Tag Archives: soup

Chilled Beet and Yogurt Soup

I know, I know.

I was posting hot soup recipes in July and August and now that it’s October I’m coming at you with a cold one.  I’m untraditional like that.  Let’s roll with it.

This is a beet lover’s beet soup.  And while I’m exactly not a beet lover anymore, I still speak the language.  And as beet preparations for non-beet-lovers go, this one has a lot to recommend it.  The beet’s sweet earthiness is tamed a bit here by the tang of yogurt and lemon.  And there are only five ingredients.  And oh, the color.  Continue reading


Chilled Watermelon Soup with Thai Flavors

One of the nice things about writing a food blog, it turns out, is that you meet other people who like food. And in this networked world, you soon meet their friends, and friends-of-friends, and so it goes until you find yourself, as I often do, surrounded by people who love food, eating good food, talking about food.  Sometimes those people even cook for you. Continue reading

Red Lentil Corn Chowder

Recently I find myself enchanted by an unusual number of the recipes I see in my blog reader.  This salad.  This pasta.  This pizza.  I want to make half the recipes I see every day.  At first I wondered if I was just feeling hungry, but then I realized: corn is in season.As you know, summer and soup are not confined to separate seasons here in Seattle.  Continue reading

Turnip Soup with Spicy Greens

It’s not what you think.  Dull?  No.  Bitter?  No.  Stodgy? No way!  How did the poor turnip get such a bad reputation, anyway?

The spring turnips you may be seeing at your farmers market these days are delicate little morsels, and you should grab a bunch, along with their green tops, to make this sweet soup.  I always want more greens than they have attached, though, so if you’re like me you should also grab a bunch of mustard greens and pluck the leaves off your radishes as well to enhance your pile of greens.

This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and she serves it with Gruyere croutons, which are lovely–but it’s also lovely without.  If you want to make them, mash 1/2 c. grated cheese with a tsp. dijon mustard, 1 Tb. butter, and a few grinds of pepper.  Spread onto baguette slices and toast until bubbly.  You also couldn’t go wrong with a homemade bread here, maybe a soda bread (whole wheat? rye?) or an oat bread.

Continue reading Turnip Soup with Spicy Greens (click for recipe)

Make-it-a- Meal Hearty Miso Soup with Ginger, Corn, and Tofu

This recipe was featured in an Eating Well Magazine piece about how to layer on the umami flavors in vegetarian cooking.  Which is never a bad idea.  Did you know that corn is considered a source of umami flavor?  I didn’t, but I can attest that the sweet kernels were welcome in this dish.  Miso, soy sauce, tofu, and eggs also play into the deep flavor, and you might even consider adding some thinly-sliced shiitake mushrooms if you come across them.

I’ll be adding this meal to our dinner rotation as we lighten up our cooking for spring.  It’s full of flavor, quick to make, and can easily be adapted to accommodate the contents of your fridge.  It’s also kid-friendly, which is no small consideration around here.  In fact, this “Tofu and Vegetable Stew,” as it was stodgily named in my magazine, is really just a beefed-up (well, tofu’d-up) miso soup with a nice kick of ginger.  We made a meal of it by serving it over rice. Continue Reading Hearty Miso Soup with Ginger, Corn, and Tofu (click for recipe)

Rye Soda Bread

I like breads that are quick to make and bake.  A homemade bread can be assembled and baked in the time that it takes to toss together a pot of soup or a nice salad, and that small amount of additional effort brings so much to the meal.

Some yeast-leavened breads can be made quickly; I mean, check out this oaty little number.  And the speed of a beer bread is hard to beat–just stir, dump, bake–but then, of course, it tastes like a beer bread.  Enter soda bread, the dowdy but delicious ready-in-an-hour bread of choice in our house.  Or ready-even-sooner if you follow the method I used to make these whole wheat soda bread rolls.

This rye version comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it has many redeeming qualities.  It’s made with lots of whole grain rye flour, which gives the bread a dark, attractive color, in addition to providing flavor and health benefits.  More importantly, though, it truly is a stellar vehicle for the herby mash of dilled butter and goat cheese with which Swanson pairs the recipe in her book.  Or, you know, just butter.  Or soup.  Like split pea soup.  Or (what?  It’s not raining anymore where you are?) a brothy springtime soup with fresh peas and asparagus. Continue reading Rye Soda Bread (click for recipe)

Simple Lentil Soup

I haven’t posted a lentil soup here in weeks.  Weeks!  Hopefully you’ve been managing to get by alright with that red lentil soup from last month.  And did I ever mention that you can and should make The Best Soup of 2011 with green lentils?

But what do you think I EAT around here, people?  Oh, right, that kale salad.  Every day.  But also: lentil soup.  And this week it’s this lentil soup.  It’s a recipe that’s been in my life for a long time, but I never get tired of it.  I try out a lot of recipes, as you might have noticed.  Some are duds (you’ll never hear about those, shhh).  Some are momentary infatuations.  Some I make season after season, year after year.  This soup falls into that last category.

And since it’s late April and I’m talking lentil soup, I guess it’s time to come clean about something: seasonality be damned, I make soup year-round.  Avert your eyes if you must, or haul your laptop over to right in front of your air conditioner to read about it.  I live in Seattle, after all, and feel that I am entitled to take advantage of the few meteorological perks available in this region.  So I will be making soup as the weather permits (i.e., all summer long).

This is one of those recipes that I got from a friend a long time ago and I don’t know where it came from before that.  So if you are the inventor of this precise combination of ingredients, thank you.  It’s perfect.  I haven’t changed a thing.  My friend says the Parmesan rind is what makes it so good, which may be true, but if you don’t have one handy I imagine that you could add the flavor by stirring in some finely-grated Parmesan cheese at the end.  And if you’re vegan I am pretty sure that you could get away with leaving the Parmesan rind out and adding one pinch more salt–but I haven’t tried that.  I don’t want to mess with perfection.

Finally, don’t forget that in the time it takes this soup to cook you can easily bake a homemade bread.  This week I’ve been baking this easy little oat bread, but a whole wheat soda bread or even a beer bread would be perfectly nice as well. Continue reading Simple Lentil Soup (click for recipe)

How to Make Homemade Organic Vegetable Broth for Free

Well, almost free.

I like to make my own broth for many reasons.  It tastes better, I can choose how to salt it, it’s environmentally friendly, and it doesn’t sit on a shelf in plastic for an indeterminate amount of time before it arrives in my soup pot.  But, let me be honest, the biggest reason I make my own broth (or stock, maybe, if you want to get technical) is that it’s irresistibly cheap.

Buying mostly organic produce is good for the environment and, I believe, for my family’s health.  But the price tag still rankles a bit, especially here in Seattle where the only things that appear to grow effortlessly are rosemary and moss.  Making my own broth allows me to essentially use my vegetables twice: I eat the trimmed part the first time around, and save the peelings for the stock pot.  At $3.50 a quart, I’m saving over twenty dollars every time I make my own broth.  If I do it once a month, the savings really add up over the course of a year.  Of course, you might not eat as much soup as we do…but still.  It makes me feel better about how much I pay for organic produce.

[UPDATE: Many of the comments below mention composting veggie scraps or feeding them to the chickens.  This, of course, is their third and final use after you have boiled them for stock!]

The basic method is to chop your selected organic vegetable trimmings into 1-2” pieces and save them in a bag in your freezer.  (I wouldn’t do this with non-organic vegetables, because I’d be concerned about concentrating the pesticides that are in the peels.  This is my completely unscientific personal opinion.)  Add to the bag over time.  When it’s full, put everything in a pot, cover it with water, add some seasonings, and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Add salt until it tastes like something you’d like to drink by the mug.  Strain and use your broth, or freeze it for later use.  Get a new freezer bag of trimmings started and repeat.

The only mental effort required is the contemplation of whether the trimmings you have before you will taste good in your broth.  Some are easy: Carrots? Yes.  Broccoli rabe?  Probably not.  Turnips?  Trick question!  They’re great.

You want to aim for a balance of flavors in your stock pot.  For me, the essentials are onion, celery, and carrots (or another sweet vegetable, like winter squash).  If I don’t have some of each in my frozen mix, I will sacrifice a whole onion or a few stalks of celery to balance out the flavors.  Beyond, that, though, the sky’s the limit.  I have tried to list some of my favorites (and a few un-favorites) below, but if you want an opinion from me and/or your fellow readers about whether a particular vegetable would be good in a broth, please just ask in the comments.

One more note: this process has the added benefit of giving you seasonally-flavored broths.  The vegetables I’m cooking this month are going into the freezer, and what goes into the freezer ends up in the stock, which means that my stocks reflect current seasonal flavors.  Perfect, because my soups usually do as well.  It’s a beautiful cycle.  When cooking in the summer, I usually do want a light broth with corn and tomato flavors, and in winter I am glad to have a rich one full of mushrooms, root vegetables, and winter squash.

Continue reading How to Make Homemade Organic Vegetable Broth for Free (click for recipe)

Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

There was a thoughtful post today on The Yellow House that asked whether cooking has become so fetishized that it has begun to seem inaccessible to home cooks.  It reminded me of the brouhaha over models’ bodies: if you see too many airbrushed glossy spreads, do you forget what normal looks like, and maybe start to doubt yourself for not looking so perfect?  I don’t think it’s crazy to think that TV cooking shows and perfect Pinterest culinary glamshots might similarly intimidate novice or busy home cooks.

For my part, I try to remember that it can be easy to get nourishing food on the table quickly, and I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Use what you have. Make it easy for yourself.  While I have been trying to include a few photos of my recipes so you know what you’re getting yourself into, none of the food we love to eat is magazine-good-looking aside from the natural beauty of vegetables themselves.  And if I zoomed out, most days you’d see photos that look a bit like Mama Nervosa’s This Is Not A Lifestyle Blog series.

Home cooking is messy and sometimes unglamorous.  Home cooks don’t use mise en place unless everything has to go into the pan at the same instant.  We’re clearing space for the cutting board on messy counters.  And we sure don’t have dishwashers tidying up after us as we go.  If you’re me, you might even burn three separate pots in one night trying to make one simple soup.  (First: the butter.  Second: the onions.  Third: half the croutons.)  Oh, well.  Luckily I only set the fire alarm off once.  To enjoy home cooking is to embrace these moments and circumstances.

And the soup was delicious.

Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup, adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day:  Heat a knob of butter in a pan over medium-high heat (don’t burn it).  Add a chopped onion and a couple of chopped shallots with a big pinch of salt and saute until the onion softens.  Stir in a peeled, finely diced potato, cover, and cook for a few more minutes (check and stir your pot, don’t burn it).  Uncover and add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 3 1/2 c. water or stock.  (I was in a hurry so instead of defrosting stock I used boiling water and 1 cube of Rapunzel herb and sea salt bouillon.)  Raise the heat, and once it boils, taste a potato.  When potatoes are tender, stir in a small head of chopped-up cauliflower (or half of a big head) and cook about 5 more minutes until cauliflower is tender as well.  Puree soup, then stir in 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese and 1-2 Tbsp. dijon mustard.  Taste and adjust flavors with additional salt, cheese, and/or mustard.  Serve garnished with more cheese and butter-toasted croutons (don’t burn them!). I made my croutons from this Whole Wheat Spice Bread with Brown Sugar, Orange Zest, and Walnuts, of course, but if you weren’t able to save any of that I certainly understand.  The croutons in the original recipe look great as well: 3 c. cubed bread bathed in 2 Tb. each melted butter and olive oil, whisked with 1 1/2 Tb. dijon and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Bake 10-15 mins at 350, turning occasionally.

The Best Red Lentil Soup of 2012

It’s no secret around here that I like to cook big when I can.  A big pot of beans, a big pot of soup, a big pot of chili.  Doubling a recipe saves time and isn’t much more work than making a single recipe.  Usually when I double up, I’m feeding a crowd or making one meal for tonight’s dinner and another to freeze for another time.  But then there are occasions when I make a huge pot of something and just eat it twice a day for a week.  This soup is one of those somethings.  It’s that good.

You might think that March 2 is a little early to be declaring anything the “Best of 2012.”  But I’m pretty sure.  I’ve had a go-to red lentil soup recipe for years (it was The Best Red Lentil Soup of 2008 or thereabouts, and has held the title since).  This soup has replaced it with a vengeance.

I knew it would be good, because it was recommended to me by the same friend who gave me that amazing chilaquiles recipe.  She is a great cook and discerning recipe collector, and when she tells me to try something I always do.  This recipe is slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks, which is another good sign, because I always like Heidi Swanson’s flavorful and sometimes quirky cooking.  In this case her stroke of genius is to add raisins to the soup, which plump up into barely-there bursting bits of sweetness mingled with the curry and coconut flavors.  In case you are feeling cautious to begin with, I will give you the regular-size recipe and you can use your discretion as to doubling it.  (You definitely will next time.)

The Best Red Lentil Soup of 2012: Bring 1 c. red lentils and 1 c. yellow split peas (both picked over and well-rinsed) to a boil in 7 c. water.  Reduce heat to a simmer, add a chopped carrot and 2 tsp. finely minced ginger (I like to grate it with my Microplane), and simmer until split peas are entirely soft, 30-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat a gob of coconut oil in a separate pan and saute a bunch of chopped green onions (reserve a handful for garnish) with 2 more Tbsp. minced ginger and 1/3 c. golden raisins.  After two minutes, add 2 Tbsp. Indian curry powder and saute for another minute, stirring constantly, then add 1/3 c. tomato paste and stir for one minute more.  When the lentils and peas are soft, add the tomato-spice mixture to the soup with a can of coconut milk and 2 tsp. salt.  Simmer uncovered for a bit to blend the flavors and thicken the soup; you can adjust the consistency with more water or more cooking.  Serve over cooked brown rice, garnished with those reserved chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and a dollop of Greek yogurtIf you try this and know of a better red lentil soup recipe, please let me know in the comments.  I never get tired of lentil soup.