Soups

Happy March 1st!

homemade-chicken-broth5

It’s finally here. March is finally here. Just one more week until we “spring forward”. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although this is welcome news, we still have a long way to go and getting through the Spring we need to ensure that our immune system is up to scratch to protect from those Springtime bugs that come up with the flowers as the temperature rises.

The best way to improve the the immune system is to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. Garlic, onions, mushrooms, ginger and honey are all fabulous. As well, some spices such as oregano, cinnamon, cloves and turmeric.

How to incorporate as many of these as possible is to make a soup, perfect for this time of year. Using your own stock is even better and will fix up any sniffles over the next few weeks.

Start a day earlier by roasting a chicken. A whole lot easier than it sounds. In a baking dish, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and place the chicken on top. In the cavity, put in some salt, pepper, lemon quarters and whole garlic cloves. On the outside, rub some salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil under the skin and on top of the skin. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven (350ºF) for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is browned and the juices run clear.

Save all the bones from the roast chicken. If you are not making the stock right away, save the bones in the fridge. When you are ready, place the bones in a pot and add in a carrot, roughly chopped onion, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and whole sprigs of parsley. Cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain into a jar and keep in the fridge.

This is the best stock you can use for soup, a guaranteed flavourful soup full of immune boosting nutrients.

Top up your immunity further by taking a good quality probiotic in the morning, a drop of vitamin D (1000IU) and a teaspoon of pharmaceutical grade fish oil.

Then. Get Ready for Spring!

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Fruit Strike

My 5 year old has taken a turn against fruits and vegetables. Vegetables, yes. That’s been going on a while. But fruits?? Seriously? This was the girl that could eat fruit from morning to night and she’s adamant she won’t eat any. Except those that come in a squeegee packet or an applesauce container.

Thankfully the local farmers market kicks off this weekend so I hope I can take her there and tempt her with some fruit.

In the meantime, it was time for a Zoe’s Kitchen blog. She requested alphabet pasta (to be fair, she’s been asking for the last 3 days but I keep forgetting). So she was pretty happy to hear it was on the menu tonight. Together we made a chicken soup. It was tasty and she actually ate it, although I did end up blending it because she was picking out the vegetables. I tell her I’m going to strain it but I blend it in the Magic Bullet while she’s not looking. That trick has been working for years.  And as long as I have a separate dining room and kitchen, I don’t see why it shouldn’t continue.

She watched me cut up the chicken to make the stock and declared she wouldn’t eat any of the meat. She didn’t. Then she watched as I cut up the vegetables for the soup and declared them “gross”. I think they look pretty.

veggies

Anyway, it’s enough to make you run for the nearest package of something she will eat but I’m more stubborn than she is so I push on.

She heats the pan, adds the onion, the leeks and the garlic. Good enough. She freaks when she needs to put the carrots and mushrooms in. It goes in anyway. Then the stock and she calms down as she can’t see the veggies as much. Once it was boiling, she added the good stuff – alphabet pasta. Some seasoning and few minutes while it cooked and then she was ready to dig through the soup looking to spell her name.

It’s a tough gig but it usually works out in the end. And by the way, the soup was yummy! Recipe below.

Chicken and Mushroom Soup

 Chicken and Mushroom Soup

5 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced

2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup small alphabet pasta

Heat oil in a soup pan and add onion. Cook until transparent, then add leeks and garlic. Stirring, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until vegetables have softened and reduced slightly.

Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add pasta, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer until pasta is cooked.

Enjoy!

 

What’s Cooking? Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

The LCBO isn’t just about booze, it has a great magazine and website with hundreds of great recipes. Most are designed for entertaining, since that is what the magazine is all about but I have some favourites I use everyday.

This soup is amazing. Every member of my family loved it. I don’t make it exactly as the website lists it, mine is adapted.

Here’s the original:
http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo-ear/RecipeController?language=EN&recipeType=1&action=recipe&recipeID=5937

This is my version. I feel the maple syrup makes it too sweet and it’s creamy enough without the cream.

Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped carrot
¼ cup chopped celery
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 pears, peeled and diced
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
5 cups chicken broth (low sodium carton or homemade)
2 tsp lime juice or to taste
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

In a pot, heat butter or olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add carrot and celery and sauté for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, pear and thyme and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add paprika and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until sweet potato is soft.

Puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot. Add lime juice.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into individual bowls and add swirl of cream (if adding) and a few parsley leaves.

Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
Serves 8.
Recipe adapted from LCBO Holiday Dinner

Coleslaw

What do I do with ……. Cabbage?

One vegetable that turns up frequently in my organic box that I never get too excited about is ….. cabbage.

But once I get going, I realize I really like it, especially red cabbage. And since it’s better, nutritionally, to eat it raw, it’s very simple to prepare.

So what’s my hesitation? Probably the overwhelming amount of it when you just want a small amount. It always feels like a huge commitment to eat cabbage for at least a week when I buy it. And since I like to mix the colours, it makes it an even bigger commitment.

So for this reason,  I bring you 2 suggestions. One raw and one cooked. Because you’re gonna have a lot to use up!

First of all, the reasons to eat cabbage. Besides the satisfying crunch. The main reason is the huge benefits it gives to your digestive tract, particularly the colon. Cabbage contains prebiotics, feeding the good bacteria in the colon to increase movement and decrease build up and disease. Cooked cabbage is actually quite hard on the digestive system, probably influencing it’s occasional bad name!

Red cabbage is also a good source of iron and chlorophyll giving it a reputation for being beneficial for anemia, respiratory infection, cardiac problems, stress and cancer. These benefits are only when eaten raw though. If you are cooking it, cook it for as short a time as possible.

Ready for any time of the year and loved by all (including my kids), is coleslaw. The more you make this, this easier it is and the longer you leave it to marinade, the better it tastes.
Coleslaw

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 beet, grated
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dill (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Mix the cabbage together in a large mixing bowl. Grate the following 3 ingredients (it’s a quick chore for the food processor if you have one). Add the onion and mix altogether.

Make the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, honey and dill in a small dish. Pour over vegetables and mix until thoroughly covered.

You can serve it anytime but it’s even better the next day.

The cooked cabbage suggestion is Borscht. Borscht traditionally has cabbage in it, but in fact you can add cabbage to any vegetable soup or stew. Just remember to only add it right at the end. You only want to cook it for about 5 minutes.

There are a ton of Borscht recipes around. Most contain meat, as that was traditionally included. However, I prefer it meatless so I use a vegan recipe. I just add a dollop of sour cream when serving.  That comes from my favourite vegan cookbook, Get It Ripe by Jae Steele (it’s listed on my Book list).

Borscht

Finally, you can always sauté cabbage with onion and bacon. But you never heard that from me 🙂

What do I do with …… Kale?

Kale is a superfood. Packed with vitamins and flavonoids, antioxidants and anti-cancer nutrients called glucosinolates, it’s a wonderful and easy addition every day since it’s also very versatile.

The older the kale, the more bitter it is so choose a bunch with smaller leaves. It may be worth buying the organic version for this reason. Store it in a plastic bag in the fridge if you aren’t using it right away, it starts to wilt (even in the vegetable drawer) quite quickly.
Unless you are juicing it, you need to strip the leaves from the stem.

For breakfast, juice it or strip the leaves from the stem and add it to a smoothie for a powerful greens drink. Try it with watermelon and banana.
In a cooked breakfast, strip the leaves and gently saute with garlic and a little cayenne. Serve with a poached egg on top and some toast.

For lunch, prepare it in a salad by using it a base or mixing it with other greens. If you prepare it in the morning, a dressing made from olive oil, half the amount of lemon juice and a dash of honey will reduce it’s bitterness by lunchtime. You can also chop it in a food processor if you find it tough. Add some raisins, toasted walnuts or pinenuts and some grated parmesan cheese.
It would also be great with a homemade caesar dressing. In fact, the possibilities for a salad are endless.

Kale works wonderfully in a soup too (try it in a bean soup) since it’s hardy enough that it doesn’t break up. Strip the leaves, roughly chop and add to the soup 5-8 minutes before the end of cooking time.

Finely chop the kale and mix in with a couple of beaten eggs, salt and pepper and smoked paprika for a delicious and nutritious omelette.

As a snack, kale chips are great! Easy to do too. Strip the leaves off a fresh bunch of kale, wash and pat dry. Roughly chop, toss with olive oil and sea salt and bake on a baking tray at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until crispy but not burnt.

For dinner, saute or steam chopped kale as a side dish or prepare as a salad. You can add it to a pasta dish, a soup or a stew 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

The following is a good dinner idea for this time of year, as the temperature goes down, keep the quinoa warm, as it goes up, cold quinoa will make a cooling salad.

Kale Quinoa Salad

1 bunch kale washed and chopped
1 cup quinoa cooked
1/4 c parmesan cheese (optional)
Handful dried cranberries
1/8 cup goat’s feta cheese
1 tbsp chia seeds

Dressing
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
Pinch pepper and salt

Prepare the dressing in a small bowl or a jar (shake well to emulsify).

Toss together kale and quinoa and pour in dressing. Mix well and add remaining ingredients.

Words of warning:
1. Although kale is not on the top 12 “dirty dozen” list of heavily contaminated fruits and vegetables, it is a runner-up so is sometimes worth buying organic, especially for somebody with a compromised immune system.
2. Kale is part of the brassica family which, if eaten raw, can be hard on the thyroid. If you have thyroid issues, steam it for a minute or two before preparing it.
3. Kale can aggravate a gallbladder attack, if you suffer from gallstones, do not consume it every day.

If you are healthy however, eat as much as you like in any form! It’s a wonderful food.

What’s Cooking? Carrot, Ginger and Turnip Soup

One of the things I love about my organic food box that gets delivered to my home every Monday is the challenge I am given to use ingredients I wouldn’t normally choose at the grocery store.

This week I was given turnips. Which are far from being my favourite vegetable. But adding them to a carrot soup, they were delicious.

Here is the recipe:

IMG_0075

Carrot, Ginger and Turnip Soup

1 small onion
2 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp olive oil
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 potato, chopped
2 turnips, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup almond, dairy or coconut milk
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Chop onion and saute in oil for a few minutes until softened. Add ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add carrots and continue to cook while stirring until carrots are covered with onion and ginger mixture. Pour in stock, add potato, turnips, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Cook for about 20 minutes until vegetables are softened. Blend soup until completely smooth. Add in milk, adjust seasoning according to taste and sprinkle cilantro before serving.

Soups for Lunch

There are so many varieties of soup, it’s hard to know what to suggest. It’s very personal and can take as much or as little time to prepare.

Grocery stores now carry fresh soups that are hearty, full of natural ingredients and low in sodium. Check your deli area for fresh soups. One of my favourites in Ontario is Soup’s On which I can find in Loblaws. I am sure other large grocery stores carry it too. Split Pea and Lentil is a soup which will carry you through the afternoon with only 7% sodium which is a huge difference from the canned versions. There are also other reasons why the canned soups are not a healthy choice.

Of course making your own is a possibility too. Using a carton of low sodium organic stock is an easy solution if you don’t have your own stock. Using websites such as allrecipes.com and epicurious.com, you can find a multitude of different soups. A quick and easy one I make frequently is a split pea soup. It is full of protein and is high in fibre. But because it uses dill instead of ham for flavour, it is healthier and quick to prepare.

Split Pea Soup

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup green split peas
5-3/4 cups veg stock (reserve ½ cup)
1 cup frozen petit pois
5 tbsp dill, chopped and divided

Method:

Heat oil and add leek and bay leaf. Saute until wilted (3 mins). Add peas and stir to coat. Add stock, boil and simmer until tender – about 35 minutes.

Transfer 1 cup solids, bay leaf and remaining stock to blender. Add frozen peas and 4 tbsp dill. Puree, return to soup. Season, ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining dill.

Next Post: Snacks for lunchbag