Italian Meatball Soup

Over the course off this past school year, probably fueled mostly by health-issue related tiredness and a general feeling of unwell, I decided to revisit the Whole 30 way of eating. I had completed a Whole 30 on two different occasions after Hunter was born, but never really committed to it beyond the 30 days.  In October, I decided I was going to do another one, and I really made a point of working with recipes that made this way of eating less boring.  After the first few days of feeling terrible, you enter what they call in the Whole 30 community, call the “Tiger Blood” stage.  You just feel amazing.  I was sleeping better than I had in a long time, my energy levels were great, my skin looked amazing, and overall I just felt better.  

 

My colleague and friend took notice of this, and when November rolled around, she decided to join me in this lifestyle.  We both committed to 30 days in November, and I feel like having a partner through the journey helped me stay committed.  We commiserated about missing wine and chocolate, and we brought each other Whole 30 compliant snacks and powered through.  My friend was noticing the same positive health impacts as I did and we were both feeling pretty motivated.  Things fell a bit apart over Christmas, but I did notice how I felt when I ate certain foods that maybe weren’t the best for me.  We came back to school in January, ready to start another Whole 30.  

 

At this point, the Whole 30 cookbook came out.  It is full of amazing meals.  This soup is one that I’ve adapted from the cookbook, and it has become one of my go-to’s for lunches.  I often double the batch and freeze portions that are easy to pull out during the week for lunch.  My husband also really enjoys this one and was shocked to hear it was a Whole 30 recipe.

 

I tend to lean towards using fresh herbs in this recipe whenever I can, as I feel like it just gives it a better taste.  You can also sub out the kale for any greens that you prefer (the original recipe calls for Swiss chard).

 

Try this one out, and serve it with a nice crusty Italian bread if you are so inclined.  This one is filling and hearty, and can be served straight up for dinner.  Enjoy!

 

Meatballs

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground pork

⅓ cup minced fresh parsley

½ tbsp. Salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

¼ c. warm water

1 tsp. cream of tartar

½ tsp. baking soda

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the pork, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

In a small bowl, mix together the water, cream of tartar, and baking soda (the mixture will bubble). Add the water mixture to the meat mixture and combine. Shape the meat mixture into 1-inch balls.

Place the meatballs on the baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are browned. Let cool.

Soup

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. dried oregano, crushed (fresh is even better if you have it)

½ tsp. dried basil, crushed (fresh is even better if you have it)

½ tsp. dried parsley

¼ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. granulated garlic

⅛ tsp. onion powder

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

4 cups chicken broth

1 bunch kale, stemmed and leaves cut into 1-inch strips

Handful of fresh basil leaves, minced

1 portion pork meatballs (from above recipe)

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, minced garlic, oregano, dried basil, parsley, salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Cook until the tomato paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes with their juices, broth, kale, and meatballs to the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the soup is heated through and the kale is wilted and just tender, about 10 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh basil.

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Nothing says fall like Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

A friend of mine had the most brilliant idea.  She invited me to a fall soup exchange.  The idea is that everyone who is invited makes 4 freezer bags full of soup.  On the day of the exchange, I will leave her house with 4 freezer bags of a variety of soup.  Like a Christmas cookie exchange, except healthier and four meals basically done for me.  Win!

My favourite soup to make in the fall is any involving butternut squash.  Butternut squash is so healthy for you, full of vitamins and minerals which make your skin glow, and let’s be real, everyone could use some extra glow, especially as the weather turns colder.

Soup is one of those things that I don’t actually use recipes for.  You can’t really mess it up.  So this post has more of a step-by-step thing going on, without too many measurements given.  Change it up to work with what you like, but here is the basic idea.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds.  Place the squash face up on a foil lined baking sheet and brush on some melted butter (or olive oil), and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop it in the oven and bake until it is tender and pierces easily with a fork, about 1.5 hours.

All nice and roasty

All nice and roasty

 

While your squash is roasting away, melt about a tablespoon of butter in a large stock pot.

IMG_5701

 

Now, coarsely chop up a sweet onion.  It doesn’t have to be finely chopped, because eventually you are going to blend the soup with an immersion blender.

Coarsely chopped onion

Coarsely chopped onion

 

Saute the onion in the melted butter in the stock pot until it starts to soften up a bit.

Saute the onion in the butter

Saute the onion in the butter

 

While your onion is cooking, coarsely dice up about 4-6 pears (or apples, I just happened to have pears in the fridge).  I like to leave the skins on for extra fibre and nutrients, just make sure you wash them well.

IMG_5705

 

Add the pears into the pot with the onions and continue to saute for a few more minutes.

Pears and onions

Pears and onions

 

Once your onions and pears are soft and onion have started to brown, pour in about 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower the temperature to a simmer.  I also added a splash of white wine that I had open in the fridge at this point, gave it a nice taste.  Add in some salt, pepper, and a dash of cinnamon to taste.

Stock added as well as spices

Stock added as well as spices

 

At this point, if your butternut squash is done roasting, remove the peel and cut into chunks.  I actually just scooped the squash out of the skin and added it to the soup.

Scooping out the squash

Scooping out the squash

 

Once all the squash is added to the pot, give it the soup a stir and continue to simmer so all the flavours mesh.

Stirring in the squash

Stirring in the squash

 

Simmering away

Simmering away

 

After the soup has simmer for a bit, remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (you could use a regular blender, I just find the immersion blender less messy!).

Nice and smooth

Nice and smooth

 

Once smooth, season further to taste, and you’re done!  At this point you could also mix in some milk, or sour cream.  For the soup exchange I was trying to keep things dairy free.

When serving, garnish with a dallop of sour cream and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  Delicious.

Yum!

Yum!