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.

vegetarian lentil soup- revisited


A cold rainy night and a potluck dinner with extended family, old friends and new – that calls for big pots of chile and vegetarian lentil soup. This lentil soup has been my favorite for as long as some of those childhood friendships! It’s healthy and satisfying, smells and tastes great, is inexpensive and easy to make, and a virtual “bottomless pot” as it’s delicious as a thick stew or as you add more water while it simmers to feed more people. Goes great with a glass of red wine or a chilled microbrew, a mixed green salad or a bowl of chips, depending on who shows up.

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ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 red Serrano or red thai hot peppers, minced
  • 1 medium rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups lentils, culled and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 T each oregano, basil, thyme, and sage to taste
  • 2-3 T red cider vinegar
  • 1 t salt and fresh black pepper to taste, added after soup is cooked
  • Parmesan cheese

instructions:

In large 5 quart soup pot with lid, saute chopped onions and red potato in 2-3 T olive oil. After 2-3 minutes add minced garlic and red peppers, chopped rutabaga, turnip, carrots, and celery, oregano, basil, thyme, and sage, continuing to saute for 2-3 minutes. Add carefully culled and rinsed lentils and basmati rice, stir well. Add canned tomatoes including juice and red cider vinegar. Put 8 cups water on the stove top to heat til near but not boiling, then add 6 cups to the soup pot and stir well. Cover and bring to simmer, then lower heat and cook with lid just slightly cracked open for 1 hour-1.5 hours or so, checking and stirring occasionally. Add more water as it cooks, getting all 8 cups in to create a thick stew, or yet more water to create a thick soup. Test rutabaga, carrots, and lentils for doneness. Once vegetables are soft, lentils and rice fully cooked, add 1 t salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Tastes even better the next day. Freezes well.

garden tomato & hot pepper soup


The warm days are ripening the last of my garden tomatoes and hot peppers, and the cooler nights tell me it’s the season again to roast some veggies and make a savory soup! I decided to make a tomato soup to enjoy with buckwheat zucchini bread, perhaps too a little grilled salmon?

ingredients:

  • 12-14 medium-large roma and heirloom tomatoes
  • handful or two of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large red serrano peppers
  • 2 small red thai peppers
  • fresh lemon thyme, oregano and marjoram
  • 1/4 t salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-4 c water or stock
  • toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
  • 1 cup spinach, cut into thin ribbons

instructions:

Cut roma tomatoes in half, heirloom tomatoes into quarters, cut onion into half then 1/4 inch slices, and place all into large bowl. Dice the fresh lemon thyme, oregano and marjoram leaves until you have about 2 T each. Pour olive oil over tomatoes, whole peppers and peeled whole garlic, add diced spices and mix well. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and roast at 375 until tomatoes soften and onions caramelize– check after about  10 minutes. When all are nicely roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool some. Press roasted garlic into blender, roughly chop the the roasted onions, then puree all in the blender in batches, being careful not to fill the blender full with too hot vegetables. Return to large soup pot. Depending upon desired thickness and intensity of flavors, add fresh water (or stock you have on hand) a cup at a time to fine tune the soup’s texture and flavor. Season with freshly ground black pepper. To serve, place 1/4 c spinach cut into thin ribbons into a deep bowl then ladle in soup and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

hot peppers spiced yam soup


When I came down with the sniffles and felt a bit puny, I wanted a healthy warming soup… and came up with this from what I had in my cupboards and fridge. Yams and carrots are high in vitamin A and C, perfect for fighting off a head cold. The ginger and Merken (a smoked chile pepper spice from Chile) or seranno add some heat. The peanut butter is an inspiration from African cooking and adds a rich smoothness to the soup as well as a little protein. I served this in a deep round bowl over a little fresh arugula (fresh spinach would have been good in lieu) and topped with peanuts. Yum! And so quick and easy. I think this may be my new favorite winter soup recipe.

ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 t lemon thyme
  • 1/2 t merken or 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 garnet or jewel yams, without skin, chopped
  • 2-3 T natural peanut butter, no added oil or salt
  • 1/8 t salt

instructions:

Saute the onion in 2 T olive oil for 2-3 minute over medium heat in a large soup pot, then add garlic and other spices; continue stirring until onion is almost translucent. Add celery, carrot and yam and continue to saute over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. Dissolve 1/2 cube organic vegetable bouillon in 1 cup boiling water, then add it to the pot. Stir in peanut butter, mix all well, then add another 5-6 cups of fresh water. Cover and cook until yam and carrots are soft, checking and stirring frequently. It wont take long, 5 minutes or so if the yam and carrots are chopped reasonably thin and small. Set aside to cool, then puree in blender.

turnip, parsnip, red potato soup with roasted pumpkin seeds


The season is changing– I feel it when I tuck into bed at night, and when I watch sunrise these mornings. “Seasons changing I can smell it in the air I can see it in their paintings And I can hear it in the wind, hear it rise and descend Through the many colored trees, forms a many colored breeze Made of many colored leaves, departing ever so gracefully” (Elephant Revival, Ring Around the Moon)…  The Autumnal Equinox is next week, reminding me of work to be done timely, and of the need for balance. My thoughts turn to experimenting making chutney with a friend’s fresh figs (more on that in another post) and to making soup… for an Equinox Party! Thus this experiment with a new fall root soup that fits into a darkness and light/black and white color palette. Yum.

ingredients

  • 4 medium turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-large parship, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-large red potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2t dried rosemary
  • 1/4t salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme from my garden (or 1/2t or so dried)
  • 1/2 cube Celfibr brand vegetable bouillon dissolved in 1c hot water
  • 3-4 additional c water
  • 1/2-1 c milk if desire creaminess

instructions:

Saute onion in large soup pot in 1-2T butter or olive oil for 2 min or so, then add red potato and saute for another 3-4 minutes before adding peeled and chopped turnips and parsnip, rosemary and lemon thyme. Stir well, then add 1c vegetable bouillon broth and 2c fresh water, cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Check for full softness, then remove from heat, add salt and black pepper. Allow to cool enough to then puree in blender. Adjust consistency with milk unless you’re serving this vegan so use fresh water or additional fresh vegetable broth if you happen to have some on hand. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!

carrot ginger soup- revisited with cashew cream


A close friend has a spring head cold– and I’m thinking of making soup, so of course I started thinking of making something healing that I could share with her. The last recipe she shared with me was for yummy cashew cream (more on that later); this made me think to revisit my carrot ginger soup recipe. I tried adding soaked cashews to provide protein and rich mouth feel. In this version, I added 3/4 cup of soaked then drained cashews pureed into smoothness before being stirred into the soup, omitted the celery (because the pureed cashews provide the soup with texture), and added a chopped yellow pepper for additional vitamin C and brightness of flavor. Yum!

ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 7-8 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 small jewel yam, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1 t finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 t marjoram
  • 2 t basil
  • 1 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cube Celifibr brand vegetable bullion dissolved in 1 cup hot water
  • 5 additional cups water
  • 1/2 t sea salt and black pepper to taste

instructions:
Using large soup pot with lid, saute chopped onions in 2-3 T olive oil. Add chopped carrots, yam, celery, pressed garlic, finely chopped ginger, and spices. Stir well to coat veggies in spices. Add tomatoes. Add dissolved vegetable bullion and additional water. Stir well. Partially cover and bring up to simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 30-60 minutes (depending on size of chopped carrots and yams), checking carrots and yam for softness. Soup is done cooking when carrots and yam are fully soft. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool before carefully pureeing in small batches in blender (fill blender less than half full to avoid it exploding with too hot soup). Return pureed soup to soup pot: add up to a cup of additional water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Heat then serve topped with roasted pumpkin seeds. High in Vitamin A and zinc, great choice for those with a winter head cold/sinus infection. Makes 8-10 full bowl servings. Freezes well.

Celery root & cauliflower soup with arugula & maple syrup roasted hazelnuts


As I was standing in the produce section without a grocery list, stopped by chance with my shopping cart in front of the cauliflower and celery root, thinking about what kind of soup I’d like to make, a woman saw me and asked, “How do you cook celery root?” Before I answered her, I had this funny thought: celery root is likely the only common vegetable in this part of the country that I’ve never prepared. Of course I’ve seen celery root soup on restaurant menus… So I answered her with something along those lines, and picked up the following ingredients to try creating something entirely new to me.

IMG_3052 I made the soup with no additional seasonings, thinking I’d taste it after it was pureed, perhaps then complement the flavor with nutmeg and coriander? or perhaps ground mustard and lemon? I found it wonderfully flavorful just as it was, no additional spices needed. The arugula gives it spicy peppery notes (as well as calcium, vitamins A, C, & K, and minerals too including iron), and the maple syrup toasted hazelnuts give it a complementary sweetness and crunch. I think this may be my best soup recipe yet!

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ingredients:

  • 1 medium celery root, peeled & chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 1 medium sized leek, white & light green portions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cube Celifibr brand organic vegetable bouillion
  • 5-6 cups fresh water
  • 1 cup milk (optional if you want thicker & whiter soup)
  • 1/2 t sea salt, black pepper
  • 4 cups or so arugula
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped or crushed, for garnish
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

instructions:

Chop both ends off of celery root, then place root solidly on largest flat end to stabilize. Use sharp knife to then slice away outer rough skin, cutting from top to bottom as you work your way around the root to expose the inner white lovely vegetable. Slice into rounds then cube and set aside.

Bring one cup water to a boil then dissolve 1/2 cube of Celifibr vegetable bouillon, and set aside. Using large soup pot and a couple tablespoons olive oil, saute the chopped red potato and leeks for 3 minutes until leeks are fragrant and potatoes slightly browned. Add minced garlic and continue stirring for 2 minutes before adding chopped celery root and dissolved bouillon plus 5 cups fresh water. Bring just to boil then turn down heat to simmer covered for 15-20 minutes or so, until celery root is getting soft but not yet done– then add chopped cauliflower for last 5-10 minutes of simmering until everything is soft. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat to cool some before pureeing in batches in blender. Return to soup pot. Using heavy skillet over medium heat, stir roughly chopped or crushed hazelnuts. When they’ve begun to brown, add minced garlic and maple syrup and continue to stir until toasty and fragrant. Transfer to glass container. Using same skillet, saute arugula just until wilted. Stir into pureed soup. Serve garnished with hazelnuts.