Classic Comfort Food
During the winter, we eat soup for the sheer fact that it warms us up and soothes our stomachs. While I make soup for the same reasons, I also do it for nostalgia. Since processed and junk food were largely absent from my diet growing up (which I’m now thankful for), I would crave my mother’s nourishing soups and stews. While she would cook many different types of soups, she always made the most variations of blended soup. I fondly remember coming home a friend’s house on the weekends and smelling the varied aromas wafting through the kitchen. This is because my mother cooks her soups at a low temperature for a long time in the oven to really conjure the distinct flavors of all the vegetables, meat, herbs and spices.
To this day, I’ve never come across soup that is more flavorful than hers. It’s probably because most people can’t take the time to wait for it to be ready! Or, they’re not comfortable leaving their oven unattended for many hours at a time. But even if time isn’t on your side, it’s not a reason to skip out on soup. If you’ve been reading along these last few weeks and checked out Laura’s density diet, you’ve probably already realized that soup is one of the best things you can make to help ensure that half of what you eat at every meal is vegetables. Soup can sometimes be on the lighter side, but it becomes a complete meal when you add a nutrient dense protein to accompany it. Perfect protein additions include chicken, beans, a soft (or hard!) boiled egg and yogurt.
Why Blended Soups?
Since a lot of our client menus are soup and stew focused right now, I decided to pay homage to the season by developing a blended soup recipe inspired by the soups I grew up eating. Vegetable soup will taste good whether it’s blended or not, but there’s something particularly satisfying about the silkiness of a blended soup. I think it feels more nourishing and leaves me satiated for longer.
I also chose to make a root vegetable soup because of its alkalizing properties. The real winners in this recipe are carrots and umeboshi paste – which comes from umeboshi plums – as they are very high in antioxidants (Hello, flu season!). I used umeboshi paste in lieu of citrus or vinegar that is typically added to soup right before serving. (Pro tip: Always add acid to the end of cooking so it doesn’t leave a residual bitter taste in your food. You don’t want to cook out the acid!) Another suggestion to boost the flavors is to roast your carrots and parsnips before mixing with the shallots, garlic and spices. If you need some extra protein, feel free to add a few cups of cooked chickpeas to blend with the carrots and parsnips.
Carrot, Parsnip and Ginger Soup with Shredded Rainbow Chard
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons of minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of coriander
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 4 cups vegetable/chicken stock
- 1 bunch Rainbow (or Swiss) chard, leaves removed and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon of umeboshi paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted
- Small handful of fresh cilantro
- A few dollops of Greek (or coconut) yogurt
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and turn translucent.
- Add in the turmeric, coriander and cumin and toast for 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant. Add in the ginger, carrots and parsnips and cook for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the stock. Bring to a boil. Simmer partially covered, 30 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
- Take the pan off the heat and leave the soup to stand for 5 minutes. Blend soup with a high speed blender or an immersion blender, and return to the pot. Add in the chard and stir to wilt. Stir in the umeboshi paste and season to taste. Garnish with some leaves of cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, and a dollop of yogurt just before serving.
Serves 2 to 3