white bean, butternut squash & kale soup, revisited on a winter’s morning


It’s a beautiful sunny winter’s morning here with about five inches of fresh snow that fell after sunset yesterday. I’m feeling happy right now, with coffee and a lovely day ahead of me, vindicated in my decision to go grocery shopping yesterday then soak some beans. My snow dog has curled up now on the deck outside my kitchen watching over our green space beyond, and my cat has curled up on my bed. It’s time now for me to put on a pot of white bean and kale soup, then go play ball while I shovel my driveway.

This is a recipe I first made years ago– over time I have found that a 50-50 mix of Great Northern and Cannellini white beans provides the most delicious flavor and texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups white beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 medium rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary (yes, tablespoons; rub between fingers/palms to crush
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, excluding thickest ends of stems, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/2-1 t salt and pepper to taste, added after beans have cooked
  • parmesan or pecorino cheese

Instructions:

Rinse then soak beans overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well. Cover with fresh water, bring just to a boil, then simmer for about 1 hour until beans are just becoming soft. Remove from heat.

Using large 5 quart soup pot with lid, saute onion in 2-3 T olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and potatoes. Saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring until potatoes are lightly browned. Add butternut squash, rutabaga, carrots, celery and spices. Stir all vegetables until spices are well mixed. With pot over medium heat, add canned tomatoes in their juice, apple cider vinegar and basmati. Stir in 5 cups fresh water that is close to but off boil. Partially cover and monitor heat until soup comes almost to boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes to an hour. Checking water level occasionally, add more water as necessary. Continue to stir and check beans, rutabaga, and carrots for doneness: keep simmering until each are soft but not so mushy as to fall apart.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then add chopped kale, cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so until kale is bright green and lightly cooked.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese. Makes 8-10 servings. Freezes well.

Note on Bouillon: Beware! Many brands of bouillon cubes have partially hydrogenated oils, palm or cotton seed oil, MSG, and a grossly high serving of sodium- all things to be avoided, certainly not added to your food.

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cauliflower & turnip soup with caraway & black mustard seeds


I don’t much like Facebook engagement gimmick challenges and games, but when I saw the “Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation.” challenge, I knew one of my family or friends would tag me. And I didn’t dread it, as I enjoy taking my camera out several times a day, most days. There are so many interesting and beautiful things to really look at and engage with through a lens. Naturally one of the first photos I took as a black and white composition had to do with cooking. I was thinking about the cauliflower soup I wanted to make that day…

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ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red potato, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, including stems, chopped into small flowerettes
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 t caraway seeds
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cups fresh water

instructions:

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, using large soup pot heat a couple tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then add black mustard seeds. Stir until seeds start to pop, then add caraway seeds and chopped onions and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Add red potato and minced garlic and continue to stir for about 2 minutes, until onions and red potatoes have started to brown. Add chopped turnip, cauliflower, celery, and carrot, then about 6 cups of water just prior or post boiling. Add salt and reduce heat to simmer covered for about 10 minutes; simmer until all veggies are soft, then remove from heat to cool. After cooled, puree soup in batches carefully in a half-full blender, then return to soup pot. Add fresh ground black pepper, and salt to taste. Serve hot.

This soup is both savory with a hint of natural sweetness, the caraway a pleasing and comforting following flavor. I thought initially I’d serve this garnished with pomegranate seeds, but decided against that. I chose to garnish my soup with fresh cranberries and my partner had his “straight up”– delicious with a salad of romaine and radicchio, daikon radish, roasted pumpkin seeds and feta.

 

chilled garden gazpacho soup with spicy lemon drop peppers


Well I’ve got bowls of fresh picked tomatoes, zucchini, and now also several new-to-my-garden varieties of hot peppers ripe and ready to harvest. And it’s still too hot to cook. Well then, I haven’t had a wonderful bowl of gazpacho since I took a trip to Tulum, Mexico many years ago. Looking at my favorite old cookbooks from my young adulthood and early vegetarian cooking years– Moosewood cookbooks by Molly Katzen, The Good Herb by Judith Hurley, The Greens Cook Book– also a quick look online, I found unappealing gazpacho recipes that rely on V-8 or tomato juice. Not for me. I wanted most of my gazpacho ingredients to be fresh from my own vegetable and herb gardens.

I decided to get out the blender, begin coarse chopping and dicing, creating my own recipe as I chopped. The result was delicious, every bite as wonderful as my happy memories of a meal shared in a Mexican ecological paradise. What follows is all the ingredients and an approximation of their quantities– I didn’t measure much as I worked. This made 4-6 satisfying dinner sized servings.

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ingredients:

  • about 6-8 cups mixed variety of ripe red tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups), 2/3 coarsely chopped and 1/3 diced
  • 1 cucumber (about 1 1/2 cups), 1/2 coarsely chopped and 1/2 diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium yellow Lemon Drop pepper, including seeds, diced
  • 4-6 leaves fresh basil, diced
  • about 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • about 3/4 c water, from carafe with mint kept chilled in the fridge
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1/4 t sea salt, black pepper to taste
  • cilantro, chopped, for garnish

instructions:

Using a large cutting board and a blender, coarsely chop tomatoes and place in blender until it’s about half full, and puree til smooth with a half cup of the mint infused water. Transfer to large soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, the minced garlic, diced basil, diced hot pepper, the olive oil and rice wine vinegar. Pulse until you achieve your desired consistency: some like gazpacho silky smooth, but I like mine with some texture. Transfer to soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, about 2/3 of your coarsely chopped zucchini and about 1/3 of your coarsely chopped cucumbers, and the lime juice, and pulse to your desired consistency. If necessary, add either some of your previously pureed soup or a little more mint water to have enough fluid initially to allow you to achieve your desired texture. Add to soup pot. Also add to soup pot your minced red onion and celery, the reserved diced zucchini and cucumber, a little sea salt and black pepper, also more lime juice if desired. Chill for at least half a day before tasting and fine tuning the seasonings. Serve chilled with plenty of cilantro garnish.

 

chilled zucchini soup with lemon, thyme and fresh dill


What to do when the heat wave wears on and on, and the garden is full of big delicious ripened bounty? I’ve been steadfast about watering daily– even when I really wasn’t eager to be out in the heat anymore– and I’ve lost little to the crazy heat. I made several loaves of buckwheat zucchini bread during brief cooler cloudy day breaks, also cold dinner salads with just-picked zucchini, cucumber, mint, and the first of my ripened tomatoes and hot peppers. But I’ve got LOTS of zucchini… and now a flavorful and satisfying chilled zucchini soup recipe to enjoy.

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ingredients:

  • 1 medium large leek, chopped
  • 2 medium red potatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 6 c coarsely chopped zucchini
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium Serrano pepper, diced, with seeds
  • 1 t caraway seeds
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t fresh lemon thyme
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • l lemon, juice and pulp
  • scant 1/2 t sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • several T fresh dill, chopped, for garnish

instructions:

Discard thick and dark green ends of leek. Coarsely chop zucchini by slicing in half lengthwise, perhaps in quarters if large, then chop into 1/4 inch slices. Chop tender leek and saute over medium heat in 2 T butter, adding caraway seeds to toast. Add 2 T olive oil, the red potato and minced garlic, stir for 2-3 minutes until red potato just begins to brown. Add diced Serrano, a couple T water, reduce heat and cover with lid; steam until potatoes are just beginning to soften. Add grated carrot, chopped celery and zucchini, spices except dill, and a splash of white wine, continue to steam covered for about 5-8 minutes until potatoes and zucchini are pleasingly softened but not mushy. Remove from heat and allow to cool some before pureeing in half full blender. Add freshly squeezed lemon, salt and ground pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with plenty of fresh chopped dill, perhaps a dollop of plain European style yogurt. I served this on a hot night with Triscuit rye crackers and a fresh salad with walnuts, feta and fresh tomatoes.

chilled broccoli soup with zucchini, caraway seed, basil, and lemon


While I had my morning coffee, I opened my house to cool with the morning breeze and quickly made this soup, chilling now for a refreshing dinner and lunch tomorrow during this heat wave! It was my first attempt at a vegan chilled broccoli soup, and I think it’s going to be very tasty, even better after the flavors have melded while chilling today. This made enough for 6 good sized bowls, next time I’ll try doubling the recipe and freezing some.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup or so of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped or grated
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 1/2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 t fresh ginger root, diced
  • 4 medium fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large lemon, juice and pulp
  • 5 c water

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instructions:

Pare away any tough outer skin from broccoli stalks, then chop stalks and flowerets. Chop and dice all other ingredients. I happened to have some left over fresh zucchini, so I added that too, and I think looking back it was a good addition for both taste and texture. Saute leek and red potato in 2 T olive oil for 2 minutes, then add caraway seed and ginger root, continue to stir for 3-4 minutes until potato just begins to almost brown. Add chopped celery, carrot, zucchini, basil, and broccoli stalks and flowerets along with 1/4 t salt and 5 cups of fresh water brought first almost – but not to- a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered to retain nutrients until potatoes, carrots, and broccoli stems are soft, about 5 minutes. Add juice and pulp of 1/2 lemon and black pepper. After taste testing, I added another 1/4 t salt, for health given that it is so hot now, and to complement the taste of all these veggies when served chilled. Remove from heat and cool — not wanting to add any unnecessary heat to my kitchen, I literally took my hot soup pot and placed it outside on a hot pad on my wooden deck bench to cool for a bit. Once cooled some, blend in batches until smooth.

This soup has a nice texture and fragrance. Refrigerate and serve chilled. I may try this garnished with a dollop of organic Euoropean style plain yogurt, for flavor and some protein, or garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.  I may serve it with a small dish of chilled blueberries and walnuts? Yum, light and also satisfying.

green pea soup with turnip & leek, mint and lemon thyme


This record setting long and wet Spring dovetailed with my lovely vacation in Paris and Tuscany, which means my vegetable starts were germinated and transplanted late. My garden is now boldly trying to catch up and/or make it through these periodic brief mid- to upper-80F days that are brutal for the earlier season vegetable varieties. I gambled and planted sweet peas late, will simply have to wait and see how the season comes on and if they can thrive…

I spotted plump fresh organic green peas at the market only a few hours after I had assessed my garden; I couldn’t resist picking those up, and rounded out my purchase with a leek, turnip, and large red potato. It was a cool and wet day, and I was thinking soup– Yes, I adore soup, warming and nurturing when it’s cold out, cooling and refreshing on stellar hot days. Reflecting, I realized I’d never made a fresh pea soup, only dried split pea soup! Here was my opportunity… I liked what I created; my partner’s first thought with a taster spoon from the pot was “Good! but perhaps less mint next time?” But when I served dinner, his bowl was quickly emptied. I especially liked mine drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt. I expected this would be great served cold on a warm day too, and that this batch along with the current weather forecast would allow me to test both warm and chilled serving options. Sure enough, when I tried it served chilled, I thought it was delicious.

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ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh peas
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 large red potato, chopped
  • 4-5 cups fresh water
  • 12 medium leaves fresh mint, diced
  • 3 large sprigs fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • European style plain tart yogurt

instructions:

Cover peas with 4 cups water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes, just until peas are bright and becoming soft. Set aside. Meanwhile, using large soup pot, saute chopped leek, turnip, and red potato in 2T butter and a drizzle of olive oil, until leek is translucent and potatoes are beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add several tablespoons or so of white wine, cover and reduce heat; steam about 3 minutes, until red potatoes and turnip have softened, but are not mushy. Then combine cooked peas and all of their liquid into the soup pot, mix all together well, and allow to cool. (This is an important nutrient step: When you cook vegetables in water, much of the vitamins are lost into the water. Thus you want to retain the steam by covering while cooking, and use the cooking water in the recipe.) Once cooled some for safe blending, puree in blender in small batches, and return to soup pot. Assess thickness, and adjust as necessary with additional water just off boil. Add the juice of the lemon, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I wanted my soup fairly thick yet smooth. You may like yours not quite as thick and with a cup or so of fresh cooked peas added after you’ve pureed? If so, cook more peas and set some aside. I served this drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt and fresh thyme leaves, together with a mixed green salad with walnuts, currants, and daikon radish, and white wine.

 

 

Tuscan white bean soup


I’ve just returned from a lovely spring vacation– adventuring in Paris, Florence, and the Tuscany region. So much yummy food and wine, so much fun! Now home in the Pacific Northwest, I’m tired from long days out exploring, late nights having fun, and most of all from jet lag; I made it to my favorite grocery store and mowed my crazy long grass my first day back. The weeds in my garden will wait another day while I cook some nurturing food, channeling Tuscany. I love eating out in other cultures, and love cooking just as much.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 dried cannelli beans
  • 1 head Lacinato kale, stems removed, cut into ribbons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small turnip, chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 14 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 6-7 leaves fresh sage, finely chopped, or 1 T dried
  • 1-2 t basil
  • 1/3 c fine corn meal
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/4 t salt, fresh black pepper to taste

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instructions:

Cull and clean dried beans, then soak overnight in fresh cold water. Drain, cover with water, and simmer for an 1- 1 1/2 hours or so until soft. Remove from heat. Saute chopped onion in 2-3 T olive oil in a large soup pot for 2 minutes, then add minced garlic and spices and stir for another minute or so. Add 1/2 of cooked beans with 1/2 of their fluid, the chopped turnip and rutabaga, the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir together well. Puree the other half of the beans and their liquid, then add puree to soup pot. Place lid on, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until root vegetables are softened but not mushy. Place corn meal in a measuring cup, add the lemon juice, then fill with cold water to make 1 cup, whisking together well. Add to soup pot, stir well, then add chopped kale; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or so until kale is bright green and softened, but not mushy. Remove from heat. Serve topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a Tuscan Sangiovese wine, and simple green salad with walnuts and black olives.