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The Main Ingredients Challenge #3: Soup's On (Chef's Meal)

09/30/2013 04:06 EDT | Updated 12/18/2013 06:13 EST

With Thanksgiving around the corner we should be truly be grateful to learn new ways of cooking with all this incredible bounty. And it's no stretch at this time of year to embrace the satisfying warmth of a homemade soup.

This week's challenge is to use our ingredients to make a nutritious soup -- not as a starter, but as a main course. We can also add any side dishes we like to round out the meal. I love making soup as a meal for many reasons, but mostly, it's such a great way to use a variety of vegetables and grains that the whole family will enjoy. But if your kids are fussy about ingredients and balk at seeing grains in soup, you can use a blending wand or food processor to turn it into a cream soup, which most kids usually love.

I'm opting for making my ingredients come to life in a one-pot soup that will be both delicious and nutritious!

Turkey Vegetable Lentil Soup

The Main Ingredients II: Chef's Meal #3

Main Ingredients Used:

• Bok choy

• Lentils

• Whole wheat pita

• Edamame

• Sweet potatoes

• Turkey

In my books, turkey makes the best stock for soup because it has so much flavour and body. Normally, I suggest making a proper, long, slow-cooked stock or using turkey bones left over from a roast turkey As a shortcut I'm making an express stock by simmering a turkey leg while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Ingredients list:

• 1 fresh turkey leg, approx. 2 lbs (900 gm)

• 8 cups (2 litres) cold water

• 2 sprigs each rosemary and sage45 ml (3 tbsp.) olive oil

• 1 small onion, diced

• 1 stalk celery, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped

• 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled cut into 1/8ths

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 sprigs fresh thyme

• 125 ml (½ cup) lentils (any type), rinsed

• 250 ml (1 cup) frozen, shelled edamame (young soy beans)

• 250 ml (1 cup) chopped baby bok choy, thoroughly washed

• Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

• Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

• Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, optional

• 6 whole wheat pitas (as a side)

Preparation: Place the turkey leg in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add the fresh sprigs of rosemary and sage and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Strain the liquid into a soup pot with lentils and vegetables.

Meanwhile in an 8-litre [8-quart] up pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion and celery until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, sweet potato, bay leaves, thyme and lentils and sauté for 2-3 minutes just to soften garlic and develop flavour.

Add simmered and strained turkey stock and add back the turkey leg, so it keeps cooking in the soup. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low. Simmer soup, partially covered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until lentils are soft and meat is starting to fall off bone.

Add edamame and simmer for 3 minutes. Finally add the bok choy and remove from heat. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. Remove turkey leg and pull off the meat. Chop it into bite-sized pieces and add back to soup. Discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks. Add lots of fresh chopped parsley.

If desired, garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Makes 6 servings, serve with whole wheat pita

The Verdict: If there's one dish that my husband goes crazy for, it's soup. He can eat it any time of the year but that doesn't mean he's any less particular about the quality and his personal preferences. I can see him wondering where the accompanying dishes are, because he is so used to having a gazillion choices. "What else are we having? " he asks. "Nothing," I reply.

Stay tuned: next week I'll tell you what happened next. Just kidding! Once he finished eating the soup with all those great pieces of turkey and vegetables, he loved it.

Soup still reigns supreme in our house.