Monday, October 28, 2013

World Famous Soup

I don't have a better title for this because it is not your everyday kind of soup.  This is a soup that I invented many years ago that has withstood the test of time.  I have made it in France to rave reviews,  I have made it in England to rave reviews, and I have even made it in Edmonton to rave reviews.  It's not a chowder or a bisque, although it does have milk in it, so I'm left just calling it my "World Famous Soup".  Because it does not have a thickening agent, it is a light version of a broth - and that's what I like about it.

There are many variations to this soup, and if you don't like shrimp, you can leave it out.  I made it without shrimp for several years before thinking about adding it.  Now I add it every time.  My favourite time to eat this soup is after several days of pigging out over the Christmas holidays, but it shows up on the table at least once a month during the fall/winter, which is saying a lot because I hardly ever make the same thing twice...

This soup will serve approximately 6 as a meal.


1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
4 medium carrots, sliced into crescents
6 potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb shrimp (raw, thawed, and peeled), each shrimp cut into three pieces
2 cups milk (not skim)
salt, pepper


1. Sauté the onion in the butter and oil with a bit of salt while you chop the celery and carrots.

2. Add the celery and carrots to the pot while you chop the potatoes.

3. Add the potatoes to the pot and sauté the lot for 3 - 4 minutes.

4. Add the chicken stock, dried dill, and garlic powder.

5. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through.

6. In the meantime, peel the shrimp and cut each one into three pieces.

7. When the vegetables are cooked, add the shrimp to the pot and cook until they are pink, about 1 - 2 minutes.

8. Add the milk and heat through, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Do not boil.

9. Add salt and pepper to taste.  You will probably have to add about 2 tsp of salt - it's a big pot of soup and the potatoes will counteract it. Enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. Although it is slightly more expensive, I buy the loose carrots and celery unless I have another recipe in mind that will use the leftovers.  I find I save more money that way than buying the cheaper stuff and throwing it out.

2. I use red potatoes for this recipe, but white ones or yukon gold are fine as well.  Even baby potatoes work.  Don't use russet potatoes, though, because they are baking potatoes and are too floury.

3. I have tried this recipe with fresh garlic and fresh dill, but it doesn't taste as good.  Usually, I am all about the fresh ingredients, but in soup, the rules are a bit different.  If you want to garnish it with fresh dill as well as the dried, that would be a good idea.


1. If you don't have time to thaw the shrimp, put them in a colander and run COLD water over them for five to ten minutes.

2. You can add frozen corn to this, or even substitute the corn for the shrimp if you want.

3. If you want a vegetarian soup, you could use vegetable stock instead and omit the shrimp.

4. If you want to add flour to the butter to thicken the broth, you can, but I really enjoy the lightness of it as it is.

1. This will keep in the fridge for about four days, but it never lasts that long in my house!

If you try it, let me know what you think.  Don't forget the step at the beginning about sautéing the vegetables, though.  It makes a difference to the taste.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sweet, Sour, Salty, and Spicy Squash

This recipe was inspired by one in Heidi Swanson's book "Super Natural Every Day".  I have changed several of the ingredients but kept the four most important components of the dish: the sweet squash, the sour lemon, the salty miso, and the spicy curry paste.  Together, they are perfectly balanced so that the squash is not too sweet, the lemon is bright, the miso is barely noticeable, and the curry does not bite.

Mom, there will be a few ingredients that are new to you here, but they are well worth the investment.  I promise that you will use them again in many future recipes.  These are not ingredients that you will use a small amount of and will then sit in your cupboard until they go bad.  Also, the green curry is not the kind of curry you don't like.  You don't like cumin, and this paste has no cumin in it.  Trust me, it is good.

Miso is an amazing ingredient that can be added to many dishes to add that special "umami" flavour.  It stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach and restores the beneficial probiotics in the intestines. It reduces the risk of several different cancers, is detoxifying, and contains antioxidants.  It also strengthens the immune system and helps to lower LDL cholesterol.  No wonder many people in Japan eat miso soup for breakfast every day!

This recipe serves two generously for a main course or four for a side.  If you are using it as a main course, you may want to serve it with a piece of bread or a light green salad.  You could also serve it with rice.  We ate it by itself, but that's just us...


Butternut squash
(fill a Pyrex liquid 2 cup measure as full as you can)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white miso
1 Tbsp green Thai curry paste
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red potatoes or 8 baby potatoes, cubed
Juice of half a large lemon
6 leaves of kale
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp fresh parsley (or cilantro)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (if you are feeling energetic, you can roast them in the oven like pumpkin seeds).  Cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes.  You can peel it if you want, but you don't have to.  I usually peel half and leave half with the skin on.  Fill up the Pyrex cup - that's how much you will use for this recipe.  Toss the rest of it in a bit of olive oil and roast it on a separate baking sheet to use at a later date - if you put it in the fridge raw, you will never use it - trust me!

3. Cut the potatoes into cubes.  Put the potatoes with the squash in a medium bowl.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, miso, and curry paste.  Measure out 1/3 cup of the mixture and put it in the bowl with the potatoes and squash.

5. Toss the potatoes/squash with the miso sauce, and then place them on a baking sheet.  Put this baking sheet and the baking sheet with the plain (leftover) squash in the oven for 30 minutes.  Stir them around at 15 minutes and 25 minutes so that they do not burn.

6. Add the lemon juice to the leftover miso mixture.  Cut the stems out of the kale, slice the leaves into ribbons, add them to the miso/lemon mixture, stir to coat completely.  Leave this at room temperature to wilt in the lemon vinaigrette while the squash cooks.

7. Simmer the chickpeas in a small pot of water for about 5 minutes to soften them up a bit.  Drain and set them aside until the potatoes/squash are ready.

8. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan for about 2 minutes.  Chop the parsley into large pieces.

8. When the potatoes and squash are soft and a fork will easily go through them, take them out of the oven and toss them with the kale mixture.  Add the chickpeas. Serve on a plate and top with the pumpkin seeds and parsley (or cilantro).  Enjoy!


1. The leftover butternut squash can be eaten alone as a side, added to soups or stews, or pureed with vegetable stock for a nice soup.  You could find a muffin recipe that uses a squash puree, or you could freeze it for another use.

2. The leftover miso can be used in soups, stews, or just added to hot water for a very nice, light and healthy soup.  You can use it with some olive oil and the juice of the other lemon half for a nice vinaigrette.

Shopping Tips:

1. There are many different kinds of squash at the farmers market at this time of the year.  You could use another kind if you want, but don't use spaghetti squash - it is too different.  If you use butternut, pick one that has a long skinny part and a small bulb.  That way you get more flesh and fewer seeds.

2. The miso will be in the refrigerated section of the health section (you might have to go to a health food store, but I don't think so, it is pretty common).  There are different kinds, but you want to make sure that you get white miso as it is the mildest. I use shiro miso.

3. The Thai green curry is in the Asian/Thai section of the grocery store and can be purchased at any grocery store.  You can use red Thai curry as an alternative, but I prefer green.

Scott gave this recipe an 8/10 and then went back for thirds, so I'm thinking it deserves at least an 8+. . .
P.S. He gives almost everything an 8/10.  I'm still trying to figure out what he expects for a 10!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mushroom Tortellini and Soup

I really like the taste of homemade pasta, but the time and effort involved in making it usually makes it prohibitive.  This recipe is for cheater's tortellini, which cuts out the step of making the pasta by using fresh Chinese wonton wrappers, and just leaves you with the step of making the filling.  I really appreciate knowing exactly what has gone into my filling as well as the ability to be creative and make whatever combinations I want.

This week's recipe is really two recipes in one because you can serve the tortellini as pasta or in the soup, and you can also make the soup with store-bought pasta, if you prefer.  Making it with store-bought pasta is a really fast way to whip up a simple soup for a weeknight supper.  From this recipe you will get about 40 tortellini, and the soup will serve about 6 people.

Cheater's Tortellini Ingredients:

1 package fresh Chinese wonton wrappers
3/4 pound mixed mushrooms, not button mushrooms
2 shallots, finely chopped
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stem
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
1 egg


1.  Cut the mushrooms into small pieces.  Saute the mushrooms and the shallots in the ollive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Do not add more oil, as the mushrooms will release some of their moisture and will not stick. If they do stick, add a few drops of water.  Also, do not add salt at this point because you want the mushrooms to brown, not steam.  If you add salt, it will draw the water out of the mushrooms.  Once the mushrooms have enough colour (about 15-20 minutes), then add salt, pepper, and thyme leaves.

2. Cool the mushroom mixture and then either chop it finely in a food processor or cut it more finely with a knife.  You don't want a paste, just very fine pieces.

3. Add the ricotta to the mushroom mixture.  Add more salt and pepper as necessary.  You will probably have to add quite a bit of salt as the ricotta does not have much.

3. In a small bowl, make an egg wash by whisking the egg with 1 Tbsp water.

4. On each wonton wrapper, use you finger to put a line of egg wash on two joining sides.  Then, put 1 tsp of mushroom mixture in the middle of the wrapper.  Fold over the wrapper to make a triangle.  Put more egg wash on one corner of the wrapper and fold the opposite corner over top to make a tortellini shape.

5. Put the tortellini on a baking sheet dusted with flour to keep the tortellini from sticking to the sheet.  You can freeze them on the sheet and then transfer to a plastic storage bag if you are not going to use them all at once.

Tortellini Soup Ingredients:

1 package tortellini, or 24 tortellini from the above recipe
2 litres chicken stock
1 Tbsp light miso
1 - 2 large leeks
1 bag of baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper


1. In a large soup pot, saute the leek in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the chicken stock, miso, and tortellini, and cook for about 5 minutes or according to package directions.  Add the spinach and basil and the end and stir until it wilts.

3. Taste for seasoning and serve the soup topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. If you are lucky enough to have a farmers market where you can buy fresh mixed mushrooms like I do, that is the best place to get a good mix that will taste delicious.  If not, you can buy a mix from the grocery store, or just use cremini mushrooms.  Do not use button mushrooms because they do not have as much flavour, and they hold a lot of water, so it is difficult to brown them nicely.

2. If you can't find shallots, you can use finely chopped white onion.

3. You can use either regular or light ricotta cheese.  You could even use goat's cheese, if you want.

4. Miso is a fermented soy bean product, is high in protein, and has many health benefits.  I buy shiro miso and use it in many soup dishes.  It is a subtle flavour, but it really rounds out the flavours in soup and gives it added depth.


1. There are a wide variety of options for the cheater's tortellini.  Instead of mushroom, you can use roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale, or even roasted red peppers.  You could also make the "pasta" into other shapes such as ravioli.

2. You could also add white beans to the soup to make it a more substantial meal.

3. Kale can always be substituted for the spinach.

When I first made this recipe, I actually didn't have a lot of time, so I cooked the mushrooms while I was making another meal, and then froze them.  Another day, I made the mushroom/ricotta mixture and stuffed the tortellini, and then froze them.  Finally, after an afternoon of raking leaves, I quickly threw together the soup together on the third day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cabbage Hash

When I hear the word "cabbage",  memories of limp, stinky boiled cabbage immediately pop into my mind.  From where, I have no idea since my mom never, ever made boiled cabbage or even cabbage rolls!  Fortunately, this recipe is a delicious way to enjoy lightly sautéed cabbage with no offensive odour whatsoever.  In addition, the humble cabbage is a super nutritious food that prevents cancer, lowers cholesterol, and helps heal stomach ulcers.

This week's recipe was inspired by blogger Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks.  The original recipe can be found in her book "Super Natural Every Day".  This hash makes a great side dish, or it can be served with a salad for a light dinner.  For a vegan option, hold the cheese.  Serves four.


1 Tbsp coconut oil, plus more as needed.
115 grams of potatoes, unpeeled, and cut into tiny hashbrown-sized cubes
Sea salt
Half a red onion, chopped
15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked and cooled
Two large cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about half of a small head)
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper


1. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium high heat. Sauté the potatoes and sea salt until the potatoes are cooked through.  They should be brown and crispy on a couple of sides.

2. Add the red onion and white beans as well as any oil necessary to continue sautéing until the onions are translucent.  If the beans become a bit crispy as well, even better.

3. When the onions are cooked through, add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.

4. Stir in the cabbage and cook for approximately 3 minutes until it is wilted but still firm.

5. Take the pan off the heat and finish with a sprinkle of dill and the grated parmesan.

6. Season with freshly grated black pepper and more sea salt, if necessary.

Shopping Tips:

1. Coconut oil should be virgin or extra virgin and cold-pressed.  It is easy to find now and will be a solid white colour at room temperature.

2. There are several varieties of white beans - use whichever ones you want.  If you use canned, try to find a brand that is BPA-free.  Eden organics usually are.  You don't want to take the time to cook a great meal and have it laden with carcinogenic BPA...


1. If you don't have coconut oil, you can use canola or extra-virgin olive oil, but the flavour will change.

2. Instead of potatoes, you could use leftover cooked whole grains such as wheat berries, faro, or brown rice.

3. You could use any kind of bean you want, including chickpeas, but again, the flavour will change.

4. And of course, you can use white onions or shallots instead of red onions and red cabbage instead of green.


1. If you have leftover hash, you can fry it up again the next day for breakfast or lunch and serve it with a poached egg on top.  The soft yolk from the egg will create a nice sauce.

2. You will probably have leftover cabbage, dill, potatoes, and onion.  You can throw these together with vegetable stock, canned diced tomatoes, celery, and carrots for a warming soup.  You can even add some barley if you want.

3. This cabbage hash is also a useful recipe if you already have leftover potatoes in the fridge.  You will probably have to cut them into larger pieces for step one so that they don't turn to mush.