Tag Archives: comforting

Celery Soup

7 Ways to Make Your Soups Creamy Without Dairy

During winter’s bitter, blustery days, a warming pot of soup is top of mind. If you’re craving a rich and comforting soup without adding the heaviness of cream, you’ve got plenty of options in your crisper or pantry. It’s time to think outside the box (or carton) with these seven easy, dairy-free thickeners.

Vegan Cream of Celery Soup

Creamy soups, like this vegan cream of celery soup, don’t have to be loaded with fat or heavy cream.

1. In A Slurry
When it comes down to it, some creamy soups are just white sauces with more liquid added. Building a roux from flour and butter (or margarine), cooking for a few minutes to remove the raw flour flavour, and adding chicken or vegetable stock will give you a sturdy soup without a whisper of cream. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is mixed with a few tablespoons of liquid and then stirred into the soup after it has come to a boil. Either way, the tricks you use to thicken a gravy — flour pastes, cornstarch slurries or even add-ins such as arrowroot or tapioca — can give your soup a thicker mouth feel.

2. Koo Koo For Coconuts 
For creaminess without cream, full-fat coconut milk will add a luscious sheen and body to your broth (you can use low-fat if you must, but it won’t give you as much richness). In Thai cuisine, coconut milk is added to flavourful curry pastes to produce creamy soups that pack a punch, such as this Thai Coconut Curry Corn Soup. If coconuts aren’t your thing, try subbing in soy or nut milk instead, although your soup will be a little thinner in consistency.

3. Against The Grains
Anyone who has ever made a Chinese congee knows the thickening power of rice — absorbing liquid and releasing starch to add a velvety texture when cooked. Add half a cup of rice at the beginning of the simmering period for your soup, and blend when the grains have plumped out. Pressed for time? Try using quick cooking rice instead to shorten the simmering time needed.

4. The Power Of Spuds
Don’t forget the humble potato — adding just one can add significant body and creaminess to your soup. Peel your spud if you desire, or leave it unpeeled and well scrubbed if you’re pureeing the soup afterwards. Just be warned that unless you’re using a full blender, you may end up with visible bits of potato skin sprinkled throughout. A smaller dice or thin slices will help the potato break down quicker in the boiling liquid. Sweet potato or yam can also be used, but keep in mind it will affect the colour of your finished product. You can also raid the fridge for yesterday’s mashed potatoes, leftover potato soup or baked sweet potatoes for a head start.

5. Back To Your Roots
Don’t stop at potatoes — chopped root vegetables, such as parsnips, turnips, rutabaga or carrots, all make economical and easy ways to add velvety texture. Beyond the basics, Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes, taro or water chestnuts can also be cooked and puréed for body. Try  sneaking in some cauliflower or broccoli for some added vegetable goodness.

6. In A Nutshell
Soft nuts, such as cashews, add a creamy texture when soaked, such as in this vegan cream of celery soup. Nuts can be pre-soaked the night before, or cooked directly in simmering liquid to soften before blending.

7. Check Your Pulses
White beans, such as cannelloni, release a starchiness when cooked that will taste creamy on the palate without providing a dominant flavour. Soak and cook your own, or open a can for convenience, if you desire. Chickpeas or lentils, on the other hand, will impact the taste of your finished soup, but also provide a hearty helping, especially when paired with salty pancetta or bacon.

Looking for comforting soup recipes? Try one of these 21 Noodle Soups to Slurp Up This Winter.

How to Roast a Whole Chicken in Your Slow Cooker

Whole roast chicken is such a comforting food, but turning your oven on, roasting it and letting it rest can be a feat at the end of a busy day. Many people resort to picking up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, but there’s a better answer. Toss the whole chicken in your slow cooker in the morning and you’ll come home to the aromas of a mouth-watering home cooked meal. The chicken will be perfectly juicy and tender, the meat will fall right off the bone and you’ll be left with a jus at the bottom of the pot that’s liquid gold. Interested? Here’s how to do it.

Slow Cooker Chicken

Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken
Season a 4-lb chicken with salt and pepper. Place roughly chopped onion, celery and carrot in slow cooker to cover the bottom of the pot. Place chicken on top of the vegetables breast side down. Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 7 hours. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Strain the jus collected at the bottom of pot. Serve chicken with jus.

Tasty Flavour Ideas:

Southwestern Spiced Roast Chicken
Replace the carrot with a green pepper. Rub chicken with a little salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin. Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 7 hours. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or baked beans.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Chicken
Place a roughly chopped onion and a few garlic cloves on the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix together equal parts sriracha, honey and soy sauce and rub onto the chicken. Place chicken, breast down, on top of garlic and onion. Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 7 hours. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Serve with sticky rice or fries.

Rosemary and Citrus Roast Chicken
Place several garlic cloves, a quartered orange and lemon in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rub chicken with orange marmalade. Place a few sprigs of rosemary in the cavity of the chicken. Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 7 hours. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Serve with buttered country bread.

Looking for more delicious ideas? Try our 20 Best Chicken Slow Cooker Recipes.

Super Easy French Onion Soup

This is a pretty standard, classic dish — not much to change, only to tweak. Seasonings are up to you, so make them personal. Use vegetable broth instead of beef if you’re vegetarian, or use chicken stock if you’re just looking for lighter fare. This version is very heavy on the onions, so reduce those if you find them overpowering.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
6 medium to large yellow onions, sliced in half and then into half rounds
3/4 cup vermouth (like Noilly Prat)
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
8 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
Salt & pepper
Round slices of crusty bread (optionally buttered on both sides)
1 cups grated Swiss Gruyère
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

french-onion-soup

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep saucepan, heat the butter on medium high. Add in onions and sauté for 30 minutes. The onions should begin to caramelize and turn brown. Remember to stir often so nothing sticks to the bottom, but scraping some of the brown bits into the onions is a good thing.
  2. Add garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Deglaze saucepan with vermouth, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add stock, herbs and salt & pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, tunr down and simmer for anywhere from 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes. The longer the flavours have to meld, the better.
  5. In oven proof bowls, ladle the soup. Top with some crusty bread, sprinkle on the cheese and pop under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Bon Appetit!

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Tip: Try this as a showy appetizer (in small bowls) at your next get together, or savour it alongside a light spinach salad as a full meal. Whatever you choose, just be sure to use good quality cheese, it makes all the difference.