One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple pureed soup. They’re a time-honoured and super-simple way to get a whole lot of vegetable flavour on the table in a hurry – maybe even hide vegetables from finicky eaters. This one was custom created by Honourable Jeff Leal with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!
Yield: Makes 4 hearty bowls of homemade goodness
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of butter, more if you’re feeling indulgent, even a lot more, up to 1/2 cup (125 mL)
A large onion or two, finely chopped
2 or 3 or 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 turnip, grated
4 cups (1 L) of chicken or vegetable broth (or just plain water)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and garlic, stirring and sizzling as the onions soften. Add your turnip and pour in the broth. Bring to a slow, steady simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, just long enough for the vegetables to soften but not long enough for the flavours to peak and fade, 20 minutes or so. In the last minute or two, stir in the fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.
Purée the works using your hand blender, tilting the pot and going for the depths. The longer you puree the smoother the soup. Alternatively use a food processor or blender. Ladle, serve and share!
© Chef Michael Smith
Soups are the workhorses of many kitchens because they’re an easy way to make a lot of food in a hurry. You can also personalize them for your family. Add crunch with nuts, seeds, or crumbled crackers. Stir in thinly sliced deli meat, leftover roast chicken, crisp bacon or any cheese, grated or crumbled. Condiments like salsa, pesto, tapenade and guacamole. You name it. You can stir anything into these soups to call them your own!
Rhubarb chutney is a tasty condiment side-kick for whatever hits your grill this season. Meat, fish or fowl – even grilled veggie burgers – get a big bright boost from this balanced classic. Rhubarb’s sour tang is mellowed with sweetness, fragrant spices and spicy heat in this make-ahead topping. You can perk up more than Half Your Plate with this fragrant chutney!
Zucchini is the perfect summer vegetable for filling Half Your Plate. Not only is it seasonally fresh, packed with flavour and nutritionally dense but it’s simple to grill. Its firm texture easily handles the heat while absorbing lots of delicious charred flavours. This side dish is equally delicious hot off the grill or chilled for later making it ideal for grilling season.