French Onion Soup

It’s meeting time again for the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors. It’s seems a long time since I attended the senior kitchen because I skip one of their kitchen since Minoo was repeating the same recipes done in another kitchen. The seniors kitchen met once every two week. If I skip a kitchen, then I’ll see them only once a month. That’s the reason it seems a long time I did not see my seniors friends.


Marian prepared four recipes for the seniors kitchen. The first recipe is the ever popular French Onion Soup which is a very common soup dish serves in France. This soup recipe can be prepared ahead of time and keep frozen.

Onions contain chemical compounds such as quercetin which believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, ant-cancer, and antioxidant properties. Other claims that has never substantiated includes weight loss. Nevertheless, onions bring sweetness to dishes. The aroma of frying onions always a good sign of home cook food.


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 9 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 6 to 8 slices of French bread
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste


Source: this recipe is adapted from Classic soups by Debra Mayhew

Serves 6 to 8


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Spicy Parsnip Soup

Minoo shared a Spicy Parsnip Soup recipe in the South Arm Community Kitchen during one of the community kitchen in winter. Parsnips are considered a winter vegetable because they need the frost to develop their flavour. Hence, parsnips are popular in northern climates such as Canada because they don’t require a long growing season and store well through the winter.

Here are some notes that Minoo shared about parsnips.

Parsnips are root vegetable related to the carrot and a member of the parsley family. In fact, they look like a big, ivory-coloured carrot. Parsnips, like carrots, have been cultivated in Europe at least since the Roman times, though their prevalence decreased after the introduction of the potato from South America.


Since this is a winter root vegetable, I don’t really know if this is widely available in the supermarket these days since we are in spring now. Does anyone know? Anyway, I have a good guide in this post called Guide To Winter Root Vegetables that you might like to check out.

Selection and storage

Choose unblemished smaller parsnips over larger ones as they will be more tender. The best tasting specimens are freshly harvested that appear in markets and stores in the late fall and early winter. However, parsnips from storage are usually available through spring and even summer. Store them as you would carrots, in a cool, dark place such as the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, for up to two to three weeks.


Parsnips are a significant source of many nutrients. According to Health Canada, half a cup of boiled and drained parsnips contains about 70 calories, 2.7g of fiber (10 percent of the daily RDA), 30 mg of calcium, 302mg of potassium, 48 microgram of folate and 11mg of Vitamin C.


Peel and remove stem ends. If making mashed parsnips, add cream, butter, tarragon, chives and nutmeg as flavours which have an affinity with the sweet taste of parsnips. Parsnips can be added to recipes in place of carrots. Nutritionist Leslie Beck suggested the following ways of serving parsnips:

  • shredded and mixed with hash browns
  • peeled and grated raw into salads (best for small and tender parsnips)
  • as a substitute for potatoes in stews
  • shredded and added to a stir fry
  • cooked and mashed in place of potatoes like this Whipped Carrot and Parsnips


This Spicy Parsnip Soup has a little kick with the addition of chili flakes. It is creamy and warming.


  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled, and minced
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 6 parsnips, peel and chopped parsnips into chunks.
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped or 1 to 2 teaspoons of chili flakes
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves


Source: Minoo


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Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Walnuts

Minoo selected a hearty winter soup recipe for the South Arm Community Kitchen. Squash is great for soup and they are in season in the winter. It is always good to eat produce in season for their freshness and cheap price.


his Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Walnuts is a recipe from Quebec. It is the maple syrup that distinguishes this soup from others.  You may serve this soup as an appetizer or a stand alone light lunch, You may substitute butternut squash with other winter squash like acorn squash, Kabocha squash, etc. You can also substitute the walnuts with other nuts like cashew or pecan.


Maple Walnuts for topping

  • 1 cup (250ml) walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt to taste


  • 2 teaspoons (10ml)  vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) butternut squash, peeled and cubed (you can microwave it for 5 minutes to soften it for easier peeling)
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) apple cider
  • 2 cups (500ml) reduced sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste, optional
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup, optional (we did not add this to the soup as the butternut squash is already sweet enough)


Source: this recipe is adapted from

Serves 6.


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Tomato Coconut Soup

Stella, the coordinator of the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors came to help at this kitchen because she wanted to survey the facility and get prepared for the next senior kitchen. Stella single handedly made this soup recipe.  I’m impressed with her capability in the kitchen.


This Tomato Coconut Soup is a thick, creamy and tangy soup. The creaminess came from the coconut milk which is a very common ingredient in Thai cuisine.


  • 1 cup small dice celery
  • 2 cups small dice yellow or white onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper, ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 x 12 ounce can of light or regular coconut milk


Source: unknown via Minoo

Serves 6


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Vegetable Noodle Soup

Minoo prepared 3 recipes for the South Arm Community Kitchen.  A Vegetable Noodle Soup, a Chicken Chili and the Lemon Pudding which I had blogged earlier.


This Vegetable Noodle Soup is a great vegetarian dish if you use tofu instead of chicken. It will be a great dish for the cold season if you made it with chicken stock.


  • 2 tablespoons sasame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, oregano, cilantro and ginger
  • 5 cups water (more if it’s too dry)
  • 1/2 inch bunch (2 oz) whole grain spaghetti, snapped in shorter lengths
  • 2 cups cooked chicken or firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes for garnish


Source: unknown

Serves 8


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Creamy Yam Soup

Minoo resumed the Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen in 2011 with 3 recipes; Chicken Paprika, Creamy Yam Soup and Israeli Couscous with Shallot and Parsley.


I had blogged about the Chicken Paprika recipe here. The emphasis of this week’s recipes is to introduce high fiber food.  Minoo shared with us the benefits of a high fiber diet which includes elimination of constipation, reduce the risk of colon cancer, reduce bad cholesterol and balance blood sugar level as follows:

Constipation – By promoting more efficient elimination, whole-grain fiber almost inevitably halts common constipation when taken with adequate amounts of fluid. The fiber and the water it retains produce a larger, softer stool that the digestive system can pass quickly and easily.

Cancer – Colon cancer is rare among people with a diet low in meat and rich in high-fiber foods. No one knows exactly how fiber may protect against this cancer, but there are several likely mechanisms. It may move intestinal contents faster through the bowel, thus decreasing the length of time the bowel wall is exposed to potential carcinogens. And fiber may dilute carcinogens as well or possibly bind or inactivate them in some way.

Heart Disease – An elevated cholesterol level is know to one of the chief risk factors in heart disease, and a number of studies have linked high-fiber intake with low levels of cholesterol. It is proposed that fiber may alter fat or cholesterol absorption in the large bowel. Some studies suggest that soluble fiber produces a reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels without decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Diabetes – Elevated blood sugar levels are a major problem in diabetes. Researches have shown that fiber may have a potent effect on blood sugar levels. Other studies have also shown that a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet improves glucose tolerance. One theory is that the gums in soluble fiber may delay the emptying of the stomach or even the absorption of glucose.


The first recipe is a Creamy Yam Soup.  A thick sweet soup perfect for those cold days. Garnish it with a dollop of low fat sour cream and chopped chives. Serve it with warm crusty whole wheat rolls or crackers.

From wikipedia:

Yam provides arround 110 calories per 100 grams of product. They are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese; while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Vitamin C, dietary fiber and vitamin B6 may all promote good health. A product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

Yam products generally have a lower glycemic index than potato products, which means that they will provide a more sustained form of energy, and give better protection against obesity and diabetes. It is also known to replenish fast-twitch fibers and West Indians use it as a way of recovering after sprinting.


  • 1 ½  cups onion
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock
  • 2 yams, peel and dice
  • 1 tsp dried sweet basil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • chives and sour cream for garnishing


Source: unknown via Minoo

Makes 10 cups


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Chinese Spinach Egg Drop Soup

The South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors decided to have a Chinese theme when they met during the Chinese New Year celebration in early February. Marian came up with four recipes which are all her home recipes.


The first recipe is a Chinese Spinach Egg Drop Soup. I would say that this is a east meet west recipe as the preparation involves blending the spinach in the soup. The soup has a very artistic presentation.


  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
  • 2 cups spinach, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch for thickening


Source: Marian

Serves 4


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Cauliflower Tomato Soup

This will be the last kitchen for the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors for 2010. It was conducted during the Arctic freeze in late November 2010. South Arm Community Center was doing some renovation near the kitchen and the heater was not on. It was freezing cold in the kitchen despite we had switched on the oven and had some water boiling on the stove. It was so cold that my SLR camera froze up and I had to borrow Stella’s point and shoot camera to take some of the pictures.


Marian prepared 4 recipes for this kitchen. The first recipe was Cauliflower Tomato Soup. Soup is great for cold weather.


  • 1/4 cup sliced leek (white portion only)
  • 1/4 cup chopped clelery
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 x 10.75oz can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh cauliflowerets
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Source: this recipe is adapted from

Prep time: 15 minutes;  Cook time: 15 minutes;  Serves 2


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Pork Neck Bone with Corn Soup

In the Caring Place Community Kitchen, Joanna shared some very homey Chinese dishes.


The first recipe is a simple Pork Neck Bone with Corn Soup. You may use pork rib to make this soup for a meatier cut of meat. Pork neck bone is very cheap, 99 cents per pound.


  • 2 pounds pork neck bone
  • 4 corns, cut into chunks
  • 3 to 4 slices of ginger
  • 8 to 10 cups of water
  • salt to taste


Source: Joanna;  Serves 6 to 8


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Mushroom, Barley and Lentil Soup

With the grain theme in mind, Minoo prepared a Mushroom, Barley and Lentil Soup in the Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen.


The Mushroom, Barley and Lentil Soup is a one pot meal that are very hearty and certainly very filling. Minoo made it rather thick and it’s more like a porridge to me. This will be a vegetarian dish if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock.


  • 4 cups good chicken or beef stock
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup mixed lentils
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced parsnip
  • 1/2 cup cloud ear fungus, reconstituted and chopped
  • 1 pound fresh button mushroom (or any kind of your preference), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dill, chives or parsley, chopped


Please note: parsley should be in place of the cilantro; ingredient got mixed up.

Source: this recipe is adapted from Kevin Turner


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