Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nutritious Spring Soups

As we start to see gorgeous spring vegetables such as sweet new carrots, fresh asparagus, green garlic, turnips, spinach, kale and Swiss chard crop up at the market, it's easy to get excited about all the spring soup possibilities. And, if you have prepared your stocks in advance, a delicious meal is only a few minutes away. 

Use these base ingredients and add the vegetable(s) of your choice:
2-3 T Ghee or olive oil
1 Onion chopped and 2 shallots
1-2 Leeks chopped
Minced fresh ginger
1-2 cloves garlic
Health Enhancing Broth:  Homemade chicken, bone or vegetable stock – make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it in quart containers. (see recipes below)
¼ c. cream, coconut milk or a dollop of crème fraiche (optional)
Vegetables: asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower and potatoes, beets, peas, turnips (about 1 ½ lbs for 4 cups of soup)
3-4 scallions sauted in ghee or oilive oil
Parsley
Salt & pepper

Directions: Caramelize onions, leeks and garlic in ghee, add 2 quarts stock (chicken, bone or vegetable), add fresh vegetables, simmer for 30 minutes or until tender and then puree. Add sauteed scallions and parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste. An option is to add cream, coconut cream or a dollop of crème fraiche to boost the body.

Health Enhancing Bone Broth
There is nothing better for your health or immune system than homemade stocks. 
Begin with these basic ingredients:
1 chicken (organic or free-range) or
2 - 5 pounds of bony parts such as necks, backs, feet, chicken or turkey carcass
You can also use beef marrow bones 
2 Tablespoons vinegar (any kind)
1 - 3 ribs of celery (optional)
1 - 3 large onions (optional)
1 - 4 medium carrots (plus tops)
1 head of garlic (just toss it in whole!) (optional)
several slices of fresh ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bunch parsley (to add last 20 min of cooking)
1 - 1 1/2 Tablespoon(s) sea salt (to add last 2- min. of cooking)
For a supreme immune broth add 1 ginseng root and 3-4 pieces of astragalus

Cover chicken with filtered water in large stainless steel pot, add vinegar, and bring to a boil, reduce heat, skim off any foam that surfaces, cover, and simmer on lowest setting, for 12 - 24 hours. The longer you cook the broth, the more flavorful and the more it will be chock full of valuable minerals and nutrients.

If you use a whole chicken, take the chicken off the bone as soon as tender, storing the meat in the fridge and put the bones, fat, and skin back in the pot to continue simmering.

20 minutes before the bone broth finishes cooking, add fresh parsley (for additional mineral ions) and salt.  Strain and store in 1 quart containers (1 week in the fridge or freeze). Use anytime you need stock for soup or recipe that calls for stock, water, liquid -- excellent for stir fry.

Perfect Vegetable Broth
This rich, full-bodied stock tastes similar to a light chicken stock and can be used in any soup recipe to enrich the flavor. Avoid cabbage, beets, or broccoli. If you have time and want a richer flavor, roast the vegetables before adding them.
Basic Ingredients:
1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
2 large yellow onion, quartered
2-3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2-3 celery stalks (including leaves), coarsely chopped
Leaks, mushrooms, shallots, scallions, fennel (optional)
8 quarts water
6 large potatoes
6 garlic cloves, left unpeeled, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bunch coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt 

Heat the oil in the stock pot and add the onion and celery. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water. Thoroughly scrub the potatoes and peel them thickly. Add the potato peels to the stock; save the potatoes for another use. Add the garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Add salt and parsley during last 20 minutes.
Strain the stock, pressing against the solids with the back of a spoon. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 or 4 days. Freeze in 1 qt. containers for a month.

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