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Chilled Broccoli Soup

Chilled Broccoli Soup

Chilled Broccoli Soup

I don’t usually like gazpacho, but this chilled soup is pretty delish and refreshing if I do say so.

The inspiration came from a Instagram post that I never found again, so I improvised as I usually do. A little leftovers and some fresh organic produce in season, voila a new creation is born! That’s my favorite way to cook. Here’s the recipe–

INGREDIENTS:

2 bunches of broccoli (washed and cut into med-small pieces, don’t discard the stems – steamed)

2 handfuls of baby spinach

homemade vegan pesto* – about 2-3 Tbs

white beans (canned ok, 1 can)

extra virgin olive oil

turmeric (1/4 tsp)

sea salt & black pepper

vidalia onion (1/8 of medium onion – sautéed)

coconut milk (in carton for drinking, not canned – 2 c)

filtered water (1 c)

coconut milk yogurt (plain, unsweetened – garnish on top with a scoop, to taste)

*Vegan Pesto

3-4 small cloves of garlic

small handful of fresh basil leaves, (I didn’t have enough for it to be officially pesto, but it was still excellent on gf pasta, and in this recipe. You can also add in parsley if you have available.)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (as needed)

1/4 c Daiya mozzarella “cheeze” (optional)

sea salt to taste (if you use the Daiya, you won’t need to salt much)

Blend in a food processor or blender, pulsed into a coarse meal first and then slowly add the EVOO and puree until like a spreadable paste.

DIRECTIONS FOR SOUP

Cut up the broccoli, including peeling the 2/3 of the two stalks (from florets down towards base) with a peeler and then slicing those into chunks. No need to waste these. Do discard the bottom 1/3 of the base, it’s more woody.

Slice up your vidalia onion, I like thin semi circles.

Steam the broccoli, and while it’s steaming, rinse the white beans until water runs clear. You don’t want to use straight from the can, they’ll be really gas producing, trust me. 😉

Start the sauté pan with a little EVOO (1-2 tbs), onions, pesto mixture, and add in your turmeric with a grind or two of black pepper to activate. Give a few stirs to spread it evenly and when the onions and become translucent and fragrant add in the white beans. Stir it all with a spatula. No need to cook this long, 3 mins beans until are nicely coated and warm.

By now the broccoli will be done as well, rinse under cool water for a brief moment to “shock” and stop the cooking, this keeps it nice and green. Put broccoli into your blender with the bean pesto mixture and pulse to blend a bit.

Add coconut milk, blend more.

Add handfuls of baby spinach last with water, and blend thoroughly.

S&P to taste, and top with coconut milk yogurt.

Bon appetite!

Not your Mama’s Pasta e fagioli

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It’s raining today so I thought I’d make a twist on pasta e fagioli. I always like a hearty soup when it’s inclement weather, don’t you? Of course it’s #glutenfree, and this one isn’t vegan, but it can be easily.

2-3 tomatoes roughly chopped

1 medium onion finely chopped

2-3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

pinch of rosemary, basil, savory, tumeric, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne

1/2 a large sweet red pepper roughly chopped

chicken broth 2 c

chick peas 3/4 can

lentils 1/8 c (I didn’t have many, you can add more, or other beans)

pasta (gluten free) – I used thin spirals of rice pasta, whatever small pasta you like – 1/2 a package

canned tomatoes 16 oz. (with liquid if you have whole canned tomatoes, if crushed version then add 1-2 c of water – as needed)

baby spinach – a few handfuls

Here’s the recipe —
Sauté onions in extra virgin olive oil with some yummy herbs and spices. I chose rosemary, basil, savory, turmeric, sea salt, cayenne and black pepper.

Next add in some fresh chopped tomatoes, and cook them down a bit.

Add your rough chopped red sweet peppers sauté some more, then some liquid. I would usually add whole canned tomatos with the liquid, squeezing the tomatoes so they’re lovingly squooshed and also chicken broth (or easily substitute veggie broth to keep it vegan). However, today I didn’t have the whole canned tomatoes, I had crushed, so I did just half the 32 oz. can, and then a 16 oz can of chicken broth. If you have your own homemade broth, even better.

Note: If you’re using dried beans, these should come before the pasta, I had some dried lentils which went in when it started boiling about 5 mins prior to the pasta.

Then the pasta, which can be whatever shape you like – best if it’s smaller pasta, I chose skinny spirals (GF).

After boiling for 8-10 mins I added my chickpeas which were canned, rinsed first. (Kidney beans or white northern beans ok here too).

Cook on a steady medium heat simmering for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Last I add some fresh leaves, today it was baby spinach, if the leaves are tougher, like a kale or swiss chard, you add them a bit sooner with your canned beans, or slice them very thinly before adding.

Remove from the heat and leave the lid on for a few minutes before serving. If you’re not vegan, parmasean cheese grated on top is traditional and crusty bread – gluten free folks can improvise here.

Bon appetite!

My Take On Borsht

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My take on borscht ~ With ages old Russian heritage on my side, my improvisation was pretty tasty if I do say so  myself.  It can be vegan or not, up to you.

Ingredients:

  • Onion – ½ medium yellow onion
  • Garlic – 2-3 cloves chopped
  • Celery – 2-3 stalks chopped
  • Olive oil – 2 tbs
  • Chicken broth (I do part broth and part h2O, or all water if vegan) 5 cups
  • Basil (dried ok) – ¼ tsp
  • Oregano (dried ok) ¼ tsp
  • Sea salt and pepper (a few grinds of each)
  • Beets (peel and chop into med. chunks) (about 3 small beets)
  • Carrots (peel and slice into med. chunks) (2 carrots)
  • Sweet potato (peel and chop into med. chunks) (1 potato)
  • Kale bunch of leaves, washed and sliced thinly
  • Cilantro bunch of leaves, separate from stems and chop
  • Parsley, bunch of leaves, separate from stems and chop
  • Lemon – optional (squeeze juice from half a lemon into soup before serving)

Directions:

Cook down the onion, garlic, and celery in some olive oil, when translucent stir in basil and oregano and heat for a moment before adding liquid.

Add water or chicken broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil.

Add chopped beets, carrots and sweet potato, and turn down heat to med-low.

Simmer for 30 mins. (check after 30 and if all root veggies are fork tender – add the kale and cilantro.)

Simmer for another 3-5 mins. Can serve with a squeeze of lemon and add parsley and a little more salt and pepper to taste.

Bon appétit! Or the Russian equivalent, Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnovo appetita!)

Miraculous Miso = Anti-Aging Power (Part 1)

I can remember my mom making me miso soup for breakfast when I was little. I didn’t eat cereal very often due to my allergy to dairy products. I think she was looking for ways to sneak in added calcium any way she could. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, this soup is eaten as breakfast in Japan as well.

WHAT IS IT?
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin, the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, with incredible immune system boosting, anti-cancer, and anti-aging health benefits.

I find that it is one of those fabulous cooking staple items that can be used in oh so many tasty ways. It can flavor sauces as a seasoning, be its own sauce, the base for a soup, make a nice salad dressing… it’s very versatile.

Miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan, and is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking. The taste is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory.

Miso soup is so easy that it is virtually impossible to mess up. It can be made with whatever seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, meat or seafood is at hand. Miso soup can be as light, (with just a few blocks of tofu and some green leafy vegetable or seaweed), or heavy which is almost like a stew.

The other good news is it skirts out of the soy controversy because it’s fermented. Just make sure it’s non-GMO soy, (genetically modified organism) is not healthy. Miso is very easy to purchase in little tubs in the refrigerated section at most regular grocery stores.

RECIPE
4 cups filtered water
1 strip of dried kombu* (*You can do with kombu, or without)
3 tbs miso (white is recommended to start, it’s light)
1-2 sprigs of green onion/scallion (chopped)
1/2 block of tofu cut into bite size cubes the size of dice (firm, non-GMO – also in the refrigerator area of most grocery stores)
1/2 cup wakame another seaweed (also optional, purchase from health food store or Japanese food shop)

I’m going to share both the traditional miso soup recipe first, and then a creative version I made (depicted below).
Dashi option – a kombu stock which serves as a basis for so much of Japanese cuisine, is loaded with glutamates, and infuses everything it touches with a savory deliciousness. Kombu (kelp) is low in calories and high in calcium, minerals and iodine. It can be found in most health food stores, or definitely any Japanese food shops.

*WITH KOMBU TO MAKE “DASHI” – The Broth Base for Traditional Miso Soup
Place the kombu (a seaweed) in the 4c water, and place on a burner set to medium. The longer the water takes to get to hot, the better. Watch the pot carefully, as the kombu should be taken out when it floats to the surface and before the water boils. You’ll notice little bubbles forming at the rim of the pot. After removing the kombu and just as the dashi starts boiling, take the pot off the heat.

Tip: As an alternative, you can also use powdered dashi as a shortcut. Many of Japan’s modern home cooks do! Powdered dashi comes in little foil packages, and has quite a strong flavor. Simply add the powder to anything you are cooking.

While you are making the dashi, (or bringing your plain water to a boil) – Soak ½ cup wakame in lukewarm water for 10 minutes. Rinse the reconstituted wakame, roughly chop it, and then add it, along with the tofu, to your 4 cups of hot (dashi, or) water.

Then take a 3 tbs. of your miso of choice and dissolve with just a tablespoon or 2 of the just heated dashi/or water in a bowl. Stir until it’s dissolved completely. You don’t want to boil miso, because it can kill the live beneficial microflora and enzymes.

Then add the tofu, wakame, and rest of the the boiled water (or dashi liquid) to the bowl with your dissolved miso. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serves 4

* * * *
The soup creation depicted below: I didn’t use dashi, nor did I use any of the above ingredients. I made a shitake mushroom broth from boiling some dried shitakes* for a few minutes, added it to the miso broth – no kombu this time – just red miso, which you use less of because it’s stronger tasting and more salty and pungent.

Then I added left overs: chopped broccoli (1/3-c blanched), baby peas (1/3-c blanched), an amazing super grain called quinoa (1/2-c already cooked), and a few cubes of an non-GMO soy cheeze (this is very mild and sweet tasting variety). Voila!

*Shitake mushrooms are packed with flavor but surprisingly low in calories, they also are high in fiber and vitamins B and D. While available fresh, the dried variety has a concentrated, rich mushroom flavor, and a little goes a long way.

You can use miso as the soup broth for many yummy combinations adding great nutrition, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan.