Easing in with an Easy Recipe (and an Injury Update)

I've been away for a while!  As it turns out, having a stress fracture--and therefore not being allowed to run for months--did not result in me spending all that extra free time writing for the blog.  Instead, I've worked a bunch, enjoyed a busy holiday with the family, and performed in a musical (which is something I do sometimes!).  My stupid metatarsal is taking its sweet time getting back to normal. I blame the kids, of course (shhh, don't tell them).  Not being able to truly stay off my feet has taken its toll, even with the walking boot that I was rocking for 2 months.

As spring approaches and I ease my way back into running, I'm also easing/barreling my way back into the wellness-focused life I'd been living.  Yes, I know it's "wellness-focused" to take necessary time off for physical therapy, but in the moment it just feels like one big couch-bound Netflix marathon.  In the vein of easing, I tried an amazingly easy recipe yesterday that turned out to be AMAZING.

This beautiful image--not mine--clicks through to the source site--OhMyVeggies.com

This beautiful image--not mine--clicks through to the source site--OhMyVeggies.com

As it turns out, I made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe, but they were minor:

  • I pureed 2 cups of canned corn kernels into the soup, and added 2 cups of frozen corn kernels at the end for texture.
  • I slow cooked on low (in my new Instant Pot!) for 10 hours, but the potatoes were still not tender enough for my immersion blender, so I pressure cooked the soup for 15 minutes before pureeing,  If you're using a regular slow cooker, just give it more time or cook it on high instead.
  • The only toppings I needed were some toasted and crushed corn tortillas and a ridiculous amount of avocado, but Wife stirred a load of sour cream into hers and loved it.
  • Bonus: turns out toddlers love this soup.

Next up:

  • I'm hoping to be cleared to try running on the ground soon.  I've only run in the Alter-G treadmill (which is this amazing anti-gravity thing), and I'm starting to work out on an elliptical and stair climber, but I'm itching to get back on the trails.
  • As my show closes and I have more time for cooking actual meals--much to my family's delight--I'll be messing around with (and sharing) more recipes!
  • I'll be sharing my 2017 race plan as soon as I have more info on my foot.  2017 is supposed to be Year of the Triathlon!

Soup (and Injury) Weather

Bad news first:  I'm injured.  I'm hoping to find out this week if it's a stress fracture or something called metatarsalgia, but the gist is that my left foot is killing me and I haven't been able to run.  That I have ants in my pants is an understatement.  I am just grateful that this happened after all my summer races.  Time to start swimming again!

Good news: This means more time to cook and blog about recipes!  Fantastic timing, too, because cold weather means the oven can be on in the evening and I can get more creative with dinners.  First up: my easy-peasy, go-to, crowd-pleasing Italian Soup.

Don't pictures of big pots of simmering soup make you feel all warm and cozy?  Also, I failed to take a photo of an appetizingly artful bowl of soup, so this is what you get.

Don't pictures of big pots of simmering soup make you feel all warm and cozy?  Also, I failed to take a photo of an appetizingly artful bowl of soup, so this is what you get.

15-Minute Italian Soup

1 yellow onion, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 carrots, sliced thinly

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)

4 cups vegetable broth (I like the Imagine Organic Low-Sodium variety)

1 large (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes - ideally San Marzano, but any will work

2 cups chopped kale, spinach, or other greens

Oregano, salt, pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large soup pot with cooking spray or a tiny bit of olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, and carrots, and cook over medium heat until the onions soften.  Add a splash of water as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Toss in your drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes, and spices.  (Go easy on the salt, as tomatoes and broth usually have quite a bit of salt already.)  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for at least 10 minutes.  The key is to let your carrots get soft--any additional simmer time just deepens the flavor.
  4. Add your greens with a good stir when you've got 5 - 10 minutes of simmer time remaining.  Kale and other hardy greens hold up better than spinach if you plan to leave the soup simmering for a while.  
  5. Optional: add 1/4 cup of orzo pasta to the pot once you bring it to a boil, and allow to simmer at least as long as the package's recommended cooking time.  Makes it a bit heartier.  You can also cook the soup without the pasta on night one, then turn the leftovers into a pasta dish for night two--just serve over cooked pasta or heat the soup in a pot and cook your pasta right in the soup (adding a bit of water if necessary).

That's it!  So easy.  

Some serving ideas from our house: I will steal a couple of spoonfuls of this soup from the pot to serve over pasta for the kiddos--they don't really do soup.  My wife adds shaved parmesan to her bowl.  I love this soup served with a giant hunk of garlic bread.

PS - Speaking of garlic bread and not being able to run through the holiday binge fest, stay tuned for a future post on cutting flours out of my diet.  Yikes.