Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Check Me Out, I Made Soup!

Usually Sunday night is our Family Movie Night. We pop popcorn on the stove and find a movie on the DVR list or on Netflix to watch. It's the one night of the week that we set aside for the family. 

Well...popcorn doesn't really fit into our new clean eating thing. At least, not the way we usually make it! Popped in a pan with oil and then pour popcorn butter and salt all over it...Mmmmm....I mean, uh, so not healthy, right?

I know that we still can eat popcorn if it's prepared right, but this past Sunday we made up a new tradition. 

Sunday morning at church some dear friends of ours gave our kids a Mayo Clinic Kids Cookbook. 

It's a really great cookbook. It's written for kids, so it has lots of descriptions of cooking terms, weight measurements, nutrition facts. The girls were super excited. 

So that night, as I was trying to come up with a replacement for popcorn, I thought we could give a recipe a try for dinner.
First of all, I consider it a MAJOR accomplishment that I had any ingredients on hand to make any recipe on short notice. That almost never happens.

Truth is, I didn't have all the ingredients, but I decided to wing it. That is something else that rarely happens in my kitchen...but I'm learning to broaden my horizons.

We picked a vegetable soup that seemed pretty easy. Of course, I had never made soup before...so I was just guessing that it was easy. 

Since I really didn't have many ingredients that were listed...I ended up using the recipe more as a guideline...and just did my own thing. I have to say...it was pretty fun!

But the most fun was finally having "time" to teach my 7-year-old how to cook. She was really interested and had a lot of fun reading the directions and cutting up the vegetables. It was good bonding time for the two of us!

I call this Vegetable Dump Soup because I basically grabbed whatever veggies I had in my fridge, and you can do the same.

Bring all the vegetables and broth to a boil in a soup pot.
One of the main things that I changed from the original recipe is that it called for Vegetable Bouillon. I swapped that for homemade vegetable broth. 

A few weeks ago, as I was perusing the internet, I read a comment left on a blog somewhere about how you can use all the vegetable scraps that usually get thrown away. Put them in a gallon freezer bag and keep it in the freezer, adding to it until it's full. Once it's full, cook it in a pot of water for a couple hours to make your own Vegetable Broth, strain out the yucky stuff, and then freeze the broth. So I did just that and it worked beautifully

I really didn't expect to use the broth, much less use it as soon as I did, but I'm sure glad I had it! It made the soup taste amazing and it was WAY less sodium than bouillon.

Add pasta and EAT!
I'm really in awe of how well this last minute dinner worked out. It used up some broth (boosting my confidence in my efforts), it used up some vegetables that were on their last leg, it provided family time, and it tasted awesome!

It went so well, that our new Sunday night ritual is to find a recipe out of the Kids Cookbook for dinner, and then scrap the movie night for a game night. One more step in the right direction for a mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy family!

 Vegetable Dump Soup
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • Whatever veggies you have in the fridge. I used:
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cans diced tomato, no salt added
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used Rotini)
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
Heat oil in a soup pot, add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

Then add in the carrots, celery, and mushrooms.

Stir in tomatoes, spinach, basil, and broth. Turn to medium heat and cook until boiling. Once soup is at a boil, put the lid on and let it cook for 10 minutes.

Next, cook pasta in a separate pan, following the directions on the box. Do not add salt. Drain pasta and set aside.

Once soup is ready, stir in the pasta.

Serve and enjoy!

The nice thing about this kind of soup is that you can use almost any vegetable, any pasta, or any kind of canned tomato (no salt added). It is definitely going to be my new go-to dinner for nights that I don't have a lot of time. Plus, combining the fact that you can use what you have around your kitchen and that it's a meatless meal, it's pretty easy on the budget!

Who knew making soup was so great? Probably you. But I sure didn't!   




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