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Tomato, Sausage and Bean Soup

Sausage SoupTHE VERDICT:

If you’re in the mood for something warm and hearty like chili, but don’t want to be weighed down by such a heavy dish, this soup may just fit the bill. It is a great 30-minute-or-less meal that offers everything you love about chili with a fresher, soupier twist. You can spice it up with green chili or spicy sausage or keep it pretty mild depending on your taste. While it would fill you up all on it’s own, we think it goes great with garlic bread–but doesn’t everything?

This soup is excellent for a toddler who is proficient with solids. On picky nights, it is easy enough to pick out the tolerable chunks of food. The rest of the time, it offers very balanced nutrition.

The recipe serves 10, which means plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunches if your family is a small one like ours. It definitely reheats well.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Hearty Tomato, Sausage and Bean Soup (source: Canadian Living magazine; original recipe)

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Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup

lentil soupTHE VERDICT:

I love a good vegetable soup, but this one puts a yummy twist on the classic. A touch of curry, some coconut milk, red lentils and zucchini dress up the usual round up of vegetables. It quickly became a winter favourite after the first time we tried this recipe a few years ago. The fact that it’s easy to throw together is another plus. If you’re good at chopping veggies, you can have this soup on the table in about 25-30 minutes.

It is a tasty, but low calorie soup, so it’s great for those whose new year’s resolution was to lose a few pounds, but it pairs well with grilled paninis or garlic toast if you’re looking for a more substantial meal. While the recipe calls for chicken stock, you could easily substitute in some vegetable stock and you would have a great vegan soup on your hands.

The leftovers taste amazing because the curry flavours have had time to develop, so this makes a great lunch for the next day as well.

In this house, it is also a very kid-friendly meal because Z loves anything with a touch of curry.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup (source: Good Food Fast by Australian Women’s Weekly)

2 tbsp. mild curry paste

400g can of diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken stock

1 large carrot, chopped finely

2 trimmed celery sticks, chopped finely

1 medium potato, chopped finely

1 large zucchini, chopped finely

3/4 cup red lentils

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/3 cup light coconut milk

  • Cook curry paste in heated large saucepan, stirring, about 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add undrained tomatoes, stock, carrot, celery, potato and zucchini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 minutes.
  • Add lentils to soup mixture; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  • Add peas; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer soup mixture, uncovered, until peas are just tender.
  • Remove soup from heat and stir in coconut milk.

Serves 6

Total time: 30 minutes

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Barley & Vegetable Soup with Cheddar & Herb Biscuits

Soup & biscuitTHE VERDICT:
So last night you made yourself a delicious ham, green beans and scalloped potatoes dinner and now you’re stuck with a bunch of leftover ham. What are you gonna do? Make this soup!

I love it when you can turn last night’s leftovers into a truly tasty meal, and this hearty soup definitely tastes great. It’s easy to make as long as you have the time to pre-soak and boil the barley. The potatoes from the previous evening’s dinner take a while to cook, so I sped up the process further by pre-dicing all the veggies while I waited for them to come out of the oven, which left me with very little prep the next day.

The biscuits are easy to make as well and make an excellent side dish for most soups. They’re also a nice dish to bring to a potluck–who doesn’t like warm biscuits, after all? Save yourself a little time by patting the dough into a large circle and cutting it into wedges rather that rolling it out and cutting out shapes with a cookie cutter.

Thickened with a little rice cereal, the soup got a rave review from our little man. He also enjoyed a few small pieces of biscuit torn off of the ones we were eating.

Leftovers of this soup reheat and/or freeze well.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Barley and Vegetable Soup (source: The Ultimate Italian Cookbook by Carla Capalbo)

1 cup pearl barley

9 cups meat broth

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large carrots, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

1 leek, thinly sliced

1 large potato, finely chopped

1/2 cup diced ham

1 bay leaf

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 small sprig fresh rosemary

salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Pick over the barley, and discard any stones or other particles. Wash it in cold water. Put the barley to soak in cold water for at least 3 hours.
  • Drain the barley and place in a large saucepan with the broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Skim off any scum.
  • Stir in the oil, all the vegetables and the ham. Add the herbs. If necessary add more water. The ingredients should be covered by at least 1 inch of liquid. Simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the vegetables and barley are very tender.
  • Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Serve hot with grated parmesan if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Cheddar and Herb Biscuits (source: some women’s magazine a long time ago)

2 cups flour (white or whole wheat both work)

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (experiment with other herbs if you are so inclined)

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • In bowl: combine flour, cheese, parsley, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  • With pastry blender, or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Stir in milk. Quickly mix until mixture forms a soft dough.
  • Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Knead slightly to combine thoroughly.
  • Roll out or pat dough until 1/2″ thick.
  • Cut out biscuits with floured cutter.
  • Re-roll scraps if necessary.
  • Place biscuits on ungreased cookie sheet 1″ apart.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Work time: 10 minutes   Bake time: 15 minutes   Ready to serve: 25 minutes

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Cheddar Chowder

Cheddar ChowderTHE VERDICT:

This is my all-time favourite soup recipe. On a cool fall evening there is nothing better than a big warm bowl of cheesy soupy goodness. The leftovers are  so amazing that I don’t mind eating the same thing two days in a row. In fact, I love this soup so much that I sometimes double the recipe and eat it for three or four days in a row.

I recommend that you use aged cheddar so that you get a full cheddar flavour from just 2 1/2 cups of cheese. Using medium or mild cheddar is okay if that’s what you have on hand, but cheese lovers will probably find themselves add extra cheese (and extra fat and calories) in order to really taste the cheddar. Though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I like to add some fresh ground black pepper and the occasional drop of worcestershire sauce.

There are two options if you want to feed this to a wee one: 1) puree it–it makes an excellent pureed soup, which is appropriate for a  baby just getting comfortable with solids. 2) cut the potatoes and other veg into smaller pieces so that everyone eats the same thing, which is more appropriate for an older child.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Cheddar Chowder (source: I’ve been using this one for so long I no longer remember where it came from)

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery (though I usually like to add a bit extra)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium if you can find it)

1 tsp. thyme

2 cups cubed potatoes

3 Tbsp. flour

2 cups milk

1 can corn, drained

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you like a little kick in your soup)

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (aged cheddar works best)

  • In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and celery for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and thyme; bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Dissolve flour in milk. Stir into sauce pan with corn and cayenne.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly.
  • Remove from heat. Gradually stir in cheese until melted and smooth.

Makes 6 (1 cup) servings.

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Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Open-Faced Sandwiches

Pumpkin soupTHE VERDICT:

This was certainly the perfect soup to usher in the fall, and you can expect lots of soup reviews from us as the weather cools as soup is one of our favourite  foods to enjoy during the chilly and rainy winter months. This soup is a breeze to prepare, so it’s a wonderful weeknight warm up. Leftovers taste even better the next day once the flavours have had time to marinate.

If you have the option when grocery shopping, select the larger can of pumpkin. We’ve used both sizes and find a standard-sized can greatly reduces the overall pumpkin flavour.

There is no need to modify this soup recipe for baby as it is a pureed soup. To thicken it and add a boost of iron, just add some rice cereal.  Zayden really enjoyed this soup, but that’s not a surprise. He’s a soup-a-holic. Whenever he has soup, he goes in to hysterics if we don’t shovel it in fast enough. Thanks to his passion for soup we’ve learned a few tricks to help speed up delivery. We thicken it with rice cereal and thicker soup results in less drips, and he can get it off the spoon more easily. We also pop an ice cube into the soup to help cool it down faster so we don’t have to blow on every spoonful.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup (source: Spark Recipes; original recipe)

Build Your Own Open-Faced Sandwich (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1-2 slices of bread per person, toasted (we suggest ciabatta, French bread or sourdough)

A condiment of your choice, optional (we suggest Dijon mustard)

About 50 g of deli meat per person (we suggest smoked turkey, salami or black forest ham)

Sliced or shredded cheese (we suggest cheddar, swiss, jack or havarti)

Some sliced veggies of your choice (we suggest red onion, green peppers and/or tomatoes)

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Spread pre-toasted bread with condiment, if using.
  • Top bread slices with meat, cheese and veggies.
  • Bake in oven until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5-7 minutes.


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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupTHE VERDICT:

The flavours of this soup are good, but it could probably use some salt next time.  Even adding salt, the sodium content would still be much less than a packaged soup.  A recommended meal for the day before is this one, which leaves a nice carcass for the soup base.  You can substitute thyme or some other fresh herb for the dill, depending on your tastes and the season.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Chicken Noodle Soup (source: Canadian Family magazine; original recipe)

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