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Asian infused soup with instant noodles

instant noodles soupFor years I have been sodium-aware and have passed this awareness onto my kids.  And yet my daughter, while she was in high school and in university, loved noodles in a cup or the instant noodles with a flavour pouch.  While I doubt the noodles are the sodium culprit, I’m pretty sure the pouch contains a good portion of the recommended daily allowance.  Students in university live off them while I could never stomach them – the closest I came to a meal in a box was Kraft dinner.  Continue Reading →

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celery soup

celery soup - easy to make, healthy & budget friendlyCelery soup?  You betcha!  I bought a bunch of celery a couple of weeks ago for a recipe that called for two stalks.  It’s a food dilemma for me and figuring out what to do with the remainder stalks usually ends up in the compost box.  Around lunch time I pondered what to make for tonight’s dinner.  The vegetable crisper looked a bit bare with a lone carrot, sunchoke, and leek; all were on their last legs.  Celery is abundant in vitamins, helps lower inflammation, protects the liver and more.  The thing is, I can only stomach eating one stalk at a time so what was I to do with eight? Continue Reading →

lentil soup

budget friendly lentil soupThe other day it was chilly outside (read: freezing!) and Mr. S wanted to know what was for dinner.  After spending 20 years together, there are some things we do in unison without ever thinking about it.  We both said at the same time we wanted soup for dinner.  A bag of lentils in the pantry along with Italian plum tomatoes and a need to use the Parmesan rind all screamed soup.   Lentil soup is an easy meal to make and their meaty texture will leave one feeling quite satiated. Continue Reading →

squash and parsnip soup

squash and parsnip soupSoup has been around for centuries and previous generations did not use a recipe. They simply dumped various ingredients into a pot to boil.  And each culture adopted its own variation with whatever was on hand.  For my readers who feel more comfortable using a list of ingredients, throw caution to the wind and be like our ancestors.  If you have vegetables looking as though they’re in need of rescuing, a soup is a perfect place for them and you’ll feel better knowing you used them instead of throwing them in the bin.  Continue Reading →

split pea soup

split pea soup with ham

Have you heard of the nursery rhyme about peas porridge?  If not, here it is:  peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.  This nursery rhyme is a reflection of a time when fireplaces not only heated homes but were used as the main source for cooking.  A large pot would be placed over the flames and ingredients from whatever was on hand would go inside.  Water was added and the soup was replenished each day with additional ingredients.  And, like the nursery rhyme says, this could go on for nine days.  Continue Reading →

Beet Soup

beet soupFood that looks as pretty as this soup does makes me smile and my mind wanders off to warmer weather.  The days are getting longer and even though it’s a glorious day today filled with sunshine, a major snowstorm is heading our way.  This beet soup is my cup of happiness regardless of what’s happening outside.  It’ll soothe the soul and it can be the main attraction at the dinner table or a simple way to add another veggie to the meal.  Continue Reading →

Butternut Squash Soup

 

Butternut Squash SoupI affectionately call my husband the fridge police and he doesn’t mind.  He’ll come into the kitchen, usually when I’m getting dinner started, and go through the contents of the fridge. “What about this?” he’ll say, or “do you think this is going off?” and “how long has this been here?”  All of which require me to stop what I’m doing and investigate his findings.  Sometimes I’m ok with it and other times…  It’s not that I mind, it’s the timing and sometimes the questions interrupt my train of thought or I lose the spot where I am in a recipe.  Continue Reading →

Easy-To-Make Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin soupI enjoy the change of seasons and if you asked me what is my favorite season, I’d have to say autumn.  While I don’t look forward to the cooler and shorter days ahead, I do like all that comes with the fall and  its harvest. The orange signature of autumn…sugar pumpkins (aka pie pumpkins) are abundant this time of the year but don’t get them confused with the large jack-o’-lantern pumpkins (carving pumpkins).  Continue Reading →

Asparagus Vichyssoise

asparagus vichyssoiseI am a huge fan of supporting anything local; it just makes sense to me to do so.  A few years ago I read The 100 Mile Diet – A Year Of Eating local.  Big kudos to Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon for their one year journey of only eating what was available to them within 100 miles.   It’s a far cry from the staggering 1,500 miles from farm-to-plate that happens all over North America.  A study from Brock University found that if five million Ontarians spend $10 of their weekly grocery budget on local foods it would contribute $3 billion to their economy. Of course, in smaller communities that number would be less but it still would have a positive impact.  It’s a tough sell, though, for those on a tight budget.  I admit, I shop all over the food grocery map…it’s the only way I can make things balance and help stretch my food dollar.  The road to buying local is paved with good intentions and it’s important we all feel that even a small amount contributes in a big way.  Brock University also stated that buying local has three times the financial impact on communities compared to buying imported items.

Vichyssoise (vish·ē·swäz′) is a thick soup made with leeks, potatoes and chicken stock.  For those who are lactose intolerant, omit the milk and increase chicken broth or substitute water for the milk.  Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, and C and this humble perennial is also a natural diuretic.  To get optimum health benefits from asparagus, consume within 48 hours of purchase as they are more perishable than most vegetables (store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel).

Serves 4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
knob of butter
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 lb. asparagus, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cubed potato
plain yogurt

In a saucepan melt butter and add a splash of olive oil. Add leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add potatoes, stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Toss in asparagus, cover and cook 5 minutes or until asparagus is al dente. Remove from heat and purée using a hand blender. Stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If the soup is too thick, thin with water.  This soup is typically served cold but you can serve it hot, too.  Enjoy!

Seafood Soup

seafood soup by The Culinary ChaseJust when you think the frigid weather is behind us, mother nature shakes her head and delivers a polar vortex. Usually the polar vortex stays in the Arctic but this year it’s paying Canada and the United States a visit…a very cold one! Here in the Maritimes, we’re not going to be as hard hit as the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be cold. YIKES! Bring on the soup! Seafood soup is easy to make and the aromas from your kitchen will make you think you’re at an upscale restaurant.

Serves 4
adapted from Lucy Waverman

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup white wine
3 cups fish or seafood stock
400g can cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
16 mussels or clams
12 oz. (375 g) firm white fish such as catfish, grouper, cod, halibut, swordfish (cut into even chunks)
4 large scallops
8 large shrimp, peeled
2 squid tubes (cleaned), cut in rings

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and fennel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. Stir in parsley and fennel seeds. Pour in ½ cup wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then add stock and tomatoes. Add dried chili. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Taste, and if need be, season with salt and pepper.

2. While the soup base is simmering, in another pot over medium-high heat, add mussels and wine.  Cover and steam until mussels open, about 3 minutes. Strain broth into soup and reserve mussels.

3. Add fish, scallops and shrimp to soup. Simmer gently until fish is cooked (about 5 minutes). Stir in squid and let it cook for 2 minutes or until opaque. Add mussels to reheat. Serve immediately and top with chopped parsley.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: A warming and hearty meal that’s dinner-table ready in 30 minutes!  Serve with bread to help mop up the juices.  Enjoy!