PHOTO: Melissa Griffiths
November 7, 2014

Cast-iron cookware has proven its value over the years and is popular today for many reasons. Cast iron is a chemical-free, nonstick, easy-to-clean and long-lasting option that has been around for centuries. My favorite part about cooking with cast iron is its versatility. Cast iron can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, can handle any temperature, and can be used on just about any heat source—even fire! From a culinary standpoint, cast iron is king. Here are three soup recipes that flaunt the versatility of our beloved cast iron.

Stove Top Cast-Iron Chili

Heating a cast-iron skillet on the stove over high heat creates an extremely hot surface perfect for searing and browning meats. (Steaks cooked in cast-iron skillets can’t be beat!) Chili and soups are great stovetop meal options. In a Dutch oven, first cook the meat, then add your remaining ingredients to the same pot. As soon as your soup is warmed through, you’re ready to eat. Here is one of my favorite simple chili recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat (lamb, hamburger or elk)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounce) beans (pinto, black, kidney, Great Northern), undrained
  • 1-2 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preparation

In large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook ground meat, onion and bell peppers until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, beans and spices, and stir to combine. Heat over medium heat until ingredients are well-combined and heated through. Serve hot with corn muffins.

If you have the time, this dish does well with a little simmering. Reduce the heat to low and cook up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. This allows the flavors more time to blend. Like most chilis this recipe excellent the second day.

Oven-Baked Potato Corn Chowder

3 Recipes that Flaunt Cast Iron’s Versatility - Photo by Melissa Griffiths (HobbyFarms.com)
Melissa Griffiths

Cast iron is great to use in the oven because it distributes heat well and the lids generally fit firmly, trapping moisture and heat inside. I like to use cast-iron Dutch ovens with lids to make a quicker version of my favorite slow-cooker recipes. Using your cast iron in the oven is also a great option when you have forgotten to thaw your meat ahead of time. I place the frozen meat in my Dutch oven (with whatever sauces or seasons I’m using), add the lid, put the dish in the cold oven and then turn the oven on. The oven and cast iron heat slowly together, thawing the meat.

Here is one of my favorite baked dishes. I bet you didn’t know you could bake a chowder! This is a great fix-it-and-forget-it meal for busy weeknights when you didn’t remember to turn the slow cooker on.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed clean (or 2 pounds potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1-2 pounds chicken (skinless breast or thighs work great)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large cast-iron Dutch oven with lid, add onions, carrots, potatoes, corn, chicken, broth, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and stir to combine. Place the lid on Dutch oven. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir in cream and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with fresh bread or cornbread.

Perfect Oven Pork Roast

3 Recipes that Flaunt Cast Iron’s Versatility - Photo by Melissa Griffiths (HobbyFarms.com)
Melissa Griffiths

Starting a recipe on the stovetop and moving it into the oven to finish cooking is one of my all-time favorite options when it comes to cooking with cast iron. I like to sear up chicken legs or pork chops in a nice hot cast-iron pan on the stove. Then I add sauces, herbs and seasoning before I finish baking in the oven to cook the meat through. The meat stays moist and tender and the flavor is deep. Here is one of my favorite stovetop to oven pork-roast recipes.

Ingredients

  • 3- to 4-pound boneless pork roast (butt, picnic, and shoulder roasts are all great)
  • 1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 large apples, quartered

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make spice rub by combining all spices in small bowl. Generously rub spice mixture over pork roast.

Heat olive oil in large cast-iron skillet over high heat until oil shimmers. Sear pork on each side until whole roast is deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat, and add onion and apple.

Cover and bake until the center of the roast reaches 145 degrees F, about 1 hour. Let roast rest for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing or shredding. The pan drippings make excellent gravy.

Leftover Pork Roast Soup

Mix your pork-roast leftovers in a soup made in a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed cooked pork roast
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • minced fresh basil for serving

Preparation

In Dutch oven, combines all ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to soup to boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Sprinkle with basil and serve hot. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.



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