Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup

"Summer Solstice" vegetable soup with garlic cheese bread

I’ve recently found out that onions are generally a bad idea for me.  If I don’t want to end up having certain health issues that I won’t discuss here, I need to generally avoid them like the plague.

To say the least, this has really put a cramp in my cooking-style.

Almost every recipe out there involves onions of some description or another. Sliced, diced, chopped, minced, pureed… somehow, it’s present in everything from soups and stews to burgers and meatloaf. What’s an onion-avoiding girl to do??

With the recent rainstorms and cooler summer weather, I’ve found myself craving a good, hearty, warming soup. Yes, soup in the summer — I’m not crazy, I promise! But again: soup = onions. Right? Well, not exactly. I’ve found  that I have no adverse effects from onion powder. There’s hope yet! Based on this and wanting to get something equally tasty and nutritious into me, I went out to buy some veggies I haven’t had in recent days: cabbage  and sweet potatoes.

Sure, I’ve got potatoes in my pantry but the  sweet potatoes are generally so much better for you and they just have a different taste. So, today, after I had gotten up from a short afternoon nap, I started chopping and slicing and  whipped up this yummy little number. I’ve dubbed it Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup because I created it on the Summer Solstice and the flavours are warming without being “spicy”. Feel free to play with the seasonings to make it more to your taste, but  I have to say that this turned out better than I originally imaged!

This also makes a huuuuuuuuuge pot of soup/stew, so feel free  to cut these measurements in half to make a dutch oven’s worth of soup. This one took my large stewing pot, just as a warning.  (See the end of this posting to see the “leftovers” after hubby and I both had two full bowlfuls!) Also, this was an instant hit with my hubby, though there was no meat in the soup. Woo! Here’s what I did…

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Beef vegetable soup with a kick

Beef vegetable soup with a kick in a white bowl

We’ve had cooler weather as of late, so I’ve been craving more and more soup and stew. After having the hearty goulash soup from the Black Forest Inn upped my cravings for beef soup, specifically one I would consider to be hearty. I already had a large eye of round roast cooking in the slow cooker, so I thought why not use half of that for a soup and slice up the rest for sandwiches?

Then I considered what I wanted in the way of a flavour profile. I knew I wanted something deeper in flavour than usual and maybe something that cleared the old stuffy sinuses a bit. So here’s what I did…

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Kitchen sink… soup!

A bowl of chicken-based soup with veggies.

What do you do when you have a whole lot of bits and bobs in your fridge that need to get used up? Make soup!

I was faced with this dilemma this weekend while fighting off a bit of a bug of some sort. all I wanted was soup. So I looked around and found that I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but not a lot of anything that seemed useful, until I started pulling things out of the fridge. I like to call my soup creations that are made in this fashion “kitchen sink soups”. You just throw everything you have, sometimes including the kitchen sink! 🙂

Here’s what I did with this one…

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Barbecue chicken barley soup

A bowl of barbecue chicken barley soup

The summertime isn’t a usual time for soup, I’ll admit, but since I’ve been on this lower carb kick, I’ve been eating a lot of soups and stews. Avoiding too much pasta cuts out a lot of casseroles, right? So I had a pre-cooked barbecued chicken in the fridge from the grocery store. But honestly, I am not a fan of chicken noodle soup. I think I got sick too many times when I was a kid, so I’m just not a fan of one of the best home remedies in the world. I’ll eat it if I’m sick, but I’m not going to eat it “just because”.

So, I thought, why not make something heartier? Why not make something more flavourful? I still had barley in the cupboard and a lot of veggies in the fridge and freezer that could be used up. Why not? Before long, I was saying to myself, “Soup’s on!” I’ll warn that since I don’t use a lot of salt anymore, my soups are getting heavier and heavier in the seasonings department. But don’t worry, it’s worth it, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

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Homemade salsa

A bowl of homemade salsaI’m going to give a disclaimer on this one: this does not taste anything like the pre-packaged jars of salsa that you buy in the store. I think I know why, too; I omitted the scads of salt they use.

This is fresh-tasting with a bigger spice-kick than I expected (I generally reach for the mild salsa, so this is probably on the upper limit of mild for most people). You can taste the ingredients, not the salt. I think I prefer it, to be honest.

YMMV, however. Spruce this one up how you like it. Add more or less than what you see and don’t be afraid to experiment. Here’s what  I did:

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Lower-carb / lower-sodium adventures: chili stew

A bowl of chili stewI’m sure that I’ve probably posted my chili/chili stew before somewhere, but let me state for the record that it is not what most people think of when they think of chili. It’s more of a stew or soup with chili seasonings. I throw all kinds of vegetables into it and there are no beans.

But lately, I’ve been watching my sodium intake and carbs, so I’ve been  changing some of my old favourites up, as mentioned in previous posts. For this one, I focused on cutting right back on the sodium. Did you know, for example, that 1/2 a cup of diced tomatoes from a can generally has about 450-500 mg of sodium, but the same amount from a ‘no salt added’ can of tomatoes may only have 20-30 mg? It’s a HUGE difference! It allows you the room to regulate the salt how you’d like it, rather than dealing with all that sodium right from the start.

I managed to get my chili stew to the point of only being about 170 mg of sodium per 1 cup serving, which means I could have two servings if I wanted to! 😉

Here’s what I did:

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Christmas leftovers stew

A bowl of stew with a spoon sticking in it.We all end up with leftovers at Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!), don’t we? I know I do. Not only did we have leftover chicken from our Christmas-Day-at-home this year, but also turkey that Mom sent home with us the night before.  We had an entire veggie tray that was just going to waste, too. So, I put  on my thinking cap, set my big stew pot on the stove and started to clean out the fridge. Here’s what I did…

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