Rustic Chorizo & Hearty Vegetable Soup

Happy New Year!

Ahh! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this space, hasn’t it? Fall sort of took off on me this year. Being busy in my portrait photography business often means other areas of my life end up neglected for a short time. This blog ended up being one of them!

I’m also sort of struggling with some things in my personal life. A bit of mild depression I think. I find it hard to get motivated to do much of anything lately and I’m sort of struggling emotionally. Days seem to just run into each other while time feels like it’s standing still. Part of it is seasonal I think. Part of it is also just feeling like I need to make some big changes in my life but I don’t know what yet. It’s times like this that I’m SO grateful to have such a fantastic husband. I can see that he often has no idea how to help or what to say, but the fact that he’s by my side unconditionally makes stuff much easier to deal with on the really tough days.

meh

Being emo about winter.

In other news, my paleo/primal/clean eating is going well despite the holidays! I totally over-indulged this Christmas and New Years and as a result, felt a big jiggly and guilty for the days following. Getting on track proved to be a bit of a challenge the first day or two but I’m over it now. I know that my body feels best when I do away with the wheat and refined sugar so remembering how great that feels is usually enough to whip my butt back into shape. To be totally honest, I am actually really happy with how I’m looking these days. Could I stand to lose more? Definitely. And I plan to. The bigger frustration I have these days comes from the way society and the fashion industry perceives us ‘healthy-but-less-than-skinny’ girls and how we’re made to feel about ourselves. But that’s probably a post (rant?) for another day. ;)

 

photo (55)

One thing I do know for sure is that I’d like to make more time for this blog. So assuming I can get my emotional stuff together, I hope to spend a bit more time here in the weeks and months ahead :) 

If I had to choose one thing that gets me excited about winter (and besides Christmas, there really is only one thing!), it’s the food. Each year when the crisp weather hits I look forward to the various soups, casseroles and other comfort foods I can make. This soup is one that comes highly recommended by everyone I’ve made it for so far. It’s loosely based on this recipe that I initially found via Pinterest but I’ve modified it quite a bit to suit my own family’s taste. And just like with any recipe you’ll find here – it’s very adaptable. Go ahead and add some lentils or another type of veggie if you like. This soup is hearty, healthy and with just the right amount of spicy kick to it, it’s like a hug from the inside out. What’s also great about this soup is that it freezes well. I sometimes freeze the left overs into family or personal size portions and thaw them for lunch on days that I know we’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. There is nothing like a warm bowl of this soup on a cold day. Trust me on this!

Chorizo Rustic Vegetable Soup

Rustic Chorizo and Hearty Vegetable Soup

– 2 tablespoon olive oil 
– 2 leeks, white parts only, washed thoroughly, thinly sliced
– 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, minced 
– 5-6 large spicy Chorizo sausages (I buy mine from Farm Boy here in Ottawa – THE BEST!)
– 2 carrots, sliced indo discs
– 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
– 4 medium potatoes, sliced
– 3 cups shredded cabbage 
– 2 900ml cartons of vegetable broth
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1/2 tsp dried dill
– 2 bay leaves

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and place the sausage in to cook, turning occasionally. Cook sausages at medium heat until no longer pink on the inside. Remove from pot and set aside. 

In same soup pot (while leaving all fat and delicious juicy bits from sausage frying in the pot) add in the finely chopped onion, finely chopped leeks, minced garlic and thinly sliced celery. Fry over medium heat until translucent. Add all spices and bay leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Add both cartons of vegetable broth and all vegetables. On cutting board, cut Chorizo sausages into small, bite sized chunks and add to soup as well. Stir to combine all ingredients and simmer on medium/low for 20-30 minutes or until all veggies are soft. Feel free to add water a 1/2 cup at a time if you’d like it a bit more brothy. Season to taste.

Rustic Chorizo and Hearty Vegetable Soup

 

Soup Recipe - A Soulful Appetite

Wheat Free Banana Bread with Camino fair trade Chocolate

It’s not too often I find wheat-free baked goods to taste nearly as delicious as things with wheat in them. Paleo or wheat-free baking can be….disappointing. It’s either the flavour that’s off or the texture. Sometimes it doesn’t even turn out edible at all. Not this time though, friends. Not this time. Not only have I finally discovered a recipe that measures up, I was even able to upgrade it from the original recipe on Primally Inspired to what I think tastes even better. This version of a traditional banana bread is not only delicious but the texture is great, the flavour is great and it’s a fab alternative to the regular wheat variety. If you are a strict Paleo eater, feel free to omit my little upgrades of chocolate in this or just substitute it all for a high % cocoa dark chocolate. 

camino chocolate

If you are a fan of A Soulful Appetite on Facebook, you may have noticed a little while ago that I had spilled the beans on a collaboration I’d be doing with Ten Thousand Villages Ottawa. The manager and I were speaking recently and thought it would be a fun idea for me to see what ways I could find to incorporate some of their delicious fair trade products into my recipes to share with you all! So every once in a while, these generous folks will give me some product to try. I look forward to trying new things and sharing them in this space. In the mean time, go check out Ten Thousand Villages Ottawa on Facebook and become a fan. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting this store in person, you really should! Not just for the fair trade food either! Their jewelry, gifts and home decor items are also gorgeous and unique! It’s one of my very favourite stores.

Wheat free banana bread fair trade chocolate

Double Chocolate Wheat Free Banana Bread

 – 4 very ripe, medium sized bananas, mashed.

– 1/3 cup coconut oil

– 9 squares (or 50g) of Camino Fair Trade semi-sweet baking chocolate

– 4 eggs

– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1/2 cup coconut flour

– 1 heaping tsp baking soda

– 1/4 tsp salt

 – Optional add-in: 1/2 a bar (50g) chopped dark Camino chocolate, Camino semi-sweet organic chocolate chips, nuts or a sprinkle of instant coffee.

 Preheat oven to 350. In a medium sized bowl (or the bowl for your stand mixer) mix together mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.

 In a small pot over low heat, melt coconut oil and Camino Fair Trade semi-sweet baking chocolate together, whisking until liquified. Pour into bowl with other ingredients and mix well until all ingredients are combined. You may mix in your optional ingredients at this point.

 Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil and pour batter in. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or until centre is set and a toothpick can be poked in the centre and comes out clean.

wheat free banana bread

 

banana bread loaf

 

slice of banana bread

 

Disclosure: I did receive this delicious chocolate at no cost to be used in a recipe to share with my readers (as mentioned above). As always, all opinions here are completely my own :)

Rustic Chicken and Pesto Tarts

Drop whatever it is you are doing and make. this. now. Trust me on this. You won’t be disappointed.

Rustic Chicken and Pesto Tarts
Granted, it doesn’t take much to impress me in the kitchen. If it’s easy, tastes good and looks good it’s pretty much a win. But this really is one of my most favorite recipes I’ve shared here so far. I know, I know…it’s all wheaty and gluteny and what not. But I’m kind of in the mindset lately that if I’m going to eat bready type stuff as an occasional treat, I may as well make it worth it. No fast food sandwiches or junky, doughy pizzas. But a scrumptious, homemade tart made with flaky, buttery puff pastry? YES PUHLEEZ! Totally worth it.

If you are like me, you will be eating these Chicken and Pesto Tarts as a meal. One will should serve two people. Alternatively, these would also be so nice cut up in smaller pieces and served as an appetizer. If you do decide to do this, be sure you make two or three. Your guests will definitely want more. :)

Roasted Garlic
Being the non food snob that I am, I also want you to know that I totally used store bought pastry and pesto for this. Mainly for convenience laziness reasons. Someday I may venture into the pesto and pastry making world but today is not that day. I’ve got kids home all day on summer break and I’m lucky if I get to use the bathroom alone. So for this I used Classico Pesto and the President’s Choice Puff Pastry found in the frozen food isle of my Loblaws store. Their puff pastry is actually perfect for this because it comes with two in the box. Making both of these will feed my family of four and often there is a bit left over too!

Chicken Pesto Tarts Recipe

Rustic Chicken and Pesto Tarts

– 2 small chicken breasts, grilled
– 4 big tbsp pesto (or more if you like)
– 2 pre-rolled sheets of butter puff pastry (I use these)
– 1 bulb of roasted garlic (or minced garlic if you don’t have time to roast some!)
– 1 medium ripe tomato
– 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2. Using thawed Puff Pastry, unroll onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Using a fork, stab pastry evenly all over to prevent too much puff while cooking.

3. Spread two heaping tablespoons of pesto on each pastry and spread it around over the surface of each. (If you love it as much as I do, feel free to use a bit more pesto!) Once pesto is evenly distributed, spread roasted or minced garlic over that. Then the shredded mozza and grilled chicken. Slice tomato thinly and place slices over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until edges are golden roasted and cheese is bubbly. At the halfway point you may want to rotate these on the oven racks. If your oven cooks as unevenly as mine, that is!

Rustic Chicken Tarts Recipe