Smokey Chickpea Potato Soup

img_3127I’m on a mission. A mission to get people  to spend more time in their kitchens. Please don’t run away screaming just yet! Hear me out. We demand a lot from our bodies – vitality, energy, a healthy weight. We likely invest time and money in insuring our bodies against illness and ageing – gym  memberships, anti-aging products, yoga, meditation. Yet we are afraid of spending time in the kitchen. Think about it – we are constantly hearing messages about time-saving recipes, convenience foods, short cuts, prepared meals and so on. So much so that we have become averse to our appliances and all that equipment languishing in our cupboards. We drag our feet and protest against cooking, citing long lists of priorities. But preparing food is at the basic level of self-care. We should, in fact, be running towards our kitchens  instead of away from them. Cooking more is one of the ways, perhaps  the most important way, we will be able to resolve so many of our food and health issues. When we prioritize cooking for ourselves and our families, we declare that taking care of our bodies through whole, nourishing meals consumed at our dining tables in the company of our loved ones matters.

Now I get that spending more time in the kitchen doesn’t mean spending ALL of our time in the kitchen. We still want easy to prepare recipes that aren’t going to send  us on a wild goose chase trying to track down unusual spices. There is a time and place for that, and I do admit that I enjoy spending my time unearthing exotic foods and perusing aisles of newly discovered markets. But recognizing that’s not everyone’s cup of tea and with the mission to get people to cook more in mind, I decided to create a recipe that is made with simple ingredients and requires only fundamental cooking skills. In fact I challenged myself to create a recipe with items I already had on hand!

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Soups are really at the very centre of convenience cooking. One pot, a bunch of familiar ingredients and a few spices to add flavour and flair, and a bit of idle time. That’s it. This soup contains potatoes, an often vilified vegetable (probably for its incarnations as chips  and fries) but actually delivers a bunch of nutrients in a pretty convenient package. One medium potato with the skin on provides a third of your B6 and a quarter of your potassium and vitamin C needs as well as 15%of your daily fibre requirement. Carrots add colour and beta carotene and chickpeas stand in as the filling, fibre-rich protein source. Despite usually being relegated to decoration, I added parsley as much for its flavour as for its surprising nutritional punch: a quarter cup of chopped parsley provides a quarter of your vitamin C and almost 300% (yes you read that right) of your vitamin K needs. Vitamin K is a powerful fat-soluble vitamin that is involved in the  blood clotting process, so you know, you don’t bleed to death!! Thank you vitamin K *gives high  five*.

As always, this recipe is plant-based but can be enjoyed by everyone. As with many soups and stews, this one tastes even better the next day – so perfect for leftovers! What is your favourite quick and easy to prepare meal that you often cook for yourself and your families?

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Smokey Potato Chickpea Soup

Makes 6 servings

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika, hot or mild

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning*

3 medium potatoes, skin left on, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups)

3 carrots, peeled, sliced into rounds or half moons (about 3 cups)**

6-7 cups water

1 (19oz/540ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste

1/2-3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.       In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

2.       Add the smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, Italian seasoning and half of  the salt and pepper to the pot and stir for about a minute until fragrant.

3.       Add the potato, carrot and water, stir to combine. Increase heat  to high, bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are just fork-tender (be careful not to overcook!)

4.       Finally stir in the chickpeas and parsley, and adjust salt, pepper and seasonings to your taste.

 *If you  don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, just use any combination of thyme, oregano, basil, dried sage and rosemary.

**This soup will thicken as it stands (especially overnight), add extra water to thin it or just enjoy as is. I used 6 cups of water.

 Tips:

-I  add the onion and garlic to the pot off the heat as I chop them. Once I have all the other ingredients prepared, I add the oil and turn on the heat.

-I chop the parsley and rinse the chickpeas while the soup is simmering, to cut down on prep time.

-If this recipe leaves you with a bunch of leftover parsley, use it in salads, pasta and rice dishes, smoothies and sprinkle extra on the soup before serving.

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Back In The Game (plus recipe for Kale and Bean Soup)

Well, I am FINALLY feeling like myself again. I can safely say my body is virus-free. Hallelujah.

Can’t say I was feeling much food inspiration over the last little while. Although I’m not of the lose-all-your-appetite-while-sick sort (and damn it I do envy the people who get blessed with this silver lining of illness), my food selection was completely lack luster and I don’t think I attempted much beside boiling water and toasting bread in the kitchen, oh and heating up soup from a carton.

I managed to stay on the vegan bandwagon for two weeks now, viral attack and all. I have to say though, while I certainly don’t feel deprived and I can’t say I’ve even toed the precipice of starvation at any point, I have had some niggling thoughts about sneaking a few bites of cheese. Or milk chocolate (which is strange as I prefer dark varieties typically). I even had a dream where I pigged out on a milk-laden chocolate bar and woke up with residual feelings of guilt that the dream embedded. But honestly, all this has been minor.

In fact, beyond the illness stage, I continue feeling inspired and excited by all the vegan foods and recipes I keep coming across. As my sickness waned towards the end of the week, I found myself enveloped by a plethora of food experiences this weekend.

First off, my brother bought a juicer. Super exciting! We juiced the second the beast came out of the box. So far a winning combo has been apples, kale and ginger  Delish. I came up with a concoction that echoed the flavours of carrot cake: tons of carrots, apples, a bit of ginger and a few shakes of cinnamon and cloves. Yum! And of course there’s been a few underwhelming, and perhaps down right awful, results too. Will keep you updated on our juicer developments!

On Saturday night I made the pilgrimage to downtown Toronto for some of my favourite Thai food at Salad King. I can’t comment on the authenticity of the grub but I have been eating here since my Ryerson University under-grad days. I even remember what my first dish was, and this was back in 2002! Emerald curry, by the way. The location has moved (a few meters from the original) but the crazy atmosphere, affordable prices and consistently amazing dishes have remained. Even the mild to 20 chilies heat scale has not changed a bit. I am a 5 chilies type of gal…hey, some like it hot 🙂

I dined on my beloved Bangkok Stir Fry (veganized by omitting the egg) and my dining partner-in-crime chose the Hot Thai Noodles with a very non-veg chicken and shrimp option. We stuffed ourselves silly and walked away wishing for a location closer to home. Sigh.

My good food fortune continued into Sunday as we gathered at my parents place for dinner. My mom obliged our veggie ways and cooked up an amazing vegan kale and bean soup. Sooooo good!

Kale and Bean Soup 1

 Kale and Bean Soup

This is a delicious soup to serve on a chilly day. Much goodness is to be found in this gem of a dish.

Adapted from: The Vegetarian Collection by Alison Key and The Canadian Living Kitchen

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste (1/2-1 tsp of each)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, homemade or store bought
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 small white potatoes, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 can (395ml, 140z) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained, used Eden Garden brand
  • 2 cans (395ml, 14oz each) navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bunches of kale, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • juice of one lemon

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, coriander  cumin, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.

Add broth, water, white and sweet potato and all the beans, bring to a boil then simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile put kale into a pot of boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes until softened. Drain and add to the soup along with the parsley. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then finish off with the lemon juice.

Serve as is or accompanied by whole grain bread, pita or a cooked grain (rice, buckwheat, quinoa or the like). Enjoy piping hot.

Kale and Bean Soup 2

Kale and bean soup 3

 My mom also surprised us by baking vegan chocolate chip cookies. No milk or eggs, and incidentally no wheat, but full of chocolatey goodness. Best served with beverage of choice for dunking. Recipe was from good old reliable Martha Stewart.

Vegan CC Cookies 2

Vegan CC Cookies 1

Way to go mama! First one to experiment with vegan baking. But that’s not shocking, baking is in her blood.

Vegan CC Cookies 3

I wrapped up my Sunday evening by prepping for the work week. Cooked up a one skillet meal using ingredients already in my fridge and pantry for lunches and dinners; will post the recipe this week. Main ingredients were fennel bulb, green peas, quinoa and Tofurky sausage. Don’t mock me, I love them.

And I whipped up a batch of hummus. I don’t really use a precise recipe, more so a guideline I suppose. But I will try to account for the proportions next time I make it so I can share the magic that a few simple kitchen staples can create: chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and good-quality olive oil. That’s all.

Happy February everyone!

ilona