24 Volunteers
1 Rabbi
15 pounds of potatoes
5 pounds of carrots
and a pound of onions
…take all these “ingredients” and what do you get?
4 stock-pots of delicious soup!

I was thrilled to have the  honour of leading a group in women in soup-making for the Bikur Cholim Soup Brigade evening at Holy Blossom Temple. Bikur Cholim is Hebrew for “visiting the sick”, and what we did was chop, dice and stir two big batches of soup.  While the soup simmered the room filled up not only with delicious cooking smells, but the warmth of people working together and a Talmud study session lead by Rabbi Teri Appleby. We all left that evening with a good feeling in our hearts, leaving behind 100 containers of some great-tasting soup that will help warm some people over the coming winter months.

Here is the link to Holy Blossom’s Bikur Cholim if you would like to know more.

Here are the two recipes we made:

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup 

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup green or yellow beans, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped savoy cabbage, sliced
  • ½ cup orzo or any small pasta


  1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, sauté until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the water and tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Then add the vegetables, the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add the mashed and whole beans.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings, you may need more salt and pepper.

Leek and Potato Soup

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, fresh
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the leeks and slice them thinly.
  2. Dice the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot, sauté the leeks for a few minutes.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft.
  5. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  6. Add the water, salt, thyme and bay leaves.
  7. Simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  8. Add the pepper.
  9. Remove the bay leaves.
  10. Puree soup in blender or with hand blender.
  11. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Cooks Notes:  Both theses soups are great basic recipes.
Here are a few suggestions to make these soups your own…

For the vegetable soup:

  • Add some red or white wine 
  • You can add some little meatballs, (cook meatballs in the oven then add to the soup).
  • Add a parmesan rind while the soup is simmering.
  • Drizzle some pesto over the soup just before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like basil or parsley

For the Leek and Potato Soup:

  • Garnish with chives or fresh parsley.
  • Garnish with some crumbled goat cheese or sharp cheddar.
  • Toast some bruschetta with a little olive oil for dipping.
  • Make the soup creamy with some cream or milk.
  • Or for an Asian twist add a tin of coconut milk and a dash of curry powder and a chunk of ginger (omit the thyme and bay leaves).


After riding my bike through the wind and the rain I came home and made a pot of this warming soup for supper.

Time to celebrate fall.

This recipe serves 4.


  • 2 tbs. olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into florets

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

  • 4-5 small parsnips, peeled and chopped

  • 2 cobs of fresh corn,

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 tbs. fresh dill, chopped

  • 6 cups of water

  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

  • Fresh chives for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium.

  2. Add onions, stirring until onions are translucent.

  3. Add cauliflower and continue cooking unit cauliflower is browning in spots, about 5 to 8 minutes.

  4. Add carrots, parsnip, garlic and dill and cook, stirring about 1 minute.

  5. Add water, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

  6. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until vegetables are tender–about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

  7. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

  8. Using a handheld immersion blender or a regular blender puree soup (if using a regular blender do this in small batches).

  9. Remove the corn from the cob and add to the soup.

  10. Adjust seasoning is necessary, I often add more dill at this time.

  11. Bring back to a simmer and serve with fresh chives, (if using).


I have been recovering from surgery and many of my friends and family brought me lots of good food to eat, especially soup.  Over the past month I have eaten butternut squash soup, celery soup, leek and potato soup, lentil soup, peas soup and many different variations of chicken soups.  Just writing about soup makes me feel better!  So I thought I would share with you my favourite chicken soup recipe.  Thank you to everyone who brought me soup, muffins, treats, healthy food, books, flowers and good wishes!  This recipe is for you. xo

I have been buying my chicken from Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington Market.


  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs- I like organic or naturally raised
  • 2 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 2 parsnips, cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 of a head of cabbage cut in big chunks
  • 2 inches of fresh pealed ginger
  •  big handful of fresh parsley
  •  big handful of fresh dill
  • 6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns


  1. Place the chickens in a large stockpot. Cover with lots of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Let the chicken boil for 10-15 minutes, skimming the foam and particles that rise to the surface of the water.

  3. Then add the onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, cabbage, parsley, dill, garlic, and seasonings to the pot. Add 1 tbsp kosher salt to the water. Bring back to a boil.

  4. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours.

  5. When the chicken is done, turn off the heat. Use a pair of tongs to carefully pull the chicken from the broth. Put it on a plate. Taste the chicken broth and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Allow the chicken and the broth to cool.

  6. Carefully strain the broth into another pot through a mesh strainer. Reserve the carrots to add back to the soup; discard the spices, herbs, garlic, cabbage and onions.

  7. When the soup is completely cool, skim the fat from the top of the broth, it will come off in a gel-like layer.

  8. Add the chicken in small pieces back into the soup broth with the carrots. Heat and serve with some added dill.

Cooks Notes:

I sometimes discard the carrots and add some fresh ones back into the soup.


The power of soup is strong. I was in the kitchen as a volunteer, at Holy Blossom Temple to help prepare soup to bring to people in need of some warmth over the winter months to follow. I was so surprised how quickly 28 woman can work together to make soup.  Keeping us stirring the pot was guest chef, food writer, and author Lucy Waverman.  While the soup simmered Rabbi Karen Thomashow stirred a little spirituality into the evening, leading a discussion about the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  I went home with 2 new soup recipes and the knowledge of how something so simple like soup can bring people together!


The power of soup is strong.  Last week over 40 thousand people gathered at Woodbine Park for Soupstock,  a one-day celebration that features soup created by over 200 Canadian chefs to raise funds to support community action against the Mega-Quarry. Two of those chefs are friends of mine, Lisa Kates, aka A Food Gypsy and  Joanna Sable, from Bumpercrop, both are cooks extraordinaire.  Lisa made a rich caramelized beer onion soup topped with Bumpercrop’s Cameron’s Beer Onions and baguette from Knead Bakery.  A group of us volunteers met at The Depanneur,  a cozy little spot in the Junction to do our cooking, we came to peel onions, chop onions and caramelize onions.  I went home smelling like an onion!

Lisa Kates and Gail Gordon Oliver, from having some fun at the Dep while the onions simmer.

Lisa and Joanna serving up soup at Soupstock

Tasting some soup.

Here are the two recipes from Lucy Waverman that we made at Holy Blossom:

Multi Bean Minestone

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes, chopped with juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh  basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 4 cups stock or water
  • 1 can romano or other beans drained
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup short pasta (macaroni, orzo, etc)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Parmesan
  1. In large soup pot, on medium heat, add oil.  Sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic for 2 minutes or until softened.  Add tomatoes, herbs, chili flakes, stock, spinach, zucchini and pasta.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add beans and simmer 10 minutes longer or until pasta is tender.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Serve with grated parmesan.


Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Serves 6 to 8

The sweeter the pears, the more heat and acid you need to balance the taste.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pear, peeled and diced
  • teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, low salt canned or home made
  • ¼ cup whipping cream, optional
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice or to taste

Heat oil in a pot on medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 1 minute. Add sweet potato, pear and thyme and sauté about 2 minutes. Add paprika and chicken broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until sweet potato is soft.



The trees are changing colours.

I have just raked the leaves

 and I am craving a big bowl of hot chili

 This is dinner.


  • 1 to 2 tablespoonolive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 medium diced yellow or red  bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 medium butternut  squash (about 2 pounds) – cut into cubes.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring, a few more minutes.
  3.  Stir in beans, tomatoes, chiplotes, chili powder, oregano and salt.
  4. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
  5. Add cubes of butternut squash.
  6. Continue cooking, covered for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Cooks notes:

If you want to add some ground meat (1 lb) to this chili, cook the meat with the onions and bell peppers for about 10 minutes or until the meat has browned.

 If you like a thicker chili, you can puree one or two cups in the blender and then add back to the pot.

  If you have the time make the chili early in the day so the flavours have time to develop.


Do you love mushrooms?  I do!

Whenever I make this soup I am often asked for the recipe.  You will be surprised how easy it is to make.  I love how simple recipes can taste complex.

 You can make this soup a day in advance of when you want to serve it. This gives the soup some time to develop great flavours.  And if you really want to up your soup into pretentious (but deliciousness), drizzle a few tiny drops of truffle oil over the soup  just before serving.  And please do not omit the dried wild mushrooms, they are loaded with earthy flavour and are an essential to this soup. I use a mix of dried porcini, oyster and shiitake. You can usually find dried mushrooms in the produce section in small packages.

 So, invite some friends over and enjoy this soup with people you love!


2 Tbsp olive oil or butter, a bit more if needed or a mix of both - if you want to keep if vegan omit the butter
1 ½ pounds of brown mushrooms or a variety of mushrooms
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrots, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup dried mushrooms, covered and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
5 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives or flat leaf parsley for garnish
a big splash of sherry to taste
truffle oil a few drops to garnish, optional


  1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.

  2. Then add the fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms (with the water they were soaking in, taking care not add any of the dirt which may be in the bottom), carrots and more oil or butter if necessary.

  3. Let the mixture cook over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes taking care that the onion doesn’t take on any brown colour.

  4. Stir in the water and bring to a boil.

  5. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer (covered) for about an hour.

  6. Let soup cool for a few minutes then transfer to a blender or food processor and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. Do this in stages and remember to hold the blender lid down.

  7. When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately with a drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Cooks Notes

I do not blend the whole pot of soup, I do about half the soup as I like my soup to have some texture and some sliced mushrooms to bite into.
I like to make this soup a day ahead, I find the flavours more intense.  But it is delicious the same day too.


I love this recipe.  It comes from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, authors of The Silver Palate Cookbook,

I think the secret to this recipe is my 20lb cast iron yellow Calphalon dutch oven.  Thank you Judy, (my sister in law) for carrying it home in your suitcase from Naples Florida, I think of you every time I make this recipe!


My Calphalon Enamel Cast Iron 5 Quart Dutch Oven in custard yellow.


This recipe serves 6


  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  •  31/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups of burgundy wine
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1~1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups of white pearl onions
  • 8 ounces fresh chanterelles or other wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red currant jelly
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat leafed parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an ovenproof casserole or dutch oven sauté the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.  Sauté the beef in the bacon fat in small batches, until browned on all sides.
  4. Return all of the beef to the pan and add the onions.  Sprinkle the beef and onion mixture with salt, pepper and the flour.  Stir to combine well and cook over high heat until the flour is no longer white or dry looking, about 5 minutes
  5. Add the wine, the beef stock, the tomato paste, the bacon and rosemary. Loosen any bits of food from the bottom and sides of the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover and place in the oven to cook until the meat is tender, about two hours.
  6. To prepare the vegetables, bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the carrots, boil until tender for 5 to 7 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Reserve.
  7. If you are using frozen pearl onions you just need to defrost them, if you are using fresh pearl onions make a small X in the root end of each pearl onion, fop into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Reserve.
  8. Slice the mushrooms, and cook in about 1 to 2 Tbsp of melted butter, sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  9. When the meat is cooked, add the carrots, onions, mushrooms and currant jelly.
  10. Put back in the oven and heat through about 10 minutes.
  11. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.