The temperatures are dropping and my people need warming up. We’re coming in from the cold, it’s already dark, and we’re tired and hungry. We need something to eat and a big bowl of soup is just the ticket.
Hearty, nourishing, and comforting, a meal-in-a-bowl is where it’s at when the leaves begin to fall.
Soup is one of the joys of life. I love making it, I love eating it, and even better, I love serving it to my family.
Why? Here are 5 reasons I think soup is Soup-er:
1. It’s the perfect after school snack. After a hard day of learning, what your kids need is a big bowl of nutrition. Load up on veggies, beans, lentils and other power ingredients, and they’ll be raring to go when it’s time for homework or after school activities.
2. It’s a healthy pick-me-up at any time of day. Forget cheese and crackers, bars, boring apples, or other processed snacks. Heat up a bowl of soup and fill their bellies with essential nutrients and brain food.
3. It’s easy. Anyone can make it. You can’t really go wrong when making soup. Plus, once the chopping is done, it basically cooks itself. Win/Win.
4. It’s the ultimate Make Ahead Meal. I always make a pot of soup on Sunday or Monday and keep it in the fridge. This way, my kids can heat up a bowl any time they want a little nosh. Not one to waste, I store tubs of homemade soup in the freezer too. That way, if I haven’t had the chance to make a fresh batch, we can take out the container in the morning and place it in the temperature controlled drawer of our Whirlpool Five Door Refrigerator to defrost, and voila! Soup’s on, just in time for dinner.
5. It’s like magic. Remember the book Stone Soup? It’s true. Even when my fridge seems devoid of dinner options, I can rustle up a delicious and filling meal as long as I keep the basics like carrots, celery, and parsnips in my Whirlpool Triple Crisper System. Seriously, there’s always a pot of soup in my family’s future. The automatic humidity control keeps my produce fresh and organized, so everything’s there for me to whip up the dinner in a flash.
The easiest soup recipe is vegetable-based, since it keeps and freezes so nicely. To up the nutrition (got to make sure they get enough protein, you know…) I add pulses and beans. I make my own blend of lentils from the bulk food store, and sometimes I add split peas or barley too. For added fibre and bulk a can of chick peas or 5-bean mix will do the trick.
The beautiful thing about vegetable soups is that anything goes, as long as you’ve got carrots, celery and onions or leeks, you’ve got soup. From that starting point, throw in whatever you’ve got in the fridge, add a beautiful loaf of bread, and you are literally done like dinner.
Serving my family a steaming bowl of soup seems like the simplest thing in the world. But, to me it’s not. Chopping, sautéing, stirring, ladling it up—all of those actions show that I care about them. That I care that they eat and that they’re satisfied and happy.
If food is love, soup is the warmest expression of it. Don’t you think?
Harvest Fall Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
2 large leeks, rinsed well, halved, and sliced thinly
2 cups sliced and diced carrot
1 cup sliced and diced celery, plus 1 /2 cup chopped celery leaves
1 cup peeled, sliced, and diced parsnip
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups mixed lentils or pre-mixed soup blend (lentils, split peas, barley), rinsed till the water runs clear
8-12 cups of liquid (organic vegetable stock or water, or a combination of the two
1 can beans of your choice, rinsed well
Salt & pepper to taste
2 large dried bay leaves
Heat the oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven on medium high heat. Add the leeks and cook till they’re soft, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, parsnip, and carrots and cook another 3 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add 8-10 cups of the liquid of your choice, reserving the extra in case the soup is too thick. Toss in the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper (Don’t over-season. You can always add salt, but you can’t take it out.)
Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. When the lentils have begun to soften, add the zucchini and butternut squash. Stir to combine and continue to simmer another 20 minutes or so. Add the beans and continue to simmer until they’re heated through.
Serve topped with toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds and top with croutons if desired. Add crusty bread and a nice cheese for the perfect evening in front of the fire.