Every year around this time, we start feeling antsy and also a little soft around the middle. You can set your clocks to our seasonal dietary cravings – while reassuring to know that our lives are so seasonal, we are always a little annoyed that we are so predictable year in, year out. Oh well, such is the life of a habitual human creature. Be that as it may, we have some definite go-to foods that we look forward to every season, and winter is no exception. Here’s the unabashed seasonal list of our tendencies, as well as your new favorite homemade soup recipe – if you’re vegetarian, I’d just add more beans for an added protein kick and omit the chicken. Happy Winter, everyone!
- Winter – the gluttony of the holiday season has us feeling chubby and we know we imbibed too much, so we resolve to ratchet back all vices. Usually we do a kickstart/fasting week or two to re-calibrate the portion sizes and calories we need each day. We are inclined to spend many hours each day working on our sedentary hobbies. I always crave sushi and Asian cuisines in Winter – lots of creative tofu/seaweed/broth/noodle type of cooking going on in our kitchen! This calorie reduction plan (more of a tendency than a plan) usually lasts most of January and February, but Valentine’s Day reminds us that we like chocolate, and we start to get serious about increasing activity to justify a few more calories.
- Spring – the days start to feel noticeably longer, which gives us tons of energy! We inevitably start a running/boxing/rowing/weightlifting program in anticipation of all the greenhouse work and transplanting marathon that is all that Spring is – think 1000+ deep squats everyday on the farm. This reality motivates us to get strong before the fieldwork begins! Local food is sparse, and we always crave tropical fruit in Spring.
- Summer – 17 hour days need fuel! We eat more cheese and carbs than other times of the year – beer & cocktails always sound good, we inevitably fry more this time of year – crispy squash blossoms, fried freshly dug potatoes and aioli all.the.time. The constant physical activity of our farming life brings blissful dietary freedom – we live for this time of year!
- Fall – the shorter days are obvious and our activity levels dramatically drop. Our cravings, however, get meatier and stewier. It takes a concerted effort to ratchet back portion size and cut back on the beer consumption. Wine sounds good again, and salads shift to pure chicory. Blue cheese always sounds good!
So, in this mid-winter season, we always struggle with what to eat since our activity levels are lower, but food sounds so good all the time! We have one recipe that we picked up from a Jillian Michaels food plan years ago, and it is a complete slam dunk. We crave this soup all the time, and it works to make a huge batch and have for lunch all week long. It is satisfying, nutritious, delicious, warming and super simple. Please try it this winter – you will be so glad you have this recipe in your tool belt when you are craving some satisfying nourishment! Enjoy!
- onions: 2, chopped
- garlic: 2 cloves, sliced
- carrots: 4 peeled and cut into thick coins
- dried herbs: 1 tsp. dried oregano, parsley or basil or all three!
- tomatoes: canned/frozen, whatever you have; about a quart
- zucchini & summer squash: I know this isn’t seasonal, but it is a great addition. 4 squashes, cut into half moons
- baby lima beans: one bag of frozen
- stock, broth or water: how much you use depends on how much soup you want – we usually start with 1 quart stock and add water if we want more
- greens: box or bag of frozen spinach, or chopped swiss chard or collards or kale
- poached/rotisseried/roasted chicken breast, shredded: however much you want – we usually do 1# and it is enough for 4 meals
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Swirl around 2 T. olive oil.
- Add onions, garlic and carrots to oil – cook until slightly softened. Add herbs, stir until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, squashes, lima beans, and stock. I love this step, as we use tons of frozen vegetables – we roast and freeze tomatoes and squashes in the summer. So, this step has big chunks of frozen vegetables going into the pot. Often we are also adding frozen stock to the pot and adding some hot water to get everything on its way to melting.
- Add stock to pot and increase heat to melt down the frozen vegetables. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, once all veggies are melted. Walk away and work on something else while this soup creates its magical fragrance and makes your house feel like a home.
- About 10-15 minutes before you’d like to eat, add the cooked chicken and greens.
- Ladle into bowls, eat with toasty bread and top with shaved parmesan if you are eating bread and cheese – if not, you will still love it on it’s own.
- Bask in the glory of the easiest, most nutritious meal you can make that lasts for many meals and pretty much is so good for you that you can justify a cookie for dessert!