You know, I’m not much for measuring stuff in the kitchen.
I’ll pause here for the audible gasp likely coming from those who know me in all other aspects of life and practice…where being, um, let’s just say, exactingsometimes edges into the weird, obsessive zone.
When I was 3, I’d wail in anguish if one of my toys—arranged in a perfectly straight line, of course—fell slightly askew.
Now, at 40, I’ve been known to wake at 3 a.m., realizing: A) I need to contract or relax this or that muscle slightly differently in a particular yoga posture, B) I want to add this or that herb to a patient’s prescription in order to make a good formula an amazing one, and/or C) I absolutely must fix this or that line of wording in paragraph 4 of my latest blog post.
So, thankfully (for all parties involved—particularly those closest to me), I’m not much for measuring stuff in the kitchen.
Maybe this is because I always considered myself a lousy cook…and generally avoided kitchens until my late 30s. As a result, cooking now feels very childlike—very much like play.
But, also as a result, certain standby recipes turn out different every time (and tend to evolve over time because I very quickly stop bothering to look back at the original recipe).
Soups are a big one for this.
I love simple soups and have been craving them lots lately.
Especially super-simple veggie ones that are super-thick like puree—my version of a smoothie (but since the soup contents are cooked, they’re way easier on the digestion and way superior so far as bioavailable nutrients).
I try to make at least one soup a week—rarely with a recipe (even rarer with actual measuring spoons).
The general instructions go like this:
1. Heat a heaping spoonful of ghee or coconut oil in a large stock pot, then add a heaping handful of chopped onions and saute until soft and slightly golden (at least a few minutes, often 7-ish minutes or more—just don’t burn them).
Around minute 5 or so, you can throw in some finely chopped garlic and ginger too.
(And, if you want to get fancy, sprinkle some cumin, coriander or other spices into the heated oil 30 seconds before adding the onions, garlic and ginger.)
2. While the onions, garlic and ginger are sauteing, roughly chop your core veggies (and/or fruits) of choice. For the apple-fennel-ginger soup pictured above, this meant chopping up 2 fennel bulbs (and a bit of the green stalks) and 2 Granny Smith apples.
3. Once the onions are soft and slightly golden, dump in the chopped veggies and/or fruits. Add a cup or so of water or simple soup stock (making sure it’s sugar-free), along with a sprinkle of any additional spices that strike your fancy. For the soup pictured, I added cumin and cinnamon along with some fresh thyme leaves.
Sometimes I’ll add a splash of coconut aminos here too—but the “whether and when” of that is pretty random. Oh, and I generally add sea salt and cracked pepper just before eating, but you could do so during the cooking process instead.
4. Bring everything to a near-boil, then immediately reduce to very low, cover the pot, and let your creation simmer. How long depends on what’s in the pot—the idea is to have your veggies slightly soft but not total mush, and some take longer than others. I just check on them every few minutes, stirring everything around and making sure there’s enough liquid in there (if not, I add a little water).
5. Once cooking seems complete, (carefully) dump the contents of the pot into a blender (we use a Vitamix) and puree until your soup reaches desired consistency.
You can add more water or broth at this point if the soup isn’t thin enough for you. (I like mine so thick and clumpy, I could eat it with a fork.) Another optional addition is full-fat, organic coconut milk.
So simple. So fast. So nourishing. So open to creativity, play and variation.
Now, when Randy makes soup, he stays way closer to the rules…following recipes and wielding measuring spoons with a (messy yet sexy) fervor.
And, I must admit, his soups taste pretty spectacular (especially the carrot-apple-ginger ones).
But they also require a little more care and attention (not necessarily the best ones to make while juggling other dishes during a full-blown Sunday cook-up).
Anyway, here are some great soups to try if you want a more specific recipe (or something fancier) than my “let’s see how this turns out” version above.
I’m thinking we’ll make at least one of these this week (in addition to at least one of my recipe-less, measurement-free creations). You can find photos (linking to recipes) on the “Paleo-Primal Soups Board” of our Pinterest page:
• Ginger Carrot Soup
• Beet and Tomato Soup
• Creamy Rosted Parsnip Soup
• Thai Coconut Soup
• Leftover Roasted Chicken Soup with Roasted Vegetables
(Leftover Roasted Chicken Soup with Roasted Vegetables, recipe and photo by Against All Grain)
And, of course, to accompany this week’s soups, we’ll have a nice selection of animal proteins…
The first two days we’ll do a repeat of the Thai meatballs featured in this post, a couple weeks back. They were PHENOMENAL (and the soup that goes with was pretty good too).
(Ginger Acorn Squash Soup with Thai Meatballs—meatballs were supposed to be “mini,” but ours were super-sized; “soup” was more like mash here—’cause we like it that way)
Next, we’ll move on to chicken (rubbed with ghee; sprinkled with paprika, garlic salt, sea salt and pepper; roasted on 400 for 25 minutes)—goes perfectly with soup, green olives and fresh veggies.
By the end of the week, we’ll likely buy fish or a couple ginormous steaks (Randy cooks those—super-simple and fast).
Meanwhile, today’s cook-up will include lots of staples for the Phase 2, Week 3 ahead.
You know…carrot fries, yams, squashes—that sort of thing.
And beets, of course. Lots and lots of beets. Plus plenty of hard-boiled eggs.
(Randy’s late-afternoon snack: purple potato and a hardboiled egg)
Have a favorite paleo-primal soup? Please share it in the comments!
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