Soup du Semaine


This week I made a big pot of mushroom soup, an absolute favourite of mine. I often feel guilty for eating creamy mushroom soup out of a can because of all the added salt and heavy cream. This recipe relinquishes all that guilt because it’s free of cream and thickened with flour instead, the addition of potatoes also makes this soup relatively hearty. Another bonus? It’s super simple and quick to whip up! I wrote down this recipe a few years ago and unfortunately haven’t been able to find the original source since.



Cream Free Mushroom Soup 

1 Tbsp butter
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp S & P
4 cups mushrooms (I used a mix of white and brown cremini mushrooms)
1 potato
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup sour cream
1 green onion

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook garlic, onion, thyme, s & p until veggies are softened and herbs are aromatic, about 5 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and potato and cook until mushrooms begin to sweat and the potato is softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the soup is thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and green onions.


Polar Bear Capital of the World

Churchill, Churchill, Churchill…I had no idea how hard I would fall for you! The whole trip was absolutely magical; travelling two full days on the train, feeling like locals almost immediately, walking around town cautiously in case of wayward polar bears, getting a tour of the backroads, renting a truck and having our own off-road adventure, finally seeing a polar bear! I definitely enjoyed my time up North more than I had expected to.

The whole point of the trip was to pay a visit to one of my best friends who had moved up to Churchill last year because of a job offer. She has since fallen in love with the tiny town and has “settled down” with a great guy (whom I was sick of hearing stories about and ready to meet). He was even nice enough to let us crash in his pad for the entire week never having met us either! I like to think that we did a good job of being entertaining guests because of drunken debauchery and a belated Thanksgiving dinner.

Our first weekend was a pretty rowdy one which included a Friday night meat draw followed by bar hoping between the Tundra and the Seaport, and a Saturday night beer pong tournament which lasted until 5 am but was broken up by a toga party at the complex. Besides all of the liver damaging we did manage to fit in some sight seeing and got driven from Port Mary to the research centre in hopes of seeing our first polar bear. While we didn’t have any luck this time we did learn a lot about Churchill’s history and former connection to the military and see some interesting landmarks. The grounded plane, for example, is called Ms.Piggy since it crashed on a ridge just short of the airport because the cargo it was carrying was too heavy, none of the passengers where injured.

Our (my) disappointment in not seeing a polar bear was exacerbated by story after story of nightly bear sightings in town, there was even paw print evidence on the side of our favourite local diner one morning. We (I) started brainstorming how we could see a bear before the week was up, this included seriously considering going on a $400 buggy tour or a $500/hr helicopter tour. Thank god logic prevailed and we ended up renting a truck for 24 hours and only spending $140 (and holy crap $45 on a quarter tank of gas). But it was all worth it!

Our second stop of the day brought us to Brian Ladoon’s dogs, a track of crown land where Ladoon raises endangered eskimo dogs thanks to government intervention. The area is somewhat controversial because Ladoon has started blocking access to the area and charging tour groups a fee to enter. He seems to be getting away with this because his land is a great place to see bears because they like to coesxist with the dogs, and it seems tourists will pay any amount to see a polar bear. Similar to our last visit out there the road was blocked, but lucky for us there was a big mound of white fur lying about 200 meters inside the gate! It was hard to tell what we were looking at without the camera zoomed as far as it could go, and until the bear moved I was sure we were looking at a rock. But there it was, and there it remained until we returned 2 hours later. And thats how we saw our only polar bear twice in one day!

Satisfied, we spent the rest of the trip playing bingo, going out for dinner, enjoying open mic night and helping my bestie and her boyfriend organize a high school volleyball tournament. By the time Thursday evening rolled around we were both considering coming up for another visit, and despite tearful goodbyes I would be lying if I said wasn’t excited to get back on the train. So we left a dreary, slushy Churchill (the weather was unseasonably warm for the rest of the trip by the way), and embarked yet again on a two day train ride back to Winnipeg.

I do have to talk about the train before I close because it was just as much an adventure as the time we spent in Churchill. I’m lucky to have a relative working for Via Rail who didn’t mind us name dropping and even wrote a letter to support our cause for upgraded accommodations (Thanks Art)! This meant we rode home in the berth, or sleeper car of the train, being rocked to sleep in a very luxurious bunk bed. This exceeded expectations because we had been told that we wouldn’t be fed for two days and that we would be bored out of our minds. Not the case! We frequented the dining car, meaning I ate too many perogies, drank wine, played cards, watched movies, and read for two extremely relaxing days. I have since been recommending Churchill by train to everyone that I talk to because it is an extremely reasonable way to travel and if you have 11 days to spare you have the chance of exploring a gem in your very own backyard!

En Route to Churchill


Me and the boyfriend are currently on our way to Churchill, Manitoba (polar bear capital of the world)! We have a 45 hour train ride ahead of us and then seven days to visit one of my best friends and explore. I’ve travelled to New Zealand, Australia, Europe and all over western Canada but I have never ventured into my northern backyard! I’ll be back in two weeks with tons of photos!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower and brussels sprouts (or alien brains as they where called throughout my childhood) are pretty boring on their own but this mustard-caper butter is a really nice accompaniment to this dish. I steamed both the cauliflower and brussels sprouts separately in the microwave to save time and if you don’t have a mortar and pestle I’m sure a garlic press would do just fine.

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Caper Butter

From Smitten Kitchen

2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup drained small capers, rinsed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
Black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 head white cauliflower

1. To make the mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half-teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir the garlic into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper. (The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. Trim the base off the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half or, if large, into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the other vegetables and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the mustard-caper butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.

Mediterranean Eggplant & Barley Salad

This thanksgiving my Mama put me in charge of making some vegetarian sides for our dinner. My mind automatically jumped to a hearty salad I had made once before that was greeted with rave reviews. The preparation of each individual part of this salad takes a bit of time, as well as cooling the barely after you’ve cooked it. Make sure you leave yourself enough time, or even make the salad a day ahead (I did this but left the tomatoes out overnight so nothing got soggy). Enjoy!


The pictures from this and my next post are a nice treat because I got to play around with my dad’s Panasonic Lumix camera. I’m in the market for a new camera because currently my Canon Powershot SD980 is not cutting it anymore. I’ve been perusing Ebay and some local stores but so far I haven’t found the right camera for the right price.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

From Smitten Kitchen (This blog is a source of unending cooking inspiration for me so I wouldn’t be surprised if many more of my recipes come from here)

1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth (1 3/4 cups)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

To cook barley, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

To make dressing, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. To assemble salad add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.