The Cooking Chronicles: Post-Holiday Detox

I don’t think our holiday indulgence was as bad this year as in past years, but after Christmas, for whatever reason, my body was craving vegetables, and a break from butter and fat. So I made sure to bookmark a few recipes to get us through the post-holiday detox.

Mushroom Barley Soup

We went to the pantry for this one, and hauled out the quick-cook barley that had been hiding behind a good many other things. The mushroom barley soup was one recipe on the Progressive Foods website I hadn’t yet tried, and better yet, it allowed me to purge my fridge of some less-than-peak vegetables in the crisper.

It simmered happily on the stove while we had company over, allowing the flavours to stew for even longer. The results were great – a spoonful of tasty vegetables, textured barley and savoury broth in every bite.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom barley soup

Two Pea Soup with Frizzled Ham

I should nickname this Mark Bittman dish of two pea soup with frizzled ham the “first intermission soup”, because it is the perfect recipe to be made during the first intermission of a hockey game (as I did, on break from watching one of the World Juniors games). Then, allowed to simmer through the last two periods to soften the split peas, it was ready to eat by the end of the game.

It’s another soup that is easily made with ingredients that most people have on hand – ham, split peas, frozen peas, carrots, onions – and it’s a hearty meal without being heavy. The frizzled ham was a lovely garnish, enhancing the soup with a crispy, smoky finish.

Two Pea Soup with Frizzled Ham

Two pea soup with frizzled ham

Tofu Chili with Soy Sauce

Like kale chips and potato chips, tofu chili really shouldn’t be compared with its meat counterpart – it is in a different playing field all together, and will never, ever win.

Mark Bittman’s recipe for tofu chili with soy sauce came together easily (and even more so because I opted to use a can of black beans instead of cooking them myself).

The texture of the crumbled tofu wasn’t a surprise (we’ve had it before), but I found it probably needed more time on the stove to absorb all of the flavours (I had reduced the simmering time in half because we weren’t cooking beans from scratch). Cumin probably would have been a great addition, as well as tomato paste, to thicken the mixture, and though the cloves were fragrant, the combination with soy sauce didn’t work as well as we expected. Mack though, ever the joker, said that something was missing. When asked what, he replied, “Meat.” Haha.

Tofu Chili with Soy Sauce

Tofu chili

We would make it again – but like I said, tofu chili is to be considered henceforth as a stand alone dish.