Category Archives: Soups

different homemade soups

Curried Squash and Carrot Soup

carrot soup with spoon

This is a wonderful ‘winter’ soup.  It’s easy to make, absolutely delicious, super healthy and best of all, it costs next to nothing.  It’s got the perfect amount of spice from the cumin and curry and the fresh ginger is delicious in this soup without being overwhelming.  I added buttermilk because I had it on hand and it adds a really nice ‘tang’ to the soup.  Feel free to just use regular cows milk if you prefer.  If you still want the tang without the buttermilk, adding a tablespoon or two of fresh orange juice right before pureeing would be a great idea.

What elevates this soup from good to GREAT is roasting the vegetables on very high heat before adding them to the pot.  This allows the natural sugars in the vegetables and garlic to caramelize and adds a lot of depth to the soup.

(Both squash and carrots are AMAZING for you!  Click on the following links to read up on the nutritional value of: squash and carrots ).  (:

When serving this soup, I like to add a dollop of whatever dip I have on hand since I make all my dips with fat-free greek yogurt.  My favourite garnish is my lime dip but a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream or even a just little grated orange zest and some green onion would also be amazing. This is a perfect soup to serve with a side salad for lunch or to sip on between meals to keep you full and give you a few extra servings of vegetables!

NOTE:  If you don’t want to use milk, you can always just use 6 cups of broth instead.  If you find the soup is a little bit thick, simply add a bit more broth or even water to thin it out to your desired consistency.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 – 8)

  • 1 onion (about 1/2 cup) – chopped
  • 3 cups carrot – peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups butternut squash – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp mild/medium curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch red pepper flakes (or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper & 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken broth
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or just use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand)
  • 1 cup milk

METHOD

  • Prepare all your vegetables and toss them on a sheet tray with salt, pepper, curry powder, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, cumin, ginger and olive oil.

carrot soup veggies on tray pre roast

  • Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees and roast vegetables for 20 – 25 minutes or until they start to brown in spots.

carrot soup veggies after roasting

  • Remove from oven and add to a large pot on stove top.
  • Turn heat to medium and add broth.
  • Bring to boil then turn heat down to low and simmer for around 20 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add milk (if using).
  • Puree using a hand-held blender attachment or a blender.
  • Adjust seasoning as needed/desired.

SUGGESTION:  Finish with a dollop of sour cream, plain greek yogurt or an orange or lime infused aioli.

carrot soup

 

 

 

Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup

broccoli soup cover

I really enjoy making soups in the winter. They’re a quick, easy and delicious way to fill up on something low-fat in between meals and get a few servings of vegetables in at the same time!

This broccoli soup literally takes about 5 minutes to prepare and less than half an hour to cook.  It’s LOADED with broccoli and spinach and is SO good for you!  (I’ll take this over a green smoothie, during the winter months, any day!)  To keep it really low in fat and calories, enjoy it by itself.  If you want your kids to eat the ‘green soup’ want a little extra goodness, or want to serve it as a main (as opposed to a snack or appetizer), garnish with anything you want… crumbled bacon or shredded chicken, your favourite cheese and/or nice dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion!

(Some of my other favourite healthy soups to make at home are black bean, tomato and corn soup, turkey, cabbage and caraway soup, and minestrone soup.)

INGREDIENTS (makes 6 – 8 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup leek (or green onion) – WHITE part ONLY
  • 2 – 3 cups packed – spinach, kale or a combination of both
  • 4 large cups broccoli florets
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (3 – 4 cloves)
  • 1.5 cups Yukon gold potato – large chunks, no skin (1 potato)
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese –  or heavy cream (you could use milk to keep it low-fat)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 3/4  tsp salt  (adjust seasoning as desired)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

METHOD

  • Rough chop onion, garlic and leek and sauté on medium low heat with olive oil (or butter), salt and pepper until fragrant and translucent.  About 5 minutes.
  • Add peeled, chopped potato and broth to pot.
  • Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until potatoes are al dente (almost cooked).
  • Add broccoli, cover pot, reduce heat to very low and cook for 10 minutes or until broccoli is soft.
  • Turn heat off.  Add spinach/kale, cream cheese (or cream) and lemon juice.
  • NOTE:  Adding spinach at the last-minute and pureeing it right away will ensure the soup has a beautiful bright green colour instead of becoming ‘dull’ looking.
  • Puree soup until smooth (using a hand-held blender attachment or regular blender).
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Suggestion:  Garnish with your favourite cheese, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion or chives!

broccoli soup

 

 

Healthy and Hearty Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Soup

 

soup soup soup

The other day I was really craving something warm, hearty and healthy.  (I also wanted to make something quick and easy).  Since the Holidays began I’ve been drinking more wine than usual and eating way more dessert(s) than usual, so I’m trying to make healthy meal choices to balance everything out.

Beans are a great way to get lots of filling fibre and vitamins and lately I’ve been enjoying beans/lentils and Mexican flavours in general.  I love the warmth of cumin and coriander at this time of year and tend to use those spices in a lot of my cooking.

I decided to come up with a black bean soup that I could load up with filling vegetables.  I’m absolutely thrilled with the way this soup turned out.  It’s SO good.  I ate it last night with shredded chicken, cilantro, lime and chipotle infused fat-free Greek yogurt and some green onion as garnish.  Today I think I’ll add some diced avocado and feta as well.  This would also be delicious topped with cheddar cheese and lite sour cream.  You could even crumble some tortilla chips on top for added texture.  Whatever you decide to top this soup with, it’s delicious, filling and incredibly healthy.

RECIPE SUGGESTION:  I really like the ratio of bean flavour to tomato flavour in this recipe, but if you would like it to taste a little more ‘black bean’ and a little less ‘tomato’, I suggest using a small can of diced tomato (as opposed to the large one) and adding an extra 1.5 – 2 cups of chicken broth instead.

black bean soup

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white or red onion (or a combination of both) – small dice
  • 2 tsp garlic – minced
  • 1 cup carrot – shredded/very small dice
  • 1 cup corn (from frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 cup mixed bell peppers – diced (red, orange or yellow or all three is great!)
  • 1 can black beans – rinsed
  • 1 large can (796ml) diced tomato (or use a smaller can and add 2 extra cups chicken broth)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsp jalapeno pepper (depending on how spicy you want it.  If you like it really spicy, use the seeds as well) – minced
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • OPTIONAL:  2 Tbsp cream

GARNISH OPTIONS:

  • **cilantro (this is a must in my opinion)
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • diced avocado
  • sour cream or fat-free Greek plain yogurt OR my lime-chipotle sauce/dip!
  • green onion
  • feta or cheddar cheese

OPTION:  add shredded/diced chicken or pork

 

METHOD

  • Using a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and add carrot, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.
  • Sauté, stirring often until carrots and onion soften.  Around 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, half the beans, and half the can of tomato with juice.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add cream, if using.
  • Using a hand-held blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  • Add corn, bell peppers and the other half of the beans and tomato and simmer on low heat for around 20 minutes.
  • Add lime juice and adjust seasoning as desired.
  • Garnish with toppings of your choice (I highly recommend a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, diced green onion and cilantro!)

 

 

 

 

 

Cream of Rosemary, Mushroom and Leek Soup (healthy version!)

cream of rosemary, mushroom and leek soup

cream of rosemary, mushroom and leek soup

The first soup I remember falling in love with was a cream of rosemary mushroom soup.   I was 16 years old and apprenticing at a little bistro.  My chef showed me how to make this soup for the first time.  When I tasted it, I was left speechless.  It was so comforting and rich and creamy.  The mushrooms were meaty and flavourful.  The amount of fresh rosemary was fragrant enough to taste, yet subtle enough to not overwhelm the dish.  It had white pepper instead of black.  I believe that was the first time I’d ever tasted white pepper.  It was perfect.  It was so good that it became one of those moments that solidified my love of cooking.  It ruined canned mushroom soup for me forever, much to my mother’s dismay (:

The original recipe didn’t have leeks but I LOVE leeks with mushrooms, so I added them in.  The ‘original’ soup was also thickened with a roux (and equal mix of fat, such as butter, and flour) and it had a lot of cream in it.  It was not a ‘healthy’ soup!  As I do with most of my recipes, I have tried several ways to make a soup that is just as amazing, but with MUCH less fat and calories.  I have finally come up with that recipe.

If you’re wondering what the point is in using a can of mushroom soup in this recipe, it’s to thicken the soup without all the fat.  I could just serve canned mushroom soup, but this recipe is about a million times better.

This is a soup to serve at a dinner party or on a special occasion, or my favourite reason; just because you want to treat yourself and/or someone you love to something special (:

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 1/2 cups or so of mixed mushrooms (I used a mix of oyster, shiitake and crimini but even button mushrooms would be great in this soup)
  • 1/2 cup leek – white part only, diced
  • 1/2 heaping tsp fresh rosemary – chopped as finely as possible
  • 1 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1% but any kind would work)
  • 1 can mushroom soup (this is what thickens the soup without having to use extra butter or cream!!  You could even use low-fat soup!)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • OPTION:  1/4 cup white wine (to deglaze with)
  • 1/4 cup scallions or chives – garnish only
  • 1/4 cup parmesan – garnish only

METHOD

mixed mushrooms in package

mixed mushrooms in package

  • In a pot, melt butter and oil on medium-high heat and add chopped mushrooms, leeks, rosemary and salt.  Sauté until mushrooms have colour.  1 – 2 minutes.
sauteed mushrooms and leeks

sauteed mushrooms and leeks

  • Add garlic and white pepper and cook for around 1 minute more on medium heat.
  • If using white wine, deglaze (pour it in) and reduce the wine until it’s almost completely evaporated.
  • Add milk and cream cheese.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for around 8 minutes to infuse all the flavours into the milk.
  • Add can of mushroom soup and stir until it’s combined into the milk.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.  Adjust seasoning if desired.
  • Serve topped with a few chopped scallions or chives and freshly grated parmesan.  Crusty bread to soak up the last bits of soup would be great too!

bowl of cream of rosemary, mushroom and leek soup

 

 

 

Cleansing Ground Turkey, Cabbage and Caraway Soup

soup on spoon

I’ve been eating a lot of heavy food lately.  I do it every fall.  Once the rain and cooler weather comes back I start cooking – and eating – more.  I start craving roasted meats, delicious pastas and decadent baked goods.  I also start enjoying juicy aromatic red wines again (well, I like them all year round but I LOVE them in cooler weather).  Add the fact that I’ve been starting to test some new Christmas baking ideas out and I am beginning to feel my jeans getting tighter already.  I know what that means.  I need to exercise a little more and eat a little less to get back on track.  Nothing helps keep me full and satisfied like a big bowl of warm, vegetable-filled homemade soup.  I wanted to make one that was extremely healthy and low in calories.  I added meat to the soup because I wanted the ‘staying power’ that protein provides while keeping the level of fat very low.  That’s the main reason I opted to use lean ground turkey as opposed to ground pork or beef, but you could use whatever ground meat you like or even leave the meat out for a vegetarian version!

About the use of the caraway seeds….

I LOVE rye bread.  A few months ago I was going through the bulk bins and checking out/sniffing all the different spices when I came upon one I wasn’t really familiar with – caraway.  Once I smelled it I knew where I had tasted it before.  In my much loved rye bread.  In all my years working in restaurants I don’t recall ever using a recipe that called for caraway.  I bought some seeds knowing that eventually I would find/come up with a recipe where I could use this delicious spice.  Yesterday was that day.  The flavour in the soup is very subtle.  You almost wouldn’t know what you were tasting unless you already knew the caraway was in there.  But once you know, you think ‘ahhh, that’s what that lovely flavour is’.

As I always say when making any soup, the sum will only be as good as its parts, meaning make sure all your ingredients are great on their own and the final product will be much better.  There is no better example than broth.  A broth can literally ‘make or break’ a soup.  That’s why I always opt to use homemade chicken broth as the base for my soups.  The broths I make are good enough to drink on their own.  They’re made with LOTS of herbs and spices and love.  If you must use store-bought broth, use the best quality stuff you can.  You should be able to enjoy it on it’s own.  If you don’t, you won’t enjoy it in the soup either.

Don’t worry about getting the measurements exactly right.  If you have a little extra carrot or cabbage, or a little less turkey it won’t make a difference.  It’s a soup after all….

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 – 1.5 cup lean ground turkey meat
  • 4 – 5 cups cabbage – shredded or diced
  • 1/2 cup onion – diced
  • 1 cup carrot – large dice
  • 3 cups spinach PACKED – shredded
  • 1 large can diced tomato (28oz can)
  • 8 cups chicken broth (2 litres)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic -minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley – chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds – crushed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • GARNISH:  parmesan cheese and green onion

METHOD

  • Get all of your vegetables ready for cooking.  Using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, crush the caraway seeds (if you don’t have either, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and bang them with the back of a knife handle).
mortar and pestle

mortar and pestle

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, carrot, salt, pepper, crushed caraway seeds and turkey and cook, stirring often, breaking up turkey meat as you stir.  About 3 minutes.
  • Add half the parsley, cabbage, canned tomato and chicken stock and simmer on low heat until cabbage is softened.  Around 10 minutes.

soup in pot

  • Add spinach and rest of parsley and cook for 2 minutes more.

adding spinach to soup

  • Taste soup and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese and green onion

cabbage soup in bowl

 

Hearty Organic Garden Minestrone Soup

hearty organic garden minestrone soup

hearty organic garden minestrone soup

There are so many great canned/pre-made soups available nowadays.  But there is something really enjoyable and rewarding about making your own.  I occasionally make my own soup for a number of reasons:

  • When I’ve eaten poorly for a few days and want to get back on track, having a large batch of homemade soup, packed with vegetables, is the perfect thing to eat in between meals to keep me full!
  • I save a lot of money making my own soup and can control what goes into it (including the amount of sodium).
  • When I have a bunch of different vegetables that need using up there’s no better way to get rid of them then by making a delicious soup!  If I don’t want to eat all the soup within a few days, I just freeze it for another time.
  • Soups are fun to make.  I get to play with ingredients.  I enjoy trying a new herb or spice and seeing how it changes the flavour profile.

There are several reasons I decided to make this particular soup.  It’s one of my favourite and healthiest soups and I’m trying to eat very clean and organically this month as a bit of a ‘cleanse’ from too much of everything all summer!  I want to eat as many vegetables as possible (the summer has taken a bit of a toll on me!).  I currently have a lot of vegetables and herbs growing in my gardens but the season is very near it’s end.  The last of the tomatoes,  peppers, zucchini, kale and basil need using up.  I also made a wonderful chicken broth a few days ago, (homemade broth/stock really is what elevates this soup from good to great) and wanted to find a way to use it.  Lastly, the weather has been cooler and I’m feeling for something warm, hearty and comforting.  This soup will take care of all these things!

tomatoes from my garden that I need to use up

tomatoes from my garden that I need to use up

INGREDIENTS (makes 8 cups)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion – diced
  • 3/4 cup carrot (or 1 medium carrot) – diced
  • 1/2 cup celery (or 2 stalks) – diced
  • 2 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 cups tomatoes – chopped (if you don’t have fresh tomatoes just use 1 can of crushed tomatoes!)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups kale (swiss chard, cabbage or spinach would work too)
  • 1/3 cup yellow bell peppers (red or orange would work too)
  • 1/2 cup zucchini (green or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup parsley – chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas (white kidney beans or lentils would work too)
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock (6 cups.  Preferably homemade)
  • OPTION:  1 parmesan rind (I freeze my rinds to use for soups.  They add great flavour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (possibly more.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Grated parmesan, fresh basil leaves and/or pesto for garnish

METHOD

  • Heat oil in large pot and add the onion, celery, carrot, tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley.  Sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.
mirepoix for soup

mirepoix for soup

adding tomato paste, garlic and parsley to soup

adding tomato paste, garlic and parsley to soup

  • Add the zucchini, kale, peppers and tomatoes and stir.
adding kale, peppers, tomato and zucchini to soup

adding kale, peppers, tomato and zucchini to soup

  • Add the chickpeas and stock (and parmesan rind if you have one).
adding chickpeas to soup

adding chickpeas to soup

adding parmesan rind to soup

adding parmesan rind to soup

  • Bring to a simmer, turn heat down to low and gently continue to simmer for around 15 – 20 minutes to combine flavours.  You don’t need to ‘cook this soup to death’ because all the ingredients are great on their own.  You don’t want mushy vegetables.  (I can’t stress enough how much better this soup is if you use homemade stock!).
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
soup in pot

soup in pot

  • Serve immediately topped with parmesan cheese, fresh basil or your favourite pesto.  Some crusty bread and a glass of wine also certainly wouldn’t hurt!
hearty organic garden minetrone soup

hearty organic garden minetrone soup