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Posts Tagged ‘nutritious meal’

Today, this soup basically created itself from a craving in my kitchen.  It was so good. After though, wanting to share the deliciousness, I had a lot of difficulty coming up with a name for it.  In the end I chose “Alphabet Soup” not because of the alphabet noodles I did include (they were the only soup-able noodles I had in my pantry), but because I’m pretty sure that aside from “D”, this soup includes all of the vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that are required for optimal nutrition.  The perfect meal. In retrospect, I could also call it “Rainbow Soup”.  My favorite nutritional rule of thumb: the more colours, the better.  I frequently get asked nutritional advice, given my undergrad in nutritional sciences.  That’s my best response.

The soup simmered all afternoon, the aromas teasing us all the while.  It was created from a craving I had, and was inspired by several recent experiences.

For the last 6-8 months I have been so fortunate as to be involved in launching a community kitchen in Toronto, Cuisine Partage, with a most lovely group of people at the Centre Francophone (I should probably install a translating widget onto the blog to make it more accessible…).   Every week at Cuisine Partage, we got together for 4 hours or so to shop, cook, and eat together, in an effort to increase food security (and dare I say nutritional security) for francophones living on social assistance in Toronto.  I am sad that the pilot project has already ended, and I hope that this wonderful program can continue long into the future.  This recipe is a testament to the deliciousness that can be created on-the-spot, with people from all the world over.  One of the participants had a favorite secret ingredient, and it is definitely included here: nutmeg. We got a Good Food Box from FoodShare one week, and ended up with kale, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes, among others.  Stew it was!

The other inspiration for this recipe was my recent adventure in Belize – the importance of flavour, and lots of it!  This was achieved by cooking the meat (or beans, for vegetarians) with cilantro and parsley at the onset, and then adding entire bunches of it near the end as well.  I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as we did.

Ingredients – 1 large pot of soup

-4 cloves garlic, minced, and separated into two portions
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion (I like to use purple ones here, but any is fine)
-1 lb extra lean ground beef (meat option) or 1 can (or 1 cup soaked overnight) navy beans
-1 bunch flat leaf parsley
-1 bunch cilantro
-10 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
-2 bay leaves
-3 ripe tomatoes, diced (I used 1 can of diced tomatoes here instead as I don’t like winter/spring red mushy things in the grocery store)
-4 carrots, chopped into half-moons
-1 orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1 potato (I like yukon gold), peeled and diced
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
-1/4 of a purple cabbage, chopped dice-size pieces, and rinced (if you do it in a bowl the blue water ensuing is amazing!)
-1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
-2/3 cup alphabet noodles or 1 cup macaroni (uncooked)
-3 cups vegetable broth (or you can make it using bouillon)
-more water, depending on volume of pot
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add 1/2 the garlic.  Stir for 1 minute, and then add the meat and a handful of chopped cilantro and parsley.  If you are making the vegetarian version, I like to do the same with the beans as it gives a really nice flavour.  Brown the meat/beans, and remove any fat once it is cooked (this is really important as you want the broth to be clear).  Add the onion once the excess fat has been removed, and stir.  Add the bay leaves, rest of the garlic, thyme sprigs and the tomato.  Cover everything with water (but no more than covering), and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots/potato/sweet potato, the nutmeg, cayenne and the bouillon.  Let simmer for at least 1 hour, skimming the bubbles and residues from the top using a large spoon.  The more you do this, the more delicious it will be.  Replenish any lost liquids so that the veggies are always covered.  Around 20 minutes before eating, add the noodles and cabbage.  Add more water if there is not enough to cover everything.  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning.  About 5 minutes before eating, add the chopped kale and the remainder of the chopped parsley and cilantro.  Stir well to distribute the veggies evenly.  Enjoy with a few pieces of crusty bread, or alone, as this soup is a meal in and of itself!  Although I am usually a “puréed soup” person, this is absolutely one of my favorites.  I hope you will like it too.

-Sitelle

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