Monday's Food for Thought

Shuga’ Mommas: 3 Fabulous Soup Ideas

Baby, it’s cold outside.

I don’t know where you live, but here in Oxford, we’ve been enduring wintry snow, and freezing temperatures. On one hand, it was amazing watching my three-year-old son build his first snowman. On the other hand, I’ve consumed more cups of hot tea in the past few days than I have consumed in the past month…..all in the name of keeping warm.

Because of the cold, and the need to curl up under a blanket to catch up on some much loved television shows, I’ve wanted our dinners to be quick and simple – just a delicious soup with a french baguette. I trialed several soups in the past week or so, and wanted to share my favorites with you all.

Pumpkin Soup

I roasted a pumpkin for the first time this past autumn, and froze several cups of it to use at a later time. I had never made pumpkin soup, so tried it out. Definite hit in our house.

Pumpkin soup

I will say a few things about this recipe:

1. Add a spice of some kind, like cumin or chilli flakes. Without it, the soup was a bit bland for our tastes.

2. I added a bit of garlic (2 cloves, minced).

3. I didn’t add the seeds or croutons, but did have a warm seeded baguette to serve with the soup.

4. The soup freezes well.

Red Lentil and Bacon Soup

I’ve never been a huge fan of lentils, but this soup made me change my mind. It was hearty and warm, and quite filling. The leftovers were even better.

Lentil & bacon soup

The only change I made to this soup was using organic bacon in place of the pancetta. That was just my preference though. I’m sure either one would suffice.

Black Bean Soup

I’ve had sort of a love/hate affair with black beans for a long time (to be honest, it’s really just beans in general). As I’ve learned to like black beans, I’ve found that if they’re paired with the right thing, they are quite tasty. I was skeptical of this recipe at first, but am now a HUGE fan of this soup. It should be described as more like a chilli, than a soup, as it was very thick, even after I added more stock to it. The bacon really added a smoky element to it, and the shredded cheese and sour cream reminded me of my favorite Mexican restaurant back home. Win-win.

Picture of Black Bean Soup Recipe

From my kitchen to yours…..enjoy!

What’s your favorite soup? Would you be willing to share a recipe below?

Stay warm,

~Mandy

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Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: French Onion Soup

It’s Autumn in Oxford.

I have been absolutely wishing Summer away this year. I’ve been ready for Autumn since June – I love the cool nights, chunky sweaters, falling leaves, and scrummy apples. However, I do not love gale force winds, torrential rain, or walking to work in gale force winds and torrential rain. I take it all back. Please, Summer, come back. I promise to love you right.

Sigh.

With this wonderful stay-inside kind of weather, I began to think about soup. A friend of mine sent this French Onion Soup recipe to me awhile ago, but I hadn’t had the chance to make it. Since we were inside most of the day on Sunday, I decided to try it.

Oh my.

It was heaven in a bowl. I’m not a huge fan of French Onion Soup, but this recipe was to die for. If you need a yummy-stay-inside-kind-of-weather soup, then make this. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

A couple of notes:

1. Use a good quality bottle of red wine to put into the soup. More than likely, you’ll want to drink the rest with dinner.

2. This recipe will take a full two hours to prepare. So, be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen.

3. I know gruyere cheese is a bit pricey in the USA. Trust me, it’s worth paying the extra $. It makes the soup.

4. You can make this recipe gluten free. Use gluten free flour, and either make or buy a gluten free french baguette. Or if you want to make french bread, some good recipes here: Gluten Free on Shoestring or Gluten Free Goddess.

What’s your favorite soup to eat during Autumn?

-Mandy

Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Carrot and Coriander Soup

Autumn is my favourite time of year. It invokes fond memories of high school football games, pumpkin carving, warm sweaters, apple cider, falling leaves, crisp mornings, and the smell of cinnamon.

I know you didn’t come here to read about the nostalgia of my childhood, so let’s talk about why you came by here today: soup.

Growing up, I didn’t particularly like soup. Now that I am older (and wiser), and living in a colder climate, soup seems like a must. There is nothing better or more filling than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day.

After moving to England, one of my friends introduced me to Carrot and Coriander soup, and our family fell in love with it immediately. It’s cheap. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It freezes well. What more could you ask for when time AND money are precious things in this graduate wife life?

CARROT AND CORIANDER SOUP   (This is my own variation of several recipe attempts)

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1lb carrots
  • 3/4 tsp of ground coriander
  • 32 oz of vegetable stock (can use more, if you’d like it a bit more soupy)
  • Handful of coriander (the English fancy pants word for cilantro – for you North Americans)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheese (cheddar, gruyere, parmesan etc whatever you like)

Slice carrots and onion, and saute on high for a few minutes until soft. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp of ground coriander, stirring until carrots and onion are coated. In a separate stock pan, turn vegetable stock on low. Throw carrots and onion into stock, and cover, allowing it to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove cover. Add handful of coriander, salt and pepper. The soup is now ready to be puréed. You can either use a food processor on an immersion blender (I prefer immersion blender). Blend until soup is smooth. Divide soup into bowls (this recipe will serve 4), and sprinkle with cheese. Add a side of warm bread (garlic, french) to complete the meal!

Carrot & Coriander Soup

And, as my husband’s French grandfather would say, “bon appétit!”

Here’s to a delicious autumn,

Mandy