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 the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay 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
6 red bell peppers, cut into small pieces
4 cups (1 L) of chicken or vegetable broth (or just plain water)
½ teaspoon (2 mL) of nutmeg
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 red bell peppers 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 nutmeg. 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 – #HalfYourPlate
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!
When I toss romaine hearts into my shopping cart, chances are I’m heading home to make my family’s favourite salad. Every cook should know the joy of crafting a true Caesar salad while avoiding the also-ran dressings at the supermarket that never quite measure up to the real thing. Over time we’ve experimented with lots of additional flavours in this salad but, more often than not, I toss in lots of fresh basil leaves and brightly flavoured cherry tomatoes. What a great way to fill Half Your Plate!