Warm hugs and hot soup… two of my favourite things.
It all started sitting on the floor playing lego with my 4 year old when I asked him what we should make for dinner. “Hot soup with crusty bread”… (huh?) High-fiving wildly on the inside, I checked again… and sure enough, the request was indeed.. soup! So I grabbed my jacket and ran to the bakery for a fresh loaf of rye sourdough before heading back my stove, ready to oblige his humble and healthy request for soup.
Scouring through my fridge, I remembered a delicious pepper soup my sister made me while visiting this summer. I assembled a few ingredients I thought would work well using the idea of her soup – but heartier. And what transpired was a new favourite meal. A comforting winter soup that feels like eating your way through a warm bowl of hugs. Don’t you love those moments, when what you set out to do is a simple meal using whatever you happen to have on hand, that then end up making an pretty great, repeat-worthy meal!?
I started roasting the peppers and zucchini and got chopping all the basics of a great soup – onion, garlic and ginger root. And by the end we all ended up having creamy soup with crusty rye that night. And even the kids went back for second helpings. So here ya have it… I thought it was too good and too simple not to share.
Red lentils are perfect for soup as the almost completely disappear when cooked. Visible or not, they add a great amount of plant protein to a meal and are also an amazing source of fibre, making this soup extra satisfying and great for digestive health.
Fresh chives, chilli flakes + fresh parmesan to top (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 C.
Split the romano peppers open by cutting them length wise and discard the stem and seeds. Cut the zucchini length wise and place them in the oven to roast for 25 minutes until fragrant and soft.
While the veggies are roasting, heat a large pot and melt a little butter or oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft - about 5 minutes. Then add ginger and leave for another minute or so.
Add in chopped carrot, sweet potato, vegetable stock, lentils and spices and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the lentils completely cooked.
Once the vegetables in the oven are roasted, place them in a blender (or if using a hand held blender put them in a bowl).
Once the soup mix is cooked, add that to the blender as well and blend until smooth (or as smooth as you want it). Alternatively you can use a handheld blender as well and blend it in the pot.
Top with fresh chives, chilli flakes, parmesan and crusty bread.
Sore throats and throat infections go hand in hand with cold winter months. And as an avid believer in avoiding anti-biotics unless absolutely necessary, I recently found myself challenged by a nasty throat infection that I needed to beat without antibiotics due to the pregnancy. So naturally, I started searching through my kitchen, ran to my local health food store and stocked up on some of my favourite immune boosting foods. And to my great relief, 3 days later it was as good as gone! Natural foods and their healing properties can be so effective, especially when infections are caught early on. And I hope some of the suggestions below will help and inspire you for next time you’re feeling a little under the weather.
Apple cider vinegar is one of my favourite staples and great for sore and infected throats due to its antibacterial properties. Add it to some warm water with fresh lemon juice and drink or gargle it raw a few times a day to help “flush” the painful/infected area. Make sure to get a raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” which is the effective part.
Ginger is a natural anesthetic, numbing the mouth and providing instant relief. It is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. I usually go for a large shot at my local juice bar, but if you can’t get your hands on a proper raw shot, you can also add a good amount of raw ginger to your smoothie or make your own tea by grating fresh ginger and boiling it in a pot for 5-10 minutes before straining and drinking it hot or cold.
Raw garlic is another effective remedy that prevent and treat sore throats due to its antiseptic and immune boosting benefits. Add garlic (preferably raw) to your food or take a garlic tablets if you don’t like the taste (ask at your local health food store for the best product).
Using a humidifier is also super helpful as they add moisture to the air, preventing your throat from becoming dry. These are especially amazing if you add essential oils. A good friend of mine has bene supplying me with Young Living’s Thieves oil and it has worked wonders for us this winter. I add 3-4 drops to my diffuser and leave it overnight. Alternatively you can also drop 1 drop under your tongue once or twice a day or dilute it with a carrier oil and rub it under your feat several times a day (this is amazing and safe for kids too).
Salt water gargles can be very helpful as they help prevent bacterial growth and flush out the area while loosening phlegm (mix 1 tsp in 240 ml water) and gargle several times a day. Remember to use a new cup every time to avoid re-contamination.
Drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water helps loosen phlegm and helps flush out toxins from your system. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to make it even more effective, as lemon juice help kill germs and is rich in vitamin C.
Hot herbal teas. You can’t overdo the herbal teas, many of which have great medicinal properties as well. Some of my personal favourites include liquorice root, ginger, peppermint, echinacea and cinnamon.
Rest up. Even taking a day or two off exercising can help your body speed up recovery as even something as good as exercise can be a “stressor” in a negative sense when your body is trying to fight off sickness.
This chili is such a perfect and cosy Winter meal. It’s warming, easy and filled with nutrient dense vegetables and plant-based protein in the form of beans. Aside from being a great source of plant-protein, beans are also high fibre, making them super satisfying and great for digestion.
In an effort to save time in the evenings, and to be able to get help with evening meals leading up to the arrival of the baby, I’ve been trying to establish a rotation of a good handful of vegetarian meals that our entire family really love. And this one is definitely one of the favourites! Even better, it is a meal I can have last for several evenings by recreating it on second and sometimes third night.
Here are my top 3 ways to serve this Chili:
Serve it one its own, topped with guacamole, cashews and sour cream .
Serve it on top of rice and/or quinoa, topped with shredded cheese and a side of sautéed spinach. You could add corn chips with guacamole on the side.
Use it as filling in a tortilla and bake it topped with a little cheese. Then top off with salsa & avocado and a green salad.
This proves that healthy does not always mean hours in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy this!