Between Appointments

Today’s picture comes from Hemsedal, Norway.

I’m between doctor appointments right now. This morning I met with my naturopath to review recent bloodwork. My thyroid levels are within the normal range, as are my vitamin D levels so I will now take 2000 IU of vitamin D each day as opposed to the 4000 IU that I’ve been taking. My skin has gotten very dry and flaky, perhaps due to the fact that I’m not digesting fats well right now. I’ve been told to switch from Soy milk to Hemp milk (I’ll let you know how that goes) and to use 50:50 flax oil/olive oil in my recipes. We’ll see if that helps.

I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home to buy Hemp Milk and I found my favorite Whole Foods soup in the deli, Tunisian Hlelem. The recipe isn’t available on the Whole Foods web site but I did find this recipe on Tastefully Done when I “googled”:

‘Rainbow Soup’ aka Tunisian Vegetable Soup with Beans (aka Hlelem)

I get emails from ‘The Splendid Table’ every week. Their recipes tend to be rather unusual and sometimes require a rather sophisticated palate. This week, however, they sent a simple hearty soup recipe that is easy on the wallet and high in nutrition. I decided to give it a try and the results are, well- interesting and delicious!

I already had the Patak’s Curry Paste, so I decided not to hunt for the Harissa. The only Swiss chard they had at the grocery store was called ‘Bright Lights’, so the stalks and veins were all brightly colored reds and fuschias- yellows and oranges, too. I thought it was rather odd, but decided it may work in my favor with the three-year-old. I give foods more interesting names and then Ambrose will eat them. Creamy Tomato Soup with sour cream is ‘Ghost Soup’, so let’s just call this one ‘Rainbow Soup’ and then we’ll have a winner. 😉 Enjoy!!

Hlelem (Tunisian Vegetable and Bean Soup)

Makes 2 quarts

Harissa is a Tunisian hot sauce or paste usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It’s available in cans, jars, or tubes from Middle Eastern markets and specialty stores.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup celery stalk, large outer veins trimmed, diced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 quart chicken broth
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup canned lima beans, drained, juices reserved
2/3 cup canned chickpeas, drained, juices reserved
7 cups Swiss chard leaves, stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces, leaves shredded, lightly packed
1/2 cup angel hair pasta, dry, broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tablespoon red curry paste or harissa
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid with 1/2 cup of the reserved lima bean liquid. Add the broth, reserved bean liquid, and the tomato paste to the pot. Mix together until well blended and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Approximately 10 minutes before serving, add the lima beans and chickpeas, the Swiss chard, and the pasta. Simmer until the pasta and chard stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the red curry paste and stir until blended. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped parsley.


Harissa comes in small cans and can be found in a lot of supermarkets and Mediterranean groceries. Once opened, transfer the paste to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two months. Curry pastes are found, too, in Asian markets. Use both in marinades, salad dressings, for glazing foods and in stews and soups.

Other hearty greens such as ruby or golden chard, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, collard greens, or broccoli rabe can stand in for the Swiss chard. Choose organic bunches, if possible, with fresh, crisp leaves and firm stalks. Rinse well, separate the stalks from the leaves and wrap all in barely damp paper towels, tuck into a plastic bag and refrigerate until needed. Use within a few days of purchase. If stems on the collards or kale are thicker than 1/4 inch, it’s best not to put them in the soup, as they take longer to cook.

……..This afternoon, I’ll meet with my gastroenterologist.


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