Tag Archives: soup

Spiced Cabbage Soup with Lentils and Sweet Potato

7 Jan

Happy New Year! I’m not the greatest at making (or keeping) New Years resolutions, but most years I have vague aspirations to engage in some sort of healthier behaviour. This year, I’m motivated to do more batch cooking so that I’m not left scrambling to buy my lunch or pull together a last minute dinner after a busy day.

Thanks to having an extra-long weekend with not just one but TWO days to recover from New Year’s Eve, I was able to kick-start my pseudo-resolution with a simple yet flavourful cabbage soup from the new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook. The cookbook was a Christmas present stolen from me (then lent to me) by my oh-so-generous brother, so I plan to churn out as many dishes from it as I possibly can before he asks for it back.

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If you’re groaning at the thought of another watery, bland cabbage soup, take note: this one’s anything but. It has lentils for added protein and fibre, sweet potato (because every soup can use a little sweet potato), and a 9-spice mix containing both sweet and smoked paprika. It’s simple to prepare but full of flavour. And perfect for the horribly cold weather that we’ve been hit with this week. For an easy make-ahead lunch, pair it with whole grain bread or crackers.

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Metabolism-Revving Spicy Cabbage Soup
(from Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix, or more to taste (recipe below)
1 pound (1/4 large head) green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 5 cups)
14-oz (398mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked red lentils
1 sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onion is softened. Stir in 2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant.
  2. Add the cabbage and diced tomatoes with their juices. Simmer over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, red lentils, and sweet potato. Stir. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are tender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, or add more 9-Spice Mix. Serve with a dollop of Cashew Sour Cream, if using (for a non-vegan option, use plain yogurt or sour cream). The soup keeps in the fridge for a week, and freezes well for 1-2 months.

Makes 4 large servings. Per serving: 278 kcal, 5 g fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 14 g fibre, 11 g protein, 596 mg sodium

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9-Spice Mix (makes approximately 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

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The Great Vitamin D Debate (feat. Seafood Chowder)

1 Feb

Vitamin D has been in and out of the news over the past few years, but it really made waves this week thanks to an attention-grabbing campaign by the Yukon government. If you haven’t seen the ads, learn more here.

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Vitamin D is well-known for its role in bone strength, but also plays an important function in keeping our immune system healthy. There is growing evidence that vitamin D may also reduce cardiovascular risk, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and some cancers.

Much of the world can obtain adequate vitamin D from the sun. UVB rays from the sun convert a vitamin D precursor on the skin to a form called vitamin D3, which is then transported to your liver and kidneys to be converted into active vitamin D. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. If you live north of the 37th parallel (e.g. San Francisco), it’s virtually impossible to meet your vitamin D needs year-round from the sun. And since Vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods, obtaining adequate amounts from the diet is challenging. In fact, it’s the only nutrient that Canada’s Food Guide recommends obtaining in supplement form for adults over the age of 50. Kind of a big deal since the food guide always promotes food first.

So how much vitamin D do we really need? In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM; a trusted organization that sets dietary targets for vitamins and minerals) updated their vitamin D recommendations to 600 IU per day for children and adults aged 9 to 70 years. Several years later, research groups from Alberta and California independently reported on statistical errors in the IOM analysis and suggested that the current vitamin D recommendations are too low to promote health. The US researchers stated in a 2015 press-release that the current IOM recommendations for vitamin D are “only about one-tenth those needed to cut incidence of diseases related to vitamin D deficiency.” Health Canada currently recommends that adults over the age of 50 take a daily supplement containing 400 IU, while Osteoporosis Canada advises healthy adults between ages 19 and 50 to take 400-1000 IU daily (with those over 50 years and younger adults at high risk of osteoporosis needing 800-2000 IU daily).

If you’re still confused, the good news is that vitamin D is relatively safe. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Vitamin D ranges from 2500 IU for children, to 4000 IU for adults over 70 years. Not convinced that you need a supplement?  Try to get more vitamin D from your diet by regularly consuming cow’s milk (or fortified plant beverages) and fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, or sardines. Even still, it can be challenging to get enough unless you eat fatty fish daily (3 ounces of salmon contains 300 IU) and several glasses of milk (1 cup contains only 100 IU).

An easy fish chowder, like this Maritime seafood chowder, can help you meet your vitamin D needs (tip: use salmon to optimize your vitamin D intake). It’s the perfect meal if you’re short on time and looking to pump up your bone health!

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Classic Maritime Seafood Chowder
(from Dairy Farmers of Canada)

1 tbsp butter, margarine, or oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried dill or dried thyme (use 1 tbsp fresh if you have it)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced (I leave the skin on)
2 cups water or fish stock
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups chopped raw skinless fish fillets or cooked seafood (shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab, clams, oysters) or a combination
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional: Add up to 1-1/2 cups chopped carrots, red bell pepper or corn kernels with the onion for extra colour and nutrition.

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat; sauté celery, onion, bay leaf, dill, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper for about 5 min or until onions start to brown. Stir in potatoes; sauté for 2 min.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high; stir in water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and boil for about 5 min or until potatoes are almost tender.
  3. Whisk flour into milk and stir into pot; bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in fish or seafood; simmer, stirring often for 5 min or until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork or seafood is hot. Discard bay leaf. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Per serving: 266 calories, 5 g fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 4.1 g fibre, 19 g protein, 290 mg sodium.

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.

Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

4 Nov

Coconut oil is a controversial topic in the nutrition world. Supporters claim it can burn fat, boost your metabolism, and help you lose weight. Skeptics say it’s high in saturated fat and may promote heart disease. So who should we believe?

Without delving too deep into the scientific literature, the health effects of coconut oil can be grouped into three different categories: body weight, heart disease, and inflammation.

Body weight. The predominant fat in coconut oil is thought to be medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that gets metabolized differently (and more efficiently) than more common dietary fats. In actuality, the chemical composition of coconut oil is markedly different from MCT oils; therefore, results from studies using MCT oils cannot be extrapolated to coconut oil. A couple of small studies suggests that coconut oil may modestly decrease waist circumference in overweight adults, but has no effect on fat mass.

Heart disease. Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat. Historically, foods high in saturated fat were discouraged due to their ability to raise blood cholesterol levels, which in turn was thought to increase heart disease risk. Newer research suggests that the link between dietary saturated fat (animal fats, tropical oils) and heart disease is not as strong as once thought. Some systematic reviews do not support a relationship between saturated fat and heart disease, while others have found that replacing saturated fat with mono- and polyunsaturated fats can reduce heart disease risk. Research looking at coconut oil specifically has found that blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol both increase following regular coconut oil consumption. Longer term studies looking at the relationship between coconut oil and heart disease are required.

Inflammation. The polyphenols found in virgin coconut oil (very different from refined coconut oil) may act as antioxidants in the body and help fight inflammation; however, studies are few and far between. Claims that coconut oil will help in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and other ailments require more research before recommendations can be made.

So what’s my take on the coconut oil debate? Too much of any kind of fat will lead to weight gain, since fat is the most energy-dense of all macronutrients at 9 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate). Use coconut oil in moderation to add flavour to dishes, but stick to monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (preferably those with a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, such as canola or safflower oil) for day-to-day cooking. And aim to get your polyphenols from sources such as fruits and vegetables, green and black teas, coffee, and extra-virgin olive oil.

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As a huge fan of coconut-flavoured everything, I’ve always been intrigued by the prospect of using coconut oil in cooking. People say it lends a nutty, sweet aroma that is perfect for curries and roasted vegetables like yams and carrots. Yet I’ve never been able to bring myself to purchase a jar. Just looking at the white, solid-at-room-temperature, lard-resembling fat makes my arteries cringe—and yes, I realize there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these irrational thoughts. So when I received a jar as a gift from my aunt, I was eager to experiment.

Sifting through a pile of old recipes, I came across a simple pumpkin and coconut soup. The directions were a bit vague, and I realized some steps were left out, so I was naturally skeptical. But soup is pretty hard to mess up, and I had a sugar pumpkin sitting on my counter waiting to be used.

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The recipe calls for a whole sugar pumpkin (not to be mistaken with carving pumpkins which are NOT ideal for eating due to their bland, fibrous flesh) but if you’re in a bind, you could try buttercup squash. Roasting the pumpkin adds depth that you’re unlikely to get from canned or boiled pumpkin, so don’t skip this step. It’s worth the extra effort.

The coconut flavour was IN-YOUR-FACE (in a good way!). It was a nice contrast from dishes that call for coconut milk alone, where the coconut flavour can be mild and almost undetectable. The spice combination of cumin, chili powder and cinnamon together with the sweetness of the roasted pumpkin paired beautifully with coconut. A wonderful autumn soup to keep you warm during the cold months ahead.

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Pumpkin and Coconut Soup
(source unknown)

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sugar pumpkin
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/8 to 1/4 tsp chili flakes (optional)
3 to 4 cups water
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup light coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste (approx 1/4 tsp salt worked for me)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Quarter pumpkin, scoop out seeds (reserve for roasting if you wish!), and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil that has been lightly oiled. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until flesh is soft. Allow to cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl when pumpkin is cool enough to handle. You should have approximately 3 cups.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili flakes (if using). Cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant.
  4. Add pumpkin and 3 cups of water, and stir to combine. Using an immersion blender, puree soup ensuring no pieces of onion remain. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. If the consistency is too thick, add additional water.
  5. Remove from heat, add lime juice and coconut milk, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings. Per 1-1/2 cup serving: 170kcal, 8 g fat (6 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrates (8 g fibre), 4 g protein, 165 mg sodium

‘Souper’ Easy, Hearty and Healthy Lentil Soup

7 Jan

Celery, carrots, and onion are a trio commonly known as a ‘mirepoix.’ During the winter, I like to make sure my kitchen is always stocked with these three staple ingredients which together form the basis for a wide variety of soups and stews. You’d be surprised how long celery and carrots will last in the fridge. If they start to wilt, store them in a bowl of cold water and watch them spring back to life. It’s like magic!

Mirepoix

We’re one week into 2013 and so far I’ve managed to keep my New Year’s resolution. I cooked one of my favourite hearty soups yesterday afternoon, a soup that my Mom first made during my university years. It brings back fond memories; years of dismal cooking spotted with frozen homemade meals that I would always save for when I was craving a taste of home.

This isn’t your ordinary lentil soup. Sweet potato chunks are little gems of bliss (I’ve been known to pick out all of the pieces from the pot!) and contrast nicely with the robust cumin, coriander, and oregano. It’s thick, hearty, and an easy one-dish meal.  Bonus: it makes a LARGE pot, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers plus several portions that can be frozen.

Now I get to sit back and relax because lunch for the week is made!

Fundalentilly delicious!

Nom nom nom

Fundalentil Soup
(from Crazy Plates)

Feel free to substitute the can of tomato soup for a can of tomato paste + a bit of sugar or honey for just the right amount of sweetness.  Add the water or broth last.  My soup pot is not quite large enough to hold all of the ingredients so I often use a fraction of the fluid at first, then add the rest once I’ve eaten a bowl or two.

1 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups low-fat chicken or vegetable broth, preferably low-sodium
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (10-3/4 oz) reduced-fat tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups dried brown or green lentils
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes (I left the skin on this time)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each ground coriander and salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups packed, chopped, fresh spinach (I like to use an entire 227 g bag of spinach)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 or 4 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, except spinach. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add spinach and simmer for 15 more minutes.  Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings.  Per serving: 198 calories, 2 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 12 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 12 g fibre, 355 mg sodium.

Cooking with E: Nori-wrapped Salmon in Miso Broth

20 Nov

I’ve returned to my old ways.  A dismal one blog entry in the past month– and it wasn’t even written by me!  Pathetic.

Working full-time has its perks (a salary!) but also has its pitfalls (less time for cooking, blogging, SLEEP, exercise, and the list goes on).  Lucky for me, Mr.  E has been around for the past couple of months to ensure that I’m well-fed.  If it weren’t for him, dinner would often consist of an omelette or scrambled eggs, toast, and broccoli.

[As an aside, my friend doesn’t think that eggs are “real” food for dinner.  I would appreciate it if you could take a minute to answer this poll and let me know your thoughts.  We’ve been having this debate for 8 years now!]

E has been cooking up a variety of dishes, including slow cooker beef stew, jerk chicken, Asian chicken soup with daikon, authentic sweet and sour pork, more stir fries than I can count on one hand, and one of his more interesting concoctions: chicken breast stuffed with pineapple, sundried tomato, feta, and smoked cheddar.  I was skeptical, but it was surprisingly tasty.

My favourite “E” dinner to date was adapted from a dish featured on the cover of the Autumn LCBO Food & Drink Magazine: Nori-wrapped Salmon with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Soy Beans in Miso Broth.  Sounds impressive (and intimidating!) but E claims it was “pretty easy.”  The broth was simple yet flavourful, the fish tasted divine, and the edamame added just the right amount of texture.

Definitely a dinner-party-worthy dish.

How the dish should look

E’s version (don’t forget to slice the salmon in half before serving!)

Nori-wrapped Salmon with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Soy Beans in Miso Broth
(from Food & Drink magazine, Autumn 2012)

1 oz (30 g) dried black trumpet mushrooms (E used shiitake mushrooms)
5 green onions, trimmed and cut in half
2 inch length of ginger, sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
2 cloves garlic
4 salmon fillets, each 6 oz (175 g)
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sheets nori (the large sheets of dried seaweed used in sushi)
1 cup frozen shelled soy beans (aka edamame)
2 tbsp miso paste
micro-greens or shredded green onion to garnish

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in enough warm water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse mushrooms under cool running water. Slice larger ones in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  3. In a small saucepan, bring 3 cups (750 mL) water to a boil. Add green onions, ginger and soy sauce. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard solids. Return broth to pot.
  4. Using the side of a large knife, lightly crush garlic to release juices, leaving cloves in 1 piece. Rub salmon with garlic and discard cloves. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Working with 1 sheet of nori at a time, place salmon, skin-side up, in the centre of the nori. Fold edges up and around to enclose salmon as you would a gift-wrapped box. Place, seamside down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining salmon fillets. Roast for 12 to 14 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to rest while finishing the broth.
  5. While salmon is roasting, return broth to a simmer over medium heat. Add soy beans and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in mushrooms; cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat, add miso paste and stir until miso is dissolved.
  6. Divide broth and vegetables between 4 shallow bowls. Slice each salmon fillet in half on the diagonal and place 2 half-fillets in each bowl. Top with a small handful of micro-greens or shredded green onion.

Serves 4.  Per serving: 450 kcal, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 26g fat (5.3 g saturated), 41 g protein, 505 mg sodium.

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

3 Sep

Yesterday I made a tomato soup that almost burned down my kitchen.  Was it a pleasant cooking experience?  No.  Would I do it again?  Probably.

While visiting my parents last weekend, I spotted a recipe for a roasted tomato basil soup in one of my mom’s cookbooks.  The recipe looked easy enough so I knew I had to make it while tomatoes were still in season. First step: roast a pound and a half of plum tomatoes.  The halved tomatoes were tossed in olive oil, spread onto a baking sheet, then placed in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Simple, right?  Within 5 minutes, a loud sizzling noise could be heard from the oven.  Through the window I saw a haze of smoke.  Uh-oh.  I glanced over at the ‘culinary oil smoke points’ magnet on my fridge and read: Olive Processed – 428 degrees Fahrenheit.  Phew.  Everything is going to be okay, I thought.  Looking back at the magnet, all feelings of calm were erased once I noticed the last line: Extra Virgin Olive – 331 degrees Fahrenheit.

Panic ensued.  I frantically phoned E asking him to purchase a fire extinguisher on his way home.  My google search of “oven fire” led me to realize that a fire extinguisher was not, in fact, necessary so I phoned him back to tell him not to bother. (Aside: I still plan on buying one because it’s probably a good thing to have around).  I opened every window and door in my apartment.  I cleared floor space, making sure there was unobstructed access to the oven and the smoke detector.  And then I waited.  And waited.  The tomatoes continued to sizzle in the oven although the smoke had somewhat subsided.  I nervously peeked through the window every 2 minutes, ensuring I would be able to react quickly when/if a fire were to erupt.  After 45 minutes (which felt like 2 hours), the oven timer beeped and the tomatoes were ready to be removed from the oven.  They were perfectly roasted with a slight char and my kitchen remained intact.  Success!

The soup was rich in flavour and absolutely delicious.  Totally worth the stress.  Would I make it again using olive oil to roast the tomatoes?  Not likely.  Canola oil would probably work just as well and doesn’t run the risk of burning down your kitchen.

The ultimate comfort food

 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
(lightly adapted from The Best of Bridge Presents… A Year of the Best)

1.5 lbs ripe, Roma (Plum) tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil (use with caution!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
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2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (use 1/4 tsp for a spicier soup)
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Half of a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and juice (preferably no-salt-added)
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably low sodium)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toss tomatoes with 2 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tsp oil and saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until onion starts to brown.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and broth.  Add oven-roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on baking sheet.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.  Puree in batches using a food processor or in the pot using an immersion blender.  Add additional salt to taste, if needed.  Serve hot or cold.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 165 kcal, 16 g carbohydrate, 3.8 g fibre, 10 g fat, 2.7 g protein, 641 mg sodium.

Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger

27 Oct

With the weather now getting chillier, I’ve been craving soup.  More specifically, a hearty split pea soup.  I decided to pick up a package of green split peas on my way home from work yesterday so that I could whip up a soup for dinner.  First stop: Metro.  No green split peas in sight.  Afer perusing the price tags on the shelf, I realized that this particular Metro does not even SELL green split peas.  Geez.  I then swung by the Sobey’s upstairs that just opened last week.  Green split peas  = Sold out.  Oh the joys of downtown grocery stores.  On a related note, I also wanted to buy canned diced tomatoes and there was only one brand available… and they were charging $2.59 per can!!!! Outrageous!

Needless to say, I did not have soup for dinner last night.  Tonight was a different story, though.  I had red lentils on hand, along with a couple of sweet potatoes that have seen better days.  A search for “red lentil soup” led me to a recipe for a curried sweet potato, carrot, and red lentil soup with ginger. YUM.  You must make this soup!  Incredibly tasty, plus it’s full of heart-healthy soluble fibre (along with lots of other good stuff).  The spice from the curry powder perfectly balanced the sweetness of the sweet potato and carrots.

I was also really excited to use my not-so-new immersion blender for the first time.  I don’t know if I will go so far as to say that it was my best purchase ever, but it was much easier (and cleaner) than pureeing soup in batches using a food processor.  I’m definitely looking forward to making more soups this winter!

Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger

Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Red Lentil Soup with Ginger
(from DinnerwithJulie.com)

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup dry red lentils, rinsed several times to remove excess starch
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (approx 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock, preferably low-sodium
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, sweet potato, carrots, curry powder, and stock, along with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add yogurt, season with salt and pepper to taste, and puree soup using an immersion blender.  Alternatively, allow soup to cool slightly then transfer it in batches to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 220 kcal, 2.2 g fat, 8 g fibre

The Summer Squash Conundrum

10 Aug

I was at the garden on Monday morning to tend to “my” bean plants, which haven’t been doing so well.  I call them my bean plants because I have a bit of an attachment to them; back in May I was assigned the task of planting the kidney bean-like seeds along the west fence of the garden.  Since then, I have diligently watered and weeded around the seeds, anxiously waiting for the plants to flourish.  Some have grown significantly while most have had their tops eaten off by the deer.  Sigh.  On a positive note, a few of the plants have recently flowered so it looks like there will be beans (if only a few) after all.

While at the garden, I picked up a few treats: a turnip (great for turnip “fries”, which look just like french fries but have that characteristic turnip bitterness), a few patty pan squash, and a handful of these odd looking berries:

Cape Gooseberries (aka Ground Cherries)

After a bit of research, I discovered that these are called cape gooseberries (also known as ground cherries) and grow inside of a husk-like pod, which creates a beautiful “leaf” at the top of the berry when opened.  As for taste, they are kind of like a sweet, fruity tomato.  Not my favourite, but they’re pretty and make a nice garnish.

Now, to the squash.  I picked up two patty pans that were lying in the middle of the garden after having been dislodged from their respective plants after a thunderstorm the night before.  I also picked one that was MASSIVE because I figured it would have otherwise gone to waste.

The patty pan squash family

While trying to decide what to do with my squash family, I went online to read up on patty pans.  They come in 3 different colours (yellow, green, and white– we have the white variety in our garden), have a similar texture and taste as zucchini, and are normally cooked when they are no more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Uh oh.  My little guy fit the bill but the massive one was more like 8 inches!  Apparently there is no harm in eating larger patty pans but they tend to lose flavour and tenderness with age.  With that, I decided to slice and saute the two smaller ones in a little bit of olive oil (delicious! tasted just like sauteed zucchini) and I chopped up the massive one to make… a SOUP!

This soup was totally improvised so the recipe below is just a guide.  The best (and most necessary) part is the Moroccan spice mix.  I had some leftover from a snack I made last week (roasted chickpeas, which I am still determined to perfect… more on that another day) and decided to throw some in.  It’s a super flavourful spice mix that will definitely become a staple in my spice rack.  For this soup you can use just about any summer squash– zucchini, yellow summer squash, or patty pans.

Summer Squash Soup

Summer Squash Soup

1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 extremely large patty pan squash or 4 zucchinis, chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (see below)
salt, to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Add squash and saute for another minute.  Add spice mix and saute for 1 minute, or until spices become fragrant.
  3. Add vegetable broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, allow to cool slightly, and puree in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender.  Add salt to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

Makes 3 servings.  Per serving: 105 kcal, 3 g fat, 3 g fibre, 300 mg sodium

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Moroccan Spice Mix    (from Fine Cooking magazine)

2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I used regular)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cloves

Mix all spices together and store in a glass jar.