Not a single industry is untouched by this pandemic. And buying local has never been so important – to support small family businesses. By purchasing local ingredients from farmers and processors and eating at local establishments, you strengthen Canada’s food supply chain. You can make a real difference in your neighbours’ lives and perhaps make new friends along the way, too.
February is Heart and Stroke month! Maintaining a healthy diet is a key part in preventing heart conditions such as coronary artery and vascular disease, heart structure diseases, rhythm disorders and heart failure. For example, eating daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables helps keep your heart and body healthy.
Our simple winter soup features Canadian leeks and potatoes. Fennel, onion, turnip, carrot and garlic also contribute to the hearty flavours of this soup, which is great for keeping that heart strong while also being delicious. All of these vegetables are in-season across Canada and are readily available at most Canadian grocery stores at this time. The garlic chili crisp used here as a garnish adds some heat and texture to this comforting soup. This soup was developed to bring solace on a cold, wintery night.
Leeks have a similar taste to onions but tend to be milder. They tend to have a buttery and smooth texture when cooked and a very sweet and pleasing aroma. Raw leeks have an herbal taste to them and are far less bitter than green or bulb onions.
Leeks have become a niche crop in Canada. Many farmers grow this onion relative across the country. In Welsh culture, the leek is a national symbol. Legend is that they were worn into battle to protect soldiers from evil spirits. And though this is likely untrue; leeks are a good source of vitamin A, C, and K, dietary fibre. They also contain minerals such as iron and manganese, which provide your body with an immune boost. Leeks are a rich source of antioxidants and a great source of kaempferol. This flavonoid is thought to protect you from heart disease and some forms of cancer.
When shopping for leeks, look for firm produce with healthy white and green stalks. Leaves should be dark green and shouldn’t look wilted or withered. Rounded bottoms are an indication of old age. They can keep fresh in the fridge for up to a week. Check out Canning Produce, a farm in Ontario that grows over 60 acres of leeks, making them one of the largest producers in Canada!
This soup calls for the use of an immersion blender, which creates a creamy texture. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender instead. Just be very careful when handling steaming hot vegetables!
For the Soup:
- 1/2 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
- 4 leeks, white and light green parts roughly chopped
- 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 4 medium turnips, roughly chopped
- 2 medium yellow potatoes, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 1 bouquet garnish comprised of thyme, parsley, and rosemary
- 2 quarts stock of your choosing (vegetable or chicken)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Alfalfa sprouts (garnish)
For the Garlic Chili Crisp:
- 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
For the Soup:
- Begin by washing all your produce, paying extra attention to your leeks, as dirt tends to hide between the layers of the leek stalk.
- Roughly chop your fennel, leeks, potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips and garlic and place in a large soup pot.
- Bouquet garnish – Take a few sprigs of thyme, parsley and rosemary and tie together with kitchen twine.
- Add the bouquet garnish to your pot./li>
- Add 2 quarts of stock to your soup pot and bring vegetables and stock to a boil.
- Lower your heat to a simmer and allow the vegetables to cook on low for 1 hour.
- After an hour, the vegetables should be soft. Remove the bouquet garnish. Remove soup from heat and carefully blend using an immersion blender until your soup is smooth in texture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the Garlic Chili Crisp:
- Start by heating olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, carefully add your sliced garlic, dried chili flakes, and a pinch of salt.
- Allow the garlic to cook until golden brown. Remove from heat.
To Serve the Soup:
- Ladle soup into a bowl and top with garlic chili crisp.
- Top with alfalfa sprouts for garnish.