Comfort Foods for January

I think starting a new year is a wonderful way to talk about health and what you plan on doing different in the new year ahead. That is what many are talking about, I know but I also know it is cold outside in most places around Canada and that comfort is on the minds of many. Comfort food can be thought of as dishes that are rich and heavy and perhaps not healthy but luckily they don't all have to be. Here are a couple of recipes, easy with few ingredients that will warm your body and help you feed your family too! Stay warm friends

Chunky or Creamy Vegetable Soup-Have it your way!

With this combination of vegetables you can either leave it chunky or serve it up smooth. I added a potato to the vegetables so that when you puree it you get that creamy rich texture. Serve it up with a mixed green salad and whole grain bread for a heart warming dinner as the snow falls.

1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped celery
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp/5 mL dried thyme leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) curry powder
4 cups (1 L) chopped broccoli and cauliflower
1 cup (250 mL) grape tomatoes
1 potato, peeled and diced
4 cups (1 L) vegetable or chicken broth
Fresh coriander leaves (optional)

1. In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and curry powder for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in broccoli and cauliflower, tomatoes and potato. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 

2. Ladle into soup bowls or alternatively, ladle into blender and puree in batches until smooth. Garnish with coriander if using.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tip: For a spicier version add 1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes with the onion mixture or sprinkle in a dash of hot pepper sauce near the end of cooking.

Meat Option: This is a great way to use up leftover ham or turkey. Stir in 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped cooked ham or turkey and warm through in the soup. 

Potato Option: If you have leftover mashed potatoes, simply stir in about 1 cup (250 mL) instead of the potato to create that creamy texture. It’s a great way to use up those leftovers!

If you don’t have broccoli and cauliflower, then simply use one or the other. But you could also use chopped zucchini or peppers if you like.  Frozen broccoli and cauliflower would work in this recipe too.

Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you wish. It varies on the type of broth or stock you are using. 

Sausage and Squash Risotto

Look for different types of sausages to vary up the flavour. I used a mild Italian, but spicy will give you more kick and honey garlic will sweeten it up. Grocery stores are so helpful- I picked up already diced squash to add to the risotto and cut my preparation time to get things cooking. Having some broth in the pantry helped too!

3 fresh mild Italian sausages, about 8 oz/250 g
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups (375 mL) Arborio rice
1 ½ cups (375 mL) diced squash or sweet potato
½ cup (125 mL) white wine
4 ½ cups (1.25 L) sodium reduced chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh basil

Remove casings from sausages and discard. Crumble sausage meat into large shallow saucepan and cook sausage, stirring constantly over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until browned and no longer pink. Remove to bowl.

Add oil to saucepan and return to medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice to coat. Add squash and cook, stirring for 1 minute to coat well. Add wine and cook, stirring until wine evaporates. 

Stir in 1 cup (250 mL) of the broth and cook, stirring until almost all of the liquid evaporates. Cook, stirring and adding more of the broth, about 1 cup (250 mL) at a time for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender but firm.

Return sausage to saucepan along with any remaining broth and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until sausage is heated through. Stir in cheese and basil until melted and serve in shallow bowls.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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