Thursday, February 5, 2009

Take stock: Boost your savings with your own delicious home-made soups.

Yikes! The yo-yo stock market is hammering your portfolio and you’re looking for belt-tightening measures to increase your liquidity? Time to diversify. Skip the soup lines at your usual lunch joint, buy chicken, beef or vegetable stock and make your own hearty soups for your workday lunches. Guaranteed your piggy bank will fatten up in a hurry while you slim down—skipping the standstill line-dance ritual in favour of a vigorous run in the park. Vigorous, because you’ll be so darned giddy and energized with all the money you’re saving. No need for the Tummy Fat Savings Account (TSFA) now!

Your blue chip scheme will involve a weekly upfront investment; spending time with a large stock pot, employing a big, sharp knife and diversifying mutual veggies. Other one-time investments may include: outlay for glass containers to store and reheat your lunch shares, a hand-held immersion blender—the kitchen weapon of choice for quick and convenient soup making—and maybe a slow-cooker. Don’t bother blending your soups with a food processor or counter-top blender. They often overflow (spewing soup all over you and your kitchen walls) and compel you to transfer hot liquid back and forth between several pots—a messy, risky, inefficient venture in my books!

By Day Four of your new investment plan, you’ll begin to hear and feel a healthy Return on Investment; extra toonies jingling in your pocket and the need for suspenders to hold up your ever-loosening pants loaded down by a heavy wallet. By Day Five, you’ll go public and share your “secret” with like-minded stockholders. On Day Six you’ll be issuing soup dividends on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On Day Seven issue credit to yourself for launching a healthy, grassroots investment scheme and take your savings to the bank! Back to Day One again and you’ll hear about serious corrections in the markets; do not pass go, stick to your strategy, and try these delicious soup recipes.

Carrot Soup
3 tbsp butter
6-8 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin circles
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
2 med potatoes, peeled and diced
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped ginger
2 tsp smooth peanut butter
1 tsp curry
¼ cup sour cream or yogurt

Melt butter in a large pot, add carrot, garlic and onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in potato, reduce heat to low, cover and sweat vegetables about 4-5 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Season to taste. Reduce heat and allow soup to simmer, covered for 25 minutes. Puree soup with hand held blender. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt. Garnish with herbs.

Tomatoe Soup

1 med onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, finely chopped
3 tbsp butter
2 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes. Whole tomatoes are fine, but chop them up.
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup heavy cream or half&half, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil to taste
Heat butter in soup pot on med-low heat. Add onion and carrot, and sprinkle with salt. Sautee until onion and carrot are soft. Add canned tomatoes, including liquid. Turn up heat to med-high. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Reduce heat and add flour. Mix well to get rid of lumps. Cook for two minutes. Add chicken broth, cook until soup is hot, not boiling. Using a hand held blender, blend soup until it is smooth in texture. Add some of the hot broth to the cream. Mix well, then pour cream into soup. Add basil. Cook until soup is desired thickness.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 cups chicken stock or broth
4 cups half and half
1/4 cup sherry, port or Madeira or Riesling wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped or dried parsley and basil to taste.
Melt butter in soup pot on med-low heat. Add onions and salt. Sautee onions until they are soft. Add mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add flour in a bit at a time, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add broth a bit at a time, stirring constantly. After enough broth has been added to make everything liquid, add the rest of the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. The flour will thicken the soup a bit. Add cream, pepper, basil and parsley. Gently simmer the soup, without boiling for about ten minutes, to allow the flavors to mix. Add the sherry, port or wine; stir and serve.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoe Soup

*May also be slow-cooked for 2-3 hrs in a soup pot on the stove, stir every 15 min.
2 dried New Mexico Chili (mild) peppers
2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (optional) diced jalapeno pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
4 cups peeled, ½” cubed sweet potatoes
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 tsp grated lime zest (peel)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 roasted red peppers cut into thin strips (bottled are fine)
finely chopped cilantro
Soak chilies in boiling water for 30 min. Drain, discard liquid and stems. Pat dry, chop and set aside. In a skillet, heat oil over med heat. Add onions and cook, Stir until soft. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, salt oregano, and reserved chilies. Cook for 1 min. Transfer to slow cooker pot, add sweet potatoes and broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hrs OR on high for 4-6 hrs. Purée with a hand-held blender in the slow-cooker pot. Add corn, lime, zest and juice. Cover and cook another 20 minutes until corn is tender. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with red peppers strips and cilantro.

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk

2 cups red lentils
1tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black peppercorns
a few drops hot pepper sauce (to taste)
1 28 oz can tomatoes, including juice
2 large carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 14 oz can coconut milk
optional: finely chopped cilantro

In a colander, rinse lentils thoroughly under cold water. Set aside. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, salt, peppercorns and a few drops hot pepper sauce. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in carrots, lentils, lemon juice and broth. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours until carrots are tender and mixture is bubbling. Stir in coconut milk and cook on HIGH for 20-30 minutes, until heated through. When serving, garnish each serving with cilantro, if using.

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