After a very busy and productive week, it felt extra special leaving work on Friday to start my long weekend and kick-off the start of March Break.
This coming week is March Break for elementary and high school students. It’s a week when many families get away–either to someplace hot or deeper into snow country to get their fill of winter activities. We won’t be indulging in either type of get-away, but we plan to enjoy a day trip or two, and do some fun activities locally with our little guy.
We’ve decided to divide and conquer. I’m taking Monday for the long weekend, Liz will take a few days, and as a special treat, Michael will be spending a day with his little brother. Our little guy is excited about the time off and the fact that he’s not going to spend the week at a camp.
Tis the season… of maple syrup!
Another highlight around March break is the start of the sugarbush maple syrup festival. If you’ve never been to one of these maple syrup festivals, we recommend you add it to your must-see list! It’s a great activity for families, and it’s just really cool to see how this liquid gold is produced–how it starts from drops of sap from a maple tree and turns into the sweet goodness we love to drizzle on pancakes, and use in many recipes, including salad dressings.
The sugarbush festival closest to our place offers wagon rides, guided hikes through the forest, and some lessons on old/traditional and modern methods of both the tree-tapping and the boiling. It’s interesting that while the modern tools and methods have created more efficiencies, the process is the same.
Of course, no sugarbush festival is complete without sampling, making maple sugar taffy on snow, and hot pancakes with maple syrup.
We always leave with some maple candy, a bottle or two of syrup, and a little tub of maple butter. And all these were made from our beautiful maple trees, dedicated people, and the same ages-old process. That’s pretty cool.
The weather is warming, but the soup’s still on.
According to the Weather Network, as of today, we should be done with the bone-chilling cold weather. This week we’ll enjoy temperatures hovering around 1ºC. This may sound cold, but it’s a whole lot better than -25 ºC. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Even though the temperature is starting to rise slightly, I still plan on squeezing in another one or two soup recipes after this lentil soup and before things really heat up.
Why soup you ask? Well, because I’m a little obsessed with soup… almost all soups! There’s just something so comforting about a bowl of soup and the almost infinite possibilities.
But who am I kidding? Spring is not the end of soup-season for me, just as winter is not the end of bbq season for me. I’ll continue eating soup into spring and summer. So what if I sweat a little? It’s worth it 🙂
Today’s soup has healthy lentils.
I haven’t cooked much with lentils. I’m not even sure why not. I didn’t grow up eating lentils and I guess I just never gave them much thought. But they’re so tasty… and good for you. Lentils are loaded with fibre, folic acid, and potassium, and they’re great for heart health. Although the chouriço may not have been the healthiest addition, it gave the lentil soup a wonderful smokey flavour.
The soup was great with dinner and since it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, it was perfect for work lunches throughout the week too.
Whether or not you get a March Break week, we hope you’ll take a break and cozy-up with a bowl of tasty soup while you watch the snow melt outside your window (or imagine the snow melting outside our window). And we hope you always eat well, friends.
Lentil, spinach and chouriço soup
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 10.6 oz or 300g Portuguese chouriço, cut into thin wheels
- 1 medium cooking onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups green lentils
- 1 dry bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 packed cups baby spinach
- Heat the oil on medium high in a dutch oven or other heavy pot.
- Add the chouriço and sauté until the edges start to become crisp.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chouriço, and set aside.
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions start to look translucent.
- Add the white wine and continue to cook until the wine reduces by half.
- Add all remaining ingredients except for the spinach and chouriço.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
- Using a hand blender, puree a little bit of the soup in the pot to thicken it a bit.
- Add the chouriço and spinach, turn off the heat and cover the pot for 10 minutes.
- Uncover, stir and serve hot. Enjoy!