Hockey season is over. Can I get a 'Yay!'?
Honestly I didn't have it all that bad, we could have been much busier with hockey than we were. Still I'm happy to have my weekends back ... at least, until Soccer starts on April 20th I have a few precious Saturdays.
Generally I like to spend a good amount of time in my kitchen in the weekends - cleaning vegetables, making soup and other snacks for the week. Lately I have been slacking something terrible. We have been getting by on pre-washed lettuce, salad kits and Bear Paws. I have yet to purchase the cute little bags of pre-cut apples for the kids lunches, considered, then put them back in the refrigerator case. There is something so wrong about slices of apples in a bag that don't go brown for like a week. (Confession - I have been known to grab a large veggie tray and use it to pack snack packs for the week.)
This week I decided to take meal prep to a whole other level. I was inspired by this post from Back To Her Roots. I've had enough of this craziness and want to get back to some basics. Along with some of my usual cleaning fruit and washing veg, my daughter and I prepped fruit and yogurt parfait and salad in a jar for everyone's lunch. Look how cute!
This is a true experiment. I'm still feeling a bit skeptical that the salad will be just as fresh at the end of the week as it is on Monday, or that the fruit and yogurt jars will not have gotten "liquidy" as the fruit sits. Still, I'm hopeful. If this works I'm excited by the potential variety we could add to my kids' lunches. Besides, I've been absolutely anguished with guilt lately by the volume of containers in our recycle boxes. Sure, all those plastic containers are being recycled, but wouldn't we be doing more for the planet if we just used less plastic? (Really - you don't have to answer this question for me).
Enter my favourite kitchen accessory - the Mason jar...
I'll keep you posted how this test works out.
So on to the Soup. After a five-mile run Sunday morning in this nasty March weather, I had no choice but to make a hot pot of soup to warm up. I'm looking at snow as I type. I am so over snow right now.
This is a basic, kid friendly soup. Hardly a recipe; I call it PB&P soup. That's Potato, Bean & Pasta Soup. It's warm, hearty and carby, making it filling for lunch or dinner. There is enough tasty options in here that the kids can pick out what they don't like and eat the rest.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 large rib of celery, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¾ cup white wine, divided
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons herbe de provence (or another favourite herb mix)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 5 cups water
- 1 small can diced tomatoes - fire roasted
- 1 can mixed beans
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 6-7 small red or white mini potatoes, diced
- ½ cup of green lentils
- 1 can 15 - 18 oz mixed beans (or your favourite bean, about 1 + ½ cups)
- ½ cup pasta, small tubes or other small shapes
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, thinly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté shallots and celery for several minutes. Add a pinch of salt, garlic, ½ cup of the white wine, turmeric and herbe de provence. Simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed and vegetables are soft. I find adding the wine, garlic and herbs at this stage prevents the garlic from burning and brings out the fragrance of the herbs and spices. Simmer about 5-7 minutes. It doesn't have to be completely dry at this point, just give it enough time to concentrate the flavour of the wine. Use stock if you don't have wine.
Add stock, water, carrots, potatoes, canned beans, diced tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes then add the pasta. (You can also cook the pasta separately if you wanted, I add the pasta right to this soup because I like the thickness the pasta adds. It becomes think like a stew almost. But if you wanted to make this ahead or prefer a clearer soup, cook the pasta separately and add just before serving). The lentils will need a good 40 minutes total cooking time to become tender. The pasta needs about 10-15 while simmering in the soup. So plan accordingly. The lentils won't mind if you cook them longer. The pasta will mind and get mushy if you cook it too long, but the lentils will be fine with extra cooking time.
When the past is almost al dente, add the kale. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until both the kale and the pasta is tender. Add fresh herbs - I used basil and parsley Add the remaining white wine. Salt according to taste. Because of the pasta and the potatoes I find the soup can take a good bit of salt. Serve with fresh ground pepper and parmesan cheese if desired.