Do you find yourself reaching for richer, more filling foods–think chunky stews, rich casseroles and creamy pastas–when it’s chilly outside? I most definitely do, and this craving has come earlier than usual thanks to Mother Nature’s unexpected cold spell.
(Though it’s hard to complain knowing what Albertans were faced with last week. Hint: it starts with an “s”! Brrrr…)
Research has shown that people really do tend to crave heartier fare when the temperature dips. The theory is that the body is seeking out energy dense (read: high calorie) fuel sources to keep itself warm.
Fortunately, comfort foods don’t necessarily need to be creamy, greasy or heavy to warm you up from the inside out. Case in point: soups. Really, is there anything more soothing on a cold day (or when you’re feeling under the weather) than a hot bowl of aromatic, belly-warming soup? Exactly.
Broth-based and blended soups are both nutritious choices. A few of my personal favourites include chicken noodle (naturally!), Vietnamese pho, French onion, gazpacho (only in warm weather, of course) pumpkin, tomato and minestrone.
Creamy soups, on the other hand, are best enjoyed less frequently or in smaller amounts as they are typically prepared with full-fat cream. However, you can make your own lighter versions of classics like clam chowder, cream of mushroom and cream of broccoli by using milk instead.
This hearty wild rice and bean soup is one that I plan on making all through fall and winter. The combination of whole grains, lean protein and nutrient-rich vegetables make for a very filling, nutritious dish. Wild rice is an especially nice addition to soup thanks to its slight nutty flavour and chewy texture.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 540-mL can mixed beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp marjoram
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup wild rice
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Create a ‘hot spot’ in the bottom of the pot by pushing vegetables to the side and add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Stir to combine with the vegetables. Add the beans, marjoram, bay leaf, chicken broth and wild rice; season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through but still has bite to it. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
- The rice soaks up quite a bit of liquid, so you may wish to thin the soup with water or more chicken broth.
- To freeze, let soup cool and then divide among medium freezer bags. Freeze flat.