Dinner · meal planning · soup

Weekly meal plan 9/12/17

“I’m going on a diet when we get home!” says every person ever after a vacation. We spent a long weekend in Michigan, where we ate and drank so many good things, and now we’re on the “only healthy things” train. I’m menu planning for the week (I’ve been slipping) so that I can shop once and be done and so that we’ll make smart choices this week.
This is what the week will look like:
Spinach and chickpeas
Easy cauliflower fried rice I’m so-so on cauliflower rice. I find that if it’s highly seasoned, I like it, but if it’s bland I’d rather just have rice. So I’m going to try this recipe and see how it goes.
Smoked turkey lentil soup
Easy Thai green curry with whatever assortment of vegetables I have in the fridge, but definitely red and yellow peppers and zucchini
I also may add another soup to the mix, or make my favorite Swiss Chard and Potato Enchiladas.

Dinner · soup

Three soups for you


(photo c/o CookingLight.com)

All I want to eat lately is soup.

Let me rephrase that: All I’m eating lately is soup.

Within the past week, I’ve made three big pots of soup. Lunch at work every day this week has been leftover soup and my favorite Fall salad (which I can share with you another day, if you’re interested). Soup every day sounds boring, I know, but it’s not. Most soups/stews taste even better the second day – or fourth, in my case – because the flavors have had time to settle in and get comfortable.
Here are links to the three soups I made this week. They’re all really easy to make and have a ton of flavor. Enjoy!

North Woods Bean Soup: I buy whole carrots and chop them into bite-size pieces (think the size of  a chickpea)  instead of using baby carrots.
Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup: I roast the carrots, sweet potatoes and apple instead, but I’m sure the recipe as is, is great, too.
Split Pea Soup: I use this recipe for smoked turkey lentil soup, but use green split peas instead. It’s an easy substitution.


Golden Potato-Leek Soup


Once fall arrives and the temperature drops below 65 degrees, I’m in full-on soup mode.

There are a few recipes that I turn to time and time again, including smoked turkey lentil soup (make it now!) and this Golden Potato-Leek Soup. This soup is delicious and so simple. Seven ingredients and 30 minutes. That’s it. The result is a warm, creamy (without any cream) soup that’s great as a starter and even better served with crusty bread or cornbread for a full meal.

Golden Potato-Leek Soup

Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 medium)

6 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

2 (14-ounce) cans organic vegetable or chicken broth

2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed, or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme

Melt butter or oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).

Add potatoes, water, salt, broth and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

Turn off the heat. If you have an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot until smooth. Stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.

If using a regular blender, transfer the soup, in batches, to the blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.


Ginger carrot soup

Ginger. Carrots. Sweet potatoes.  Bring on the beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin E!

Ginger carrot soup

1 pound of carrots, peeled and cubed (about 1 inch)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 1 inch)

1 small white onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, skin removed

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)

3-4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

1 pinch of cinnamon



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots, sweet potato, onion and garlic cloves with salt and pepper and the oil. Place on a large baking sheet and roast until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Heat 4 cups of broth on the stove in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer.

When the vegetables are done, let cool for a bit and transfer to a blender. Add 3 cups of the warm broth to the blender, the grated ginger and a pinch of cinnamon and puree until smooth (make sure the lid is secure!). You may need to add more broth. If so, add 1/4 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.

Transfer the soup to a saucepan and heat on low until ready to serve. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with cilantro. (I added a dollop of Greek yogurt, but it’s not necessary).

Dinner · soup

Turkey Chili with Pumpkin

The first cookbook I ever ordered was Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen (my copy of this book is so old that the cover is different!). I ordered it shortly after I graduated from college, started my first job, bought my first car and moved into my first apartment. I’m not sure what made me order the book. I suspect I was tired of eating  Lean Cuisine glazed chicken (I lived on these in college because they were readily available at the university ‘grocery’ store) and wanted to try cooking something for myself. This book was a great way to ease me into being comfortable in the kitchen. The recipes are incredibly simple, but the results are really good. For a beginning cook, that’s what you need.

One recipe I come back to again and again is the book’s recipe for Chili con Carne. Onion, garlic, ground turkey, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, liquid, beans. That’s it. It’s not a complicated recipe, but it’s a great starter chili and a great base recipe. I’ve made this chili more times that I can count. I find that this recipe never really fails and when I want an uncomplicated chili that I can make in a hurry, this is what I make.

Today, was not one of those in-a-hurry days. It’s 57 degrees outside and raining so I figured today was a perfect day for the first big pot of chili of the season. My first impulse was to make the tried and true recipe, but I wanted to do something a little different.

A couple of days ago, a friend asked if I like pumpkin. I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin pie, but pumpkin muffins, scones, bread and pancakes are delicious. I don’t eat a lot of savory pumpkin, though. In the fall and winter, I look forward to cooking with various types of squash in savory recipes, but I hardly ever use pumpkin. Today was the day I decided to jump on the savory pumpkin train and make turkey pumpkin chili.

This chili is delicious! The pumpkin flavor isn’t strong, but it adds a sweet (but not sugary) undertone to the chili. Also, pumpkin is all kinds of healthy. Pumpkins have a lot of common nutrients, like iron, zinc, and fiber. It’s rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping the immune system of an individual strong and healthy. And it’s good. So there’s that.

The good thing about this recipe is that the simple base:  Onion, garlic, ground turkey, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, liquid, beans. It’s the quality of the ingredients that are going to boost the chili. Buy ground meat from a source you trust. Use the best, freshest spices you can find. Use organic broth.

Snuggle in for the night and watch a movie on the couch while enjoying a big bowl of this chili.

Turkey Chili with Pumpkin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced (feel free to use less. we like garlic)

1 pound ground turkey

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

2 cups (or 1 15 oz can) pumpkin puree

1 (15 oz) can black beans

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups organic beef broth*


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion and bell pepper until tender. Stir in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown. Push the mixture to the side of the pot and add the garlic and spices. Stir the spices for about 20 seconds to allow them to toast. Mix with the turkey mixture. Add the pumpkin and cook for 1 minute. Taste the mixture and adjust spices as needed. Mix in tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add the beans and let cook on low for an additional 10 minutes. Serve topped with chopped cilantro.

*I like the flavor the beef broth gives to chili. Feel free to substitute organic chicken broth or organic vegetable broth.

Dinner · soup

Smoked Turkey-Lentil Soup

The first time I made this recipe, I ate one bowl and Jim at the rest.

Yes, he ate a crock-pot full of lentil soup.

To his credit, he felt bad and called me to apologize, but I just laughed at him.

It’s good soup.

Now, I make sure to double the original recipe and that way, we can have soup for more than one meal. This is the easiest, tastiest lentil soup I’ve ever made. It may even be the best lentil soup I’ve ever eaten. We were at a Mediterrian restaurant a few weeks ago and ordered their lentil soup. It didn’t compare to this one.

This is total comfort food, and with fall right around the corner, this soup is the perfect meal on a chilly night. Just place all the ingredients in a crock-pot,* turn it on and in a few hours you have a hot, smokey, hearty, protein-packed filling soup that you will make again and again.

One note: Take the time to find the smoked turkey. It’s the ingredient that puts this soup over the top.

Smoked Turkey-Lentil Soup

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 8 cups organic vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 (8-ounce) smoked turkey leg (or smoked turkey wing or thighs)
  • 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (largish) carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small potato, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Crumbled Feta cheese, optional
  • Salt, to taste


  • 1. Place first 11 ingredients in a 3- to 4-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until lentils are tender and turkey falls off the bone.
  • 2. Remove turkey leg from cooker. Remove and discard skin. Shred meat; return to cooker, discarding bone. Add salt to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with Feta cheese, if desired.

*You also can make this recipe in a stock or soup pot if you don’t have a crock-pot.

Combine all the ingredients except the turkey and Feta in a large pot.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Cook, covered for about 30 minutes.

Add turkey pieces and cook for about 15 minutes more, until the turkey is thoroughly heated through. Ladle into bowl and garnish with Feta cheese.