Ruby Red Borscht

Let’s be honest.  The only reason I made this soup in the first place was because it is the shade of my favourite colour.  A deep magenta, this soup has been calling my name ever since I saw the picture of it in my very first Canadian Living cookbook.

This soup is the ultimate cheap student meal, and cost less than a dollar per serving.  I made it late last week and have been eating the leftovers at school non stop since then.  I was so worried that the tupperware container holding the soup would simply explode in my backpack and leak all over me, making me appear like some sort of mass murderer and Dexter wannabe.  Luckily this did not happen.  Okay, back to cheap.  You can’t really tell from the picture, but this soup actually had several different types of vegetables in it.  While it’s true that the colour of the beets dominated EVERYTHING (and dyed my hands a bright pink hue), there was also carrots, potato, celery, onion and green beans.  Only the latter managed to partially maintain its colour.  Also, can we just mention how awesome it is that this recipe has ketchup?!  Seriously, ketchup added to anything is the best.  Leaving these ingredients in a big stock pot to brew away for two hours resulted in a wonderful soupy liquid that made me feel like I was in Harry Potter’s potions class.

Ooo, and fresh dill is SO good!!!

PS: I have so, so, sooo many backlogged blog posts chilling out in my “blogger queue” right now.  I’ve been making all this stuff lately, particularly food of the baked variety, and simply haven’t had time to blog about it!  I think this weekend I’m just going to prepare a bunch of posts and have them schedule to publish at various times throughout the week.  Let the phantom blogging begin!

PPS: Holy, beets are super good.  I’m going to make beet chips next week.

Check out the recipe after the jump!

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Tomato Vegetable Soup with Tortellini

I’m so happy that the winter months allow me to make unlimited amounts of delicious soup.  Seriously though, soup is the perfect meal.  It’s always chalked full of healthy stuff and is perfectly filling while still being so fantastically low key, cheap and easy.  I used to think that because I’m a student I had every excuse to eat unhealthy meals.  It was from this attitude that my love for soup noodles, peanut butter and jam tortilla wraps, and George Foreman-ed steak with BBQ sauce arose last school year.  My discovery of foodism has led me to finding alternative ways to keep the simplistic values of cooking intact, while also allowing me to up the ante on my meals.  Now in the winter I have absolutely NO reason to eat crappy, chub-inducing food.  Chunky soup has provided me with the answer.

This week’s soup was an ultra-chunky vegetable soup with tortellini, a recipe that I got out of an old, Value Village-purchased copy of Canadian Living.  The base ingredients are all pretty standard for veggie soups: tomato, celery, carrot, zucchini, etc. etc.  The BEST part of this soup was the frozen cheese tortellini (buy it in the deli section of the grocery store!).  Oh man, tortellini is one of the best things in the world.  I have so many memories of my mom making tortellini, and me sneaking into the kitchen to steal the raw pasta, mischievously shoving it in my mouth with no shame.  Some things never change, and I ate a dozen and a half of these raw, half-frozen tortellinis before they had the chance to make it into my soup.  The ones that did survive long enough to get soupified were just as good, and added the perfect pasta dose to an otherwise vegetable-heavy soup.

Also, one more thing about this soup.  To make it even more hearty, the recipe asked that I add in a cup of chick peas.  Being in a recipe-compliant mood, I did – an action that I would gravely regret for leftover meals to come.  I’m not going to elaborate too much on this (since I’m already entering the TMI zone), but after gobbling down two portions of leftovers before two different classes, I was suppressing petite burps throughout each, hating chick peas more and more by the minute.  In my television class we had to do live hits.  My desire to burp was painful.  ‘Nuff said.

PS: Here is some life news…I’ve started JOGGING!  For the past two weeks, I’ve been jogging four kilometres nearly everyday (except for that awful day I tried to do 6 km and almost died).  This wasn’t even a New Years Resolution of mine, I just thought it was finally time for me to get off my butt and be more winter active.  Since the weather deprives me of biking, I needed to make up for it somehow!

Chunky Rice and Bean Soup

This day shall be known from here on in as “Soupy Saturday.”  The reason?  I made the most amazing soup in the universe!  Unlike my past soups which have focused on some sort of vegetable (pea soup, carrot soup) or on recreating a fiesta-in-a-bowl, I wanted to make a soup that just had EVERYTHING.  This Canadian Living soup recipe was perfect to achieve said goal  Also, since our house is absolutely freezing (we are students who are way too cheap to turn on the heat until snow hits the ground), I needed something other than my Snuggie to keep me warm.

This soup was soup-er (HA, get it?) easy to make, and took less than an hour in total to cook.  The only difficulty occurred when I decided to scoff at Canadian Living’s “tested till perfect” mantra, and add three times the amount of rice that the recipe called for.  This was a major mistake, and I had to add about a cup more water to compensate for my ingredient adding through over-excitement.  Due to this extra H2O, I now have enough soup to probably last me until the end of the winter season.  I’ll be keeping a large tupperware of it out (wish me luck trying to fit it in our fridge!) and packaging the leftover soup in cute little single-serving Ziploc bag packages to be eaten on overly lazy days.  Also, I need a thermos to bring things to school, anyone want to buy me one (preferably this or this). :)

Oh wait, one more thing.  I bought this new app for my iPhone (yes, I paid a whole 99 cents for it) that turns my phone into a pinhole camera.  Isn’t that the most wonderful thing you’ve ever heard?!  I took a few pictures of my lunch using that camera as well, and loved the result so much I thought it needed to be shared with you…

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup / The Best Cornbread in the Universe

I am currently in the midst of the most strange situation of my life.  Three of my roommates and I are sitting in the dark (our light is 15 feet up in the air and burnt out yesterday) talking to our landlord about how we can give our kitchen more counter space.  He is now hovering over my roommate Brittany‘s shoulder, interrogating her about apps for her iPad.  There are awkward jokes flying left, right and centre and he has started to tell us stories about his wife and children.  Heavenly.

Since the weather here in Ottawa has cooled right down, I decided it was time to make my first warm soup of the chilly season.  I’ve been waiting the entire summer to make this carrot and red lentil soup, one of the very first entries in my Canadian Living Everyday Favourites cookbook.  Contrary to the cookbook, which said I only needed to stew this soup for about 20 minutes, I had this soup on for nearly an hour and a half, as I quickly and messily rushed to make the cornbread which I can so easily describe as the best in the world.  Definitely worth waiting for.

This dinner also marked the start of my “indoor photo season” trials.  For reasons you will see below, I am less than satisfied with the results of this little experiment, and am quite concerned as to how winter foodie pictures are going to turn out.  I took these few pictures in my kitchen as well as my roommate Ariel’s room (only because she has more lamps than any reasonable person should have).  Despite what my roommates said (“soup is a cozy food, you want the lighting to be darker!”),  I was so disappointed with my pictures that I plated a whole other meal the next day and took pictures in the mid-afternoon sun.  I am quite confident I have some strange case of OCD.

And now for the re-plating…

Perhaps next time I will set up a little photo studio in my kitchen.  More to come.

Chilled Pea Soup with Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Although this soup looks like something out of Harry Potter’s potions class, it actually tasted excellent.  Being more experimental with my vegetable intake, I decided that this chilled pea soup (actually called “cold pea soup with chives and lemon by Canadian Living) was a great way for me to adventure into the world of pureed vegetable soups.  It was super easy to make, and involved me using my roommate Natalie’s fantastic non-stick pan (always a joy) to cook everything up.  The “cold” aspect of this soup made it especially enjoyable, since we’ve been experiencing an unusual beginning of September heat wave lately.  Since I was far too cheap to buy the fresh peas required for this recipe, I made use of one of the million bags of frozen veggies we have in our freezer.  Due to this handy and large supply of frozen peas, this entire meal cost a grand total of…wait for it…$0 to make!

Also, these cheddar buttermilk biscuitswere amazing and so easy to make.  Although I had a terrible encounter with biscuit-making when I was young (something involving me using baking soda instead of powder…), every batch since has worked out swimmingly.  I definitely recommend these for a fast supper accompaniment.

Something learned from this dinner: Green onions are somehow related to chives.  Since I couldn’t find chives at the grocery store, three different people informed me that I could use green onions as an alternative.  Who knew?

PS: Sorry to Canadian Living for renaming both recipes, there was no way I could include the word “chives” in the name if they contained no chives.  I absolutely refuse to false advertise.