Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a safe and warm holiday last night and that you’re as excited for the new year as I am. I feel like 2018 has some great things in store for my family and I’m eager to see it begin!
Anyway, I have to confess something to you: I’ve eaten really, really badly the last few weeks. Really. As a rule, my diet is low carb and sugar/grain free, but man alive!, that wasn’t the case this season! I played pretty fast and loose with holiday meals, indulged in a little too much of my Sweet Petunia’s delicious baklava and by Christmas Day, I was feeling it. I didn’t gain weight, but I just felt MEH. Sluggish. Bloated. Grumpy. Frumpy. Undisciplined. Unsatisfied. Does anyone else know that feeling or is it just me? If that’s your experience too, don’t feel ashamed about it. It’s so stinking easy to get into that cycle of anticipation and indulgence that it takes real effort to throw the brakes on that cycle!
So here’s my solution: detox soup. Now understand me, I’m using the word detox a little differently than others. I don’t think there’s anything magical about this pot of soup. It’s absolutely nutritious, full of vitamin-rich veggies, beneficial fats and lean proteins, but it’s just soup. You may lose a pound or two, may feel a bit less sluggish, but it’s not going to undo months of bad eating overnight. That said, there’s a reason our Grannies made soup when we were sick, down, overwhelmed or needed comfort. What I find is that a big pot of simple, hearty soup in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s resets my mind and taste buds and readies me for the return to normalcy. It detoxifies my mind of constant indulgent food thoughts, reminds my taste buds what plain, home-style food tastes like, and helps to regulate blood sugar, satiety and digestion after the wild ride that was Beggar’s Night/Thanksgiving/Christmas.
The great thing about this recipe is that the variations are endless. I prefer this version because it’s low in carbs and full of satisfying ingredients that we generally always have on hand…but you can mix it up any way you like:
- Don’t like collards? Try kale, cabbage or spinach.
- Prefer vegetarian? Skip the meat entirely and substitute veggie broth.
- If you enjoy grains or beans, throw in a handful of barley or a cup of Great Northern beans.
- Swap out the Italian herbs for bay leaves for an “earthy” flavor.
- If you love carb-rich veggies, throw in some carrots or a couple red skin potatoes.
- If you’re iffy on the sun-dried tomatoes, use a fresh tomato or eliminate them entirely and replace with roasted red peppers, chipotles in adobo sauce or dried Ancho peppers.
- Top it how you like! I love a few dashes of green Tabasco sauce, but a dab of pesto, chopped avocado or a few shreds of parmesan cheese would also taste amazing!
Ingredients for Detox Soup
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 8-12 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups cauliflower, chopped into small florets
- 4 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
- 2 cups yellow squash or zucchini, sliced and quartered
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 cups chopped greens (I prefer collards as they hold up to cooking without becoming mush)
- 2 Tbsp red/white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dried basil/oregano/Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt, pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, cook the bacon and olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken stock, then add the cauliflower, collards and chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the squash, green beans, basil and pepper flakes and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and season to taste.
These cooking times are a bare minimum to get the veggies tender and the chicken warmed through, but if you want flavors that you recall from Grandma’s cooking, don’t neglect a long, slow simmer! I prepare this soup in my big red Dutch Oven and after the initial cooking time, I set it on the woodstove for the afternoon. The slow, even heat melds the flavors and creates a rich broth that is so satisfying. If you don’t have a woodstove, the same results can be achieved in an Instant Pot set to warm or on a back burner turned very, very low.
When I’m detoxing from holiday eating, I enjoy 2 big, hot bowls of this soup each day, along with a fat/protein-rich breakfast and snack. I also try to eliminate all dairy and my favorite sweets and treats (berries, flavored coffee and pecans, for example). After several days of eating in this manner, I feel like “me” again. Instead of craving baklava, chocolate and carb-heavy dishes, my body and spirit are satisfied with simple flavors and healthy treats (like homemade yogurt topped with pecans) .
How do you readjust your body, mind and spirit after the indulgences of the holiday season?