Good Shabbos! Shabbat Shalom! It’s freezing cold outside and comfort foods are at the top of my list when it comes to meal planning. I’m also trying to eat healthier; there was far too much feasting with far too many latkes over the holidays! Luckily, there’s nothing like the aroma of Shabbat to lighten my mood.
I love to use my slow cooker to make satisfying one-pot meals, especially those that are packed with all sorts of vegetables. Soups, stews and vegetable-packed dishes are often on my menu during the cold winter months. Did you know that vegetables cooked into a nourishing soup are more satisfying than eating cooked vegetables along with a glass of water?
The aroma emanating from your slow cooker through your home and the glowing lights of the Shabbos candles will welcome your family and friends to the hearty, healthy pleasures on your Shabbat table. Enjoy in good health!
AUTUMN VEGETABLE SOUP
This scrumptious, low-cal, low-carb soup is wonderful anytime of year. The recipe comes from Valerie Kanter of Chicago, editor of the kosher cookbook, Crowning Elegance. Her family loves it, especially her children, who will devour two or three bowlfuls in one sitting. Valerie often serves this soup from her slow cooker for Shabbat lunch. It’s a real winner!
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery, chopped
6 medium carrots (1 lb/500 g), peeled and chopped
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1 medium butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut in chunks (about 5 cups)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 medium zucchini, cut in chunks
10 cups water
4 to 6 bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 large clove garlic (about 1 tsp minced)
- Heat oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Sauté onion, celery and carrots for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms, and zucchini; mix well.
- Add water, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little more water. Remove bay leaves and discard.
- Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the vegetables while still in the pot, leaving the soup somewhat chunky. Stir in dill, parsley, and garlic. Serve hot.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings (about 15 cups). Keeps up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well up to 4 months.
- Short Cuts: To make it easier to cut a squash, slash the tough outer skin in several places with a sharp knife. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4 to 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut in half or into large pieces. Remove the seeds and stringy fibres—an ice-cream scoop works perfectly for this.
- Love Me Tender! Summer squash varieties include zucchini, crookneck, and pattypan squash – all have thin, edible skins and soft seeds. Summer squash cooks quickly because of the high water content.
- Bay Watch! Always remove and discard bay leaves after cooking. A bay leaf won’t rehydrate even after boiling, so, if left in the soup, someone could choke on it. Count how many you put in and how many you take out. Or better yet, tie them up in a square of cheesecloth for easy removal after cooking.
SLOW COOKER GARLICKY CHICKEN STEW
Your kitchen will smell absolutely wonderful when you make this scrumptious dish. The garlic becomes mild and mellow from the long, slow cooking. You can use less or more garlic if you wish and add whatever vegetables you have on hand. This is perfect for a chilly winter day. No slow cooker? Make it in the oven as directed below.
1 chicken (4 lb/1.8 kg), cut into pieces
2 medium onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic (don’t chop)
2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups baby carrots (or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp each of dried basil, oregano, and thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup, barbecue sauce or tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh)
- Trim excess fat from chicken and remove the skin, if desired.
- Place chicken into the insert of a slow cooker. Add onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Sprinkle with basil, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small bowl, combine ketchup, water and lemon juice. Pour mixture over chicken and vegetables and mix well.
- Cover and cook on High setting for 4 to 6 hours, or on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until chicken and vegetables are tender.
Yield: 8 servings. Keeps up to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Chicken and vegetables can be frozen for up to 3 months, but don’t freeze the potatoes or sweet potatoes or they will become mushy when thawed.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If desired, uncover and baste occasionally for the last half hour of baking.
STUFFED CABBAGE, SLOW COOKER STYLE
Children’s author, Rona Arato, of Toronto, shared her stuffed cabbage recipe with me, along with the following story, plus an invitation to dinner: “I really loved my mother’s stuffed cabbage so I set out to duplicate it when I moved into my first apartment. I didn’t have her recipe, so I made it from memory. The result was a hit, and the dish became a staple in my culinary repertoire. Years later, when I made stuffed cabbage for my husband, Paul (z’l), he was delighted that I’d cooked a dish from Hungary, his native land. That was how I learned that stuffed cabbage is a Hungarian dish!”
1 large cabbage, frozen (see Freezer Method, below), then thawed
2 lb/1 kg lean ground turkey or ground chicken, veal, or beef
2 large eggs
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper and sweet paprika
1 tsp dried basil
1 large onion, diced
1 can (28 oz/796 ml) crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup water (approximately)
1/2 cup cider vinegar (or to taste)
2 to 3 Tbsp sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp dried basil
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (see Norene’s Notes, below)
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika
- Cabbage Rolls: Remove leaves from thawed cabbage and squeeze out any excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, eggs, rice, and seasonings; mix well.
- Place a large spoonful of filling on one end of each cabbage leaf. Starting at the end with the filling, tightly roll up the leaves, folding in the sides.
- Place cabbage rolls seam-side down in the insert of a slow cooker. Slice any leftover cabbage and add to slow cooker along with the onions.
- Sauce: In a large bowl, mix together diced onions, crushed tomatoes, water, cider vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, basil, Worcestershire sauce. Add salt, pepper and paprika. If mixture is too thick, add a little water to thin it. Taste mixture and adjust vinegar/sugar ratio to get the right sweet-and-sour flavour. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls.
- Cover and cook on High setting for about 4 hours (or on Low setting for 8 hours), until cabbage is soft.
Yield: 24 cabbage rolls. Keeps up to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well up to 3 months.
- Freezer Method: Place the whole cabbage in a large re-sealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 2 days. Remove from freezer the night before using it; thaw at room temperature overnight. When cabbage is fully thawed, use a sharp knife to remove the core. The wilted leaves will separate easily. Large leaves are best for stuffing.
- Boiling Water Method: Place the whole cabbage in a large pot of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes or until leaves are softened. When cool enough to handle, separate leaves.
- Saucy Secret: Many brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, so check the label when shopping.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of 12 cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is, “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at email@example.com.