Friday, March 6, 2015

Healthy Cream of Broccoli Soup and (not as healthy) CornBread

Well, since last Friday...

-My washer died. It was old. We had it for 11 years, and it had been my granny's. Who knows how long she had it. I am now the proud owner of a MayTag front loader with a steam function. It was 30% off, and has a 10 year warranty.

-My kitchen sink pipes plugged. They have been draining super slow for a good year. But, Mr. Hippie leaves for the weekend, and they decide not to drain at all. So, I gave them a good plunging, which caused the water to spill out the pipe seams. My big brother came to my rescue. He snaked the pipes, and poured concoctions of vinegar, baking soda, and boiling salt water down the pipes. My sink is draining like a charm now.

-I'm taking a month off chocolate and chip type snacks. Plus limiting myself to one glass of wine per week. It is time for a spring reset. My bread basket is well rounded after eating fresh baguettes like they were going out of style in Spain. Carrying a little less weight will help me in races this summer. So, we're taking the drastic route, because sometimes that is easier than moderation.

-I've done some running and some swimming. We are dipping our toes into the spring race training schedule. It's hard. We got a fluffy few inches of snow this week. That is not fun to wade through on runs. Every step forward includes at least a bit of a slide backwards. I got some fast(er) runs in on the treadmill at the gym. So, I feel good about where I got to this week in my goals.

-A friend and a sister in law both had babies within an hour or two of each other on Wednesday evening. That was joyous news to wake up to on Thursday morning. And then just a couple hours later I received a call from one of my best friends in the whole world. Her son was hit by a car and killed on Tuesday night. I was poignantly reminded of the verse from Job, He gives and takes away-blessed be the name of the Lord. My heart aches for my friend. That gut squishing, not able to breath aching. I remember our own loss of Mr. Hippie's sister just a bit over two years ago. And the pain and empathy are overwhelming. This verse becomes a reminder of hope. It becomes a gasp for mercy.

-On a lighter note, we're still eating soups. As much as I want to be grilling out in bare feet, it still isn't feasible. Soups it is-for another month or two.

Today's soup recipe is very healthy. It is gluten-free and is filled with green vegetables. It is not dairy-free, but you can use fat-free evaporated milk, skim milk, or any version of non-cow milk that you want.

I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this was. Usually when I think of broccoli soup, I think of some version that contains massive amounts of cheese. This is just as good-without the cheese. I think it will satisfy most all palates and diets. I've included it on all 3 menu plans for She Plans Dinner. (have you signed up for a menu subscription yet? You get 24-30 delicious recipes (plus sides), and 2 grocery lists. For only $5 a month!!!)

This photo is from Spain, where we made this soup for dinner. Notice the gorgeous baguette? No wonder I need a reset!
Cream of Broccoli Soup
3 large leeks
3 stalks celery
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp olive oil
5-1/2 cups chicken broth
3 (16 oz) packages frozen broccoli
3 cups white beans
1-1/2 tsp cumin
2 bay leafs
2-1/4 cups (1-1/2 12 oz cans) fat free evaporated milk or skim milk
kosher salt and black pepper

-Finely chop the leeks, and celery. Mince garlic.
-In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and celery and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or
until slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.
-Add the chicken broth, broccoli, beans, cumin, bay leafs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low
and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
-Add the evaporated milk and cook and additional 2 minutes, uncovered.
-Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the soup in small batches in a blender until
completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The perfect accompaniment to this soup is fresh bread, or fresh cornbread. I love my cornbread cakey sweet. Mr. Hippie likes his dry enough to suck all the moisture out of his body. This recipe is the perfect middle ground. Not too sweet, plus nice and moist. The sour cream provides some of the density. Some people make their cornbread without any flour. I don't. Feel free to experiment with the recipe, but I only guarantee the tasty results if you make as is.

Corn Bread
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 (16 oz) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1 stick butter, melted

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 2 (9x9”) pans.
-In a bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar and sugar. Make a well in the center.
-In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add sour cream, milk and melted butter. Stir into the dry ingredients, mixing only until combined.
-Pour into the 2 baking pans.
-Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Serve warm.
-You can halve this recipe to make just one pan.

Don't forget to have your clocks Spring forward this weekend!