Tag Archives: leek

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

26 Jan

As a dietitian, I occasionally receive mailings from food companies. Some are practical, like summaries of the latest research and coupons for new products. Others are less useful. Exhibit A: Quaker® recently mailed out a document highlighting the benefits of consuming orange juice and oatmeal together— a “synergistic” benefit, the materials touted. Yes, vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, but this is hardly a new concept in the nutrition world. Furthermore, is an ‘orange oat smoothie’ the most appealing way to combine these nutrients? I would rather add berries to my oatmeal, thank you very much. Innovation in the food industry can help create more healthful food items, but sometimes food companies try a bit too hard to make basic nutrition sound cutting-edge and sexy.

Recipes are one of the best things to receive in the mail, especially when I get around to actually making them (instead of having them accumulate dust in the binder o’recipe clippings). A few weeks ago, I was sifting through said binder and discovered an old favourite from the people at Becel®. The ingredients are simple (leeks, butternut squash, spinach) while the flavour is anything but.

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Leeks don’t make it into my kitchen very often. But when they do, I realize that I’m missing out by not cooking with them more regularly. Sautéed leeks elevate the most basic of dishes with an umami flavour that packs more punch than you would expect from such a humble member of the Allium family. Just be sure you wash them well— nobody wants sand in their teeth! I used the leftover leeks from this recipe to make a crustless quiche and was surprised by how much flavour they brought to an otherwise simple dish.

Enough about leeks, though. The star of this soup is the butternut squash, whose natural sweetness infuses the broth while simmering. It was so flavourful that I didn’t even need to add salt! The chili flakes balance the sweetness really nicely and generous handfuls of spinach add a pop of colour.

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With the cold weather upon us, a warm bowl of soup really hits the spot. And with the indulgent holiday season now behind us, starting a meal with soup can also help with weight management. What’s not to love?

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Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup
(from Becel® Canada)

1-1/2 tbsp light margarine (or 1 tbsp regular margarine or olive oil)
1 leek (pale green and white part only), washed well and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium or no-salt-added)
2 cups baby spinach leaves (I use much more!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat margarine or oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in chili flakes, cumin, squash and carrots, stirring for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in spinach and simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 115 kcal, 4 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fibre, 7 g protein.

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Brilliantly Bright Borscht

10 Feb

My job has serious perks.  As a food lover, it hardly feels like work to sample an array of vegan products that I may eventually recommend to my patients or feast on a spread of Mardi Gras-themed dishes that may make their way onto the cafeteria’s menu.  Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of doing both this week.   Events like these are side projects that our dietetic interns are involved with over the course of their training.  As a former intern not too long ago, shopping for interesting food products and perusing the web for recipes was a nice break from the clinical work, case studies, and research projects.

In the fall, an Ontario borscht was sampled at an event that I was unable to attend.  It received such rave reviews that the recipe was sent out to all of the dietitians.  Earlier this week, I stumbled across it in my inbox so I made it my mission to cook up a pot this weekend.

Borscht

Never having made borscht before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The colour is stunning (never wear white when cooking or eating borscht) and the flavour was more complex than I anticipated.  Beets can be overpowering but subtle potato and cabbage flavours shone through.  It’s a shame that I couldn’t taste all of the different vegetables in this dish (there were a lot!) but I was reassured by knowing that I was getting all of their nutrients.  Best of all was the texture.  In this particular recipe, the cabbage retained a bit of crunch and provided nice contrast to the rest of the softer vegetables.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch, since I read that borscht is supposed to taste better the next day.

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Ontario Borscht
(from Foodland Ontario)

Since it’s the middle of winter, I wasn’t able to use nearly as much Ontario produce as the recipe calls for.  This is the perfect autumn dish, when everything is in season.

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
6 Ontario Beets, peeled and shredded
4 Ontario Leeks, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) sliced Ontario Mushrooms
2 Ontario Carrots, shredded
2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
1 Ontario Onion, chopped
1 Ontario White Turnip, peeled and shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 Ontario Potato, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
7 cups (1.75 L) beef or vegetable broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Ontario Cabbage
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp (50 mL) red wine vinegar – I used 4 tbsp
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
Salt and pepper
Sour cream and snipped chives or green onion tops

  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add beets, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onion, white turnip, celery, potato and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Bring to simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in cabbage and beans; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Season with vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar and sugar if needed (there should be a nice sweet and sour balance).  Discard bay leaves. Place dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives on each serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. Per serving (based on 10 servings): 157 kcal, 3 g fat, 25 g CHO, 7 g protein.