Recipe Share: Veg Lentil Soup

24 10 2011

I love how this soup has friends, family and community farmers all in one pot – metaphorically speaking. Our friend Dan gave us a big ‘ole container of green lentils grown on his wife’s family’s farm in Saskatchewan. I have been looking forward to making a pot of lentil soup for some time. My dear friend Kelly shared this recipe with me. It is a family favourite. Her and I were out for a leisurely tea remembering her sister and my good friend Jodie who passed away a year ago. Among many things, we shared nourishing soup recipes and ate a cookie in her honour, Jod loved cookies. As well, our family suffered the loss of my cousin in recent weeks, he was known to be the cook in the kitchen himself (runs in the family eh) – so it seemed fitting to put a pot of soup on the stove this weekend in remembrance.

This couldn’t be a simpler recipe, and as Kelly says, she rarely follows the recipe, so I did the same. Here is the recipe and my additions below.

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped (I omitted this)
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin (fresh ground is best)
  • 1/2 cup diced Carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced Celery
  • 1 cup diced Potato
  • 1 cup dry Green Lentils
  • 4 cups or so of stock (use chicken or veggie, I used Veggie cubes)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Hot Sauce

I more than doubled the recipe and also added;

  • Diced Parsnips
  • Zucchini (which I added with the stock)
  • Chopped Parsley (I always have some frozen in the freezer for soup)
  • 1 tsp hot Chilli Powder

Saute the veggies first, until they start to sweat. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil and simmer on a low boil until lentils are soft. Add the lemon and hot sauce, serve.

Oh yeah, hello fall.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat

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Roasted Chickpeas

26 09 2011

How has your week kicked off? The weather continues to be balmy here in Calgary. Now that the busy summer is over, I have been enjoying trying a new recipe here and there. The other weekend I tried one of Mark Bittman’s recipes for Roasted Chickpeas. I was looking for something simple and healthful to bring to a certain someone’s non-birthday party and I knew an experiment would be okay with this crowd. For his actual recipe and blog click here. I adapted his recipe to my tastes and seasoned with hot smoked paprika and sea salt. Smoked paprika is popular in Spanish foods. It is super flavourful. I picked some up after taking a Spanish cooking class with Tony before our honeymoon to Almeria, Spain a few years back. At the cooking class we made toasted blanched almonds with smoked paprika and sea salt, which were amazing. I figured it would make chickpeas exciting too.

  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 can, 398ml, drained cooked / canned Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • Fresh cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp or more Hot (or mild) Smoked Paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Heat the oil over medium heat in an overproof fry pan/skillet that is large enough for the chickpeas to be in one layer. If you have a pan with a handle that might be sensitive to heat, I have seen chefs wrap tin foil around it. Once the oil is hot, add the chickpeas, garlic, half the salt and some cracked pepper. The garlic and chickpeas will crackle a bit, shake the pan so the chickpeas are coated. Place the pan in the oven. Roast in the oven for 20-30 min (mine took 30 to get a crunchier skin), shaking the pan every 5 min or so. When they’re done, sprinkle with the paprika and the rest of the salt, toss, taste, adjust and serve.

Smoked Paprika Roasted Chickpeas

I found the crispness didn’t last very long, but everyone that tried them said they were good and would be good on a salad too. Tony kept eating them in the car on the way to the party (bad distracted driver).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Lunch at Work v.5 – Rice Salad Bowl

6 06 2011

How has your week started off? Soggy if you’re in Calgary. I was going to blog again about the miracle lettuce yesterday. I took a picture of the little greens yesterday morning and was convinced they hadn’t grown since the first picture was taken almost two weeks ago. Well after a day in the sun low and behold I swear the miracle lettuce grew (and everything else around me). So, I’ll give it another soggy week and see what happens. I sowed some lettuce seeds right beside it though so I have a control group and something to compare. 🙂

Lots going on in the food world these days. An important debate we must pay attention to is the conservative governments work to end the Wheat Board in Canada. Listen to a podcast on CBC about it here. There are two very different sides to this story and although it didn’t make much press prior to the federal election, it sure is now. I continue to research this issue – it and the GMO challenges companies like Monsanto create makes for the business of food something to stay alert to. See my last post on the geopolitics of food.

Recently I heard a great story on CBC Calgary on how to truly buy community supported and wild sourced salmon. Karen Anderson, a CBC regular and city ‘food finder’, brings us Skipper Otto’s Wild BC Salmon in this podcast. I know I don’t talk meat on this blog often, but renewable, local sourced foods are important, especially if you eat meat (for articles about this read Mark Bittman in the NYTimes here). I will think about signing up with the Skipper. You can follow the fishing season on his blog.

Well, I couldn’t just give away a recipe without directing you to a few bigger issues, so there you have it and now here’s a recipe for work. I am a bit notorious when it comes to eating this. I hadn’t blogged about it because it seemed lame, but I am sharing it because it is healthy, lasts a week, packs well and in a pinch fills the belly and keeps you satisfied. I have said that I am a mono-dieter at times, this is a good example of a lunch I don’t think much about and when I am busy, comes in very handy, over and over again. Use your imagination on this one, the options are endless (hence why I eat it so regularly).

Rice Salad Bowl

  • 4 cups Cooked Brown Rice of your choice (or half quinoa or grain of your choice; try soaking the rice for a day, makes the cooking time way quicker)
  • 1 can Organic Beans of your choice (garbanzo, black, pinto, butter, kidney, etc, etc)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup Red or Green Bell Peppers, diced
  • Add any kind of veggies you like, fennel, broccoli, radishes, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, cooked yams, zucchini, etc, etc.
  • Season with something simple like Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt and Pepper or chop up Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, what ever you have. Add your favourite salad dressing, but keep it natural.
I mix the rice, veggies and spices/herbs together in a big bowl and refrigerate that. I scoop it into my lunch container each night and add the dressing. It packs well so no need to refrigerate. I sometimes saute or steam some of the veggies first and then mix things up. Recently I sautéed almond meal (from making almond butter) with some veggies and added it to the rice. Make it your own, whatever you like. If you keep the dressing simple you are adding a very clean, healthy and whole food meal to your day that fills you up and feels good.
Eat well, Be well
Nat




Lunch at Work v.4 – Coconut Lentil Soup

12 03 2011

Lunch at work got you down? I started a new contract a few weeks ago, and phew, it has been busy. I wasn’t off that long, but throw Christmas and January in there you really do fall into a sleepy state in the dark of winter. Getting back into the swing of things took a few weeks. I think the biggest challenge is that we have been in a cold snap here in Calgary. You know, I’m okay with it, I didn’t think it was that bad until March came. Then I was like, ‘ok, I’m done with this weather’. We have holidays coming up and the weather is sunny and above zero here today so things are looking up!

I have been packing soup almost every day to lunch, and my pick the last three weeks (yes, a bit of a habitual eater) has been lentil soup. It is nourishing, rich in fibre and protein and easy to consume on the go with the right thermos. Throw some cut veggies and whole grain crackers on the side, hunger is gone, energy sustained.

I have tried a few versions of Lentil Coconut Soup this past month, but my favourite is the one below. It honestly takes all of 30 minutes to make. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe from. Unless it is in a book I have, I google recipes until I find a few I like, save them all, try them and tweak the recipes to my liking. That’s the fun of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

2 cups Red Lentils
3/4 inch Fresh Ginger (2 cm), peeled and chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped (or a touch of garlic powder, or omit altogether)
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Turmeric
1 2/3 cup Veggie Stock (1 -2 cubes of low sodium variety in hot water)
1 can (398 ml) Crushed or Diced Tomatoes, with liquid
1  can (398 ml) Coconut Milk
2 cups filtered Water

  • Rinse and drain lentils (I have been finding red kidney beans in my Indian ones I have, too funny)
  • Heat the coconut oil in a pot and sauté ginger, onion and garlic until softened
  • Add turmeric, hot veggie stock, coconut milk, water, tomatoes and the lentils; bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Take off the heat, puree the soup using a hand-held blender (or in a blender carefully, read the last post on this here)

Seems weird to blog about such trivial things as to what I ate at work. I hope that all my blog friends are paying close attention to what is happening in the Middle East. Our people, our human relatives are striving all over the world to voice their rights. Rights that we take for granted in our country and more importantly, don’t pay attention too. What is happening in Wisconsin is an extension of the struggle that goes on in Egypt, Tunisia etc. As well, today, we watch the unfolding disaster in Japan. The feats of our engineering have saved thousands of lives in comparison to what happened in Haiti last year, an earthquake of similar magnitude. High rises swayed instead of collapsing. Although, those same feats of engineering and science have us holding our breath as we monitor the breakdown of a nuclear power plant. If only we stopped fighting one another and embraced our human-ness. The trillions of dollars in debt we have from our previous poor decisions over the decades has put us in even greater risk as we figure out how to survive and support one another. Priorities.

Be well, Eat Well,

Nat





Parsnip Soup

19 01 2011

I recently went to NOtaBLE for lunch with a fellow Health Food Junkie and we had the most amazing parsnip soup (followed by a killer grilled cheese, not so healthy, but satisfying :)). The soup was very simple, parsnip, apple with a blue cheese creme fresh on top, yum. I hadn’t made parsnip soup before, so I looked around for recipes. I found this recipe on Food Network Canada and it looked great, developed by a holistic dietician. I made a few changes based on taste. With the research I did I can experiment with recreating the parsnip and apple soup now too.

There is so much to love about this soup recipe.

1. I love parsnips and could eat roasted parsnips every winter day. Mmmm, roasted with carrots and beets. Parsnips are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. I got these fine organic parsnips from my favourite market, the Kingsland Farmers Market.

2. It calls for coconut oil. According to some health practitioners coconut oil is the most healthiest of oils. It is a saturated Medium-Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA) and is metabolized differently then saturated and unsaturated Long-Chain Fatty Acids which is what animal and vegetable fats are. Although saturated they do not negatively effect cholesterol. I won’t bore you with the science, but it is worth looking into for yourself and while you’re at it, look into why you shouldn’t be congesting margarine and oil like products. Some fats are good for you, investigate this, it is part of healthy digestion, metabolism and weight management.

3. It has white cannellini beans so it is a hearty soup, with a good source of protein and fibre.

4. It is so easy to make! You don’t even peel the carrots or parsnips. Buy organic and scrub them a little with a veggie scrub.

1 cup dried White Beans, Navy or Cannellini, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 Yellow Onion, chopped (for sattvic, skip)
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 Carrot, unpeeled, chopped
4 medium Parsnips, unpeeled, chopped
1 clove Garlic (or 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder, or skip for sattvic)
2 tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Thyme
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Sage
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
5-6 cups of Filtered Water

  • In a soup pot, add the coconut oil, carrots, celery and onion over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the vegetables start to brown, about 5-10 min.
  • Add the beans, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, stir well. Cover with water, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add parsnips to pot and cover with water plus two inches over the top of vegetables, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for another 20 min or so, stirring occasionally. When both the parsnips and beans are tender remove from heat.
  • Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth (or let soup cool and use a blender). If the soup is thicker than you’d like (and it will thicken a bit more) add a 1/2 cup or more water. Adjust with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Serve with homemade or sourdough bread. Yum.
  • If you want to make this same day, replace the dried beans for 2 cups of canned beans, do only one boil/simmer step, add the beans 10 min into simmering and then blend when the parsnips are done. That should work but dried soaked beans are always better – keep them in the fridge for a day or so if you run out of time to make the soup.
  • I doubled the recipe, made a nice big pot!

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Spicy Black Bean Soup

13 12 2010

Oh Hi, still there, it’s bean awhile, sorry, couldn’t resist the pun to the blog title. But it has been some time since my last blog, they say time makes the heart grow fonder, or in this case, the tummy hungrier 🙂

I have made this bean soup over and over again, Tony loves it, I love it, it is just so good. It is from a cook book that will remain nameless but I think with my edits we’re safe. I make it using Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. You have probably seen this can to the right when perusing the grocery isles? I picked it up at Planet Organic awhile ago knowing an opportunity to use them would come along. Does anyone else do that, just buy different food ingredients in hopes to use them one day? My favourite thing to do when travelling is grocery shop, I have got some of the best stuff that way!

I tried this recipe for the first time last winter and when it asked for chipotle peppers, jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried, I was stuck. Until ‘Oh yeah, I have a can of chipotle in adobo sauce’! What’s adobo sauce? It’s a general Latin American sauce of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and spices (so says Wikipedia). I thought, that’ll work. What I love about using these is they go a long way and I freeze the rest (not in the can).

  • 1 small Onion, chopped (I don’t skip the onion in this recipe, but if you want to make this sattvic, than skip, I’m sure it would be fine. I don’t add garlic, but you can do that too, 2-4 cloves)
  • 1 stalk Celery
  • 3 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped (if you don’t like spice, maybe try 1-2 peppers for first pot of soup; if you do have dried Chipotle Peppers, use them instead!)
  • 2 cans of Black Beans (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp white wine or regular white Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground Cloves (about 8 whole cloves)
  • 2 small Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp ground Pepper
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock (2-3 low sodium cubes and 6 cups boiling water)

In a soup pot, saute the onion and celery (and garlic if using it) in the olive oil until soft. Add everything else, including the vegetable stock, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sweet potatoes are softened, about 10-15 minutes. Once sweet potatoes are soft, take it off the heat and puree with an emersion blender. You can use a regular blender but remember not to close the lid tight, better to let the soup cool and then blend, the steam can cause an explosion. Bad for hands and ceiling. I have also seen cooks put a dish cloth between the blender and lid so the steam escapes and is not trapped when blending. Whatever you do, be careful and if you make soup now and then, go get an emersion blender, the best kitchen investment you’ll make.

I like to serve this soup with diced tomatoes, red peppers or avocado on top with a splash of lime juice and tortilla chips.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Quick Thai Curry

22 11 2010

The theme around here continues to be comfort foods, and being so cold and snowy right now, this is an easy sell. We love curry of any kind, and for us it is a comfort food. As a wedding gift we received green and red Thai Curry bases purchased at Williams and Sonoma. Although I can’t find it on the website, I think they still sell it in the store, but it’s been a long time since I was there to see. It is the best Thai curry base I have used (including ones bought in asian markets). It is made from whole ingredients and you can see the lemon grass and lime leaves crushed up in it. I prefer making Thai curries from scratch, but when you are in the mood and don’t have all the ingredients, these bases are a comfort food saver. As for Indian curry bases, I tend not to use them. Unlike Thai, Indian curry ingredients are easy to keep around the house, lemon grass and lime leaves, key ingredients in Thai, do not keep well (unless you know a secret and want to share it with me).

Saturday night the weather was a mere -20 degrees Celsius, and this has gone on for a week now, so what to make for dinner? A warm Thai Curry. Here is an easy recipe and how I use the same recipe for a shrimp version and then convert it to a veggie dish for left overs. Always thinking ahead to lunch for the week 🙂

Quick Thai Curry

  • 1 cup of Jasmine or Basmati Rice (cook it with a few tbsp of dried or fresh grated coconut, we had some fresh coconut in the fridge, it was a great addition to the rice)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced
  • 3-4 Carrots, sliced on an angle
  • 3-4 Stalks Celery, sliced on an angle
  • 1 Large Zucchini, sliced in half rounds (I would use eggplant too, but couldn’t find any that night)
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2-3 tbsp Green or Red Curry Base, depending on level of spice
  • 12 large Shrimp, tail on
  • 1 package Snow Peas (hard to find organic, so I wash them really well, eh)
  • 1 can Chick Peas

Cut all of the vegetables so they are about the same thickness. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil on medium high heat in a wok or large pot. Add the carrots, celery and pepper, stir fry until the start to soften but are still firm, about 10 min. Add the zucchini, stir fry until the zucchini start to soften, 5-10 min, they might even caramelize a bit. Add the coconut milk and curry base, stir well. Add the shrimp and snow peas, continue cooking on medium heat until the shrimp are cooked and the coconut milk thickens, about 10 min. Shrimp are cooked when they are opaque and no longer pink. Serve over the rice, removing all of the shrimp. There should be plenty of veggies and some sauce left, add the chick peas to it, voila, lunch is served. Of course you can skip the shrimp completely and just add the chick peas, I do this with all sorts of veggies and curry through the winter.

Eat well, Be well (stay warm),

Nat