Spanish lentil soup to soothe the soul

March… the month of make it or break it! I’ve personally had it with winter. I generally get through the winter without complaining too much but for some reason this year seems to be rougher. Not enough sun, not enough warmth, too much gloom… I’ve been cooking meals that reassure me, that make me feel like there is hope! This recipe is a classic in my house. It gets tweaked a tiny bit from time to time, however I’m sure it remains true to my grandmother’s original recipe! If you can find a true, good chorizo, you’re set. I love that this recipe is from my spanish roots and yet all the ingredients are local. The only imported product is the smoked paprika! The soup is perfectly paired with a creamy goat cheese and a crusty country bread. It’s hearty, tasty, and comforting!!!

 

Recipe

1 cup lentils

1 medium chorizo, sliced

2 cups chicken broth (or water)

1 medium carrot, sliced

1 tomato, crushed

1 large shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat oilve oil on medium heat in saucepan, add shallots until soft and translucent. Add garlic and stir. Add tomatoes, carrots and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add chorizo and lentils and stir to mix. Add broth and simmer on low for +/- 30 minutes or until lentils are just soft under tooth. Can be frozen up to 4 months. makes 2 large portions. Enjoy!

 

 

My spanish roots & the queen of all comfort food: My Yaya’s spanish meatballs

If ever I had to choose from all the delicious comfort foods in my repertoire, this would probably be it. It was one of my favourites as a child and I would get really excited when I would see my grandmother preparing them. When my grandparents retired, they would spend winters in Spain and my grandmother would always prepare me a large batch of these in the freezer. They would, sadly, never last that long… I just couldn’t resist! When she passed away, I had one regret, that I still hold to this day, that I didn’t put down in writing all of the family recipes. Most of them I manage by experimenting, memory or with the help of my mom and aunt that have their versions of the recipes as well, but one thing I found out after discussing this specific recipe with my mother, is that we have different versions of the recipe. Clearly, as with all good cooks that experiment and are always trying different things or ‘perfecting’ their recipes, the dish evolves as does the individual that is cooking it. So my recipe is completely different to the one my mother has and neither of us has ever even seen let alone eaten the others version! Funny that, no?scn_0044

So getting back to february being the month for comfort food, here is my version of spanish meatballs! My version uses minced mushrooms instead of the classic breadcrumbs and egg  for the meatballs. I find it lightens it up, adds veggies and depth to the meatballs. You can, of course, revert to the classic. I also use coconut cream instead of milk, but you’re welcome to do the milk version! Boy am I a happy camper to have these ready to eat!!!

 

Spanish meatballs

Ingredients

225 gr. mix of ground beef, pork & veal

1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms

1 Tb pine nuts

1 large onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large potato

2 medium carrots, sliced in 1/4 rounds

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 almonds roughly chopped (or 2 Tb almond butter)

1 Tb olive oil

1/4 tp smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions

Heat olive oil in cast iron pan, add 1/2 of the onions and stir until translucent. Add 1/2 of the garlic and stir for a minute or so then add almost and continue until fragrant (2-3 min.). Add paprika and combine well then add carrots. Stir for another minute then add just enough water to cover. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Meanwhile combine ground meats with remaining garlic & onion, pine nuts and dash of paprika, season with salt and pepper. Roll into golf sized balls, you should have 8 meatballs. Set aside. When carrot mixture is ready, transfer to a blender with coconut milk and blend on high until smooth. Return sauce to pan and add meatballs. Make sure sauce is almost covering the meatballs. If pan is too large, transfer to a smaller pan, cook on medium-low heat to simmer, occasionally stirring. Peel and cut potatoes and place in small pan, cover with water and season with salt. Cook covered for 5 minutes once water comes to a rolling boil. Remove from water and add to meatballs and sauce. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure elements are covered in sauce and correcting seasoning of necessary.  Serves 2, can be frozen without the potatoes. If you only want one portion and freeze the other, use a small potato. You can freeze the remaining meatballs on their own with enough sauce to cover.  Enjoy!

February is for comfort food & the classic comfort duo: Cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but soups seem to be a recurring theme at my house. I guess soup is the perfect quick comfort food. It’s nourishing, tasty, can be made in every colour of the rainbow and can be made as light or as hearty as you desire. So today I’m sharing my cream of tomato soup recipe. I’ve been making it for over twenty years and the ingredients have evolved over the years. You can swap from milk to dairy alternatives, coconut milk/cream, from the cream cheese to greek yogurt or anything you want to use, experimentation leads to perfection!

Cream of tomato soup

Ingredients

1 28 oz tin of canned tomatoes

1 medium onion with 1 clove inserted

1 medium carrot, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups milk (or alternative)

1 Tb flour

1 Tb butter (or alternative)

Dash of grated nutmeg

1 cup cream cheese (or alternative)

Instructions

Place tomatoes, carrot and onion in saucepan, season with salt & pepper and cook on medium-low heat , covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan make a béchamel by melting butter on medium heat, add flour and stir until well incorporated and whisk in milk slowly, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the milk has thickened, allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. After 30 minutes, add cream cheese to tomatoes to warm. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth. Makes 2-3 servings, can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Grilled cheese

Ingredients

1 large slice country bread cut in 2 (or 2 slices regular bread)

2-3 slices of cheese of your choice

Cranberry chutney

Butter

Sliced scallion

Instructions

Butter outer sides of bread. Spread cranberry chutney on the inside of bread, place 1-2 slices cheese on top, sprinkle scallion and add another slice of cheese. Close with 2nd slice and cook on medium heat in a cast iron pan until well browned on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

Stick to your ribs chili and can’t stop eating them biscuits

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so I was inspired to cook up some comfort fare, such as a delicious chili with biscuits to sop up all that juicy goodness. Each are absolutely delicious on their own ( I actually ate ALL the biscuits, I just couldn’t stop! ), but why deny yourself perfection?  The long simmer of the chili breaks down the chicken and ends up melting into the sauce. The biscuits are so flaky and delicious, they can be eaten alone, with jam & butter, anything really! I used a combination of whey leftover from making greek yogurt and yogourt instead of buttermilk and the result is fantastic! So let the chili simmer, crack open a beer and enjoy your Sunday!

Chicken chili

Ingredients

230 gr. chicken thighs, cubed

2/3 cup red lentils

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 of each orange, red & yellow peppers, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cup corn kernels

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 stick cinnamon

1 tablespoon mexican chili

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, diced avocado and cilantro

Instructions

Sauté chicken thighs until browned, add onions and continue cooking until soft and translucent. Add garlic, chili, cumin and paprika and sweat the spices for 1-2 minutes. Add peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn & cinnamon. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Check that chicken has pulled apart, if not muddle with a wooden spoon until meat pulls appart. Continue simmering for a further hour uncovered. Add lentils and cook for 30 minutes more. Serves 2 with toppings and biscuits. Both can be frozen seperately for 3-4 months. Enjoy!

Biscuits

Ingredients

1 cup flour

4 tablespoons butter

45ml whey

45ml yogourt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 ° . Sift all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter until rough crumbles occur without overworking, add liquid and stir in using a wooden spoon. When you have a shaggy dough, lightly need with your hands 5 or 6 times. It’s important not to overwork the dough, keeping pockets of butter will make the dough flaky. Roll out the dough to 1″ thickness and cut using a floured cutter or glass. PLace on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool. Makes 6 medium or 8 small biscuits, biscuits can be frozen in an airtight container for 3-4 months.

A big bowl of sunshine to combat the february blues

This is the last stretch, the long haul before the light at the end of the tunnel. I need as much sunshine as I can get to see me through. I crave colour and strong flavours. I also fight the instinct to crawl into bed and not come back out for air before spring! This soup is all that and more, colorful, flavorful and very satisfying and the bonus is it is quick to make. 20 minutes from start to finish. BAM! Party in my mouth! Why resist when happiness is so quick and easy to achieve 🙂  I made mine with shrimp but you could easily swap the shrimp out for chicken or beef strips, tofu, fish… Whatever floats your boat! The most important part to acheive perfection is to have good quality ingredients, the stock being one of them. Making your own stock is simple even if it needs some time to simmer, you can just leave it simmering on the stove and go on with your day, you’ll see a huge difference between your homemade stock versus the grocery store variety.

Coconut & red-curry shrimp soup

Ingredients

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 of each orange, red & yellow peppers, thinly sliced

White & pale green parts of a leek, thinly sliced

100 gr. shrimps

1/4 cup coconut cream

1/2 teaspoon red curry paste

Kafir lime leaves

Lemongrass stalk, cut in 2 inch pieces

Salt to taste

Thinly sliced green onions, cilantro & lime for garnish

Instructions

Bring stock to a boil with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalk. Simmer for 5 minutes then add curry paste, shrimps and vegetables. When stock comes to a boil again, add coconut cream. Let soup come back to a boil tbefore serving. Garnish with cilantro and green onions and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

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