Real Food Recipes

A collection of recipes both ancient and contemporary, to help incorporate real and whole foods into a modern life.

Scratch Soup Without A Recipe

Anyone can make soup. And it can be magical. Something out of Tales of Despereaux (the original BOOK, not the movie travesty).

Soup is food you can make when your cupboards are getting a bit bare, if you know the rules for various types of meat and ingredients. You can generally make an excellent soup, even with limited ingredients, and it does not have to become Burgoo.

Our family served soup often when we had dinner guests. Oh, we don't mean dinner PARTY guests, nothing like that. We never HAD that kind of guests! I mean the neighbor kid who is there at dinner time, the missionaries who dropped by and needed fed, or friends who were invited, family staying with us, and other day to day dinner guests. We always knew we could throw together a tasty and filling meal when we served home made soup.

Our children learned to cook soup early on, and I taught them that certain things made the soup great.

A large bowl of dense and tasty soup, with a loaf of fresh bread, store bought dinner rolls, or refrigerator biscuits hot from the oven, makes a satisfying meal, and nobody ever complains.

Be careful not to use too much hot pepper. This is now a common mistake, and you may be able to eat your own soup, but your guests may not be able to finish their bowl, and that is a real shame.

There are ingredients that make soup taste good. And combinations that make it taste great. I'll try to explain a few.

  • Mir Poi - Celery, Carrots, and Onions. A good base for the vegetables in most soups, and a lot of casseroles, and even some kinds of haggis!
  • Butter - Any soup tastes better with butter. A lot of butter. Adding fat makes it more satisfying, and helps fill out the flavors.
  • Salt - Salt it until it tastes oh so good. If you cook it some more, test for salt again at the end, because cooking causes ingredients to absorb more salt, leaving the broth a little weak.
  • Broth - It helps boost the flavor. But water will do if that is what you have.
  • Meat - Chop it fine or grind it and crumble it fine if you need a little to go a long way. Otherwise, 1/2" or larger pieces satisfy better.
  • Other Vegetables - Peas, Green Beans, Corn, Cabbage, Spinach, Parsnips, Turnips if you must, and other vegetables help to round out flavors in one direction or another. Use Pod Peas, and Baby Corn for Oriental style soup.
  • Tomatoes - Adds a depth and tang to soups with deeper flavors. Sometimes other fruits are added in the place of tomatoes, such as pineapple, apple, orange, or lime.
  • Beans - A wide variety of beans can be added to soups, to broaden the flavors and round out the nutritional density. Beans are easiest to digest when cooked until very tender, and when stewed with tomato or other acidic foods, and meat also helps us digest and metabolize bean aminos.
  • Barley - Takes about an hour to cook, but can help expand a soup nicely.
  • Wheat Berries - Takes about 2 hours to cook, and can help increase nutrition. Use 1-2 tablespoons for a 2-3 qt pot, a little goes a long way.
  • Noodles - We love them. Don't use those big chewy things, keep them thin enough to be enjoyable. Bean thread noodles take your dish right into Asian, with a flavor that won't interfere with delicate and savory soups.
  • Rice - White or brown goes into many kinds of soups.
  • Potatoes - A soup standby. We love them.
  • Seasoning Salt - We like Redmond Real Salt Seasoning Salt. But use what makes it taste good.
  • Garlic - Easy to get carried away. Just sprinkle in a little granulated or powdered garlic and let it brighten the broth without dominating.
  • Cayenne or Black Pepper - Add a little zing or heat, but don't overdo. We want to TASTE the magnificence, not just blast our tongues with heat.
  • Soy Sauce - Can be added to increase a beefy flavor, but don't add too much! I personally feel that the quality of the Soy Sauce makes all the difference. Kikoman tastes beefy, and salty. Some others just taste kinda weird. It can be added to other meats, and often is with Oriental style dishes.

That said, there are keys to many soup types, and specific ingredients that make the soup THAT GOOD when you put them in.

Beef - It is the tomato. Beef soup will always taste better if you add some tomato sauce, diced tomato, crushed tomato, etc. Ketchup WON'T do the job.

Chicken - Poultry Seasoning and Butter make your chicken soup sing, and Chef Paul says he loves it best with an edge of garlic that enhances the savory richness of the broth.

Pork - Poultry Seasoning and Onion, not too much Poultry Seasoning or it goes all to Sage and Thyme and isn't so good.

Turkey - Same as Chicken.

Lamb - Treat like Beef but go more gently on the tomato and seasonings. Lamb has a brightness and savoriness of it's own. Make sure the lamb is NOT a Muttony Lamb.

Mutton - Treat like beef, but add MORE Onion and Garlic, and a wider variety of vegetables, but NOT Turnips.

Veal - Treat like beef or lamb, depending on how red it is (redder more like beef).

Seafood - Can go Boston or Manhattan in color (milk, or tomato). Light Poultry Seasoning, butter, onions and light garlic will generally complement any seafood.

Venison - Treat like beef, but you may need to add more fat, and use a little stronger flavorings if it is gamey.

Pigeon - Treat like lamb, and pigeon loves red bell peppers.

Duck or Goose - Treat like Beef, but use heavier flavors to mask any gaminess or fishiness. A little stronger pepperiness can help also.

Smoked Sausage, Bacon, Ham - Goes well with Potatoes, but also with rice or beans. Onion, and Mir Poi are all you need here, but GENTLY on the salt because these already have salt.

Potato - Butter, Salt, and Onion, with milk and salt added is the classic simple Irish Potato Soup. It grows FAR beyond that, and we always add Mir Poi, Poultry Seasoning (just a bit), often Chicken Broth if we have it, and we thicken it with flour. We also ALWAYS add meat (ham, bacon, sausage, etc), and often add corn. It can be anything from a light side dish, to a full hearty main dish.

Bean - Bean soups require the beans to be overcooked, to get the thickness and brothiness from the beans. They work well with onions, bacon, ham, and other strong flavors, and a little heat complements them well. Remember, Great Northern and Cannelini beans are NOT the same as Navy or Small White - they have a stronger flavor, more like Kidney beans. Pinto and Pink are the most inoffensive of beans for heavier flavors, with Small White or Navy being the standard for lighter flavored dishes. Garbanzos can be added to many soups, but Black Eyed Peas, and Fava beans should not be used unless you like their taste and know how to use them in a way that won't conflict with the flavor of the soup. Lentil and Split Pea soups are also popular, but remember, many people are allergic to Lentils. When you want just a little beans added to a beef or sausage soup, use Kidney or Black Beans. They have a stronger beany flavor when you need just a little added to the dish.

Clam Chowder And Seafood Bisque

Clam Chowder and Seafood Bisque (including Lobster Bisque) are similar dishes, with similar seasonings, and just a few differences. We'll start with Chowder, and then tell you how to modify it into a light and tasty Bisque.

I've been making chowder ever since I left home. My mother made clam chowder once in a while, but it was just an Irish Milk and Potato Soup with Clams - traditional in some areas. I wanted Skipper's chowder. I haven't quite achieved that yet, but I make a mean chowder that really satisfies. My mother is shocked. For her, Potato Soup or Chowder is poor food, made with a minimum of ingredients. For me, it is soul food. Comfort food. Hearty food.

Now, in our house, there is only ONE KIND of chowder. It is the WHITE KIND. New England Chowder RULES. I've never even TRIED Manhatten Clam Chowder, the thought of tomatoes in there just kinda turns me off. And hubby doesn't like tomatoes in his soup.


Clam Chowder

  • Good Clams - Ok, so you need four small cans or two large ones... but they are mostly JUICE. So I'm telling you GET CLAMS, and as much as you can. LOTS OF CLAMS makes better clam chowder. You can use salted water to replace clam juice in most recipes, but I don't count it - put it in if you have it, it is offset by water.
  • Potatoes - At least 4. More if you make more chowder.
  • Onions - One big, or more. Chopped fine.
  • Celery - A good cup or two of chopped celery and leaves.
  • Carrots - Shred up 1 or more good sized carrots.
  • Chicken Broth - 2 cans, or equivalent boullion.
  • Dried Parsley - 1-3 tsps, depending on how much you like (adds a tangy flavor).
  • Redmond Real Salt Seasoning Salt (1/4 to 1/2 tsp - not a lot) - This is an HERBED seasoning salt. If you don't have it, add a pinch or two of poultry seasoning, and some garlic salt.
  • Pepper - A light dusting, or heavy dusting, depending on how much you like pepper.
  • Salt - to taste.
  • Water - just enough to ALMOST cover the chunky stuff - do NOT let it go swimming.

Put all that on to boil. Let it boil until the potatoes and other veggies are tender.

  • Melted Butter - 1 stick or more. Real and salty butter, ok?
  • Milk - 1-3 cups
  • Flour - Estimate the liquid. 1 tbsp flour per cup.

Mix the flour into the butter to make a white roux.

Add the MILK to the soup.

Add the flour and butter to the soup.

Bring to a boil, and stir continuously while the soup thickens. You can adjust with more white roux to thicken it more, OR you can add more milk to thin it a bit.

Test for salt, and make this taste OH, SO SAVORY.


Ok, so a Bisque is both simpler, and stranger. If you can make a good chowder, you can make a great bisque, but remember it is somewhat thinner.

There are two kinds of Bisque - a New England, and a Boston. Again, we have that milk versus tomato going on, and some people just open a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, thin it down, and toss in the shrimp or Crab. But I won't go there, I think there's just something more delicious!


Seafood Bisque

  • Seafood - Again, a lot. Shrimp, that Krab stuff, Crab, Lobster, Crawdad, Scallop, Clams, or anything else you can get your frog knife into. (That instruction came from Forrest, straight from Bubba Shrimp.)
  • Onions - about 1 large, chopped fine
  • Celery - Several ribs, WITH the leaves, chopped fine
  • Chicken or Fish Broth - 2 cans, or equivalent boullion
  • Dried Parsley - 1-3 tsps, depending on how much you like (adds a tangy flavor).
  • Redmond Real Salt Seasoning Salt (1/4 to 1/2 tsp - not a lot) - This is an HERBED seasoning salt. If you don't have it, add a pinch or two of poultry seasoning, and some garlic salt.
  • Pepper - A light dusting, or heavy dusting, depending on how much you like pepper.
  • Salt - to taste.
  • Cocktail Sauce - 1-2 tbsp.
  • OPTIONAL - Cayenne pepper, at your own risk
  • Water - just enough to ALMOST cover the chunky stuff - do NOT let it go swimming.

Put all that on to boil. Let it boil until the celery is tender. (Gourmands add the fish last, AFTER the veggies are tender. Cookery Slop Artists just throw it on and cook the life out of it and hope for the best, and usually get a GREAT flavor.)

  • Melted Butter - 1/2 a stick or more. Real and salty butter, ok? This is a THINNER soup, so it won't suspend as much butter as the chowder.
  • Milk - 1-3 cups - Again, enough for a thinner soup.
  • Flour - Estimate the liquid. 2 tsp flour per cup.

Mix the flour into the butter to make a white roux.

Add the MILK to the soup.

Add the flour and butter to the soup.

Bring to a boil, and stir continuously while the soup thickens. You can adjust with more white roux to thicken it more, OR you can add more milk to thin it a bit.

Test for salt, and make this taste OH, SO SAVORY.

This should be THICKENED, but it should NOT round up on the spoon. It is not a thick STEW type chowder, it is a thinner more brothy white gravy style (like Bechamel).

Tasty, Digestible, Aoudad (Canning and Preserving)

The first Aoudad we were given was so tough we could not even eat it after we ground the roasted haunch and made it into a spread for sandwiches. We COULD, however, can the meat and eat it, and we could grind it and it was not too different from hamburger (needs more salt - a lot more salt - and it needs some Soy Sauce to get that rich deep meaty flavor).

The second one is even tougher. Too much silverskin, and when we canned it, it shattered like wood splinters.

Aoudad is notoriously dry, tasteless, and tough. I mean not just chewy, but something you work on until your jaws tire if it is not a young and tender one, and even then, tougher than venison.

So what to do? It is the meat we were given, and we NEEDED the meat.

This is what we did, and what we discovered!

NOTE: If you have a tough old beef, or moose, or elk, or even some chewy deer or antelope, this method works for those as well.

My meat grinder would not grind Aoudad like it does venison. Not strong enough. I knew we'd not be able to shove that tough and stringy stuff through the cutting dies without it getting wrapped around the auger and bound up.

So first of, we cut it up into 1" chunks. (If you have an even WIMPIER grinder than I did, like the one we used BEFORE this one, then you'll need to cut it in even smaller pieces. If you have a Back To Basics, like my first real meat grinder, then you can do barely larger pieces than 1". If you have a tough workhorse, then you can probably do 2" pieces.)

Second, I used a 1/4" die on my meat grinder.

It worked marvelously! We ended up with a medium texture ground meat that went through the grinder pretty easily. I packed that into the freezer, and proceeded to think about how I could use it.

The first thing I tried was Chili Soup. I was afraid to make chili with too much meat in it, if the meat was Aoudad, so I made the soup, so there was less meat to wrangle over, just in case.

Your favorite Chili recipe, thinned out a bit, with about 2 cups dried beans, and 2 lbs meat, to make about 5-6 qts soup.

I always make the Chili or Soup for dinner, then can the leftovers.

We ended up with 10 pints of chili soup, and you just can't tell that it is Aoudad in there, it tastes like beef.

Next I tried cooking the Aoudad for spaghetti. I put 4 lbs of Aoudad burger into the Instant Pot, put 1 cup of water in the bottom, and then poured a can of tomato over the top. I then PRESSURE cooked it on the longest and hottest cycle my pot allows - maximum pressure, for about 50 minutes.

When it was done, I broke it up, and mixed half of it with spaghetti sauce, and the other half I made into a well cooked vegetable beef style stew, about 5 qts. We had the soup for dinner and canned up the leftovers.

Again, I cannot tell that it is Aoudad in there, and it canned up just great.

The spaghetti was the same. It was just good spaghetti.

I tried some Aoudad that was pressure cooked with tomatoes, to make Hamburger Helper. I won't do that again. It was not beefy, more gamey and chewy.

Then we got a call. Did we want an elk? Did they really have to ask? Only the freezer is FULL!

Have to empty it out.

So I cooked up 5 lbs of Aoudad, with tomato over it, and used 8 jars of spaghetti sauce, plus about 5 cans of the most nasty peely stewed tomatoes I've ever seen - the flavor was good, but the tomatoes had skins on (this was a national brand, bought on sale during a case goods sale, so of course I have plenty of the terrible things). I blendered the stewed tomatoes, which took out the sweetness from the spaghetti sauce just perfectly.

Filled the jars halfway with cooked Aoudad, and then filled the rest of the way with sauce. Canned that. Ended up with 12 jars of canned meaty spaghetti sauce. The meat is tender and almost indistinguishable from beef.

I had too much broth and some tomato juice that I'd drained off the stewed tomatoes so they would not be too soupy, so I cooked up another batch of Aoudad, another 5 lbs with tomato over the top.

When that was done, I broke it up, and put it into 4 quart jars, and then added the tomato broth from both batches. I ended up with the equivalent of ground beef with broth, for soup starter.

NOTE: The ground aoudad that I canned in tomato and aoudad broth was good, but it tastes like ROAST BEEF, and not like hamburger. Be aware, it will have a rich beefy and tomato flavored broth, and it kinda ruins goulash, but it does work well for soup or stew, or for anything else you'd use Roast Beef in.

I'll do two more things, and maybe they will work, maybe not.

I'm going to make Goulash Starter, with cooked ground meat, onions, blendered stewed tomatoes, and corn.

I'll also open the jars of plain canned Aoudad that I canned up this year, add some tomato sauce, and then re-can them. I short cycle can raw meats, to keep them from being overcooked so badly I cannot eat them, so I should be able to get away with this.

I won't use Aoudad, or other tough meat in a Sloppy Joe or a Taco or Burrito meat, because there's just too much concentrated meat there, and the gaminess just doesn't blend out like it does in foods with a lower concentration of meat.

The big secrets I learned about Aoudad are:

1. Pressure cook it.

2. Cook it or can it with TOMATOES on it, and use it in recipes with tomatoes.

3. Salt it good, it is a very low salt and tasteless meat otherwise.

4. If you need some more savory flavor, use Soy Sauce to deepen the flavor.

5. A little Redmond Real Salt Seasoning Salt rounds out the flavor amazingly.

If you've never eaten Aoudad, you'll have no idea what I'm going on about. If you have, you just WON'T believe how good it is when you get it done right.

Lasagna Madness

You can't help but love Lasagna, and we sure do. We make several kinds, and we hope you love them as much as we do .

First, we have good old fashioned basic Lasagna and it has several variants. But it starts with the same recipe, with some alternate ingredients to change up the flavor it you like.


Pre-Layer 1 in a large and DEEP 9X13 cake pan.

1 can of tomato sauce, poured in and spread around.

Layer 1

Three lasagna noodles (any kind, either pre-cooked, or oven ready), laid out in a layer.

Layer 2

1 lb cottage cheese with 1 egg stirred in, and 1/4 cup parmesan, and 1 tsp dried parsley stirred in. Spread that on the noodles. NOTE!! There are two layers like this, so you need TWO cartons of cottage cheese, three if you like LOTS of the white cheese layer.

Layer 3

1 lb hamburger, cooked with 1 small chopped onion. You can use Italian sausage, or you can add fennel and garlic.

1/2 jar spaghetti sauce - mix this in with the hamburger.

Blop this over the cottage cheese layer.

NOTE!!! There are two layers like this, so you need to DOUBLE this for the entire recipe, and use HALF for this layer.

Layer 4

1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded - load that onto the meat and sauce layer.

NOTE!!! There are two layers like this, so you need a total of TWO lbs of mozzarella for the entire recipe.

Layer 5

Three more lasagna noodles, laid out on top of the cheese.

Layer 6

A second layer of cottage cheese filling - yes, you need another entire lb of cottage cheese.

Layer 7

A second layer of hamburger and sauce.

Layer 8

That other lb of mozzarella, and top that with some Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 1 hour in a 375 degree oven.


So that is Lasagna. There are all kinds, but there are basically either THREE or FOUR layers.



1. Chicken Lasagna - sub chicken for the beef.

2. Alfredo Lasagna - sub chicken, pork, or shrimp for the beef, and Alfredo Sauce for the Spaghetti Sauce.

3. Pork Lasagna - Sub ground or cubed pork for the beef, add 1 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar to the sauce.

4. Mexican Lasagna - Sub taco seasoning and tomato sauce for the spaghetti sauce. Use flour or corn tortillas instead of the noodles.

5. Pesto Lasagna - Sub Basil Pesto for the spaghetti sauce - it takes LESS Pesto than spaghetti sauce. You can also put the Pesto in a layer of its own on top of the cottage cheese layer, and then use Alfredo or tomato sauce with the meat layer.

6. Veggie Lasagna - We only like this with meat. Just add spinach to the cottage cheese, or other veggies in between. Soft pan fried fennel bulb is awesome on top of the cheese layer.

7. Ham Lasagna - sub ham for the meat, white sauce for the spaghetti sauce, and potatoes or rice for the noodles, or just keep the noodles if you like.

8. Meatball Lasagna - Use meatballs instead of the hamburger, and you can sub curly noodles or penne for the lasagna noodles.

9. Ravioli Lasagna - Layer Ravioli into the pan instead of lasagna noodles.

10. Breakfast Lasagna (no egg) - Layers are Grands Layered Biscuits, pulled into three layers, and laid onto the bottom of the pan, then breakfast meat (most any kind - bacon, smoked sausage, breakfast sausage, ham, smoked turkey, spicy chicken, chorizo, taco meat, thin shaved steak, etc), white Country Gravy, then shredded cheese, then another layer of thin biscuits, meat, gravy, and top with more cheese. You can use a Drop Biscuit batter instead of Grands.

12. Corn Lasagna - Add corn to your meat layer, works with many kinds of Lasagna.

13. Eggy Breakfast Lasagna - Layers are tortillas, tomato sauce mixed with breakfast meat (NOT breakfast sausage, but smoked sausage, plain pork, chicken, beef, or taco meat), scrambled egg (with or without Country Gravy), Shredded cheese, and REPEAT.

14. Classic Breakfast Lasagna - Sub mild salsa for the spaghetti sauce, and add scrambled egg to the meat layer. Double the eggs in the cottage cheese layer. You can sub tortillas or layers of Grands biscuits for the noodles.

15. Poured Breakfast Lasagna - 1 cup white sauce for the pre-layer. Bottom layer is a poured biscuit batter (thin drop biscuit batter), layer of cheese, layer of breakfast meat (any kind or combination), poured layer of 6 beaten eggs with 1/2 cup milk, sauteed onion with red or yellow and green peppers, thickish layer of spinach, 2 cups white sauce, layer of cheese, layer of meat, poured layer of 6 eggs with milk, second layer of both kinds of veggies, and then a second layer of biscuit batter poured over the top, and a heavy layer of cheese. Bake at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

16. Yorkshire Pudding Lasagna - 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 2 eggs, beaten lightly together. Melt 2 tbsp butter or bacon fat in a square cake pan, and then pour in the batter. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, and then top with cooked breakfast meat with cooked diced onion, white gravy, and a heavy layer of cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes.

17. White Chicken Lasagna - Sub chicken for the beef, and white gravy for the spaghetti sauce. Add sauteed onions with the chicken. If you add a good seasoning salt to the chicken, or to the gravy, this tastes much better.

18. Potato Lasagna - Sub COOKED sliced potatoes for the noodles. Sub white gravy for the spaghetti sauce.

19. Cheesy Potato Bacon Lasagna - Sub cooked sliced potatoes for the noodles. Sub CHEESE sauce for the spaghetti sauce. Add Bacon bits to the beef layer.

19. Sweet Potato Dessert Lasagna - Sub sliced cooked sweet potatoes for the noodles. Sub vanilla wafers for the cottage cheese layer. Sub vanilla, banana, pistachio, or butterscotch pudding for the meat layer. Repeat layers, and top with crushed vanilla wafers. Dribble freshly made lemon pudding over the top.

20. Pizza Lasagna - Layer Pepperoni on top of the cottage cheese layer. Add olives, mushrooms, red and green peppers, or other favorite toppings over the meat and spaghetti sauce layer. Top with a heavy layer of mozzarella, and layer the top with more Pepperoni.


The information on this site is presented for informational purposes only, and consists of the opinions and experiences of the site authors. It is not to be construed as medical advice or to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek the assistance of a medical professional in implementing any nutritional changes with the goal of treating any medical condition. The historical and nutritional information presented here can be verified by a simple web search.

I do what I do because I understand the science behind it, and I've researched worldwide sources to verify the safety of my practices to my own satisfaction. Please do your own research, and proceed AT YOUR OWN RISK.



Copyright © 2011-2012. All Rights Reserved.