Soups

Sultry Soup: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

When I think of Mediterranean cuisine, one word comes to mind: sultry. What appeals to me about this food is how somewhat common herbs, spices and aromatics get blended into a dish in an exotic way. A few weeks ago, Bruce and I tried out a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time. The Mediterranean Grille serves tasty food with a Moroccan and Turkish influence. We ordered a vegetable tagine, Zalouk (eggplant dip) and Turkish Red Lentil Soup. Everything was so delicious that I couldn’t wait to come up with my own versions. Why am I so excited about this soup? Well, it’s made with one of my favorite legumes, red lentils. It contains bulgur, a grain that I’ve wanted to include in my recipes but haven’t gotten around to. And, I love the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. It comes together quickly, cooks in one hour and fills your home with an enticing aroma. You can round out your meal with some olives, a bowl of your favorite hummus and warm pita or rustic bread. Oh, this is so good.Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

makes about 3 quarts

1/2 cup soaked bulgur (see notes)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups vegetable stock or water
Lemon slices for serving

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, lentils and bulgur into the onions and stir to coat. Add the tomato paste and water or vegetable stock; bring to a boil, then cover and cook until soft and creamy, about 1 hour. Ladle into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

To soak bulger: Place ¼ cup dry bulgur in small bowl and cover with ¼ cup boiling water. Let stand 1 hour. This should yield ½ cup of soaked bulgur.

 

25 Jan 2017

Day One: Hoppin’ John Stew

Hoppin’ John Soup

What I love about the holidays are the traditions. It can be a beloved family recipe or a tradition from another region, country or culture. I especially like the southern tradition of making Hoppin’ John for New Years Day. This bean dish is typically made with black-eyed peas, bell peppers,onions, tomatoes and rice all cooked in one pot. Since I’ve already done the traditional recipe served over rice and Hoppin‘ John Burgers this year’s recipe is a Hoppin’ John Stew. What makes this recipe more “stew-like” than traditional Hoppin’ John is that it has more beans, vegetables and liquid and not so much rice. It can be made a day ahead and re-warmed in a slow-cooker. It’s the perfect solution for winding down on Day One after staying up late to ring in the New Year. Time to “ring in the new” with this Hoppin’ John Stew. Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 

Hoppin’ John Soup

1 lb. dry black-eyed peas
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) plum tomatoes, drained & chopped (or diced tomatoes, drained)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons brown sugar
10 to 12 cups water
1 cup uncooked brown rice

Soak black-eyed peas overnight and drain. (You can also quick soak the peas by covering them with water and boiling for two minutes. Let soak for 1 hour, then drain.) Cook in pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s directions. When pressure has gone down, open pressure cooker and drain the peas.

Heat a saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften and brown, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent them from sticking. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, liquid smoke and brown sugar and cook for another minute. Add water and cooked peas and bring to a boil. Add rice and reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until black-eyed peas are tender and thick (about 45 minutes). Thin with more water as desired.

28 Dec 2016

Well Seasoned: Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

I am lucky to live in an area of the world that has four seasons. I love the ebb and flow of the seasons, the promise of change at the beginning of a season; the gradual weather changes throughout; the winding down that opens up to the next season. Autumn is coming to a close, but its abundant harvest of winter squash will be with us well into early spring. It’s a chilly day in my part of the world making it the perfect day for turning on the oven or for making soup. I decided to do both today and looked around to see what ingredients I had to work with. Acorn squash, carrots and parsnips. I love the idea of roasting vegetables because it adds another layer of flavor to a recipe.  Unlike it’s close cousin, the butternut squash, acorn squash is hard to peel and cut into chunks for roasting, so I cut it in half and baked it in it’s skin. The piquant taste of the parsnips provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of carrots and squash. I also love how ginger, garlic and Singapore curry fill the house with an exotic aroma. The coconut milk stirred in at the end gives the soup a creamy, bisque-like finish. This bisque would make a nice first course for a holiday meal or you could serve it as a main course with some warm naan bread. Winter squash can be stored for a few months, so you can enjoy this bisque for a few seasons to come. Thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Roasted Squash & Vegetables

Roasted Squash & Vegetables

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
2 large carrots
2 parsnips
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed
4 thin slices of ginger root
Singapore curry powder
1 can reduced fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place acorn squash, cut side up on baking sheet. Cut carrots, parsnips and onion into large chunks. Place next to the squash on baking sheet along with garlic and ginger. Sprinkle everything with the curry powder. If you want to use oil, you can lightly coat the surface of the squash and toss a little with the vegetables. Place in oven and roast until vegetables start to brown. Remove the vegetables and place into stock pot. Remove and set aside. Place squash back in oven and continue roasting until tender, total time is about 1-1/2 hours. Scoop the squash out of the skin and add to stock pot. Add enough water to cover, about 5 cups. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Add coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or using an immersion blender. Return to pot and heat until boiling. Season with additional curry powder if desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro.

06 Dec 2016

Holy Mole Memories: Mushroom Enchiladas

Mole Mushroom BurritoSometimes things turn out differently than we expect them to. I recently purchased an Instant Pot and made the Holy Mole Black Bean soup from Vegan Under Pressure. It turned out great and while it’s a healthy recipe it was way too rich-tasting for me. Since I had a lot left over, I portioned it into four pint-size containers and popped three of them into the freezer as I had plans for that fourth pint. (Here’s where I get all teary-eyed and sentimental.) When Bruce and I were first dating, one of our favorite restaurants was a small Mexican place in New Jersey called Pecos. I still remember the life-sized statue of a mariachi musician posted at the entrance. Pecos closed down before we moved, but its memory will live on in our hearts. I always ordered their chicken enchiladas with mole sauce and a side of Spanish rice. Mole is a Spanish sauce made from chilis, nuts and chocolate. I made it at home . . . once. The recipe had an ingredient list that was an arm’s length and a multi-step process, so I haven’t made it since. As soon as I tasted this soup made I knew it would make a good mole sauce for enchiladas. The filling recipe came together with whatever I had on hand — mushrooms, peppers, onions and garlic. The pint of mole soup was the perfect amount of sauce for four enchiladas.(Yea! I have three more pints ready for use in the near future.) If you don’t own an Instant Pot or the Vegan Under Pressure cookbook or don’t want to make your own mole you can use a store-bought sauce. If you don’t care for mole you can always substitute your favorite enchilada sauce. Just one bite of these enchiladas transported me back to that little Mexican restaurant that we remember so fondly. Make some memories of your own and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

2 extra large portobella mushroom caps, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teapoon cumin powder
About 4 tortillas (whole wheat, white, brown rice, etc.)
1 pint of mole or enchilada sauce (see note)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water, then the onions and peppers. Saute until light brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute before adding mushrooms. Continue to saute until mushrooms are brown and liquid has evaporated. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with mole or enchilada sauce. Fill enchiladas (about ¾ cup per tortilla), roll and place seam side down on top of sauce. Cover with remaining sauce. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Note: I used the Holy Mole Black Bean Soup recipe from Vegan Under Pressure cookbook, but you can use any sauce you like.

17 Feb 2016

Get Your Soup On: Chinese Vegetable Soup

Chinese Vegetable Soup

Chinese Vegetable Soup

In a previous post I promised to share an Asian adaptation of vegetable soup. Learning to cook without using a recipe is all about building on past experience and knowing what ingredients are interchangeable. For this soup I used my vegetable soup recipe as a starting point and used leeks instead of onions; bok choy instead of celery; Chinese cabbage instead of kale; added some soy sauce and sesame oil. Rather than chopping the vegetables in big chunks, I sliced the bok choy thinly and shredded the carrots and cabbage. For ease of preparation I used a rotary grater that my cousin, Angela, recommended to me a few months ago. (Savvy cooks run in my family.) I ladled the soup over Chinese chow mein noodles and floated a soy puff on top. If you get the chance to shop at an Asian market you might be delighted to see all of the different types of noodles that are available — noodles made from rice flour, wheat flour, potato flour and bean flour that come in all thicknesses and lengths. (I cut the noodles in half before cooking and we still had to use a spoon and a fork to twirl the noodles from our bowls.) You can make the same soup and change it up every week just by using a different noodle. And then you can always use rice instead of noodles. Better yet you can simmer some vegetable dumplings in the soup. This soup, with its finely prepped vegetables and lightly-flavored broth, is a delicate yet satisfying version of vegetable soup. Get your soup on and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Carrots, Leeks, Bok Choy, Garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Vegetable Soup

 Makes about 5 quarts

  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 extra large carrot, shredded
  • 6 to 8 oz. baby bok choy, thinly sliced (use stems and leaves)
  • 8 oz. Chinese cabbage, thickly shredded
  • 16 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (omit for fat free)
  • Optional: 4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon soup base to taste
  • Grain of choice (brown/white rice, orzo, noodles, quinoa etc.)

In a large sauce pot saute leeks, garlic, carrots and bok choy until lightly browned. Add water or broth and bouillon if using. Bring to boil, add cabbage and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Place noodles or grain of choice in soup bowl and ladle the soup into the bowl.

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28 Jan 2016

No-Chicken-In-Any-Pot Vegetable Soup

No-Chicken Vegetable SoupContrary to popular belief, the cliche “a chicken in every pot” did not originate in the United States during the Depression. In fact it is attributed to Henri IV (King of France from 1589 to 1610) who proclaimed, “I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” Apparently, our man Henri had no clue about the harmful effects of eating poultry (nor, most likely, meat and dairy) that he wanted even the poorest people to have chicken once a week. The need-to-eat-meat delusion goes so far back in civilization, no wonder it’s hard to convince people to make a break from meat and dairy products over 400 years later. Which leads me to today’s recipe for Vegetable Soup. I don’t remember a time in my life when we didn’t have chicken soup. It seems like someone was making it for dinner and it’s always been a standard menu option in American diners. With the recent blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on us, I thought a hot and healthy bowl of vegetable soup was in order. Onions, carrots, celery and pasta; the only ingredient missing was the chicken. No chicken? No problem; simply add a few teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base to your soup. If you don’t care for the taste of chicken or don’t have the soup base on hand, simply use either a home-made or store-bought vegetable broth. If you prefer a soup with a little more flavor, you can add some of the liquid from canned tomatoes. (I like to freeze the liquid anytime a recipe calls for drained tomatoes.) What’s great about this soup is that you don’t even need a recipe; you can use whatever vegetables you like or happen to have on hand. One of my aims is to show you how to become a better cook and this recipe gives you that opportunity. But this post is more than a recipe; it’s a method that you can adapt to make other soup creations. Later on in the week, I’ll be making an Asian-inspired version of this soup, so be sure to check back for that post. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

No-Chicken-in-Any-Pot Vegetable Soup

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • ½ lb. any type of greens (kale, spinach, chard, collards), chopped
  • 16 cups water or vegetable broth
  • Optional: Better Than Bouillon soup base to taste
  • Grain of choice (brown/white rice, orzo, noodles, quinoa etc.)

In large sauce pot, saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery until lightly browned using a few tablespoons of broth. Add the remaining water or broth and bouillon if using. Bring to boil, add greens and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Place grain of choice in soup bowl and ladle the soup into the bowl.

Notes:

You can use home-made vegetable broths. I make a variety of cooking broths with all types of vegetable trimmings (mushrooms, leeks,celery, carrots, anise) and I save the drained liquid from cans of diced tomatoes to add to home-made broth.

26 Jan 2016

Photo-chopped: Bok Choy Soup

Bok Choy Noodle Soup

Bok Choy Soup with Noodles

I recently started an on-line food photography course in the hopes of posting some beautiful pictures of my recipes. In the process, I’m becoming somewhat disenchanted with the whole concept of food photography. I follow a lot of food blogs and the photographs are gorgeous. The lighting casts just enough shadow. The background is blurred. The food is glistening. The image of steam is captured rising out of the pot. The setting is rustic-chic. Perhaps one element is purposely (and perfectly) out of place. Photoshopped? Maybe.  Perfect food. Perfect pictures. Perfect world. But not a real world. When I say that the heart of the home is in the kitchen I speak from a lifetime of cooking and enjoying food with my family. The dings in our pots were blackened from cooking; they were not “distressed”. We had our meals on everyday dishes. The serving bowls were not eclectic; they were mismatched but always the right size for whatever was served from them. Our forks and spoons were stainless, not antique silver picked up at a garage sale. And, yeah, we wiped our chins on paper napkins. We cooked. We ate. We cherished our time at the table. When I started Vegi-curious, my aim was to encourage others to explore the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. I want my food to be healthy and tasty and my recipes to be approachable. I would not want you to be discouraged to try one of my recipes for fear that your results wouldn’t look picture-perfect. After all, that would defeat the whole point of my blog. My personal goal may be to take better photographs, but the bigger picture is to show what real plant-based food is all about. So here’s my recipe for  Bok Choy Soup. The photos don’t do it justice, so I hope you try it and see for yourself. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Bok Choy Soup

Makes 2 to 4 servings

Sesame oil (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
2 heads of bok choy, stems slivered and greens chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Chinese hot mustard or Siracha sauce for serving (optional)
Rice or noodles*

Coat large stock pot with sesame oil and heat on medium-high heat. Lightly brown garlic and ginger. (You can omit the oil by adding water 2 tablespoons at a time.) Add bok choy and stir until it starts to wilt. Add remaining ingredients and cook until bok choy has reached desired tenderness. Ladle over rice or noodles.

*I used brown rice for one bowl and Canton noodles made with wheat flour for the other bowl. You could also use rice noodles.

29 Oct 2015

Lost & Found: Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Cauliflower Soup 008

Cauliflower has to be one of the most boring vegetables I’ve ever encountered. I do want to like it, but unless you batter and fry it, smother it in cheese sauce, or toss it into a sea of olive oil and garlic, it’s rather tasteless. Always on the lookout for an easy and tasty way to include cauliflower in my meal plan, I found a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup on one of the Facebook pages I follow and then I lost it. Luckily, I only had a school night Caramel Apple Martini last night, so I had some recall of what went into it and came up with my own recipe. I roasted the cauliflower with some whole garlic cloves, then simmered it with potatoes in vegetable stock. I stirred in a bit of nutritional yeast to give it a buttery essence. It was creamy with a mellow garlic flavor and delicious. I floated a slice of Italian toast with a smear of almond cheese for an added touch. I think I found my go-to cauliflower recipe and the timing’s just right. Cauliflower is in season now in a rainbow of colors, so pick some up at your local farmers market this week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

 Makes 4 servings

  •  Olive oil (optional)
  • 1 large head of cauliflower broken into small florets
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 large potato (about 10 oz.), cut into 1” cubes
  • 5 cups vegetable broth or Better Than Bouillon No Chicken soup base
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • Salt, pepper to taste

 

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400F. If using oil, toss cauliflower with oil. Spread out cauliflower and garlic on baking sheet, keeping garlic in a separate corner. When garlic starts to brown, remove to large sauce pot. Continue roasting cauliflower until browned. Reserve 1 cup of roasted cauliflower and add remainder to saucepot along with broth, potato and nutritional yeast. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Stir in reserved cauliflower.

14 Oct 2015

Shoulder Season Minestrone

MinestroneIn the tourism industry there is something called the shoulder season, which is an abbreviated season that falls between a high season and a low season. September is a good example of a shoulder season because it marks the end of summer vacation and the return to school and work. I like to think of gardening as having a shoulder season as well. At this time of year, you might be snipping off the last few zucchini, peppers and tomatoes and starting to harvest some potatoes, cabbages and cool-weather greens. This is the perfect time to make minestrone, an Italian soup that contains a wide variety of vegetables. It’s still light enough to enjoy on a warm September evening, yet hearty enough for a satisfying meal. My Shoulder Season Minestrone calls for canned tomatoes, but if you feel ambitious you can dice up about 1-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. The minestrone goes nicely with some crispy Italian bread and good company. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Shoulder Season Minestrone

  •  ½ lb. dry navy beans or 2 cans (15 oz. each) small white beans
  •  1 large onion, ½” dice
  • 1 large carrot, ½” dice
  • 1 celery stalk, ½” dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, ½ dice
  • ¼ lb. green beans, cut into ½” pieces
  • ¼ lb. boiling potatoes, cut into ¾” pieces
  • 4 cups chopped Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Soup Base (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquid. If using canned beans, drain and reserve liquid.

In large pot, saute onion using a small amount of olive oil or water. When onions are soft, add carrot, celery and garlic and saute until soft. Add zucchini, green beans and potatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add cabbage and kale and continue cooking until wilted. Add in diced tomatoes (including juice), water, soup base and liquid smoke. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree half of the beans in blender, then add to soup with the remaining beans and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Continue cooking, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

 

11 Sep 2015

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