Unforgettable Navy Bean Soup

THE MEMORABLE BEAN!
BEANS are the most undervalued food item. Although the bean is a complex carb. like bread and starches, it feels right at home in the veggie group and holds its own in the protein group. The miraculous bean has little or no fat and is cholesterol-free. In fact the bean actually lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body.  Garlic, rosemary and thyme gives this soup that unmistakable ~unforgettable ~  flavour!

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Café de La Paix, Toronto,ON

The first time I had navy bean soup was at the Colonnade on Bloor Street in Toronto. I was a teenager and I took the subway to the Cumberland Street stop and headed off to the Colonnade. After window shopping and buying a retro 20’s hat with a matching long silk scarf that morning, it was time for lunch at my oasis. I was relieved to get off my feet and settled in to enjoy my bean soup. Good times. The hat shop is gone along with the quaint cafe. But, the memories remain.  I am sharing with you my most favorite, unforgettable memories of a  sumptuous soup. Today, we celebrate the glorious bean!

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NAVY BEAN SOUP Unforgettable

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Navy beans, dry
  • 1 Onion, Large
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 5 Stalks Celery
  • 5 Carrots
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil (or Avocado oil)
  • 5 cups home-made chicken stock* (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp Rosemary, dried ~ or ~
    (1 Rosemary sprig ( 6-7 inches ), large fresh sprig)
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme, dried or 1 tsp fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper (fresh ground)
  • 1½ Tsp Fresh Ground Salt (Kosher or sea salt)

Meat Lovers
Optional – add  diced bacon or cooked sausage rounds during or after the cooking process for that meaty flavour.

Organic Rosemary, Garlic and Thyme

* the ratio of stock and water needs to add up to 7 cups. If you don’t have enough stock add more water. Your stock may be very concentrated and rich and you may need to adjust the ratio. Use your good judgement.
Substitution: If you don’t want to use carrots and celery replace them with 4 cups of sliced yellow onions about 3 more onions. It now becomes a Tuscany navy bean soup.
Not enough carrots? If you only have 2 carrots in the frig. add one onion in place of the 3 additional required carrots. The same applies to the celery.navy_beans

Soaking Navy Beans. The water collects carbohydrates from the beans.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the navy beans for  3 hours. Change the water frequently ~ discards the carbohydrates in the ‘soaking’ water. Carbs make your beans become the “magical fruit”.)
  2. Mince the garlic, dice the onion(s), chop the celery, pepper and carrots.
  3. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil in the pot (dutch oven). After the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and red pepper and sauté another minute or two.
  4. Add the rinsed navy beans, stock, water, smoked paprika, bay leaf, fresh ground pepper and herbs to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil (boil for 10 minutes while stirring) then turn down to simmer. Total cooking time 90 minutes.
  6. Taste test to check if the beans are thoroughly cooked. Add salt. Taste again to see if you need more salt. We left the salt to the end because salt makes the beans hard.

Serves 6-8 (good for storing in glass jars & freezing)

ALTERNATE METHODS OF COOKING
For the following two methods, saute the vegetables in a fry pan with olive oil first before adding to the crock pot or pressure cooker.
bean-soup-2SLOW COOKER METHOD: Combine all of the above ingredients into the slow cooker and stir. Set to cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8 hours.
PRESSURE COOKER: Beans are a perfect match for pressure cooking. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.  Use instructions included with your p.c. model. One of my sisters is always using a pressure cooker. (She uses 2 at a time) With her engineer-like mind – it’s a given. Less work and a most efficient method. Freezer friendly for another day!  Their freezer is full of goodies (and don’t last long in the freezer either). Don’t freeze in plastic or freezer bags–use glass jars– and leave a gap of one inch at the top so the jars wont crack.
I have my mason jars ready for this one to enjoy again and again. Make it once serve it thrice ( 3 times ) is my motto!!!  Give a jar to a friend adds happiness to their day.  We are giving a whole new meaning to jar heads!  ◔‿◔  ( aha!)
HAT2FOOD TIP: Common mistakes are boiling or simmering the soup too long or too high. While simmering you should not see any bubbling at all. If you can not obtain a very low simmer then add 1/2 to 1 additional cup of water/stock.  You may want to turn off the heat for 2 minutes after the 10 minutes of boil time. Gas stoves are a favorite with chefs because the heat goes right down quickly when you reduce the flames. The best choice is a pressure cooker. If you have never used one I recommend it. It seals all the moisture inside the P.C.

The Magical Fruit!

The Magical Fruit!

THE HEALTH SMART BEAN
(1) Heart healthy  💖
(2) Nutrients: antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals
(3) Economy: Beans may be the least expensive source of protein
(4) SLOW to digest: keeps you feeling full longer and aids in weight loss
(5) FIBER: 5 to 8 grams of fiber in 3 ounces (100 grams)…prevents constipation.
(6) Reduce cancer risk: 3 cups of beans per week.
(7) Blood sugar balance: Beans digest slowly which helps keep the blood sugar balanced. At the same time reduces fatigue and irritability.
(8) PROTEIN: About 1/2 cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein. The same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.
BONUS: Beans are inexpensive. Stock up!

BEAN TIPS beans-reduce-gas

superfoodTHE NEW SUPER FOOD
Beans are  on the list of super foods. It does not get a lot of air time. More people are discovering that the lowly, often neglected bean is not only low in cost, it is high in health benefits. Protein:  1 oz chicken=1/2 cup beans.
didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW? Garbanzo beans (chick peas) are the highest in protein of all the beans. It contains Potassium, K and very high in folate. And — is over the scale in energy! —

navyHOW DID NAVY BEANS GET THEIR NAME?
With a long shelf life, navy beans became a staple on U.S. Navy vessels beginning in the mid-1800s; earning them their name that has survived the test of time. The navy bean is the same type of bean you find in tins of baked beans.

EAT BEANS THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Turkey Stock

Having that wonderful turkey dinner?
Enjoying all the luscious protein?
Then do you throw out the turkey carcass?
Please don’t! You can make liquid gold out of this!
This is not a recipe but a process.
This is what I use for chicken as well, including the rotisserie chickens that you purchase at the grocery store already pre-cooked.

You are having guests at this turkey dinner anyway.
Get them to pitch in and help.
Before the dinner, have your large stockpot ready with water and put in an onion or two, some carrots and celery.
While you are preparing dinner, put in any tough woody stems or peelings of broccoli, asparagus, the cores of cauliflowers, trimmings of mushrooms and their stems along with some water. I will often freeze these to have them ready for a stock.
Whenever you have a burner free put this stockpot on it to have it ready.
Everyone will enjoy the meal and at the end have some guests cut off all of the meat from the carcass, store that away and then put the carcass in the stockpot. Some guests can clear the table and you will be organizing the dessert plating and presentation at this time.
Cover the turkey carcass with water to at least 1 inch over the top of the bird. Cook on medium heat while you are enjoying the dessert.
After the guests have left, add more water to the cover the turkey carcass by several inches and let this simmer on low heat overnight.
In the morning, turn off the heat and strain the turkey carcass and vegetables out of the stock.
Return the stock to the pot and reduce by a half of the original volume.
Pour this into glass mason jars using a canning funnel if you have one. You can also ladle this in. Always fill to the level. below the curved section of the glass. This is very important if you are going to freeze this stock.
Let these cool to almost room temperature and then refrigerate.
The reason you do this is that you do not want to place hot items in the refrigerator next to other foods, thereby warming them up and causing bacteria to grow.
The next day, while refrigerated the stock will have jelled and will have the most incredible flavour.
When you use this as a soup base you usually have to add a minimal amount to no salt at all and it is soooooo good.
If you are not using the it in the next few days, place the jars in the freezer with the LID OFF. Just rest the lid on the glass. Tighten the lids the following day as any expansion would have been complete and the glass will not break.
Do not store them in the freezer doors as the jars can knock each other and break.

didyouknowWhy should you freeze in glass?  It is inert and will not contaminate your food. The leaching out of Bisphenonl A and Phthalates are still a concern with plastics.  Keep you and your family happy and healthy and enjoy delicious soup!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Flavour! (easy recipe)

There is  a wonderful supply of beautiful squashes, pumpkins and other  gourds available now.  Every upscale restaurant seems to have butternut squash soup on their menu.  I started experimenting with different flavours for my squash soup and liked the slight bite when I added lemongrass and ginger.  Not to mention the health benefits!  I added an apple to give this soup a lightness. And, it can easily be served before a main course without feeling too full.  It is especially good with homemade crackers (see instructions below).
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INGREDIENTS
butternut-squash-soup-ingredients4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
a 2 1/2 lb. squash,   peeled  and cubed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large apple peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger  (divided)
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
Salt and pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add onions and carrots. Cook stirring until tender and the onions translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the squash, celery, and apple and cook another 5 minutes. Add the ancho chile, 1 tablespoon of ginger, lemongrass and  pinch of salt and stir into the mixture.
3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Then ~ Reduce heat, cover and simmer another 45 minutes.
4. Add the final tablespoon of the ginger for that extra “bite” of flavour. (optional)
Puree the soup using an immersion blender right in the pot. Or, blend in batches, using a blender or food processor.
~ Add salt and pepper to taste.~
Note: If you are serving this soup to children, then you may want to leave out the “spicy” ginger.
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EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT EVERY TYPE OF SQUASH
Butternut, acorn , spaghetti, delicata and kabocha squash all belong to the winter squash family though most start to pop up at grocery store and farmer’s markets in the early fall.  Edible pumpkins also belong to this group, along with less familiar squash varieties like hubbard, turban, sweet dumpling, banana and buttercup. While each squash has its own unique taste and texture, these are versatile vegetable.  Most can be used interchangeable and they can be baked, roasted, steamed, sauteed or microwaved.   When shopping for squash, look for squash that’s firm and heavy for its size.  You may be able to buy squash that’s already peeled and cut up.  This will be more expensive than whole squash but can be a real time saver.

Shop for pumpkins grown for eating rather than carving.  These include sugar pumpkins, pie pumpkins, sweet pumpkins, cheese pumpkins and heirloom varieties.  Store winter squash in the refrigerator or in a cool dry place.  They will keep for weeks or a month or longer.

ACORN and delicata squash have edible skin and indeed much of the nutrients are just under the skin so it is advantageous to eat the skin.  Butternut squash can be peeled with a vegetable peeler. Squash with harder skin should be cooked as is and the flesh scooped out later.
SQUASH SEEDS can be scooped out before cooking and most are edible as well as nutritious.  Rinse the seeds, pat them dry and bake them with salt and olive oil at 300F (150C),  stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.  When you think of a seed having the power to grow a plant,  think of the nutrition value they can impart.

PASTA REPLACEMENT: After spaghetti squash is cooked it’s flesh can be pulled out in spaghetti-like strands. This is a wonderful no carb gluten free replacement for pasta as well as a good vegetarian filling for tacos and other dishes.
didyouknowGinger helps to reduce nausea from many causes; pregnancy, postoperative nausea and more. Ginger reduces inflammation and possibly lessen arthritis pain.  Some studies have shown that ginger was more effective that the over-the-counter drug Dramamine for treating motion sickness!

Ginger extract has been used by osteoarthritis patients to relieve pain.

 

“TASTY” GOURMET CRACKERS
I have admired the appearance and flavour of those lovely crackers on the restaurant tables.  You can buy them for a pricey sum at gourmet food shops. I decided to make my own GOURMET CRACKERS and used tortilla wrappers as well as pita bread. You can get rice tortillas at a whole foods store. Other options are whole wheat, spinach flavoured or other flavoured wraps.
DO IT YOURSELF (DIY): Slice the wraps with a knife as pictured below. Brush the wraps with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, steak seasoning, or salt, herbs (fresh or dried) and/or spices and baked at 375F for 10 minutes, these are yummy crackers for soups, dips or snacking!   Your kids will love them too!

Tortillas, pita bread, black and white sesame seeds, steak seasoning, olive oil

1. Tortillas, pita bread, black and white sesame seeds, steak seasoning, olive oil

slice into wedges

2. Slice into wedges

Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, herbs, salt or seasoning

3. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, herbs, salt or seasoning

bake at 375F for 10 minutes

4. bake at 375F for 10 minutes

 

Serve with soup, dips, snacks for just pennies a piece! Yum!

Serve with soup, dips, snacks for just pennies a piece! Yum!

Chili Recipe ~a winner

Winning Chili Recipe to Remove the Fall Chill!
Another great fall dish is chili.  We had a taste testing dinner and this was absolutely the winner!  (I have one book just devoted to chili.) This is such a versatile dish that takes well to freezing as well as serving to a crowd. chili_football  The guests can serve themselves. A great dish for those fall sports parties.  Those TRUE CHILI aficionados claim there should only be meat and no beans in chili.  What the beans do is to maintain you blood sugar at a steady even level with no spikes and you have energy for hours. A fantastic meal for diabetics.
FAST FOOD: When you have to stop at a fast food place in lieu of starving, chili is a fabulous choice.  Better than salads since these will come with dressings filled with sugar and preservatives.  I will also freeze dishes like chili in individual oven proof dishes.  When  I come home from a busy day, I immediately take one out the the freezer, defrost and bake.  Serve with a salad with your homemade dressing and it’s a tasty, satisfying and healthy meal.  This recipe seems like there are a lot of ingredients but you will find almost all of them already in your pantry and the flavour is worth it!  Perfect for game day!

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INGREDIENTS
img_chili1/2 cup dried black beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup  dried red kidney beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4  cloves garlic, minced
6  jalapeno chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb. cubed beef chuck or blade steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2  tablespoons chili powder
1  tablespoon cumin seed (ground)
1  stick cinnamon 3 inches long
2  28 oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes
1  12 oz  can stout beer
2  tablespoons tomato paste
1  tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion for garnish (optional)
1 cup strong cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
1 diced avocado pear for garnish (optional)
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Put the beans into separate pots and cover with 3″ of salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low.  Cook covered, stirring occasionally until beans are tender about 60 minutes.
2.  Heat a heavy bottomed 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add  a few tablespoons of the olive oil and the diced onions 4-5 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic, green pepper, celery, and chilies.  Cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding more olive oil if required.
3.  Add meats and cook until brown.
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4.  Add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa and tomato paste.  Cook for a few minutes and then add tomatoes and beer.
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Add beans (drained).
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5. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 or 2 hours.
6. Ladle into bowls and let people help themselves to the garnishes.IMG_1436

Serves 8 to 10 adults

Mussel Soup Supreme

This soup is so easy to make and so-o-o-o-o delicious.  Mussels are an inexpensive yet nutrient rich seafood.
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INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
8 oz. slices mushrooms
3 mild Italian sausages
1/2  of a 750 ml bottle of white wine
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
1 8oz. bottle clam juice
1  5 oz. can baby clams
2 lbs. mussels
5 leaves fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped flat leafed parsley

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INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oil in heavy soup pot or cast iron pot.
2. Slice onions and add to pan.  Heat until translucent.
3. Slice and add garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.
4. Add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes.
mussels_soup_basil5. Remove sausages from casings and fry them breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Fry about 5 minutes
6. Add wine and cook for 20 minutes.
7. Add the can of plum tomatoes roughly breaking up the tomatoes with your hands or a spoon.
Add the bottled clam juice and canned clams.  Bring to a boil.  Add the basil leaves along with the chopped parsley.
8.  Add the mussels which have been rinsed, debearded and the opened ones discarded.   Cover and cook for 3 minutes  until all the mussels have opened.
9. If any of the mussels will not open discard them.

Cook for 3 minutes - until the mussels open

Cook for 3 minutes – until  all the  mussels open

Serve

Serve “Mussel Soup Supreme” with garlic bread.

HAT2FOOD TIP:  When your raw mussels are open, tap them on a hard counter.  If they do not close then discard them as they are dead and can make you sick.  If they close then they are fine to cook and enjoy. I have tried using other sausages like hot Italian sausage but the soup is not as good in my opinion. The mild Italian sausage give the pleasant mild fennel flavour to the soup.  Adding sausage to this soup is very important to the overall flavour.  DO NOT SKIP!  You will see, and  you will want a second helping! The sausages and the clam + clam juice  is the supreme in this Mussel Soup Supreme.

WHEELSVARIATIONS  You can add lobster, shrimps, scallops or any other seafood you have on hand to make this into a seafood soup.  If you are adding raw lobster to the soup then add that first as it takes longer to cook.  It will turn pink and then add any shrimp or scallops last since they require only a few minutes of cooking or they will become tough and rubbery.  If you add canned lobster include the liquid from the can for more flavour.  You can add almost any fish except salmon. It has too much of a strong flavour for this dish. Sherry can also be added while you are cooking these last bits of seafood. Sherry complements the flavour of the seafood.. . .
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MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE MEAT!
For decades the Portuguese classically make dishes which combine mussels and pork in their beautiful copper cataplanas. The pork adds that special something extra to seafood. It is the secret ingredient! It is absolutely delicious!

Mussels and Pork

Mussels and Pork

didyouknowNUTRIENT-RICH
Mussels are a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc. They outshine most other foods when it comes to their vitamin B-12, selenium and manganese content. A 3 ounce portion of moist-heat cooked blue mussels provides 20.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12, meeting 340 percent of the recommended daily value for this nutrient, according to NutrientFacts.com. Vitamin B-12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, the formation of red blood cells and proper growth and development. The same amount meets 108 percent of the DV for selenium and 288 percent for manganese. Selenium is important for immune system function and supports the thyroid gland, while manganese is involved in bone health and energy metabolism.  Mussels are rich in sodium as well which is why this soup did not need any salt added.