Here’s a post that Todd and I had talked about doing a while ago, but somehow got distracted from. It may be a little out of season, as most people think of soups and stews as “winter” food. Things you eat to warm your belly and feel cozy and snug when “the weather outside is frightful.” Truthfully, for a long time I felt the same. Lately though, I’ve had lots of reasons to change my mind. Across time I’m sure Todd will offer you reasons to think differently as well. I’m already thinking about his “summer fresh pea soup” which I’m sure you’ll see here on this blog when peas come into season…. and I’m sure the month of August won’t leave us without Todd sharing his “Corn Bisque” soup either. Somewhere in the hot months I expect there’ll be a cold soup maybe a gazpacho or a chilled mellon and mint soup, you never know what will come out of this kitchen as time progresses.
Today though, I want to talk about a much more pedestrian version. It was born out of the need to loose weight. You all know by now that this is one of the goals Todd and I set for 2015. In trying to acheive that goal, We have spent time looking for ways to eat, feel full AND still loose weight. Of course the first thing everyone does in trying to reach this goal is to buy vegetables. Steamed broccoli, Steamed cauliflower, steamed brussells sprouts, steamed peas. STEAMED STEAMED STEAMED. Yes… because any other preparation adds precious calories. That dollop of butter? Calories!! A drizzle of olive oil? Calories. Cheese sauce? Don’t even get me started!!! CALORIES!!!!! So when we first started this journey, despite my BEST efforts at eating vegetables, at the end of the week I would find that our fridge was still stocked quite well with vegetables that I had not finished and would soon go “off.” In that situation what’s a guy to do??? That was when we decided to make “Sunday soup.” This is of course a very LOOSE recipe. The ingredients change every time we make it (or at least the ratio of ingredinents does). The beauty of this recipe is that unless you really try hard to break your calorie budget the soup will be low calorie. In all of the versions of Sunday Soup that we’ve made I dont think we’ve managed to make it more than about 80 calories a cup. In truth, most versions have been around 40-50 calories per cup.
Where to start?? Take a liter of vegetable stock (or chicken stock, or beef stock…. whatever you have on hand. Yes you can use boxed if that’s what you have on hand, no one is gonna judge) put it in a big stockpot and set it to heat. Next step is to open your refridgerator. Remove ALL OF THE VEGETABLES INSIDE and place them on your counter (you’ll need to go shopping again after this, but never fear, you are much more likely to eat your raw or steamed vegetables if they are FRESH anyway right?). Now the fun begins. Every good vegetable soup needs a good FLAVOUR base, so let’s get to it…. Take your carrots, wash them, chop them up into soup sized pieces (yes that’s a cullinary term for any piece of vegetable which is smaller than your fist but larger than a grain of rice. What I’m saying here is hey… this is up to you make them whatever size you like). Weigh the carrots (write it down, or you will forget… of course for all you digitally connected folks you can put it in a recipe in your app like we do with My Fitness Pal). In the pot they go! The carrots need to be followed by onion. Lots of onion. If you don’t want to have the onion featured in the finished soup simply quarter a couple of big onions and dump them in the pot. They will add plenary of flavour and you’ll still be able to “fish them out” before you serve the soup. Carrots and onion are always lonely without celery (the are the original “threesome” of the culinary world for good reason. Everyone overlooks their shenanigans because of the flavour they provide), so get the celery in that pot…. No questions….. Just DO it!!! (OMG Nike is gonna sue me for that aren’t they????)
Once you have the flavour base under control you repeat the process with your broccoli, your cauliflower, your peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, turnip, parsnip, whatever it was that you found in the fridge. The life guard is on duty!!!! EVERYONE IN THE POOL OK???
Once everything has been chopped and weighed and in
the pot it’s time to let it all simmer gentle in the pot with the stock. Just as an aside…. if you like your peas and beans to retain any of their color, hold them aside and put them in the soup only at the last 15-minutes (or they’ll show you more unpleasant shades than Christian Grey). The rest is just the magic of time and seasoning. Every soup needs some salt and some pepper (we have become partial to ground white pepper lately, it brings a very nice warmth (dare I say “heat”) to the mix. But there is much more that can be added for flavour!!! My best advice here? Just get acquainted with your favourite bottle… No I mean glass (yes that’s the word I was looking for) of wine. It’s Sunday afternoon after all. Relax. Think about the flavours you want to add to your soup. Sip some more wine. Give the soup some more love, some herbs. Some bay leaves. Maybe some more pepper, if you like heat maybe even a dash of hot sauce (that stuff’s very low calorie as well!). Whatever it takes. This is Sunday afternoon “slow food” there’s no hurry here.
After the soup has simmered until the vegetables are tender, the hardest part of the whole process begins. Determining how much soup you have on hand. Hopefully you have a stock pot with graduated markings on it as it makes life soooo much simpler. Of course if you don’t, a ladle and a collection of 1 quart mason jars will both let you know how much soup you have, AND organize your soup into easily storable portions. Once you know your volume of soup it is just a mater of simple math to determine the calorie count of each cup. And Bob’s your uncle, soup for the rest of the week!!! Of course, If you were REALLY well stocked with vegetables, and think you’ll never make it through the supply of soup you created within the coming week, you can always portion it up and freeze it for later use. All in all, I find that if you’re going to put in the time and effort you might as well “Go big or go home!” The best return on your efforts is when you make a sizeable pot of soup, instead of small batches. (just my opinion… other people are afraid they’ll get bored of the same soup over and over again. You should do you. I’ll do me is my basic instruction here).
Now the only thing left to do is enjoy the soup (because without any explanation, all the dirty dishes have jumped into the dishwasher without your help or attention…. or maybe you just took my wine drinking instructions to heart?). Well if you don’t have kids to foist the dishes on, do a little tidy up then enjoy the soup you have created. Remeber it’s perfectly ok to indulge, since it’s practically impossible to make this soup HIGH calorie. Unless youre first cousins with Paula Deen (and a stick of butter just accidentally fell into the pot), or you misunderstood when I said VEGETABLES and ended up with half a side of BEEF in the pot, this soup will NEVER be the culprit to destroy your diet calorie counting I promise.
So, enjoy the creative outlet, empty your fridge and enjoy the benefits of a low calorie soup once in awhile. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for reading
Duane and Todd