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January 4, 2012

In the days leading up to a vacation, I just CAN’T WAIT to put reality on hold; to escape from my “real” life for a while…. relax, unwind, forget.  What’s interesting, though, is just how much I come to miss it when the time away comes to a close.  I suddenly begin to crave my routine again.  Coffee from my own coffeepot.  A jog in my own neighborhood.  My couch.  And not only that – I also find myself inspired to start all kinds of new projects that just seemed impossible pre-vacation when I was frazzled, and sleep-deprived, and convinced I had zero time.   It’s amazing what just one week away can do for morale in this household.

I’m not as into making the traditional “New Years Resolution” as much as I’m into just making a change – ANY change –  in my life when the new year rolls around.  For me, a certain “heaviness” comes along with the holidays – from the kinds of foods we eat, to the way in which we deck the halls.  It feels like everything is just over-the-top, and I start to itch for a way to be lifted from it all come January.  Cleaner food.  Cleaner space.  Simpler everything.

As much as I adore Christmas, I get a strange satisfaction from vacuuming up pine needles and watching the red and green clutter disappear from sight.  Sometimes I’ll even rearrange the furniture just for a new perspective. It’s refreshing.  Perhaps most of all, I like taking a much-needed break from holiday diet staples like cream cheese and chocolate, which seem to be the main ingredients in everything I ate in December.  Instead I whip up a giant batch of vegetable soup and eat that for most lunches until I begin to feel like myself again.   The soup is equally warming and cleansing, and I’m pretty sure I started making it one year after my mom and I tried the notorious cabbage soup diet together.  I’m not by any means endorsing the diet (I tend to think a full day of  bananas and milk is a tad wacky)…but I do think there’s something to be said for loading yourself up with veggies when you’re feeling a little bogged down by holiday “richness overload.”  My winter vegetable soup is different every year (depending on what veggies I can find), but I generally try to make it much more satisfying and nutrient-dense than the cabbage soup recipe.  Toss in whatever you like besides the base ingredients, and be sure to include at least one dark, leafy green like spinach or kale.  Happy 2012!

WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

base ingredients: |   3 qts vegetable stock   |   1 large onion   |   3 large organic carrots   |   4 celery stalks   |   2 c  fresh kale or spinach leaves   |   1 large/28oz can crushed tomatoes   |   1 frozen pkg diced okra   | 1 frozen pkg sweet corn   |  1lb fresh green beens   |   1/3 of a fresh cabbage   |   salt+pepper to taste   |   2 T olive oil

additional ingredients I threw in this year:  |   1 large parsnip   |  1 large turnip   |   1 can organic  garbanzo beans   |   1/2 c steel cut oats   |  1 T A L’Olivier tomato vinegar

Chop all of the veggies into small diced pieces.  Begin by heating the olive oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot and sauteing the onion, carrot and celery until soft.  Add the chopped green beans and stir.  When they turn bright green, add the cabbage and stir.  Next add the crushed tomatoes plus any other extra vegetables you want to include, except the leafy greens.  Stir.  Add the stock.  If there is not enough liquid to cover your vegetables, add more stock or water, until liquid covers veggies by at least 2-3″.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low, and toss in greens.  Season with S+P.  (The Okra will act as a thickening agent in the soup.  If you want the soup even thicker, you can add the oats which will make it even heartier).

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Canner permalink
    January 4, 2012 1:51 pm

    Love this! It’s very similar to a soup that I make, but the addition of tomatoes and okra sound awesome. I love adding dill to my vegetable soups because the smell and taste reminds me of my Grandma’s chicken soup.

    • netrez permalink*
      January 4, 2012 3:53 pm

      Thanks Heather! I like the dill idea. Kind of matzo-ball-ish, which I also love 🙂

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