As time rushed through the fun filled hectic December, January began as a slow feeble month for me, more because of the bone chilling icy cold weather which somehow feared everyone. However, since the past few days we have been fortunate enough in receiving some little sunshine; bright and dazzling, warm and comforting. Ah, it surely feels like spring!
Spring comes as my favorite time of the year, because of the brightness it brings with itself; because of the life that returns everywhere. It’s not that I hate winters; I just love feeling lazy when it’s cold and chilly outside. I love to wrap myself in layers of clothing, but then who doesn’t love that? It’s that time of the year when you want to sit etched to a seat nearest the fireplace, watch movies and in my case, feel romantic (oh winters just have this effect on me), and enjoy some freshly made popcorns with a bowl of deliciously warm soup. I love to give this twist to my meals, as I enjoy popcorns with soup, dipping them one by one in every mouth fill. I might sound weird, but you sure got to try that!
Today we see the grocery stores stocked up with a steady supply of frozen and canned food, which nonetheless make life easier. It takes away the burden of cooking. It gets convenient for people to just heat it up and eat it. At times, even to me the idea looks appealing. Why bother so much when one can spend as minimum as five minutes in the kitchen and come out ready with a meal? But then I ask myself, “Do I really need to do that?” Or should I go for the option of actual cooking and pick up something fresh and spend some extra minutes in and come up with a wholesome meal instead. And Of-course we all have our cheat days every once in a while 😉
The nature is beautiful and we need to understand this. It gives us the joy of having so much splendor and flavor around us. A variety of colorful fruits, herbs and vegetables, each filled with nutrition, enough to keep us healthy and fit. That’s the reason I tend to make use of my little herb garden almost every day. My lemon balm is the only herb that’s having a strong face these days, while the others are struggling through life after the excessive chills they received this season. So whenever I go out in my garden I grab a little of the herb and make use of it in almost everything I consume, be it tea or plain water.
In our busy schedule there are times when you come home and want something very quick and easy; yet delicious and satisfying to stir you up. This rustic vegetable soup which I will be sharing today was inspired by Italian chef – Giada but I have reworked the recipe and tweaked it to give my personal touch. It’s a very hearty and a comforting bowl of soup. Perfect to stir you back into life. The dish is easy to make and can be served as a starter for your guests, or even as your entrée. The stimulating flavor of lemon balm and the lemon zest makes it simply refreshing; the cinnamon gives it an earthiness and warmth which can’t be compared, and when some goat cheese garnish melts onto your tongue, ah the flavor becomes just so divine!
- 1/4 cup orzo pasta
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 cup kale sprouts cut in halves
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp red chilly flakes
- 1 tsp dry thyme
- 1/2 tsp dry oregano
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp freshly chopped lemon balm
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup fine cornmeal
- 32 oz vegetable/chicken broth
- 2 tbsp butter
- a dollop of pesto for garnish (optional)
- chopped parsley for garnish
- goat cheese for garnish (optional)
- Cook orzo pasta in a pot of boiling water with little salt.
- Heat oil in a pan & saute onions, carrots and garlic.
- Add salt & pepper
- Add zucchini and kale sprouts and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, thyme, oregano and lemon zest and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the broth and lemon balm. Let it come to a boil and then put cinnamon powder.
- Add the cornmeal. Stir it well and let it cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes till it starts to thicken.
- Add cooked orzo pasta. Take off the heat and add butter and give it a stir.
- Garnish with pesto, parsley and little goat cheese.
- Serve hot with bread or crackers or popcorn.
- Lemon balm can be substituted with any other fresh herb like basil or parsley. And if the cornmeal is too coarse just pulse it for few seconds to make it little finer.