Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ode to Soup

I love soups. I often make a big batch of various soups and freeze them in individual containers for future lunches or dinners. I eat soup all year long, but they are even more special during the winter. For the winter of 2010, I'm going to do an ode to soup series for my next several healthy cooking posts.

My sister received the 1 Stock, 100 Soups cookbook this past Christmas. It’s a very fun book. While we were at my parents’ house for the holidays, we tried out some of the recipes and made four of the 100 soups.

As you know, I feel free to experiment with any recipe and will often make variations and substitutions if I think I’ll like it better. Soup is very amendable to this. The following recipe is my version of the North African Soup Harira, the #88 soup on page 197 of the 1 Stock, 100 Soups Cookbook.

North African Harira

Serves 6 – 8


2 tbsp olive oil (I used a spray can of olive oil and really cut back on the oil used.)

8 – 16 oz lamb (the original recipe called for boneless lean lamb, cut into cubes, but I used lamb on the bone, cooked it whole - still on the bone to add more flavor to the soup broth – and shredded the meat at the end of cooking.)

1 onion, chopped

12 cups beef broth (I’m sure you could use vegetable or chicken broth if you prefer. I wanted a heartier broth.)

1 cup lentils (your choice – I used the regular lentils you can find easily at the grocery store.)

½ cup barley

1 can diced tomatoes

3 celery stalks, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp sugar (I used raw sugar)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ginger

1 – 2 tbsp fresh, flat-leaf parsley

salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the lamb and brown over medium heat 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened.

Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the soup is at a simmer. Add the lentils, barley, tomatoes, celery, carrots, red bell pepper and spices. Keep it at a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Add the can of garbanzo beans and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

If you used lamb meat on the bone (shanks, chops, etc.), pull the lamb. Let it cool and then shred.

When you are done cooking, you may think there is too much broth. Since you use so many legumes in this soup, they’ll absorb the broth as it sits. You may feel like you need to add extra broth after a couple days.

If you plan to freeze the soup, you may want to let it sit a day in the refrigerator so that it gets more flavorful before you freeze it.

This soup was a huge hit for the whole Butler family. I hope you like it as well.

Are you a big soup fan? Does it matter what time of the year it is? Do you have any favorite soup recipes you would like to share?


snickers on January 16, 2010 at 9:09 AM said...

Hi Michelle,

I love soup and I eat it all year long too. In the past year and a half I've lost almost fifty pounds with a holistic hospital based program called Intervent Lifestyle Management. It's alot like Weight Watchers but instead of group meetings I meet one-on-one with a mentor or coach. Soup is the food item I turn to if I feel an emotional eating binge coming on. It fills me up, makes me warm and tingly and it's healthy so no damage is done. I keep canned tomatoes, chicken broth and frozen veggies on hand as an emergency kit.

Here's a great soup recipe from Eating Well Magazine:

Ravioli Vegetable Soup-

Tip: Fresh or frozen ravioli cooks in minutes and can turn this light soup into a main course. Tortellini can be used in place of ravioli.

1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups frozen bell pepper and onion mix thawed
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes - perferably fire-roast (gosh I love fire-roasted tomatoes!)
1- 15 oz. vegetable broth or reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 tsp. dried basil or marjoram
1- 6-9oz. fresh or frozen cheese or meat ravioli ( I have used portobello mushroom ravioli and it's yummy too)
2 cups diced zucchini ( about 2 medium )
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pepper-onion mix, garlic and optional red pepper and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, water and basil (or marjoram); bring to a boil over high heat. Add ravioli and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add zucchini; return to a boil. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. This recipe takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and makes four servings of 2 cups each.

264 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving.

Thanks for the heads-up about the cookbook and for sharing a recipe you've tried.

I hope you and everyone at Healthy Writer have a "souper" day.
Sorry, couldn't help myself.
Nancy E. Gibson

Michelle Butler on January 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM said...


Thanks so much for sharing the soup recipe. I think my sister will absolutely love it, and I plan to share it with her too.

Congratulations on the 50 pound weight loss! That is so impressive. I've not heard of your program. Do you meet with a coach once a week?

Have a souper day too! :)

Karen on January 16, 2010 at 12:42 PM said...

Wonderful post--and how timely! I just made a big pot of vegetable soup. It's an old WW recipe that uses dry Hidden Valley dressing mix for the spice. Love it!

Michelle Butler on January 16, 2010 at 1:06 PM said...

Thanks, Karen! Do you mind sharing the recipe? My sister has already decided to make Nancy's soup for a soup dinner party she is hosting tomorrow night, and I'm thinking about making it this weekend too. I'd love to consider your recipe too. :)

Karen on January 17, 2010 at 2:44 PM said...

Vegetable soup

1 large can crushed tomatoes
2T dry Hidden Valley dressing mix
1 16.oz. can cut green beans*
1 16 oz. can cut carrots*
1 4 oz can mushroom stems and pieces

*I think the 16 oz cans of vegetables have been downsized to 14.5 oz in most markets.

Combine tomatoes and dressing mix on low heat and stir until combined. Drain vegetables and refill the cans with fresh water. Add to tomato/dressing mix liquid. Heat thoroughly. Or simmer for half an hour or so. As with almost all vegetable-based soups, it’s better the next day and the day after that. This recipe is an unlimited food on the Weight Watchers program.

If I want to give this soup a little more punch I add a second can of tomatoes, this time diced, along with a can of corn and a can of diced potatoes. Be sure to rinse the potatoes thoroughly as starch tends to accumulate at the bottom of the can. The last time I made this recipe the yield was 15 cups! It freezes beautifully, by the way.

The original recipe can also be halved by using a 16 oz can of tomatoes, 1T dry mix and 4 oz. cans of veggies.


Michelle Butler on January 17, 2010 at 7:30 PM said...

Thanks so much, Karen! This is another perfect recipe for my sister. I'm always looking for healthy, no-chop (or almost not chopping) recipes for her since she has little to no use of her right arm and hand due to a stroke.

snickers on January 18, 2010 at 11:04 AM said...

Hi Michelle,

You asked if I meet with my Intervent mentor once a week. When I began the program I did meet with her once a week but after twelve weeks I started going every two weeks and around the nine month mark I started seeing her once a month. If I needed more help, I could come more often. I signed back up after a year because I have about twenty-five pounds to go to get to my goal and I wanted to keep learning everything I could to stay healthy and keep the weight coming off. Debby, my coach is not only trained in this program, she is an R.N. and a walking nutritional enyclopedia. We discuss stress management and exercise too. You can learn more by visiting

This program is in a bunch of hospitals all over the country. It's not terribly expensive either.

BTW, I put the ingredients for your soup on my grocery list for this week. I can't wait to make it.

Take care,
Nancy E. Gibson

snickers on January 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM said...

Thanks for your recipe Karen!

The fact that this soup has Hidden Valley seasoning in it makes it very interesting in a yummy way. This is going on my list too. I'm going to try it with thawed frozen veggies since that's what my husband and I seem to eat the most of now. However, my sis-in-law and daughter detest frozen veggies so it's nice to know I can make this for them and they'll like it. I'll like it either way.

Nancy G

Michelle Butler on January 18, 2010 at 1:50 PM said...

Thanks, Nancy, for the additional information about the intervent program. I'm so glad it's working well for you.

I hope you like the soup! It was a huge hit with my parents and sister - though she preferred the next two soups I'm posting about.

Michelle Butler on January 18, 2010 at 6:10 PM said...


I just made the ravioli (used asparagus and cheese in whole wheat pasta) and vegetable soup for dinner. Yummy! I did do a few variations - I chopped 2 onions and a big green pepper instead of using frozen, used two cans of broth and no water, and added italian seasoning instead of basil or marjoram. I couldn't find fire roasted tomatoes so just used regular crushed. Thanks again!

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