Recipe Swap: Hearty eating for wintry chills

Here’s a word you often see associated with a recipe: hearty. I tend to think this is what and how we should be eating when the weather’s turned nasty and the days are dark, long and busy.

Hearty isn’t merely wholesome food we eat because it’s good for us. Hearty means food that’s really pleasurable. We eat hearty food with gusto, without reservation. It’s food offered in a spirit of hospitality; you eat hearty in the cheerful company of other people. You anticipate and are rewarded with food richly satisfying and wholly nourishing when you eat hearty.

It can be difficult to eat well through winter, when we need food to help boost our immunity, and even mood. It’s tempting just to quaff down a lot of fat- and calorie-laden foods while we sit counting the days ’til spring. Better to eat with an appetite worked up from enjoying winter, through healthy exercise — let’s get outside more! — and from work that engages the body as well as mind. Eat hearty.

Here’s a few hearty recipes for a hot breakfast, a great all-Canadian soup, and a couple of delicious meals for good eating over a Manitoba winter.

Hearty chicken and vegetable stew

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3-1/2 lbs. chicken pieces
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth mix
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 8 small carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 6 small potatoes, quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1- 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In large saucepan, melt butter. Sauté chicken until golden brown on both sides; drain. Stir in water, onion, chicken broth mix and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes and celery. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes longer or until chicken and vegetables are cooked. Add peas and cook three to five minutes longer. Gradually stir milk into flour until smoothly combined. Add to pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: It’s important to cook chicken thoroughly. To test pieces with bones, insert a fork into the chicken. If the meat is tender and juices run clear, the chicken is done. For boneless chicken, check that the meat is no longer pink in the centre. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes. Serves 6.

Hearty split pea soup

I’m not sure how this variation compares with the wonderful, and definitely hearty soup served at St. Jean Ag Days every January. Years from now, the thing anyone who goes there will remember is that delicious, aromatic soup served at the farm show in the Soup Pea Capital.

  • 2 c. dried yellow split peas*
  • 6 c. water
  • 2 c. chopped cooked ham
  • 1 c. shredded carrot
  • 3/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. butter2 c. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In large saucepan, combine peas and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. (Do not change water.) Add ham, carrot, onion and butter to peas. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 35 minutes or until peas are tender. Stir in milk and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and serve.

Tip: *Dried green split peas or lentils also work well in this recipe. You can freeze any leftover soup for up to two months.

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes. Serves 8.

Lazy lasagna in a bowl

Hearty classic flavours of a lasagna dish fill this soup to create a delicious comfort food recipe. Thick and chunky, once this hot soup is poured over top of the cheese, each spoonful will remind you of the gooey texture and flavour of your mom’s lasagna.

  • 1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausages or bulk sausage meat
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz./250 g) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini (about 12 oz.), chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 can (28 oz./796 ml) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. 10 per cent half-and-half cream
  • 2 c. water3/4 c. baby shell pasta
  • Salt (optional)
  • 3/4 c shredded Canadian mozzarella or provolone cheese

Remove sausage meat from casings and crumble into large deep pot. Place pot over medium-high heat and cook breaking up meat with a spoon for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat into a bowl; discarding any fat left in the pot. Return pot to medium-high heat and add butter, mushrooms, zucchini and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring for about eight minutes or until no liquid remains from mushroom mixture. Return meat with any accumulated juices to pot and add tomatoes. Whisk flour into cream and add to pot along with the water and pasta. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender but firm. Season to taste with salt (if using). Divide cheese among soup bowls and ladle soup over top to melt cheese.

Tip: Stirring the soup occasionally while cooking helps create a creamy texture to the soup. To add a smoky flavour, look for Canadian-smoked mozzarella or provolone cheese.

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes. Serves 6 to 8

Cinnamon oatmeal breakfast pudding

This is my go-to breakfast in winter.

  • 2 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c. 2 per cent milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/4 c. quick-cooking oats (not instant)
  • 1-1/3 c. 2 per cent milk
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • 4 tsp. granulated sugar

Bring water and salt to a boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Whisk together eggs, 1/4 c. milk, cinnamon and vanilla in medium bowl; stir into boiling water. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in oats. Simmer until desired consistency, about five to six minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon into bowls, top each serving with milk, cranberries and sugar.

Tip: Eating a high-protein breakfast can help you lose weight and keep it off. Research shows that protein keeps you feeling full longer and provides the energy you need to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

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