Spicy Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Spicy Black Bean SoupThis spicy soup definitely counts as eating healthy! With onion, green pepper, celery, carrots, corn and of course black beans, it has you on track for upping your veggie intake! This soup will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cups vegetable stock/chicken stock
3 (540ml) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (341ml) can whole kernel corn
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (796ml) can stewed tomatoes
Lemon/lime juice to serve

Directions:

In large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, green pepper and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add the chili powder, thyme and cumin; cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally so nothing burns. Add the stock, 1 ½ cans of the beans, corn, and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining 1 ½ cans of beans. Add these to the pot. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve hot, with a quick squeeze of lemon/lime juice to each bowl.

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Now while I don’t know any Jewish wedding that this amount of soup would fit the bill for, you can feed about 8-10 people with it as a nice starter. Think of it as an Italian chicken soup, but with meatballs instead of matzo balls! Not that the edition of matzo balls would be a bad idea… hmm…

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon salt, or to taste
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
⅓ cup coarsely chopped onion
⅓ cup coarsely chopped carrot
⅓ cup coarsely chopped celery
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 ½ quarts chicken broth
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
salt to taste
1 cup seashell pasta (or other small-shaped noodle)
2 cups spinach – packed, rinsed* and thinly sliced

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, but do not over mix. Shape the meat into ¾ inch balls, and set aside. In a large stockpot, on medium-high heat, add the oil and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until the onion becomes slightly translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, and let cook a few minutes more until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the broth, bay leaf and peppercorns and any salt that is desired, bringing the broth to a boil. You may wish to put the bay leaf and peppercorns in a little cheesecloth bundle, to make for easy removal later, but you can skip this step, and simply fish them out later. Once boiling, slowly drop in the meatballs and pasta. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. At the last minute add the spinach and wilt it into the soup. Serve hot with crusty bread and enjoy!

* click here to check out how to clean spinach properly.

Moroccan Spicy Lentil Soup

Spicy Lentil Soup

The recipe for this soup was passed around the office with rave reviews! It was originally published in the Toronto Star many moons ago, but has since become a staple in many of the houses of my co-workers. When they heard I was doing a Moroccan Week, it became a no brainer that I include this recipe! I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cinnamon stick, about 2-3 inches in length
1 cup dried red lentils
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
796ml can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
540ml can chick peas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until the onion has softened, but has not browned. Stir in the paprika, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the lentils, and mix until they are well coated. Stir in 5 cups of stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper and the bay leaf. Raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the remaining cup of stock and stir in the chickpeas, parsley and lemon juice. Simmer uncovered for a minute or so. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Adjust the flavour as desired, adding more salt, pepper or lemon, then serve hot. Enjoy!

Psarosoupa Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon Fish Soup)

Lemon-Egg Fish Soup

Ingredients:

10 cups water
3 lbs. firm fish, cut into big chunks
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
8 New potatoes or 2 regular, coarsely chopped
½ cup white rice or orzo
3 large eggs
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and Pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions:

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Carefully, add the fish, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and olive oil. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish is tender. Remove the fish from the broth and set aside. Raise the heat slightly to medium-high, and add the vegetables to the stock. Simmer for 15-20, or until tender. Discard the bay leaf, and then remove about a third of the vegetables from the broth, and puree the vegetables, along with a little broth, in a blender or food processor. This pureeing step is optional, as you can just leave all of the vegetables whole. If you pureed the vegetables, add them back into the pot, and then bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice/pasta, and cook, partly covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and lemon juice until foamy and slowly add about 1 cup of the warm broth, a bit at a time, to heat the eggs. Pour the egg-lemon mixture into the pot, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens slightly and turns yellow. Return the fish pieces to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with lemon wedges. This soup will serve about 8 people and is great with crusty bread and butter.

Best Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, diced
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, sliced in ¼” rounds
6 cups vegetable broth
1 796ml can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 769ml can crushed tomatoes
1 540ml canned kidney beans, drained
1 540ml can green beans, drained
2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and checked*
2 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
2 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoons dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup pasta, seashell or ditalini, or your favourite shape
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and sauté garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth, diced and crushed tomatoes and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, squash, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better. If the soup is too thick, or you would like more broth, you can add additional vegetable broth or water.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and add a heaping teaspoon of salt. You can omit the salt if you’re watching your sodium, but this is really your only chance to flavour the pasta itself. You could also add a teaspoon of bouillon to the water instead of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

* To learn how to check spinach, click here.

Viva Italia!

Viva Italia

Well, so far we’ve gone Latino and New England, I thought, why not Italian? I love a hearty Minestrone soup, and it tends to fall into that category of Stew-oups that I mentioned before. Soups so chunky that they are almost stews! I love that Minestrone soup in particular tends to turn into a “kitchen-sink” recipe. What ever is left in your vegetable drawer in the fridge, add it in! Got cans of different veggies in the pantry? add them in! It really makes it easy for substitutions as well, as the recipe is not set in stone. You don’t HAVE to use both zucchini and yellow squash, one or the other will do. Don’t have kidney beans? Use navy beans, or chick peas. You’re really only limited by your imagination. To me, Minestrone soup is a tomato based broth with tons of chunky veggies and some pasta thrown in. Who’s to say which veggies they have to be, or which pasta? The good thing though is that it is so easy to make and so filling, that all you need is some nice crusty bread and a glass of vino and you’re set! Ciao Bella!

New England Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

This is a rendition of Leah Adler’s delicious fish chowder served at The Milky Way. The key is use lots and lots of white pepper.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups onions, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 cup corn, canned or frozen
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups potatoes, diced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
4 cups boiling water or vegetable stock
2 pounds fresh halibut, or other firm fish, cut into large chunks
4 cups whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Sauté onions and celery in butter until soft, but not brown. Add potatoes, corn, seasonings and water/broth, simmering until the potatoes are tender. Add the fish to the soup. Cook another 5 – 10 minutes. Do not stir (you’ll break up the fish). Add the milk and bring back up to temperature. Do not boil. If the consistency of the soup is too thin for your liking, you can add the cornstarch, to thicken it. First temper the starch in a small bowl with some of the hot liquid from the soup. Stir until the starch has dissolved and then add this to the main soup pot. This will thicken the broth. Serve this with some crusty buttered bread and it’s a meal in itself. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups frozen corn kernels
1 15oz. can black beans, drained, but not rinsed
2 cups onion, diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups chunky salsa
8 corn tortillas cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup shredded non-dairy (parve) cheese, to serve (optional)
Non-dairy (parve) sour cream, to serve (optional)
Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, poach the chicken in the chicken broth. Once cooked through, remove the chicken from the broth, and set aside to allow it to become cool enough to handle. Strain the chicken broth to remove any impurities that may have accumulated while poaching the chicken.

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven (can be the same one you poached the chicken in), add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and mix well, allowing the spices to become fragrant. Then add the broth, corn, beans, lime juice, and salsa. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. While the broth simmers, take the chicken that you have set aside, and using two forks, or your hands, shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the soup and let it simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

While the broth mixture simmers, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Fry the tortilla strips in the hot oil until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Place half of the tortilla strips in the bottom of each bowl, and then serve the soup hot with the remaining tortilla strips on top, along with the options of the cheese and sour cream. Serves 8.

Curry-Scented Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, 2 ½ lbs or about 6 cups, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
2 large sweet apples such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
3 medium onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable stock
1 container (8 oz/250 g) mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream and snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter in over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until curry powder is fragrant. Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle about one-third of the squash mixture into blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour blended soup into a stand-by bowl for holding while you blend the rest of the soup. Repeat two times with remaining squash mixture. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender, you can use this rather than transferring the soup. Return soup to stock pot and whisk in mascarpone and salt until mascarpone is completely incorporated. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with additional stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and remove from heat. Garnish each serving with sour cream and chives, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Bonus – When scooping out the seeds from your squash, do NOT throw them away! Clean them under running water to remove any residue, and then toss them with a little oil and spices of your liking. With this soup, since it has a curry flavour, you can toss a little curry powder or even cinnamon or nutmeg on the seeds, along with some salt and pepper. Then spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. You should just keep an eye on them, as seeds tend to burn quickly! Once done, remove from them oven and toss a few on top of each soup serving as a nice crunchy garnish.

Pre-Fast Meal – First Course

Brocoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

A nice vegetable soup like this will stick to the ribs, without being overly filling. You can substitute other vegetables for the broccoli if you like, such as cauliflower, carrots or squash.

Ingredients:

1 package frozen broccoli florets (equal to 1 head of broccoli)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots
4 cups hot water
4 teaspoons chicken soup powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dill
2 tablespoons margarine
1 ½ cups soy milk or water

Directions:

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in the margarine, until golden and translucent. Rough chop the remaining ingredients and add them to the pot, along with the water and the spices. Cook on high/medium-high for 30 to 45 minutes. Once cooked through, pour mixture into a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender, and puree the mixture until smooth. Add the soy milk/water, and serve warm.