Meteorological summer may be over as of yesterday and I’m not ready. I did eat vegetable soup twice this week, and the first time I immediately regretted it, because it was a hot day and while I didn’t run a fever, my body temperature was definitely elevated. Ok, so I was sick and I needed soup, but I seriously considered taking a shower afterwards.
I love soups. I think they make a great quick and nutritious dinner. Just drop all your fridge
s contents in a pot of boiling water, add a little seasoning and voilà: soup! Creating variations of one and the same soup is incredibly easy by leaving out or adding herbs or a different ingredient, and it is also a fantastic way to use up anything that has been sitting around your pantry or fridge for way too long. Soups are usually even more flavorful the next day, making them a perfect dish to prepare the day before if you are hosting a dinner party and, of course, an ideal lunch for work tomorrow. If you don’t have a microwave or a kitchen disposable at your place of work, simply take your soup to work in a thermos in your purse and ta-dah, you have yourself a warm lunch!
I know most Germans don’t tick this way (and I know it’s spoiled), but I need to eat warm twice a day. I’ll even take a warm breakfast over a piece of bread if you offer, but eating a cold dish once a day is already more than sufficient for me. I remember, when visiting my German grandmother, we would have a dinner consisting of several choices of the most delicious bread (the one I wrote about in an earlier post) and a very ample selection of toppings and salads, but I would always be sad that we weren’t having a hot dish. My husband, who is very German in terms of eating, loves bread. He could eat nothing but meals consisting of bread all day. I probably ate more bread since meeting my husband than I did during the twenty years I lived before I met him. But it didn’t make me happy. Sometimes have no other option due to time constraints, and I will end up packing whatever is fit for a salad in my fridge, and a cheese sandwich. I’ve learnt to deal with it, but while I eat my cold lunch, I just think it is sad. I don’t need anything fancy, it just has to be hot. So soups are a great way out.
My relationship with bread has always been iffy. Maybe, I was already suffering from celiac disease when I was a young girl, there is no way of knowing now, but I was always a bit iffy about bread, which I would be careful to consume only in limited quantities and with sufficient distance from one another. I would dread field trips, because I would always come home constipated. I used to think it was just being nervous about not having the privacy of my familiar toilet at home, but when I started uni and knew I wasn’t just being shy about using the bathroom outside of home, I began dreading the field trips, too, even if just a little less. I dreaded them because of all the bread and the lack of opportunities for vegetables and yoghurt. We would usually have a bread-based breakfast at the youth hostel, be offered sandwiches and cookies during our company visits, grab something from the bakery whilst going from one station to the next for lunch and then have a bread-based-dinner at the youth hostel in the evenings – if we didn’t end up eating out. You can imagine none of these meals were particularly healthy. So even if I dreaded going on field trips less, I would return home constipated, with a bloated belly and in a lot of pain.
Ever since I have been eating gluten-free, my relationship to bread and eating cold meals has changed significantly. I no longer dread eating them – no wonder, I no longer associate pain with doing so. This is the main reason I believe that I suffered from celiac disease for a long time prior to being diagnosed. It makes me glad for running into a completely different bout of medical issues early this year. I may have otherwise never met a doctor who is also vegetarian. She knew – and taught me – that being a vegetarian does not automatically equal low iron levels. She believed me when I told her that I did everything in my power to eat right and to get an adequate amount of nutrients. She suggested we do a gastroscopy to see if I there may be a cause for my low iron levels, such as internal bleeding or other less fun options. I got lucky again and the doctor who performed the gastroscopy immediately suggested I may be suffering from celiac disease. I hear you can also not be as lucky.
After my diagnosis, while I read up on the symptoms of celiac disease, I nodded. And I nodded. And I nodded again. I never figured that what was going on with my body was not normal. I really believed that it was just me, not eating well. And well. In a way, I was right. I finally understood that it was not me being a picky eater, but that I had a reason for being iffy about eating so much bread. But even after my diagnosis, I continue to be a huge fan of soups, fancy or simple, they always leave me feeling satisfied and happy. So, today, minutes after I came back from my grocery shopping, as I was stowing the last of my vegetables away into the fridge, a heavy rain shower poured from the heavens outside. I was very hungry after all that shopping, so I turned the rest of yesterday’s kidney bean broth into a Mediterranean Kidney Bean Vegetable soup. I was even able to eat it without breaking out into a sweat.
400ml kidney bean broth (including a couple of whole kidney beans)
150 ml canned tomatoes (I used the leftovers from a tomato sauce that was in my fridge)
150 ml water
1 carrott cut into thin slices
100g green beans cut into small pieces
1 handful of red lentils, quinoa and tiny gluten-free noodles
1 handful of frozen peas and canned corn
1 handful of parsley, oregano or any other fresh Italian herb that you may have
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
One dollop of low-fat yoghurt
In a tall pot, place the kidney bean broth, add the tomatoes and the water. Add the red lentils and the quinoa. After three minutes add the vegetables. After another three minutes add the remainder of the ingredients (except the yoghurt) and cook until the vegetables are al dente. Serve while hot, decorate each bowl with a double dollop of low-fat yoghurt.