Thursday, December 10, 2015

A tasty soup 3 ways

I've been fighting a nasty cold for a while. Chills, fatigue, migraine, sore throat, sinus infection, lungs burning, coughing, hacking... Yada yada. It's been progressing for 2 weeks and a few crummy days. Not fast enough. I would like to move on! One positive thing that came from it is this soup I made when I was at the peak of my misery. That day I had to skip a pottery class and if you ask my husband, I was a grizzly bear about it. I was also hungry. I just wanted to curl up with some hot liquid and comfort food rolled into one. I had been obsessing over soup for a while and even though my husband wished I left the room, I wasn't going to lie down until I had some.

An old rutabaga, carrots, 2 celery sticks, onion, garlic, a few handfuls of baby spinach, a couple of potatoes, canned goods like tomatoes and chickpeas and a couple of sausages gave me plenty of options.

I couldn't bother to fuss over the details. I just washed, peeled, chopped and tossed vegetables in my pot as I went. I worked as fast as my aching body allowed and just went with the flow. It was painfully slow. Some olive oil went in the pot followed by chopped onions, celery, peeled and chopped carrots... I moved like a zombie in the kitchen but it started to smell good. I kept adding things like garlic, potatoes, rutabaga... Each time talking myself into it because it was a pain to peel, chop or cube but I knew it would be worth it. I barely took the time to let the vegetables colour on medium high heat. I just added water, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, brought it to boil, turned it down to a simmer, put the timer on for 45 minutes and considered crashing.

I should explain that this started as a simple vegetable soup. Kind of French (or what my mother would have made). It would have been simple but good with a little knob of butter to stir in my bowl. As the smell stimulated my senses though, I decided to make it more hearty. It went sort of Italian. I added tomatoes (chopped them roughly in a bowl to collect the juice). Chickpeas followed. Garlic, smashed and chopped jumped in. Oregano, a rind of Parmesan... The hardest part was to coax myself into thawing 2 Italian sausages found in the freezer, to fry them furiously in a hot hot pan and to slice them (still half cooked because I couldn't bother to wait). I knew it was worth it the moment I added them and their juices to the soup. Things were looking good! I reset the timer for an other 30 minutes on low. Then I crashed.

When the timer went off, my husband, who held the fort, served the girls a bit of soup but left it on the burner! I can't say how long, maybe a couple of hours but no panic! It was on low heat so this definitely enhanced the flavours by the time I got up to check on it. I simply added an extra cup of water to loosen things up brought back to boil and then simmered for 10-15 minutes. That evening I ate my first batch with a drizzle of olive oil and a ton of grated cheese on top. No parmesan left. All I had was strong white cheddar. It rocked!

The next day I decided to wash and add 2 generous handfuls of baby spinach leaves as I reheated the soup. I added 1 more cup of water and hot pepper flakes. The girls were not going to eat this 2nd round. It tasted even better! More cheese... By lunch time, I was fully bloated and in Heaven. I couldn't wait for the last serving and ended up having it for what was too early for supper. Think more "afternoon snack" :) I skipped the cheese, added some cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, harissa, water and extra salt to soothe my throat. What I ended up with is what you see in the pictures. A nice fragrant soup that went kind of Moroccan. As I was getting ready to eat, the sky cleared up and the sun hit me with it's last warm rays of the day. I moved the bowl to the other side to get the sun on my back. Of course I took 3 more pictures. It was the last bowl. It looked so pretty, warm and inviting. I dived in, scraped it clean, mopped it with bread... So Good. To the last drop. I still sat there 5 minutes later, still feeling sick but so content.

Tasty whatever you want to call it soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped or sliced
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped or sliced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced (when sick, bring on the garlic)
1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2-3 potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
8 cups of water or broth of choice (expect to add more later)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Bay leaf
1 can of chickpeas (19 oz)
Can of tomatoes (28 oz)
2 Italian sausages sautéed till brown, then sliced
1 tsp dry oregano
Baby spinach (roughly 2 handfuls)
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
Lots of cheese to grate over your bowl with glee (I used strong white cheddar)
Hot pepper flakes

When I opted for a Moroccan vibe I skipped the cheese and added the spices below to the leftover in my pot before reheating. It was enough for a generous bowl.

1/2 tsp cumin
2 pinches cinnamon
1 extra cup of liquid
1 pinch cayenne pepper (or hot pepper flakes)
Harissa to taste (a knob stirred in the liquid)

In oil toss the onion, carrots, celery, cloves of garlic on medium high heat. Cook a few minutes to give colour. Add potatoes, rutabaga 6 cups of water or broth. Stir and scrape bottom. Add tomatoes (roughly chopped with all the juice), the can of drained chickpeas, a bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper. Meanwhile sauté 2 Italian sausages (if you have them), in a pan till nice and brown on high heat. Remove with tongs and slice. Add them and juices to the pot. You can go ahead and add spinach now or later. It will get thick and hearty. Add extra cups of water if necessary. I added at least 2 more. Let it simmer for at least an hour then let it rest to let the flavours develop. Reheat again if necessary... You decide. If your hungry, eat! :) It will be better the 2nd time. I served it with loads of strong white cheddar grated finely in my bowl. It was amazing. A full meal.

The Moroccan finish
This was done with the last of the leftovers. The one shown in the pictures. It was getting thick. I loosened it up with a ladle of water, threw in a few pinches of cinnamon, some cumin, cayenne pepper and a bit of Harissa. Brought it back to boil then turned heat down to simmer for 10 minutes. The flavours were amazing together an cleared my throat nicely.

I could have eaten this all week but by day 2 and 3 meals later (for 2 people), it was gone.


  1. Hey, purple shamrock! It's my favourite houseplant.

    1. It is! :) I keep removing it from our dining table but it's so happy and lush there so I keep putting it back. Interesting fact: We have a big pet worm living in the pot. Discovered it a few months back when watering the plant. Tried to catch it but it went back in too fast. The girls named it pinky. Pinky and the purple shamrock. :)