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soup's on

soup’s on

This bout of bronchitis is still hanging on. I haven’t been able to do much so I’ve been filling my time with culinary endeavors and working on the cookbook manuscript. I’ve been pretty much a homebody during this illness but late Friday morning I managed to get out on a little adventure to the Brantford Farmers’ Market.

I bought six pounds of fresh local carrots, a few sweet potatoes, cooking onions, and garlic. It was the perfect selection for the soup I decided to make today. This also gave me a chance to take my new Caphalon immersion blender for a spin. I purchased it a few weeks ago with some of my Air Miles so that I could replace the one my husband accidentally melted a few years ago. I forgot how convenient an immersion blender is.

I served the soup with thick slices of Artisan Potato Scallion Bread from the bakery at Sobey’s grocery store.

curried carrot and sweet potato soup

makes 8 servings

My dear friend, Laurie Moniz, loves to pop over for coffee and some days even lunch. One day she arrived bearing a pot of carrot and sweet potato soup and there were leftovers. My husband devoured what was left which was pretty surprising because he usually won’t even try carrot soup. I was impressed so I asked Laurie for her recipe. She’s much like me in that her personal recipes are more like guidelines than recipes. This is my version of her scrumptious soup. 

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 medium sized onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 litres beef or vegetable stock
2 medium to large sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pounds carrots, chopped
2 teaspooons medium curry powder
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions until they start to become translucent and soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer, being careful not to brown it. Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Optional: garnish with your choice of goat cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt. Top with a little fresh cilantro.

Vegan option: use veggie stock and skip the optional dairy suggestion.

a soothing bowl of soup

a soothing bowl of soup

The last time I posted on this blog was in November 2011. In and around that time I decided to become a runner. Fast forward a few years and here I am training for a second half-marathon. Unfortunately I’ve had to put training on a brief hiatus as I have bronchitis. Ack! It’s horrible timing but thankfully it’s early enough in training that I will still be able to work towards my goal.

When I feel like this I want the comfort of a warm bowl of soup. When I was little, my Mom made lentil soup with stock from a ham bone. Her version had onion, shredded carrots, red lentils, black pepper, and was often served it with a side of mashed potatoes. It was good but I like stronger flavors so I decided to kick it up a few notches.

curried chicken, sweet potato, and red lentil soup

makes 6-8 servings

I discovered Arvinda’s line of spices and spice blends at a local shop called Goodness Me. The spice blend is slightly moist whereas most grocery store varieties of curry masala are a dry powder. If you can find it, Arvinda’s is best, but any curry masala blend will do in a pinch. Like all soups, this is better the second day. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large boneless or bone-in chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (heaping)
1 1/2 teaspoons Arvinda’s curry masala blend
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 litres homemade or low-salt chicken stock
1 1/4 cups dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water
5 cups baby spinach

If you are using boneless chicken cut it into bite-sized pieces. If you are using chicken that is on the bone cut the breasts in half with a sharp knife. When using bone-in you will have let the meat cool enough to handle, remove the bones and chop before adding the lentils.

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot on medium-high. Add the onion, chicken, salt, pepper, cumin seeds, and half of the curry masala blend. When the onions are soft and the chicken browned, add the sweet potato and saute for 5 minutes. Then add garlic and saute for another minute. Pour the stock in the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce to a simmer. If you de-boned chicken place it back in the broth. Add the rinsed and drained lentils, the remaining curry masala blend, lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Let simmer for 40 minutes and re-season if necessary. Remove from the heat and add the spinach. Let it sit for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.

Serve with toasted pita wedges if desired.

Tips
You can easily make this vegan by substituting roasted tofu or chickpeas for the chicken and replacing the stock with your favorite vegetable stock.