And just like that we say later to 2013 and howdy to 2014. I relish the first few weeks of the new year, I really do. I like wiping the slate clean and starting fresh. It’s like 365 days to get things right. I don’t really do resolutions and the whole picking a word thing doesn’t work for me- unless it’s bacon. Or butter. But that seems like a bit much, even for me.
So at the beginning of each year, I like to reflect on the past year and take inventory of what’s working in my life and what’s not. From that I make goals that will ultimately better myself and my relationships. Call them resolutions if you will but I don’t like to- too much pressure and like I said, I don’t do resolutions. I prefer to think of my well being as an ongoing project and one that needs tweaking and attention all year long, not just the beginning of the year.
Last year was all about finding balance between blogging and my private chef business. Now that I’ve somewhat found it, (hello, first holiday in 13 years I’ve had off…..) I need to find balance at home. Blogging more and catering less means I’m home a lot and it’s too easy to spend my time online, neglecting the things around me. I go into 2014 hoping to make my online time more valuable so that I can create more time to do the things that I love- tennis, snowboarding, reading, playing with my kids, cooking for fun, hiking with the dog, going to the movies with my husband, laying in the sun, rekindling my love of knitting…. just to name a few.
This past week has been a good start. The entire family packed our bags and headed for a mini ski vacation at one of our favorite Utah resorts that’s quiet and has little to no cell service. We spent the week skiing as a family, watching movies and playing games in the afternoon and honestly, I did very little cooking. I’m ready to get home today (a good sign of any trip) and start cooking again. My body is craving the basics- greens, whole grains and lean protein. I need to counter all the sweets that have been consumed the last few weeks.
First recipe of the year is an old classic but with a new and heartier twist. Tomato soup gets some bulk from the protein rich quinoa and everything is better with feta- that’s my theory anyway! Happy New Year, everyone, and I here’s to 3014 being the best year yet!
Classic tomato soup with hearty quinoa and salty feta cheese.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- feta cheese for garnish
- sliced scallions, optional
- Make the quinoa by adding 2 cups water, 1 cup quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small stock pot. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until quinoa is done. Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to serve with soup.
- To make the soup, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot.
- Add the onion and carrot; sauté and soften for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic during the last 2 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle with flour and cook 3 minutes longer, stirring.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover; cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Purée the soup in a food processor. If you want the soup really smooth, pour through a strainer before putting back into the pot.
- Stir in the half-and-half. Make sure the soup doesn't boil after adding the half-and-half.
- Serve soup in a shallow bowl, placing a 1/2 cup or so of quinoa in the middle of each bowl. Garnish with feta cheese and green onion before serving.