Chalet Chicken Soup

Yes, the name of this post is swiped straight from the Swiss Chalet menu.  If no one has ever had the amazing soup from this beloved restaurant of my childhood (there was one so close to my house!), then I suggest you drop what you’re doing and shimmy on down to the nearest location.  Especially if you’re in Ottawa and it’s a frigid day like today.

OR you could just read this post in warm comforts of your home.  Writing this post, I’m tempted to brush aside all the work that I have to do today in favour of an afternoon cuddled up with my Snuggie and tea.  There’s a very good chance that this may happen…

I was so excited last week when I got the March edition of Canadian Living in my mailbox.  I was extremely pleased to find the recipe for this cosy chicken and rice soup.  Before I continue, since when does cosy have an “s?”  Does that just not look like some weird attempt at parseltongue?  Nope, I refuse to be anything but co-zeeeee.  Apologies.

Now, you all know how obsessed I am with soup, so when I find a delicious looking recipe for my favourite soup of all, I really have no choice but to make it.  Unlike the traditional chicken noodle soup, this one had rice in it, meaning that it was a tad cheaper (which is always welcome).  Also, even though I really need to try leeks, I didn’t buy them for this recipe, since I feel absolutely awful when I have leftover veggies that I forget about and don’t use.  Must minimize waste.

Mmmm, and chicken thighs, you have changed my life.

PS: these pictures were taken on my friend Gord’s window sill using a bowl that I bought this weekend in Chinatown.  I am super jealous of his rustic window settings.  Also, speaking of Gord (who, if you recall, is the author of another fantastic student-friendly food blog), we cooked up something special this weekend.  Stay tuned to find out more…

PPS: see recipe after the jump.

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Spicy Potato and Lentil Soup

Okay, so you know how a few posts ago I said that my borscht was the cheapest thing I’ve ever made?  Well I lied.  Poor Mr. Borscht didn’t hold his title for very long, and this new soup quickly edged it out in both taste and price.  While I could go on and on about how great this soup was, I think I’ll condense my admiration down to four main points *ahem*:

1. It was SO fast to make.  Since I’m apparently never home for dinner anymore, I decided to make this soup at 9:15 a.m.  Yes, I had soup for breakfast, don’t judge me.  I had to be at school that day for 10:45, so let this tight schedule attest for how quickly this soup cooked itself up.

2. I’m not really a fan of chopping things, so I was relieved when this soup only required two potatoes, a celery stalk, and an onion to be chopped.  BUT HOLY, on that note, I cut up the most potent onion ever!!!!!  Seriously, I was crying like a teenage girl listening to Taylor Swift.  I wiped my eyes on my shirt so many times that my sleeve was partially drenched by the time I was finished cooking.  I need a set of these!

3. This soup just confirmed that my taste buds are way more high maintenance than in my “I’m just going to eat plain rice for supper” days (aka last year).  I was not at all happy with how little cumin and cayenne pepper that the original recipe requested, so I simply added a teaspoon more of the cumin, and about ten pinches of cayenne pepper (versus the original single pinch requested).  Mmmmm, that spice, combined with the explosion of fresh parsley, made my life.  Also, for anyone that is stuffed up or sniffly from a winter cold, this soup is so spicy it is sure to clear your sinuses!  Who needs cold fx, right?

4. Last but not least this soup was, of course, cheap.  I calculated my total cost per serving to be about 80 cents a bowl.  Stellar!!

Recipe: Canadian Living (with a few spicy adaptations by yours truly).

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!

Chicken and Lentil Curry with Homemade Naan Bread

For some reason I seem to be going international with my food.  With this Indian feast of a meal and last week’s greek-style macaroni, I guess I’m trying to inadvertently embrace some of the non-Americanized eating traditions.  If that means I get to eat tonnes of delicious ethnic food, I am SO down.

The recipe for this curry also came from the January edition of Canadian Living, which seems to be providing me with lots of great meal choices for the winter months.  Like all Indian food, this recipe was very…fragrant.  By this, I mean that both my kitchen and me smelled like garam masala and cumin for a day.  On a related note, is cumin not the most wonderful spice in the world?  If I wasn’t going to be shunned from society for doing this, I would definitely look into purchasing some sort of eau du cumin perfume (please don’t judge me).  The spices in this recipe were what made the meal.  The curry part of this turned out to be really filling and chalked full of protein.  Also, I got to use up loads of lentils, bags of which have been sitting in my cupboard since the summer months.  All part of my never ending task to empty out the giant void that is my second shelf pantry.

As for the naan bread, this was sort of an impulsive make.  On Saturday morning I knew I was going to be making this curry, and quite simply decided that there was no other way to eat Indian food than by piling it atop some delicious naan.  I got this recipe from the blog Itsy Bitsy Foodies which I found on Tastespotting.  Since I’m lacking the whole authentic clay oven thing that they actually use to bake this bread, I used our pizza stone and my normal oven, which had to be turned up to a whopping 550°C.  Hot, I know.  Let me tell you, our whiny fire alarm did not like that one, and frequently reminded us of its presence throughout the naan’s baking period.  The bread turned out pretty well for a homemade job, I think.  It was way more doughy than the authentic Indian naan and in turn not as light.  Nonetheless, it was incredibly satisfying to shove layers upon layers of naan/rice/curry into my mouth, so I consider this one to be a success.

This meal’s leftovers became a huge and filling lunch on Sunday when I had all day television training at school.  That’s right, on a SUNDAY </complaints>.  The big meal helped cheer and wake me up, so it was much appreciated!

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