Country soup cures cold weather blues

Sweet and crunchy cornbread PHOTO: Submitted

The weatherman has just given us the bad news. We can expect a cold, snowy winter starting about the time this edition reaches your doorstop. Immediate response — put on another sweater, and make soup. Lots of soup. Fortunately, there are as many different kinds of soup as there are vegetables. In other words, there is bound to be one for every taste.

Recently, I had this flavoursome version at a workshop compliments of Leslie Salisbury. It was hearty, nourishing and ohhh so tasty! I immediately requested the recipe with permission to share it with you and went home and made a double batch. It is so good, you want a cold day as an excuse to make it. Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie’s Country Soup

Leslie suggested that the recipe can be doubled or tripled depending on your needs. Once made, the soup keeps several days in the refrigerator but for longer storage freeze the soup for up to three months. Remember to date and label the container. Oh, by the way, it’s great to take for lunch or use as a simple supper; serve with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream or shredded cheddar and accompany with bread and a salad.

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) cremini or white mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano

1 can (29 oz / 796 mL) diced tomatoes

1 carton (1 L/4 cups) vegetable broth or chicken broth

2/3 cup (150 mL) pearl barley, rinsed

1 cup (250 mL) sliced spinach or use 2 cups unsliced baby spinach

Sea salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan or Dutch oven heat oil over medium. Add carrots, mushroom, onion and red pepper. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in garlic and oregano; cook another minute. Puree tomatoes in a food processor or blender and add to soup with vegetable broth; stir. Add barley. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 45 — 60 minutes or until barley is tender stirring frequently to prevent barley from sticking to the pot. Just before serving; stir in spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add a splash of maple syrup or honey if the soup tastes too acidic (depends on the kind of tomatoes). Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Cornbread

Cornbread, or Johnny cake as it is sometimes called, has an enticing, slightly sweet, crunchy taste and texture; it is no longer that easy to buy but quick and simple to make. This version is my favourite. I like to bake it in a round cake pan and cut it into wedges. If possible, serve warm – you will be a star.

Cornbread can be used as part of the main course served warm with butter — it is a good accompaniment to the soup. However, if drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a spoonful of fresh berries, the Johnny cake becomes a simple dessert, ideal to complete your soup menu.

1/2 cup (125 mL) shortening at room temperature or softened butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

1 egg

1 cup (250 mL) each, cake and pastry flour and cornmeal

1 tsp (5 mL) each, baking soda and baking powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1 cup (250 mL) milk

1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugar until smooth; beat in egg until fluffy. In separate bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In liquid measuring cup measure milk and yogurt; mix together. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with liquid ingredients. Do not overmix. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake about 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack at least 10 minutes before unmolding onto serving plate and cut into 12 wedges.


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