Keeping things simple in a not so simple world

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our new favorite soup

There a number of things I look for in a meal – the right veggie to meat ratio (more veggies), the time it takes to cook, how it TASTES, and now that I have a child with a food texture issue who is also a bit picky (trust me, he really is not that picky compared to most children, but it seems that way because the rest of us eat pretty much everything) I look for a recipe to not include the elements he doesn’t like, unless they can be hidden.

Well, I found stumbled upon a version of the recipe below and it dawned on me that it meets all of the criteria. It was so EASY! It had BACON! I could hide the SQUASH! And it had a LOT OF VEGGIES!

I do hope you try this, it was so fantastic. We ate it for dinner, snack time, breakfast, lunch and still had a little leftover for lunch a second day later. It was filling but didn’t leave us uncomfortable (all those veggies!) It was a party in my mouth. I really loved the way the textures and tastes worked so well together.

Of course, you could easily make it vegan or at least vegetarian, but we really do love bacon around here.

autumn harvest soup

1 butternut or other squash, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or equivalent dried)
4-4.5 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 package bacon
3 cans pinto beans
1 cup kale, shredded
1 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red peppers, finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels
1.5 cup kale or collard greens, sliced

Note: The bacon needs to get nice and crispy, then chopped finely. I did this in the oven and used some other bacon drippings reserved previously to saute my onion and garlic in. You could also fry up your bacon first and then use the left over drippings.

If you chopped everything ahead of time, the whole process goes real quick!

Heat 1 tablespoon oil (or drippings) in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion. When onion is just starting to brown, add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Add the squash, celery, and carrots, stirring to coat with the oil and then add 4 cups broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer until the squash is soft.
Remove the thyme sprigs.
Using a hand blender (food processor or regular blender work too!) puree the veggies.
Add in the beans, corn, peppers, and kale, mixing thoroughly and bring to a low boil. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit more broth.
Mix in the bacon and serve.


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a new kind of potato salad

I have to admit, I love potatoes, but I hate the American version. Too much mayonnaise, too much mustard, pickles – no thank you!

So I’ve decided to share a “new kind” of potato salad. Of course, one of the simplest ways to mix up your potato salad is to simply use several different types of potatoes. If you live in an area that still has a farmer’s market or maybe you live by a store that carries several different types, try some of the various heirloom varieties.

Mustard-kale potato salad
Any Kale will work with this recipe, but I recommend lacinto as it is thicker and easier to shred. Not to mention, has a great bitter taste that blends really well with the mustard.

8-10 small potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
5-8 lacinto kale stems, shredded
lemon juice
chives, chopped
1 tablespoons high quality mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
garlic powder
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, boil potatoes until just tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a bowl, mix the lemon juice through balsamic vinegar. Pour dressing over the kale and massage the kale with your hands. (This is the best way to coat any type of kale with dressing.)
Add kale and dressing mixture to potatoes and mix thoroughly. Place in fridge for 3 hours or over night.