italian wedding soup

That spikey lettuce-ish thing in your bag last week, in case you weren’t so sure, is curly endive, It’s on the bitter side, but can be eaten like lettuce in a salad — especially so if mixed with other greens. There are loads of salad recipes online using endive and many of them, for whatever reason, seem to include bacon.

curly endive

I decided to use mine tonight to make one of my faves — Italian Wedding Soup. So warm and filling and perfect for a snowy night. Really easy, too. The meatballs, once you’ve made them, just cook in the hot broth.

I use the recipe concocted by Food Network babe Giada De Laurentiis, which you’ll find here. There’s room for substitutions,according to what you have — or don’t have — on hand. I made my meatballs with ground turkey in place of beef/pork because that’s what I felt like eating tonight. And there was no way I was going to the grocery store just for parsley (I had none in the fridge) so I just skipped it, even though it really would have tasted even better if I hadn’t.

wedding meatballs

I am pretty fickle with recipes and there aren’t a ton that I keep and make repeatedly. This one I’ve made a handful of times. It’s a keeper.

wedding soup

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.

white bean, kale and sweet potato soup

I am a big eater of soup in cold weather. I make a pot, freeze it in individual sized containers, and I have instant lunches for work. Filling, warming, healthy. Really, the perfect food.

Tonight I made a big pot of soup with no real clue as to when it will get eaten, but it will. I might freeze this one in one or two larger containers — with some crusty bread, it would be a perfect dinner on some night when life is crazy.

I used Loft’s sweet potatoes, onion, kale and a leek for this recipe. Here it is:

White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

1/2 cup dried cannellini beans

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 small onion, cut into quarters

1 head garlic


1/2 cup tubetti, (small tube-shaped pasta – I omitted the pasta, myself)

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 small leeks, rinsed, white and light-green parts cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used one big one)

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used three small, skinny ones)

1 bunch kale, (3/4 pound or however much you’ve got)

6 cups chicken or veg stock

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place beans in a large bowl, and cover with water. Let soak overnight, and drain.

2. Place beans, 1 sprig rosemary, onion, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until beans are just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain beans in a colander. Discard onion and rosemary; set beans aside.

3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil. Cook until soft, about 40 minutes. Remove garlic from oven, and allow to cool. Slice garlic in half crosswise, and squeeze, removing cloves; set cloves aside.

4. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add tubetti, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander, drain, and set aside.

5. Place a 6-quart low-sided saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil; heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add leeks, remaining sprig rosemary, and roasted garlic cloves. Cook until leeks become translucent. Add sweet potato; cook, stirring until the potato pieces just begin to soften, about 8 minutes.

6. Add kale; cook until kale begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Add stock; cook until potato pieces are tender, about 10 minutes. Add reserved beans, pasta, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

kale soup

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.


I don’t have any celery recipes to share, really, though you could make soup if you wanted to use it all up in one go.

I keep it in the fridge just to use for mirepoix, that flavourful mix of chopped carrot, onion and celery that is the base for so many soups and stews. Some time ago, can’t remember how, I learned that celery keeps much longer in the fridge if you wrap it in aluminum foil. So that’s what I do.

And one final word on the celery — and its leaves, which are lovely and should be used right along with the stalks: taste it and you realize the difference between organic and conventional. This stuff is green and intensely flavourful. Incomparable to the pale, washed out stuff we get everywhere else.

Non-organic celery is one of the “Dirty Dozen,” so feel good about eating Loft’s.


– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.


I bow down to the inventor of the slow cooker. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen on various projects yesterday afternoon, including some slow cooker prep for tonight’s supper. But I came home at 4:30 today and dinner was on its way to being ready. Makes for a ridiculously less harried evening when dinner is already done. And the clean up is negligible, too. All I had to do was slice up a Golden Hearth whole wheat loaf (best bakery in town, I say) and butter it. Done.

Lots of good bag items ended up in this soup — several carrots, the leek and all the spinach — so it’s super healthy, but filling and hearty, too. And there is a load of room to play and make substitutions. You really can’t mess it up.

And I do believe if I whiz some of this up in my Magic Bullet, I may have a nice bowl of healthy mush that, if I am lucky, my little one will eat for dinner tomorrow.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (from Canadian Living)

6 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped (omit to keep it vegetarian)
2 onions, chopped (I used the whole leek instead, green and white parts only)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped (didn’t have any, so skipped it)
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp dried basil (if you have an herb garden, use fresh and add it at the end)
1 tsp oregano (ditto)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I soak my own and freeze them in can-sized portions — for a how-to, click here)
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup)
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes (I had some romas that needed using up so I skinned them and added them whole)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup (175 mL) tubetti or other small pasta (I used orzo)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley (forgot to add this, darn)
1/4 cup (50 mL) tomato paste (oops, forgot this too)
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (I added a parmesan rind from the freezer instead — this is a great trick for adding flavour to soups. Omit the parm for a vegan soup)

In skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to slow cooker. Drain fat from skillet. Fry onions, garlic, celery, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker.

Mash 1 cup (250 mL) of the beans; add to slow cooker along with remaining beans. Add stock, tomatoes and bay leaf; cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.

crock pot

In pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to slow cooker. Add parsley and tomato paste. (Here’s where I also added the whole bunch of spinach, stemmed).

Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes or until hot. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

soup bowl

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.