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Mineral-rich Vegetable Broth (and Miso Soup)

The recipe I am sharing with you this week is almost always in my freezer, my clients’ freezers and simmering in my slow cooker. It is not always exactly the same, depending on what I have on hand and what I am using it for, but it is always filled with vitamins and minerals, easy to consume and very diverse.

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It is a vegetable stock, but even better. It’s made with lots of mineral-rich sea vegetables, the aromatic and powerful members of the allium family (onions, leek, garlic), the anti-inflammatory rhizome dream team (ginger and turmeric), immune-boosting shitake mushroom stems (you know, the part we sometimes throw out…), and of course, lots of clean, hydrating water.

I might be making this up, but I feel like ‘stock’ is a base to be made into something else (soup, sauce, stew) whereas ‘broth’ can be enjoyed as it is. This recipe can be both. On its own, with the help of a pinch of salt (and some turmeric –activating black pepper), it is a clean, flavourful, hydrating way to sip your nutrients. Especially when you might be going through a time when eating food and drinking water is not your favourite thing to do.

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Tomato & Fennel Soup

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When I think of comfort food, I think of tomatoes. I am a quarter Lebanese by blood and about 2/3 Lebanese when it comes to food obsessions. Although we are third generation Canadian, my sisters and I grew up embracing all things tomato, parsley, mint and lemon. For a special treat, my Mom would make stuffed grapevine leaves (we would help roll) baked in a tomato sauce, served with a classic tabouli salad. If it was just the four of us and our Mom for the night, she would often make the very most epic ratatouille with chick peas, finished with a healthy squeeze of lemon and some parsley for dinner. When we were sick, naturally, we got tomato soup.

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Perhaps this is why I gravitate towards tomatoes when planning menus for clients who are unwell. It doesn’t hurt that tomatoes are also one of the richest sources of the antioxidant, lycopene, which is well known for its cancer fighting and preventing abilities. The lycopene is actually more abundant in cooked tomatoes than in raw, so a slow-simmered tomato soup is especially healing.

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Soup-Greening (Pea & Spinach Soup)

More of a concept than a recipe, this post is paying homage to the green smoothie and all of its chlorophyll-ific powers, by lending the same concept to a different dish. Meet the green smoothie’s lower glycemic, gently cooked cousin: green soup. Greens soup. Green smoothie soup…I’m still working on it.

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You can start with any soup, much like a green smoothie can have any fruity base. If you want the vibrant green, use lighter coloured, low acid vegetables as the base (onion, leek, sun chokes, artichoke). Know that if you use a tomato soup base (much like using a berry base in a smoothie) you will wind up with something delicious, that could possibly resemble swamp water. Although I do think that the ‘you eat with your eyes’ concept applies less to the person cooking the food (if you know what went into it, and that it is going to taste delicious, it will, even if it’s not pretty, right?) if you are cooking for someone else who may be feeling under the weather and doesn’t feel much like eating, it will be harder to coax them in with swamp water-looking delicious food, than with delicious-looking delicious food. Trust me.

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Any greens will work, although spinach will get the smoothest, especially if you don’t have a high-powered blender. It is also quite bland, which can work in your favor. The up-side of making a green soup rather than a green smoothie, is if there are green bits that won’t blend in smoothly in your sad-ish blender, they will still steam and mellow into the soup. Anyone ever try to blend kale into their smoothie while on vacation using a blender from the 80’s? It feels like you are eating lawn trimmings. Like a cow. Again, you won’t have that problem here, give kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, and collards a try. Just keep in mind, they will impart their flavour into the soup.

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