With the change in weather imminent, if not already happening, we all feel the need for some healthy, filling and warm foods. These recipes are a special favorite if you are in search of something warm and delicious to serve your family. And there is little more inviting than walking into from a cold or snowy or rainy or dark day to a home filled with tantalizing aromas, with something bubbling on the stove top, just waiting for the whole family to sit down and enjoy.
Orange Vegetable Soup
This recipe isn’t written anywhere and doesn’t have a name per se, only what I refer to it as in my own head. I made this one up over time and out of necessity. If you have fussy, picky and hard to feed children, this soup is a great way to ensure that you get almost all the important vegetables, vitamins, and protein into their system in as painless a way as possible, and with just a minimum of time input from you, the cook. Do not cut the vegetables in advance. Cook with them as soon as they are cut; once they have been sliced open, the vitamins in them start to ‘leak out’.
I call this soup “Orange Vegetable Soup” because the vast majority of what goes into it are vegetables from the orange colored families. The deeper the vegetable’s color, the more vitamins it has in it. By adding in the legumes (chickpeas, etc), you have automatically loaded this soup with the major food groups of both vegetables and protein. If your fussy little ones won’t eat anything after soup except for some fruit or noodles, you can relax knowing they got the nutrition they really needed from your soup. For this reason I always serve it first, when they are most starving; it goes down much quicker since it hits them at their hungriest time, and I know that the most important part of the meal has gotten in there somehow. Of course, I still have to resort to soup nuts/croutons and playing ‘airplane’ at times, but it works most of the time.
NOTE: The fresher the legumes and veggies are, the more vitamins they have in them. Dried chickpeas or fresh or even fresh frozen green beans have more of a health benefit than the canned versions.)
A word of caution when serving hot soup:
Keep pots away from edges of counters and never bring the hot pot to the table. Watch for crawling babies on the floor and it’s best to spoon out the soup onto the waiting bowls on the counter about 10 minutes before serving. It has a chance to cool off naturally this way so that if it spills, it won’t hurt anyone. After it’s in bowls, then you can bring it all to the table quickly, without turning your back on what’s happening at the table. If you are reheating a frozen soup, always reheat it to the boiling point. If you heat only partway, you run the risk of bacteria growing in the lukewarm soup. Boiling kills off any of these kinds of germs. That’s why I like the ice cube trick; if I have such a hot soup and didn’t have a chance to serve it out before everyone sat down, putting an ice cube in cools it off so the kids can eat right away.
All the soups listed here make enough to feed about 10 people, even hungry ones. If you have a smaller sized family, after everyone has eaten you can either keep it for the next night, or freeze off half of it so the following week you will have a soup ready without the work. I do this very frequently; I also recommend doing it when expecting a baby. If you put away several such soups in the freezer before the birth then afterwards, when you are too tired or overworked to cook, you will have the basis of a healthy, nutritious meal by just pulling a soup out of the freezer and reheating it.
- 1 large onion
- 2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 of each color pepper available to you; green, red, orange, yellow
- 4 carrots
- 2 to 3 ripe or overripe tomatoes
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 regular potato
- 1 cup chickpeas, peas, or green beans
- 1 large chunk of fresh pumpkin or butternut squash
- small handful of fresh dill and parsley OR 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ Tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Water to cover all vegetables in pot
- Saute onion for a few minutes in the oil;
- Chop up all the peppers, add to pot and continue to saute for another 10 minutes while you are peeling and washing off the rest of the vegetables.
- Cut the carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes into chunks and toss into the pot. (Since this soup will be pureed completely at the end, you don’t need to take the extra time to make pretty or small pieces. )
- Cover with water and set on stovetop on high to start to boil
- Add in the chickpeas or beans (or both if you really want!) and the rest of the vegetables.
- Add the spices, and cover with water until one inch below the top of the pot to leave room for it to boil and bubble.
- Let it heat until it is boiling rapidly; then turn down the heat and leave it to simmer for 1 ½ – 3 hours, depending on your time and schedule. The soup is cooked after 1 ½ hours, but it is forgiving and the extra time won’t harm.
Now for the fussy-kid-friendly part of this recipe: At this point the soup is soft enough to be pureed. I use an immersion blender for this part; I find them to be an absolutely invaluable tool for the kitchen, especially in soup making. To puree completely, simply insert the hand blender into the soup and blend until the whole thing is completely smooth. Just be careful to insert the blender completely into the soup until the bottom of the pot before turning it on! For the same token, don’t take it out until you have first turned it off, otherwise you will be cleaning up splatter from you, your stovetop and your cabinets. The soup is ready to serve and eat. Watch out; it smells amazing while it’s cooking and is very tasty. Maybe you won’t have enough…
And here’s another nice soup recipe that is also sure to please a hungry crowd…
Savory Minestrone Squash Soup
- 2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 1 each light green, red and orange peppers, diced
- ½ head red cabbage, sliced
- ½ small head white cabbage, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled (this can be done easily with any ordinary vegetable peeler, it’s especially easy with the Israeli kind of peelers) and cut into small chunks
- 2 overripe tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups green beans, canned or frozen
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon basil
- Small bunch fresh parsley
- Small bunch fresh dill
- ½ cup barley OR ½ cup any shaped small pasta (“petitim” in Hebrew)
- Layer onions and peppers in the bottom of the pan with oil.
- Start to sauté while layering in the cabbages and the rest of the vegetables.
- Add in the ketchup and all the seasonings.
DON’T add in pasta or barley just yet.
- Cover the soup with water and start to heat until it boils.
- Turn down flame and leave to simmer for 2 hours
- Place an immersion blender into the soup and puree for only a few seconds; Do not puree completely or the soup will lose its chunky texture. Pureeing just a bit adds flavor and richness to a soup.
- Remove blender and add barley and/or noodles.
- Let it simmer another 15 minutes if you add noodles; another 45 minutes if you chose to add barley. It has a beautiful presentation when served, and is loaded with all sorts of great, healthy, natural ingredients.
Pumpkins abound at this time of year, are so good and packed with vitamins. I’ve found that pumpkins can lend themselves to all sorts of great recipe ideas, not just pies. The large kind of pumpkins that people use to carve is NOT what is good in food. The smaller American ones are sweeter and tastier; those are what should be used in this recipe. In Israel, the pumpkin that is sold in chunks in most vegetable stores works amazingly well. It is cut off of a very very large pumpkin (DaLaat, in Hebrew) and it is so tasty.
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3 cups finely ground whole wheat flour
- 1 cup regular whole wheat flour or more of the finely ground
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ cups light brown sugar OR organic unrefined sugar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup any color raisins
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin, mashed and drained
- 2/3 cup soy or rice milk (you can use water if you don’t have this on hand)
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites into the mixer.
- Beat the whites until they are snowy and white
- Turn the mixer down to medium.
- Add the yolks, oil, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon.
- Turn the mixer down a tad more and add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, soy milk/water and syrup.
- Turn off the mixer and raise the beater so it can drip off into your bowl.
- Quickly toss the raisins in a small bowl with another 2 Tbsp of any kind of flour. TIP: tossing raisins into flour prevents it from sinking to the bottom of whatever muffin, cake or baked item you are making.
- Add raisins to the batter in the bowl, along with the pumpkin and the optional nuts.
- To create a nice, easy topping, put about ½ cup dark or light brown sugar in a bowl, along with 2-3 Tbsp cinnamon. Toss together with a spoon and sprinkle over muffin batter right before they go into the oven.
- Spoon batter into muffin trays lined with muffin liners (in Israel I used size 4 for large muffins, size 2 for mini ones) about ¾ of the way full, a bit more if you like large tops on them.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to see if a sharp knife or toothpick inserted into one muffin’s center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven immediately after it tests clean so they will not dry out.
- Cool in the tray for five minutes, then on wire racks until cold.
These are so good straight out of the oven. If you don’t ruin your secret of whole wheat, none of your kids, or even your teenagers, will ever know the difference. And they freeze great well.
Have a warm and safe winter! Kol tuv until next time,
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let’s Say Amen!, an illustrated children’s book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as lots of fun tips, forums and other recipes. She occasionally accepts speaking engagements overseas and lives in Jerusalem with her family.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.