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If you know me, you know that I am a summer girl through and through. Give me a hot, humid day where it hurts a little to breathe & you sweat the moment you step outside and I am a happy.
But I have a confession to make; I have a mild obsession with a nice cup of homemade soup on a chilly fall day.
I know, I know, I'm contradicting what I just told you! But doesn't this sound perfect: a chilly fall day, sitting outside while the sun shines and you're in your jeans, boots, flannel & a vest. In your hand you have a warm cup of soup that fills you to the core & you can sit, relax and just be?
Yes, that's how a cup of fresh soup makes me feel. And yes, I love flannel shirts.
Now that the season has arrived, let me share with you how we make homemade vegetable soup at my house! It's so easy that anybody can do it so they can cozy up this fall with a hearty meal!
If you also know me, you know that when I make a recipe I don't do exact measurements, it's the Italian in me.
First we start with a fresh, homemade broth. This requires a some time though, and by time I mean a few weeks. What I mean by that is this; as you're chopping & cooking throughout your week, don't throw everything away! If you're peeling a carrot, chopping an onion or garlic, cutting off the ends of celery, etc. don't throw those peels or ends away. Instead, grab a freezer Ziploc bag and begin a vegetable end collection. Every time you're cooking, you can add these types of veggies & other and continually place the bag into the freezer. When the bag is full, then you're ready to make homemade broth!
Making broth is easy. Dump your bag into a large pot and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil & let it simmer and cook down. Once it's done, strain it (but make sure you're straining it into another pot!). The strainer will catch all the veggies which you can now throw away & the second pot will catch all your vegetable broth. You can either use the broth right way or freeze it for another time.
The beauty of homemade broth is that you're using so much more of your vegetables which is a great thing! You're really not wasting any food. You are also cutting down on the sodium that store bought broths contain which makes this soup even healthier.
If you're ready to make the soup then make sure you have your broth handy! First thing, I chop up between 3-4 cloves of garlic and about a half of an onion. Throw these into an empty pot with some olive oil to sauté for a 1-2 minutes.
Then, add your veggies! You can add frozen veggies or fresh ones; I tend to do a mix of both. Add your frozen ones in first to sauté & thaw out a little bit. Then throw in your fresher veggies, stir & continue to sauté for a few more minutes. I fill the pot at least halfway with veggies, more if I'm feeling crazy.
Then it's time to add your broth! Carefully pour your brothover your veggies, if you don't have enough liquid, you can add more water. You want your veggies to be covered & then some. Use your chef eye to assess if you have enough water. The pot should be about 3/4 of the way filled with everything in it.
Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it boils, turn the heat to low & let it simmer. You can leave it without a top on and let it cook for about 2 hours. You'll notice your kitchen will be smelling incredible! Once it's done, throw in a pinch of salt & pepper to taste, grab a ladle and enjoy something amazing, hearty & healthy!
-You don't have to make your own stock! You can purchase stock or you can buy bullion cubes which you throw into the pot once the water boils & it'll dissolve. Just make sure to mix it so it adds flavor to the entire soup.
-If you want bonus flavor, add a dollop of tomato paste. It gives it an extra punch.
-Feel free to add some pasta, especially ditalini which is my favorite. The key though is to cook the pasta separately, and leave it alla dente. Add the pasta into the bowls of soup as you serve them. The pasta absorbs the juices so if you leave it in overnight, you'll have less juice and more saturated pasta.
-Freeze what you aren't going to eat right away! I typically will freeze them individual containers, I'll take them out the night before & place them in the refrigerator. By the morning, they'll be thawed and ready to take to work!
-You can make this in the crock pot! Mix everything & place on low for 6 hours. Easy!
-Make this for the meat lovers! I'm the only vegetarian in my family, so they'll add cooked chicken to their soups. It soaks up the great flavor (so I'm told)!
I'm at that age where the majority of my friends are in serious relationships, many of them are engaged and now the countless amounts of weddings have begun.
I am not in that boat, honestly, I'm swimming miles behind the getting hitched boat everybody is on. Ok fine, most days I'm not even swimming behind it; most of the time you can find me relaxing belly up soaking the rays. I can hear the echoing of disappointed people who feel sorry for me when I tell them "nope, I'm single, it's just me!"
But here's what I want you to realize about those of us who aren't hopping on the boat; it's not a bad thing to be floating around single.
I have been in and out of relationships since I was 15 and experienced my first love. Had you asked me then what I would be doing when I was 26, I would have told you I would have been married, working my dream job, making my house a home and planning to start a family soon. Well, now being 26 I am nowhere near that, with no man in sight and quite frankly, I'm ok about it.
I've been in all sorts of relationships. When you're younger it's no big deal if you're single, casually dating or in a serious relationship. If anything, you're encouraged to explore when you're in your early twenties in hopes of finding your person.
It wasn't until in my early-mid twenties that I began to see how eager people were for me to be in a committed relationship. I began seeing a terrific guy that I met at work. At the beginning of us hanging out we discussed what we were looking for & what we wanted both finding we were on the same page. For the nearly 2 years that followed, our relationship was private, hiding behind closed doors. Neither of us met each others families or friends, nor did we go out on formal dates. Instead, we spent our weekends relaxing, binge watching movies, talking, laughing or sometimes content in the silence of just being there. It didn't bother me, at the time the relationship was exactly what I wanted & I was happy getting to know this guy in my life.
People looking in often had much to say when my vagueness about him wasn't what they wanted to hear. They felt like I was somehow roped into this kind of relationship & that I was being used. They didn't understand how I could be willingly & quite happy in the relationship I was in. When I stopped wanting the same things as him, we ended it. If I could do the whole relationship all over again, I would. And I still to this day will tell you how wonderful of a guy he is. His ambition & passion has inspired me to make goals while chasing my dreams.
Just because I wasn't in a serious relationship during that time does not mean my love life is taboo. And just because I am single at 26 does not mean I am doomed to a lifetime of loneliness.
Here is what I've decided. While so many people are desperately wanting me to find my guy, I've realized I don't want to settle for the sake of shutting up the whispers of those around me. I hate the fact that people assume that I can only find happiness with a man by my side.I have come to the realization that 26 is the time to be selfish in the ways of finding myself & figuring out my place in the world.
In the past 4 years I have started my own small business, one that might not be global or making me a millionaire, but instead it gives me happiness & fulfills me in ways I couldn't of dreamed. I have decided to get back to my roots of volunteering and in a few short years have climbed my way up to running the largest community event in my town. An event that has placed #1 in our metro area & #2 in all of NY & NJ this year. By running this event, I have pushed my limits, conquered my fears of speaking in front of massive crowds, being vulnerable & sharing a very personal story.
Aside from my accomplishments, I have pushed myself to become more independent, self sufficient, open to trying new things. I've been more serious about making goals, life plans whether it's 1 year or 5 years out. I've been dedicated to fining myself & making myself the best person I could possibly be. I have done all this without a man by my side. I've done it all by myself with my family & friends supporting my independence and encouraging me throughout it all.
Now I'm not saying that every single day I am content to not have a boyfriend. I fully admit that I text my single girlfriends venting about where the heck my man is hiding especially when engagement, wedding & baby photos of our peers flood Facebook. I would love to have a guy to share all my happiness with, to have nearby when I'm having a bad day or to simply have somebody who is happy to spend time with me. I would love to walk hand in hand, take adventures or crawl into bed to be the little spoon at night. Which yes, is one of my favorite things.
I feel that becoming myself now will only help me in my future relationships. Figuring out who I am, challenging myself, accepting my independence, my flaws, my sarcastic humor will help me be a better partner. If I am sure of myself then I know I will be more inclined to open up to somebody else which has always been a tremendously difficult thing for me to do. Continually gaining confidence in my personality and my strengths will make me more accepting of all the wonderful things my mystery man has to offer me.
Now, I'm not putting down those who have done what I'm doing while in a relationship. I believe everybody needs to do what's best for them & how it's best for them. My friends who have done this while being committed & who are now getting ready to get married, I still wish them all of the happiness & love the world has to offer. The path that worked great for them, was never the right way for me.
Here's what I would love. I would love for people to stop assuming that I'm single because I have some major flaw that pushes every man away, that I'm incapable of committing or most importantly, that my happiness relies on a man. Being single does not define me, being alone does not mean that every moment I am lonely, and my happiness is all mine to create & define.
So just remember that when you ask somebody if they're seeing somebody & their response is nope; don't assume that it's an awful, end of the world, desperately sad thing. Just don't assume at all.
I am a pasta girl, through and through. Growing up Italian meant that pasta was pretty much at every meal, especially Sunday dinners. But in an effort to eat healthier and cut out a portion of the carbs I eat in a day, I decided it was time to re-try zucchini in the form of the oh so popular Zoodle.
If you're asking yourself right now, what the heck is a Zoodle? Well, it's basically a zucchini noodle. My family has been using this gadget called the Veggetti but it scared me (even though there is literally nothing to be afraid of) and it's a pretty cool thing to have.
Because 2015 has been the year of overcoming fears, mini and large,
I decided the time has come to try the Zoodle.
The beauty about Zoodles is not just that it's healthy, but they are super quick to make which is perfect since so many of us are constantly running around. If you don't have a Veggetti, you don't need one to make Zoodles! I've made these without the use of a gadget and they were perfect. Without a gadget, it does take some more time.
You're going to want to cut the zucchini in long, thin pieces to mimic spaghetti if you're not using the Veggetti. You don't want it too thick so it doesn't cook all the way through.
Once you're Zoodles are created, it's time to cook them!
My favorite way so far is to sauté them in whatever sauce I'm making. I've been substituting my pasta often when I make shrimp scampi or my fettuccine Alfredo. But you can add the Zoodles to any & all sauces you make! The other beauty of the Zoodle, is they only take a few minutes to cook. So when your sauce is almost ready, about 2-3 minutes left, throw your Zoodles in & wait! If you cut them a little thicker, you might need a few extra minutes. But after a quick sauté, they'll absorb the flavor & be cooked!
So give them a try! They taste delicious & are a great way to add some veggies into your day while taking away from any extra added crabs. Substitute these out once a week to start & it'll make a great improvement into your daily life!
Let's talk about one of my favorite things in the world:
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!