Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup || amayawrites

This soup is so versatile, so clean, and so soothing on cold winter days. Let’s talk about all the parts, and then I’ll tell you how I made my most recent batch (it changes every time!). The list below is definitely pick and choose, mix and match, so go wild!

The base: chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, water

The protein: roasted chicken, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, kidney beans, Italian meatballs

The vegetables: kale, bok choy, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, spinach

The flavorings: Thyme, cilantro, oregano, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, coconut milk, curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, parsley, red or white wine

The toppings (just before serving): fresh herbs, bread, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh pepper, Siracha or Tabasco, sliced hard boiled eggs

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawrites

Isn’t this napkin too cute? My sister in law made a set for every holiday!

Instructions:

It’s important to chop vegetables to roughly equal sizes to ensure proper cooking. Cubed is best for most soups, unless you have a sore throat.

Put broth, flavorings, firm vegetables (carrots, potatoes, kale) and protein in a Crockpot on Low.

After 3-4 hours on Low, add soft vegetables (tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, etc.) and more flavoring to taste.

After 2-3 more hours on Low (6-7 hours total), check for doneness. Potatoes and beans should be soft, kale should be wilted, onions should be transparent, and the other vegetables should be cooked but not falling apart.

My soup today has chicken broth, roasted chicken, lentils, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. I will probably top it with Parmesan cheese. This has a pretty neutral flavor profile.

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawritesSome other options include:

Curry stew: any base, any vegetables, potatoes, any protein, curry powder, red pepper flakes, coconut milk

Italian Wedding Soup: any base, Italian meatballs, spinach, celery, onions, garlic, carrots, parsley, grated Parmesan cheese

Cold-busting Chicken Soup: chicken broth, roasted chicken, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawritesI hope you enjoy this recipe!

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

I have had a hankering for Asian food this year. Back in Spokane, there was a delicious restaurant called Taste of Thai that I may have eaten at twice a month last fall.

Now that I am home, there are many less spontaneous Asian food runs. But I still get my fix with these spring rolls, which I eat almost every day for lunch. To be honest, the “fix” is for peanut sauce, but I can’t just eat that with a spoon now, can I?

Once a week, I make a big bowl of vegetable “coleslaw”. For my simple tastes, I just toss red cabbage, bell pepper, and cilantro. You may enjoy adding hot peppers, lettuce, tofu, carrots, pork, shrimp, avocado, jicama, radish, cucumbers, and other herbs. When farmer’s markets open again, this would be a great recipe to help you shop the season and use fresh produce.

To soften the rice paper, just run it under cold water and let it rest on a plate. In a few minutes, it’ll be pliable and ready for fillings. No soaking required!

And talk about budget-friendly! Even in the winter, the vegetables for these rolls only cost about $5. The package of rice paper wrapping will last about a month and is $4.

This is a great recipe for clean-eating, too. The vegetables are raw, high in water, fiber, and vitamins, and low in fat. I don’t feel guilty dressing it up with peanut sauce or chili garlic sauce. And if you don’t like messing around with rice paper, this “slaw” goes great on top of rice noodles or in a vegetable-based soup.

It’s easy for me to ignore or snack my way through lunch, but as part of my vision for 2015, I am committing to putting time into making food that I enjoy. Do you like lunch, or could you pass on it?

My Five Favorite Kitchen Goodies

Most of you know that I recently graduated and I am now living at home in Colorado Springs. As I was laying in bed yesterday, it was still hard to believe that I won’t ever have to relocate or live alone again!

One of my favorite things about being home is getting back to cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef by any means. I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’m still learning what spices do what, and I didn’t grow up with heirloom recipes, like cookies or casseroles. I recently tried to bake yeast bread, but instead I discovered three ways to bake bricks. But I still love it. My kitchen is my favorite place in the house, and part of the charm are my favorite appliances lining my counter space.

1. Kitchenaid Mixer

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

I was NOT expecting to have this until after the wedding, but on Christmas day Ben put a heavy box on my lap and this was in it. In red. I am still learning how to use it to its full potential, but just as an example of how it’s already changing my life, I made waffles the other morning and even put in the effort to whip the egg whites.

2. Bialleti Moka ExpressMoka Pot

I make coffee with this every morning for a rich, dark brew that I mix with equal parts almond milk. With fresh grounds, it even produces a small amount of crema. To keep my pot newer longer, I boil my water in my kettle first, then put it in the bottom chamber. That way, the actual Moka pot spends a lot less time on direct heat, and I don’t have to wait as long for the coffee.

3. CrockpotCrockpot

The “-riginal” slow cooker! We really love our crockpot to death for making whole chickens and roasts. My basic recipe is four quartered potatoes, half an onion, diced, four cloves of garlic, minced, and half a cup of liquid (either water or a splash of whatever wine is open). Last year, I made coq au vin in the Crockpot and it turned out fantastic.

4. Immersion BlenderImmersion Blender

I make a smoothie many times a week. For single servings, this immersion blender is perfect because I don’t have to rinse out a big blender pitcher (don’t you hate how those little berry seeds stick to the sides?). This has also been valuable for blending parakeet food (more on how we care for our birds later).

5. Olive Oil MisterOil Mister

We received this vaporizer as a gift from our real estate agent. Just a few pumps and it produces a nice, even spray of our own olive oil, great for browning onions, lining a baking pan, or separating pasta

I hope you enjoyed this list and that it inspired you to take a grateful survey of your favorite things around your house. What are you must-have kitchen items?