Zuppa Tuscana

This version of Olive Garden’s famous soup uses fresh and flavourful ingredients for a delicious and rich (not something I’d eat every night) meal. The cauliflower is great for a meal that’s lower on the glycemic scale. The original recipe says to use a pan for sautéing, but you can do it all in one pot too! Serves 6-8.

2 quarts chicken stock
3 pieces pastured bacon (or reserved bacon grease)
1 onion, diced fine
3-4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (OR 3 c cauliflower for low glycemic version)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (I use the sweet Italian sausage from Heritage meats)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch swiss chard or 1 bunch kale, cut into bite size pieces
2⁄3 cup organic cream
2-4 cups water
1⁄4 teaspoon ground aniseed
1⁄2-1 teaspoon salt, depending on taste
1 dash red pepper flakes
black pepper

Directions
1. Bring chicken stock and water to a light boil and add potatoes.
2. In a skillet (preferably cast iron or enameled cast iron) cook bacon until somewhat done and remove (but do not add bacon to the soup, save for a BLT or quiche).
3. Sauté the onion in the bacon rendering until almost caramelized (golden color).
4. Remove and put in boiling stock.
5. In the same skillet add olive oil and cook Italian sausage (with casings removed).
6. Add garlic with the sausage and cook until sausage is done and the consistency of ground hamburger meat.
7. Add mixture to the stock.
8. By this time check to see if potatoes are cooked by trying to squish them on the side of the stock pot.
9. When they are done reduce heat (you can see if you want to thin with the extra water at this point) and add cream and Swiss chard/kale, salt, anise, red pepper, black pepper.
10. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and a side of bread and salad.

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Scotch Broth

I love this comforting, hearty and flavorful soup. Seasonal root veggies make it the perfect winter dish. Barley has amazing health benefits with high levels of manganese, selenium and fiber, proven to balance blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. I like to double the recipe and add up to one cup of hulled barley for a nice thick stew. Last time I made it (doubling it) used about a pound of lamb marrow bones as well as one shank bone – delicious! The bones are economical, flavorful and full of nutrients, drawn out by the long simmering. I like to make a thick lamb bone broth, simmered for up 24 hours, and then cooking hulled barley (that I have sprouted) in it for a couple of hours, creating a thick soft texture.

Scotch Broth Recipe

1 lb/ 700 g lamb (ground, dinner sausage, a neck, or I have also just used some shank marrow bones)
6 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup barley, rinsed (pearl or pot barley do not require soaking; hulled barley does require soaking overnight)
2 onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 small turnips, finely diced
1 parsnip, diced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery stocks, diced
2 leeks, sliced (whites only)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1) (If using hulled barley, don’t forget to soak overnight, or longer to sprout) If using lamb bones, place into a pot (I like to brown the meat on the bones before adding the water) and just barely cover with the water, bringing it to a boil. Pour out that first bit of scummy water and now add the 6 3/4 c water. Bring to boil again and quickly turn the heat down to low. If using bones, simmer for at least 1 hour before adding the barley (you can make a thick broth by simmering the bones for a day). If you are not making bone broth, but just using meat, place in pot with barley and the measure of water and bring to boil, turning down to low heat.
2) Rinse barley well. Add barley to pot and cover, reducing heat and simmering gently for another hour.
3) Remove bones, allow to cool and remove meat bits for adding to soup. Add in the meat bits removed from the bones.
4) Add veggies. Season well with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for an additional hour.
5) Remove from heat, taste and add additional salt and pepper, and parsley before serving.

Soothing Red Lentil Soup

Satisfying and nutritious with tumeric, lenils, and dark greens. It’s also an economical meal with a simple ingredients list. I also like to blend with an immersion blender in the pot before serving for a smoother texture.

I find it useful to keep greens (that tend to perish quickly) in the freezer. Gently washing, drying, and stripping most of the tough stems then freezing in ziploc bags, you can use fresh Summer greens through out the year. Just crush them a bit and sprinkle the leaf pieces into your soup!

To avoid a bitter taste, make sure spices like tumeric are fresh (avoid using spices over 6 mos old) and always saute spices with oil for the very best curry flavor.

Red Lentil Soup
from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed (or more)
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 cups red lentils
8 cups water or veggie stock (or a mixture of both)
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 – 4 cups thinly sliced chard (or kale, spinach, collards)
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Herbamare or sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot (8-quart). Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry powder and saute for 5-10 minutes at medium low heat, stirring every so often to prevent any burning.

Add the red lentils and water or stock. I like to prep the carrots at this point. It’s just nice to get the lentils cooking first to save time. Then add the carrots, cover the pot, and simmer for about an hour total (start time after adding liquid and lentils).

Turn off heat, add greens (if added to early they lose nutritional value and colour), lemon, and salt. Stir it all together and let it rest for about five minutes for the greens to soften. Blend lightly if desired.

*I recently started with this recipe as a base but altered it and we loved it too. We used half chicken broth and half water, and added changed up a few of the other ingredients. I added coconut cream, 2 diced med sweet potatoes, peas, no leafy greens and only half a squeezed lemon added at the end. It made creamy and comforting soup.

Chipotle Bean and Yam Stew with a Cilantro Cabbage Slaw

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I found this simple and economical meal from Whole Life Nutrition to be surprisingly satisfying, as did my guests, so I will make again for a nourishing and economical meal. It’s great if you need to avoid tomatoes (like my son), and my kids really like it! The garnish flavor compliments well and raw cabbage and fresh herbs aid digestion. It has a mild spicy flavor, not too spicy for my kids though, and you can add some extra spice to your bowl with a pinch of chipotle powder or chili flakes.
You can about 4 cans of black beans if you are not cooking your own dried. If you are cooking your own, be sure to save the liquid from the beans and use that as part of the liquid called for in the recipe.

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Chipotle Black Bean Stew:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin (I used half whole and half ground)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt (I prefer Himalayan)
2 medium yams, peeled and diced (just over 4 cups)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups cooked black beans
4 cups water or bean cooking liquid
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
the juice of one lime (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)

Heat a large 6 or 8-quart pot over medium low heat. Add olive oil then add onions and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.

Then add the spices, salt, yams, and garlic, mix well and saute a minute or two more. Add the black beans and water (or bean cooking liquid). Using mainly bean cooking liquid adds a nice thickness. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until yams are barely tender but not yet cooked. Timing will depend on what size you dice your yams.

Then add the diced peppers and simmer. I let it simmer at a low heat for over an hour to make the best flavor and thickness. Remove from heat and add lime juice.

Cilantro-Cabbage Slaw Garnish:

4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
2 cups chopped cilantro
2 to 3 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
the juice of half a lime
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt or Herbamare

Place all ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss together. Be sure to make only what you will eat with you meal and enjoy!

Chicken Chili


Warming, hearty and nutritious for the cold winter season!
Throw in a handful of chopped spinach or swiss chard for a serving of healthy greens, or serve with a green salad. Make as mild or hot as you like with more or less cayenne. I usually make this using leftovers and homemade broth from a whole chicken or a couple chicken legs.

CHICKEN CHILI:

approx 6 c cooked white beans (I usually use a mixture of white, garbanzo and black eyed peas)
2 tbsp butter or oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt (or just to taste if broth has salt)
1-2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
approx 1/2 jalapeno, diced
approx 3 c cooked chicken
salt and ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
4 cups chicken broth ( 🙂 homemade bone broth recommended)
dash of cream or milk (optional)
grated monterrey jack of mozzarella cheese
chili flakes

If you are cooking dried beans, soak beans (approx 5-8 hours), rinse and cook beans in large pot of water for about an hour, testing softness before draining and setting aside in a bowl.

In large pot, cook oil and onion until soft, add garlic and spices. Add chicken if you are starting with raw chicken. When chicken is cooked through, add broth and bring to a low boil. Lower temperature and simmer for at least an hour for the flavors to mix. Add in corn and add more water to thin if necessary. Add milk or cream if desired (makes it nice and creamy) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with hot pepper flakes and grated cheese, or top with fresh herbs like cilantro or flat leaf parsley. A bit of crusty bread for dipping make a hearty meal.

Homemade Broth

I make chicken (or turkey in October and December) and beef broth every couple of weeks and I store it in jars in our freezer. It’s an essential part of our diet for use in flavorful soups, pot pies and rice dishes. It’s also economical when you can get bags of bones for next to nothing from a local butcher. I highly recommend “organic”, “grass fed”, “free range”, or “pastured”, as these animals are allowed to feed on their natural food sources, allowing us to receive an abundance of essential nutrients, and staying away from the toxins in non-organic meat. Bones from pastured animals are extremely nourishing and healing, especially for our joints and bones. Simple bone broth is rich in flavor and just needs salt added to taste, and you can make it as concentrated or thin as you like. Once you make your own free range bone broth, you will soon find the taste just can’t be compared to any store-bought broth!

To make chicken broth, I often start with cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot on high for 4-5 hours, or just use leftover bones from roasted chicken legs (cheap and super tasty!). Once I’ve cooked a whole chicken I remove the meat, and use some of it in our dinner that night. I put the rest in a shallow dish to cool in the fridge, separate in meal size portions (for things like pot pie, chicken chili, enchiladas, etc) and freeze in Ziploc freezer bags or containers. Place in large pot (you can use crockpot or large steel pot). I cover bones with enough water to just cover and approximately 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (draws out the nourishing minerals) and refrigerate overnight. This seems to really draw out the gelatin making a nicer broth. Simmer for 7 hours or more. It’s important to keep the heat low to retain the nutrients. Just ladle out the liquid, or pour through a strainer to remove all the little bits. Put into jars, refrigerate and freeze, or use for your soup today! When cooled it should be like a jelly (from the awesome gelatin that is oh-so-good for you). This broth is just amazing for soups and gravies. A great post on chicken broth is here at keeperofthehome.org.

To make beef broth I buy bones (neck, knuckle and/or marrow bones) from one of our local free range meat shops, which I defrost in the fridge overnight. I then roast them (optional, the roasting supposedly deepens the flavor) for around 45 minutes at high heat, covered with foil in the oven, or brown for 10-15 minutes in a large pot on medium high heat, covered on the stovetop. Place just enough water to cover the bones in a large pot, bring to a boil, then quickly dump out the scummy water, and refill with nice filtered water. Adding a Tbsp apple cider vinegar will draw out the nutrients into your broth. At a low heat simmer for around 12-24 hours. I also have added extras such as vegetable ends, onion skins, a couple inches of peeled ginger, which create a delicious aroma and flavor as well. Rinsed (organic) egg shells kept in the freezer add even more incredible nutrition to your stock (which are strained of course!). I usually check every so often to see that it isn’t bubbling and boiling too much, but still cooking. I remove the meat on the bones and reserve for soup. You can now pour into mason jars (leaving a couple inches of space on top!) and refrigerate or freeze. I usually remove most of the solidified white fat at the top when I am ready to use the broth beneath, but the tallow (fat) may also be used in cooking. Be nourished and enjoy!

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White Bean Chicken Chili

Some of favorite basic ingredient combinations for soups include:
Chicken broth with sauted carrots, celery, seasoned generously with sea salt, pepper, and adding any type of short rice noodle or rice at the end. Chickpeas, egg and spinach are also tasty and nourishing additions.
Beef broth and barley, lentils or potatoes, with onion, carrots, celery, garlic, small turnips, tomato paste and beef meat (ground or leftovers), seasoned generously with thyme, sea salt, pepper, and garnished with parsley.
Lamb broth in a delicious scotch broth, with barley, carrots, parsnips, onion, celery, turnips, sea salt and pepper.
I generally use between 4-6 cups of homemade broth for a soup pot. Season well for punch, taste test often, and don’t water your broth down too much for a delicious soup!
I also highly recommend this Homemade Soup Broth post by Stephanie Langford for more information and ideas!

Spud Special Soup

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Mmmm, such a comfort soup on a cold day! I highly recommend organic or local ingredients. You can leave without, or add fried bacon or sausage, our preference is pork bacon. Everyone seems to love this soup!

• 3 Tbsp butter
• 1 large onion
• 1/2 cup thinly slice carrot
• 1/2 cup diced celery
• 2 garlic cloves
• 4 cups diced potato
• 2 cups chicken bone broth
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. pepper
• 1 tsp. parsley flakes or 2-3 Tbsp fresh
• Approx 1 cup whole milk
• 3 slices of fried, diced organic bacon (optional)

Put first 5 ingredients into a large pot and sauté veggies until onion is soft and clear.

Add potato, chicken broth, salt, pepper and parsley. Bring to a boil. Add bacon. Cover and simmer slowly until all cooked, stirring occasionally.

You can then mash it well with a potato masher. I have also blended it lightly using an immersion blender making it creamy.

Stir in milk at the very end, after turning off the heat (do not allow it to boil once the milk has been added). Can be garnished with cheese (I like sprinkling grated Parmesan). Serves 4.