Tunisian Garlic Chickpea Soup #SundaySupper

While the weather is definitely starting to warm up (albeit slowly!), around here we’re still in the throes of ever variable climate conditions day to day. This past week, for example, I went from wearing a fuzzy winter jacket, mittens and hat to a light sweater and back to a spring coat – and inside vs. outside temperature is even more variable due to the heating / cooling systems in different buildings.

Even if it was consistently hot and sunny outside, it’s almost guaranteed that soup will play a role in our weekly menu at home. For me, it’s often a quick-fix dinner after a full day of work or a busy weekend of lesson planning or prep work. My mom, though, savours the pleasure of a warm potage at lunch (with homemade bread, of course!), and is as eager to travel the world via tasting as I am through cooking. Soup is perfect for taming even the most savage of beasts (hunger or otherwise), and I love this one in particular because it’s a filling, protein and fibre-rich, flavourful blend with a built-in antibacterial forcefield from the hefty doses of herbs, spices and garlic!

While the ingredient list seems long, a lot of it is spices that are fairly commonplace. The starch I chose – sorghum – is one of my favourites in the flour world, and when I found a bag of the raw grain at my local Asian grocery I snapped it up and fell in love. The slightly sweet, buttery, nutty flavour the sorghum has pairs perfectly with the mellowed garlic and onions, while its texture reminds me of Israeli couscous or tapioca. That said, brown rice (especially a short grain variety) would play just as well here and regardless the whole thing is basically an excuse to eat a bowl of hummus for dinner!
 

Tunisian Garlic and Chickpea Soup

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
#SundaySupper is focused on “Spice is Nice & Some Like it Hot” this week – if you love spicy food of any kind (not just the “hot” spices), this event is one to check out! This week’s host is Sarah of The Chef Next Door

Aromatic Appetizers

 
Distinctive Drinks
 
Daring Desserts
 
Masterful Mains
 
Seasoned Sides

Plus Homemade Ginger Ale and Spice is Nice Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Tunisian Garlic Chickpea Soup
Makes 10 servings
2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil
1 large, sweet onion, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
25 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp paprika
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Zest of 2 Meyer or 1 regular lemon
7 cups vegetable broth
½ cup sorghum grain or short-grain brown rice
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp Meyer lemon juice (or 2 tbsp regular lemon juice)
⅓ cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp minced lemon thyme (or regular thyme + ½ tbsp extra lemon zest)

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the garlic oil over medium until shimmering.
  2. Stir in the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, until onion is beginning to turn golden.
  3. Add the garlic and spices. Cook 2 minutes longer, until fragrant.
  4. Add the broth, sorghum (or rice) and chickpeas and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. With an immersion blender, partially puree the soup, leaving some whole chickpeas and vegetables (alternatively, remove 2 cups of the soup and puree, then return to the pot).
  6. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and lemon thyme (or thyme / zest combination). Serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 151.5
Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 379.2 mg
Total Carbs: 26.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.5 g
Protein: 5.3 g

Mexican Turkey – Bean Soup #SundaySupper

If there’s one thing I don’t mind about the dip in the temperature these days, it’s the fact that I’m no longer whined at when I head to the kitchen and crank up the stove and oven. The Fall and Winter are prime “cozy food” seasons, making soup, stew, dense, grainy bread and baked desserts more than welcome at the dinner table, and heartier breakfasts like French toast and pancakes ideal any day of the week.

Since I’m teaching full time (and have outside recess duty), “warm-your-insides” meals are the order of things – and with the holiday gift giving season coming up, the more frugally I can live life day-to-day, the better! By cleaning out my stash of carefully prepped and frozen staples (cooked beans, shucked corn, shredded kale and zucchini, roasted Summer tomatoes, leftover roasted turkey and homemade turkey broth) and pairing it with year round staples like carrots, onions and sweet potatoes, I soon had a huge pot of chunky, stick-to-your-ribs soup packed with the soulful Southwestern spices I always seem to turn to when the chilly air blows through.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mexican Turkey Bean Soup

This #SundaySupper is featuring frugal flavours – from soup like this one to hearty mains and decadent desserts. Our hosts this week are Shelby from Grumpy’s Honeybunch and Caroline from Caroline’s Cooking – thanks ladies!

Save-Your-Pennies Soups:
Bean and Bacon Soup by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Mexican Turkey Bean Soup by What Smells So Good?
Pasta e Fagioli by The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
Turkey and Dumpling Soup by Palatable Pastime
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup by Pancake Warriors

Budget-Savvy Bread and Salads:
Mom’s Buttermilk Biscuits by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Turkey Salad by Food Done Light

Money-Saving Mains:
Black Bean and Bell Pepper Quesadillas by My San Francisco Kitchen
Cajun Blackened Chicken Thighs by Feeding Big
Chicken Enchilada Casserole by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
Chicken Enchiladas by The Freshman Cook
Chicken Piccata by Monica’s Table
Chicken Tetrazzini by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
Chimichurri Chicken Thighs by Life Tastes Good
Dutch Baby Pancakes by Brunch with Joy
Easy Cheesy Egg Breakfast Bake with Potatoes and Sausage by From Gate to Plate [or breakfast]
Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
Egyptian Rice and Lentils by Wholistic Woman
French Onion Soup Twice Baked Potato by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Gnocchi with Fennel and Pork by Caroline’s Cooking
Italian Baked Chicken by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Orzo with Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potatoes by Cooking Chat
Sauteed Vegetables by Party Food and Entertaining
Turkey Sausage and Pasta by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Twice Baked Sweet Potato Bar by Momma’s Meals
Yakisoba (Japanese Stir Fried Noodles) by Curious Cuisinere

Don’t-break-the-bank Desserts:
Apple Pecan Bread Pudding by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Marshmallow Popcorn Balls by Pies and Plots
Slow Cooker Apple Gingerbread Crumble by The Crumby Cupcake

And more saving suggestions from the Sunday Supper Movement:
Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas for #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Mexican Turkey – Bean Soup
Makes 10 hearty servings
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large, sweet onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 lb zucchini, shredded
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 garlic scapes, minced
1 hot cherry or jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
6 cups low sodium turkey or chicken stock
3 cups fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked Tongues of Fire (or pinto) beans
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, shredded or chopped
3 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup Aztec Blend
1 oz kale

  1. Heat oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until they begin to turn golden.
  3. Add the carrot, sweet potato, zucchini, garlic cloves and scapes, hot pepper and spices.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften.
  5. Stir in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until sweet potato is half-cooked.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients (except kale), re-cover and simmer 20-25 minutes longer, until grains are done.
  8. Stir in kale and remove from heat. Serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 274.2
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 22.3 mg
Sodium: 931.1 mg
Total Carbs: 44.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.2 g
Protein: 17.0 g

Tomato Pasta Soup #TheRecipeRedux

We’re in the middle of a run of rainy, cloudy, damp, dark and generally blah weather here. Given that school’s in session, it’s not like I could be spending my days out in the garden anyways, but less than glorious weather manages to drain the energy out of the day faster than normal for me. By the time I get settled at home (after the tasks required for the next day’s lessons and general housekeeping while my mom is away), I’m ready for comfort food and a good night’s sleep. I’m still not far enough into the “cold weather blues” to crave super hearty stews though – while soup is still definitely an “in a pinch” go to for me, I’ve fallen back onto the brothier, chunk-filled variety that satiates without weighing down. Tomato-based vegetarian bowls are perfect examples of what I’m talking about – today’s, for instance, is filled with brown rice rotini, red lentils, nutritional yeast and a punch of bright flavour from the Summer’s garden scallions, carrots and (home-roasted) tomatoes. Taking the soup up a notch in elegance, Ontario-made red wine vinegar and home-infused Cabernet Salt sprinkle in and fit beautifully in the melange of flavours. Since I’m cooking for one, I portion and freeze the batch right after cooking and either add barely cooked pasta to each container or wait until reheat time and add freshly cooked pasta then. I haven’t tried rice (just rice pasta), but suspect it would probably hold up better, especially the “Wild Pecan” brown rice I’ve recently fallen in love with.

Tomato Pasta Soup

This month for #TheRecipeRedux our group is serving up Fantastic Freezer Meals. Since it’s the end of the gardening season for some of us, storing that produce in heat-and-eat-from-the-freezer-meals is a great way to keep the flavour going all Winter long! Let us show off how convenient healthy freezer breakfast, lunches or dinners can be, and feel free to chime in with your own experiences – I’d love to hear what you do!

Tomato Pasta Soup

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

document.write(”);

Tomato Pasta Soup
Makes 6 hearty servings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic
3 cups gluten-free, low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups roasted tomatoes (I used homemade)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp Cabernet Salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 stalks green onions, minced
1 cup brown rice rotini or shell pasta
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ cup red lentils

  1. Warm oil in a pot over medium heat and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add the stock, tomatoes, basil, vinegar, salt, pepper, lentils and yeast.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the green onions and pasta (adding water if necessary) and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes*.

*Note, if you are freezing this for later it’s wise to either significantly undercook the pasta (5-7 minutes max) or cook it separately and add it when you reheat. 

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 242.1
Total Fat: 3.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 532.6 mg
Total Carbs: 43.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
Protein: 8.4 g 

Vegetable Beef Couscous Soup #TheRecipeRedux

While we don’t start school for another couple weeks (thankfully!), I’m always thinking about ways to plan ahead for easier weeknight dinners. These days, with the beginnings of the garden harvest coming in (there’s already a zucchini overload!), we’re trying to clear out space in the fridge and freezer so we can re-fill it to our heart’s content.

Luckily, produce (which is really only thing causing the freezer overflow) is perfect for tossing into sauces, stews, and most of all, soup. My latest foray into the frozen depths of the kitchen gleaned me a sizable container of last year’s Harvest Ragoût as well as a bag full of cubed sirloin steak trimmed off of some behemoth cuts we brought home a month or so ago. With those two treasures as starting points, I knew I had the makings of a delicious, hearty soup on my hands! A dip into the pantry, herb garden and liquor cabinet gave me the finishing touches I needed – rich beef broth, hearty red wine, classical herbs and whole grain Israeli couscous. A little over an hour later, a nice big Dutch oven of stick-to-your-ribs flavour was waiting for the family to enjoy for dinner – perfect timing too, since the weather was just cooling off from the humid afternoon!

Vegetable Beef Couscous Soup

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday/vacation season, August is the time many families get ‘back to routine.’ The Recipe Redux gang is sharing our favorite recipes to help families get ‘back to the dinner table.’

document.write(”);


Vegetable Beef Couscous Soup
Makes 8 hearty servings
1 tbsp camelina oil
½ lb cubed lean beef (I used pieces that I trimmed off too-big steaks before cooking, stewing beef is great too)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups Harvest Ragoût
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup red wine
8 cups low sodium beef broth
2 cups water
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tamari
1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous or other small pasta

  1. Heat camelina oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the beef and brown on all sides, stirring often.
  3. Add remaining oil, onion, celery, garlic and Harvest Ragoût. Cook 5 minutes, then add paprika, pepper and tomato paste and cook 10 minutes, until onions are soft.
  4. Add wine, stirring to deglaze, then add the broth, water, herbs and tamari.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  6. Stir in the couscous and cook 25 minutes longer.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 263.8
Total Fat: 8.0 g
Cholesterol: 25.8 mg
Sodium: 700.5 mg
Total Carbs: 29.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.5 g
Protein: 17.6 g

    Aztec Chicken Soup

    One of the catch-22’s of the growing season finally taking off is the fact that now we have to clear out the freezer and refrigerator in order to make room for the goods. Thankfully, Summer’s not going away any time soon, and although a hot bowl of soup may not be what you’d think of when it comes to warm-weather fare, I promise you this pot of veggies, chicken and grains has more than enough Summer flavour to fit in. The richness of roasted tomatoes and the spice of the jalapeno pepper is present, but not overwhelming, making it perfect for a cool evening outside after an afternoon thunderstorm (of which we’ve had many!). 

    Taste, nutrition and general deliciousness aside, for us the true joy of making (and enjoying) this chunky soup was being able to clean our (overburdened) fridge and freezer – just in time to stuff it full of fresh Ontario (not to mention backyard) produce. With a season this short and sweet, you need to snatch the opportunities when they present themselves! To add a little extra heartiness to our bowls, I dug into my dry storage and chose a rice and legume mixture called Aztec Blend™ that added a wholesome, slightly nutty aspect to the rest of the meal. 

    Aztec Chicken Soup

    Is it truly Aztec? I’m going to say no… so don’t email me to tell me how off I am. But is it delicious and golden enough to win over Cuzco? You bet!

    Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Gluten Free Fridays

    Hungry for more South American-inspired superfood? Don’t forget to enter my Qi’a Superfood Snack Bar GIVEAWAY!

    Aztec Chicken Soup
    Makes 10 (lunch-sized) servings
    8 cups corn stock
    3 ½ cups roasted diced tomatoes (I used home-roasted but I like these too)
    1 large carrot, diced
    1 acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
    1 jalapeno pepper, minced
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    1 yellow bell pepper, diced
    1 tbsp onion powder
    1 tsp coriander
    1 tsp paprika
    1 tsp smoked salt
    1 cup Aztec Blend™ (see note)
    1 lb cooked, diced skinless chicken breast

    1. Combine all the ingredients (except the Aztec Blend™ and chicken) in a stockpot and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 10 minutes, until carrots and squash are half cooked.
    3. Stir in the Aztec Blend™ and chicken and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until vegetables and grains are tender.
    4. Serve immediately or freeze for later.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 192.1
    Total Fat: 1.9 g
    Cholesterol: 28.1 mg
    Sodium: 553.2 mg
    Total Carbs: 26.9 g
    Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
    Protein: 14.5 g

    *Note: Aztec Blend™ is a combination of Colusari™ Red Rice, long-grain parboiled brown rice, green split peas, yellow split peas, red lentils and amaranth made by InHarvest – I bought mine at Bulk Barn but you can get it here too

    Beet and Amaranth Soup

    Well, it looks like (knock wood) we’re finally beginning to enter official “leg-shaving” season – i.e. the temperature is kissing 20C and we can take the kids outside with barely a light jacket or sweater. My squash and tomato seedlings are popping up inside my mini-greenhouse, and with luck this weekend will also see the planting of my beet, carrot, chufa and nasturtium seeds! Seeing all the new life springing up around us (both plant and animal – we found a nest of baby bunnies while raking the lawn today) reminds me that fresh produce is just a stone’s throw away… and I still have bags of processed veggies and stock fodder in the freezer from last fall to plow through!

    One of the bagfuls of homegrown goodness I finally dug out of it’s frosty home was packed with roasted and peeled Lutz beets. The best thing about this variety, to me, is that they totally lack any woodiness regardless of their size or age, and have a perfectly balanced sweet / earthy flavour that works in almost every application I’ve thought of – tossed into crisp salads, spiralized with carrots as a side, pickled, shredded into latke mixes or baked into cookies and cake. Given that I’m about to put this year’s batch of seeds into the ground, though, I figured I should probably set about using up what I already had – and luckily it was time for me to make up a batch of soup for work lunches anyways! I had a brand-new copy of the Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury begging to be cracked open, and with my pantry and freezer stocked and more than raring to go this light, flavourful adaptation of one of their soups was cooking up in short order. Along with the rich flavour of the root vegetables, the pot was filled with garlic, onions and amaranth seeds. For a final element of exoticism, I opted to add a squeeze of blood orange juice and shawarma seasoning to highlight the natural sweet-savoury flavours already going on.

    Beet and Amaranth Soup

    Digging into a bowl right off the stove was like experiencing the height of the garden season all over again – the flavour of the beets was bright and right at the forefront of the dish. After resting in the fridge, though, nutty elements from the amaranth and subtle spices from the seasonng blend crept through and truly made for a memorable lunch with a warmed piece of pita bread on the side!

    Beet and Amaranth Soup
    Serves 6
    1 tbsp camelina oil or olive oil
    2 medium onions, diced
    10 cloves garlic, minced
    4 cups roasted, peeled and chopped beets
    1/3 cup amaranth
    1 tsp Kosher salt
    1/2 tbsp shawarma seasoning*
    1/4 tsp white pepper
    5 cups water
    1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (I used blood orange juice)

    *Note: I made my shawarma seasoning with this recipe, but you can buy it here

    1. In a deep, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-low heat.
    2. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize – about 15 minutes.
    3. Increase heat to medium-high and add the garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
    4. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    6. With an immersion blender or in batches with a standard blender, puree until smooth.
    7. Season to taste and serve.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 283.2
    Total Fat: 7.0 g
    Cholesterol: 3.7 mg
    Sodium: 831.6 mg
    Total Carbs: 49.6 g
    Dietary Fiber: 8.0 g
    Protein: 7.9 g

    Moroccan Chicken and Saffron Soup

    I was really hoping to make it through the rest of the school year without getting sick, but life definitely has other plans! Luckily, we’re big soup eaters here, and a bowl of broth is never too far away, ready to be jazzed up with whatever my stomach can handle at the time (which, at the moment, is plain brown rice and maybe a diced carrot or two). Over the Winter, my mom ate a lot of hearty soups herself, and she still attributes her ability to avoid the bulk of the flu season to her daily bowls of comfort. It’s easy to see why – they’re always homemade, packed with veggies, lean proteins and healthy spices that fend off even the most stubborn colds.

    Moroccan Chicken and Saffron Soup

    Take, for example, this gorgeous and exotic concoction. Iron and protein packed chicken thighs, chickpeas and veggies toting fibre and vitamins and comforting pearls of whole grain couscous are just the headliners in the pot, backed up by an exotic array of spices including the elusive, expensive saffron. It smells like absolute Heaven while simmering, which would be reason enough to cook up a pot every few weeks if those darn crocus stamens weren’t so pricey these days (and those darn squirrels would stop eating my calendula – a passable substitute – every year).                 

    Whether you’re beginning your foray into Moroccan food (and really, you know my love for all things Moroccan!) or you’re needing one of those mid-day “pick-me-up” meals at work, this soup is perfect. Filling, flavourful, with that little “something extra” that keeps you coming back for more, it’s a delicious “bridge food” for the seasons too!

    Moroccan Chicken and Saffron Soup
    Serves 8
    1 ½ tbsp garlic infused olive oil
    1 medium white onion, diced
    ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
    1 large red or orange bell pepper, diced
    1 medium zucchini, diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    ¼ tsp crushed saffron
    ¼ tsp ground turmeric
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ¼ tsp cumin
    ¼ tsp paprika
    pinch ground cardamom
    ½ tsp coarse-ground black pepper
    pinch red pepper flakes
    ¼ tsp Kosher salt
    19 oz canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    3 ½ cups (one 29-oz can) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
    1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
    3/4 cup uncooked whole wheat Israeli couscous (I discovered they make gluten free Israeli couscous too, so you can make this GF if you need)

    1. Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven.
    2. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until beginning to turn golden.
    3. Add chicken and brown all over, then add pepper, zucchini and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften.
    4. Stir in spices and salt until fragrant, then add the chickpeas, tomatoes, broth and couscous. Simmer until chicken and couscous are cooked through, about 25 minutes.

     Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 209.0
    Total Fat: 5.2 g
    Cholesterol: 21.3 mg
    Sodium: 608.9 mg
    Total Carbs: 30.6 g
    Dietary Fiber: 6.4 g
    Protein: 12.5 g

    Chopped Chicken Ragu

    I have this theory that celebrating the birthday of someone is misguided – if anything, the date of your birth should be a celebration of the efforts of the parents who not only have birth to you, but raised to to become the person you are today. It’s not overly conventional thinking, but I’m like that! Plus, it takes the emphasis off of me every April 4 ;-).

    Chopped Up Chicken Thigh Ragu


    Anyways, with the birthday rant over and with a mind to celebrating my mom in particular, I will turn to a recipe that has become her long-time favourite sauce and/or stew since I made it up for a class project in 2009. As I’ve said numerous times before, we are bona fide veggieholics, and there is almost nothing better than tucking into a dish made with the bounty of the garden or the labours of our local farmers. I originally created the hearty (and gluten-free) mixture of diced chicken thighs, fresh rosemary, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini to be a hearty sauce for pasta or whole grains, and this is still one of the family’s favourite ways to eat it. Using chicken thighs (in place of the usual SBCB) lends the ragu not only a rich flavour but more iron, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin B-6 and zinc. That said, over the course of time we’ve also adapted it as a stand-alone stew (which is awesome the next day), as well as with various forms of protein like leftover holiday turkey, cubed tofu or cannellini beans.

    Regardless of the “meat of the matter”, we almost always keep a container of this stuff (or the ingredients to make it) on hand for a taste of Summer when Spring has barely lifted it’s head!

    Holistic Ragu with Leftover Turkey
    Post Christmas Shredded Turkey Version!

    Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

    Chopped Chicken Ragu
    Serves 6 as a stand-alone stew, 10 over pasta or grains
    ½ tbsp olive oil
    ¾ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in bite-size pieces
    1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, diced
    1 zucchini, diced
    3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
    ¼ cup dry red wine
    28 oz low sodium whole tomatoes
    3 tbsp tomato paste (I love my homemade stuff, but when I buy I look for tubes of double concentrated paste)
    Black pepper to taste

    1. In a deep pot (I use my cast iron Dutch oven), warm oil over medium-high heat.
    2. Add the chicken and brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes.
    3. Stir in the onions, zucchini, rosemary leaves and garlic. Cook 3-4 minutes.
    4. Add the carrot and cook, stirring, 5 minutes.
    5. Add the wine, stirring well, and cook for 2 minutes.
    6. Add tomatoes, crushing them into the sauce, then add tomato paste.
    7. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding add pepper to taste.
    8. Serve alone or with your favourite grain.

    Amount Per Serving (based on 6 servings)
    Calories: 257.2
    Total Fat: 11.6 g
    Cholesterol: 94.7 mg
    Sodium: 197.4 mg
    Total Carbs: 15.2 g
    Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
    Protein: 23.0 g

    Foul Weather Fowl Soup

    Well, it’s official – I’m sick. Again. Because it’s Winter, and that’s what happens. I’m giving my school kids a pass on this one, since this time around I managed to avoid the flu – trading it for an ear, sinus and chest infection rolled into one!

    I know I always appreciate having a prepared, go-to meal in my back pocket, whether it’s because I’m sick or because I’m just too worn out to cook during the week. Luckily, I didn’t even have  to think about making this during the week, because I had a few small armies of children help me make it in class a few weeks ago! This simple, hearty and vegetable-laden soup was a great frugal recipe for us to make, especially given that the weather was reaching down into the -20°Cs then and the weather in general was downright frightful! To keep costs low, I used up leftover Christmas turkey meat and some homemade broth, but even with storebought ingredients it doesn’t break the bank! It was also easy enough for the kids to make (with supervision), they did all the chopping, measuring and tasting!

    Soup is the perfect choice for when you’re laid up at home, since even if you’re making a batch from scratch while sniffling and coughing, it’s easy work and the smell is just as therapeutic as the taste – even more so if your tastebuds are on vacation too! I’m also one of those people who just can’t remind themselves to drink fluids (other than tea) if bumming around the house, so a bowl of soup – while not as ideal as pure water – can help keep those levels up. In fact, if you (or your loved ones) are off with the stomach flu, homemade soup is great, thanks to the sodium and potassium in the broth!

    No matter why you make it, there’s no denying a bowl of this is 100% comfort food that hugs you from the inside! Just ask my sous-chefs :-).

    Foul Weather Fowl Soup
    Serves 8

    8 cups low sodium storebought or homemade chicken broth
    2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
    2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
    2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
    2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
    1 tsp dried thyme
    ½ tsp dried rosemary
    ½ tsp poultry seasoning
    1 ½ cups dried pasta shapes or broken spaghetti
    2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken or turkey
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Optional: frozen peas, halved snow peas, corn, baby spinach, diced broccoli 
    1. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    2. Add the carrots, celery, leeks, tamari, thyme, rosemary, poultry seasoning and pepper, stirring to combine.
    3. Return to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
    4. Stir in the noodles and chicken* and cook a further 6-7 minutes, until the noodles are done.
    5. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!
    *If using any of the optional ingredients, add them with the chicken.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 169.9
    Total Fat: 1.7 g
    Cholesterol: 34.8 mg
    Sodium: 1,087.0 mg
    Total Carbs: 21.7 g
    Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
    Protein: 15.2 g

    Beet and Carrot Soup

    One thing that stays constant every January is the sudden upswing of people in the gym, health food store and diet centres. Some of them are truly looking to make a change – taking care to understand the “whys” behind the “hows” and implementing changes slowly. Others, though, are so hard-wired to look for an “instant fix” that they scour the earth for magic bullets and detoxes. You usually find out by February 1 which camp people are in.

    I hate to say it as a nutritionist, but I used to be in the second group – I truly hated the gym, loved my junk food and was constantly on the look for fat-burners, cleanses and whatever else I thought would help my cause. By the third week of January, I was buying candy on the way home from school, finding excuses to skip the gym and was frustrated that all those pills did nothing to get me to a size 6. Over time, though, I wound up doing a total 180 – I’m a huge vegetable freak now (while my favourite food is still dark chocolate), hate missing the gym classes I take (but I admit I still won’t go for just the machines) and prefer to get my physical and emotional nutrition from things that taste good that I can make from scratch, not pop a pill for.

    Beet and Carrot Soup

    While many people look at the use of beets, garlic and citrus in this light lunch as “detox foods”, I argue that the whole dish is cleansing. Not only are the ingredients wholesome and fresh, but getting into the habit of cooking and eating better is a type of mental clear-out as well. The fact that a bowl of this is delicious and warming as well as good-for-you should put you on the track towards eliminating any guilt from the holidays – what’s done is done. Make your next step a forwards one.
    Finally, in Jewish theology, beets are known as “silka,” meaning removal. Eating beets is supposed to clear any spiritual roadblocks from last year’s mistakes, ensuring a prosperous New Year ahead.

    But more than anything, it’s a perfect Winter-friendly lunch from the kitchen that freezes and packs well, and with a hunk of crusty bread will keep you satisfied until dinner!

    Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

    Beet and Carrot Soup
    Serves 6
    2 tbsp olive oil (I used a garlic-infused olive oil)
    1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
    10 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
    1 lb carrots, shredded
    1 ¼ lbs fresh beets, roasted, peeled and diced
    2 tsp dried rosemary
    1 ½ tbsp fresh thyme, divided
    1 tsp Kosher salt (I used Cabernet salt)
    ½ tsp black pepper
    6 cups gluten free vegetable stock
    2 cups water
    1 cup orange juice

    1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
    2. Add the onion and cook 10 minutes, until golden.
    3. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly (don’t let it brown).
    4. Stir in carrots, beets, rosemary, 1 tbsp thyme, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant.
    5. Pour in the stock and water, stir well and bring to a boil.
    6. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours.
    7. Add orange juice and simmer 1 hour more, until vegetables are very soft.
    8. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth, then stir in remaining thyme and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
    9. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 161.9
    Total Fat: 5.1 g
    Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
    Sodium: 454.5 mg
    Total Carbs: 27.2 g
    Dietary Fiber: 6.4 g
    Protein: 3.2 g