Good things to eat

Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

A Warm Lunch at the Office

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am NO fan of microwaves and have not (knowingly, although I realize it must happen to me some places!) eaten microwaved food in at least 10 plus years!

But when the weather starts to turn this can pose a problem for a girl who is looking for a little warmth at lunch time at the office and there is no way to heat anything up except the you know what!

So imagine my delight when I saw THIS idea!!

Please forgive me, I do like to give credit where credit is due but I do subscribe to a lot of food blogs and can’t always remember where I see what I see and regrettably I couldn’t find this again when I went back to look for the instructions.  So thank you idea giver.

So let’s call them Homemade Noodle Pots.

We’ve all had them.  Some are better than others.  But even the “organic” “healthy” versions are still pretty much weird dried stuff in a cup.

You know what I’m talking about.  Those instant lunch things that come in a cardboard, or worse, cup.  You peel back the lid, pour boiling water over it, cover it up again, let sit for a bit and voila.  A cup full of some kind of warm, usually desperately salty, noodle type stuff.

And they aren’t even that cheap, especially the higher end ones!

So why not just make your own DIY noodle pots?

You can put just about anything you’d like but best of all, you know exactly what’s in them!

And what’s great, on a Sunday afternoon, you can make up all of your ingredients, pack up your jars and have one for every day of the following week!  Imagine?  A whole week of not having to worry about what to bring for lunch??  Fantastic!

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Here is what you will need:

Heat safe jars, like Mason Jars 500 ml size x days of your week

Flavour base: I tried different combos for each day to change it up a little.

1 to 3 teaspoons of organic or quality soup stock base, miso paste or curry paste

More Flavour:

1 to 3 teaspoons of:  coconut milk, sesame oil, hot sauce or Sriracha, tamari or Bragg sauce etc

 

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Fillers:

Chicken, tofu, frozen vegetables, shredded cabbage, cooked lentils or beans, thinly sliced mushroom, kimchi, hardy greens, boiled egg, or whatever else you might find in the fridge!

Noodles:

Cooked Soba noodles, spaghetti, rice noodles, ramen.   I haven’t tried this yet, but maybe dried couscous?

Toppings:

Green onion, Cilantro, shredded carrot, a slice of lemon?

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Start with the flavour bases on the bottom of the jar, spread them around so they will dissolve evenly.

Then add in your filler items.

Then the noodles and pack it down nicely.

Then finally what ever fresh toppers you might be using. ( if you want these really fresh, perhaps store separately and top the noodles just before eating)

Put the lids on tight and refrigerate!

Each morning, grab one to go!

 

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When it’s time to eat, simply add some boiling water and replace the lid.

Let sit for a few minutes to let everything warm up.  Then maybe give the jar a little shake or a twirl before you open it or give them a good stir with your chopsticks to let the flavours mingle.

 

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You can enjoy it right out of the jar or dump it into an awaiting bowl and eat right away while it is warm.

 

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And there you have a nice warm, weird stuff free, bowl of niceness to get you through your afternoon!

 

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A little taste of comfort

It’s that time of year again.

When all we want is to snuggle up with something warm and comforting to put in our bellies!

This remains one of my Fall / Winter favorites.

Give it a try and see what I mean.

Click here for instructions

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Spicy Meatball Soup

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I can’t help it. This time of year I just like eating warm comforting things. And now that the holiday season is behind us, there seems to be even less time than usual.  You come in after a busy day and you just want something fast and satisfying. But before you call the pizza guy…..maybe give something like this a try first. On this particular week night I had the idea that I was just going to whip up a batch of my tried and true “Favorite Soup“. Which is usually made with chicken or tofu as the base, but I didn’t have either of those on hand. But what I DID have was some some left over ground meat from making Kofte two nights before. And if you have been following this blog for any time now, you know I am a great believer of making “clean up the fridge” food!

Start by getting your broth going.

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • aprox 1 inch knob of ginger chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped ( optional)
  • 1 celery stock finely chopped ( optional)

In your dutch oven or large pot, get these things going with a bit of olive oil.  Cook them till they are wilty and sweaty looking.

Then add some spices in no particular order and PLEASE feel free to add, omit and change amounts…it is YOUR easy soup!

But rule of thumb about 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of each

  • cumin
  • ground coriander
  • chili flakes
  • curry powder or turmeric
  • garam masala

And then

  • 1 -2 tbsp natural peanut butter ( or other nut butters)

Work these all into the cooking vegetables.

Then add a generous splash of

  • rice wine vinegar
  • soy sauce/tamari/Bragg

Stir those in, let them get acquainted then add

  • aprox 4 cups water or stock of your choice

Bring it all to  boil then turn it down to low, put the lid on it and let it simmer.

Meanwhile

You want to get your meatballs done.   And again, use what YOU have available but try keeping in the flavour range of what you have used in your broth.

I basically used all the same spices in both things.  So a shot in the pot and a shot in the meatball bowl!

So you will need

  • ground meat ( whatever you like)
  • 1-2 cloves finely (super fine) chopped garlic
  • 1 -2 chopped green onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup binder like bread crumbs, panko etc
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • assortment of spices from above

Squeeze that all up together and then roll into nice, slightly smaller than golf ball, size balls.

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Then you want to pan fry them first and add to the soup after, other wise, there is a good chance they will get soggy and break up…..which is fine too…..but I like to keep them in tack.

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So while those are cooking, you can now add some other stuff to your soup.  And here is where the “clean out the fridge” element comes into it.   More or less chop up and add whatever say greens you might want.  I used spinach and some savoy cabbage,  but kale would do nicely or chard.

And then I added some nice sliced up cremini mushrooms.  But you want to add these fairly close to the end so they retain a little bit of texture.

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Then for convenience sake, I like to use the old college favorite ramen noodles!  But I always toss out the package of weird who knows what that come with them and just use the noodles.  But feel free to use something else, or nothing at all.

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I really don’t like trying to fight with getting the noodles back out of the soup pot once I’ve put them in so instead I add one packet per person to the soup bowl first.

Top with the boiling hot soup and then cover with an upside down plate or something like that and let sit for about 10 minutes until the noodles absorb the liquid.

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Then make sure the noodles are done by giving a bit of a stir with a chop stick to loosen them up.   Then add the cooked meat balls to the top and any sort of  additional topping you might want, like chopped green onion or cilantro and some chopped peanut or a sprinkle of sesame seeds…..whatever you like to jazz it up.

And then just before eating, squeeze a shot of fresh lemon juice on top to help brighten the flavours AND give you a little shot of vitamin C!!

Enjoy!

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Roasted Squash Soup

The Chef and I have taken up yoga.

Well, to be honest, I’ve done yoga for years, but the Chef, not so much.

I give him an A for effort!  And I think he is somewhat comforted ( and so was I frankly cause this is the first time this has ever happened!) by the fact that there are actually a few other dudes in the class too!

My only complaint is with the when to eat situation.

You don’t really want to eat before going, what with the twisting and squeezing and upside downness of it all because you will end up with indigestion, or worse.

But because class is in the evening, you don’t want to be eating too late and then having trouble sleeping or what have you.

So I needed to come up with a solution.

How about a nice hearty soup after class.  Substantial enough to sustain but not too heavy to interfere?

And now that the weather is finally starting to feel a little like Fall ( people were still in shorts and T-shirts last weekend at Thanksgiving!!) it is time to return to the comfort food!

Roasted Squash Soup

So here’s what you will need to do.

Start by turning on the oven to 400 degrees.

I had a butter nut squash, but I imagine any nice winter squash will do.

Cut it in half and remove seeds and debris and then lay both sides cut side down in a greased baking dish.

Pop them in the heated oven for about half hour ( depending on size) and give it a head start baking.

Meanwhile chop up:

  • 1 yam ( skin on)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 -6 cremini mushrooms

After about half an hour poke the squash with a knife to check doneness.   If they are almost done, carefully cut them into smaller pieces ( like 3 to 4 pieces per half) and then add the chopped vegetables to the dish with the squash.  Add a little olive oil to coat and a bit of poultry seasoning, toss well.

Bake in the oven until everything is nice and roasted.

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While that is going on in the oven.   Get out your heavy pot and add:

  • 1 finely diced carrot
  • 1 rib finely diced celery
  • anything else that seems to go…I used some chopped kale

Wilt those up in a little olive oil.

Then add the roasted vegetables ( make sure to take the skin off the squash at some point before putting in the soup!).

Then add water, or the stock of your choice.

I then added:

  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

But that’s the kinda crazy chick I am!  A little salt and pepper will do fine too.

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Let that simmer for a bit till you are sure all the various vegs are nice and cooked and then turn it off.

Make sure to let it  cool a bit before blending with the hand blender so if you should get splattered, it won’t hurt as much.

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Then when you get back from yoga class, just reheat ( shouldn’t need much cause it probably hasn’t fully cooled yet!).

And then I added a CRAZY topping!!  Instead of croutons, I added a little of the left over turkey stuffing from Thanksgiving!  I KNOW!!  Crazy stuff, but it worked!  And then a little chopped toasted hazelnut ( cause it happened to be on the counter!)

But a dollop of plain yoghurt or sour cream would do well too.

Warm, satisfying, FULL of vegetables and doesn’t make you feel bad before bed!!

Namaste indeed!

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A turn in the weather

It’s disappointing  that I feel the need to write a blog like this in July, but it really has been a weird weather summer  all around.   Scorching heat and drought some places while others are cold, raining and flooding!

I remember that when I lived back east in Montreal or Toronto I would cherish a summer day like this.  We would usually have suffered weeks of blistering heat, so a cold rainy day would be very welcome.   We never get “blistering” heat here in Victoria but summer is usually a good solid “nice”.

But why not make the best of it??   Actually I couldn’t be happier with this kind of activity!

First I popped a batch of  BREAD IN A POT into the oven that had been “festering” over night and will take it out in a few minutes.

And then why not have a nice bowl of soup to cheer you up!

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I had some left over spicy Italian sausage from my STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS the other day so I started with that.

Heat up your Dutch oven or sturdy pot and then add in the sausage ( loose sausage not in casing) and stir it around until it is well browned.   Then add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stock of celery finely diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 green CABBAGE shredded

Add those to the sausage and stir them up until well wilted.

Once they are all well acquainted I tossed in a handful or two ( 1/2 cup) of my favorite legumey soup mixture.    It comes from the bulk section of my grocery store and is a combo of  green and yellow split pea, barley, lentil and maybe a bit of rice for good measure.  I really enjoy this combo because some of the items cook down while others keep their shape.

So toss that in and then stir making sure the legumes are well covered with all the juices etc of the sausage and veg.   Let that go for a few minutes and then add enough stock or water to just cover everything.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a nice simmer.  It will need at least 45 minutes to cook but that’s why it’s a good “go about your business” kind of dish.   But do check on it and stir it from time to time.

Then about 10 minutes before you are actually ready to eat it, toss in a very large handful of chopped kale.   This step IS optional, but you know me……..KALE is our friend!!

Let that cook in and then you are ready to enjoy!!

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Raw Soup – Re-Run Wednesday

What with summer and the warm weather  ( well hopefully where you live anyway!) just around the corner here is one of my favorite soups for re-run Wednesday.

After yesterday’s heavy meat rich offering, this one is SO cool and light it will lift your spirit just eating it!

Raw corn and avocado soup

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A Soup Accident

Let this be a cautionary tale to all who venture into the culinary world.  Not only to those of you who feel that you know your way around, but especially to those who are timid in the kitchen.   For let it be known, that it doesn’t matter HOW good of a cook you think you are, mistakes CAN happen!

I had the day off and it was a bit miserable out so I didn’t really feel like venturing out to the store and thought that a nice soothing bowl of soup would be in order.

I always have the usual suspects on hand, carrots, onions, celery, the base of any good soup.   I also had some nice cremini mushrooms to use up and had a nice jar of split yellow peas.

So I set out to make a nice curried split pea mushroom soup.

Into the Dutch oven tossed diced:

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 stalks celery ( leafy ones if you have them)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

I stirred those and let them cook till they became a bit wilted.  Then I added:

  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup rinsed yellow split peas
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp curry powder

This was stirred well and cooked for a few minutes then I added about:

  • 3 -4 cups of water ( or enough to completely submerge everything else)

Stir again, bring to a boil then turn down to a lower temperature to simmer.

Simple soup.

But  I felt I would be a little more ambitious because I thought this is what we will have for dinner so I better make it a little more substantial.

So I called The Chef at work.  “Hey, do you have any meat in the freezer?”

Whenever we eat roasts or whatever, and there are left overs ( rarely but it happens) The Chef wraps them up and tosses them in the freezer for “your soup”.  

I am often just as guilty with brocoli butts or ends of asparagus, wrapped up and tossed in the freezer.

So our freezer is filled with a lot of weird little frozen bags of stuff waiting to become “soup stock”.

“Yes, there is a bag with a few beef short ribs in there, just enough to beef up some soup.”  The Chef replied

I hung up the phone and went to the freezer.  I grabbed the first bag I found of hard brown squares.  Perfect.  I unwrapped it and dropped the frozen together hunk into the already simmering soup.  Didn’t matter that they were frozen solid, they would thaw quickly and cook up in the soup. 

I went on about my business.

About a half hour later I went back to stir the soup and make sure the meat had loosened up so I could stir it properly through the soup.

Imagine my surprise, when there was NO meat to be found!!!    What the WHAT??

“Oh no” I thought as I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.   That wasn’t the short ribs was it?

From time to time The Chef will go all “Haute Cuisine” on me and will spend the day making the Fancy French Stuff!

For instance, he will spend a day, painstakingly making demi glace.  A process cooking meat down and down further to make an exquisite nectar used in fancy sauces.   Then he will put it into ice-cube trays and freeze it for later use.   Do you see where I’m going with this??

This is the kind of stuff that only a cube or two would be required to add eminence flavour to your dish.

So yeah….I dumped a WHOLE bag of frozen demi glace cubes into my soup.

Is that a problem you ask?   Well, firstly I just wasted a very precious product in plain old soup and I just made the soup SUPER rich!

Oh well.

I kept digging in the freezer and finally found the meat I was looking for.  Good thing, because now with the rich beef flavour of the soup, I might as well actually have meat in it!!

I have to admit, it was some fine tasting soup but………I’m gonna be in trouble when The Chef goes to use his demi glace!!

Where’s the veg?

I try very hard to love vegetables!  I really do.  They are so good for me and filled with nutrients and ALL that good stuff!

But the truth of the matter is, sometimes I think they just taste like dirt!

So I am always looking for ways to hide them.

One of my favorite things to do is hide them in soup.

Sometimes at the end of the week I find myself with a lot of left over bits and bobs of stuff that were part of very satisfying meals .  The Chef likes to diligently pack away the three mouthfuls of whatever might be left from dinner and tell me “it will be good for your lunch” knowing very well that I don’t take that sort of thing for my lunch because I won’t use a microwave and that’s the only means of warming things at the office.

So by the end of the week, there can be some strange combos left in the fridge.

Time to get out the dutch oven and make us some soup!

I always have a combo of fresh veg and some “left over” something or other hanging around.  It is good to use a bit of both so you get a wide range of nutrients!

Today I have some left over veg strips from the “Salad Wraps” and some left over roasted veg from Sunday dinner.

Left over roasted veggies

I also diced up and onion, a carrot and a stick of celery and started them off first in the pot with a bit of olive oil.

Once they were nice and sweated I added all of the left over veg items.

Cook that up really well, then add the liquid of your choice.  Anything from water or stock or even a bottle of crushed tomatoes.  Seriously, whatever you have!

Add your choice of favorite herbs and or spices and then bring it up to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer, for at least half hour till everything is cooked nicely.

At this point it is usually very lumpy.   I let it cool a bit so I don’t get burned and then use the hand blender on it.  But you could put it in a real blender, but I always find that a bit of an ordeal.

 

Once it is nice and smooth, you are ready to go.  You could eat it like this or add some left over beans or chili or cooked potatoes.

Seriously….whatever is around that needs used up and is useless on its own.

And there you have a wonderfully hearty soup or even stew like item if you use less liquid!

Enjoy!

“Left Overs” soup

Sorta Miso Soup

I say “sorta” because it is my version and not traditional Miso soup.

Then again, just by vertu of containing miso……doesn’t that constitute Miso soup??

I started with some vegetable stock I had in the fridge.   As I prepare various vegetables during the week, I always seem to have butts and stems and bits that are perfectly good food but they just don’t go with what I’m making.  Like the bottom of the broccoli or asparagus or the middle of a cabbage that isn’t quite as perky as it should be.  I save all this stuff up and then once a week or so I toss them all in a pot with a chopped carrot, onion and celery, or whatever is laying about and needs used.   I cover them with water and add a bit of salt and maybe a little poultry seasoning ( which is mostly sage and such) and simmer them up till they give up their goodness.  I strain it off and then I have lovely vegetable water to do things with!

So I started with some of that, about 2 cups, in a pot and brought it up to a boil.

Then I added:

  • about 1/3 of a block of tofu cut into cubes
  • 2-3 thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 a carrot cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 small red pepper cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 stocks of kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • what ever else you feel like adding

Bring that up to a boil and let simmer a few minutes till the veg gets a bit cooked.

Then turn off the heat and add:

  • 1 – 2 tbsp of your favorite miso paste depending on how salty you enjoy

Stir it in quickly and serve. 

It is important to NEVER boil miso.   Heating it too much kills all the good fermented enzymes in it and defeats the purpose.  I mean it isn’t dangerous or anything, but  you aren’t getting the bang for your buck!!

I topped it with some sliced green onion.

This is a great soup to eat after you have over indulged in some way.  It is very calming and makes you feel good.

Miso Soup

Tuesday night soup

Tuesday night.   Dinner blahs, don’t really feel like cooking……but you gotta eat…..right?

Well let’s see what I can come up with.

I am picturing some potato salad.   I got some nice sized new potatoes on the weekend that have been calling my name.   I cut them into 8th and popped them in a pot of salted water to boil.

But then what?  Just potato salad?  What am I supposed to do with that?

Hmmmm…….

Well, I have already committed to the boiling potatoes.  So in a large bowl I made up a dressing.  I had some left over chopped red and green onion from the nachos, so I tossed that in the bowl with 1 clove of minced garlic.   Then a spoonful or two of Dijon mustard, a shot of soy sauce, about two tbsp of red wine vinegar and about 4 tbsp of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.   Stirred it up with the whisk.

When the potatoes were done, instead of draining them, I fished them out with a slotted spoon and put them directly into the bowl and tossed them with the dressing.   Doing this while they are hot, helps the dressing stick and soak in.   Then I put the bowl aside till I decided what I was going to do.

Now I had this perfectly good potato water and I had left a few of the potato bits behind.   Hate to waste it, why not make a nice Tuesday night soup with it??

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know I am a big fan of “cleaning out the fridge” from time to time and seeing what I can come up with!  So here is what went into the soup:

  • a handful of red lentils
  • two handfuls of shaved cooked turkey
  • 1/2 of a big carrot in a small dice
  • 2 tbsp of left over chopped red and green onion
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Bragg ( or soy sauce )
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • a shot or two of olive oil

Added all those together and brought it to a boil, cooking long enough for the red lentils to disintegrate and thicken the soup.

Then I added about 2 cups chopped kale and cooked for a few more minutes till the kale was good and wilted.

Just before serving, I hit it with a few shots of my favorite chipolte Tabasco sauce!!

Kale and turkey soup

So that was all good…..but I still had this potato salad.

And to be honest, the Chef gets panicky if he only gets soup for his dinner, so why not toss together a nice salad to go with it?

I lined a plate with some nice bib ( or also known as Boston) lettuce that I had.   Then in one corner a good helping of that potato salad.   In the other corner more of that shaved cooked turkey.  Then I added  some carrot curls and cucumber slices.

Then topped it with some  “craisins” , pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of a simple oil and balsamic dressing.

Tuesday night salad

Voila.   Tuesday night dinner!    AND I had some left over for my lunch the next day!

Oldy but goodie

For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, I know that you will have seen this one before.

But given it is winter in half the world right now, I didn’t think anyone would mind this recipe again.  Try it tonight, it is so easy and so comforting.

Enjoy. 

Sorry I haven’t figured out the “reblog” feature yet so:

Click here to see “My Favorite Soup” recipe.

 

Thai noodle soup

Chili con carne

There must  be millions of recipes for chili.

Everyone family and even every person has their own version.  There are chili cook-offs and festivals and so on all over the world.  Chili is a big deal.  Do you know why?  Because it is so dang easy!  That’s why.

So on this blustery day, I’ve whipped up a batch of my own.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 pound or so of lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 of one red pepper and 1/2 of one orange pepper diced ( cause that’s what I had around)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tin red kidney beans ( rinsed)
  • 1 tin diced tomato
  • 1 tin tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes ( more if you like)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper

So out comes the ol Dutch oven.  Heat it up and add just a drizzle of olive oil to keep things from sticking.  Then add the ground beef and cook until you no longer see any pink bits.

Then add the onion and mix through.  Let that cook a bit and then add the peppers and jalapeno.

After that has cooked for a while and the onions and peppers look a little sweaty, make a hole in the middle of the pot to expose the bottom.  To this hole, add all of your herbs and spices and let them “toast” a little.  This helps release their oils and flavours.  Then stir everything together.

Add the vinegar, mix in.

Then add the tin of diced tomato, mix up and then bring up to the boil but turn it down to a simmer as soon as it does boil.  Let this cook awhile like this, the longer the better.

When you are getting close to serving time, like half an hour out, add the beans.  You could put them in at the same time as the tomatoes, but if you leave it till the end they don’t get as mushed.

Then about 10 minutes before serving, add the tomato paste ( and maybe the tomato paste can full of water to get out the bits at the bottom and add a little liquid ) and the chopped garlic.  Stir these through till completely mixed.  Then turn off the heat completely!!

I know, sounds crazy, but this will thicken it up nicely and if you don’t cook the garlic too long it will have more flavour AND retains the medicinal properties!!

Chili con carne

 

I’ve served it up with some nice corn tortilla chips and some chunks of avocado with a few squeezes of lime juice.  Always need to try to have something “alive” with every meal because that’s where the enzymes are that help digestion!

Chili night

 

I suppose I should have waiting for “Spanish Class Night” for this but we needed this tonight!

Yam sauce

Well I’m up to my old tricks again!

The three R’s.  Reduce, Recycle, Re-use!

I hate leftovers.  Well, what I mean is I hate eating things again as they were, so I always feel the need to “re-work” them into something else.

If you have been following along here, you might remember I made something I called “Squash Sauce“?  Well this one is pretty much the exact same tecnique.

I took my Spicy Yam soup from the other day, heated it in a sauce pan, and then added a couple of tablespoons of Boursin Cheese!  Cream cheese or goat cheese would work just fine too if that’s all you had.

Spicy yam soup with Boursin cheese

Pour this over some nice grilled chicken and add your favorite side dish ( I just happend to have some left over “Brussels Slaw”) and you have a quick easy, nutritious mid week meal!

Grilled chicken with yam sauce and Brussels slaw

Spicy Yam soup

This one is a belly warmer!  

Start with roasted yams and onions.  ( click here for tips on that )

Once those have roasted up nicely, transfer to a soup pot and add:

  • 1 heaping tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes or more if you like
  • 2 heaping tbsp of peanut butter
  • enough stock or water to cover everything and then just a little extra

Bring this to a boil and them turn down to simmer for about 7 minutes stirring everything together and making sure the peanut butter has dissolved into the soup.

Turn it off the heat and let it cool just a bit till it is safe to use the immersion blender on it.  Blend until smooth and then turn on the heat for a few minutes till it heats up enough to eat.

I served it with a dollop of sour cream that I had made into a garlic dip for an extra little zing!

Spicy Yam Soup

 

Stuffed Cabbage

I always try to do the more “labour intensive” dishes on a Sunday afternoon.  And now with the days being cooler and shorter I’ve been turning to the heartier things that I like to make.

This is one of my favorites.  I’ll admit it is “step heavy” but if you have the time, it is well worth it.

The recipe comes from Laura Caulder’s “French Food at Home” show and subsequent cookbook that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.

As is usually the case, I tweaked it here and there for my own needs, but will direct you to Laura’s actual recipe so you have a fighting chance!

(Click HERE ) for Laura’s recipe.

 So start with boiling a big pot of water to blanch your cabbage in.  While that is coming to a boil, set out a good size cutting board or work surface and cover it with a clean dish towel and then cover that with about the same size as the towel of cheese cloth.   And then have about a foot long of butcher to cooking cord ready.   This will help when you are in the thick of it.      

Lay out cheese cloth

Cut the core out of the cabbage and gently pull the leaves off one by one and place them a few at a time in the boiling water and poke them under water with a spoon or something.  They really only need to be in for a few minutes till they are pliable.    Then take them out and put them in a bowl of really cold or iced water to stop the cooking.   Repeat till most of the cabbage is done except for the very middle, yellow looking part of the cabbage.  That will be chopped up and added to the filling as per the recipe.

Blanched cabbage

Then lay your cabbage leave out on another clean dish towel to dry off a bit while you make the filling.   Make the filling as per the recipe.  I have made it before without the bread if you are looking for a gluten-free option and it worked just fine.  

Cabbage filling

Once your filling is ready, you can start assembly.

Cabbage, filling, cabbage filling etc till you have used up your materials.

Start with largest leaves on bottom

Try and taper in as you stack the leaves

Then wrap er up real tight in the cheese cloth, that helps it keep a nice shape when you serve it.

Wrap it up good and tight

Laura says to put it in a wire basket or stand or whatever inside the pot, I didn’t.  Only because I didn’t like the idea of stuff leaching into the water.  So I just put it directly into the pot with liquid about half way up the side.  I used half chicken stock and half plain water.

Fill liquid to half way up

THEN, about half way through cooking, I added a little something extra.  I added some chopped cremini mushrooms and some quartered new potatoes.   As you will see this adds a complete meal feel to it.        

Take the cabbage package out when done and let it set awhile in a bowl.  Juice will run out of it so you don’t want it on the counter or just a plate.

Then as the recipe says, cook the liquid down a bit to concentrate the flavours and in my case make sure the mushrooms and potatoes are cooked.  I also added a couple of shots of Worcestershire sauce for good measure.

Once the cabbage has rested a while, put it on a cutting board, being sure to pour any escaped juice back into the soup pot!   Then cut off the cheese cloth and you should have a nice looking cabbage.

Stuffed cabbage

 

Cut it in half first and then in our case, each half in half, to make four servings.

Quarter cabbage

 Place the quarter in a bowl and then add some broth around it with the potato and mushroom and you have a DELIGHTFULLY warming hearty supper!

Stuffed cabbage with steamed new potato

It is worth every bit of effort!        

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Gravy Soup

I love turkey dinner, but I don’t much like it the next day.

I like the elements individually reworked into other things, but I do NOT like to recreate the dinner over again.  

So this poses a problem.  What to do with left over gravy?

Make soup out of it of course!

The Chef was offended by this concept, “but why?” I argued, there is all the same stuff in gravy as there is in soup! 

Because I hate to break this to you, but you know when you go to a restaurant and the soup is think and delicious?  Well that’s because it is full of flour and butter!  There, it’s out of the bag!!

So I don’t feel so bad about the two little teaspoons of flour I put in the gravy!  I don’t even like it in there but seems obligatory for holiday meals!

It was time to clear out the fridge.

In the dutch oven:

  • a tbsp or two of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion cubed
  • 1 carrot peeled and cubed
  • 2 ribs of celery cubed

Cook those up until they are nice and soft.   Then I added a cup of mixed pea soup blend which is green split peas, yellow split peas, red lentils and barely.  This item always seems readily available in the bulk section.

Then I added the left over brussels sprouts and bacon, chopped up into small bits.

Stir that in till it is nicely coated and cook for a minute or two. 

 Then add enough liquid ( water or stock) to cover everything.  Turn on high till it boils then turn it down to a simmer.

When it is cooked the peas will have broken down and you will have a nice thick “Pea Soup” . 

NOW is when you add the left over gravy.  If you put it in too soon all the gravy goodness will be cooked down and you won’t get the same amount of flavour.

There you have it, a lovely heart warming post Thanksgiving ( give your stomach a rest) soup!

Squash sauce

Squash squash everywhere!

It is that time of year and what with Canadian Thanksgiving rapidly approaching it’s time to dust off your squash recipes!

Squash squash everywhere!

I had some left over squash soup  ( click here for that recipe ) from the other day that needed used up but wasn’t really enough for both of us  to eat as actual soup, so what to do?

Well…..

I made squash sauce of course.

Extremely simple.  Put the soup in a sauce pan ( does that automatically make it sauce??) and add a little stock or water to it to thin it out.  Then I took the hand blender to it to blend up the hunks of kale and mushrooms that I so carefully added to it when I was making the soup!

THEN I added a good glob of Boursin cheese and melted that down into it.

Presto chango now you have a beautiful rich sauce for your topping pleasure!!

We had it on some grilled chicken which I put on top of some left over spaghetti squash that I sauted with some garlic, onion and a little butter.   And then a side of brown rice and broccoli and you have a pretty healthy meal chalk full of hidden vegetables!!

Chicken with squash sauce

Squash Soup

Here’s another quick easy soup recipe.

We had some left over squash kicking around that the Chef had been using to make ravioli filling.

So I pulled out the dutch oven, heated her up and added a few sloshes of olive oil.  Then added:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stocks diced

Cook these together till they are sweaty or even a little browning.  Then add:

  • the left over squash

Then add some herbs and spices if you wish.   I used….wait for it……pumpkin spice!!  It is very appropriate for Fall!   I also added a little cumin and some chili flakes to liven it up.   And some salt and pepper of course.

Then add some stock of your choice or water will do fine too.

Let this all simmer for a bit till the vegetables are nice and tender, then turn off the heat.  Let it cool a little, at least enough till it isn’t bubbling or anything.

Then take the hand blender to it.   Blend until nice and smooth.

At this point you could eat it now if you like but as is my way, I like to hide as many vegetables as possible in soup!  So I added some chopped kale and a few chopped mushrooms.

Turn the heat back on and heat back up until the kale and mushrooms are heated.

Then you are ready to go!

Squash soup

Indian style chicken and red lentils

See now this is a prefect example of how easy it is to be creative in your kitchen and use what you have.

This all started when I was looking at the online flyer from my local grocery store and saw that they have something called “Tandoori red lentil soup” on sale this week their “home meal replacement” department.

I thought to myself ” hmmm…..now that sounds good, bet I could make some of that!”

So I punched that title into our friend Google and a whole bunch of recipes appeared.  I looked at a few and some seemed more complicated than others and so I went through the ingredient lists to see if I could get away with making any of them without having to go to the store!

This is what I came up with.

I started by taking out the trusty dutch oven and over medium heat drizzled in a bit of olive oil.

Then I added:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • about an inch of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley finely chopped ( cilantro would be MUCH better here but I was without!)
  • about a cup of finely chopped baby spinach  ( it was on it’s last legs in the fridge so in it went!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

I let those cook a bit and get to know each other.

Then I added :

  • 1/2 cup rinsed red lentils

Stir those in and make sure they are well coated.

Then in a small bowl I combined:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • zest of two lemons ( keep lemons for juice later)
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Make a hole in the vegetables at the bottom of the dutch oven to expose the cooking surface and pour in the spice mixture.  Stir it around a little to “toast” it which will release the flavours.

Then mix everything in together.

Then add:

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes ( feel free to use fresh but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 small tin tomato paste

Stir well.

Now you could stop here and have a lovely vegan item, just put on some rice and you are in business.

You could also add a tin of say chick peas or the like if you were so inclined.

But I can only feed the Chef vegan items so many times a week so I also added a couple of chunked up raw chicken breasts.   Cooked would be fine too.

Stir it all up, put on the lid and let’er simmer till the chicken and lentils are good and cooked.   Red lentils pretty much just disintegrate into a nice thick sauce so no need for any thickening agents.

Indian style chicken and red lentils

But I know what you are thinking.   “This doesn’t sound like soup!”

You’re right.   I mean, it COULD be soup if you wanted to add a bunch more liquid and thin it out, but we are eating it on rice for more of a “something I found on the Indian buffet” type item.

Add the juice from the two lemons just before you are ready to go to the plate.  It will balance the flavour and give you a shot of vitamin C to boot!

I of course added a little steamed kale on the side, cause I’m crazy that way!

What we had for dinner

And there you have yourself a hearty, tasty, week night, comfort dish!  

And I didn’t even have to go to the store!!

Potato corn chowder

Well there isn’t exactly a Fall “nip” in the air around these parts just yet but the days are getting noticeably shorter which makes me turn to comforting foods.

I often feel that Fall and Winter are my preferred cooking seasons because I love hearty soups and stews and what I like to call “Slop on rice” type dishes.  Then again when Spring comes round I’m happy to start cooking lightly but…….out of sight out of mind……so for now my thoughts turn to hearty!

Corn is abundant right now and there are so many things you can do with it but today I made a nice hearty potato corn chowder!

Get out your dutch oven and chop up the usual suspects:

  •  1-2 peeled carrots diced
  •  1-2 ribs of celery diced
  •  1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium peeled regular potato diced

add a splash of olive oil to the hot pan and then add chopped vegetables and cook till they are a bit “sweaty” looking.  Then add some flavouring such as:

  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • pinch of smokie paprika

Or what ever other flavours you are inclined to use.

Cook all of that until it gets a bit of colour on it then add a few cups of stock of your choice or just plain water if you like.

If you have the time, let this stuff simmer until everything is nice and tender.  The longer you leave it the move the flavour develops.  This might not be true, but it adds to the romantic image of fall cooking.

When you getting pretty close to the eating part of the day we can do the next couple of steps.

In a separate pan add a little more olive oil and then add the kernels of a few ears of fresh corn ( you could use canned or frozen but seems silly in corn season!) and another peeled and diced potato. And keep tossing these around until they get a nice little brown on them.  Make sure your potato dice is small enough so the potato will cook!

Then we will add the cream or if you prefer my vegan friends, you can use almond milk instead.  ( actually that’s what I used cause I had lots)   Then we will take the hand blender to it and puree until super smooth.

You could use a blender if you like,  but I find that way too much trouble!

Then when it is nice and smooth turn the heat back on.  I guess I forgot to tell you to turn the heat off!  But if you turn off the heat and let it sit a little, it hurts WAY less if you get splashed!

So turn the heat back on and bring it up to a bubble, meanwhile your corn and potatoes are still getting their the “brown on” next door!

Then when everybody is warm and happy and you are ready to eat.  Add the corn and potato to the creamy soup, stir a little and VOILA!  Potato Corn Chowder!

Potato Corn Chowder

Now if that all seems like too much bother and too many pans and you don’t have an afternoon to mess with this, it would be perfectly reasonable to just toss this all in the same pot, cook it up and then “half blend” it so there is still some lumpy goodness to it.  It’s up to you.

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