Homemade soups healthy and hearty
Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014 06:00 am
Julie Badick-Weisgerber loves to cook soup and stockpiles their aromatic goodness in her five freezers.
She packs batches for her husband who works in the oil patch. But mostly the St. Albert Farmers’ Market vendor sells the surplus.
“I love soup. It’s so comforting. People don’t have time to make soups, but if you make it more available, people will buy it. It’s heartier and healthier than the stuff in the grocery stores,” says Badick-Weisgerber, founder of Crafty Cooks.
Badick-Weisgerber cooks 10 different types of homemade soups and five prepared meals including lasagna, chili and shepherd’s pie. Everything is preservative free and frozen.
The bulk of Badick-Weisgerber’s business is soup made with from-scratch broth and garden-fresh vegetables and herbs. In addition to hearty beef and ham soups, she carries mix and match varies for special diets – three vegetarian, two vegan and four gluten-free soups.
“I think food should be simple. If you put too many things in it, it overpowers the palate and you’re not tasting anything.”
Traditional borscht, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom sit side-by-side with the more trendy veggie quinoa, loaded baked potato and chicken pasta soups.
“Kids love the yellow split pea ham soup and the prime rib barley tend to be very popular.”
Badick-Weisgerber was originally born in Edmonton, but her family moved to Fort McMurray where the trades were high in demand. Her father was a welder, her mother a homemaker.
At an early age, Badick-Weisgerber learned to cook soups, and by the time she was 15, the young cook was serving tables at Cedars Steakhouse.
“The money was really good and I love customer service.”
However, Fort McMurray was a cultural desert for a young woman eager to experience life. At 22, she moved to Calgary. Veering away from hospitality, she enrolled at SAIT in a first year millwright program.
She returned to Edmonton and was employed as a quality assurance manager for five years. But two years ago, Badick-Weisgerber made another foray into serving at Country Boys on Wye Road after moving to an Ardrossan acreage.
When her blue-collar husband heads to Fort McMurrary on projects, Badick-Weisgerber packs frozen soups for his convenience. Friends soon requested the meals and the next step was introducing them to the public.
In a huge vegetable garden, the health-conscious cook grows beets, beans, herbs, asparagus, squash, zucchini, peas, carrots, onions, chives and tomatoes for the soups.
As she stirs the pot in her kitchen, Badick-Weisgerber describes herself as “anal” about sanitation.
“I truly believe in food safety. If you’re careless, you can kill someone and you don’t want to chance it. If someone has a bad experience, they tell everybody. I would never serve anything I would not eat myself.”
Interestingly enough, her market is quite varied ranging from seniors and harried working parents to trendy professionals and post-secondary students.
“My personal belief in life is if you want something, go out and get it.”
The St. Albert Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.