Liz Flaherty photo

Soup’s On!

October is my favorite month of the year. Other than the occasional windy, rainy day, there’s nothing about it I don’t like. The colors, scents, sounds all create a warm and comfortable place.

So does soup, so we’re going to have my first ever cooking column here.

Our favorite is chili. Since I never make it exactly the same way twice, the recipe has some guesswork involved, but my 15-year-old son Fionnegan says it’s the best chili anywhere. How could I possibly argue with that? I hope you enjoy it.

Liz’s Chili

• 1½ lb. lean hamburger
• ½ lb. ground sausage
• Chili beans to taste—I use three 15½ oz. cans, more or less
• 1 cup chopped onion
• ½ cup chopped peppers—whichever colors you have in the fridge
• Some garlic. I use it from the jar, so a teaspoon, more or less
• 1 package chili mix
• 1 tbsp. chili powder
• 1 tsp. cumin
• Tomato juice to make the soup your desired thickness. I use about a quart for this; if I add more burger and another can of beans, I use a 46 oz. can.

Brown the meat, putting in the onions, peppers, and garlic with it. I salt and pepper the mixture some, too, but I’m not careful enough about sodium. When completely browned, drain as completely as possible. Combine the mixture with the beans and spices and add as much juice as you like. You can cook it in a slow cooker for a few hours on low or on top of the stove for at least a half-hour or as long as you like. The flavors deepen with time, but that’s a matter of choice.

We serve it with crackers and shredded cheese. I also cook pasta to go along with it.

Teresa Fordyce’s Easy Taco Chili

• 1 15 oz can chicken broth
• 1 or 2 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 2 15 oz cans petite diced tomatoes or 1 29 oz can
• 1 12 oz can chicken breast
• ½ tsp dill
• 1 tsp parsley
• 1 tsp dried onion or ¼ cup fresh
• 1 tbsp minced garlic (I used minced from jar)
• 2 pkgs taco seasoning
• 2 pkgs ranch dressing mix
• ½ to 1 cup instant brown rice

Dump broth in Dutch oven, open chicken and drain water into pot, smash chicken up and add to pot, add beans, tomatoes and I rinse the can and add that liquid also. Add all seasonings and bring to a boil―make sure there is some liquid; if not, add water to pot―then add the rice to thicken. Ready in less than ½ hour. I usually have to double the recipe. This was adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe and is very good. You can use 1 # ground turkey cooked instead of canned chicken. Enjoy served over cornbread, or tortilla chips and top with sour cream and shredded cheese. quick and easy and low carb if you leave out the rice. Could also sub quinoa; it just helps to thicken it as I don't like soupy soups.

Nancy Fraser’s Butternut Squash Soup


• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger)
• 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves, finely chopped
• 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 4 cups vegetable stock (or use chicken stock for a non-vegan soup)
• 3/4 cup coconut milk (or use half and half for a rich, non-vegan soup)

Option garnish: Yogurt or sour cream drizzle


1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil.
2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, and thyme, and sauté until the onion is soft and transparent.
3. Add the cubed butternut squash and toss in the onion mixture.
4. Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine (You might need to add a little more or less stock, depending on the size of your squash. The liquid level should be just slightly lower than the squash).
5. Add the lid to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
6. Once the soup reaches a boil turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the butternut squash is very tender when you pierce it with a fork.
7. Remove the soup from the heat and add the coconut milk.
8. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender, or puree in batches in a regular counter-top blender.
9. Serve immediately with a garnish (if desired).

Store in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can also use a handheld with only one beater.

Sydney Ewing’s Potato Soup

• 4 russet potatoes, diced
• 1 small white onion, minced
• 4 baby carrots, cut up
• 1 container vegetable broth
• 7 slices bacon, cut up and fried
• 3 tbsp. butter melted and mixed with 3 tbsp. flour
• 2½ c. milk
• Lots of cheddar cheese

Mix vegetables and broth together in Dutch oven and bring to a boil, then simmer for ½ hour. Add the bacon. When the potatoes are soft, mash everything up a little bit. Add the butter/flour mix, then the milk and cheese.

Judy McKay’s Ham and Beans and Cornbread

Put great northern beans in a pan, heat to boil. Remove from heat and let beans soak overnight. Rinse in colander and remove bad beans. Sometimes, there are rocks in there, so check for those. Cut up one medium onion and add to beans, cover with water and add ham hocks―can be smoked or fresh. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook covered over low heat until beans are soft, which can take several hours. Stir often and add water as needed so they don't burn. The juice will thicken from the beans cooking. If needed, add more salt after they cook for a while, but not too much. Just before eating add a few drops of white vinegar and gives it a great taste.

Homemade cornbread.

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup cornmeal
• ½ cup white sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 egg,
• 1 cup milk
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients with a hand mixer and pour into a greased 9 X 9 pan—I use spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool. Can be added to soup or on the side with honey and butter

More next week, although I haven’t figured out how I’m going to arrange it yet. Thanks for coming, and send your favorite recipes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We may end up with a Peru Indiana Today cookbook!


Liz maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking this link:

Get her latest Romance Novel Nice to Come Home from Amazon by clicking on this link:

Nice to Come Home To is the third book in the Lake Minigua series, following Every Time We Say Goodbye and The Happiness Pact.

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