Food: Flu Fighting Soup

Winter Veggie Soup for flu & cold seasonsoup1
I made a whole batch of this soup and ended up freezing most of it.  The name of this recipe was formerly called “anti-cancer” soup because of the goodness of all the wholesome ingredients but I changed the name to anti-flu soup.  In general, it’s just a great overall recipe that tastes really good. I just unfroze a container and added brown rice macaroni which made it a complete meal (especially for lunch).
Serves: 12-16 servings (almost feeds an army!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper, to preference
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or other dried herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley)
  • 12 cups (or 3 32-ounce cartons) of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (look for BPA-free cans)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup lentils (any kind will work; rinse first)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 cups frozen green peas
  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. Season lightly with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to your preferred heat level), and Italian seasoning.
  3. Add chicken or vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (slight bubbling), stirring occasionally. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add all other vegetables except frozen peas (zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach) and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Stir in frozen peas and turn off heat (or turn to low), so they don’t overcook. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. If you like, serve with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and/or whole grain crackers or crusty bread.

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To freeze: 
Fully cook and cool the soup. (Do not leave soup out on counter more than 2 hours.) Divide soup into freezer bags or containers and freeze.

To thaw and reheat: 
Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then reheat gently over low heat on the stove or in a crockpot. Another option is to put the frozen soup block over low to medium-low heat on the stove top or in a crock pot. Add about 1-2 cups of water or broth over the top. Gently warm over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.




Food: Thai Beet Soup


I’m in a soup making mood and that explains my pure of heartiness.  Blame it on the weather, flu season or just craving a warm bowl of healthy goodness.   In any case in the last week alone I’ve made homemade Miso Soup, Sweet Potato & Lentil, Bone Broth and last night for the first time, Thai Beet Soup. What I look for is nutritional value, tastiness, uniqueness and lastly (it is soup) presentation.  I think this one falls into all those categories.  It was delicious.  The beets make this a colourful and liver supporting meal.  The beautiful Thai flavours are also full of antioxidants. See bottom for health benefits of select ingredients.  If you make it, I’d love your feedback.beetsoup1



5 medium beets – peel if not organic and chop into bite size pieces

2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil

4 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups (1 liter) vegetable stock (preferably homemade)

2 Tbsp. ginger, grated

1 stalk *lemongrass, discard outer dry leaves and mince the bottom (1/3 of stalk)

2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk

1 Tbsp. tamari (or low sodium soy sauce if you don’t have tamari)

1 tsp. raw honey

2 limes,  juiced

½ tsp. unrefined salt (try Himalayan)

¼ cup cilantro for garnish (or try fresh dill)


Preheat oven to 350F.  Place beets in baking dish and cover the bottom of the dish with ½ inch of water (to prevent from drying out).  Cover and bake until tender – approx. 45 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted into middle.

Once beets are ready, melt coconut oil in large pot over medium heat.

Add shallots and garlic, cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

For the remainder of the lemongrass that is inedible (outer leaves and upper portion), you can bruise/pound them with a mortar to release the oils and add to the soup whole for extra flavour.  Of course remove them when soup is done.

Add the beets and the rest of the ingredients, except for the cilantro or dill if using.  Simmer until heated through.

Serve in bowls and garnish with cilantro or dill.  You can add a dollop of yogurt if you like to make it more like a borscht.

If you prefer a pureed soup, you can use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Just remove the bruised lemongrass first.

*Lemongrass can be substituted for lemon zest (zest of ½ lemon = 1 stalk of lemongrass).beetsoup2

Nutritional Value of Select Ingredients

Beets: The beetroot is an excellent source of folic acid, and a great source of fibre, manganese and potassium.  It is an excellent tonic for the liver, has anti-cancer properties, increases bowel function and decreases cholesterol levels.  The greens are even higher in nutritional value than the roots; they are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Garlic: Garlic is touted as a “cure-all” due to its many uses in medicine.  It has a beneficial effect on heart disease, cancer, and infectious diseases.  It decreases cholesterol levels, detoxifies the body, stimulates the immune system, and the list goes on and on.  It’s more beneficial if you smash it or at least chop it beforehand to let the oxygen get to it and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before using.

Ginger: This root is an excellent remedy for nausea, morning sickness, upset stomach, indigestion, vomiting, motion sickness, and cramps.  It helps to lower blood pressure, reduce fever, prevent internal blood clots, etc.  Who ever knew that something so medicinal could be so tasty!

Soup’s On!

Food: a good ramen is hard to find

Sometimes some of the simplest things are the hardest to find

This is Pho me . Green Lemongrass on Kingsway
This one’s Pho me. Green Lemongrass on Kingsway.  A side of lemongrass beef shortribs.

Now that the weather is significantly cooler I’m craving a hot bowl of soup but not just any soup.  I love a good ramen and with all the Japanese restaurants we have here in Vancouver you’d think it would be so easy to find right?  Not necessarily.  Well there are a lot, but they’re not all amazing.  Maybe it’s because I became spoiled from the time I lived in Tokyo many years ago with the abundance of good noodle pitstops all over the city.  Places you just stop in and sometimes even stand at the counter to eat.  I was a regular. 

So I decided to make my own version which I’m always improving on.  It’s quite delicious and depending on my mood I switch it up from Japanese to Chinese by just varying a few of the  ingredients.  And I’ve always got the ingredients on hand except for whatever vegetables I decide to use at the last minute. Anyway

Ramen with 7 kinds of mushroom. Soooo good.
Ramen with 7 kinds of mushroom. Soooo good.

Last week I had to make a run to Richmond, B.C.  (a very high percentage of Chinese people live in Richmond so therefore all the Chinese restaurants) so I decided to look for a noodle house.  They’re a dime a dozen so eeny meenie miny mo – I found a great little spot!  I stopped at Shang Noodle House at #3 Rd. & Saba.  It was fast, fresh & fabulous! That, along with an appetizing side of dumplings in spicy sauce.  YUM.  Just don’t order the Edamame which was cold & came with a side of table salt (mind you, it’s not really a Japanese part of town). Stick with the soup & dumplings.

I was hungry and was torn between the Japanese Ramen with mushrooms, a Chinese wonton with beef noodle or the peanuty tan tan noodle.  Final decision – I made the right choice. See below:

AND it was healthy!
AND it was healthy!

Then I had to make a run out to Kingsway the next day (an area of Vancouver with many Vietnamese restaurants) and satisfied my craving for Pho.  I asked them to switch the regular chicken that came with the noodle soup to grilled lemongrass chicken – no extra charge was a bonus.

I went back to a restaurant in a little shopping mall that I remember going to before, not only because they serve great PHO (and food in general) but because they have a special live fish with personality.  Last time I was there I put my face up to the tank and the fish looked at me for a second…before spitting at me.  I think he/she even remembered me this time.  At least it appeared that way.  That fish has been there for as long as the restaurant.

What is your favourite Asian noodle soup?

p.s. If you live in Vancouver have you been out to Famous Foods? (1595 Kingsway at King Edward).  I re-discovered this privately owned grocery store that has some of the best selection of bulk and natural foods in town.  I also bought organic grass fed beef shanks & oxtail to make soup with.  For the most part the prices are pretty reasonable.  I’ll be going back more often.  They also have good bulk chocolate and some hard to find stuff. Check for in-store specials. Sometimes it’s okay to leave Kitsilano. But not for long.

Photos: d. king




Simply Satisfying – cooking with coffee

Have you ever cooked with coffee?
I’m not talking about coffee cake which doesn’t even have coffee in it –  it just tastes better when you have it while dunking it into drinking a cup.  With all that coffee has going for it (which in moderation helps to improve cognitive performance, enhance alertness, boost your overall mood and is a rich source of antioxidants) why limit it to only a mug? Cooking with your favorite ground or brewed coffee can bring a whole new dimension to your recipe repertoire.  Coffee can enhance the flavor of other ingredients (like in homemade barbeque sauce) while lending a subtle earthy undertone to a dish. 

Here’s a healthy & hearty soup for a perfect cold weather lunch or light dinner paired with salad.

From Alive Magazine
From Alive Magazine

Cowboy Black Bean Soup

1 lb. (450g) dried black beans (about 2 cups/500 mL)
1 Tbsp (15mL) Coconut Oil
1 cup (250mL) diced onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced across the stalk
½ cup (125mL) carrot, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp (10mL) ground cumin
1 tsp (5mL) smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
4 cups (1L) water
2 cups (500mL) brewed coffee
2 cups (500mL) butternut squash, cut into ½ in (1.25cm) cubes
½ tsp (2mL) salt
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 Tbsp (90mL) reduced-fat sour cream
¼ cup (60mL) fresh cilantro leaves

Pick over beans, making sure to discard any stones or broken beans.  Rinse well, place in large bowl or container, and cover with 2 in (5cm) cold water.  Let beans soak overnight.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add onion, pepper, celery, carrot, jalapeño and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes.  Stir in cumin, smoked paprika, and bay leaf, cooking for another minute.  Pour in water and coffee.

Drain beans, rinse well, and stir into soup base.  Turn heat up to high and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and skim off any foam that accumulates on surface.  Cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, steam squash until just cooked, about 5 minutes.

Once beans are cooked, remove pot from heat.  Remove bay leaf from soup and stir in salt.  Purée about half the soup in blender until smooth. Return purée  to pot and stir until incorporated.

When ready to serve, warm soup gently over medium heat, stirring often, until warm.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cooked squash, a sprinkle of green onion, a dollop of sour cream, and a few torn cilantro leaves.

Serves 6.  Each serving contains 329 calories.

Do you have a favorite coffee recipe you’d like to share?