Friday, October 17, 2008

Tuscan Veggie Soup and Headaches

The other day my friend, Alex, and I were supposed to hang out after work. I didn't realize it til the end of the day, but a giant fist had been slowly closing in around my brain so that by the time I could stamp out of the office (which is ironic to say, since I'm still not getting paid), there was so much pressure on my head that I could barely stand up straight.

I met up with Alex outside of work, and I grunted in reply to everything he tried to talk about. All I could think about was my poor head. Luckily he realized the dire state I was in, and so we went back to my place for some rice krispies (with raisins! which apparently isn't that common, but I've always done it, so I didn't know), and massive amounts of sinus headache medicine.

After half an hour of me laying perfectly still in the dark while Alex played around with his iphone (yes, the same friend as before obsessed with the same iphone, although this time, he was hooked on a new game called taptap, which is a version of guitarhero for the iphone), the pills finally kicked in and I could slowly start to form sentences again.

And what were those sentences about? Food, duh.

What were we going to make for dinner? Spaghetti was too simple, and my suggestion, Norwegian meatballs were too similar to the Swedish meatballs Alex had made with a different friend the week before.

"I could go for soup," I said, trying to remember the saying that goes "feed a cold, starve a fever..." and trying to think of some excuse for soup in particular being good against headaches.

I think I just like the concept of soup in general. You chop up all of these things and just throw them in together, and boil it for a while and it ends up tasting pretty good. I think what I like best about it (besides the taste) is eating it with a spoon. Not to pick favorites over the fork and the knife, but there aren't as many foods you get to eat with a spoon.

So we decided on making this Tuscan Veggie Soup recipe that Alex had tried out before and had found on the Food Network website. (The Food Network is my favorite network, by the way...) It's a hearty soup and everything that goes into it is super good for you.

We went to the shops near where I live in Washington Heights, which is a Dominican neighborhood, to get the ingredients. I hadn't tried any of the small shops before, but it turns out the veggies you can get at these places are really cheap. We got everything we needed for the soup (carrots, onions, barley, beans, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini....etc) for about $15, including half a roasted chicken from a restaurant near here. And we made a double recipe! And I have a ton of carrots, onions, etc. left over with which I can think (dream?) up new and wonderful things to make.

Tuscan Veggie Soup (with Chicken)

Neither the barley nor the chicken were in the original recipe, but they both really added to the soup. I might even use a whole chicken next time.

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1 cup cooked barley
1/2 cooked roasted chicken, deboned and chopped

Chop all the veggies.

In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir for a while, then add carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, chicken, barley, and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans, and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.
Serve with a baguette!
The soup turned out amazing and I've been taking leftovers of it to warm up in the microwave and eat for lunch at work. And I haven't had a headache since, so I'm guessing it's a pretty safe bet that it indeed is a remedy against headaches.

1 comment:

Tima said...

Wow! That sounds great! Glad you got rid of your headache! And I think I'll make a soup tonight - sounds like a wonderful soup for when the leaves turn golden and the days get shorter, when the wind blows around the buildings while the rain drums against the windows...