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.

fullsizeoutput_15d0

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.

yellow split pea dal over rainbow chard


When Autumn arrives and the leaves start to fall along with night temperatures, I feel the cold even when my house thermometer says I should be comfortably warm. It doesn’t matter that I’m active and put on a comfy smart wool shirt and light down sweater coat. Afternoons I start to crave Good Earth herbal tea and savory dinners…

A heavy rainstorm forecast and yellow leaves swirling in the wind this last weekend made me think to make a yellow split pea dal with a kick of Indian spices. Happily it turned out delicious, and I never lost my power.

img_2591

One of the many great things about yellow split pea dal is that dried split peas don’t require soaking before cooking, and they cook in 30 minutes, a much shorter time required than for dried beans. They’re high in protein and dietary fiber, satisfying and healthy; I did the math and calculated this recipe has 310 calories per cup served over a cup of rainbow chard. I made a large pot of the dal, and served it on a bed of rainbow chard leaves cut into ribbons topped with 1/4 cup of Bhutanese Red Rice for an easy “one bowl” meal. Leftovers taste great, and it freezes well.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 large jewel yam, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red Serrano pepper, diced with seeds
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 t cardamom
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste

instructions:

Cull through then rinse split peas well, cover with 4 cups fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer covered for about 25 minutes, until quite soft.

Cut thick stems out of rainbow chard. Chop the stems and set aside. Cut the chard leaves into thin ribbons and set aside.

In a large soup pot with 1-2 T olive oil over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and allow them to heat up til they just start to pop. Add onions, garlic, and all spices, and stir until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the chopped yam, stir to coat well with spices, add a few tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover to simmer until softened, about 4 minutes. Add yellow peppers, celery, and chopped chard stems, cover and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. When split peas are soft, drain their water into a measuring cup to use later. Add split peas to large pot of spiced vegetables, stir to mix all together well, then add the cooking fluid from the split peas to obtain your desired consistency of dal.

Serve in a bowl over a lovely pile of chard cut into ribbons, and with Bhutanese red rice for a more substantial meal.

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.

warming red lentil dal with ginger, yam & cauliflower


It’s the spring equinox today, a time to celebrate balance, warmth and hope. Today it’s also cool and wet, the sky dark gray, the earth and my garden muddy. Thinking about balance in our diet, and wanting to make a warming and bright meal to celebrate the equinox, I made this to share.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils IMG_1395
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t turmeric
  • 1-2 t curry powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2-3 t fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 jewel yam, cut into 1/4″rounds then pared, cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 head cauliflower
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed, for optional dressing

instructions:

Cull through and rinse lentils, then cover with 2 1/2 c fresh water. Add a dash of salt, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fully softened and water is mostly absorbed. Set aside uncovered. Saute shallots in 2T or so of olive oil in a large frying pan until they start to turn translucent, then add chopped yam, minced garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and black pepper; continue to saute for another 2 minutes until spices are fragrant and yam is well coated with spices. Add several tablespoons of water, cover and reduce heat to steam yam for about 12 minutes until softened (but not dissolved into mush). When yam is soft, remove from pan into large casserole dish with lid, then stir in cooked lentils. Using same frying pan, saute chopped celery and cauliflower with minced ginger for about 2-3 minutes, then add the coconut milk and yellow pepper, stir to combine well, cover and steam for about 3 minutes until peppers turn bright and begin to soften. Add this to casserole dish, stir everything together well. Serve over fresh raw spinach.

golden beets, ginger & kale salad


ingredients: IMG_0905

  • 3 medium golden beets, chopped
  • 3 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 T fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, sliced into thin ribbons
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

instructions:

Coarsely chop beets in half, then each half into thirds, so pieces are approximately equal in size (so will cook quickly while also still being easy to pare after cooking). Place into saucepan, barely cover with water, bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Do not overcook- check frequently with fork for doneness. Drain and rinse in cold water. Using sharp paring knife, remove and discard tough skin, then chop into bite sized pieces. Transfer to deep serving dish with lid.

Using 2 T olive oil in a large skillet with lid, saute diced shallots for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, then add minced garlic, mined ginger and chopped yellow pepper; continue to stir for another 1-2 minutes.  Add a splash of water, reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 2 minutes, until the yellow pepper is bright and only lightly cooked. Transfer to serving dish with beets. Remove tough middle stems from kale, then slice into thin ribbons. Using the same large skillet, saute for 2 minutes over medium heat, then add a splash of water, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 2-3 minutes, until the kale is bright and lightly cooked, not mushy. Transfer to serving dish, mix all together well. Dress with juice of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon. Will store well in an airtight container for a couple days.

I served this with tofu baked in a spicy peanut sauce on a cold wintery day– bright and complementary flavors, and wonderfully warming.

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.

carrot and sunflower seeds coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 t blackstrap molasses. Or 1 t blackstrap molasses plus 1 t maple syrup
  • 1-2 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

I made these using 1t molasses plus 1t maple syrup, and thought they were just a little too sweet when I tasted the dough after the second step, so I threw the 2 lemonquats I happened to have on hand into the food processor too! Next time I’ll try using just molasses and more lemon juice but no water to make them with a bit more zing. My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.