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Winter Soups with the Morrells

Posted on: February 9th, 2012 by Kim

With the winter season upon us, I like to make warm, nutritious meals to serve at the dinner table. I use a lot of soups and croc pot meals during these colder months, which are relatively easy to make and pack a nutritious punch.

In order to find recipes, I sit down with my favorite cookbooks on Saturday or Sunday, and plan out each week’s meals in advance. This cuts down on the daily stress of having to decide what to make for dinner, and helps me find fun, unusual meals for the weekly line-up.

For example, a couple months ago, I made an Indian dish called chana massala for the first time. The recipe called for chickpeas and plenty of spices, which sent me on a scavenger hunt down the spice aisle of our local co-op. While the meal didn’t turn out totally amazing, I still had fun discovering new spices and trying my hand Indian food.

Messy LiamWhen I’m making dinner, I’m usually joined by my 2-year-old son Liam, who loves to be in the kitchen. Liam likes to name various vegetables, and jumps at any opportunity to be involved in food prep. I give my pint-sized chef a butter knife so he can help “chop” the ingredients for each meal, which keeps him engaged and happy.

Twice a week, we eat dinner with members of our extended family, joining either my parents or our sister-in-law and nieces for a larger meal. Most nights, however, it’s just myself, Liam, and my husband Justin, gathered around the table to check-in with each other after a busy day.

By eating together, Justin and I are able to touch base on any child-rearing issues or work frustrations, and collaborate on ways to solve them. He also shares stories that he heard on NPR, which he listens to while working full-time as a metal smith.

With a toddler in the mix, meals don’t usually last more than 15 minutes, but we’re okay with that. As long as we get a chance to sit down and reconnect, we’re experiencing the benefits of having a dinner together!

Here’s my new favorite croc pot recipe. Hope it keeps you warm this winter!

Vegetable and Kielbasa Soup
• 1 pound dried white beans (such as great Northern or navy)
• 14 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
• 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 5 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)
• country bread, for serving

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, kielbasa, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, rosemary and 1 cup water.

2. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

3. Just before serving, stir in the spinach. Serve with the bread.