Tag Archives: healthy eating

Healthy&Light Vegetable Soup with Chicken

¬†I guess we all didn’t like veggies when we were kids ūüôā kids mostly love fruits and so was I, because fruits are sweet and veggies are not. But, despite our childhood preferences my today’s post is about vegetable soup which I could probably like many years back if I would tried it before. My today’s soup is light, smooth and simply delicious.
¬†When I made it first time and tried, it was love from the first spoon. ūüėÄ In Russia soup has another¬†look (like Schi I posted about earlier), but creamy soup have different consistency and taste. Needless to say, that soup with fresh veggies and plenty of protein in chicken breast are always a healthy choice for a general well-being and also for those who look after their body shape.
Such soup for dinner can be a weekday lifesaver, especially if you make a huge pot ahead! ūüėČ
Chicken vegetable soup-2
This soup can be made¬†completely¬†vegetarian, or based on chicken stock (nothing¬†beats the flavor of homemade chicken stock!), or it’s good way for using leftover chicken. Do what works best for you. ūüôā

Ingredients:
Cooked or raw chicken breast Р2, medium size
Zucchini – 1 large
Bell peppers – 2-3
Tomatoes – 3
Onion – 1
Garlic clove – 1
Dry thyme – 1 tsp, optionally
Bunches of dill and/or parsley, finely chopped, or 2 tsp dry
Olive oil –¬†1 Tbsp
A pinch of chilli or cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper – to taste
Chicken vegetable soup-1
Preparation:
  1. If you make this soup with raw chicken breast follow next step, otherwise go to the step 3.
  2. First of all, put the chicken breasts into a pan and cover with water (1l/34oz or so). Add bay leave, whole small onion and several peppercorns; bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes or until the breasts are ready. Discard herbs and onion. Take the chicken out, cool it, then cut into small cubes and set aside. Reserve the stock. You can do it a day or two ahead.
  3. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until tender for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut bell peppers into cubes, add to the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Cut the zucchini into cubes, add to the veg-mixture and saute for 2 minutes more.
  6. Add chopped garlic, herbs* and chili pepper, stir and cook for 30 seconds more.
  7. Chop the tomatoes, add into the pot along with chicken stock (or water), season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Puree the soup until smooth. Put chicken cubes* into soup, bring it to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer over moderate heat about 10 minutes.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with fresh dill or parsley and serve with baguette slices.

*I recommend reserve some chicken and herbs for garnish.

Enjoy!
Chicken vegetable soup-3
And now, would you like a dessert?  Have a look here!

Russian schi (cabbage soup)

 
¬†Today is 3rd day of¬†Butterweek¬†(Rus.-Maslenica) in Russia. It’s spring festival, saying¬†goodbye¬†to the winter, and the week before Lent. During the week we bake¬†pancakes (we say exactly bake, not cook, even though we fry them on a pan)¬†almost every day, invite relatives and friends, and our hearts fill with a joy¬†of the upcoming spring.
¬†Every day of Butterweek has the name and meaning.¬†Today (Wednesday)¬†is ‘Lakomka’ – Gourmand. When wife’s mother invites son-in-law and treats him with¬†pancakes. Unmarried boys and girls usually went to slide from snow hills. Old folks bantered with guys, who hadn’t married that year and played various pranks to them. And guys bribed with pancakes and candies.
 More you can read in my previous post here. 
 
¬†I’d like to tell you about another no less famous Russian dish – Schi, it’s cabbage soup, similar to Borsch (with cabbage and beetroots). Everyone knows and enjoy it. ūüėČ
Schi-9
¬†Schi is the main hot Russian dish over a¬†millennium. Peasants started to cook it a long time ago in the 9th¬†century when cabbage has begun to cultivate everywhere in Russia. In spite of the fact that people’s tastes have been changing, the soup is always been eaten.
¬†Of course, schi was not the same for all social classes. Full of content, with meat and thick cream, was called ‘rich’, other ‚Äėempty‚Äô, as it was cooked only from cabbage and onion.
¬†To create a special and unique schi’s taste, it was prepared in clay or cast-iron pot in Russian petch/oven. ‘Schi’s spirit’ was always in homes, that means everybody cooked it. The Russian proverb says ‘Schi and kasha is our food’, as they were eaten every day.
 
¬†Schi consists of six major components: cabbage, meat (or mushrooms rarely), roots (carrot, parsley), spice part (onions, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper) and sour part (sour cream, apples or¬†cabbage¬†brine). First and last parts are essential and absolutely compulsory. Thus, the simplest schi could be done from cabbage and sour cream ūüôā
 The notable feature of schi (that you cook not just a simple cabbage soup) is a slightly sour taste, which usually archived by adding sour cream, sour/salted cabbage, and brine or salted mushrooms into the soup.
  
¬†Originally, flour was added as well to make schi thicker, but such ‘dressing’ spoiled the taste and then began to add potatoes or¬†buckwheat.
 
¬†Considered that the ideal schi is so thick, that if you put a spoon into the soup, it¬†holds¬†vertical¬†position¬†and doesn’t fall.¬†ūüėÄ or when a huge piece of meat is¬†risen¬†above a plate of schi.
 
¬†Health-giving¬†properties of the¬†soup¬†allowed¬†to consume it frequently. There are¬†many schi versions: ‘summer schi’ with fresh cabbage or sorrel,¬†‘winter schi’ with sour cabbage, ‘lenten/lean schi’ without meat and etc. Mine is with fresh cabbage and meat.
¬†For the meat part better to choose fatty beef, belly or rump, bone in. Even you can add some pork. I used boneless lamp, because¬†couldn’t¬†find a proper piece of beef.
¬†When the soup is ready, leave it for 15-30 minutes to¬†get the enhanced¬†flavor. A similar principle is brewing tea, we keep it for 3 minutes to get a wonderful aroma. So, you can make a big pot of schi and eat it all week long. ūüôā

Russian schi

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 

Ingredients
500-600g lamb or beef
300-400g cabbage
3 medium potatoes
1+1 onion, for broth and frying
1+1 carrot, for broth and frying
2-3 tsp tomato paste
small bunch of parsley and/or dill
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. sunflower oil, for frying
1 garlic clove
sour cream, good quality 
rye or wholemeal bread
salt, black pepper to taste
 
Preparation
    • Put the meat inn a large soup pot, cover with 3 litres of water, bring to boil and remove the foam.
    • Meanwhile, grate carrot and dice onion. Saut√© vegetables until they are soft for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and saut√© for 3-4 minutes more.
    • Take¬†and¬†throw¬†carrot and onion out, we won’t use them anymore.
    • Take the meat out as well. Cut into small cubes and keep aside.
    • To get the clear soup, you can strain the broth¬†through¬†cheesecloth (optionally).
    • Season the broth with salt and black pepper to taste.
    • Slice potatoes, add into the broth and boil 15 minutes.
    • Thinly shred the cabbage and add to the potatoes (when they are half way done) along with meat cubes.
    • Again bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
    • Add saut√©ed carrot and onion to the pot along with bay leaves, whole¬†peppercorns¬†(you can smash them little bit), salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Add chopped parsley/dill and crushed garlic.
    • Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid and let it stand at least for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and rye or wholemeal bread.
 
Enjoy Russian lunch! ūüôā

You can click on any picture to have a look it in full size.

Roast quail for St.Valentine Day

¬†Quail¬†may be tiny birds but they pack a real¬†flavor¬†punch. Perfect for Valentine’s Day meal.

¬†There’s something adorable about presenting your Valentine with their own whole bird.¬†The easiest way (and messy) to eat a small¬†quails¬†is with your fingers ūüôā or you can carve it as turkey.
Quail(Click on the photo to see it in a larger size)
 Serve one quail per person as a starter or two as a main course.
 
Ingredients
4 whole quails
4 medium potatoes
2 carrots
2 medium onions
1 small bunch thyme
6-8 juniper berries
2 tbsp runny honey
2+2 tbsp olive oil 
salt, pepper
 
Method
  1. If you’ve got frozen quail, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take the quail out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Wipe the outside of the bird and inside the cavity, using kitchen paper.
  3. Season inside with salt&pepper, put in sprig of thyme and one juniper berry. Tie the legs together with string (optionally).
  4. Season birds with salt&pepper and thyme, brush with honey and 2 tbsp olive oil.
  5. Preheat oven to 200C. Put thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme and juniper berries into a roasting tin. Sprinkle with salt&pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Sit the quail on top and roast for 25 minutes more.
 
Enjoy!
 

Slow-cooked beef with fruits

¬† In Russian language, we have one word “tomlenie”, which is similar to the word “stewing”, but has a significant distinction. Tomlenie is a slow-cooking process of meat, fish or¬†vegetables¬†in Russian petch (oven/stove, have a look at the pictures of traditional Russian petch here and here). ¬†
  Nowadays traditional Russian ovens can be found only in out-of-the-way places (villages and provinces, located in the remotest depths of the country).
¬† It’s considered that, slow-cooking in the common oven is close to the “tomlenie” process, but the real taste and aroma of dishes prepared in Russian petch¬†unfortunately couldn’t be done anywhere else.

Slow-cooked meat

Let’s try to prepare¬†the closest dish.
First of all, we need a clay pot with a lid. 
Be patient! Stewing will take several hours.
Don’t worry!¬†During this time you don’t need to check or mix the dish every 10-20 minutes, thus you can have¬†a break and watch your favorite movie, and even¬†prepare a side dish. ūüôā

Beef with fruits

If you don’t have clay pot-use casserole.
If you¬†don’t have a lid -cover the pot with foil.
Replace cherries with cranberries.
Omit the sugar.
Spice the meat with 1/3 tsp of crushed cardamom, it brings a nice interesting note. 
You can add 2-3 tbsp of dry red wine for the better taste (after the frying meat).
Ingredients to feed 4 people:
Beef, cut into 2-3cm cubes – 700g/1lb
Golden onion – 1 big, sliced
Pitted prunes – 150g/5 oz
Cherry fresh or frozen – 150g/5 oz
Sunflower or olive oil for frying- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Bay leaves – 2
Whole black peppercorns – 8-10
Salt, pepper – to taste
some parsley, chopped
 
Method:
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 5-7 minutes, add beef cubes and fry until slightly browned.
  • Sprinkle the meat with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Put the meat in a clay pot, add boiling water (just to cover the meat), bay leaves and peppercorns. Season with salt and pepper.¬†
  • Don’t forget to close the pot with a lid! ūüôā
  • Transfer to a preheated oven, 200C/400F, for 2 hours.
  • Check the¬†quantity¬†of the liquid, and add some more water ¬†– if desired (the meat always should be in the broth).
  • Reduce temperature¬†to 180C/380F and return to the oven for a further 1 hour.
  • Add prunes and cherries (no need to¬†defrost), check the seasoning and return again to the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Switch the oven off and leave the pot in it (until the oven is still warm).
  • Sprinkle¬†with fresh parsley.
 
The good garnish to such meat is a buckwheat porridge, mashed or boiled potatoes. It could be served with broth; in a clay pot or on a serving plate.
Enjoy the holiday dinner! ūüôā
 

Russian kasha

¬†Kasha means porridge. One Russian proverb says “Bread and Porridge is our food”. A pot with a¬†porridge¬†and bread were¬†the main food on a table many years back. A large varieties of cereals are produced in Russia, but the popular and loved one has been the buckweat.
¬†According to old Russian¬†tradition, during the wedding a bridegroom and a bride had to cook a porridge together. If they could cooked a good, tasty porridge that meant they could get on with each other. A porridge was cooked for many occasions like a wedding or Christmas feast, birth or funeral repast. Sometimes a¬†feast was called ‘kasha’.¬†Every¬†hostess¬†had a personal recipe of porridge, which she kept in a secret.¬†
 
¬†In Russian cuisine a porridge is¬†divided¬†into 3 groups by it’s consistency: liquid (eaten as a soup), oozy (usually for children) and crumbly (the tastiest one). The consistency depends on a¬†quantity of¬†water or milk, in which porridge was cooked. Pumpkin_millet

Millet porridge with butter or lard added was the common meal for Russian¬†labors, who had worked in fields. It’s can be eaten sweet (with sugar, honey, dried fruits) or savoury (with onion, garlic, mushrooms), as a main dish or garnish.
 Moreover, millet is rich in calcium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and contain no gluten.

  
We need:

  • pumpkin
  • millet – 1 cup
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • milk – 1 cup
  • a knob of butter
  • few dried apricots
  • raisins
  • sugar – 1Tbsp
  • a pinch of salt
Take a pumpkin. 
Cut the lid and set aside. Clean all seeds out.
Put a knob of butter on the pumpkin bottom.
Wash millet thoroughly under running tab water. Mix with raisins and sliced dried apricots. 
Put the cereal mixture in the pumpkin. Add a pinch of salt and some sugar to taste. Pour the milk and water, cover with the lid.
Bake for 1-2 hours.
Open the lid. 
Tasty millet porridge in pumpkin pot is ready!
Serve with honey.
Pumpkin_millet-2 
P.S. For 1 cup millet take 1 cup milk+1/2 cup water. Sub millet with rice.
 
P.P.S.¬†Don’t throw away seeds. Sprinkle over some sea salt and smoked¬†paprika. Add olive oil and bake on a baking paper along with the pumpkin.