Bean Soup ~ A Powerhouse of Nutrients

BEANS are the most under valued item. There is a wealth of wholesome, delicious foods out there that are being neglected. One of them is the bean.
IMG_3479Use your chicken soup base for this tasty white bean and vegetable soup.  I used to think that beans were for granola crunchers.  Now I am a convert? Why? Not because those beans were flavourful. They give you protein that you need and the glycemic index is so low that you have the energy to carry on for hours without that energy “crash”.  The best thing to get from the fast food malls is chilli.  Great for the diabetics and the rest of us as well.
HAT2YOUR FOOD TIP for the singles:  I took out a  scoop of these beans with a slotted spoon and heated the white beans as a side dish with my meal.  Another plus for beans is that even if you combine them with a protein like chicken (which would be great added to this soup) or beef, you will not get that feeling of needing a big nap afterwards.  The digestive enzymes that break these food items down will not have a battle in your gut. You feel fine and you had good nutrition for your body.  You can add ingredients to jazz up the flavour of your soup:  oregano, paprika, parsley, raz al hanout, ground sumac, za’ater, the list goes on.  Your soup will be delicious too!


Freeze Your Soup

IMG_3475 After you have made this Spectacular STOCK, you may not want to use it right away.  The solution is to freeze it for future use.
I have experimented with freezing for several years and there is nothing as disappointing as freezing a soup or sauce and having the glass crack.  I found that if you filled it past the curve in the glass, the jar could crack.  Even after under filling below the curve,  there was expansion of the liquid and the glass would sometimes  crack.  I now place the soup in the refrigerator after it is sufficiently cooled and the next day I would place the glass mason jar ( filled with my soup) into the freezer with the LID OFF.

Prepare your own frozen meals

Prepare your own frozen meals

 This would allow room for expansion of the liquid without cracking the glass. The following day, I would tighten the lid and then the jar would be fine.  There would be a mountain of frozen soup in the center of the jar but this expansion wouldn’t crack you jar and ruin all your wonderful work.  Also, do not place your frozen soup  in the freezer door to avoid jostling by other frozen items. Your glass will now never crack.

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!

Chicken Soup Base (stock)

Double rich chicken soup base

Double rich chicken soup base

More than just a stock. This soup base is fantastic.  I believe I have the best soup base recipe I know. I am always getting compliments on my version of stock. The secret to this stock will be revealed below.

I am writing this recipe in February. The coldest day in Canada.  We recently reached the record breaking temperature of -25C  ( -13F ) and -40C (- 40F ) with the wind chill.  What’s for dinner? The first thing that came to mind is piping hot soup.  When you think about comfort food, many thoughts fill your head.  Right now. I am thinking about warm and comforting soup. Chicken soup is the first one that I think about when I feel chilly and want to ward off those bitter cold winds outside.  To have great chicken soup, you must have a GREAT CHICKEN STOCK. Throughout the years, I know that if I have a good stock base my soups taste fantastic.

. . .

The secret to the best soups is in the stock.  Whether you use the carcass of that store bought grilled chicken (don’t throw this out).  Freeze the chicken carcass, if you have no time to cook right away. Or,  use a raw chicken carcass.

1. In a large pot place your chicken and vegetables.
2. Add water: enough to cover all the ingredients.
3. Add your favorite herbs, spices and peppercorn. Fresh is best. (optional)
4. Simmer (very low) for a couple of hours -do not boil
5. Strain the stock and put the stock back in a pot
6. Simmer stock until it is reduced by half the volume.

Now you are ready to prepare your “SOUP OF THE DAY“.  Make enough stock to store in the freezer .  Most of the flavour  comes from the bones. You don’t really have to add any herbs and spices. Sometimes, when I am so busy I forget to add the fresh thyme. (a little pun) The veggies will provide  an aromatic flavour on their own. “FRESH” Herb list: Parsley,  sage,  rosemary,  cilantro, oregano and thyme. Fresh herbs taste very different than the dried version. Your prepared soup recipe will have added spices and herbs. Either way it’s all to taste!

Soup stock aficionados maintain that celery, celery leaves or celery seeds are the most  important addition to your stock.  Celery seeds are great to have on hand. Open the seeds up with a mortar and pestle  to add savory to just about any dish. I add a tsp of fresh,  ground celery seed to my chicken soup.

HAT2FOOD TIP:  Use almost any ( mild ) vegetables  you have handy for your stock; not just freshly cut carrots, celery and onions.  I just put in the woody ends of my asparagus.  I also added the leafy portion and well as the thick stem of the celery.  Use the center core of your cauliflower and peelings from broccoli. Most people won’t eat these so don’t throw them out.  Do not add strong vegetables such as beets and turnips.  You can also brown your raw chicken carcass to get more flavour.  When ever you are preparing vegetables for a meal, make it a habit to  throw your clean scrapings into a container and store in the frig or freezer  for your stock making day.

After you cook the stock for an hour or two, strain the stock. Put the stock back in a pot and reduce it by half. (This is the real secret ) This will concentrate the flavour and sometimes I do not even have to add salt to a soup when I have used this double rich stock.  The health benefits are tremendous as well.  This stock is LIQUID GOLD!

frozen-foodHEALTH BENEFITS: The wing is the best part of the carcass of the chicken. It provides the best gelatin, (natural collagen ) formed in the cartilage that aids in building your immune system ( fights colds ). You can tell if your stock has good gelatin content if it gels after cooling. My mom used to use her stock for “Chicken Jelly” when I was a kid.  I kept asking her to make it a lot, not knowing you had to prepare the stock.  I was 8 yrs old.  Still one of my favorite dishes!