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A Taste of Winter

Winter has finally arrived in South Texas! Overnight it went from about 70 degrees to 30 with wind and clouds and a light frost. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and ran out to the deck to cover up my few plants to make sure I didn’t let frost kill them. I have worked very hard gotten lucky and somehow I have kept them alive since July! I haven’t ventured outside yet today, but I am excited to put on some jeans, boots and a sweater because it just doesn’t feel right wearing sandals and shorts through the whole month of December.

In preparation for the cold weather I made two different Paleo soups yesterday. Really I made them because I had all the ingredients and it is a very convenient way to get lots of veggies. The first soup I made was a broccoli, kale and turnip soup. It is so easy and very tasty. Turnips had never crossed my radar before two weeks ago when I went to the Pearl Farmer’s Market and picked some up. I got about 5 pounds of turnips and greens for $2 – how awesome. I then had to do some reasearch as to how to cook and eat them – mashed and baked were the most popular ways they are eaten. They have an interesting flavor, which I cannot describe but I definitely like them and would recommend trying them.

To make the soup, you need to peel the turnips and cut into cubes. I used the brocoli stems to utilize the whole vegetable and just kind of peeled the hard edges away and then cubed them. Lastly, I washed the kale and pulled it off the stems and into silver dollar size pieces. I threw it all into a sauce pan and covered with water. Season with salt and pepper and boil for 20 minutes or until the turnips and brocoli are soft.

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After turning the heat off, I let the veggies cool a little. Drain most of the water and dump the veggies into the blender. I added about 1/2 and avocado to thicken the soup and some Tony’s seasoning for a little extra kick. Blend until smooth and you have a beautiful, green soup!

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If you like green smoothies, you’ll love this soup. Next up was tomato soup. I have previously made a tomato basil soup, and loved it. I had most of the ingredients on hand and an open can of coconut milk that needed to be used up. I sauted 1/4 cup of diced onions and three cloves of minced garlic in coconut oil until they were soft. Next stop is the blender, where you dump one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 3/4 to one can of coconut milk and the garlic and onions and blend until smooth.

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I had plans to put this back into the pan and add more seasonings, but it was so tasty after blending, I just let it be. Paleo Tomato soup is so awesome! It has a little sweet coconut flavor, but still very tomato-y and the onion and garlic were just perfect.

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What are you favorite cold weather foods?

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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Cooking, When in Texas...

 

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Vegetable Soup Recipe

I have discovered a new vegetable: the leek. This is all due to a book I was reading, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Now, please don’t judge me from the title of this book, and don’t discount the book. I actually think it is about the best book on eating and living a healthy lifestyle that I have ever read. I would recommend this book for everyone, although its mainly written for women. The main premise of the book is to eat what you want, in moderation. It also emphasizes the traditional French diet, which includes lots seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables with meat, fish, cheese, bread and of course wine & tarts.
The author advocates for eating well-rounded meals, and no skipping breakfast! Of course, there is the initial period in which you have to decrease or cut out your major offenders, foods that you eat too much of or eat too often. But after 3 or 4 months, you get to work them back into your diet. She also does not advocate for spending time in the gym, just walking 30 minutes a day. There were two big take-aways I got from this book, the first being you should focus on all the foods you can eat and not feel guilty about indulging once in a while. The second, was that preparing, cooking and eating meals should be an enjoyable experience. We should enjoy taking the time to prepare and cook our meals and then sit down at a table, and slowly savor our food. Thinking about the tastes and textures of what we are eating, instead of scarfing it down in front of the TV or computer while doing something else.

Leeks

I had to search google for an image of these vegetables because I didn’t know what they looked like. Then I had to search the grocery store to find them. They came three in a bundle for $3.49, which is pretty expensive for me, but I wanted to make this vegetable soup and they were part of the recipe so I bought them anyway. On the way home from the store my car was filled with an amazing spice-like smell. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it had to be the leek because I had bought all of the other produce before and it never smelled that good. The recipe said to slice the leek, using the white and some of the light green area.

Sliced Leek

Basic Vegetable Soup
2 potatoes
1 small cabbage
2 leeks (I used three because I didn’t know what to do with the 3rd one)
2 carrots (I used three)
2 celery ribs with their leaves
2 medium yellow onions (I only had one white onion)
Freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves (didn’t have these)
small bunch of fresh parsley (I used dried parsley)
10 cups of water

1. Peel the vegetable cut the potatoes and cabbage into small cubes; wash the leeks carefully and slice them crosswise. Slice the carrots and celery as well, and quarter the onions. You should have about 10 cups of vegetables. Use the same amount of water.

Chopped Vegetables

2. Place all vegetables in a stockpot. Season with grind of fresh pepper, add the salt, thyme, bay leaves and parsley, and toss with the vegetables. Add the water. Cover and bring to a boil slowly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. I used my Crock-Pot to cook the soup, high for an hour or so and low for 2 hours. Basically until all the veggies were pretty soft.

After Cooking

3. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Drain the vegetables, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree the vegetables in a food mill, using the cooking liquid to thing them out, if necessary. I used our Magic Bullet to puree the vegetables and only used a small amount of the cooking liquid. Reheat the soup to a boil. Taste and correct the seasonings and serve.

The Result - Vegetable Soup

I thought this was a great soup recipe. The peeling and chopping of vegetables were a little more work than I bargained for, but completely worth it in the end. This turned out almost exactly like the V8 Butternut Squash soup you can buy at the grocery store, but I made mine at home! I ate about 3 bowls and then froze two containers of soup for later. The book says it makes 8 servings, but doesn’t say what size. In addition, you can add whatever vegetables or seasonings you like.

What new foods have you discovered lately? Have you made anything from scratch that is the same or better than store-bought items?

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Cooking

 

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