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recap – saturday

12 May
Saturday didn’t start out as well as I thought it would. We woke up bright and early (like 6 a.m.) to eat, get ready and be on time for boot camp (at 8), and I went from “I’ll go and do what I can” to “I can’t make it down the stairs to the front door” in about 15 minutes’ time. Needless to say, I went back to bed, and didn’t wake up until almost noon! E still wasn’t home, so I called him while I made a simple breakfast – Strawberry Glucerna with chopped walnuts and skim milk for 266 calories.


I had lost my voice, so E couldn’t understand a word I was saying, but explained everything when he came home. Apparently, our trainer had decided that in the last 30 minutes of the session, they’d head out on a 5 mile walk around town, but didn’t tell any of the participants about it. Even though it was supposed to end at 10, it didn’t end until 11:45, by which point most of the participants’ families were calling them frantically, worried that something had happened. I appreciate the trainers’ efforts into mixing things up at the bi-monthly workouts, but this seemed to be a little ridiculous. E wasn’t in the best of moods when he got back, so we decided to work on the garden for a little bit, potting our herbs and our patio tomatoes. We needed some potting soil from Home Depot, and on the way there, stopped for lunch at Panera. I wasn’t really hungry, but hadn’t had an appetite all day, so I figured it was better to eat then to skip a meal. I ordered the LF chicken noodle soup with a side of baguette and opted for an iced green tea at the last minute. I ate 2/3 of the soup and 3/4 of the bread with a couple dips of E’s tomato soup and all of the tea for 325 calories.



E had picked up a little poison oak over the last couple of days, so we stopped at CVS for some meds, and I picked up a diet Pepsi, which actually made me feel a whole lot better.


We ended up out in the yard for 5 or 6 hours without even realizing it! We took a quick break at 6:30 pm to watch this week’s episode of the show (with our little interview), and headed back outside. ended up running to the store around 8:30 pm for some twist ties and pots to finish potting the rosemary and oregano and to stake the tomatoes. I still wasn’t hungry, but E was starving (which he should’ve been!), so we grabbed some food on the road – Arby’s. I’m not one to sit around and put ‘fast’ food down, because lord knows, there are days when it comes in handy, with or without planning, and Saturday was one of them! I had a regular roast beef, 1/2 packet of ‘horsey sauce’ (horseradish mayo) and 1/3 of a medium curly fries for 482 calories.


For some reason, while we were waiting for SNL, I got absolutely starving for the first time all day. I totally wanted comfort food, and something fast and warm, so I heated up a strawberry Bagelful, which was perfect, for 200 calories.


Normally, I wouldn’t have been happy with the day’s eats, but when all was said and done, I was under my targets in calories, fat, the whole yard, so it actually wasn’t too bad. The only thing I was really missing was fresh produce, but in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have eaten any with the way I was feeling! I definitely let my body have what it wanted, and while I hope not to make a habit of it, seemed to work. All in all, the day’s totals were 1273.

delicioso!

6 May

I think I may be the only person in the blogosphere who didn’t make a Mexicanspired meal tonight – it completely slipped my mind! I was just happy to have my camera ready in time for dinner. Since we had a couple of errands tonight (including a quick trip to el gymo), I started on a red lentil soup this afternoon, simmered it to perfection, and then just reheated when we came back. Guys, this was a serious soup – E said that he’d order it at a restaurant, pay for it gladly, and return over again to eat another bowl. Now that’s a compliment!


I based it off of Courtney at The Hungry Yoginis, and it was super simple:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 3 cloves garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (NSA if possible)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 3 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
  1. Heat up a medium pot over medium-high heat, and spray with olive oil.
  2. Saute onions until soft and translucent. Add in all seasonings, except for the bay leaf, and stir until onions are coated and spices are fragrant.
  3. Add in the carrots and celery, and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, lentils broth, coconut milk and the bay leaf. The coconut milk will look like it’s separating, but don’t worry – it’ll reincorporate with everything else as it cooks.
  5. Simmer for an hour over medium-low heat, and enjoy!

I also had a tuna, hummus, spinach and carrot wrap and some strawberries – good, but definitely not as good as the soup. I’m looking forward to lunch tomorrow already!

Soup Glorious Soup!

15 Jan

There’s nothing quite like a warm, home-cooked meal on a cold night, especially one that can clear out your sinuses at the same time. E and I get quite sniffly on and off all winter long, so many nights feature soup as our meal of choice. Thanks to the crockpot and some foresight, this can stop any sniffle in its step. It’s hard to decide what I like best: vegetarian, fat free, frugal, easy and full of zippy flavor, this soup is definitely an all-around winner that doesn’t require any special shopping trip. Sprinkle with some cheddar and crushed tortilla chips for that little extra special something.

Why not, this is healthy!

Smoky Refried Bean Soup
adapted from FatFree Vegan Kitchen and A Year of Crockpotting
serves 6

  • 1 can of fat-free refried beans
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup baby carrots, halved
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Turn your crockpot to high, and add in the refried beans. Take a couple of minutes to stir the beans, melting the blob of beans.
  2. Dump everything else in, and stir together.
  3. Cook on low 6 hours, or on high for 3. Keep in mind that you’re not cooking anything, just softening the carrots and beans, and allowing for the flavors to marry.

Tasty Thai

7 Nov

A couple of years ago, I discovered a miraculous food: Tom Yum Soup. See, the winters in Montreal were always exceptionally chilly, and I often took cover at the local mall and bus depot. After having exhausted the regular food court offerings, I noticed a new occupant in one of the stalls: Thai Express.

Having never tried Thai before, I decided to order the Tom Yum, which was described to me as a spicy lemongrass-ginger soup. I had it meal-style, which meant they added in some bean thread noodles, shredded chicken and a ladle of coconut milk. I sat down, took my first bite, and was immediately in heaven. I knew I’d be back often, and indeed I was.

Now that I live in a much smaller, less diverse city, my ethnic options have dwindled to Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and Indian. Good, but not good enough. I love exploring the world through food, and decided that if the world can’t bring its cuisines to me, then I would create them myself. I started off with Thailand, and boy, am I glad I did! I put together a quick menu of Tom Yum Had Soup, Asian Coleslaw and Salad Rolls, and was off and running.

This meal does require a fair amount of chopping and mise en place, but it’s definitely worth it! The flavours are excellent, ranging from citrus to peanut, savoury sweet to spice. I think this would also be a nice meal to entertain with, especially if you have friends that like to travel or try something new. It’s an easy meal, albeit one with a lot of chopping. Also, you can prep everything ahead of time, and make the soup 30 minutes before your guests arrive.

Tom Yum Had Soup
serves 6 – 8

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 roma or plum tomatoes, cut in eighths
  • 12 cups (no-)chicken stock
  • zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 Kafir lime leaves)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, pounded
  • 3 T (vegetarian) fish sauce (I’ve used soy sauce, and it tastes the same)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 T Sriracha (a spicy chili-garlic sauce)
  • 1 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 T ginger, grated
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 1 carrot, sliced in half moons
  • 3 cups of bean sprouts (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion (not the green onions), half each of the ginger and the lemongrass until the onion translucent.
  2. Add the stock, fish or soy sauce, remaining ginger, lemongrass, and lime zest. Simmer 10 – 15 minute covered on medium-low heat.
  3. Add in the sugar, Sriracha, mushrooms, and half of the sliced tomatoes. Simmer an additional 2 minute.
  4. Turn heat down fully to low and add in the lime juice, half of the diced cilantro and the green onions, then let simmer on low for another few minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, the rest of the tomatoes and the bean sprouts and allow to warm through.
  6. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining cilantro and serve with additional lime juice.


Salad Rolls
makes about 10 rolls
note: for more substantial rolls, you can include in your fillings a thinly cut protein, such as egg, pork, tofu, chicken, shrimp, smoked salmon, or a sashimi-grade raw fish.

  • 1 (16 ounce) package rice or tapioca paper sheets
  • 4 green onions, julienned about 3 inches long
  • 1 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin slices
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, peeled, julienned, and cut into 3 inch strips (or shredded. Choice is yours)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package bean thread noodles, softened and drained
  • 1 romaine heart, leaves separated and cored
  • Mint, shredded

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 T lime juice
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 t hot pepper flakes
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 3 T chunky peanut butter
  • 1 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 t brown or white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients for the peanut sauce ahead of time, and set aside.
  2. In a medium pan, add in about 1 1/2 inches of hot (but not boiling) water.
  3. Place each rice or tapioca round into the water, immersing completely, until it begins to soften. Do not allow to soften completely, as it will continue to cook and be too soft to roll.
  4. Set on counter or cutting board, and layer noodles, carrot, cucumber, green onion, red pepper and avocado. Top with shredded mint and a romaine leaf. Roll in a motion similar to rolling a burrito – grasp at bottom, holding fillings in tightly and while folding in the sides, continue to roll. Be mindful that you still have to roll it up, so do not overfill.
  5. After each roll is completed, wrap tightly in plastic wrap until serving. They keep very well wrapped in the fridge, which allows the roll to retain moisture and its shape.
  6. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.

the prepared fillings, from top left to bottom right:
shredded carrot, cucumber, avocado, green onion and red pepper;
prepared bean thread noodles; romaine lettuce leaf, cored;
shredded mint leaves

the tapioca paper round –
on the left, from the package; on the right, after softening in hot water



on the left – before being rolled
on the right – after rolling

Asian Coleslaw
serves 6 – 8

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T peanut butter
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 3 T (no) fish sauce (soy sauce can be used instead here as well)
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t Sriracha
  • 2 lbs napa cabbage, thinly sliced (12 cups)
  • 3/4 lb red cabbage, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 15 mint leaves, torn
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter together with the lime juice, fish or soy sauce, water, sugar, garlic and Sriracha.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the napa and red cabbages with the carrots, peppers, cilantro, peanuts, and mint.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve right away.

Cozy in a Bowl

19 Oct

Fall is definitely my favourite season. I love that it means hoodies and jeans, apple picking, and the cool, crisp smell of the air (the next best thing to the smell of snow). The leaves start to change, making the forests seem like they’re on fire.

Fall and I are best buds – if I had my way, we’d be together 24/7.

With Fall around, I definitely gravitate towards heartier, homier, stick-to-your-ribs cooking. Stews, casseroles and soups feature prominently around here, giving your insides a great big hug. A couple of weeks ago, I was definitely in a nesting kind of mood, and decided to put together a meal of pure love.

Taking inventory of my pantry, fridge and freezer, I knew I had all the ingredients for Broccoli and 3 Cheese Soup, and decided to put together an Irish Soda Bread to accompany it. The prep work on this meal was quick, and it was really easy to put together. Man oh man, do you get rewarded for your efforts! The bread was dense, with a nice crisp crust, and the soup was cheesy, creamy and just all around delicious. This is definitely going into our Tried and True folder!

Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Joy of Baking by Stephanie Jaworski

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 T granulated white sugar
  • 2 T oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I made my own by combining 1 1/2 T of white vinegar to 1 1/2 cups of skim milk and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and place rack in the centre of oven.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda, salt and oats.
  3. Make a well in the centre, and add in most of the buttermilk. Using your hands (or a wooden spoon), mix until you have a soft moist dough. Add in more buttermilk as necessary to acheive said dough.
  4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead gently into a 7 inch round that’s about 1 inch thick.
  5. Place the round on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, and with a sharp knife, cut an ‘x’ into the dough about 1/4 inch deep.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean. You can also test for doneness by tapping on the bottom of the bread and listening for hollowness.
  7. Serve warm.

Broccoli and Three Cheese Soup
adapted from A Year of Crockpotting
Note: Although this makes what seems to be a lot of soup, it was just enough for E and I to each have two bowls, with about 1/2 cup left over for his lunch the next day. Also, you can use whatever cheese you like in this recipe, so feel free to customize to your tastes.

  • 4 cups no-chicken broth
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 20 oz. frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup shredded Casserole Mix cheese
  1. Dice your onion pretty finely, and add to a 6 qt crockpot.
  2. Top with milk, broth and spices, and stir in frozen broccoli.
  3. Cook on high 4-6 hours, or on low for 7-9. You’ll know it’s ready when the onions are softened. Mine reached this point at about 3 1/2 hours on high.
  4. 30 minutes before serving, stir in your cheeses.
  5. Serve!

I served the soup and bread up with some spiced tomato jam, flavoured with cinnamon and cloves, that we picked up on our honeymoon and some butter.

It was amazing, and one of the best meals I’ve ever made.

Seriously.

It was just that good.

E and I decided that we could eat this every day, and for the next few months, we’ll probably come close.