Meatless Monday – Pasta Fazool (Vegan)

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Cold and rainy (or snowy) days call for hearty and warm foods that warm you up from the inside out.  This savory pasta dish, which is a twist on an Italian favorite, Pasta Fazool, was a winner with my meat eating men.  Picture penne pasta and lentils swimming in a delicious hot broth, flavored with tomatoes, garlic, onions and the zing of red pepper flakes. I served each bowl with a pinch of parmesan and chopped parsley.  Plus its a One Pot Meal!

IMG_20190213_185034This is technically not Pasta Fazool, or pasta e fagiole, which means pasta with beans.  Lentils are actually a legume not a bean, so the technical name would be Pasta e Lenticchie which is way less fun to say and why I call it a twist on a classic.  You can make it more traditionally by using two cans of white beans, drained and added in place of the lentils, if you wish.  Both are delicious options.  Pasta Fazool is usually more soupy than your typical plate of pasta but it can be made as wet or dry as you wish.  To make it more of a soup, just add more water when you add the pasta or even more before serving if too much liquid has evaporated.  If you are using broth to start, adding more water shouldn’t diminish the flavor.

img_20190213_175453.jpgThe parmesan cheese is optional as a topping but I want to share a new vegan parmesan cheese that I find is just as good as the real thing.  I found myself eating slices of it while cooking.  I mean someone had to taste it. 🙂  This Just Like Parmesan by Violife contains no dairy, soy, gluten, lactose or nut products.  So what is it made from?  Well, mostly a combination of potato and rice starch, rice protein, coconut oil and sea salt, including Vitamin B12.  As Violife says, “Delizioso”!

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PASTA FAZOOL

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional) *Check out Violife Vegan Soy*

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  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft and transluscent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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  • Add the tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.

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  • Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.

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  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy, unless you prefer it more pasta-like.

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  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan, if desired.
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Pasta Fazool

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy.
  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan.

Meatless Monday -Winter Vegetable Soup (Vegan)

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I love winter soups and this one is no exception.  It manages to be hearty but light and very low calorie AND it happens to be delicious.  The combination of winter root vegetables, potatoes, carrots and turnips with creamy baby lima beans, also called butterbeans, is a winner.  The crispy fried sage on top is the bomb!  I know, you might think you don’t like lima beans but these petite ‘baby’ beans are delicate and creamy.  They don’t have the same tendency as the larger lima beans do to be mealy.  You may be surprised.  That said, you can use canellini beans and any root vegetables, if you prefer.

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As a Meatless Monday Blogger, I was lucky enough to have been gifted with 5 lbs of Green Baby Limas from Camellia Foods as part of the Food for Change movement sponsored by Slow Food USA. Camellia Brand Foods is a New Orleans based company that prides itself on its high quality and standards.  Their products are all non-GMO and gluten free. So, thank you Camellia Foods! All I had to do was come up with a recipe.  Well, half of my first pound became this lovely soup. I have four more pounds of Camillia Baby Lima Beans.  I will send or deliver to the first four readers who request a pound.

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Thank you also for Slow Food USA who spearheaded this project, Terra Madre Day.  (Which I missed because my delivery was late – better late than never). Check out their website to see more recipes using Camellia products by other bloggers or to learn more about them.  Here is a little taste:

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SLOW FOOD USA

Welcome to the table! We inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all. As the Slow Food movement grows, we stay true to these core values for all:

GOOD

  • Believe that delicious nutrition is a right for everyday life
  • Cultivate joyful connections to community and place
  • Advocate for diversity in ecosystems and societies

CLEAN

  • Protect natural resources for future generations
  • Help people and the environment depend on each other
  • Promote food that is local, seasonal, and sustainably grown

FAIR

  • Build local cooperation and global collaboration while respecting all laws
  • Require no prerequisite or credential for participation
  • Fight for dignity of labor from field to fork

Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food movement creating dramatic change in more than 160 countries. In the US, there are more than 150 local chapters and 6,000 members. Join us to connect the pleasures of the table with a commitment to the communities, cultures, knowledge, and environment that make this pleasure possible.

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So lets go back to the recipe at hand.  This is a very easy soup.  The beans can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a covered container for a day or so.  You can also make a whole pound and use half for soup and use the rest for salads or other dishes.  Baby lima beans are delicious sauteed with shallots and garlic in olive oil and make a wonderful side dish.

TIPS:  The fried sage is optional but I think its pretty tasty as a topping and it only takes a minute or two.

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WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or more for a brothy soup)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • 20181216_185509Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf

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  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.

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  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add thyme.

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  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.

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  • Add the vinegar, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Top with fried sage.

 

Vegettable Winter Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.
  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.
  • Add the vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time to taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Top with fried sage.

Meatless Monday – 16 Vegetarian Soups

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Thanksgiving is over but Soup Season has just begun. Brrr… Soup is the ultimate comfort food for cold, rainy or snowy days.  It’s hot, steamy goodness warms you up from the inside out. Click through for a collection of 16 of my favorite soups. Mmm, so good!  All soups are vegetarian or vegan (or easily adapted for vegans) and gluten and wheat free.  Since they are meat free, they are naturally low in calories but nutrient dense, so fill up your belly guilt free!  Each link will send you to the recipe and original blog post. Sharing is caring. -J

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan)

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Thai Red Curry Soup

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Hot and Sour Soup

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Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

Cauliflower Leek Soup2

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

Black Bean Soup1

Spicy Black Bean Soup

CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

Mushroom Barley Soup 1

Mushroom and Barley Soup with Cannelini Beans

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Fall Harvest Minestrone

Autumn Harvest Soup11

Butternut Squash and Potato Soup with Crispy Fried Sage

Black and White Chili

Black and White Chili with Garlic Toast

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup with Marinated Tofu Triangles

Butternut Squash Soup and Polenta Tower2

Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Towers

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

 

Meatless Monday -Thai Red Curry Soup

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So you might have noticed that I am still on a soup kick.  It may have something to do with the constant deluge of rain blown sideways by strong gusts of wind.  This soup, in particular, is designed to use winter veggies like sweet potato, squash and mushrooms with fresh ginger  in a deliciously spicy red curry, coconut milk broth. I added tofu for extra protein and millet, brown rice ramen noodles to make a pretty hearty meal in a bowl.

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I love the spicy but comforting flavors of this soup. It’s loaded with vegetables that make it a nutritional feast but also provide interest.  Each spoonful is a different culinary adventure, from the creaminess of the sweet potato, to the earthy mushrooms and the just tender bok choy all swimming in a yummy coconut curry broth.

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What really makes it though, is the garnishes of sliced red onion and fresh cilantro (or parsley if you’re not a cilantro lover), so don’t skip this step. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  Japanese eggplant would be a good choice.  Just keep in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook.

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TIPS: I used whole grain ramen noodles which I was trying for the first time.  They had a good flavor and texture but broke into small pieces which made it easier to eat but not quite as pretty as intended.  Rice vermicelli or spaghetti would hold it’s shape better.

This recipe calls for several Thai spices which are easy to find in my grocery stores. I’ll admit that the list of ingredients is pretty long but each adds an important flavor to the mix.  If you don’t have the ingredients or can’t be bothered to buy them, you may be lucky enough to find a curry soup base in your market.  Just add the fresh ingredients and you’re done.

Draining the tofu isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if you are pressed for time, since it’s going into a liquid base, but I prefer to squeeze out the water it was packed in to allow the flavors of the broth to be absorbed.  It makes the tofu more flavorful.

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THAI RED CURRY SOUP

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles (GF)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion

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  • Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more

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  • Add sweet potato, tofu and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.

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  • Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thai Red Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  1. Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more
  2. Add sweet potato and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.
  4. Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

 

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup (Vegan)

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You have heard that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.  Well, this yummy soup was a brainchild of a recent severe rainstorm, on a day we lost power for 4 or 5 hours due to heavy rain and high winds.  Our lights came back on around 6:30pm so I went around blowing out candles and then had to come up with something for dinner, now that I had no excuse not to cook.  I found a bag of frozen black eyed peas and a few veggies in my refrigerator.  Threw in a few canned items from my pantry and I ended up with a big pot of some pretty tasty hot soup.  I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t think those humble ingredients would amount to much.  Boy was I wrong!  The fire roasted tomatoes and peppers combined with cumin and enriched with a splash of Worcestershire sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos) add a savory and slightly spicy backdrop for the veggies.  Luckily for my family, I had to make it again just to take photos – such a hardship…

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Black eyed peas are not peas (which are actually seeds in a pod).  They are legumes (beans) and the seed we eat is called a pulse.  There you go, that was the vocabulary lesson for the day. Black Eyed Peas are a good source of protein (at 6.7 grams per half cup), fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, potassium, Vitamin A and Folate.  They are also low in fat and have zero cholesterol, making them an ideal food. They also have a mild flavor and firm texture which makes them a popular choice in soups and stews.

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Frozen black eyed peas are just fresh peas that have been frozen with no additives, so they are my preference if you can find them.  Occasionally, I am lucky enough to find them fresh in the produce section and consider it a great find. For those that live in areas where you can’t get good fresh produce year around, I recommend stocking your freezer with fresh frozen beans,  dark leafy greens and pre-cut veggies.  You won’t regret it, especially on nights where you are searching the kitchen for dinner ideas. Add whatever veggies you have on hand.  I used kale, zucchini, carrots and celery.

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TIPS: If you are using canned black eyed peas, drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup.  Just in case you’re wondering about that slimy liquid with them in the can, it is mostly water and salt  and/or calcium chloride (both of which are preservatives ) along with natural starch given off by the beans.  Some recipes call for the starchy liquid to thicken dishes but I usually rinse because I don’t care for the texture or the flavor which is sometimes metallic from being in the can. Those watching sodium in their diets will also benefit from rinsing the extra salt from the beans.

If you are using dried beans, I would recommend soaking one and a half cups of them overnight in cold water.  Drain and follow the recipe but increase cooking time to about an hour, or until beans are soft.

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SPICY BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

  • 32 oz bag frozen black eyed peas (or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 16 oz can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 4 oz can fire roasted green peppers
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup lacinato kale, stems removed and thinly sliced

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  • Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until softened (about 5 minutes)

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  • Pour in vegetable broth and add all remaining ingredients, except zucchini and kale.  I recommend adding 1 can of peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon of your chosen sauce to begin. Simmer about 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water, if necessary.

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  • Taste broth and add cumin, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. If you want more zing, add another can of fire roasted peppers.  Stir in zucchini and kale and cook another 5 minutes.

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  • Serve with crusty bread or a fresh green salad.

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 32 oz bag frozen black eyed peas (or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 16 oz can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 4 oz can fire roasted green peppers
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup lacinato kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
  1. Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until softened (about 5 minutes)
  2. Pour in vegetable broth and add all remaining ingredients, except zucchini and kale.  I recommend adding 1 can of peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon of your chosen sauce to begin. Simmer about 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water, if necessary
  3. Taste broth and add cumin, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. If you want more zing, add another can of fire roasted peppers.  Stir in zucchini and kale and cook another 5 minutes.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Hot and Sour Soup

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If hot soup equals a warm belly, what about hot soup that is also hot-spicy? As you can see, I’m still on my hot soup bender – and judging by the forecast for seven days of rain next week, it’s not ending any time soon. My husband is in bed with the sniffles so I decided that Hot and Sour Soup would be the perfect antidote. I am a true believer in the medicinal power of soup.  I used to rely on chicken soup but now I’m looking for vegetarian options and it looks like this one will do the trick.  Hot and Sour Soup contains anti inflammatory aromatics, like red chile and ginger, lending some truth to the old saying, that ‘soup is medicine in a bowl.’

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This soup has all the healing properties you need to fight infections, help digestion and boost both your immune system and your metabolism.  It’s also a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. The soup’s warm and silky texture feels great on a sore throat, and its hot and sour flavors help clear a stuffy nose and sweat out toxins. Plus the combination of mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots swimming in a flavorful broth that tickles your tastebuds is reason enough to enjoy this satisfying dish.

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Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.org

 

Here’s your fun fact of the day:  Bamboo Shoots are not just an empty filler only found in Chinese food.  They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals, especially copper and iron which are used to produce red blood cells and potassium, important for healthy heart and blood pressure. They also contain 2.5 grams of protein per 100 g serving for the low price of 27 calories. Not bad for such an innocuous little veggie…  The photo above is of a young bamboo shoot just peeking above the ground.  I decided to look it up because I didn’t know what they look like in nature.  You’re welcome.

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I have made this soup once before but this time I’m perfecting it.  It is based on a Tyler Florence recipe which I veganized and added a bit more spice (because I love it). Here is the original Food Network Recipe which was my inspiration. Don’t forget to try a few drops of sesame oil on the top. Mmmm…

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TIPS:  Most Hot and Sour recipes call for Chinese mushrooms like wood ear or cloud ear which are easier to find dried than fresh.  However, any kind of mushroom can be used.  I used a combination of fresh criminy and maitake which provides good flavor and texture. If you use dried mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about a half hour to reconstitute, then slice.  The scallions, cilantro and sesame oil are optional garnishes but I think they add a lot.  I liked the sesame oil so much that next time I may add it right to the pot.

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HOT AND SOUR SOUP

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (optional)
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)

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  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.

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  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.

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  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.

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  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.

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  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.

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  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20161215_183530

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.
  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.
  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.
  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan)

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Calling all mushroom lovers!  My husband declared this the BEST MUSHROOM SOUP HE’S EVER HAD – and I have to agree with him.  I have had some pretty delicious mushroom soups in restaurants but I think this one, stocked with a blend of earthy mushrooms and a rich and creamy base, beats them all.  Best of all it is very easy, ready in less than 30 minutes and requires few ingredients.  It’s vegan too! Many soups are made delicious by adding thick creamy ingredients that add fat and cholesterol and actually mask the natural flavors of the main ingredients.  I substituted the traditional heavy cream with almond milk and veggie broth, thickened with a bit of flour, which really cuts calories without losing flavor.  This soup was wonderful served immediately after cooking, but the small bowl that was leftover that I ate for lunch a couple of days later was even better.  So this is a great soup to make a day or two ahead and reheat when needed.  What could be easier? For other soup ideas, check out last week’s blog post, 12 Vegetarian Winter Soups.

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The stars of this soup are the mushrooms, so choose your favorites but make sure they are good quality. I love a combination of mushrooms to deepen the flavor and add texture.  I prefer brown criminy mushrooms over white mushrooms, also called button mushrooms, since I think they are more flavorful but how do they compare from a nutritional standpoint? White button mushrooms have more vitamin C and slightly more iron but criminy mushrooms are the clear mineral winner.  Criminy mushrooms have twice as much calcium and significantly more potassium and selenium than white mushrooms.  The two mushroom varieties contain similar amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. Surprisingly, white mushrooms contain slightly more fiber and protein than criminis, although criminis are slightly lower in fat, however they are both extremely low in fat.(Livestrong) So nutritionally speaking, it’s really a toss up, so go with your tastebuds or better yet, use a combination for the ultimate in flavor and nutrition.

TIPS: I have provided substitutions in this recipe for gluten free people.  For more information on gluten free thickening agents, check out this article from SF Gate.  I would like to offer one word of caution for those who are not used to cooking with almond milk, make sure you buy unsweetened, not original flavor, or your soup stock will have an underlying sweetness that is hard to cover up.

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CREAMY MUSHROOM SOUP

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil, butter or vegan butter ( like half oil half butter)
  • 1 carton criminy or brown mushrooms (about 10 oz or 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 carton Portobello mushrooms (2 large or 10 small)
  • 1 generous Tbsn flour (or cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca flour for GF)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Saute onion in olive oil or butter in a large soup pot until translucent.

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  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel.  Don’t rinse or they will get soggy.  Cut smaller mushrooms in half and slice larger mushrooms. Really large Portobello slices might need to be cut in half.

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  • Add mushrooms to onion mixture and saute about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to lose their water.

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  • Stir in flour until absorbed by the juices and add thyme.  Let cook several minutes.  If you like really thick soups, add another tablespoon of flour.

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  • Add vegetable broth, soy sauce and 1 cup almond milk and stir to combine.  If you want it creamier, add the remaining almond milk.Cook about 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally until soup thickens and flavors develop.   If your soup is not as thick as you would like, dissolve another tablespoon of flour in a quarter cup of water, stir in and allow to simmer. Taste (as broths can vary in saltiness) and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Serve hot with a sprig of fresh thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil, butter or vegan butter
  • 1 carton criminy or brown mushrooms (about 10 oz or 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 carton Portobello mushrooms (2 large or 10 small)
  • 1 generous Tbsn flour (cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca flour for GF)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute onion in olive oil or butter in a large soup pot until translucent.
  2. Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel.  Don’t rinse or they will get soggy.  Cut smaller mushrooms in half and slice larger mushrooms. Large Portobello slices might need to be cut in half.
  3. Add mushrooms to onion mixture and saute about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to lose their water.
  4. Stir in flour until absorbed by the juices and add thyme.  Let cook several minutes
  5. Add vegetable broth and 1 cup almond milk and stir to combine.  If you want it creamier, add the remaining almond milk.
  6. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally until soup thickens and flavors develop. If your soup is not as thick as you would like, dissolve another tablespoon of flour in a quarter cup of water, stir in and allow to simmer 10 more minutes. Taste (as broths can vary in saltiness) and add salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Serve hot with a sprig of fresh thyme

 

12 Vegetarian Winter Soups

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picmonkey-collage-1 SOUP GLORIOUS SOUP! Soup is the ultimate comfort food for cold, rainy or snowy days.  It’s hot, steamy goodness warms you up from the inside out. As promised, here is a collection of twelve of my favorite soups. Mmm, so good!  All soups are vegetarian or vegan (or easily adapted for vegans) and gluten and wheat free.  Since they are meat free, they are naturally low in calories but nutrient dense, so dig in!  Each link will send you to the recipe and original blog post. Sharing is caring. -J

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Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

Cauliflower Leek Soup2

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

Black Bean Soup1

Spicy Black Bean Soup

CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

Mushroom Barley Soup 1

Mushroom and Barley Soup with Cannelini Beans

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Fall Harvest Minestrone

Autumn Harvest Soup11

Butternut Squash and Potato Soup with Crispy Fried Sage

Black and White Chili

Black and White Chili with Garlic Toast

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup with Marinated Tofu Triangles

Butternut Squash Soup and Polenta Tower2

Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Towers

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

 

Meatless Monday – Fall Harvest Minestrone

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It’s been raining outside, so… soup.  I actually could have called this ‘Stone Soup’ from the old children’s fable, because it’s less of a recipe than a gathering of what was readily available from my pantry; like the last of the tomatoes and zucchini from the garden paired with root vegetables and winter squash.  I know several people, like me, who hastily gathered the last of summer’s bounty from our gardens before the season’s first storm hit. This minestrone is a broth based soup so it isn’t heavy but it is hearty and filling with the addition of potato, butternut squash and cannellini beans.

20161015_125926 Fall is a fabulous time for food. It’s a collision of the best of summer and the emergence of hard squashes and root vegetables.  This broth based soup is relatively low in calories, cholesterol and fat but still densely nutritious. Cannellini beans add protein, calcium and iron.  Butternut squash is an excellent provider of Vitamin A and potatoes (wrongfully maligned) is a surprisingly good source of Vitamin C.  The more vegetables you include in your soup will result in a better array of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.  However, the best thing about soup is that it just makes you feel good and warm inside.

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TIPS: Canned tomatoes make an easy shortcut but if you are trying to use up fresh tomatoes, you can just dice them to make about 2 cups.  If you don’t like tomato skins, just blanch the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute or until you see the skin split.  Then they are easy to peel, seed and dice. Feel free to use whatever fresh vegetables that are available. Try substituting other root vegetables or various types of squash. The more colors you see, the better.

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HARVEST MINESTRONE

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into half circles
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

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  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.

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  • Add broth, potatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.

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  • Add squashes, tomatoes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10-15 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Harvest Minestrone

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.
  • Add broth, potatoes, tomatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Add squashes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10=15 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Crab Bisque with Sherry

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Recipes are back – and this bowl of velvety goodness is ready in less than 30 minutes!! You may have noticed that I had gone radio silent, but since mid summer I’ve been in Techno-Hell. I knew I was in trouble in July when I heard my cell phone buzzing and read the message “DELETING”…  Six days later, my computer was hacked and I lost several blog posts which were in progress, including homemade tomato sauce, pickles and making cauliflower breadsticks among others. ( I had just spent three weeks picking everything in my garden and having fun with my canner.)

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Then my cell phone provider forced an update which torched my new phone and the two subsequent phone(s) wiped themselves clean three times; no photos, no contacts and no apps, just empty phones.  As a result, Goodmotherdiet has been on a sort of forced ‘vacation’ while I worked on rebuilding my  contacts and recreating some of the lost recipes. More soon…

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I created this recipe for Crab Bisque this summer while I was in Maine. (Yes, it was one that was deleted) My friend, Kerry, opened a bottle of chardonnay that had caramelized and she asked me to come up with a recipe to use it up.  I thought the ‘aged’ wine tasted quite a bit like sherry, so I developed this recipe for Crab Bisque with Sherry, but this might be a good time to use a wine you have that has gone over the top. (Just taste it first).  I also had the further restriction that my husband dislikes food made with heavy cream, so I used a combination of coconut milk and fish stock with surprisingly good results. As a bonus, coconut milk is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free and dairy free which is a great alternative. Best of all, this recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes but only gets better as it sits and the flavors meld.  It’s also good the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

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Tips:  Bisques are known for their rich, creamy and smooth texture, so I pureed the shallots in my food processor before sauteeing.  If you prefer a chunkier soup, skip this step and mince or chop the shallots with a sharp knife. Fresh crabmeat is always wonderful, however, if you can’t find it frozen or refrigerated lump crabmeat is a decent option for soup and it is much easier than cracking and deshelling fresh crab.

Old Bay is a ubiquitous seasoning, especially in the South.  It is readily available in most supermarkets, however, if you don’t have it in your pantry, try substituting celery salt, red and black pepper and paprika.

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CRAB BISQUE WITH SHERRY

  • 3 Tbsn butter or vegan butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 3 Tbsn flour or potato starch (optional thickener)
  • 4 cups fish, clam or veggie stock (2 cans)
  • 2 cans regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay spice
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen lump crabmeat
  • 1⁄2 cup dry sherry (plus more for drizzling)
  • parsley (for garnish)

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  • Puree shallots until fine (for a smooth soup)

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  • In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

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  • Stir in flour until smooth but don’t let it burn

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  • Pour in the stock, coconut milk and Old Bay seasoning and bring to a simmer.

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  • Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat and the sherry. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Don’t let it boil) Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay, parsley and a drizzle of sherry . Serve immediately.

Crab Bisque with Sherry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 3 Tbsn butter or vegan butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 3 Tbsn flour or potato starch (optional)
  • 5 cups fish, clam or veggie stock
  • 2 cans regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay spice
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen lump crabmeat
  • 1⁄2 cup dry sherry (plus more for drizzling)
  • parsley (for garnish)

 

  1. Puree shallots until fine (for a smooth soup)
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour until smooth but don’t let it burn
  4. Pour in the stock, coconut milk and Old Bay seasoning and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat and the sherry. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Don’t let it boil)
  6. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay, parsley and a drizzle of sherry . Serve immediately.

Meatless Monday – Minestrone Verde with Spring Vegetables

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This mostly ‘green’ soup is like Spring in a bowl. Dark leafy dino kale, sweet sugar snap peas and cannelini beans are all nestled in a tasty leek infused broth.  Topped with a lemony pistachio pesto, salty shaved parmesan and red pepper flakes, this is one flavor packed bowl.  Did I say Ready in less than 30 Minutes?  I love eating with the seasons when vegetables are at their peak in freshness, nutritional value and flavor. Usually when vegetables are so abundant, they are also the cheapest. For the greatest freshness look for foods that are locally grown and preferably organic.

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Did you know that fruits and vegetables are still  ‘alive’ and continue to breathe after picking through a process called respiration, which leads to a loss of nutrients the longer it takes for them to be transported and sold.  In addition, fruits and vegetables have a higher nutritional value when they are picked ripe, as opposed to picking them before they are ripe and letting them ripen later (for shipping purposes), except for certain crops like tomatoes.  They might get to the right color and ripeness but won’t reach their highest nutritional levels, so buying local is the best bet if you can. Or sometimes, frozen is the best choice since they are picked ripe and frozen right away. (Livestrong)

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I made this minestrone twice this week.  The first time I made it, my husband went back for fourths and my 21 year old son ate all the leftovers.  It was such a disappointment to find the empty container the next morning.  Darn, no free lunch…  So I decided to make it again a few days later for a casual dinner party I hosted for eight women, but this time I doubled the recipe.  I was afraid of overcooking the vegetables while waiting for everyone to arrive and giving them all a chance to have cocktails with the chickens (yes, that is a thing when you have chickens).  So I prepared the soup base, added the cannelini beans and turned the burner off.  Once the soup was only warm and not hot, I added the veggies and let it sit until just before we were ready to eat.  By the time it heated back up, the veggies were the perfect crisp tender.  Of course, the fun part is allowing your guests to ‘decorate’ their own bowls with the delicious pesto, shaved parmesan and red pepper flakes.  The bread can also be toasted ahead of time as it is fine at room temperature.

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This soup gets much of it’s flavor from a good vegetable broth that is poured over sauteed onions, celery and leeks. Italians call this sauteed vegetable mixture soffrito, which is the foundation on which many Italian sauces, and other dishes are built.  Traditional ingredients were lard and finely chopped parsley and onion, but modern cooks substitute olive oil or butter. Garlic, celery, or carrot may be included.  Italian cooks often make a big batch of soffrito and save it to use in various recipes.  Soffrito can be made 3 days ahead. Let it cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 1 month

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TIPS: Leeks are a delicious addition to soups but can harbor dirt between it’s many layers which will make your soup stock gritty.  The easiest way to clean them is to cut off the stem and the dark green end, then slice in half vertically.  Run each half under running water fanning the layers like a deck of cards to rinse out any dirt.  Then chop into one quarter inch pieces.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM SPRING MINESTRONE VERDE FROM BON APPETIT, MAY 2016

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SPRING MINISTRONE VERDE

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups vegetarian broth or water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, sliced in half crosswise
  • ½ bunch small Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shaved Parmesan (optional)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pesto (recipe below)
  • 4 ¾-inch-thick slices country-style bread, toasted

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  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onions, leeks, and celery, stirring often, until soft but not browned, 6–8 minutes.

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  • Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer

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  • Remove the tough rib from the kale and roughly chop leaves.

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  • Destring snow peas and cut in half

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  • Place slices of bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Spray or brush with olive oil and broil until golden brown.  Turn and repeat on the other side.

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  • Add beans and sugar snap peas; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

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  • Add kale and peas and cook until kale is wilted and peas are tender, about 3 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.

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  •  Serve soup, topped with pesto, parmesan and red pepper flakes, with toast and pesto.

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PESTO

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  • 2 tablespoons pistachios (pumpkin seeds or pine nuts)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 cup (packed) basil leaves
  • 1 cup (packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
  • cup olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

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  • Pulse pistachios in a food processor.  Add garlic, basil, parsley, and ⅓ cup oil in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and remaining ⅓ cup oil; season with salt and pepper, if needed.

 

Minestrone Verde with Spring Vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups vegetarian broth or water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, sliced in half crosswise
  • ½ bunch small Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Thinly shaved Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
  • Pesto (recipe below)
  • 4 ¾-inch-thick slices country-style bread, toasted

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onions, leeks, and celery, stirring often, until soft but not browned, 6–8 minutes.
  • Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer
  • Place slices of bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Spray or brush with olive oil and broil until golden brown.  Turn and repeat on the other side.
  • Add sugar snap peas; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add kale, beans, and peas and cook until kale is wilted and peas are tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  •  Serve soup, topped with pesto, parmesan and red pepper flakes, with toast and pesto.

PESTO

  • 2 tablespoons pistachios (pumpkin seeds or pine nuts)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 cup (packed) basil leaves
  • 1 cup (packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
  • cup olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Pulse pistachios in a food processor.  Add garlic, basil, parsley, and ⅓ cup oil in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and remaining ⅓ cup oil; season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Meatless Monday – Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

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The cold, wet sideways rain is back, so you know what that means…SOUP! I know yesterday was the first day of spring but you certainly wouldn’t know it by looking out the window.  A nice hot bowl of tummy warming soup is just what the doctor ordered for fending off nasty weather, and the sniffles that come along with it, especially a hearty one like this that is loaded with cannelini beans, butternut squash, carrots, potatoes and kale, and of course some crusty bread for dipping.  Mmmm…. Almost makes the wet weather worth it; almost.  I’m sure our water department is doing cartwheels though and my garden is loving it.

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This is one meal where every ingredient adds more goodness; vitamins, minerals, fiber, flavor, color, texture.  You get the picture.  Together they are deliciously yummy and you can taste the healthy.  I was actually looking for a recipe that called for kale since I still have loads of kale from my winter garden which will soon get re-planted for spring.  Since I’ve been picking away at these poor plants all season, they are getting quite tall.  It’s almost time to plant tomatoes and peppers, my garden favorites!

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I spotted this recipe from Saveur and loved the combination of veggies, but I didn’t really know what made it Tuscan (other than the region, Tuscany), so enter smart phone. I googled it.  In response to my typed in question, “What is Tuscan Cuisine?”, The Examiner claims the word Tuscan as a description for food is way overused and often a marketing ploy. Tuscany is the land of simple and honest flavors with cooking that might be heartier than much of the rest of the country. Soffrito, a mixture of chopped celery, onions, garlic, peppers and herbs sautéed in olive oil, is used as a base for soups and sauces and beans are a big part of the diet. Tuscans don’t eat as much pasta as other Italians. So there you have it, Tuscan Bean Soup it is.  I did adapt the recipe to make it fewer steps and a faster cooking time but feel free to check out the original by clicking on the link above.

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TIPS: I love foods with real ingredients, even if that means peeling, scrubbing or chopping.  Oh, I have been known to pick up already cut up butternut squash (like I did today) because butternut squash can be a pain to peel and deseed, and I love shortcuts just like everyone else.  You can even buy a mixture of pre-cut carrots, celery and onions in some stores if you’re in a real hurry, but I usually draw the line there.  You can also substitute any other kind of squash and if you’re tired of kale, use spinach or a mixture of power greens.

I used canned cannellini beans because I didn’t know I was going to make Tuscan Bean Soup last night so I didn’t think to soak my beans overnight.  If you want to use dried beans, soak them overnight in water and then cook them with some of the bean water with the onions, celery and carrots for 30 – 40 minutes.  This soup is thickened by blending about a quarter of the soup (before adding the kale).  If you like a brothy soup, skip this step.  If you like a thicker soup puree a third to a half of the soup.

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TUSCAN BEAN SOUP WITH SQUASH AND KALE

2 cans cannellini beans
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
12 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
5 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic
medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes (about 2 cups)
4 large kale leaves, preferably
 lacinato, stemmed and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 tsp. thyme
8 thick slices country-style bread
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  • Saute onions, celery and carrots in 1/4 cup olive oil until onions are translucent.

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  • Add broth, thyme, potatoes and squash and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft.

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  • Add beans and stir to combine.

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  • Scoop out about 2 cups of soup mixture and puree until smooth.

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  • Return the pureed mixture back into the soup and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

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  • Add kale and simmer 5 to 10 minutes

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  • Slice bread and brush with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper. Broil about five minutes, turning halfway through.

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  • To serve, place 1 to 2 pieces toasted bread in the bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle soup with olive oil or a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

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  • Or be a purist and serve soup plain.

Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cans cannellini beans
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
12 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
5 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic
medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes (about 2 cups)
4 large kale leaves, preferably
 lacinato, stemmed and chopped (or spinach)
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 tsp. thyme
8 thick slices country-style bread
  • Saute onions, celery and carrots in 1.4 cup olive oil until onions are translucent.
  • Add broth, thyme, potatoes and squash and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft.
  • Scoop out about 2 cups of soup mixture and puree until smooth.
  • Return the pureed mixture back into the soup and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Add kale and simmer 5 to 10 minutes
  • Slice bread and brush with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper. Broil about five minutes, turning halfway through.
  • To serve, place 1 to 2 pieces toasted bread in the bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle soup with olive oil or a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

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The Japanese have known the health benefits of miso and scallions and have used miso soup to cure the common cold since ancient times, kind of like a vegetarian version of homemade chicken soup. We have all had miso soup in Japanese restaurants, that savory broth with tiny cubes of tofu and thinly sliced scallions  floating on top. Usually, in restaurants we consider it as a small starter before the main courses arrive but in Japan miso soup is a staple and eaten for breakfast and throughout the day loaded with eggs, fish and other garnishes.  So I figure that they must be onto a good thing and decided to create a miso soup that is simple to make but worthy of being a main course for lunch or dinner, and I came up with this Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl. For more on using miso soup to cure the common cold check out this article:  Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

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It is delicious and satisfying and can be made spicy or mild depending on tastes.  I simmered bok choy, carrots, snow peas and cubes of tofu in miso broth and then served them over rice noodles.  I offered a selection of garnishes which, in my opinion, really makes the dish.   Not surprisingly, everyone’s noodle bowl looked different.

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What is miso anyway?  Miso is a Japanese word that means “fermented beans”, which are almost always soybeans, although other grains can be added to achieve certain flavors, resulting in many different varieties of miso available.  I used a white miso, which is lighter in color and milder in flavor, however any kind of miso will work just as well.  Miso is a good source of fiber and protein and a great way to increase your nutrient intake while you think you are just adding flavor.  In fact, adding  two tablespoons of miso to a soup or stir-fry, is the equivalent of approximately one-quarter cup of a legume(like lentils).  Miso is also  a very good source of copper, manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It also has naturally occurring pro-biotics, those beneficial bacteria that are so good for our bellies.

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TIPS:  Making miso broth is easy but you can also find miso broths already prepared or in dried form that are pretty tasty too.  When purchasing both tofu and miso, make sure they are labelled organic since a wide majority (90% in the U.S.) of soy based products are made from genetically modified soybeans, those dasterdly GMO’s which are to be avoided at all costs. Miso is generally simmered on medium or medium low to prevent the loss of nutrients, so don’t let your soup boil! One last tip, noodles tend to get soft and mushy if left sitting in broth, so add them to the broth just before serving.

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GINGER MISO TOFU NOODLE BOWL

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

 

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.

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  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls

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  • Prepare all soup ingredients. Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.

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  • Prepare all toppings.

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  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan. On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes.  Don’t let it boil or some of the nutrients in the miso will be lost.

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  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.

 

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  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160122_135925

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.
  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls
  • Prepare all soup ingredients and toppings.
  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan.
  • On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes
  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.
  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

Wheatless Wednesday – Collard & Black Eyed Pea Soup

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How about a bowl of comfort?  It’s chilly outside, so we’re making soup; healthy, yummy goodness in a bowl.  I am making this soup for lunch today and the house smells heavenly.   Last night was a stormy and today is another dreary and rainy day in California.  It just doesn’t stop raining.  Can I call the dought over yet?  Our cup streets literally runneth over.   At least my delicious soup is warming me up from the inside out.   I already feel it warding off my seasonal sniffles…

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I don’t see fresh black eyed peas very often so when I do I get very excited as they are so delicious, nothing like their canned counterparts and I have to admit that I don’t often think ahead to soak dried beans overnight (although both of those options will work too).  Black eyed peas are not really peas.  They are beans and high in fiber and protein, and good sources of iron and potassium.  They are also delicious and a personal favorite. Then I spotted these giant collard leaves and the rest is history.

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I have often heard that the pairing of black eyed peas and collard is a natural fit, at least it is so in the South, so decided to give it a go.  Now, I can see why.  I have never used collard greens before, although last year my friend, Kerri begged me for collard recipes because she kept getting collards in her CSA box. Apparently, collard greens are more plentiful in Virginia than they are here. Well here you go Kerri, a year later.  I’m not sure what took me so long.  Collard greens are loaded with nutrition, add more fiber, protein and iron plus a whole slew of other nutrients.  Plus, they are great in this soup.  If you don’t have (or don’t like) collard greens, you can substitute kale or chard.

TIPS:  Black eyed peas are available fresh, frozen, canned or dried.  I have included cooking directions for each type.  For frozen peas, thaw and use as fresh.

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COLLARD AND BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.

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  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.

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  • Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.

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  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.

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  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.

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  • Serve hot.

Collard and Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160106_101124

11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.
  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.
  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.
  • Serve with shredded or flaked parmesan, if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – 5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

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Brrr…It’s cold outside.  Warm up with this easy and delicious hot soup.  With only 5 ingredients, including pumpkin from a can, this tasty vegan soup is ready in less than 10 minutes.  (Deborah, this one is for you!) With a bit of spice from red curry paste, this soup will delight your tastebuds and warm you from your head to your toes.  Best of all, the recipe is so quick and easy, making it a great last minute throw together meal with items straight from your pantry. It just tastes like it’s been bubbling away on the stove all day.  Just add crusty bread or a salad and dinner is ready. Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table STAT or it’s going to be takeout again…This is a recipe I spotted on Foodie Crush which is a great source of foodie inspiration so check out her site, but I think the original recipe is from “The Instant Cook”‘ by Donna Hay.

We know that using canned pumpkin is a time saver and allows us to use pumpkin all year around and not just in the Fall/Winter when it is in season, but is canned pumpkin as healthful as fresh?  It actually appears that it does have some other  benefits than just being convenient.  ‘Canned pumpkin has a concentrated density so has more calories per serving than fresh pumpkin and higher amounts of several essential nutrients. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 40 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of protein, according to the University of Illinois. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 17,500 international unites of vitamin A, almost twice the amount one-half cup of fresh pumpkin provides. This serving also includes 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 40 milligrams of calcium and 2 milligrams of iron. Canned pumpkin offers more fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium and iron than fresh, boiled pumpkin.’ (Jillian Michaels) Some cooks actually prefer canned pumpkin to fresh, especially in baking, probably due to it’s density of nutrients and thicker, less watery consistency.

So don’t feel like a deadbeat cook for using canned or boxed pumpkin.  Just think of yourself as making smart choices, but do make sure you buy organic canned pumpkin that does not contain any salt, spices or ingredients other than pumpkin. The label should indicate that it is organic pumpkin with nothing added, especially pumpkin pie spice and/or sugar.

TIPS:   If you are a purist and prefer to use a fresh pumpkin instead of the canned variety, choose a 2-3 pound pumpkin, peel, seed and chop it and simmer in veggie broth or water for about 5-10 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender until smooth then return to the pan.OR you can cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it until soft. Remove the skin, then puree it. Continue the recipe at the coconut milk stage. To add more protein, add chunks of tofu, toasted pumpkin seeds or cooked quinoa and cook until warmed through.

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5 INGREDIENT THAI PUMPKIN SOUP

2 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
1 large red chili pepper, sliced

cilantro for garnish (optional)

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.

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  • Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

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5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20151203_104354

  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
  • 2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
  • 1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
  • 1 large red chili pepper, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.
  2. Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.