{Recipe: “Cure for the winter blues” vegetable soup and potato bacon bleu cheese pizza}

I can’t believe it’s already Sunday again…where did the week go?

To recap, on friday night, me and the boy went to watch the Cohen Brother’s new film, True Grit at Chinook Centre. A great movie – that young girl is an amazing actress!

Since we didn’t have enough time to go to a place to sit down and eat, we grabbed a quick bite at Chachi’s (New York style sandwiches made-to-order) and then headed over to Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters across the way. A gourmet coffee cafe started by two former engineers in the wireless industry who found their passion in coffee. They opened their first shop at the former Calgary Farmer’s Market and now have two more locations in Chinook and Marda Loop. I have to say I’m not usually a fan of “mall food”, but ever since the expansion in November, these two places are welcome additions..

Interior photos from Phil & Sebastian website

…Intrigued by the name, I ordered the Manjari Mocha – a luscious blend of espresso, steamed milk, dulce du leche and chocolate. This was SO delicious. I’m not a coffee drinker at all (my first experience with coffee/espresso were in Paris this past year), but this was perfectly creamy and decadant. I always find places like Starbucks coffee blends way too sweet for my taste, but this was just right.

On Saturday, I was inspired to make another large pot of soup for the week for my weekday lunches..Last week I made this electric magenta coloured borscht – jam-packed with celery, onions, carrots, broccoli and beets..so flavourful and comforting during our sub -30 degrees celsius temperatures.

This week’s mix had similar base ingredients…it started with one head of red onion a and couple cloves of minced garlic with a splash of olive oil..

..chopped carrots..

..chopped celery

I cooked these on med high heat till the veggies started to caramelize. I then added enough water to fill my pot. As the soup started to simmer, I added in a couple chopped red potatoes..

…and a large chunk of broccoli

Season with rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano, pepper and salt. Allow this mixture to simmer on med low for another half an hour and its ready to serve. About 10 minutes before its done, I added in a large bunch of kale (tough ribs removed)..

A light, flavourful and filling soup. The deliciously healthy way to get in your veggies during these cold winter months when cold salads are not so enticing..

For dinner, I had the craving for some thin crust pizza, so I defrosted the other half of my vegan pizza dough I had left in the freezer…I also stopped by the store for a couple essential ingredients I always have in the fridge…bacon and cheese. Tonight’s version was a package of pepper bacon and block of old white cheddar cheese..

Bacon?! Aren’t I trying to eat healthy here?!

Yes, but in my defense, using small amounts of it is a great way to add lots of flavour to your meal – like to a batch of braised cabbage or brussel sprouts or a spaghetti carbonara pasta. For the pizzas for both of us I used just two strips, cooked up in a hot pan till its nice and crispy and blotted of the excess oil in a couple of paper towels. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

For my spread for the pizza, I whipped up this quick improvised basil almond pesto in my magic bullet blender. I added a large handful of basil, few tablespoons of whole raw almonds, salt, pepper, some chunks of old white cheddar and drizzles of olive oil. Pulse till its nice and creamy. Voila, easy peasy pesto.

I spread this liberally on my two flattened rounds of dough..

For the boy’s pizza I added the following:

  • grilled potatoes (leftovers)
  • bacon
  • caramelized onion and mushrooms
  • pickled jalapeno rings
  • crumbles of Roquefort bleu cheese

Grilled at 400F in the oven for about 15 minutes till the edges of the crust get a nice golden brown..

The boy was in stinky cheese heaven..

Mine had similar ingredients, minus the jalapenos and topped with soft chunks of noble farms goat cheese and old white cheddar shavings.

When it came out of the oven, I drizzled each slice with my new favourite condiment…white truffle honey (thanks to the boy’s sister-in-law, thanks J!)

I only intended to eat half of the pizza, but ended up with a clean plate..good to the last bite 🙂

For dessert, one of these vegan banana cinnamon pecan muffins..tune in for my next post for the recipe..

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