try it. You'll probably like it.

  • 2 beef patas (feet) or 1 beef patas and 2 pork patas
  • 6 lbs. tripe, 4 lbs. regular and 2 lbs. waffle type
  • 4 lbs. hominy
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 large bunch chopped cilantro (coriander) including leaves and stems
  • Salt to taste (approximately ½ cup)
  • 5 green onions sliced into 2" segments

Scrub the tripe with a vegetable brush until it is clean, and peel as much of the fat and skein off of the tripe as feasible. Cut the tripe into 1 inch squares. Put the tripe into a large pot of water (a lobster pot works well for this soup).

Wash the hominy, scrubbing with the hands, (fresh hominy is preferred, not the canned variety) until it is nearly white and add it to the pot. Add the garlic and onion. Also scrub the patas until clean and add to the pot. Make sure that the patas are cut lengthwise and crosswise into pieces approximately 2 inches long. Add salt.

Fill the pot with water and simmer over a moderate flame for 3½ to 4 hours, stirring every 45 minutes. After 3½ hours, add the green onions and the chopped cilantro.

The soup is ready when the hominy has "bloomed", that is, the corn will begin to open like a flower. When this occurs, the soup is ready to eat. Some prefer their menudo red with chili. I prefer to serve the chili at the table so that everyone can season it to their own taste.

  • Yields: 30 servings
  • Preparation Time: 4½ hours

Chicken and Dumplings

This is a favorite meal in itself for the children and oldsters alike. Presented here is a basic way to prepare the dish, with a few options, depending upon your preferences or mood.
  • 2 chickens, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced (with leaves)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups Bisquick
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 1 T. butter

Boil the chicken pieces in a large pot of water for about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the water and allow to cool. Put the vegetables into the water, but turn off the heat temporarily.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot. Turn on the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. While the soup is heating, mix the Bisquick with the milk in a mixing bowl to make a dough for the dumplings. Once the soup is simmering, drop dumpling dough by the tablespoon into the simmering soup. After all of the dough has been added, add the butter and simmer for an additional 10 minutes uncovered and 10 minutes covered. Serve immediately.

As a variation, add one thinly sliced carrot to the soup, or garnish with 1/3 cup of fresh chopped parsley.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Mulligatawny Soup

This is a popular Indian soup which my father, Paul, learned from an Australian. The soup is curry based and is made in several steps: first the white stock, and then the soup itself.
  • 3 lbs. chicken (1 large fryer will do)
  • 2 lbs. veal
  • 2 large stalks celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium to large turnip
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 tsp. salt

Cut the veal into 1 inch chunks and cut up the chicken into pieces, bone in. Put this meat and any veal bones into a kettle and add 5 quarts of water (1 quart per pound of meat). Add the vegetables and salt to the kettle. Cover and simmer for 5 hours. Strain the liquid from the kettle and cool. This is the white stock. The meat may be used in cooking other dishes, or returned to the soup later to make a stew.


  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sliced onion
  • ¼ cup sliced carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ chopped bell pepper
  • 1 apple, pared, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped raw chicken
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp. mace
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 T. chopped parsley
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup boiled rice
  • 5 cups of the white stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, apple and chicken. Cook until browned, and then add the flour, curry powder, mace, cloves, parsley and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 1-½ hours. Heat the stock in a kettle. Strain the sautéed ingredients through a sieve (except the chicken) and add to the stock. Add the chicken and cooked rice to the stock. Serve with sourdough bread and butter.

If desired, return the veal and more of the cooked chicken to the soup to make a stew.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 6 hours