Friendly Food Snobs

soups

lentil soup with greens

I love a good vegetable lentil soup in the winter. Serve with bread or crackers and cheese to make supper. Or freeze it for meal prep. This soup is simple to make but totally delicious. The trick is to saute the veggies until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant, then stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for a few minutes to build a big base of flavour.

I recommend using yellow split peas for this recipe. They hold their shape and are packed with protein and have a lovely bite. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook. If you are using red lentils they cook much quicker, just 5-7 minutes, any longer and will turn mushy. Look for yellow split peas in the bulk section of the grocery store or your local health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 head thinly sliced swiss chard or baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp thyme

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the 5 tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion, celery and carrot with a generous shake of salt and pepper over medium heat for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste and stir as the paste browns and starts to caramelize for another few minutes.

Add the 6 cups of water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Toss in the split peas and bay leaf and simmer for 30-40 minutes until split peas are tender. If using red lentil the cooking time is less, just 5-7 minutes.

Once the lentils are done turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and stir in the swiss chard. The residual heat from the soup will wilt it perfectly. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. This soups taste even better after a day in the fridge and freezes well too. Highly recommend serving it with some fresh bread with butter and a hard cheese.

Need inspiration for more soups and stews for winter? Check out this easy chickpea curry, coconut milk butternut squash soup, slow cooker beef tostadas and butter chicken.

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Hello January. Days are starting to feel a tiny bit lighter but the most of snowy winter is still ahead of us.

I feel like the best way to “get through” winter is to embrace the best of it. My mantra for the winter weekends is hibernate, moisturize and play in the snow. Lots of slowing down, making soup and curries, reading, watching movies, and arts and crafts. I am also a little obsessed with my nighttime winter skincare rituals. They signal for me it’s bedtime and my time at the end of the day. I recently went for a facial at Pure + Simple and love this vitamin C serum I picked up there. Super moisturizing and the smell is divine.

Soups and curries like this one line my freezer. I make them on the weekend when I have more time and then whip them out for super quick weeknight supper. This chickpea coconut curry is my current favourite and my kids eat it over rice.

Use a can of organic chickpeas if you can. The taste and buttery texture is much better than non-organic. Truth: most canned goods I buy are traditional, but I splurge for organic chickpeas for this recipe.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa. Top with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro or green onions if you’re feeling fancy. Hope you love it!

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 x 796 ml can whole tomatoes
  • 1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 x 796 ml can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Heat a soup pot or large deep frying pan with oil. Add the diced onion, salt generously and saute over medium heat five minutes.

Add the butter, ginger and garlic, then the turmeric, cumin and curry and stir creating a paste.

Cook the paste until fragrant, just a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to a simmer and stir for five minutes as sauce thickens, then add the chickpeas and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low/medium and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the handfuls of baby spinach. And taste for salt and pepper, adding as needed.

Oh, this freezes so well too. Stay warm, friends.

coconut curry squash lentil soup

coconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soup
The return to work is really the last sort of triumph is new motherhood isn’t it? Another change, another end and beginning. Pluses: the option to actually drink hot coffee, and wear accessories that have been collecting dust, and that renewed sense of self [or yes my brain does still work!]. The downside, I’ve learned so quickly is less time with your babe and less time actually at home. I am so lucky here in Toronto, Canada we have one year of maternity leave. I stayed home with Oscar for 14 months and it was the happiest and craziest time of my life.

For me this transition back to work happened in late summer. Since then it’s also marked me shifting into uncharted cooking territory: meal planning. I used to totally mock it, now I get it. Leftovers are my friend, and the freezer is my BEST friend. I’ve found joy and maybe even a little calmness in spending Sunday cooking big catches of food like roast chicken, quinoa, homemade granola and now that it’s January and freezing out – soups. Weeknights become easier with three or four prepped dishes in the fridge or freezer. Soups freeze so well for up to several months.

Which brings me friends to this awesome little soup. Red lentils for protein meet coconut milk, butternut squash and a hint of curry. It’s kid approved and recipe makes 6-8 servings. You could easily swap out the butternut squash for acorn too. I’ve also stirred in some leftover rice or quinoa I had to use up in the fridge before serving and it’s yummy with or without. We’ve been eating it lately topped with a few chia seeds, cilantro, feta, or a big dollop of plain yogurt. It’s yummy just by itself too.

coconut curry squash lentil soup

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
one can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
olive oil

Cut squash into four pieces leaving the skin on. Scoop out the seeds. I find it easiest to use a metal spoon. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash bakes, I take a minute to prep the remaining ingredients and rinse my lentils. I just swish the lentils in a large metal bowl of cool water. Then I use my hand to hold the lentils in and tilt the bowl over the sink to drain the water. It’s not a science so if you don’t get all the water or lose some lentils, it’s all good.

Coat the bottom on a large soup pot generously with olive oil and cook onion on medium heat with salt and pepper until fragrant. Add garlic, cumin, curry and red pepper flakes. Add a bit more oil if you need to and keep stirring, spices will become fragrant. Remove from heat and scoop the squash from its skin, adding to the pot. Add the coconut milk, water and lentils. Stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.

I use an immersion blender to quickly blitz this into a creamy consistency. A regular blender works well too. If you want a chunkier soup just mash with a plain old potato master. Tell me in the comments – do you meal prep too? Hope you love this soup as much as I do!

sweet potato red lentil dhal

sweet potato dhalVegan, nutrient dense and as good as my favourite Indian take out, I serve this sweet potato dhal with a side of whole wheat roti or over basmati rice. I love it near the end of winter as a break from all the meat I crave during the colder months. To fancy it up a bit garnish with toasted sliced almonds, fresh cilantro, a dollop of plain balkan yogurt or a crumble of feta.  Like soup, every dhal is a little different and freezes amazingly well. I plan to stock my freezer with a batch before our little one arrives this spring. Enjoy!

sweet potato red lentil dhal

Ingredients:
olive oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp butter (use coconut oil if vegan)
5 cups water
1 large (or 2 medium) sweet potato peeled and roughly cubed
1 cup dried red lentils rinsed and drained
1 cup packed greens like spinach, swiss chard (optional if you have it handy)

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot and saute the onion and carrots for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, curry, cumin, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and butter and stir. Cook spices for a few minutes until fragrant. Pour in the water and sweet potato chunks. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir in the red lentils, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Gently stir all the way to the bottom so the lentils don’t stick every 10 minutes or so. If you’re adding greens (and I only do if I have them hanging out in the fridge and needing to be used) toss them in to wilt in the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.

kale potato soup

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Sometimes you just need a reset. A little virtue after too many indulgences. This veggie soup hits the spot for me and beats any diet. Feel free to improvise with whatever you have in the fridge. Like most soups, it freezes well and tastes even better a day or two later. Makes eight servings.

kale potato soup

Ingredients:
1 small head of kale or 1/2 of a large head of kale chopped
1 head of broccoli chopped
2 onions chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 carrot chopped
3 small potatoes peeled and chopped
juice of 1/2 a lemon
handful fresh parsley, basil, chives, thyme (any fresh herbs on hand)
olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan
6 cups water or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon herb de provence

Don’t worry about perfect slices, as the soup will be pureed near the end. Heat olive oil in big pot and saute onion, carrot, garlic and herb de provence until fragrant. Add the kale and cook until wilted. Add water/stock, potatoes and broccoli. Adding more liquid if you want the soup thinner, I like 6 cups just fine. Simmer covered for 40 mins. Let cool slightly, add the fresh herbs and puree using a hand blender. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

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