Apron Strings

Category — Soup

$10 Local Food Challenge – Two dishes, one bunch of beets.

Beet greens

Are you thinking of taking the City of Ottawa’s $10 Local Food Challenge?  Yes?  Why not spend your $10 this week on some beets.  For $10, you can buy a bunch of beets and some potatoes and make two easy (and filling) dishes.  I bought two big bunches of beets at the Lansdowne farmers market this weekend: one red, one golden.  Price?  $5 per bunch.  Maybe that seems expensive for a bunch of beets.  But it’s a deal if you use the greens that come along with them.  And these beets?  They came with a lot of greens.

One of the nice things about buying beets from the market is that the greens are still in good shape for cooking.  To me, it feels nicer to cook with crisp greens, but even grocery store beets with wilty tops are perfectly fine for using in the soup recipe.  You just won’t get that satisfying “crunch choppy chop” sound from your knife slicing through the greens.

I bought beets to make the two-colour beet salad from Simple Cooking and the soup was a bit of an afterthought once I saw how many greens I came home with.  This beet greens soup seemed easy to throw together.

Simple Cooking seems to be out of print, but the Dean & Deluca website features a similar beet salad recipe.  Although, I can’t recommend hunting down a copy this book enough.  The eggplant coloured book has so many really simple, really fresh recipes with effortlessly rustic photography.  It’s staged, but not annoying rustique.  It is one of my most prized cookbooks. (I found mine at the Chapters on Slater/Bank last week).


To get started, chop the greens off the beets and give everything a good wash.  The beets get cooked in a pot of boiling water until soft.  Don’t worry about the skins, they come off later.   While the beets are boiling, you can get started on the soup.

Wash and chop your greens, dice your onions and garlic, cube your potatoes.  And whatever you do, if you use fresh hot peppers intead of dried chili flakes, use gloves.

HOT peppers

I bought these peppers thinking they were just like a red version of a jalapeno.  WRONG.  So wrong.  I took a very tiny bit to test the hotness of the peppers and my mouth went on fire, my lips burned, I cried.  I diced no more than a heaping teaspoon to add to the soup.  And once the burning stopped, I wondered how I would use the remaining five peppers.  Twelve hours later, after having showered, washed dishes and washed my hands serveral times during the day, I stupidly rubbed my eye in the middle of the night.  3am is a really unfortunate hour to be awake with a burning eye.  Lesson learned.  This pepper is potent.

Beet salad

Toss the salad dressing together: olive oil, vinegar, salt pepper and mint.  Easy.   Drain your beets, cool them under cold water, peel and slice.  (Reserve a few slices for your soup.)  Pour dressing over beets, add a bit of extra mint on top.

Now, finish off your soup.  I like to blend my soup a bit with a stick blender and leave a few larger potato chunks.  I will admit, it doesn’t look creamy or velvety or even very pretty.  But it’s tasty and warming and good for you.  If you’ve used the greens and the beets for these recipes, you should also have very little waste.

Serve with some bread and you have an easy $10 local lunch.

Beet greens soup


$10 Local Food Challenge Contest details:
You can enter the contest to win one of 10 coupons valued at $50 to spend on the restaurants and retailers who are part of Savour Ottawa. Contest ends at the end of October.

August 29, 2011   No Comments

Indonesian bakmoy – veganized

bakmoy - tofu and rice

Friends of ours made this dish one evening and it was so good that I knew I needed the recipe.  A few days later, I received the recipe written in marker on a piece of pink construction paper (because that’s what you do when you are knee deep in toddlerdom).  I could relate – my last grocery list was on a piece of orange construction paper.  It’s just what you do.

So, back to the dish.  Originally, it’s made with chicken and chicken stock, but since I had neither on-hand, I went full on veg mode.  Actually, I love it with tofu.  And it’s nice to have some more veggie meal options.  If you have stock and leftover rice already made, it can be a super quick meal to put together.

The feature ingredient is the kecap manis – a sweet soy sauce.  It’s basically like soy molasses.  In Ottawa, I had no problem finding it in Chinatown at Manphong (Somerset and Lorne).  Here’s a picture of the bottle – you don’t want to mix it up with its salty cousin.

Thanks for the recipe, Anita!

March 18, 2011   No Comments

Ribollita – Tuscan bean soup


Whether you call it ribollita, or Tuscan bean soup or leftover vegetable soup, the result is the same – a hearty warm soup for winter days with very little effort.  (Well..  turns out there was some effort needed … I’ll explain.)

On Saturday I purchased a really great baguette, but by the time I got it home it was pretty crunchy.  Crunchy to the point where it was just too much effort to eat.  What’s the term?  First world problem?  Yes.  But it was too good to throw out and I knew the Italian solution would be to make a soup with it.  So, I went searching for some ‘bread soup’ recipes.  That’s how I discovered the “ribollita”.  I checked a couple of versions: Jamie Oliver and Giada De Laurentis both had pretty similar takes on this classic soup.  Then I consulted what was actually left in the fridge and went “off recipe” to combine the best elements from both versions and the contents of my fridge.

I was hot to trot to make this on Saturday night for dinner, but when I looked in the freezer we were out of chicken stock and we only had dried white beans in the cupboard.  SIGH.  Instead of whipping up this easy soup, I ended up having to make stock and beans.  My sous-chef went off to entertain himself with some Diego while I began simmering stock and cooking beans.  (These also added some much needed moisture into the house and it smelled great.  Win win!)

Once the beans were cooked and the stock was strained and put away, I was too tired to finish making the soup.  Sunday afternoon rolled around and it was time to get this soup show on the stove.  With the stock and beans ready to go… the soup making was eaaaasy.

February 1, 2011   3 Comments

Sweet potato and cauliflower soup

One of my favourite soup recipes comes from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.  And if you can get past the punny titles, the recipes are pretty solid.  We used to cook a lot from this book before we had to be concerned about food allergies.

Well, the good news for us is that with a little tweaking, I was able to make the “Melancauli Baby” soup allergy friendly AND use half of the biggest.cauliflower.ever.  (Mutant vegetables seem to be popping up around town – check out a friend’s GIANT potato from the Preston St. Farmers Market.)


Bloggy discloure: I used Ryza brand rice milk and my new Cuisinart blender that I received from Argyle Communications.  I have such mixed feelings about receiving freebies; however, in this case I feel it meets my own personal blog standards since they are both products that I would normally consider and compare with other brands when shopping for our family.

Also, while I specify Daiya cheese (it’s the only totally dairy free cheese that I can find in Ottawa) I have no relationship with the company.  So, feel free to use whatever works best for you.

I think I may have to write a separate post about mom/food blogs, product reviews and freebies.  Especially in light of Corngate from last week.   I have a lot more to get out of my brain on this topic.  But that is non-soup related! <getting off my soapbox now>

Ok, back to the recipe!

October 13, 2010   11 Comments

Radish greens soup

Radish greens soup

The kid and I cycled to the Ottawa Farmer’s Market early on Sunday morning for a bit of shopping.  I knew I wanted to buy some radishes for a pickled radish recipe that I found (post coming shortly!), but I never thought of doing anything with the leaves.  When we got home, I noticed that the radish greens from Roots and Shoots Farm were in perfect shape…  no little munches from hungry bugs, no blemishes, nothing.  (HOW is that possible?  Even the swiss chard growing on my porch has been munched!)  Frustrated by their gardening success, I went online to see if there was anything to make with radish greens.

It turns out that you can eat radish greens much like any other leafy green veg.  Who knew?  I decided to go with an easy radish greens soup – and bonus – it suited the little dude’s allergies.   The anticipation of a greenvasion into his diet had me giddy.

I added some bacon from the market and cooked it all up using the hubby’s homemade stock.  I tossed everything in the blender and voila – radish greens soup!  To top it all off, I garnished it with some chives and tarragon from the garden.

The bad news?  It received a total toddler veto.  Banished from the tabletop – pushed away with 10 chubby fingers, a scowl and a firm head shaking “no no no.”

Whatever kid.  More for mom.

I was feeling pretty chuffed about this food score: healthy + double recipe duty + local + cheap = win!

Here’s some more math (this time with numbers).

  • 2 bunches of radishes = $6 resulted in…
    • 1 large batch of pickled radishes
    • 3-4 bowls of radish greens soup
    • negligable amounts of other ingredients needed: onions, vinegar, sugar, garlic, stock, one potato
    • easily made 3 light meals
  • Total per meal = $2-ish

June 21, 2010   1 Comment

Chickpea and Israeli cous cous soup


Last week I took the Vrtucar to run some errands at Home Depot and decided to shop at the Loblaws at Baseline / Woodroffe.  I heard months ago that their Kosher aisle had Israeli cous cous and there’s nothing like a little food-venture to spice up otherwise boring errands. ( So far, this Loblaws is the only place in Ottawa that I have found this type of pebbley cous cous, but if anyone knows of a more central location, I’d love to know!).

It took a few days to figure out what to make with my long-coveted cous cous.  I no longer remembered why I had been so keen on the cous cous in the first place.  Was it from a Zen Kitchen dinner oh.so.long ago?  Perhaps.

Based on the veggies that remained in the fridge it looked like we were headed to soup city. So Google and I spent a bit of quality time together and found this soup recipe from Gourmet Girl.  Perfect.  And what a great way to use up the last of my fresh herbs from the garden.  Bonus.

It didn’t take long to get everything simmering away in the pot.  Some modifications were made (as usual).  I used an entire 28oz tin of diced tomatoes instead of the suggested 14oz.   Other than that,  I pretty much stuck to the recipe as written.

The Israeli cous cous is a really nice change – part tapioca pearl / part pasta.  I really enjoyed these little chewy glubs in my soup.

The husband and I got 2 dinners and 3 lunches out of the one batch (9 meals!).    Totally economical and totally delicious.

October 29, 2009   3 Comments

Red cabbage soup

red cabbage soup

After braising half a head of red cabbage for Sunday’s roast, I was left with a huge honking half a cabbage in the fridge.  I scoured the web for some way to use it up in a soup.  The catch?  Finding a recipe that sounded like it might actually taste decent.  The phrase “cabbage soup” doesn’t exactly whet the appetite.  Luckily, I found this recipe on the Foodland Ontario website.  (Insert catchy jingle: Good things grow-o-oh in Ontario!)

I didn’t have romano beans on hand, but I had lots of chickpeas.  I feared that the cabbage would turn them a little purple and well.. it did.  But not in a totally unappetizing way.  In fact, the whole recipe turned out to be sort of an underdog winner.  Perhaps it was because I used up the husband’s entire stash of homemade stock that he made on the weekend…  thanks hubby!  Of course, the cheese MAKES the soup.  Go heavy on the parmesan – the rest of the soup is so ridicuolously healthy, you can afford to grate a few extra umm… grateys of cheese.

I added a tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar to the recipe…  I think it adds a little extra oomph.  I would have used regular balsamic but I used it all up in the weekend cabbage braise of 09.


  • 2 cups (500 mL) chopped red Ontario Cabbage
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) olive oil
  • 1 Ontario Onion, chopped
  • 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) chicken broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) undrained canned tomatoes
  • A pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup (75mL) orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) Romano beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (red or white)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Toss cabbage with lemon juice and set aside.

In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion for 3 min. Add caggage and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 min. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, 1 cup (250 mL) water and hot pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Add pasta, vinegar and beans, bring back to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 min., stirring occassionally.

Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Service in heated bowls sprinkled with parsley and lots of cheese.

January 8, 2009   8 Comments

Mmmm Udon

After a tasty udon soup at Cafe Miga last night, I’ve got it in my head to either a) find fresh udon noodles in Ottawa or b) make my own udon noodles.  I’m hoping the little Korean grocer on Bank will have either fresh noodles (fingers crossed!) or the udon flour.  I found a nice little online tutorial and I am looking forward to trying it out…  maybe tomorrow night for dinner??? Yes.

July 10, 2008   2 Comments

Tomato-basil tortellini soup

Oh, how I wish I had taken a photo of this soup before we hoovered it down for dinner last night.  The basic recipe for this soup was in the most recent issue of Delicious in the ‘Tuesday night cooking’ section.  We made it on a Wednesday.  No matter.

I think the recipe from the magazine was a little sparse and called for a only single can of diced tomatoes.  There was no way the basic recipe was going to tide us over for dinner AND lunch the next day (especially when one of us has a little tenant moocher).  And, so the recipe took a Jamie Oliver-esque twist and I started adding extra tomatoes and herbs and reducing other things – like chicken broth.  No one like watery tomato soup.  Yuck.

This is a super quick, easy and healthy meal.  We even crumbled some of our homemade ricotta on top.  Mmm.

Boyfriendly rating: 5/5  “Just make sure you aren’t wearing your brand.new.shirt when puree-ing the soup.”


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (798ml).  Preferably the no-salt added variety.
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 12 sundried tomato slices
  • 1/2 tsp each of thyme, basil, oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few stems of fresh basil
  • Package of cheese or meat tortellini

How to:

  1. Boil water in a kettle and soak the sundried tomatoes for 5-10 minutes until they are soft.
  2. In a pot, add the olive oil and chopped garlic.  Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, herbs and broth.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the tortellini.
  5. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to the soup.
  6. Use a hand blender to puree the soup until smooth.
  7. Chop and add fresh basil to the soup, but reserve some for garnish.
  8. Spoon soup into bowls, add tortellini and garnish with basil.

Serves 4 as a main course.

June 5, 2008   No Comments

Cucumber and avocado soup

avocado soup

The Boyfriendly Cooking hiatus is over! Hurrah!

The boyfriendly household is expecting a long-term dinner (breakfast and lunch) guest arriving in September. That’s right, we’re cooking for three (and a hungry orange tabby). Suffice to say, foodblogging fell a bit to the wayside for several months, but now I’m back and hungry!

To get back into the swing of things and celebrate the start of spring and chilled soups (mmm!) I decided to make Gordon Ramsay’s avocado and cucumber soup that was featured on Canada AM last week. A previous attempt at avocado soup did not have great results, but I was willing to give Gordon’s recipe a shot. It was much more refreshing than the Ace Bakery version I had previously made.

Boyfriendly rating: 5/5

Gordon Ramsay’s avocado and cucumber soup

  • 2 large cucumbers, abut 14 oz each, chilled
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tbsp strained plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • ½ red onion minced
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded & minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 3-4 basil leaves, finely shredded


Peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Dice a quarter and set aside for the garnish. Roughly chop the rest, place in a blender with half the lemon juice, and whiz until smooth.

Halve, pit, and peel the avocados. Mince one avocado half to use for the garnish. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and set aside with the diced cucumber. Tip the rest of the avocados into the blender.

Blend the avocados with the pureed cucumber, strained plain yogurt, and Worcestershire sauce until very smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper, and add lemon juice to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

For the garnish, combine the diced cucumber and avocado with the red onion and tomato. Toss with the olive oil and shredded basil.

Taste the chilled soup for seasoning and add a splash of cold water if it is too thick. Pour into four chilled bowls and spoon the garnish into the center. Add a drizzle of olive oil and grind over a little pepper to serve.

May 5, 2008   1 Comment