Wednesday, 01 February 2017 00:00

Before I try a new recipe, I always "comparison shop" online. Most of the time this is because I can't eat potatoes, so I end up subbing cauliflower or squash, or otherwise amending the recipe. It's also because my partner appreciates spicier food, and recipes online tend to be milder in flavor. And sometimes, I just don't have the ingredients, and I'm too lazy to make a trip to the grocery store.

Usually, the recipe I end up making is a mashup of all the ones I read on the web, and they always turn out pretty good. This one is no different, but it's also probably the easiest recipe I've ever mashed up.

Ingredients
1 small butternut squash
1 medium onion
2–3 carrots
1 apple
3–4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mild curry powder (or to taste)
1 tsp ground ginger (or to taste)
3 cups vegetable broth (less if you like thicker soup)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Method
1. Dice the squash, onion, apple, and carrots into equally-sized chunks. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with curry powder and ginger, and roast at 425 °F for about 30 minutes (or until the squash is tender when poked with a fork).

2. Let the roasted fruit and veggies cool a bit. Peel the garlic, and put everything into a food processor along with a little of the vegetable broth.

3. Add the puréed vegetables to the remaining vegetable broth, and simmer for 10–15 minutes. While it warms, add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy!

Note: You could also add a little cream or plain yogurt to the bowls when serving. A little paprika would be nice, too.

Winter's here, and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon! What's your favorite easy soup recipe? 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 00:00

Sometimes, making takeout at home is actually faster than going out to get it. This recipe for Thai soup is super easy. Better yet, it's super fast: it comes together in about 30 minutes. I buy my curry paste at a Thai grocery store a few minutes from my house. I have a word of caution about using authentic curry pastes: they can be very spicy. So, depending on the kind of curry paste you use and your spiciness preference, you may want to adjust the amount called for.


Ingredients

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced (about a cup)

1 red bell pepper, diced (about a half cup)

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

2 twelve-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk

4 cups vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts


Instructions

Cook the rice according to its package instructions, then set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Next, add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper to the pot. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally (about 3–4 minutes). Add the ginger and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). Next, mix in the curry paste until well combined; a whisk works really well for this. Stir in the coconut milk and vegetable stock gradually, and cook until incorporated (about 1–2 minutes). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened (about 8–10 minutes). Once thickened, stir in the cooked rice and the lime juice. Serve immediately. Top each bowl with a pinch of cilantro and peanuts. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 00:00

We're spending the holidays housesitting in British Columbia, where it has already snowed twice in the past week. This kind of cold weather makes me crave soup! 

Even after all those exotic meals we've enjoyed in other countries, I've found that sometimes the dishes with the simplest ingredients make the best meals. (They're also much easier on our travel budget.)

This vegetable soup is inexpensive, protein- and vitamin-packed, and pretty effortless. It also makes enough for at least eight servings, and freezes well.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 large white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp. each dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano*

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 package frozen spinach

2 cans white beans, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

*Play around with the spices—1 tbsp each is conservative; I ended up adding another full tablespoon of basil and a bit more oregano.

Directions

Sauté carrots, celery and onion in olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes and spices; simmer for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste plus about eight cups of water (I filled the used tomato can three times; use more or less depending on how thick or thin you like your soup). Bring to a boil, then add spinach, lower heat, and stir occasionally until spinach thaws. Stir in beans, cook for another few minutes, add salt and pepper as desired, and enjoy!

 

What's your favorite winter soup recipe?

Saturday, 21 November 2015 00:00

This soup was a surprise. It came together with pantry ingredients and a roasted pumpkin that needed to be used.  I expected it to be very rich (there’s a can of coconut milk in it), but because a whole pie pumpkin is blended in, it isn’t too creamy. With some roasted tofu and pumpkin seeds floating on top, it’s surprisingly filling and satisfying as a whole meal. It is also shockingly delicious—we thought it was one of the best soups we’d tasted in a long time.

Ingredients

1 pie pumpkin

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 oz can of Massaman curry paste

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

1 tbsp of soy sauce (a vegetarian replacement for the traditionally used fish sauce)

2 tsp palm sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth

Vegetable oil, salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse pumpkin and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes. With oven mitts, remove pumpkin from oven, and set on a pan to cool. When cooled, place pumpkin on cutting board and cut in half (from the stem to the base). With a large metal spoon, remove seeds and innards. Cut the halves into quarters, and then remove the skin (the very exterior of the pumpkin should have softened in the oven, and the skin should come off easily—if not, just cut it off). Cut the pumpkin into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of oil and place pumpkin in a single layer on sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of oil, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn over, and roast for an additional 10 or 15 minutes. When pumpkin is golden brown on both sides, remove from oven. Set aside. (This step can be done a day before—just refrigerate the pumpkin until you need it.)

Place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a small drizzle of olive oil, and then add the shallots and garlic to the pot. Cook for a minute or two, then add the Massaman curry paste to the pan. Spoon some of the thick coconut cream (that has risen to the top of the can of coconut milk) into the pan with the curry paste, and add the soy sauce, sugar, and peanut butter to the pan. Stir to combine, and let bubble and sizzle for 2–3 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and the vegetable broth to the pot, and then add the roasted pumpkin. Bring the soup to a simmer, and then turn down to low heat. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, and blend soup to a smooth consistency.

Top with roasted tofu and pumpkin seeds, if desired. 

Monday, 20 April 2015 00:00

This recipe for cabbage broth / cabbage soup is ideal for vegetarians or even non-vegetarians who want to know how to cook a healthy low-calorie meal that can be prepared in a short time. Serves two.

Ingredients
- 1 small cabbage
- 1 onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of "herbs of Provence" (use only one of these -- not both; since I'm allergic to garlic, I prefer herbs of Provence, an aromatic cooking herb)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of powdered white pepper
- 1 liter of water

Preparation
- Slice the cabbage either very finely or chop it into big pieces (depending on your preference)
- Slice the onion separately into small pieces
- If you choose to use garlic, chop it into small pieces. Otherwise, use the herbs of Provence when the moment comes.   

Cooking Procedure
Inside an empty pot:
- Put all the sliced cabbage
- Add the tomatoes
- Add the onions
- Add the salt followed by the white pepper
- Add either the garlic or the herb of Provence (depending on preference)
- Add the water
- Cover your cooking pot and place it on the stove at medium to high heat

Cooking time:
Bring the mixture to a boil and leave the pot on the stove for:
- 3 minutes (if, like me, you like your vegetables crunchy)
- 7 minutes (if you like your vegetables soft and well cooked)
- Remove from stove and serve in a soup plate.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 00:00

If you’re like me and cook most of your own food at home, you probably have a lot of scraps you throw away or compost every day.  If you’re like me, you also like to save money. SAVE YOUR VEGETABLE SCRAPS! You can make something delicious and extremely nutritious with those extra bits.

HOMEMADE MINERAL-RICH STOCKS AND BROTHS

Research shows that those “extra parts” such as broccoli stems, carrot tops, and tough stems of those dark leafy greens have just as many vitamins and minerals as the parts we normally eat (sometimes more).

“But, the stems are too tough to eat,” you say.

“Carrot tops are too bitter,” you say.

Guess what! We’re going to get all of the good out of them without the bad tastes!  We’re going to turn them into tasty, warm, goodness!

When you simmer food, you are making a water infusion just like when you make tea.  The hot water draws out the vitamins and minerals in your vegetable scraps along with their great flavor.  

“What about those bitter carrot tops?” you insist

Timing is everything.

Just like how tea can be over-brewed, so can your broth. So avoid adding your more bitter or pungent vegetables until the last 10-20 minutes.  This way you get to enjoy all the nutrients without the bite.   

This vegetable stock is a magic elixir. The vitamins and minerals from all the different veggies you’ve eaten over the week (or the month if you freeze the scraps) make it a refreshing electrolyte beverage, so say goodbye to Gatorade once and for all! It is more satisfying than just drinking water or tea.  It’s a great way to get kids the benefits of vegetables. It can help keep you full in between meals if you are trying to lose weight.  And, best of all, It tastes REALLY good!

“Wow, Emily! What could be better?”

You can add the healing properties of gelatin to this stock by adding some bones in too! Look for a post on Bone Broth coming soon. 

But for now, here is a recipe for Vegetable Broth so you can get started utilizing your veggie scraps right away.

 

INGREDIENTS:

VEGGIE SCRAPS!!

Stems: Examples - Dark Leafy Greens, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Fennel… any other clean stem you’ve got

Outer Leaves: Examples - Cabbage, Cauliflowers, Brussels Sprouts, 

Inner Cores: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery 

End cuts: squashes… mushrooms… MORE?

AND TO MAKE IT TASTE LIKE THAT BROTH YOU KNOW AND LOVE

Celery scraps (leaves and cuts) – maybe some fresh stalks too (at least 3 stalks – up to 10) 

    

Onion - 1-2 medium     

Carrots - 2 large     

Parsley leaves - (1 handful)

TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VEGETABLES     

2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar – helps draw out all that goodness

2-4 tbsp Sea/Himalayan/Grey/REAL™ Salt – helps our bodies absorb that goodness

DIRECTIONS:

-Get out a big stock pot – your vegetables should come up no higher than 3/4 of the height of the pot

-Roughly chop your veggies: 2 inch sized pieces, open things up (so slice your broccoli stems in half)

-Put all ingredients in the pot (My order is veggies, salt, vinegar)

-Cover your ingredients in water (have at least a 1/2 inch of water over the solid ingredients)

-Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours (for BROTH, simmer covered. For STOCK, simmer uncovered and let liquid reduce no more than to half the volume)

-Turn off the heat and let cool

-Strain solids out of the broth/stock – COMPOST THEM! 

For all you Homesteaders out there, now is the time to compost those scraps. They are already broken down so they will compost much quicker and at a lower heat. Your compost will be ready to use in your garden much sooner too.  

-Store 3-4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer

What unusual scraps will you add to your Magical Vegetable Elixir?