I cooked all the time pre-children. Every weekend, I’d make a batch of soup and divide it into individual servings for lunches I could take to work. And almost every night, I’d make a home-cooked meal to enjoy with my husband.
But now? Ha. Ha ha ha. Do not get me wrong — I would not be in this line of work if I didn’t love and strongly believe in the value of home cooking! But these days, I spend most the time I DO have in the kitchen prepping family dinners and breakfasts/snacks for the kids. And I’ve been doing a lot more cooking since my daughter’s food allergy diagnosis, since many of the convenience products I used to rely on are made on equipment shared with peanuts or tree nuts. All this is to say, I have very little time to make the meals I used to prep for myself.
This often leaves me scrounging around come lunch time. Crackers and hummus? A handful of pretzels? That apple my daughter didn’t finish at breakfast? Sure, why not…
That apple my daughter didn’t finish at breakfast? Sure, why not…
I think you know where this story is headed. On days I don’t have a proper lunch, I am a cranky-pants come dinner time. And of course, dinner is typically the most chaotic time of the day in any household with small children! That’s not good for me or my family.
Sound familiar? Now listen, I am not telling you that if this story rings true with you, then you need to carve out time to cook THIS soup, or any recipe at all, actually. I DO think that you should take a good look at your schedule and your finances, though, and determine a plan to resolve it. This is an area I work on with my clients all the time. Do you need to up your eating out budget? Keep some quick sandwich fixings on hand in your office? Batch cook and freeze a soup like this? The bottom line is that moms need to eat, too!
Don’t even get me started on skipping meals in the hopes of weight loss. See above. You deserve not to feel cranky or hungry and anyway, skipping meals WILL lead to eating more later in the day and other unwanted consequences.
So that’s why I call this recipe “Self-Care Soup.” When I make a batch of this, I don’t make it for anyone else in my household (although the smushy sweet potato cubes a great to share with you infant if you’re doing baby-led weaning!) I portion the entire pot out into freezer dishes and keep them on hand for when scrounging time hits. Just knowing I have a batch of the type of meal that *I* love puts a spring in my step in the morning, if you can believe that! I cater the breakfasts and dinners I make to the overall preferences of my family, but this meal is mine.
I cater the breakfasts and dinners I make to the overall preferences of my family, but this meal is mine.
And it doesn’t hurt that it’s absolutely jam-packed with produce, protein and fiber! I might grab a dry frozen waffle on my way out the door in the morning, but I know I’ll get a few servings of produce in with this soup defrosting in my work bag.
What’s your ultimate self-care meal? I’d love for you to share!
1/4 cup olive oil*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced into half moons
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cubed sweet potato or butternut squash
2 15.5 oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chili powder
5 oz. baby greens, such as baby spinach
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. lemon juice
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, sautee the garlic and onions until just golden.
Add the vegetable broth, sweet potato cubes, beans and chili powder. Cover and simmer for thirty minutes.
Remove cover. Add the greens, tomatoes and lemon juice. Simmer about 10 minutes more, uncovered, until the greens are wilted and the tomatoes have softened.
Portion into four two-cup containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for later use.
*This may seem like a lot, but this is the only source of fat in this meal. And you need fat for a satisfying lunch!