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THE FOOD DUDE: A roasted pepper and celery soup 'd’état' leads to a healthier lifestyle

The Food Dude’s roasted pepper and celery soup.
The Food Dude’s roasted pepper and celery soup. - Terry Bursey

A losing proposition

My love of food is something I’ve never been shy about. It’s been my raison d’etre since I was old enough to tell the nurses in the hospital that their food was “bodgey” (garbage) and demand a cheeseburger Happy Meal from the McDonald’s in Gander.

As a direct result of this need to consume great tasting food in mass quantities, I spent most of my childhood and teens as a “fluffy” person. When I walked, the earth trembled beneath my feet, as did the many chins beneath my original chin. I didn’t mind it much, to tell you the truth. I was never really bullied for it or, when I was, it was easily remedied with some choice cutting words that gave them a rather potent taste of their own toxic medicine.

Indeed, my girth wasn’t a problem for me at all until the savage years of high school when I began to take a serious interest in something far more alluring than food and for discretion purposes, I think we all know what that was. My jiggly bits understandably stood in the way of a few conquests I had in mind and when the rare occasion came that it didn’t, I was usually too self-conscious due to my weight to follow through with it properly – much to my embarrassment now as a somewhat overly-confident adult.

Thus, at the tender age of 17, I began my turgid and gruelling journey of weight loss. As a rural Newfoundlander, I was already getting plenty of exercise and had considerable muscle beneath my blubber and as such, I knew that the problem lay squarely in my gargantuan overeating habits. My Nan will tell you that back in those days I could finish two full servings of Jiggs’ Dinner with gravy and still come back for dessert as though my guts were figuratively bottomless. I decided first to cut my portions back to a normal human level with but one plate of food per meal, but soon found myself compromising with extra snacks to fill the void.

Seeing very little progress on the bathroom scales made me redouble my efforts by locking my snacks away and reducing portion sizes again to a half-plate while replacing all sugar drinks with water or black coffee. This finally tipped the scales in my favour, but my taste buds cried out in anguish and neglect, my stomach growled almost constantly, and I was perpetually grumpier than I have ever been in my entire life. I felt as though I were giving up the best friend I’d ever had simply so that a future version of me could reap some reward that wasn’t set in stone. While I had lost over 30 pounds by the middle of that year, I relapsed over Christmas of 2007 and went on an eating binge (that is still talked about to this day among certain family members) which made me balloon to over 300 pounds from 260 in less than four months. As you can imagine, that stung quite a bit.

After a few restless nights of tossing and turning trying to think of a healthy yet successful way to shed my considerable poundage, I decided to give dieting one last shot by not compromising on flavour, but instead substituting solid meals for a diet consisting mostly of shakes and soups. My theory was that this would allow me to get my flavour fix while still being full enough to satisfy my enormous appetite. One of the very first (and best) soups that I made to accomplish this lofty goal was:


Roasted Pepper and Celery Soup

  • 1 red and 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 sticks of celery, small diced
  • 1 large can of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread some parchment paper on a 9-in. by13-in. sheet pan and evenly layer your pepper slices onto it.
  2. Evenly spread your minced garlic atop the peppers and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast the peppers in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring tomato sauce to a simmer (medium-high heat) and add your celery pieces and all spices/seasonings.
  5. Cook while stirring frequently for roughly 15 minutes, add cream, cream cheese and peppers.
  6. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.

I’m proud to say that this ritualistic consumption of hearty yet light soups was the coup d’état in the battle for my weight loss and I ultimately lost over 100 pounds as a result and kept it off (for the most part) sitting at a lean and mean body build of around 200 pounds even. If, like me, you’ve struggled with your weight and are down for trying just about any healthy way to lose it, I’d highly recommend a balanced soup diet. Hopefully your results end up as well as my own.

My email has been slightly barren as of late and there’s no Letter Snacks! segment this week, but rest assured, something well worth waiting for is on the way!

Until next time, Food-Dudians!


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Terry Bursey, otherwise known as the Food Dude, is a Newfoundland chef transplanted to Ontario who enjoys putting his mark on traditional recipes and inventing new tasty treats with unexpected ingredients. You can reach him at thefooddudecolumn@gmail.com.

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