Soups

Spicy Zucchini Green Curry Bisque

Not sure what happened, but about a month ago, I had a huge craving for thai soup. Hot, spicy, thai soup. In the middle of 85 plus degree august. I thought I was going nuts, but there I am, in the heat of summer, looking for more heat. 

I went with it. What else can you do? When you crave something, you just crave it.

At the same time, our garden was producing zucchinis by the boat-load, so I made good use of them. Chopped them up, threw in a forgotten sweet potato (lonely little guy), some coconut milk, green thai curry, sea salt and pepper, blended it up and it was fantastic! Easy peasy, too. Whatever I needed in the spice, it delivered it beautifully and I was happy. 

If you're a normal person, feel free to make this sometime in the fall when it's a little cooler out. You can also serve it chilled as a nice summer treat. Or if you're a little nutty like me, go for it hot. 

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled (optional) and chopped

2 medium or large zucchinis, chopped (if you a large amount, just add more water and taste for curry paste)

1 can light coconut milk

2 tablespoons green curry paste (I use this one

water

Combine onion, sweet potato, zucchini, coconut milk and just enough water to cover in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until fully cooked, about 25 minutes or so. Add in the green curry paste, blend using an immersion blender, and taste for seasoning. Enjoy! 

 

 

Raw Spicy South African Cashew Bisque

A couple of years ago this August, I attended Living Light Culinary Institute in California. I had the best time of my life, having won the "Hot Raw Chef" Scholarship in 2015. I had an absolutely wonderful time, meeting new friends, cooking (or un-cooking) up a storm, leaning new tricks of the trade, renewing my knife skills, and coming up with many healthy recipes. 

This South African soup was the result of an assignment we had been given. I had great fun working with my partner Nadine, who had a discerning palate, a kind heart, and only supportive words to share.... I miss those times! I remember blending, tasting, adding something else in, blending, tasting...for almost 45 minutes! I'd close my eyes to taste the exact texture and flavors, and get it just right. Consequently, it's one of the LONGEST list of ingredients I've ever worked with, but I promise you that it's the perfect tribute to its cooked counterpart. And even healthier for you! 

Warming, soothing, with a hint of cinnamon and spice. Makes 4 cups, about 4 one-cup servings or 8 half-cup appetizers. 

Ingredients: 

2 zucchinis, peeled & chopped

4 red peppers, seeded, filed and chopped

1 cup water

1 cup cashews, soaked

6 dates, pitted & chopped

3 garlic cloves, microplaned

3 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons Tamarind Paste

1 two-inch knob of ginger, microplaned

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion flakes

1 teaspoon dehydrated tomato powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

 

Garnish: 

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

2 tablespoons cashews, minced

2 tablespoons scallions, minced

2 tablespoons red pepper, minced

2 tablespoons cucumber, minced

2 tablespoons yellow pepper, minced

In a blender: blend zucchini, red pepper, water, cashews, dates, garlic, salt, tamarind and remaining spices until smooth. Continue to blend until the canister of the blender starts to feel warm and the soup begins to heat a little. Taste for seasonings; garnish each serving with the minced cilantro, cashews, and a concase of pepper,s cucumber and scallions. Enjoy! 

Summer Tomatillo Gazpacho

There’s just something about gazpacho. It’s a win win ~ a win for your garden, and a win for your taste buds: your garden provides pretty much everything you need, and it’s pretty much the best damn soup you can ever make. If you don’t grow your own food, the farmer’s market will do it for you AND everything will be picked at peak ripeness, with all the flavors of summer. It might seem a bit labor intensive, but with a food processor, you’ll make it zippy fast. Plus, it’s an easy lunch you can enjoy happily for 3-4 days.

Tomatillos growing in the garden. They have a paper like outside that you peel off, revealing a smooth green fruit inside. I think they look a little like little lanterns.

Tomatillos growing in the garden. They have a paper like outside that you peel off, revealing a smooth green fruit inside. I think they look a little like little lanterns.

I really like the addition of tomatillos in this soup. They're add a unique element of citrus, sweet, and fresh that I really love. They're also a little fruity, and I've been know to eat them like an apple. Try it! Just be sure to wash off the sticky residue from underneath the paper skin (which by the way is totally normal, nothing to be alarmed by). 

Paper-like skin.

Paper-like skin.

I've added a can of crushed BPA free organic tomatoes in the mix, simply because I love the richness of tomato flavor and the deep red color that it provides. If you wish, you can just replace this with fresh tomatoes, although the taste will be different and the soup will be more pink than red. Either way, they both work. 

 

2 large cucumbers, peeled (optional) and chopped

1.5 cups peeled and chopped tomatillos

2 green peppers, chopped (or a mixture of colors)

4-5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

One 28 oz can of crushed organic tomatoes, BPA free (or extra tomatoes) 

Large handful cilantro, chopped

4 small garlic cloves, microplaned

1 tsp sea salt

1-tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, process the cucumbers, tomatillos, peppers, fresh tomatoes, and onion in batches (still a little chunky but like thick soup). Pour out into a big mixing bowl. Add in the crushed tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, salt, vinegar and pepper. Combine well with a large spoon, and taste for seasoning. If you want the extra fat, feel free to dress with a drizzle of olive oil and/or chopped avocado.

Spring Asparagus Thai Bisque

This past spring has been interesting...hot (as in 70 degrees) and then it's snowing, mix 30's, then hot again, cold again. I can't really keep up, except that it's been warm enough for me to get inspired over seeds, gardening and growing healthy green food. I'll take the warm weather speckled in the cold if it means I can get to gardening sooner.  

Spring comes with its own bounty: sprouts, greens, and one of my favorites, asparagus. Buying asparagus in the spring (try growing it too!) is completely different than any other time of the year since it's at its peak, fresh, a little sweet and very flavorful. 

I knew I wanted something light: loads of veggies in a coconut broth, but something all the while spicy and warming, so I paired the veggies with some red curry paste. This creamy, slightly spicy bisque is a balanced marriage of both light and warming that will soothe your bones on chilly spring evenings while giving you the best of the season's produce.

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 yellow or red onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 bunch thin asparagus, chopped (be sure to discard the woody bottoms)

1/2 cup coconut cream (I prefer the thicker part of the Trader Joe's Coconut Milk)

1 heaping tablespoon Red Curry Paste (I like this one

In a medium heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the coconut oil and sauté the onions on medium heat, until translucent. Add in the zucchini and asparagus, and cover with about 1 inch of water. Add in the coconut cream and bring to a boil, then let simmer half-covered about 25 minutes (until all the veggies soften). Add in the red curry paste, season with salt to taste, and then using an immersion blender, blend until semi-smooth (I like it a little bit chunky). Feel free to give it a finishing touch of red pepper flakes and crushed black pepper. Enjoy! 

Leek & Dill Soup

From the start, I have to state that this is my Romanian Aunt Anca's recipe and I fell in love with it from first taste. It's low in fat, full of fiber and vegetables, surprisingly sweet and savory at the same time, and absolutley delicious. This also fits really well in the "easy peasy" department as you don't have to babysit it much and it practically makes itself.

2 leeks, white part and a little of green, cleaned and chopped fine

1/2 zucchini, cubed (optional)

handful of peas

water to cover

1/4 cup chopped dill, saved for the end

Combine leeks, zucchini and peas and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. You can blend 1/2 of it with an immersion blender until smooth, or leave it as is, chunky. Add in the dill, and season to taste with salt & pepper. 

You can easily add anything else to this soup you'd like: a potato, carrots, celery, etc. Enjoy and experiment. 

Smooth Greens Soup with Rosemary

The chillier nights are on their way as we soon enter November, and I long for soups that comfort and calm. Creamy soups have always been my love, but I don't always feel good eating them since they tend to be heavy and very fattening. Back in my dairy-eating days especially, soups were considered a light meal, but when you add in the cream and butter, they're anything but light! Inspired by one of my favorite chefs and authors Terry Walters, I've added in a few secret ingredients to thicken up the soup while still maintaining a lightness that I'm looking for.

It's all about the oats.

Terry taught me to use oats to thick soups and it works wonders in this recipe! Also I've added in just a few cashews to make it a bit heartier, but the whole fat is still light: there's only 1/4 cup in the whole soup pot! Hope you enjoy it. And if you want to add in curry, italian spices, anything you'd like ~ this is just a template so feel free to play with your food.

A little side note: We love buying heads of broccoli instead of the precut broccoli bags. The stems are great for juicing, munching on, and they're loaded with nutrition. The other day I realized I had collected 6 stems, so I I peeled and chopped them all and used them in the soup. They're a great way to use up the stems that few people know what to do with. Just get to the inner core that's sweet and crunchy and avoid the thick exterior. If you don't have stems this time around, just substitute with more broccoli florets.

one yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced small

1 tsp coconut oil

6 broccoli stems, peeled and chopped (or just add more broccoli)

florets from one head of broccoli, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cashews

water to cover veggies by 1 inch

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried rosemary

plain unsweetened coconut yoghurt, optional

Sauté the onion in  1 tsp coconut oil for about 2 minutes. Add the sea salt so that the onions sweat a bit, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the broccoli stems, broccoli, zucchini, oats, cashews, rosemary and enough water to cover the ingredients by about an inch, cover, and cook for at least 25 minutes on medium. Stir occasionally and when the veggies are tender, use an immersion blender to blend the soup well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve with crushed pepper and a tsp of coconut yoghurt if desired. Enjoy! 

 

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

This is probably one of my favorite go-to soups. In addition to eating high-raw in teh winter time, I really do enjoy a hot bowl of broth or soup to warm me up, and in some instances, really delicious creamy comfort food. This is one of the creamiest silkiest soups you'll find without all of the added guilt of cream, milk or butter! And it couldn't be simpler.

1/2 onion, fine dice

1 box mini bella mushrooms, sliced

1 box shitakes, sliced

1 small zucchini (optional), diced

cashew milk made with: 1/2 cup raw cashews blended with 4 cups water (do not strain)

You can make this an oil-free dish by simply sauteeing the onion, zucchini and mushrooms in a bit of broth or water until soft (or you can use a little bit of olive oil). Cook on low, covered, until the mushrooms release all of their juices and they're tender. Add in the cashew milk, and bring to a simmer to heat through. That's it - you're done! 

 

Coconut Cream of Butternut Soup

Many days I sit and try to think of unique combinations of foods that together would spark something new and unique, and then real life sets in...the life where we all have appointments, and to do lists, and we're just plain hungry. It would be nice to say I have all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen, but I venture to guess that I'm someone very much like you: a working person, mom, wife, someone who tries to make time to exercise, clean the house and just get stuff done on a day-by-day basis. Showering would be nice. A bath would be even better. But just "get things done and enjoy life" mode....Enter simplicity. I simply can't make things complicated any more, and I'm not apologizing for it. Especially when there's THIS soup to be had.

I made this soup by accident, having found coconut cream (thick and solid) rather than coconut milk (I just didn't read the can well enough) at Trader Joe's. I opened up the can and inside was this glorious white coconut cream just screaming back at me with love and delight, saying, "hello best friend, nice to find you here". Little did I know that the cream over the milk would make this soup incredible. 

If you can find whole butternut squash, that would be best. Simply cut the knobby end, cut in half width-wise and peel. Scoop out the seeds, chop into 1 inch cubes and you're ready to go. Sometimes we can find ready-cut butternut, but for some reason, I really do enjoy cutting through these squashes...it releases tension and helps me unite the the food (something I don't get when I just tear open a package and add it to the pot). Additionally, whole squashes tend to be more fresh then packaged ones. 

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 butternut squash, cubed (or about 4-5 cups)

1/2 can coconut cream (I use the Trader Joe's brand)

water (or you can substitute broth) 

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté the onion in coconut oil with a few shakes of salt on medium heat. If you cover it, it will sweat better and start to release its own juices. Add in the squash and cover with water/broth about an inch over the squash. Bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer covered about 25 minutes or until done (when pierced with a fork). Add in 1/2 can of coconut cream and stir to warm through. Using an immersion blender, blend MOST of the soup (a few chunks are actually a really nice texture). Serve with some red pepper flakes, a LOT of crushed black pepper, and a nice salad. 

 

 

 

Zucchini Minestrone Soup

I absolutely love soups...especially when it's a one pot meal, I can make it as I'm checking the news or wiring a blog post (like this one). You have two options: add in the potato and orzo (my boys love these!), or keep it low glycemic if you're sensitive to the sugars, and omit them both (like for me). Either way, the soup is sure to please everyone, whichever way you make it! So simple, quick, and delicious.

This is a veggie-rich, non-pasta minestrone. Is that even possible? Yes. You'd be surprised if you match the flavors (tomato, Italian seasonings and veggies), how close you get to the real thing without adding much starch and noodles. Give it a try! If you're missing a bit of bite, feel free to throw in some white beans for some extra protein and flavor. I've never made this recipe the same way twice, always using what I have on hand, and encourage you to do the same. 

I've also been playing around with making sourdough bread. I've read and heard some research that mentions that sourdough making is the original way of making bread. Making and culturing sourdough ferments the grain and grows beneficial bacteria which helps the gut, lowers the sugar content of the bread, makes it more digestible and low glycemic. I think as far as bread goes, that's a win in all departments! The tricky part is that the sourdough needs to culture for at least a week, so it's a process. But my boys gobbled it up and were very happy. If you're OK with sugars, you may want to try it as an alternative to regular bread and you may be happily surprised. 

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 large zucchini, chopped

1 large stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

one 28-oz can chopped tomatoes

1 medium yellow potato (optional), chopped

2 tablespoons whole grain orzo (optional)

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasonings

In a large soup pot, heat up the oil and onions. Sprinkle a little with some salt, and let the onions sweat, covered, over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Add in the zucchini, carrot, celery, garlic, and tomatoes. If you're using the potato, add it now, but feel free to omit - you may not even notice its' gone! Cover with water, about 1 inch above the veggies. Cover and set to medium and bring to a boil. Once it boils, add in the orzo if you're using, and simmer, covered about 20 minutes or until the potato is done. Add in the Italian seasonings and taste again for seasonings. Enjoy!