Tag Archives: soup

Recipe: Bright & Lively Beet Borscht

Bright bowls of yum for these cold dark days of winter.

It’s definitely here. As winter creeps upon us and chills our insides, it is important to stay warm from the inside out.

This is the time of year that I reach for thick leggings versus pants, as I need extra layers of warmth like I need extra heat in my belly. This borscht recipe is one of my all time favorite ways to seek comfort, and I’ve been making it for the family ever since I’ve been lucky enough to have one (it’s been a few years).

A frugal favorite that is loaded with healthy veggies, this recipe stands the test of time by a mile.

Some might argue what actually makes borscht its authentic Ukrainian self (if that is actually its true origin). The cabbage? The beets? The dill?

In fact, I can never really decide what is even the best part of this soup. At the end of the day the combo of comforting soft potato, sweet and tender green cabbage, roasted sweet beets, zingy tomato, chopped carrots, and fresh dill make me swoon. Not to mention the sight of such a combination is about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

An elderly Ukrainian friend (who we bought our house from) once shared her recipe with me and that is where I learned the best trick ever to making a great borscht: not too much beet, and what you do add, make sure they are sweet. So we roast them. Of course!

The Less:

Less heavy dairy based soups means more light, satisfying texture. Fewer beans means less starch and potential bloating and indigestion. Fewer meat-based hearty soups and stews means more fiber-loaded fueling, so warm and cozy comes at a comfortable cost.

The More:

More vegetable-based main courses means more fiber, vitamins, and fun. More beets in your diet means more sweetness and needed iron. More lively bright foods means more mood enhancing meal times, because what fun is eating without color?

Bright & Lively Beet Borscht:

  • (2) small-medium red beets for roasting, or one larger one
  • (3) tbsp olive oil
  • (1) tbsp salt
  • (2) cups yellow onion, chopped small (2 small or one large)
  • (3-4) medium carrots, peeled or unpeeled & chopped small (2 cups chopped)
  • (3) medium yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and chopped small (3 cups chopped)
  • (3) cups canned tomatoes (1 796 ml can)
  • (4-5) cups water
  • (4+) cups chopped green or savoy cabbage, washed & chopped small
  • (4) tbsp honey
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1/2) tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • (2-3) tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • (1) bunch fresh dill, or (2) tbsp dried dill

To start, heat the oven to 350 degrees. To roast beets, simply wrap them in foil one layer thick (no washing required) and prick them with a fork several times. Put the in the heated oven for 45-60 minutes or until tender when pushed. This step can be done days in advance of making this soup and the beets will keep well in the foil or in a container for up to a week or more.

Once the beets are done, put them in a bowl in the sink, unwrap each as you go and one by one with cold water running, rub the skins off the beets with your hands. They will simply slide right off under the water! Chop the beets into a 1/2 to on 1 inch dice and set aside.


To prepare the vegetables, peel and chop each veggie before starting, taking care to chop into a small dice, about 1/2 inch if possible, or bigger as your patience, skill, and desire dictates.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and (3) tbsp salt and cook the onions until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes & (4) cups water and turn the heat to high. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat down. Simmer the soup for 8-10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are just tender. Add the cabbage and cook a further 6-8 minutes, until all of the veggies are soft and starting to meld together.

To finish, add the chopped beets, honey, black pepper &ย remaining salt to taste. Stir and cook a few more minutes on medium heat until well blended and tasting amazing.

Next, using a blender, blend up to half of the soup to a smooth consistency (feel free to add up to a cup more of extra water to get the blending going), leaving the rest in its chunky form. Pour the blended soup into the pot and stir all to combine.

Stir in the chopped dill & cider vinegar at the end and taste to correct seasonings, reserving some to sprinkle on each bowl.

To serve, scoop into bowls and garnish with dill and more freshly ground black pepper & a small drop or two of cider vinegar. To me, the zing of the vinegar adds the most wonderful flavor boosting acidity and I highly recommend trying it this way.

That is one thing I did not learn from my Ukrainian friend, but I am sure I picked up that little tidbit somewhere or from someone along the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

Enjoy this super cozy and super nutritious soup on a cold night when you need a little love in your tummy. Snuggle up with a hot bowl and enjoy, these cold nights won’t last forever, and we want to remember them fondly when we are picnicking in the grass next summer ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What is your favorite winter soup?
  • Got a borscht recipe to share?

Wishing you a most wonderful few days, we are busy preparing as the next Not So Fast class is going full steam ahead in just two days, we’ll be cozying up with the kids and that rocking red lentil soup. Just when you thought we couldn’t get any warmer….

Yours in Less,

62 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Red Lentil Vegetable Curry

Happy Monday Everyone!

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

~ Albert Einstein

I hope you all had a truly fab weekend soaking up the spring sun and taking it all in!

As for us, we’ve got a new layer of topsoil in the garden and a clean fresh outlook – here’s to the new season…and Easter coming up!

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

~ Seneca

Today’s post is (once again) dedicated to the simple easy pleasures in life. Healthy food made delicious by the addition of simple (and rich) spices!

A vegetarian’s palette of inspiration is only as limited as the spice cupboard, and inexpensive staples can go from pretty meh to pretty mean in a few seconds with (just a little) bit of spice.

Indian spices in particular are so wonderfully varied, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with combos (but it can be done) – and there are a few easy ones that everyone should be familiar with.

They would be (for me): cumin (both ground and seeds), ginger, turmeric, black mustard seeds, coriander, garam masala (so many kinds!), cardamom..there are a few others – what are your classic faves?

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

~ Confucius

There are so many different spices to name but I’ve always had good luck preparing delicious veggie curries and bean dishes out of the ones listed above. They are known for being widely beneficial to digestion, and gentle and calming for the soul (maybe that part is just for me – anyone else?).

Side Note: Here in Vancouver – home to one of North America’s most widely celebrated Indian restaurants (Vij’s) – we are lucky to have a few high quality haunts (from budget to high-end) to frequent for a taste of the real thing. My recent (1st!) trip to London also brought me to Brick Lane, which was a very special experience, and I’ll never forget my 1st taste of that delicious lime pickle…amazing!

Alas, I don’t think a trip to India will ever be in the cards for me (but never say never), and I would never consider my home cooking a substitution for the real thing……but it isn’t all that hard, and cooking this way is:

Delicious, cheap, and good for you.

Straight up!

The Less:

Less complicated ingredients means you are more likely to make this. Less canned or jarred spice mixtures mean cleaner, simpler food. Less cream and animal based curries means lighter, cheaper meals. Less heavy beans means your body might not mind eating these (especially if you are sensitive to beans and legumes).

The More:

More flavorful vegetarian dishes in your repertoire means more yummy foods to cook often. More vibrantly colored food means more visual pleasure for your senses. More ginger and spices means more help for digestion. More cheap dinners means more money for other things. Straight up and simple, this dish a classic.

Red Lentil Vegetable Curry:

  • (2) tbsp olive oil, canola oil, or ghee
  • (2) tbsp black mustard seeds
  • (1) onion chopped (about one heaping cup)
  • (2) tsp salt
  • (2) tsp turmeric
  • (2) tsp cumin
  • (2) tbsp fresh chopped or grated ginger
  • (3) carrots, chopped (about one heaping cup)
  • (2) medium potatoes (about one heaping cup)
  • (1.5) cups canned diced tomatoes (1 398ml can)
  • (1) cup red lentils
  • (4) cups water
  • (1) lemon
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

The trick with this style of cooking is to have all of your spices ready and veggies chopped and ready to go.

Everything happens pretty quickly and even for experienced cooks it’s difficult to be prepping and measuring while the cameras are rolling. So be ready!

In a medium large pot, heat the oil on medium high. When hot, add the black mustard seeds and stir until they start to pop – don’t leave the stove – this takes about 30 seconds only!

Once the little seeds start dancing (and popping!), add the chopped onion and salt and cook, stirring about 5-6 minutes, or until golden. Add ginger and remaining dry spices and cook, stirring for one minute on medium heat. When spices are fragrant, add tomato and stir all well for about a minute or two until well integrated.

Hang tight – now you can almost step away….

Add lentils, chopped vegetables and water and stir all to well combine. Bring to a light boil on medium-high with the lid on. Once boiling temperature has been reached, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from prevent sticking to bottom of the pot.

Once ready, add the juice of lemon. Simple, zesty, and ready to serve!

Serve with ground pepper, a dash of butter or olive oil, plenty of freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh cilantro – don’t forget the side of rice if desired and buttery naan bread too!

This will get more delicious the longer it sits in your fridge and I highly recommend making it a day before you serve it. I’ve been making this curry as long as I’ve been cooking it seems – it never gets tired, and it’s always incredible!

So there you have it! An easy dinner on a cold night, or a starter to a great Indian meal.

I’ve got a bit of this leftover and I am thinking tonight’s dinner may just consist of a bowl of curry..straight up and simple.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

~ Dalai Lama

On another (slightly ironic and very sad) side note – we went to go for said Indian last night at our families favorite budget haunt here in town, only to find it had been destroyed by a fire!

Now we’re on the hunt for a new budget favorite – can’t wait to see what we find – and I hope they re-build and wish them well…lots of great memories and gratitude were had at that delicious place ๐Ÿ™‚

How about you?

  • What are your favorite curry dishes with lentils?
  • Got any spices we should all add to the list?

I hope you are all starting a wonderful week – anyone tried the recipes for the Sweet Life Chews or Lively Cilantro Sauce?

I’d love to know how they turned out. Drop us a line – we’ll be so happy you did!

Yours in Less,

66 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Honest Vegetable Soup

Everybody loves a good honest bowl of soup.

 

Doesn’t everyone love a good soup?

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ahhh, Saturday is here. It was a long week. Ain’t that the honest truth..

I’ve battled a cold (some say I get man-sick), and it’s been a tough weather week here in Vancouver – can you say endless grey and rain? Add to that a smattering of snow, slush, drizzle, mist, wind, and pretty much everything else and you’ve got a perfect reason to make:

A pot of Honest Soup!

“What?”

Yep, I am calling it Honest Soup because when it comes to making a killer soup, you don’t have to be a master in the kitchen, or even a super confident cook (in my humble opinion anyway).

Honestly, once you find a few tricks when it comes to proportions, you rarely even need recipes. And if you (like me and especially my family) enjoy reveling in a little flavor, you know that the secret to a delicious veggie soup is in the butter, the salt, and the cheese* (that’s for you, Charlie).

*unless you don’t.

I like dairy free soups too (all you wonderful vegans out there, that’s for you), and the same rule applies. A few tricks are all you need!**

But (let’s be honest here) what home cook doesn’t already know that?

All you need is:

  • (just a little) onion
  • (usually) potato or sweet potato for starch
  • a random selection of vegetables
  • a blender or hand blender
  • and (just a little) inspiration!

Since this blog is all about living with (just a little) less, last night was also a perfect opportunity to forego an unnecessary shopping trip to the market and clean out the fridge. All this blogging, recipe writing, and cooking has me pretty inspired, and I had a real beautiful mess of random veggies left in my crisper.

This is what it looked like to start (not terribly glamorous, folks!):

Honest Vegetable Soup:

  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium/large yellow onion)
  • 2 cups potatoes, chopped (skin on)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli (including the stalks)
  • 1 lonely celery stalk, chopped (broken in 2 pieces!)
  • 2 cups green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 cup heaping grated sharp cheese (tonight it was an English Dubliner Cheddar)(optional for vegan soup)
  • 1 cup milk (optional for vegan version)
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • black pepper

Chop all your veggies and separate veggies in bowls according to cooking time.* Heat olive oil on medium high and add onion and one tbsp. of salt. Cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes until brown. Add chopped potatoes, and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add water and broccoli, broccoli stalks, and celery and bring the water to a very gentle boil on medium heat with the lid on. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until stalks are soft. Add cabbage and kale (stir them in gently) and cook, covered for another 5 minutes.

With your hand blender (or blender in batches), blend all to a very smooth puree in the same pot you cooked it in. Add grated cheese, milk, remaining salt, and pepper.

Anything tastes good with cheese, salt, and butter (but there are other ways too). And a good blender is a must.

Turn heat to low and stir until creamy and all the cheese is melted. Add butter if desired, and season to taste with pepper. Serve in bowls topped with chopped fresh herbs, more black pepper if desired, and (always) (just a little) swirl of olive oil.

*Always cook veggies according to their type: 2-3 minutes for leafy greens, 5-8 minutes for celery, carrots, cauli/broccoli, 10+ minutes for potatoes and starches.

**For a delicious vegan soup, I simply omit the additional milk after blending and add a few tbsp to taste of medium miso to the soup. This adds flavor, richness and a yummy salty kick in the pants (honestly). Top with green onions and olive or sesame oil.

Serve this soup with crusty bread or crackers, a good glass of wine, and an (honest) smile.

A warm bowl of soup on a cold night can’t be beat, and my fridge is looking pretty sweet this morning too.

Here I come kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

~ Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

I’d love to know how you clean out your fridge and make use of the random bits that just don’t make it into your delicious creations throughout the week.

Stay tuned this week, I’ve got a killer kale pesto to share and another creative (and tasty) use for almond pulp!

Thanks to two of my favorite bloggers for the Versatile Blogger shout out – I’ll be reciprocating some of that love over the weekend…you guys are all amazing!

Happy Saturday folks!

Yours in Less,


36 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian