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.

 

 

tempeh & root veggies with lemon and sunflower seed butter


I went grocery shopping in a cold 50F downpour, knowing the forecast called for a quick blast to a single day of sunshine and 80F. Thus bridging seasons and needing something fulfilling, as I looked at the vegetables available to make a satisfying one pot meal, I chose a spring leek and summery yellow pepper, cauliflower and root vegetables, lemon and sunflower seed butter. Yum!

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Ingredients:

  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Jalapeno pepper, with seeds, diced
  • 1 medium jewel yam, pared and chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • black pepper to taste
  • sunflower seed butter
  • mixed greens (baby spinach, mizuna, chard and kale)

instructions:

Saute chopped tempeh in 2-3 T olive oil ’til brown, then remove to large casserole dish with lid. Saute chopped leek for 2-3 minutes, stirring ’til lightly browned, and set aside with tempeh. Using same frypan, saute yam, rutabaga, and turnip with minced garlic and diced jalapeno pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add a tablespoon or two of water, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 4-5 minutes until root veggies are just soft but not mushy. Remove to casserole dish. Using same frypan, saute chopped cauliflower for 2-3 minutes, then add tablespoon of rice vinegar, cover and simmer for another 2 minutes or so until just soft; remove to casserole dish. Lastly add yellow pepper to the frypan and saute for 2-3 minutes or so, until brightened and slightly softened. Remove to casserole dish and stir all together well. May be refrigerated in a closed container before serving, warm or cold, over a bed of mixed greens (I used some heartier greens and some with peppery zip), dressed with the juice of the lemon, and several happy informal dollops of sunflower seed butter (as I wasn’t inclined at the time to prepare a separate dressing.) For extra protein and crunch, serve garnished with walnuts.

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.

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!

celery root gruyere au gratin


Having just explored making celery root soup, then raw celery root salad, it’s time to round out my exploration by turning on the oven to bake! It’s cold, and I’m thinking comfort food…so I envisioned a celery root gruyere au gratin. Here’s what I came up with: IMG_3219_2ingredients:

  • 1 medium celery root, cut into 1/8″ quarter rounds
  • 1 small turnip, cut into 1/8″ quarter rounds
  • 1/2 small cauliflower, flowerettes
  • 1 can white kidney beans, well rinsed
  • 6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8-1/4 c milk (I used 2% and wasn’t disappointed)
  • 2-3 T butter
  • freshly ground black or green pepper to taste
  • arugula

instructions:

Lightly butter 2 quart casserole dish, and preheat oven to 365F. Chop ends off of celery root, then cut away outer tough skin to reveal white root. Cut in half, then cut into 1/8″ quarter round slices. Also cut turnip into 1/8″ quarter round slices. Layer half of celery root around bottom of casserole dish as you would potatoes when making potato au gratin. Next layer half of turnip, half of arugula, half of white kidney beans, half of cheeses; then repeat with layers of celery root, turnip, arugula, beans, all of cauliflower, cheeses. Pour scant 1/4 c milk over all, and top with dots of chopped butter, freshly ground black or green pepper to taste. Bake in center of oven, covered for first 25-30 minutes, then uncovered for about 10-15 more, until nicely browned top crust (but not dried out inside).

Revisited: instead of layering in the arugula, I served the baked au gratin on a bed of arugula– I liked that better.

This is not your grandmother’s super rich potato au gratin– if that is what you’re craving, then use more Gruyere, cream instead of 1% fat milk, and 2-4T butter. That said, I thought it was totally satisfying– light yet sustaining with the beans adding protein, and the great flavor of the turnip and arugula complementing the Gruyere. What do you think?

I think if there’s any leftovers, I’d like this for breakfast…