"The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine."
- Hippocrates

January 15, 2010

Soup's On!

Last year Jeff (my husband) and I decided to do a 21-day cleanse wherein we omitted all meat, fish, eggs, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar and, as a result, shifted our eating toward more whole food including using new grains and lots of organic produce. This was based on the cleanse suggested in Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness (see my reading list). Throughout the 21 days we were so surprised at how easy it was to eat this way--the food tasted amazing and we felt better (physically and mentally) almost instantly! After the three weeks, we decided to stick with this diet for the most part because we just couldn't come up with a good reason to go back to how we were eating before.

Last week, I learned about a similar program being sponsored by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is a "program is designed for anyone who wants to explore and experience the health benefits of a vegan diet". If you're interested, check-out their website, it's got some really fantastic resources including a full 21-day meal plan, personalized grocery shopping lists, tons of recipes, celebrity tips, and some great videos! In the spirit of the 21-Day Kickstart, I decided to test out a couple of the recipes on their site. I chose two soups because, well, it's winter, and soups do a great job at warming us up on those cold and snowy days! The pictures are from my own kitchen, so what you see is what you get!

Butternut Soup with Cinnamon Cream
Makes 4-6 servings

This soup is sooooo good!! I'm a big fan of creamy soups and this one does not disappoint! It's super silky and creamy from the buttery squash and it's got just the right amount of flavour kick from the ginger and cinnamon. Best of all, it's really easy to prepare!! This soup would be a great starter for any meal. Or pair with a hearty salad and some crusty bread for a complete meal.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 pounds butternut squash (about 6 cups), peeled and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, chopped (this wasn't original to the recipe--silly eh?)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup soymilk (or any non-dairy milk)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onion for 5 minutes, until golden. Add squash, carrot, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander. Cook while stirring for 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are browned.

Add the vegetable stock and soymilk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring for 30 to 35 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth in a blender or food processor. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Lentil Barley Stew
Makes 6 1-cup servings

I love barley in soups! Well, I love barley in anything really, it's so chewy and hearty and pairs really well with beans and lentils. This soup is really tasty, it's got the exact right flavour that you'd expect from a lentil and barley stew...and it's got just a tiny bit of spice at the end to keep you coming back for more! This soup is a meal all on it's own, but paired with some fresh whole wheat crusty bread, it's over the top ;)

1/2 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup dry hulled or pearl barley
4 cups Vegetable Broth or water
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients except salt into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils and barley are tender, about 1 hour. Add salt to taste.