Flojo’s SuperSoups

Those of you who have taken part in Flojo’s Easy Detox Course might remember that week three was all about the veg. Week One introduced the subject of hydration (here are the links for the blogged part one and part two) and Week Two dealt with supporting detox pathways (part one and part two). I then waxed lyrical about the whys and wherefores of consuming large quantities of quality veg. A lot. And then some more. I’m not going to do that here, because, well honestly, because I can’t be bothered. (And I’ve just read Dr Perlmutter’s exceedingly brilliant Brain Maker, which outlines more compelling reasons to increase veg consumption than I’d thought possible. If you buy one book this month – this is the one!) But today I would like to witter a bit about veg boxes and give you a highly adaptable recipe for vegetable soup, so, without further fanfare, here is an extract from Chapter Three of the book that never was: Flojo’s Easy Detox Book!

To get a varied range of nutrients we need a wide range of vegetables, from leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, spinach, kale etc), gourds (pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers), legumes (peas, beans), roots (carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, sweet potatoes), stems (celery, rhubarb), fungi (mushrooms) and all the sprouts (not Brussels but delicate sprouted seeds and beans). If you already have peas, carrots and onions on a regular basis build on that – find a couple more types to have this week and then try two more text week. I think that my family averages about twelve different types each week and we never have to resort to tasteless, expensive, air-freighted green beans and baby sweetcorn from the supermarket. Our weekly veg-box provides several types and I grab extras as and when I need them.

Unless you are a keen, adventurous and highly effective gardener or already get a regular vegbox delivery (in which case – a gold star for you) it’s unlikely that you have access to a wide enough range of local, seasonal, organic vegetables. You might wonder why that matters. Here are just a few good reasons:

  • Without access to chemical fertilizers it’s difficult to get a good crop yield from soil that doesn’t contain lots of nutrients. The organic farmer has to pay much better attention to soil health to make their business commercially viable. As a result organic produce is generally far higher in minerals and vitamins.
  • If your produce has been grown locally it’s less likely to have spent too much time in storage; the longer fruit or veg is off the plant the more nutrients are lost.
  • Seasonal eating means that you generally get what you need when it’s available. It also means that you appreciate the seasons more; vegetables often just taste better when you eat them in the season that nature provided them.
  • Growing your own or using vegbox schemes pretty much guarantees that you’ll get a much wider and more exciting range of veg – a world beyond potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn and peas. Each type of vegetable carries its own unique package of nutrients.
  • From experience I can say that home grown and veg-box produce tastes much nicer. Our vegbox scheme also works out far cheaper than buying organic produce from the supermarket.

A word of warning! I’ve noticed that pretty much the sole reason for anyone stopping their regular vegbox order is because they don’t get through the whole box each week. There’s a really simple answer to this – get a smaller box! Whatever size you think you need, go one or even two sizes smaller. This way you can top it up at your usual shop if necessary and work up to a larger box at a later date.

Don’t worry too much for now about whether your vegetables are raw or cooked. Although a heavy handed approach to cooking destroys or leaches out many of the available nutrients in vegetables, what’s left in them is often easier to access. Meanwhile, although fresh’n’raw veg is higher in both nutrients and the live enzymes to help your body break them down, sometimes it’s a bit harder on a stressed digestive system to work through a ton of the raw stuff. The answer? Eat lots of both! However, please try not to overcook vegetables, particularly if you are cooking them from frozen – nothing worse than pre-prepared veg that has had the life-force boiled out of it. If you cook from frozen, try throwing your veg into water that’s already on a rolling boil. Keep the heat on high and as soon as it comes back to the boil drain it.

One step up from raw is to eat live. You can buy (or grow your own if you fancy it) sprouted alfalfa seeds or other sprouted seeds/pulses for padding out sandwiches, garnishing soups or using as a salad base with your choice of red peppers, crispy bacon, spring onions, bottled artichokes, lightly toasted seeds… try them and be inventive! I’ve also yet to find a child that doesn’t like them!

If you really don’t like vegetables or you are cooking for a family member who thinks they don’t like them then you’ll need to get a little sneaky! I have personal experience of this; when I met my husband he was not only vegetarian – he didn’t like vegetables! Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and peas were the only items he would consider adding to his diet of pizza and beer. So, I made veggie lasagnes by grating onions, garlic, peppers and courgettes into the tomato sauce. I made thin “chips” by mixing finely sliced potatoes, parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato with olive oil, sea salt and mixed herbs and baking them in a hot oven until they were crispy and nicely caramelised around the edges. I blitzed roasted sweet red peppers in with hummus for dipping crisps into and I made warm pasta salads by mixing bags of mixed leaves in with flat pasta such as linguine; extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (especially nice with a fish cake or two served on top). These days, with the exception of mushrooms, both he and our daughters unreservedly love pretty much all vegetables.

The following supadupa and easypeasy recipe is designed to be experimented with as much as possible according to season and taste. Divide into two portions for lunch or four portions as a starter.

Flojo’s SuperSoup

 The Basic Mix

  • One small diced onion (approx 80g)
  • One tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil and/or butter
  • One finely chopped or crushed clove of garlic
  • Approximately 240g vegetables (sorry, white potatoes don’t count but any other type of vegetable does)
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock

The Optional Extras

  • A pinch of dried herbs or spices
  • A small diced potato
  • A handful of lentils or cooked beans
  • A generous splash of cream or a dairy free substitute (only add at the end and don’t re-boil).
  • A can of coconut milk

Topping possibilities

  • A spoon of yoghurt
  • Finely chopped fresh herbs
  • A spoon of goats cheese
  • Crispy bacon
  • Strips of leftover roast meat
  • Toasted seeds or nuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The method

  • Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft
  • Add your chosen vegetables, optional extras and the stock.
  • Stick a lid on, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until the vegetables are soft.
  • Serve straight or blitzed in a bowl or cup before decorating with whatever toppings you like.

Try the following for inspiration: Frozen peas and thyme, beetroot and cumin, carrot and coriander, broccoli and nutmeg, leek and potato, sweet potato with red lentils and cumin, fennel and potato with black pepper; roasted butternut squash and sweetcorn with chilli; mushroom with black pepper and parsley; parsnip and carrot with curry powder, spinach and potato with nutmeg (the spinach should only be briefly cooked).

“Sometimes I forget how nice home made soups are and how good it feels to eat something which is packed with flavour without being packed with calories and artificial flavours colourings or preservatives.” Carole

“My son, who absolutely hates soup and has in the past said, and I quote, “soup’s disgusting why would anyone eat it?!” (He makes me so proud!!), tried it and liked it….says it all in my book!!!” Lindsay

You might also fancy trying A Curried Chicken and Coconut Soup

Lots and lots of quick and easy veggie ideas coming next week….

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