Chicken Soup with Chickpeas & Za’atar

It’s October, while we still haven’t turned on the furnace, there’s definitely a chill in the air, and it feels great to wear a sweater.  My sister came over to play cards last night, actually we needed to practice as we’re having a card night with friends later this week, and we haven’t played since the spring.  We played Kings Corners, which is fun, strategic, and frustrating, which for me is the perfect card game.  For supper I decided to make soup in celebration of autumn, along with a simple cheese & veggie flatbread.

I wanted to make Posole, because of a dream I’d had recently.  After explaining to anyone who wanted to hear (in my dream) that a bowl of heated dirt was not, in fact, true Posole, I awoke wanting to make the real thing.  But living on an island, we can’t always go out and buy things like Hominy & the right Chilies. Staring into my pantry, I spotted jars of Za’atar and Sumac, and my brain clicked into place, so I grabbed them as well as smoked paprika and a tin of chickpeas.  With a great chicken stock ready, and a chicken breast in the freezer, I knew that they would come together to make a hearty soup.

The meal started with a small dish of Baba Ghanoush and some sweet potato crackers, along with a yummy Sangiovese. Next up was the soup with the flatbread.  The soup had so much flavour, with a deep broth, full of chickpeas, carrots, and pulled chicken.  Not a huge meal, but an absolutely perfect Card Night supper.

Enjoy making this soup, as it is fragrant and warming, and follows all the methods for a delicious braised meal. Note that the mix I use for Za’atar follows.   Continue reading

Hot & Sour Soup

IMG_8778One of our family’s favourite soups is Hot & Sour Soup, slightly spicy, sweet & sour with just a few ingredients; this is perfect for a light meal. There are some additions that do make it more authentic, but even this very basic version makes for a very happy meal. I can remember many busy school nights when this was served, always leaving us satisfied! Continue reading

Oxtail Soup


IMG_5318 The first time we went in to pick up beef from the butcher, he asked if we’d like the licker, the flicker, or the ticker.  We stood looking at him like a couple of newbies.  I’m not sure if he actually rolled his eyes, but probably somewhere in his head he was.

The tongue, the tail, or the heart.  Not having had much experience with any of them, we opted for the least embarassing, and said, “yes please.”

So started my fascination with slow braising of the most intensely flavoured muscle meat that a beef animal has to offer.  These aren’t actually organs, they are constantly used muscles, tough because of their use.  They pump, lick, help to swallow, and flick away flies.

The more a muscle is used, the more flavour it has.  The trick is how to get that flavour in an accessible way. In other words, without much chewing!

This soup is one of my all time favourites.  I think I was first introduced to it in a red & white labelled can.  Now it is made once or twice a year (there’s only one tail per animal).  Cook the meat, creating the stock, one day; put together the soup the next.  Take your time, no one is expecting you to rush while making a pot of soup.  Continue reading

Kale & White Bean Soup with Fresh Chorizo & Rosemary

IMG_3396The last day of this season’s Soup’s On program, we served large pots of seemingly never ending turkey vegetable soup to a crowd of friends and neighbours.  So many dropped by to get their last fix of the Soup’s On experience to last them until fall.  When we had served the last tray of sweets and the kitchen was back to its sparkling self, there was a bit of sadness that we wouldn’t be doing this for the next five months.  Of course, there was also feeling of relief as we looked forward to the next five months of living in one of the best places on earth during its summer weather.

However, when I got home that day, with the program’s finances to be balanced and the summary to be written up for our files, for some whacky reason I felt the need to make soup.  I’m sure there’s an analyst out there that could explain this to me.  Maybe it was because I hadn’t done the soup for lunch that day (I had done the baking) and felt that the day was somehow incomplete?

Or perhaps it was because that morning I’d soaked beans thinking that they’d be part of our dinner.  Well, now dinner was going to be soup.  We had a pound of fresh Chorizo sausage from Jollity Farm, and I had recently done a similar version of this for Soup’s On in early March, so started to pull it together as I worked on the accounts.  Multi-tasking doesn’t always work when cooking, but soup is very forgiving.

This so easily becomes a vegetarian soup, just leave out the sausage, and add in ½ t of dried chilies when you’re sautéing the onions.

Enjoy it like it might be the last bowl of soup you have, until the weather changes next fall. Continue reading

Pea Soup with Ham

IMG_2734A hearty bowl of pea soup can turn a day around.  Working outside during the month of February can be bone chilling cold.  We do get the odd “day lent”, when the sun pours down and reminds us of the spring that’s right around the corner.  Usually though, it’s wet with the occasional snow flurry.  The ground is saturated with a winter’s worth of rain, and it’s the perfect time to pound in fence posts before the ground dries up for another year.  Wire to be stretched, staples to be hammered, all working towards a hard day’s work.  When we come into the kitchen, and know that we are about to have a hearty bowl of soup, we feel looked after, cossetted even.

This is so easy to make, and the vegan version is great as well.  Enjoy big bowls full with fresh scones on the side as a fabulous supper.  You’ll be glad we’re in the depths of winter.

Continue reading