Tuesday, March 6, 2012

annual sicky soup post

So I guess it's that time again (as least it isn't the ONLY post this year). Yes, I am sick. My throat is sore and scratchy, I'm coughing, exhausted, and actually considering calling into work sick (decided against that since I'd lose out on money AND actually have to pay to bring in a doctor's note). I can make it through, I just need sleep, water, vitamins, and SOUP.

Tonight was a redux of two years ago - chickpea (noodle) soup. I was planning on making a chickpea, chipotle and kale soup, but something about the basic, salty, comforting "chicken noodle" style appealed to me. Especially after a day filled with work, studying (oh you want me to learn all the italian wine appelations in one week?), and errands. And its delicious, and simple. And I cooked extra chickpeas so I can roast those tomorrow, or perhaps use tonight's leftovers with a bit more broth, chickpeas, chipotle and kale. Lately, these somewhat basic formats have been appealing to me. I get bored when I cook a big batch of a certain bean or grain salad/soup that is enough to last for several days. Since I've really started focusing on eating MORE of (/mainly) these whole foods, and I will cook up a big batch of beans/grains whichever day I have off, I tend to keep them plain. Then I can use them in different variations throughout the week. Last week it was black beans, the week before was red kidney beans, the week before that chickpeas. And since its only me, I really only make enough for 3-4 servings. And there's usually a batch of quinoa kicking around too.

A friend of a friend was talking to me last week, asking for advice about his recent attempt at vegetarianism. This was one of my key pieces of advice - cooking a batch of something yourself when you have time, but keeping it relatively unseasoned so you have more room to play with it later. My #1 piece of advice for him was not to stress too much about it. He had been feeling rather low energy, and I advised him to focus more on eating whole foods, a variety of them, than on stressing over getting a certain percentage or amount of specific nutrients. Now, some people might think this is bad advice, but I think as long as you eat a range of whole grains, beans/pulses, and vegetables and fruits, with some dairy/eggs thrown in there if you like, you really won't have to worry too too much about not getting enough protein, vitamin B, or whatever it is. Yes, I take supplements (vitamin B100, vitamin D, and vitamin C mainly), but I think one thing I have read and thought more about lately is JOY in food. Yes, I've always loved food, but sometimes, as I've said earlier, this obsession almost seems to be a chore, or an addiction ("oh dear, I HAVE to make sure to make the most of every single item of produce available this season"). And I know for SOME people who label themselves (as vegetarian or vegan, or whatever kind of food label you subscribe to) according to a particular diet, there is a feeling of it being a task, a deprivation. Whereas really, eating a plant-based diet can be much more diverse than a meat and potato-based one. Can be. I no longer label myself or my diet according to any particular 100% theme. Anyway, as usual I'm losing track of my focus here.
Point: Enjoy a VARIETY of foods. ENJOY a variety of foods. And I believe this will help you be healthier, and happier, than if you didn't. And when it doesn't keep you healthy - eat soup!

Chickpea (noodless) soup

One medium yellow onion, diced

Saute in olive oil over medium heat, 5-10 mins, until translucent


One (large) stalk of celery, finely chopped
Two large cloves garlic, minced
Two small carrots, chopped

Season and saute for 5-10 mins more.

Chopped hot pepper (I used a 3/4 of an anaheim)
Vegetable broth (homemade for me in this case) and some chickpea cooking liquid (I don't know, maybe around 1-2 cups)
One small bay leaf

Cook over med-high heat (@ a simmer) for 10-15 mins, until the vegetables are tender.
I then added about a cup of chickpeas with some more of their cooking liquid, and maybe a small head of baby bok choy. Simmered for another 5-10 mins until the bok choy was cooked through. Added a pinch of chili flakes and some thyme. And fresh parsley.

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