Nourishing Chicken Stock

Makes 8 C

chicken stock

Fall is here.  Yes, even in the desert.  It’s not quite like what I’m used to.  There isn’t a crisp chill in the air, there aren’t any changing colors of leaves and there isn’t that clean, cool smell in the air.  Instead temperatures are leaving the 100s on a regular basis, the beautiful sunset is coming earlier, and mornings are cool and resemble spring. Still the cravings for nourishing soups, everything apples, pumpkin and squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, those are the same.  Fall lives in me apparently.

The basis of all soups and most meals should be a beautiful stock.  Not only will this foundation of flavor elevate your dish, it’s also a great way to get some serious nourishment into your (already nutritious) meals.  There’s a lot of talk about stock, broth, bone broth, what’s the best way to do this or that.  Everyone has their own version and that’s the reason there are so many answers.

The distinction between a stock and a broth is usually salt.  Stocks by their virtue simply provide a base from which all other foods and flavors can spring from and come to life.  You will add salt and other seasonings to your dish, so there doesn’t need to be any in the stock.  Also, as the stock reduces, so does the concentration of salt and this becomes difficult to control.

Broths are seasoned.  You can drink them on their own or use them like you would a stock, but carefully.  There is such a thing as too much flavor in a dish and you don’t want a lot of competition going on, on your tastebuds.  Stocks are meant to be balanced yet neutral. Broths are meant to impart a bolder flavor of their own.

You want the most wholesome ingredients going into this base.  It’s what good cooking is about.  And, good cooking refers both to tasty and healthy.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew that instinctively, so they chose whole and fresh vegetables and bones from animals of which they’d already consumed the meat.  (Back then, it wasn’t labeled organic or grass-fed because everything already was those things!  For our times though I would recommend starting your dishes off well and going with as much organic as possible and definitely, grass-fed, pastured, free-range, farm happy animals.)

Bone stocks provide nutrients from the bones of the chicken, beef, fish, whatever you’re using.  There you will find minerals such as calcium (bone-building), phosphorus (regulates intracellular pressure) and magnesium (regulates over 300 enzymatic reactions).  The latter of which is a mineral most of us (in the U.S.) are chronically lacking.  Equally important are the cartilage and gelatin found in bones.  These goodies literally moisturize our joints and skin, aid in repairing of bone and our own cartilage and help our digestion along.  For more in depth info, I found this page at The Jade Institute to be really informative.

Ingredients need not be limited to the ones below.  You could throw in leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, etc.  Stay away from cruciferous vegetables for stocks and also spinach.  They don’t do so well in stock company.  This is a simple stock, so simple you can easily throw it together weekly.  There are many lovely stocks with earthy or sweet flavors, fish or curry flavors, or the roasted flavor of mushrooms.  Yum.  Those recipes to follow…eventually!

Stock up and enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of your knife
  • 2 potatoes, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, quartered
  • 1 bunch of parsley (or stems)
  • 1 2 square inch piece of kombu
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 t fennel seeds
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 10 C filtered water
  • large container of ice

To make:

  1. In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add all the vegetables.  Saute for a few minutes, just so the vegetables are coated and starting to brown.
  2. Add parsley, kombu, spices, and chicken carcass.  Then add water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
  3. Simmer for 4 hours.
  4. When stock is done, strain the chicken and vegetables out as soon as you can.  Then place the pot in an ice bath (a larger container filled with ice) to cool it quickly.  Divide stock into containers to either refrigerate or freeze.

*If refrigerating, use stock within 5-7 days.  If freezing, stock will last at least 2 months.

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Healing Potage with Parsley and Basil

Serves 4 as a meal or 6 as appetizer=)

Parsley-Basil Drizzle and Coconut Milk drizzled on potage.

As the title suggests, this potage is trés healing and last week, it was just what I needed to help me kick a cold that caught me by surprise.  With all the festivities; the cooking and eating, the drinking, snacking, socializing, the shopping, decorating and wrapping, we forget that it’s a common time to come down with colds and other unwanted ills.  There’s a lot going on and our bodies and our minds get run down eventually needing a break from all the fun.

When I’m feeling under the weather, the first thing I think of is soup to help get me on the path to better health.  Soup is love in a bowl, so it’s a good place to start.

I first encountered this (adapted) recipe in a Vegetarian Times issue some years ago.  Apparently, potage, a thick, creamy soup traditionally consisting of leeks, carrots and potato, is often served at meals in French hospitals.  That’s a far cry from what we see in most hospitals here.  It’s a very simple soup and quite unassuming considering its power in the healing department.  But, it’s often in simplicity that we find the greatest gifts.  There are several gifts that make this soup so healing.

In a nutshell:

Leek– Excellent source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which provide the body with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant protection.  Leeks also support movement, meaning if you are feeling stuck, physically, emotionally or mentally, you’d be wise to add these to your diet.  “They subtly tonify and support energy movement.”¹ I love Traditional Chinese Medicine interpretations of food.

Garlic– A member of the allium family that is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  Need I say more?  Ok, ok, one more thing-it helps eliminate toxins from the body.

Carrot– Beta-carotene is the most researched carotenoid and for good reason.  It’s an antioxidant that kicks a**!  It’s also anti-carcinogenic, anti-aging, and enhances immunity.  Yes, you should be eating more carrots.

Potato– Eaten in moderation, potatoes reduce inflammation and neutralize body acids.  They also boast a good amount of Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins.

Thyme– Thyme enjoys a long history of being used naturally in medicine to treat problems with cough, congestion, bronchitis, etc.²  The volatile oils of thyme contain enough anti-oxidants and anti-microbial properties to round out an already super-hero potage!

I thought I’d sneak this recipe in just before the fun December recipes appear, just in case.  And, you might want to re-visit Trick for Treat, too.  It’s never too late to build some credit for your body!  In case you found yourself in the red however, keep coming back to this soup.  It will always clear the way for you to start feeling better, fast!

*Note – I borrowed Rebecca Katz’s, Parsley Basil Drizzle to jazz it up a bit and boy did it ever!

You’ll need:

2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 large leek, white and pale green parts, sliced (about 3 heaping cups)

1/4 C dry white wine

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small fennel bulb, diced

5 medium-large carrots, sliced

1-2 small yukon potatoes, diced

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 small bay leaves

6-7 C water or vegetable stock (or water with a vegetable bouillon would do fine, too)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make:

1.  Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the leek and a healthy pinch of salt and cook for about 8 minutes until the leeks are tender.  When tender, add the garlic and fennel and cook for 3-4 more minutes before adding the wine.  Cook everything together until most of the wine has evaporated.

2.  Add the carrots, potato, thyme and bay leaves and about 1/2 C of the water/stock.  Cook together until it’s mostly evaporated.  Add the rest of the water/stock and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, partially covered, or until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.

3.  Turn off the heat, cover completely and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  Something magical happens in this time of waiting.

4.  Using a 1C ladle, ladle the soup into a blender keeping liquid and veggies about equal.  Blend until smooth (being sure to hold down the lid with a hand towel).  Pour creamy soup into another sauce pan.  Repeat the process until done.

5.  Bring the creamy potage to a simmer over low heat, if necessary.  Stir in the lemon juice and adjust for salt and pepper.

6.  Serve just as is or with Parsley-Basil Drizzle (see below)

7.  Enjoy and feel better!

Parsley-Basil Drizzle (as deliciously written per Rebecca Katz)

1/4 C tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 C tightly packed fresh flat-leat parsley leaves

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 T water

1/4 t sea salt

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor and process until finely chopped.  Slowly pour in the olive oil (with motor running, if possible) and process until smooth.  Adjust for salt or olive oil or lemon.  Drizzle over soup and Enjoy!

¹Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=77

Creamy Parsnip Soup and Homemade Croutons

Serves 6

Parsnips are one of those intimidating root vegetables.  They’re not exactly in the same category as celery root or kohlrabi, for example, but they do carry a hint of intimidation in them. They look like carrots, in fact, they’re cousins. Parsnips are much sweeter, however and even nutty in flavor. And they often sit in heaps at farmers’ markets, waiting to be picked up, cooked up, eaten!

In lieu of getting our CSA delivered, the past several weeks, my husband, Claire and I have made the 1 hour trip to Blooming Hill Farm. They have a heavenly farm stand.  Let me reiterate: HEAVENLY!  It’s a beautiful farm with beautiful and abundant produce.  They also have eggs, non-homogenized milk, cheese, freshly baked breads, the list goes on.  On top of that, they have a little cafe area where a chef prepares simple fare (frittatas, pizza) with the bounty from the farm.  It was on one of these trips that I picked up everything that went into this soup.  I can’t deny that I get a sense of utter joy knowing that my entire dinner (or breakfast or lunch) came from an organic farm 1 hour away from where I live.  We’re very lucky.

So, while parsnips are busy intimidating some cooks, they’re also intimidating to inflammation and cancer thanks to the anti-oxidants they have.  They are good sources of Vitamin C (another more famous anti-oxidant and water soluble vitamin), rich sources of the B-complex vitamins, especially folic acid (pregnant mamas, take note!) as well as a number of minerals.  According to Rebecca Katz, “ounce for ounce, boiled parsnips have about 31% as much calcium as milk”.¹ (Great for vegans and vegetarians and any lactose-intolerant peeps to know.  There are MANY non-animal sources of calcium!)  Lastly, parsnips are another wonderful source of dietary fiber which is necessary for a healthy gut and colon.

A quick note before we get to the recipe.  Parsnips are quite bold in flavor and can easily take over any dish.  I used fingerling potatoes and the herbs as a way to balance the parsnips out.  I think you’ll love it!

You’ll need:

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 1/2 lbs. parsnips, roughly chopped (I had 3 large ones that came to about that.)

3-4 medium fingerling potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 C)

a Bouquet Garni of 3 sprigs parsley, 3-4 sage leaves and 1 bay leaf, tied between 2, 3″ pcs of celery

8 C water or vegetable stock (I used water and a low-sodium vegetarian bouillon this time.)

1/4 C rolled oats

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 T lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

For the croutons:

6 small slices of your favorite bread, large dice

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Dried herb of choice (basil or oregano or thyme are delish:)

Sea salt, to taste

To make:

1.  In a medium or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 5 minutes before adding celery and carrots.  Season with sea salt.

2. When mire poix (remember that’s the onion, celery and carrots in a 50/25/25 ratio) is tender, add parsnips and potatoes and season again with a little salt.  Deglaze with a 1/4 C of the water or stock and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

3.  When all those veg are sufficiently mixed together, add the water/stock and the bouquet garni.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low, add rolled oats and partially cover.

4.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until the parsnips and potatoes are very tender.  Remove the bouquet garni and take saucepan off the heat to settle for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, set up your blender and have a kitchen towel handy.

(While the soup is cooking, you can get the croutons going.  Place the croutons on a sheet pan, drizzle olive oil evenly on bread, then add herbs and salt.  Toss to coat evenly.  Place sheet pan in the oven at 325° for 10-15 minutes, checking often to make sure croutons don’t burn.  Toss when necessary.  Alternatively, you could toast them stovetop but placing the croutons in a sauté pan and cooking over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.)

5.  One ladleful at a time, carefully place hot soup in an even amount of veg and liquid into the blender.  Blend on high until ultra creamy.  Repeat this process until the soup is done.  Be sure to use the hand towel to hold the lid of the blender because the steam will lift the lid.

6.  Return the soup to the saucepan and place over low heat.  Add the lemon juice and let warm for a couple of minutes.  Do a last minute check on flavor and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

7.  Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with fresh, warm, crunchy croutons!

8.  Enjoy!

¹ Rebecca Katz, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Autumn’s Chili

Serves 6

The chilly breeze of autumn has brought with it many cravings for fall’s foods.  The oven’s been on baking and roasting a few times already and soups and stews have already made appearances at the dinner table.  This particular dish is a favorite.  And, it’s not just because it’s delicious and wholly satisfying (it’s both to the nth degree), but because it is unassuming, too.  It seems time consuming, but it isn’t.  It seems spicy, but that part is up to you.  It seems hearty and meaty; it is and it isn’t.  This is one dish that even my most ardent carnivore friends would forgive for not having ANY animal protein in it, as they ask for seconds.  They’ve even confessed that meat would “ruin” THIS chili.  I’m not going to argue with that. We like this one just the way it is.

It should be noted that I have no problem with meat.  Check out my Grass-fed Burger recipe if you don’t believe me.  I just don’t think that meat needs to be part of EVERY meal and we have so many options when it comes to animal protein that it’s nice to have an alternative if you choose to forgo meat once in a while.  I’m not espousing vegetarianism, I am afterall a recovering vegetarian, but there are several health merits to reducing your meat consumption while increasing vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.  Enter, Chili!

What’s most special about this particular version is the use of real red chili peppers.  (When I’m in a pinch, I often add a pinch of cayenne or use red pepper flakes.)  Despite the fact that peppers are a notorious nightshade, (see Late Summer Ratatouille for more on that), this little pepper has several health benefits, too.  Peppers are famous for their capsaicin, that wonderful little quality that gives peppers its pungence and heat.   It’s also responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects it has on the body.  “Red chili peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots.”¹  Those are few good pluses for our cardiovascular system!  Peppers are also loaded with beta carotene which helps boost immunity.  Remember that goody, “eat the rainbow”, well red is a good place to start!  Eating these spicy gems will clear your congestion and benefit your gut by killing bacteria that may be hanging around.

Remember that peppers and tomatoes are nightshades and should be balanced with a bit of dairy (not to mention it’s a bit cooling and is a nice contrast to the heat) so be sure to add that dollop of sour cream or some shredded cheddar.  Your taste buds won’t argue with either!

You’ll need:

3/4 C kidney beans, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced (Use of seeds is entirely at your discretion, but be cautious because the heat sneaks up on you!)

1 largish carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 t paprika

2 T tomato paste

3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced

1 bay leaf

1 C butternut squash, medium dice (You’ll have plenty leftover!)

8 C water or vegetable stock

2-3 T fresh herb of choice, rough chop (Cilantro is my default herb here, but parsley, sage or basil all work wonderfully here, too!)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Creme fraiche or sour cream for garnish

To make:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook onions for about 5 minutes until softened and then add garlic.  Cook for 3 more minutes.

2. Add chili pepper, carrots, celery and paprika and cook for another 3-4 minutes and then add tomato paste.  The tomato paste will serve to deglaze the goodies that have been cooking.

3. Add tomatoes, stir and cook for another few minutes.  Finally, add kidney beans, bay leaf and water or stock.  Cook the chili over medium heat for about 45 minutes.  Half way through the cooking, add the butternut squash.

4. The chili is done when the beans are soft.  Add the herb of your choice and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.  (I didn’t have either so I topped with an avocado creme and shredded cheddar.  Yum, yum!)

5. Enjoy!  With a thick piece of sour dough bread or a baguette and you’ll enjoy 2 times as much!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=29

Trick for Treat

By Guest Writer:  Sophia Lambrakis

Click photo for credit:)

You need to pay now to party later.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and The Holidays are just around the corner, and they each bring with them their own share of calorie-packed treats and gut-busting goodies. And while the uninhibited merry-making is certainly a pleasure for the soul, the body is a little bit less forgiving. By January 1st, most of us get on the scale with a gripping sense of panic and regret. The mirth and cheer are quickly replaced by retribution in the form of sobering resolutions.  But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

With a little preparation now, in early autumn, we can allow ourselves to give in to the approaching decadence, guilt free. You see, our systems don’t work that well on the principle of “enjoy now, pay later.”  They respond much better to prepaid credit, if you will. Treat your body well ahead of time, and you will reap the benefits later, despite the occasional indulgence. The more credit you purchase in advance, the more permissive you can be, before it’s time to reload, again.

One of the best ways to recharge your system and give it the boost it needs to take you through the winter is body detoxification. What are the signs that you are ripe for a good detox? Well, do you often feel fatigued, heavy, achy, lethargic, ill, and/or forgetful?  Then, chances are your body has accumulated more harmful toxins than it can reasonably process and eliminate. And that’s pretty easy in today’s world. Thanks to CO2 emissions in the air we breathe,  heavy metals in our water, arsenic in our apples and rice, pesticides and dioxins in our fruits and vegetables, growth-hormones and antibiotics in our meats, and BPA in our food containers and homes –just to name a few of the culprits (!!!) – it’s no wonder we feel lousy!

Luckily, a good dose of detoxification is all it takes to ease your overworked liver, kidneys, gut and skin, and cleanse your system of a myriad of harmful contaminants. That way, when the holiday season begins, you can enjoy it with a clean body, a clear conscience, and a couple of extra ‘brownie points’.

There are a number of meal plans and rules you can follow to create a detox course that is best suited for your individual needs. But, generally speaking, a good cleansing plan should be carried out for at least two weeks and should include whole, organic, unprocessed, unrefined (animal-free) foods served in smaller than usual portions, and, no doubt,  lots of filtered water. One of the dishes I often turn to during my autumn detox is a miso soup variation (*recipe below) that is as hearty as it is beneficial. A large pot (sans the miso paste and barley) will keep for several days in the fridge. Just warm a bowl, add miso and barley to your liking, and enjoy!

Hearty Miso Soup (with Pearl Barley)

NOTE: Miso is a thick, fermented paste that contains a significant amount of beneficial bacteria which help promote health by stimulating digestion and aiding the body to build resistance against disease. Since it is considered a living food, it’s important to never cook miso or allow it to come to a boil. Instead, be sure to add it to foods that are already prepared.

4 cups Dashi (see recipe below)

1 cup water

2 tsp oil (sesame or olive)

2 carrots (peeled and cut into matchsticks)

1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger

3-6 mushrooms (preferably shiitake, either fresh or reconstituted, and sliced thin)

1 cup spinach (fresh or frozen)

2 scallion (sliced thinly on the diagonal)

2- 3 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp shoyu or tamari

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Grated fresh ginger (optional)

OPTIONAL:

½ cup cooked pearl barley (prepared in a separate pot according to package directions)

Directions

  1. Sauté ginger, carrots and mushrooms in a large pot with 2 tsp oil. (About 3-4 minutes)
  2. Add water to pot. Bring to a boil, then add dashi.
  3. Allow to simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add spinach and simmer another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Add scallions, miso that has been mixed with some water, and shoyu.
  5. Season with red pepper flakes.
  6. Enjoy soup plain or add cooked barley for a heartier meal.

Dashi

Note: Makes 8 cups. Dashi is a basic Japanese stock used to make many soups including traditional Miso soup.

1 square piece kombu  (3×3 inches)

8 cups water

1 loose cup bonito flakes

Directions

  1. Put kombu in a large pot, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Set the pot over medium heat until small bubbles form around the sides of the pan, 9 – 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the kombu from the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Reserve the kombu and bonito flakes for another use.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Use within 1 week refrigerated or freeze for up to 1 month.

Sophia Lambrakis is a writer, a chef and a nutritional consultant.  She lives and cooks in Salzburg, Austria.

P.S. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m making this version of miso soup today and racking up some credit!  Good luck and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (guayagourmet@gmail.com) or leave a comment.  Thanks!  (Love, Nathalie and Claire Berlin)

Simple Spring Minestrone

Yields 6 servings

I was in a bit of bind a few days ago when it came time for dinner.  My daughter had a doctor’s appointment and then her/our very first play date.  Usually dinner is on the stove by 9am, just in case the day escapes me, like this day did.  So, we got home and I opened the fridge and let my right brain win the battle.  My left brain knew I needed to boost immunity (for my daughter as well) and I often think of soup when I think of boosting immunity.  But the left brain makes making soup complicated, so enter the right brain.

As long as you have mire poix (onions, carrots and celery) in the fridge you’re good to go.  I took those out along with the fennel and parsley and got to cutting.  Instead of making 1/4″ dice for the mire poix (yes, I love to practice my knife skills) I chose bigger more decorative cuts since these would be the stars of the soup.  Read on to see how this improvised soup came to life.

There are many variations of this Italian soup, but one thing is constant:  tomatoes.  Tomatoes are now famous for their abundance of the anti-oxidant lycopene.  However, they are crazy abundant in MANY anti-oxidants, including the more common Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta carotene.  They’re also off the charts when it comes to their phytonutrient content.  Tomatoes are stellar performers when it comes to our cardiovascular health; they have been linked to reduced heart disease risk, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  And they have anti-carcinogenic properties!  Wow, tomato!  (There is such a thing as too much of a good thing however, so before you OD on them, make sure you eat them in a balanced way, i.e. cooked and raw and with other foods and varying spices and herbs.)

Oh, and yes I am aware this is the second minestrone I put up on these pages, but it is just such a simple and delicious soup that can be adapted for every season.  Trust me, this one should be a staple.

What I had:

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1/2″)

2 medium carrots, chopped (about 1/2″ rounds)

2 celery stalks, cut on bias (about 1/4″)

1 small fennel, diced (about 1/4″)

1/2 t dried oregano

1 15oz can of whole tomatoes with juices (I used half of a San Marzano can), diced

1/2 C short grain brown rice, rinsed

1 veggie bouillon, (no salt added)

1 1″ piece of kombu

6 C water (or if using veg stock, omit the bouillon)

a handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved or grated

Sea salt, to taste

How I made it:

1.  Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes until tender.  Add carrots, celery and oregano and cook for 5-7 more minutes until very fragrant and tender.

2.  Add tomatoes with juices and then add rice.  Let cook and simmer together for a few minutes just to let the flavors get acquainted.  Add bouillon and water and partially cover.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes until the rice is done and soup is a bit thicker in texture.

3. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with shaved Parmigiano and parsley.  Serve with some country bread.  (Of course not all that bread in pic above was for me!)

4. Enjoy, enjoy!

Carrot Fennel Soup

Serves 6

This is one of only 2 recipes that I don’t adapt, change, or alter in any way simply because it is so delish as is!  (Except that I eyeball amounts for everything instead of measuring…it’s a soup thing!)  It’s such a refreshing departure from the overused Carrot Ginger Soup.  Of course that one is quite delicious too, but it seems no one cooks carrot soup any other way these days!

I came across this recipe while working for a client.  She loved this soup so much, she even ate it for breakfast!  Rebecca Katz’s cookbook, “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen”, is a wonderful cookbook for everyone.  I have used several of her recipes in my own kitchen and have adapted many depending on who I’m cooking for.  But, leave this one alone.  I highly doubt anything can make this one better.

Fennel is a lovely, if peculiar looking, vegetable.  It’s delicious raw, pickled, sautéed, braised, you name it.  It is a digestive aid and is anti-inflammatory, thanks to its unique phytonutrients.  Anethole, a specific phytonutrient, has been linked to reducing inflammation and the occurrence of cancer.  Fennel also boasts high levels of Vitamin C (yay, more anti-oxidant power), fiber (think healthy colon and lower cholesterol) and folate (a good choice for you pregnant mamas).  It’s also a good source of potassium.

I just get so excited when something SO delicious is SO good for you, too!

You’ll need:

2-3 T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1C)

1 medium fennel, chopped (about 1C)

3 lbs. carrots, cut in 1″pcs (OK, I don’t think I ever used exactly 3 lbs.  1 big bunch of carrots ought to be enough)

Zest from 1 orange

1/4 t ground cumin

1/8 t ground cinnamon

1/8 t ground allspice

7 C water or vegetable stock

1-2 T freshly squeezed orange juice

2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sea salt, to taste

To make:

1.  In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and fennel with a  pinch of sea salt and sauté until tender and fragrant.  Add the carrots, orange zest and spices and another pinch of salt and sauté until combined well.

2.  Add about 1/2 C of water/stock and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the rest of the water.  Cook until carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

3. Let cool a tiny bit.  Ladle one cup at a time into a blender and blend until creamy.  Be sure to hold the lid down with a dish towel or the steam will send your soup all over the kitchen.  Repeat until the soup is completely creamy.  (I prefer to use a blender as opposed to an immersion blender because I have more control over the consistency of the soup.)

4. Return the creamy soup to the pot over low heat and add the orange juice and lemon juice.  Heat for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors.

5. Enjoy!  (We love this soup paired with The Ultimate Grilled Cheese.)