Dinner/ Exercise/ Fitness

A Matter of Quality

I’m a big fan of simple dinners. I’m not talking about the preparation, although that preferably is simple too; I’m talking about the ingredients and their quality. Fresh vegetables in season, quality cheeses, breads you bake yourself, simple slices of meat. All of these come together beautifully to create simple meals that nourish your body, inside and out. The weather is a little brisk outside (ok, it’s 62 but humor me!) so I felt like making soup, as I usually do when it’s chilly outside and I feel like I need something warm to comfort me.

I made a simple vegetable soup and what made it so great was the quality of the veggies I used. I chose what was in season: leeks, parsnips, bright carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and red onion. I roasted all of the veggies together with two whole cloves of garlic, some extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of rosemary before pureeing half with organic vegetable stock and then adding the puree back to the other chunks of veggies and heating the whole thing through. I also added some brown lentils for their protein-packed punch. The result was a tasty, nutritious stew that warmed me head to toe. Of course, I had to have some of my fresh bread on the side and a glass of red wine. The bread was amazing but this soup wanted something a little more rustic than soft white bread. A crusty whole wheat would have gone much better but I still loved every morsel of that sweet, white bread!

This is a very good soup for those looking to lose a couple holiday pounds. It’s low in calories, very filling and quite tasty. I feel very full after eating a bowl of this soup and my body is happy because I just gave it veggie-overload.

I had a great run today and my leg actually feels a lot better so I’m slowly going to ease myself back into my training regime of running 40 minutes on Monday and Wednesday then doing a longer run on the weekends. Hopefully I’ll make that 10K next month! After my run I had a snack of 4 ounces whipped cottage cheese (this stuff IS great) with 1/2 tbsp jam and 8 kashi crackers. Hit the spot!




This meal was about 466 calories (that’s 565 for me including my wine!)

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  • Allison
    January 14, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    That looks sooo super delicious! I’ve never tried my hand at homemade soups, but after your sweet potato-apple soup, and then this dinner….I’m really feeling inspired. Maybe that will be my weekend project. 🙂

    I do have a question…I’ve read quite a bit lately about Fage yogurt, and on Cristin and Kath’s (and now yours) blogs about whipped cottage cheese. Unfortunately, I live in Idaho, and while I live in Boise (the capital, plenty of people) Idaho just can’t quite get past it’s meat and potatoes mentality, and I can’t find either of those products ANY where. We don’t have a Trader Joes or a Whole Foods. What is something similar with the same nutrition benefits? Would plain regular yogurt be the only thing?

    And I’m jealous of your 62 degrees. We are sitting at about…35 right now!

  • Marion
    January 15, 2008 at 12:09 am

    That looks so good! I was looking through your recipes if I wanted to substitute butternut squash for the potato (combine your two lentil soups) how much butternut squash would you recommend? Do you think it would taste too weird with the other vegetable combinations or thin the soup too much to make this switch?

    Also, I am always afraid of working with leeks. What would I do for this recipe- the whole stem?

    p.s. any tips how not to cry when cutting onions-it stings my eyes so much! Sorry for so many questions. Thanks and enjoy your night.

  • jenna
    January 15, 2008 at 12:37 am


    Wow! This new whipped cottage cheese is very new though on the market so maybe it will come to you soon! In the meantime, regular 1% is a good substitute and for the yogurt I would go for plain, nonfat (or lowfat) stoneyfield farms or cascade fresh if you can find it. Any plain nonfat yogurt is great for you and these, unlike fage, have the benefit of having live active cultures in them. Greek strained yogurt doesn’t have that. Happy hunting!

  • jenna
    January 15, 2008 at 12:41 am


    No, I think that would be really good! I would go for about 2 cups of chopped butternut squash…roast it in with the veggies. If I make this soup again I am going to try that because i’m a squash fanatic. Also, about the leeks: don’t be scared! Leeks are great! You only use the white bulb up to where it starts to turn green. Chop off the bushy part. You end up with about 6 inches of usable leek. You can then just chop it into rings and toss it in!

    Lastly…onions…sadly I can’t give you guidance on this because i am the world’s WORST onion chopper. I love onions but hate them at the same time because of all the pain they cause me. I cut my finger chopping one during a 3 hour final practical in one of my cooking classes and lost mega points because of it. I don’t even know how to properly chop one..i just go at it like a maniac. Maybe that’s why its a good thing I switched from culinary to baking. hmm….I DO know, however, that the way not to cry is to use a very very sharp knife. That’s the little secret 😉

  • Kath
    January 15, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Looks great Jenna!!! Glad you leg is better too.

  • Lynn
    January 15, 2008 at 12:58 am

    I HAVE A QUESTION: I would love to lose four pounds. I am middle age, love the good things in life (chocolate, red wine, etc) How do you suggest that I do this?? As you get older, it is not so easy…
    P.S. I LOVE your blog!

  • arimcg
    January 15, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Are brown lentils better than red, Jenna? I have some red and I’m guessing I could substitute, right?

  • Trina
    January 15, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    This soup looks wonderful! This is sad to admit, but I have never cooked up anything like Leeks or Lentils before….what exactly are they? How do you cook them? I would love to try and incorporate a better variety of veggies into my diet-I need to do squash too!

    So you just roasted them in a pan in the oven and then pureed half with the stock? Can’t wait to try it!

  • jenna
    January 15, 2008 at 6:31 pm


    You’re so funny 🙂 You don’t need to lose 4 pounds, you weigh less than I do.


    Red lentils have a quite different texture than brown ones…brown ones hold together and keep their shape very well during cooking, whereas red ones sort of turn mushy. They still taste good though and a lot of ppl prefer them! They make a thicker soup. You could def. use them in exchange for the brown ones here though. That would be yummy.


    Leeks are of the onion family and are much more popular in europe for some reason than here. I dont think they get the attention they deserve! They are great in salad, omelets, quiches, soups….anything really. Lentils are like beans, but not really beans. They actually are sprouts but you can find them with the beans in the grocery store. They are amazing because of the protein they have in them…I believe its about 10 grams of protein per serving (1/4 cup dry). You simmer them in water for about 30 minutes until they are tender then you can do whatever you want with them!
    And yes, the soup was THAT easy…and tasty!