Category Archives: Soup

Where Do You Get Your Fibre? Baked Bean Recipe

April 5, 2018

Pretty much the first question you get asked when someone finds out you don’t eat animal products is, “Where do you get your protein?” However, protein is easy to get. All plants contain protein. Our body requires about 6% to 10% of our calories to come from protein. Even fruit averages 5.5% to 10% protein by calories, and beans are about 25% protein. Leafy greens are 35% to 51% protein. So if you are eating a whole food plant based diet (ie large amounts of calories not coming from refined oil and sugar), protein is not an issue. In fact, protein deficiency is seldom seen without a calorie deficiency.  The real question we should all be asking is “Where do you get your fibre?

The diet of almost all North Americans is deficient in fibre. Why is fibre so important? Until relatively recently, it was thought fibre was for regulating bowel functions. Consuming lots of fibre rich foods made you feel full without added calories and made sure waste was efficiently expelled out our body. But recent research shows that fibre is important for so many more reasons, including boosting our immune system,  feeding the cells that line our intestinal walls, and feeding our good gut bacteria. As well, recent research shows that beans have a modulating effect on blood sugar. Watch this short 3 minute video on Beans and the Second-Meal Effect.

Much is made these days of probiotics – which supply a host of good bacteria to our gut. But what happens if we fail to feed those good bacteria? They starve and die. Of course, you could continue to ingest more probiotics, but a far better solution would be to feed your good bacteria and let them multiply on their own. What do those good bacteria eat – fibre.

Where do we get fibre? Animal products – flesh, milk, cheese, eggs, etc. – contain no fibre. However plants – whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes are great sources of fibre. Stay away from the refined/processed foods plant fragments like white flour and white rice – which have been processed to remove the fibre component.

Beans Beans – Navy, chickpeas, kidney, black eyed peas, chili, pinto and black

One exceptionally good source of fibre is beans.  Beans are undervalued in the modern North American diet. Often considered “peasant food”, beans are infrequently consumed. However, beans are superfoods, loaded with protein, iron, zinc, folate, potassium and fibre.

Being a long time plant based eater, I thought I consumed a lot of legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils, dried yellow or green peas.  However, I was only consuming an average of five servings a week.  Since making use of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen recommendations, I have been striving to eat three servings per day. At first, this seemed like an impossible task. However, one serving of beans is only a half a cup. With a bit of planning, this is not as difficult as it seems. Most days I am able to get my three servings in. The secret is staying mindful of what you are eating. I keep a good stock of frozen cooked beans and lentils; and in addition to great main dish legume meals they can be added to pretty much anything you are cooking.  Add chickpeas or lentils to your rice stir fry, add beans to your soup, serve seasoned beans as a side to any plate or add hummus to a wrap. Think outside the box, many cultures eat legumes for breakfast and baked beans (recipe below) is becoming a breakfast favorite for me. I made a great Yellow Split Pea Dahl that I plan to use for a spicy start to my day. I will share that recipe with you soon.

One of the biggest reasons people give me for not eating more beans is gas. However, I am finding that the little ditty “Beans, Beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot.” should actually be changed to “..the more you eat the less you toot!” The gas is caused by bacteria in our gut consuming undigested bean sugars, producing gas. The sugar is undigested because most of us lack the enzyme to digest it. But, our bodies are truly miraculous creations and incredibly efficient. If we don’t eat a particular food, it does not bother making the enzymes to digest it. However, when we start consuming the food regularly, the body will adapt and produce enzymes required to digest it. So if bean induced flatulence is an issue for you, have faith and stay the course. Eat small portions often (several times a day) and if necessary, use digestive enzymes (alpha-galactosidase).  Have confidence – this too shall pass. LOL Besides, intestinal gas is normal and healthy, even if it is occasionally embarrassing.

Below are some of my favorite bean recipes.  I will post a few more new ones in the upcoming weeks.

Baked Beans

Baked beans at the ready in Jars

This is an adaptation of a traditional homemade port and bean recipe from Diane Bachewich in the Sandy Lake Cookbook. I have included two versions – one quite similar to the original but veganized; and the other – a whole food plant based version using dates and tomato paste instead of sugar and ketchup. Either way this recipe is one of my favorites. Its great served with baked or scalloped potatoes and a large salad; as a bean side to any meal, or for breakfast along with whole grain toast or roasted potatoes.

This recipe makes about 12 cups  of baked beans, enough to feed a crowd. I like to pack it into 2 cup containers and freeze them. Then I can keep a container in the fridge all the time for a quick bean add on to any meal.

Version 1:

  • 3 cups dried small white beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Version 2:

  • 3 cups dried small white beans
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup tahini

Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.  (for version 2, soak the dates in water as well.)

In the morning, drain the beans, add fresh water and boil for about 1 hour or until tender.  Drain the beans. (Version 2 – Do not drain the dates. Place soaked dates and soaking water in a blender and blend until pureed. Add remaining ingredients and blend until well combined)

Place the drained beans in a large oven safe pot or roaster. Add remaining ingredients and enough fresh water to cover the beans. Mix well and bake at 350F for about 1 hour. If the beans are still very runny, continue to bake until the right consistency is reached.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

More Recipes

13 Bean Soup Mix

Soups  are a great way to add beans, lentils or chickpeas to your diet. Check out this post on Soups for my favorite recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

Astrid licking the spatula with hummus

Hummus is another delicious way to add legumes to your diet. 1/4 cup of hummus is one serving of beans. Add hummus to a wrap or sandwich or try it as a topping on potatoes instead of butter and sour cream. The recipe for my all time favorite hummus is a sweet and spicy Sweet Potato Hummus can be found at this link. My grandkids love hummus and like to dip pretzels or veggies into it.

 

 

 

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Main Bean Dishes – these are some of my favorite fast and easy one dish beany meals:

White Beans:

Small white beans, also called navy beans (so called because they were used aboard ships) are one of my favorite beans. They are versalite and great for bean dishes like baked beans but also for creamy sauces.  I often make cashew sauces using half cashews and half cooked white beans. Or substitute some of the cashews in a creamy oil free salad dressing with cooked white beans. Or try adding mashed white beans to mashed potatoes for a boost of nutrition including fibre. You won’t even know they are in their! Or try my Creamy White Bean Soup.

 

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Make Ahead Meals

February 1, 2018

In our busy lives, it is sometimes hard to make time everyday to cook meals from scratch. However, there are ways to optimize your cooking time so you are not spending all your free time in the kitchen. Some strategies to use are:

  1. When you cook a dish, make a double batch. That way you can eat one now and freeze one for later. Generally, it doesn’t take that much longer to double the batch. This works great for soups, stews, chilies, and many main dishes.
  2. Make a double or triple batches of salad dressings to have on hand.
  3. Make a big batch of your favorite stir fry sauce. They will generally keep in the fridge for over a week, or you can freeze the in serving size amounts. Frozen mixed veggies are a great time saver. Add brown rice or whole grain noodles for a quick meal. Top with chick peas, toasted cashews, tofu or sesame seeds for an extra nutritional boost.
  4. For fast and easy breakfasts, prepare overnight oats the night before. In the morning, add plant milk and extra toppings and go. Or make a triple batch and have enough for three days.
  5. Keep hummus on hand for sandwiches, wraps and baked potatoes. Hummus is easy to make and freezes well.
Baking with Jacob

In January, I spent three weeks with the grandkids, so I did quite a bit of food prep for the hubby back home before leaving. That way he could spend more time on my “Honey Do List” instead of cooking, LOL. In the week before leaving, I made extra of each dish I cooked, freezing one or two meals for later. I made several salad dressings, so throwing together a big Caesar, Spinach or Kale salad is a simple process. I also made a litre of Chinese 5 Spice stir fry sauce, to go with frozen veggies, rice or noodles. And for a treat, I made a batch of Sweet Potato Brownies which freeze really well. See below for the links and recipes.

SOUPS

Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup

Soups are a regular go to lunch meal for us in the winter, and I often make up several different soups each week. Since a pot of soup is generally three meals for us, it is easy to eat one and freeze two. Served with whole grain bread, a hearty soup is a comforting winter lunch. In the week before I left, I made four soups – Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup, South American Black Bean Soup, 13 Bean Soup, and Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup. The recipes can be found here. 

Hummus

Astrid licking the spatula with hummus

Hummus is another staple in our house. We use it instead of margarine or butter as a spread on bread or for topping a baked potato. Our favorite hummus is made with chickpeas (or while navy beans) and roasted sweet potato. I generally make a large batch and freeze it is smaller containers so we always have it on hand. This rich and creamy hummus, paired with a baked potato and green salad makes a delicious, easy to prepare and satisfying meal. It is also good as a pasta sauce.

The recipe for Sweet Potato Hummus can be found here. The recipe calls for cayenne pepper and is quite spicy. However, you can eliminate the cayenne all together for a delicious hummus for kids or those not fond of spices. This recipe, without the cayenne, is taste tested and approved by my granddaughter Astrid.

Stir Fry

Another great quick and easy meal is a stir fry. Make a big batch of your favorite sauce and keep it on hand in the fridge, or freeze it.  Frozen mixed vegetables are a real time saver.  All you need to do is make a pot of rice or noodles and sauté the frozen veggies in a bit of broth and add the sauce. Top with cashews or sesame seeds and your set.

Don’t forget that rice also freezes well. When you cook rice, make a big pot. You can keep enough for a week in the fridge and freeze the rest in one meal portions.

My favorite recipe for Chinese Brown Sauce can be found at this link, along the recipe for Chinese 5 Spice Sauce, a spicier version of the same sauce. These sauces will keep in the fridge for at least 1 week. However, you can make a big batch and freeze in 1 meal portions.

Chilli

A big pot of chilli makes a filling meal and is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day. While most chillis are meat based, they are also easy to make without any animal products. If you have a favorite recipe, make a plant based version using the same sauce and spice mixture. Add beans, lentils, veggies or mashed tofu to replace the meat. One of my favorite chilli recipe can be found here. Make up a big pot and freeze the leftovers for a later meal.

One Pot Meals

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

One pot meals are real time savers – in prep, cooking and cleanup. Chop up your veggies and throw them into a pot with the sauce, simmer and serve. Great when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

Two of my favorite one pot meals are:

Rotini in a Coconut Sauce – I love this recipe because the pasta cooks in the sauce. No need to dirty another pot to cook pasta.

Mexican Quinoa – Quinoa is a quick cooking seed that packs a nutritional punch and has a pleasant nutty taste. This Mexican dish can be spiced up or down to suit everyone’s taste.

Salad Dressings 

Salads make great quick, easy and hearty meals. Keep a couple of your favorite oil free salad dressings on hand in the fridge at all times. A great meal is a simple as tossing some greens with additional veggies, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, grains or beans. A salad with a baked potato or slice of hearty whole grain bread is a great meal. Oil free dressings are flavorful, easy to make and offer plenty of nutrition without the heavy calorie count. The recipes for some of my favorite salad dressings can be found here.

Sweet Potato Brownies 

Sweet Potato Brownies

Its always nice to have a little something sweet in the freezer for capping off a meal. These brownies are just sweet enough to satisfy and nutritious enough to be served at any everyday meal. They are packed with sweet potato, dates, oats and almond flour. I find them perfect just as they are: however, if you wish, you can increase the maple syrup to make them a bit sweeter.

The recipe makes a large cookie sheet or about 30 brownie squares, so they last a while. Slice them up and freeze them. They are great straight out of the freezer. Find the recipe here.

 

Soup

January 8, 2018

During the winter months, there is nothing more comforting than a hearty bowl of soup.  Plant based soups filled with pulses are hearty and nutritious and easy of the budget too. There are so many interesting soups our there and there are so easy to make, why settle for canned tomato and cream of mushroom.

We eat a lot of soup over the winter months. Most soup recipes make enough for 6 to 8 people, so for most families that means a pot of soup will do for 2 or 3 meals. Soup makes a great lunchbox meal too, packed hot in a thermos.  And most soups freeze well, so if you can’t eat the whole pot within the week, freeze some for a quick easy meal when your time is limited.

Below are four of my favorite soups.

Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup

Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup
This is our favorite go to soup. It is easy to prepare and can be done on the stove top or in a slow cooker. The red lentils dissolve into the broth so its perfect for those who don’t particularly love lentils. And for those who love heat, it can be spiced up with chillies to your taste. The recipe was featured at our Cooking with Lentils class August 2016 and can be found here.

South America Black Bean Soup
This is another long time favorite of ours. If you don’t like it spicy, omit the jalapeño pepper


• 2 onions, diced
• 2 stalks celery, diced
• 2 carrots, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, diced fine
• 1 tsp thyme
• 2 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp oregano
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 6 cups vegetable stock
• 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked)
• 1/3 cup lime juice
• Cilantro, finely chopped or dried

In a large pot, sauté onions celery carrots garlic and jalapeño in about ¼ cup broth until onions are translucent. Add thyme, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Sauté a few minutes longer. Add remaining ingredients except lime juice and cilantro. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 1 hour. Or place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 10. Add lime juice and cilantro and serve.

Adapted from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

 

Carribean Pepper Pot Soup

Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup
This is another great recipe from the cookbook 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson. The original is made with hot peppers and packs quite a punch, but it is easily toned down to your spice level.

• 1 onion, finely diced
• 3 stalks celery, finely diced
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tbsp ginger root, minced
• 1 tbsp mild chilli powder
• ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
• ½ tsp crushed chillis (Omit for a mild version)
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp ground black pepper
• 1 tsp brown sugar
• 3 cups butternut squash, peeled cut into ½ inch cubes (or substitute carrots)
• 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
• 1 ½ cup diced tomatoes, including the juice
• 6 cups vegetable stock
• 1 pepper (red, green, yellow or orange), diced small
• ½ can of coconut milk
• Fresh or dried cilantro or parsley

In a large pot, place onion, celery, garlic and ginger along with about ¼ cup broth. Cook until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients except coconut milk and cilantro or parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 hours. Or place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 10 hours. Add coconut milk and cilantro or parsley. Serve.

13 Bean Soup

13 Bean Soup

I make this with a 13 Bean mixture by Bob’s Red Mill, which has a variety of beans as well as split peas and lentils. The quicker cooking pulses like the peas dissolve nicely into the broth producing a thick flavorful soup. You can find my recipe here.

 

 

 

Convert your old family favorites to whole food plant based.

Most soups can easily be converted to plant based as meat, or meat broth is only a part of the soup, not the whole entrée. Eliminate the meat and add lentils or beans. Many recipes ask you to sauté the veggies in oil before making the soup, but you can easily sauté in broth, eliminating the oil. And in most cases, you can skip this step all together, and just toss the veggies into a pot with the broth to cook without any loss in flavor.  Consider adding a handful or two of finely chopped greens (kale or spinach are good ones) to your soup at the end of cooking. You will hardly notice they are even there.

Some more links to favorites for you to try:

Creamy White Bean Soup

Corn Chowder

Cream of Zucchini Soup without the Cream

A delicious plant based version of Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli

Red Lentil and Kale

 

May 2017 Cooking Class – The Basics of Plant Based Eating

May 28, 2017

What a great class. We had 14 participants and 3 volunteers. Everyone had so much to share. Since we had a lot of new people this class, the focus was on the very basics of what to eat. We started the class in our usual way – with a green smoothie, one of my favorites – Kale Mango Banana. We also had a taste testing of one of my go to breakfasts – Overnight Oats. For dinner we made a Red Lentil, Carrot and Coconut Soup, a Kale and Apple Salad and Chia Pudding. I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we all did.

Thanks Katherine for taking pictures.

Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups greens (we used Kale)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
    • (we used 1 fresh banana and 1 1/2 cups frozen mango cubes)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Place ingredients in a blender in the order above. Blend until smooth.

 

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats is the perfect breakfast dish, especially for the summer or for those days when you need to eat breakfast on the run. You mix everything up the night before  and in the morning, grab and go.

Adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 ½ cups plant based milk (almond, coconut, rice, cashew or soy)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • maple syrup (or other sweetener), to taste

In a small bowl, mash the banana and add oats, milk (we used cashew), chia seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit. Whisk together well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir the mixture and add a bit of maple syrup if desired.  Serve with a topping of fresh fruit, granola or hemp seed.

Need breakfast on the go? Spoon the overnight oats into a jar; add your toppings and seal. Throw it in your bag with a spoon.

Makes 3 servings

 

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut

This is one of my all time favorite soups. Its fast and easy to make and contains basic ingredients I almost always have on hand. Serve with hearty whole grain bread and its a filling meal. (We had it with Ezekiel bread). We used 2 dried Thai chillies and the soup was very mild. If you like it spicier, crush your chillies or serve with some Sriracha or Garlic Chili sauce like Sambol Olek.

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 large carrots, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (less if your bullion is salted)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 Thai chillies, fresh or dried (optional)
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 large handful finely chopped kale or spinach (optional)
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar

Rinse lentils under cold water. Place lentils and all ingredients except kale,  coconut milk and lemon juice in a slow cooker or large pot. If using, leave chilli pepper whole for a slightly spicy soup, crush for more spice.  If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. If doing on the stove top, bring to a boil and simmer slowly until lentils are very well done and partially dissolved in the broth, about 1 hour. If using whole chilli peppers, remove from the soup. If using, add the kale or spinach and remove from heat.

Add coconut milk and lemon juice (or vinegar) and adjust seasonings to taste.

Kale and Apple Salad

This is a hearty salad that can easily be an entire meal. It makes a great supper paired with a baked potato.  The dressing is rich and creamy and bold enough to hold its own with kale. (if you are looking to reduce your nut intake, I have also done this dressing using 1/2 cup cashews and 1/2 cup cooked white beans.) If you are not a avid kale fan, be sure to cut your kale fine, don’t leave big pieces, and massage it well.

Dressing:

 

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice from
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Place all ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Pumpkin Parmesan

  •  ½ cup pumpkin seeds (or cashew, pecan or sesame seeds)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

In mini food processor or coffee grinder, combine pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast and salt. Process until crumbly. (or chop by hand) Sprinkle on top of your salad.

Salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced thinly and separated into rings
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale for a few minutes.  Add chopped apples, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, julienned carrots. Toss. Add a small amount of dressing and toss well.  Just before serving, add the romaine and toss with pumpkin seeds. Serve with a sprinkling of pecan parmesan.

Adapted from http://www.rawmazing.com/apple-and-kale-salad-with-oil-free-maple-dijon-dressing/

Chia Pudding

This is a recipe for a basic chia pudding. Add your choice of toppings or change it up by adding cocoa powder for a chocolate pudding, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice for a pumpkin pie pudding.

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed; 1 tbsp maple syrup; or sweetener of choice
  • Optional add-ins – ¼ tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp cocoa, ¼ cup pumpkin puree & pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional toppings – coconut, fresh, frozen or dried fruit or berries, granola, nuts, hemp seeds

In a 2 cup jar, place milk, chia seeds and mashed banana or sweetener. (Optional, add vanilla, cocoa or pumpkin puree for a different flavour) Cover and shake well until combined. Let sit about 5 minutes and shake well again. Let sit another 5 minutes and shake well again. Let sit in the fridge for at least one hour before eating.  (For an instant pudding, blend pudding in a blender or use ground chia seeds.) Top with fruit, nuts, seeds or granola. Create a parfait by layering pudding with fruit and top with granola or nuts.

You can also replace 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 3 tbsp of rolled oats, and let sit overnight before eating. (oats take longer to soak)

 

 

 

Homemade Vegetable Stock or Broth

March 20, 2017

I make a lot of soups, stews and chowders, especially during the cooler months. And I also use stock for sautéing veggies, instead of oil. As a result I go through a lot of bullion cubes. I always assumed making your own stock was a waste of good veggies. Many recipes call for onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks. You boil these until a tasty stock results then strain out the veggies and throw them out. Why not just make a veggie soup and eat the veggies???

A short while ago, I had a chance conversation with a friend of my daughter’s. Turns out he also follows a plant based diet and loves to cook. He shared with me his method for stock and it changed my opinion on homemade stock. The next day, I began saving veggies for my own stock making. Thank you Shain Brown. I am forever in your debt. (Check out Shain’s Not-Meat Loaf and Creamy White Bean Soup recipes as well.)

Shain’s question to me was, “What do you do with your vegetable scraps?” I compost them, of course. He challenged me, “Why not make a broth with them, then compost them?” Now that makes perfect sense.

Returning home after our conversation I was gung-ho to start my stock. For two weeks I threw every veggie scrap into the pot. Almost nothing went in the compost pail.  It’s cold here in Manitoba right now, so I can keep my stock pot in the porch and the veggies stay frozen until I am ready to make stock. (You can store yours in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.) When the pot was over half full, I set out to make my stock. The result was not bad but not as good as I had hoped. I consulted Google and found that some veggies can produce a bitter broth, namely the crucifers – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussell sprouts. Quite a few of those had made it into my stock pot.

For my second batch, I was more choosy on my veggie scraps, opting for the trimmings from onion , tomato , garlic , carrot , parsnip , celery and leek. After a couple of weeks, I had enough to try again. Eureka! It was delicious. I am hooked on homemade stock now. If you are not convinced, read the ingredients on the box of your favorite bullion cubes. I used an organic, non-GMO boullion cube and the first ingredients are: corn starch, salt and palm oil. All of these before any veggies are listed. None of these in homemade stock.

I have now finished cooking my fourth batch of stock, still mostly the basic veggies – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsnip, celery and tomato.  (Mushroom stems can also be used, but I seldom have any to throw into the pot.)  I also add the insides of one jalapeño pepper (the pith and seeds left when you slice of the outer flesh). It gives the stock just the slightest hint of spiciness. But limit it to one pepper unless you want a spicy stock. Two makes a pretty fiery stock!

A few ground rules in making stock. Don’t use any veggie that you wouldn’t throw into a soup – that is, nothing dirty or rotten. Scrub your carrots and wash you leek and celery trimmings well to remove any dirt. Avoid cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts). Also they say potatoes, sweet potatoes and squashes will result in a cloudy stock. However, I now add small amounts of sweet potato and squash trimmings just because I love the flavor they bring. You can also add herb trimmings in small amounts – rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, but keep in mind how you use your stock and if these flavors will complement. You may not want a strong rosemary flavor in every soup you make. However, a handful of parsley or cilantro stems makes a good addition. A bay leaf is also a good addition to the pot, as is a pinch of peppercorns. I have also added the remnants after squeezing one organic lemon. It gave the stock a mild bit of zip.

You can add salt or not, depending on your preference. I prefer no salt in the stock, instead adding it to the final product to the desired degree. In my last batch I added a teaspoon of no-salt seasoning (like Mrs. Dash).

Watch this good video clip on making broth from scraps.

Vegetable Stock

  • clean vegetable trimmings – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsley, celery, mushroom, tomato
  • optional – small amount of sweet potato or squash trimmings
  • small amounts of herb trimmings – parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc (optional)
  • water
  • bay leaf, peppercorns (optional)

Save your vegetable trimmings and freeze until you have at least a few litres of trimmings. (Keep a plastic bag in the freezer for trimmings.) When you slice an onion, save the top and bottom you slice off as well as any fleshy leaves you peel off. The dry outer skin can be used in small amounts as it makes the broth darker. When you use garlic, save the bottom heal part you generally cut off. You can also add the garlic skins.  With leeks, wash well and toss in the top green parts you usually throw away.

When you are ready to make stock, place the trimmings in a large pot and add water to fully cover the veggies. Throw in a bay leaf and some peppercorns if desired. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for several hours. (about 5 hours) A crock pot set on low and simmered for 12 hours or more will also work. When the veggies are very soft turn off the heat and let the stock cool. Once cool, strain out the veggies. Taste the stock and if desired, you can continue to simmer the stock to reduce it to make a stronger, more concentrated stock. Compost the veggies.

Finish broth, with head space for freezing

Store the stock in containers in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, leave at least 1 inch of head space in the jar for expansion during freezing or your container will crack. You can also freeze the stock as ice cubes if you often use small amounts, or if you have made a very strong, concentrated stock. I like to keep one jar in the fridge at all times for oil free veggies sautéing,  If you are planning on making soup, take a few jars out the night before to thaw or place sealed jars in warm water to speed thawing. (Warm water not hot, as you don’t want glass jars to crack due to sudden temperature change)

 

 

 

 

Creamy White Bean Soup

March 19, 2017

This super simple, creamy soup is another recipe from Shain Brown. Its a basic recipe for a hearty filling soup that can be modified so many ways.

You can buy white beans (also called navy beans) in a can, but it is super simple to cook them from dry beans. And there are benefits to using dry beans – no BPA from the can, cheaper (about 50% cheaper), smaller carbon footprint (dry beans are lighter to transport than cans full of water)…and you don’t have to lug those heavy cans home after shopping or recycle them later.

One cup of dry beans makes three cups of cooked beans. Step 1 below outlines how to cook beans from scratch by soaking them first, then cooking. (You can cook the beans without soaking first, but soaking will remove more of the compounds that cause the gas issues common with bean consumption.)

I like to cook up a big batch of beans and then freeze the drained beans on cookie sheets. Once frozen , store in ziplock bags and whenever you need them for a recipe you can easily remove how much you need.

Shain’s basic recipe starts with dry beans, but you can easily substitute already cooked beans. I was out of frozen cooked white beans, so I cooked up another big batch to restock my freezer. If your beans are already cooked, you will skip Step 1 and start at Step 2.

I love this soup as it is so versatile. All you really need is white beans, and the rest you can modify. I had a leek in the fridge and some leftover squash that I added to the soup (in Step 2). I also added smoked paprika and liquid smoke to create a bacony flavor. Use your imagination and whatever you have in the fridge to create your own version.

Basic Creamy White Bean Soup

  • 1 cup dry white beans (or 3 cups cooked, or 2 15 ounce cans)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
Cooking white beans

Step 1 – If using dry beans, soak the beans overnight. (In a hurry, no problem. Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat, cover and let sit 1 hour. You will get the same results as soaking overnight.)

Drain soaked beans and place in a large pot with about 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. Drain beans. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans.

 

 

Beans, leeks, squash and garlic simmering

Step 2 – Add vegetable broth, and garlic to the cooked beans. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

You can vary the soup up by adding other veggies at this point. I added one chopped leek and 1 cup of butternut squash. The squash gave the soup a nice golden color. You could also add diced carrots, sweet potatoes or onions at this point as well. Cook until your veggies are tender.

 

 

 

Puree using an emersion blender

Step 3 – Using an emersion blender, puree the beans until smooth.

Alternatively, you can puree the beans in a blender. Let the mixture cool slightly and be sure to vent the container to let the steam escape.

If you are not a fan of pureed soups, the soup is also delicious left chunky.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. For a smokey bacon-like taste, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a dash of liquid smoke, if you have it. If you like it spicy, add a 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder as well.

 

Step 4 – Dry fry mushrooms in a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Stir often and cook until nicely browned and slightly crispy.

To add a bit more texture and color to the soup, you can also dry fry up some diced onion and red pepper and add it to the soup.

The soup is also good with finely chopped kale in it. Add it after pureeing and let it simmer for 5 minutes to cook the kale.

Thin the soup out with additional broth or water to your desired thickness.

Step 5 – Serve soup with mushrooms on top. Or green onions.

 

 

Corn Chowder

November 19, 2016

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When the cold weather hits, there is nothing quite like a steamy bowl of homemade soup for lunch. Yesterday, I made Angela Liddon’s Metabolism-Revving Spicy Cabbage Soup, from her Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook. It was delicious with some added crush chili peppers to add a bit more spice. Today I made this corn chowder. I am not sure where I got the original recipe from, but it has been a favorite of mine for some time.

The original recipe calls for 4 cups of corn, but I only had 2 on hand, so today’s chowder will be not so corny. And I had some celery that needed to be used up, so I added that to the recipe.  I had a piece of sweet potato left from my cabbage soup yesterday, so used that instead of squash. That’s the best part of making soup; its not like a cake where you have to follow the recipe exact. Let your imagination (or fridge contents) run free.

This is a spicy, garlicy, delicious chowder. Ken was feeling a bit under the weather this morning (or maybe he just didn’t feel like rolling out of bed and going for a walk with the dog on this chilly morning.) so I am going to add extra minced raw garlic to his bowl to make an immunity boasting garlic soup. I made fresh bread yesterday, so I am pairing this chowder with homemade whole grain buns.

Chowder ingredients
Chowder ingredients

Corn Chowder with a Kick

  • 2 to 4 cups corn niblets (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup butternut or buttercup squash (or sweet potato), cubed
  • ½ cup cooked white beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced (red or Yukon Gold)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp chilli paste (or substitute jalapeños, cayenne or hot sauce), to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley, fresh or dried
Chowder before mashing
Chowder before mashing

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, except for the parsley, chilli paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes and squash are tender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mash with a potato masher or lightly blend with an immersion blender to make a thick soup but with lots of chunks of veggies in it. Add parsley and chilli paste, salt and pepper to taste.