Wet winter nights in Vancouver call for hearty and delicious dinners.  Soups hit the spot for me, more often than not.  The flavours simmer, develop and merge.

I love that you don’t have to have an exact recipe. You can use whatever you have in your fridge, freezer and cupboard.  As long as you don’t mind sampling along the way I think you can create simple pleasures in a big pot of soup. I loved the freshness of this soup.  Truth be told, it was anything that would even come close to a “daily catch” as I had everything in the freezer, but you gotta use what you gotta use.

As this came together (before I added the seafood) I thought it needed a little “thickening” up, so I threw in about a handful and a half of rice, just to add to the body of the soup.  Be sure to make some big croutons or crusty bread to sop up all the goodness. You won’t want to leave any behind in the bowl – I guarantee it.


2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
6 cups chicken broth
bay leaf
1/2 cup short grain rice
1 cup frozen calamari rings
8-10 prawns
1/2 cup small scallops
4 oz red snapper, cut into 2 cm wide strips (be sure it is deboned!)
dash hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat up the EVOO, once hot add the thinly sliced fennel.  Allow to soften as it begins to sweat, add garlic.
  2. Allow garlic to saute for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, this will bring out a little more the natural sweetness of them.
  4. Add broth and bay leaf – bring to simmer.
  5. Add rice, simmer for about 20-25 minutes until cooked threw.
  6. Add snapper, 2 minutes later add the rest of the seafood.
  7. Season with hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Garnish with parsley (optional)


I am in love.  In love, I tell you.  This is the easiest soup I may have made in years.  And it is all because of the talented (and pretty handsome), Tyler Florence.

For the last few weeks the secret ingredient, that stopped being so secret in our kitchen was tomatoes.  The tomatoes from the garden finally started ripening throughout September.  In the last month from 3 little plants we have harvested 25+ lbs.  I’ve canned them, made salsa, tons of tomato bocconcini salad, on toast, and of course the old stand by of pasta sauce.  So the other night I was randomly surfing and tried my luck at tomato soup.  Tyler Florences’ recipe came up.  It had something like 150+ reviews, most at the 4 or 5 star level.  Worth a shot right?

The thing I love, love ,love about it is how easy it was to make, and how fantastic the house smelled making it.  Basically you chop up your tomatoes and onions, peel the garlic and roast.  While that is happening, you reduce the stock, combine them, puree, season as you like and thin out to your desired consistency…so GOOD!  This is something you could make on a cold Saturday or Sunday afternoon while you are puttering around and then have some lunch for the week ahead at work.  Be sure to grab some crackers or some hearty bread to sop up the goodness!

tomato bisque

2 1/2 lbs mixed tomatoes, quartered and cored (I used green leprechaun, roma and little cherry tomatoes)
10 cloves garlic (!)
1 red onion coarsley chopped
1 small yellow onion coarsley chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1.5 L veggie stock
3 Tbsp butter
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. In a roasting pan, combine the quarter tomatoes, chopped onions and garlic cloves.
  3. Add olive oil and salt, stir until everything is coated
  4. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes until starting to carmalize – stir a few times.  Let’s be honest you will want to peak because it will smell so good!
  5. While the veggies are roasting, in large sauce pan, if not your dutch oven, add one litre (4 cups) stock, butter and bay leaves.  Bring to a low simmer and let reduce to half.
  6. Remove bay leaves from stock, add roasted veggies and torn basil, purree with an immersion blender.
  7. Bring to a low simmer, stir in tomato paste and cream.
  8. Add remaining stock to bring it to the consistency you would prefer.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. EAT!

Adapted from Tyler Florences

We have had a spectacular summer.  Basically from mid-May through to the early part of August we have had mostly clear and wonderfully warm days.  Yes there have been a few days of rain, and a few days of scorching heat, But really, so much better than last year’s two days of sun.

This morning as I stepped out of the shower, I looked through the bathroom window and noticed the first leaves of fall.  Bright vibrant orangey red leaves on what has been a beautifully leafy green tree.  It’s about to turn, and with that I am excited: the fantastically vibrant colours, warm autumnal winds, cozy sweaters and tea on the balcony wrapped in a blanket.  At the same time morn the splendor that is a wonderful West coast summer.

Thursday rained.  And rained.  And rained.  And then the sun came out.  The air was fresh but chilled.  It was decidedly a soup night.  Warm delicious crusty bread with a chipotle chicken chowder.  Cornmeal back bacon, roasted chicken, red, chipotle and jalapeno  peppers and roast corn come together to warm you through.  I really enjoyed this and will be making variations on it with whatever is in the fridge I am sure over the colder months to come.  For now, let’s hope for the sun again and ice cream worthy evenings!

southwest chowder


2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 chipotle peppers, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, peeled
2 corns on the cob, BBQ’d and then kernels removed
1 bakers potato, diced finely
1/2 lb smoked cornmeal back bacon, cubed
6 oz chicken, shredded
4 L chicken stock
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp water
salt to taste


  1. In a large dutch oven pot, sautee bacon on medium heat until fully cooked.  The bacon I used was more like ham, so this was really just to remove some of the fat to add more flavour to the chowder.
  2. Remove bacon, and reserve the fat.  Depending on how much fat is left in the pan, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Add onions and sautee until translucent.
  4. Add to the pot: roasted red pepper finely chopped, jalapeno, garlic and corn.  Allow to cook through and soften – about 5 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer.
  6. When potatoes are soft, with an immersion blender, or by carefully transferring the soup into a blender puree. (I pureed it about 85% – i like it a little chunkier)
  7. Add chicken and bacon to the pot and allow to simmer.
  8. Taste, add chipotle peppers, start with one and test.  We used two, but everyone’s heat levels are different.
  9. In a small bowl, make a slurry with the flour and water.
  10. Add cream to the pot, bring to a slow simmer, stirring gently.
  11. Add flour slurry -allow to cook out and thicken for at least 1 or 2 minutes.  The slurry will thicken soup -, it isn’t needed for anything other than the aesthetics of thickening – if you don’t mind it runny – leave it out.
  12. Season with salt and pepper to taste – enjoy!

I was reading somewhere that this year has been one of the latest springs in over 20 years.  The idea of spring, the sun, the warmth, the fresh evening smell…everyone is waiting with bated breath for it.  We’ve been teased.  A sunny day or two strung together and it seems there is a collective sigh of relief.  And then rain and heavy clouds return.  April showers and all that…So, while we wait a little while longer, I felt that a heart soup was in order.  On a wet rainy Saturday night, this soup hit the spot. I am sure you could add cubes of ham, or pancetta to the onions and leeks while sauteing and it would add a nice depth of flavour.

Served with homemade wheat bread and a spinach salad.  Dinner with a friend, and a movie was a relaxing break from the hectic world.  Ohhh…and don’t forget the wine!


3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned very well and sliced finely – only the white and light green parts
6 russet baking potatoes, thinly sliced
4 cups veggie stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large dutch oven, heat oil.
  2. Add onions and leeks, stirring occasionally, cook until they begin to brown.
  3. Ass potatoes
  4. Cover with veggie stock, bring to a low simmer.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. With a potato masher, puree up the soup.  As chunky or fine as you like.
  7. Add cream, bring to low simmer.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

Everyone has comfort foods.  Some are better for us than others.  Borscht was one of my favourites as a kid.  My mom would make it in the BIG soup pot, it would simmer for hours on end.  Once she took it off the stove, the pot was way too big to put in the fridge, so it would sit out on the kitchen balcony or in the garage waiting for it to come down in temperature so that Tupperware containers could be filled and frozen for easy-to-grab family winter weekend lunches.

The debate I have gotten into as an adult is, is this really borscht?  When you Google “borscht” you often get a recipe that has beets in it, or beef…this has neither.  Mom tells me she learned how to make this from “the Russian Immigrants in Greenwood”  – almost like that is what their name tags said… When looking at all the various European versions on Wikipedia I think that this is kind of borscht, an adaption of many versions.

Alas, whatever you call it: Tomato/Cabbage soup, or winter borscht, or just ‘yum’, this soup is easy, tasty and full of good for you ingredients.  If you like tomatoes and simple soup, you may like this.  Serve it up with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and crust bread and it is delsih!

I know it isn’t much to look at – but really, what do you expect from cabbage?  This soup is best served the next day once all the flavours intensify and settle together.  I’ve also scaled it down and made it a little more manageable…enough to serve 6, or provide lunch throughout the week for TB and I.


2 tbsp margarine
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
1 L canned tomatoes – used my last jar from the summer!
1 L beef or veggie stock
1 russet baker potato, grated
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
(salt and pepper to taste as needed)


  1. In a dutch oven, melt margarine and saute onions for 3-4 minutes on medium-high.
  2. Add shredded cabbage, carrots, and celery to pot.  Allow to saute for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, break up with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add stock – should cover veggies – allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add grated potatoes, salt and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Watch the heat, if you simmer too high you will burn your veggies.
  6. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Allow to come to room temperature before putting in fridge.
  7. Reheat and serve the day after.  As mentioned, you could add a dollop of sour cream when you serve it.

Serves 6.

Do you ever make something and then think to yourself, why would I make this any other way? This soup kind of hit that cord with me. As a kid I loved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, as I explained last March. It was a Saturday lunch staple at our house. In the cool months it warmed us up, and now as an adult I think back to those family lunches with a smile.

I know that canned soups aren’t great for you because of the sodium content. And if anyone has been watching TV lately you probably have seen the Campbell’s commercials outlining their lower sodium soups. Well, this homemade version is just as tasty, and I am certain way better for you.

I don’t know if I was just cold and hungry, but this just completely hit the spot for dinner last night. Throw in a little crusty bread and you have a super simple dinner in mere minutes.



1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized leek, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cups chopped mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
3 1/2 cups low-fat turkey or veggie stock
4 Tbsp whipping cream
1/2 cup skim milk
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a deep pot, add leek, celery, garlic and mushroom over medium heat, stir and allow to sauté until the mushrooms start to loose their moisture.
  2. Cover with stock and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. With an immersion blender puree the soup (carefully!)
  4. Season to taste.

Yield – 4 large bowls

I planted squash in our garden plot this spring. For most of the summer I was convinced we would not get any. The plant was growing like crazy, but we had no flowers on it. Finally near the end of July they started to bloom. In the end we walked away with at least 7-8 little squashes, ranging from 1 1/2 lb to about 3lbs each.

I picked most of them in late September/early October. The joy of squash is that it keeps so well. So finally this weekend I looked at the last solitary squash and figured I would whip it into a soup for lunches this week.

The best thing about this soup is how amazing it smelled as the squash, onions and garlic were roasting away in the oven.



1 butternut squash (2lbs)
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
olive oil
2 tbsp hot curry powder
3 cups veggie/chicken or turkey broth
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel, half and scoop out seeds from squash.
  3. Chop squash into one inch cubes.
  4. Chop onions into big pieces.
  5. Peel garlic cloves.
  6. In a baking dish, combine the squash, onions and garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Place dish in oven, roast for 45-50 minutes. Stirring once half way through.
  8. With 5 minutes left go when roasting veggies, heat up a skillet/pot. Add curry powder, allow to heat up for about 2 minutes, this will bring out more flavour. Do not let burn!
  9. Add stock to pot, allow to come to a simmer.
  10. Once vegetables are done, remove from oven and add to stock. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Puree squash, onions and garlic in soup.
  12. Add water until the soup reaches the consistency you would like. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. You can also top with a scoop of low/no fat sour cream and chives, since this was for lunch at work, I didn’t bother.

Makes 5, one cup servings.

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