Mother Nature Hits Menopause?

April is supposed to be spring in southern Ontario.  You know, “April showers bring May flowers” and all that.

But I think Mother Nature missed the memo.

Here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA for short) we’ve had a long, weird winter. We’ve had big storms followed by above zero temps that melt everything, then back down to frigid temps. Up and down, up and down. We’ve had a very cold, sloppy, long winter. It’s like Jack Frost doesn’t want to loosen his grip.

But spring was starting to take hold. Over the last two weeks you could feel it. The Canadian geese and the song birds are back. Most of the snow had melted away. Last Saturday it was warm enough outside to swap my winter coat for a light jacket. On Tuesday I left the gym after my workout still wearing my shorts and I didn’t freeze. Golf courses are opening up. People have started planning their cottage weekends for the summer.

And me? I’m shopping for a new barbeque to kick off the new season.

Then today, my local weather report tells me that there is a “winter storm watch that will include heavy freezing rain and ice pellets, temperatures hovering around freezing, accumulation of 4-5 cm, followed by more of the same tomorrow but with temperatures around 8°C”.  Really?

As a forty-something female, I’m very much aware of the changes my body will soon go through as I approach “the change of life”.

Two well know symptoms of the approach of menopause: hot flashes and mood swings.
Hmmm…Mama Nature has definitely got that.
With the crazy temperature shifts come colds.  It seems like there has been at least one person in my family with the sniffles at any given time this winter. I know I’ve been fighting something for few weeks.
The best way I know to help fight off a cold is to eat some homemade soup.

I think I’ve made more pots of soup this winter than I can count. My current “go-to, make everyone better recipe” is full of white beans and veggies. It’s an easy going kind of thing that comes together quick and can be modified to suit what’s in your fridge or pantry. I’m on a Cannellini bean “kick” lately, so they’re in the soup too but feel free to sub in potatoes or your favourite gluten free pasta.  For a vegetarian option, swap the chicken stock for your favourite vegetable broth and omit the chorizo.

Here’s hoping Spring will come back to us  soon.

Vegetable Bean Soup with Chorizo

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 ½ oz (100g) Spanish Chorizo sausage, diced

1 large Spanish onion, diced

1 medium fennel bulb, tops removed, diced

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 large carrots diced

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

14 oz (398mL) can of diced tomatoes

8 cups chicken stock or broth

14oz can Cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained

4 cups kale, stems removed, chopped

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Chorizo, cook 3-4 minutes, letting the sausage flavour the pan. Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. The Chorizo juices will colour the onions while they cook. Add fennel, carrots, zucchini and garlic; continue to sauté 3-4 minutes or until the veggies have softened. Add the smoked paprika, sauté for 1 minute to release the flavour. Add tomatoes and chicken stock; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Add beans and kale. Cook until vegetables are tender, kale is wilted and soup is slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8