I love watching the wildflower emerge every spring in the wooded trails in my area. It’s a game to see if I can remember all their names.
But before the flowers…there are wild leeks or ramps. It’s a ritual to make at least one pot of leek and potato soup each spring with freshly foraged ramps. If you’ve done this before, you’ll know you need to harvest them with a heavy duty trowel. They do not give up the earth easily.
This year I tried a Jamie Oliver recipe for the soup. I sautéed leeks, carrots and onions in a combination of butter and oil. Added in baby potatoes cut in cubes, simmered it all in a mix of veggie and chicken stock. Then finished it off with a rough blend, some cream, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. And feta.
Thank you nature for the great things you grow.
My sister gave me a great cookbook a few years ago – The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Its small size reflects the smaller-serving meals that fill the pages.
I’ve been playing with variations of the basic vegetable soup recipe. I used to try and make soup by just throwing stuff together…and that’s what it often ended up tasting like. This recipe has the basics, and I can build from that and end up with a great, simple soup.
I made one last week, sauteeing the vegetables I could find in the fridge in a little butter. I often buy a small container of cut up veggies because I can get a variety of about six different veggies in a few servings, and these make great additions to the soup.
So I sautéed green onion, celery, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower. Tossed in a few roasted peppers I had baked a few days before. Everything simmers in some chicken stock, and I toss in a few frozen spinach pucks, a little cream and lemon/lime juice or white wine to finish it off.
My sister bought me a cute little crock pot a few years ago to make overnight oatmeal.
Lately I’ve been trying to make a one-person sized pot roast in it. I have used some lower steak cuts from my friend’s farm, added in these great little potatoes, local carrots, onions, BBQ sauce and red wine. It makes a great little dinner…and then I turn it into this on day two.
I sautéed more carrots, green onion and sweet potato. Added all the leftover pot roast bits in (beef, onion, carrot and juice), tossed in some beef stock, a little more wine, salt and pepper, and a cup of leftover rice. And voila I have lunch-sized hearty soup for a week.
Pretty soon, the weather is going to be warm enough for salads and cold dinners…but until then, here’s a simple, complete chicken dish that will make the house smell great. And turns into a great leftover soup.
Line a pyrex pan with baby potatoes, grape tomatoes, carrot chunks, a few whole garlic cloves, a little olive oil, herbes de provence, salt and pepper.
Set chicken thighs on top – I love using thighs for the moister dark meat. I added a little more herbes de provence on each chicken thigh.
Bake at 350F for about an hour – until the veggies are well cooked and chicken juices run clear. Don’t forget to stir the veggies around a few times and baste the chicken with some of the yummy juices that collect in the pan.
The next day, I sautéed some green onions, carrots and celery. Then I added in the leftover potatoes and veggies from the chicken bake, added in a few cups of chicken stock and hefty splash of white wine. I simmer it all for about an hour, and tossed in a few chunks of frozen spinach. I shredded in the rest of the chicken and added some grated asiago to the top. Yum.
A bowl of this simple soup has everything you need. I felt pretty smug after making it recently – vegetables, whole grain and protein!
A friend brought me the recipe, and I was a little skeptical about not starting a soup with the usual saute of onion, garlic and carrots. But this one doesn’t want for anything…even though everything is simply simmered.
Here’s the recipe:
Put 2 cups of water, 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of beef broth in a large pot. Add 2 raw cubed chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), 1 diced onion, 2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer for about one hour.
Add 1 cup chopped zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1 cup peeled and cubed squash (or sweet potato), and 1 cup barley (well rinsed). Bring back to a boil and simmer on low for another hour or so – until vegetables are desired texture.
It makes a hearty, barley-rich soup, and the chicken is incredibly tender. You could use whatever vegetables you have around (I happened to have mushrooms, zucchini and sweet potato).
You might be sick of our soup recipes – hope not. We are just gearing up for the winter season when we think you can never have enough stacked up, perfect lunch time servings of soups in the freezer. I even have a drawer in my freezer dedicated to lunch meals to go – my own takeout counter.
This week, we’re going in the archives…not really sure we can call it that yet as we are barely one year old on Stuff We Love? – for our favourite lentil soup.
Martha Stewart’s lentil soup is a new favourite of mine. And I would never have crossed the street for lentils, until this recipe. Must be the bacon. I often just use a can of cooked lentils to save time, with no compromise on the flavour.
This hearty soup supports all the food groups – and we love them all!
I forget how much I love soup during the summer. And then I have some on a cool day and can’t wait to make a different one every week. I just made Carrot and Ginger soup from the cookbook Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho la Puerta on Sunday and love the flavour, colour and creamy consistency from the coconut milk.
Here is my slightly modified version of the soup from Rancho la Puerta.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I used more)
- 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 apple, cored and diced
- 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1 tsp salt (or more if needed)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
In a large stockpot, heat the oil, saute the carrots and onion and cook til soft. Add the garlic, ginger, squash and apple and saute. Add the stock and salt. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, add the coconut milk and more salt if needed. Garnish with chives and diced pears. (I skipped this step!) Enjoy!