LENTIL/CHICKPEA SOUP: One Ingredient Made All The Difference!

lentil-chickpea soup1 textNeedless to say, having a food blog, I cook a lot! Not only do I prepare tried and true favorites, but I’m always on the search for something new. As we all have preferences in tastes, I often tweak other’s recipes to suit myself.

But every now and then, there’s a recipe upon which I write in bold letters: DON’T MAKE AGAIN!!! (yes, I include the exclamation points). That’s what happened when I made the original recipe for Lentil-Chickpea Soup. However, due to my frugal nature and disdain for waste, I thought long and hard about what could be added to make it, at least, palatable. I always have Feta cheese on hand, so I figured, “why not”.

This dish instantly went from 0 to 100! Lesson learnt.

Note:  Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time. There’s quite a bit of very short-term cooking before adding the next ingredients. If everything is ready to go, you can zip through a lot faster.

LENTIL-CHICKPEA SOUP – makes about 6 cups

  • 2½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/2 T fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T cilantro, divided
  • 2 T + 2 T parsley, divided
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 15-oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 14-oz canned whole tomatoes, chopped (including liquid)
  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • 3 leaves Swiss chard (or other green)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled

Wash the Swiss chard, then remove and discard the spine. caldo verde4Chop the greens into 1″ (approximately) pieces.lentil-chickpea soup9

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium/high heat and add in the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions start to get a little brown – about 7 minutes. lentil-chickpea soup6Add in the ginger, garlic, paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes – bloom 1 minute. (Blooming brings out the flavors.)lentil-chickpea soup8Add in 1/4 cup cilantro and 2 T parsley – bloom for another 1 minute. lentil-chickpea soup7Add in the vegetable stock, chickpeas, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover with the lid slightly askew and let simmer for 20 minutes. lentil-chickpea soup2Add in the tomatoes (plus their juice) and orzo. Partially cover and let simmer for 7 minutes.lentil-chickpea soup3 Add in the Swiss chard (or whatever greens you want) and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. lentil-chickpea soup4Add in the lemon juice, remaining 2 T parsley and 2 T cilantro, and the Feta. lentil-chickpea soup5Taste for seasoning. (I added 1/2 tsp salt.)

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP: Hearty & Filling!

stuffed squash soup textThis soup started out as a Stuffed Squash recipe I was developing. I had a lot of leftover filling and, as it was on the bland side, knew we weren’t going to eat it. But as regular readers may know – I HATE waste!!! There was no way I was going to throw it out.

So, I put on my thinking cap. The filling was a mixture of butternut squash, mushrooms, chickpeas, rice, dried cranberries, pecans, and a shallot. An omelette was my first thought…but, no.

Then it occurred to me – SOUP! One can of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and an onion later I had an amazing dinner. The result was a delightful blend of textures and flavors.

When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP – makes about 10 cups

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use Trader Joe’s 3 Rice Medley)
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 T pressed garlic
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry the butternut squash. You’re going to need to cut it in half lengthwise. In order to prevent injury, soften the squash a bit by microwaving it for 3 minutes ONLY. (You don’t need to pierce it.) Turn it over and zap it for another 30 seconds. Slice it in half lengthwise and place halves cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in 375º F oven for about 25 minutes – until flesh can be pierced with a knife. butternut squash soup9Let cool enough to handle. Scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Cut into 1/2″ slices, then cut away the peel. Cut flesh into 1/2″ cubes. butternut squash soup10While squash is cooking, cook the rice.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add in onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. skillet 5Add in shallot, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes over medium/high flame, stirring often. stuffed squash soup2Add in squash, rice, garbanzo beans, cranberries, pecans, thyme, chopped tomatoes and it’s juice, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.stuffed squash soup1 Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

 

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP: Perfect For Those Chilly Nights!

sausage soup textLet me start by pointing out the quotation marks around the word SAUSAGE mean imitation. (For you carnivores, you can use real sausage.)

White Bean & ‘Sausage’ Soup is one of those recipes that can be made in 30 minutes – ideal for those nights when you have little time and/or desire to cook. This has become one of my family’s favorites, especially when served with a homemade Italian Bread Loaf.

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP – makes about 7½ cups

  • 1 T olive oil
  • about 1 lb imitation sausage – my favorite for this recipe is made by Beyond Meatsausage soup5
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 cups vegetarian stock (homemade recipe: vegetarian stock)
  • 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
  • 1½ cups canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (about 3 oz) fresh spinach, chopped
  • optional – Parmesan cheese, grated

Chop imitation sausage into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and cook ‘sausage’ over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.sausage soup1 Add in onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes – until onions are softened. sausage soup2Add in stock, beans, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil, cover, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes.sausage soup3 Stir in spinach off heat and check for seasoning (I add another 1/2 tsp salt). sausage soup4Sprinkle servings with Parmesan, if desired.

GREEN CHILI STEW: Fast, Easy, and Delicious!!!

green chili stew textGreen Chili Stew is an incredibly tasty blend of flavors that’s quick to put together. The little pop of lime is my favorite part!

You can tailor this recipe to your needs: roast the chilis yourself or buy canned, use the type of chilis I recommend or amp it up (or down), use fake chicken (nowadays known as “plant-based”) or use tofu. It’s up to you!!!

As Queen of Freeze, I always encourage people to make large quantities of something that freezes well (after trying it first). However, this stew is so delicious that there’s never any left to freeze so I’m not sure how well it would do. I suspect it would be fine.

GREEN CHILI STEW – makes 11 cups

  • 1/2 lb corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 jalapeño chilis
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 New Mexico or Anaheim chili
  • optional in place of fresh chilis: 2  4-oz cans diced mild green chilis                                                                                                 1  4-oz can diced hot green chilis
  • 1½ tsp vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 large (about 3 cups) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1/2 T coriander
  • 1 tsp + more salt if needed, divided
  • 1  15-oz can hominy, drained
  • 1  15-oz can white beans (I use cannellini beans), drained
  • 14 oz fresh tomatillos, chopped
  • 3½ cups vegetable stock (I use homemade vegetable stock)
  • 8½ oz fake chicken (I’ve used Worthington frozen ‘chicken’ log & Beyond Meat frozen seasoned ‘chicken’ – they’re both good)
  • optional in place of fake chicken: 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit, rack in upper third.

Spread corn out on rimmed cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400º F oven until corn starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven. green chili stew3If you’re using fresh chilis, turn oven to broil. Wash and cut pepper and chilis top to bottom. Discard seeds and ribs. Lay cut side down on cookie sheet.green chili stew1Broil until skin starts to blacken. (It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on it!!!). Remove and discard blackened skin. green chili stew2Chop skinless pepper and chilis into bite-sized pieces.

Remove and discard paper-like green cover of tomatillos.green chili stew11 Wash tomatillos well (they feel kind of waxy) and chop into bite-sized pieces. green chili stew6In a Dutch oven, place the oil, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp salt. Sauté over medium/high heat 4 minutes, stirring often. green chili stew4Add in corn, chilis, and pepper – cook 3 minutes, stirring often.green chili stew5 Add in hominy, beans, tomatillos, vegetable stock, and fake chicken or tofu. Turn burner to medium/high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to keep a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt, if needed (I usually add in 1 tsp salt).green chili stew8

 

You Say Tomato, I Say SALMOREJO!

salemorejo textSummer is the time when vine ripened tomatoes are plentiful. If you’re lucky, these red beauties are growing in your own garden. (I’m so jealous!)

There are many ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes, but I want to encourage you to try this extremely fast and easy Spanish chilled tomato soup called SALMOREJO.

Bonus: No cooking involved!

NOTE: This soup is really not meant as a meal – more of a refreshing something to tide you over, or a starter for the meal. The olive oil makes it very rich, even though the consistency is thin-ish.

SALMOREJO – makes about 6 cups

  • about 3 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • about 5 cups (8 oz) French bread, torn into 1″ pieces (leave the crust on)
  • 1 clove garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped, for garnish

Cut washed tomatoes into quarters – no need to remove core or skin. Place in blender.salmorejo3 Purée tomatoes. Place a large sieve over a bowl and pour in the tomatoes. salmorejo4Using a spatula or large spoon, slowly stir the purée until all that remains in the sieve is a pulpy mash – this can take 5-10 minutes. Discard mash into your compost pile or down the drain.salmorejo6 Put about 4 cups of the bread into the empty blender. Pour the strained tomatoes back into the blender. Let set for about 15-20 minutes to wet and soften the bread.salmorejo1 Add in the garlic, salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Blend until puréed. Add in more bread to thicken, as needed.salmorejo2 Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve either chilled or at room temperature, topped with chopped hard boiled eggs.

AJOBLANCO (ALMOND GAZPACHO): A Refreshing Change!

almond gazpacho textOne, generally, associates ‘gazpacho’ with the red, tomato based chilled soup. But there are other types, including ajoblanco – an almond based gazpacho.

As is typical with these chilled soups, they are easy to prepare. But for maximum flavor, they need to be refrigerated for several hours before serving…so plan ahead!

NOTE: This is a delicious soup, but a little is quite enough. It’s a very rich soup and not meant to be an entire meal.

AJOBLANCO – (ALMOND GAZPACHO) – makes 5½ cups

  • 3 slices good quality white sandwich bread
  • 2 cups water
  • 1¼ cups + 3 T blanched slivered almonds, divided
  • 1½ T sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cups green grapes, sliced in half

Remove and discard crusts from bread. Place bread in medium sized bowl and cover with the 2 cups of water. Let soak for 5 minutes. almond gazpacho6While the bread is soaking, grind 1¼ cups almonds in a blender until they become a fine powder – about 30 seconds. almond gazpacho7Gently squeeze water out of bread back into the bowl (you’re going to use this water). almond gazpacho8Place the bread into the blender with the almonds. Set aside 1½ cups of the bread water for later. Into the blender, add the remaining water in bowl (NOT the 1½ cups you set aside), the vinegar, garlic, salt, and cayenne. Blend for 30 seconds. almond gazpacho9With blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.almond gazpacho2 Pour in the 1½ cups bread water and run blender to mix.almond gazpacho3 Strain soup into a serving bowl. almond gazpacho4Into a small bowl combine 1 T of the strained soup with the almond extract. Then pour 1/2 tsp of this mixture into the soup (it enhances the almond flavor) and discard the rest (a little goes a long way). almond gazpacho5Correct for seasoning, if needed (I usually need more salt). Chill, at least, 3 hours – more is better. Toast remaining 3 T almonds in a dry skillet or toaster-oven.

To serve, ladle soup into small bowls and top with toasted almonds and grapes. If you like, you can drizzle on more olive oil – but I think that’s a bit too much richness.

TOFU & DUMPLINGS: Comfort Food At Its Finest!

tofu & dumpling textChicken & Dumplings is one of those classic, stick-to-your-ribs meals that’s considered a comfort food by many.  Of course, being a vegetarian, chicken was not an option. That pretty much left a watery broth and a few carrots, onions, and celery.

So I set out to make a hearty vegetarian dumpling soup with flavor and heft. It took a number of tries with a variety of ingredients, but I finally created what I was looking for.

I, also, experimented with the dumpling size. While the larger ones were appealing to look at and faster to spoon out, I found it was messy business to cut into them while eating. I kept reducing the size until I got to less than 1″ in diameter raw – they plump up during the boiling process. Making them bite sized is perfect so you can eat them whole.

TOFU & DUMPLINGS – makes about 18 cups

  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cups (about 2) onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 10½ oz carrots, sliced
  • 1 lb white common mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3½ tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry Sherry
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 T arrowroot
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 T butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 8¾ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium/high heat.  Add in onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté 7 minutes, stirring often.tofu & dumpling5 Add in mushrooms and continue to cook another 4 minutes, scraping fond on bottom of pan (the browned bits). tofu & dumpling6Add dill, tomato paste, garlic, and 2½ tsp of the salt – cook 3 more minutes. tofu & dumpling7Pour in the Sherry and continue to cook until evaporated, scraping any fond formed. tofu & dumpling8Add the water, tofu, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and parsley.  Bring almost to a simmer. In a small bowl, make a slurry by combining the arrowroot with 1/4 cup of the soup. Stir slurry into soup until it thickens a bit – should take a few minutes. Taste for seasoning – adjust, if needed. Keep heating the soup to bring to full boil.tofu & dumpling13As soup is heating up, make the dumplings. Heat the butter and let cool a bit. Then combine melted butter with the buttermilk – it will get clumpy. Whisk the egg white a little, then whisk it into the buttermilk mixture. tofu & dumpling10In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and 1 tsp remaining salt. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and combine.tofu & dumpling11 Form small dough lumps – 1″ or less.  There will probably be about 62. (These will plump up with cooking.) Make sure you form all these balls before you begin dropping them in the soup so they cook at the same rate.tofu & dumpling12When soup has come to a full boil, one by one drop in the dough balls. Wrap a towel around the pot lid and cover. (MAKE SURE THE TOWEL DOESN’T DROP ANYWHERE NEAR THE BURNER!  YOU DON’T WANT A FIRE!!!) The towel will absorb steam moisture so the dumplings don’t get soggy. tofu & dumpling9Decrease flame to medium and cook 11 minutes. Remove lid and allow steam to escape a few minutes before serving.

CALDO VERDE: A Filling Soup To Warm You Up!

caldo verde textCaldo Verde is a hearty Portuguese soup that is very quick to prepare.  It can be made with or without sausage. (There are fabulous fake sausages available everywhere!)

Normally, when I use fake sausage, I prefer Morningstar’s Sausage Patties. But since chorizo is the sausage of choice in Caldo Verde, I used Morningstar’s Sausage Links.  Next time, I will try using the spiced patties.

CALDO VERDE – makes about 6 cups

  • optional:  6 oz imitation sausage (I used Morningstar)caldo verde8
  • 1/2 T + 1½ T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled & cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 lb collard greens
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

If using fake sausage, slice into 1/2″ pieces. Set aside.caldo verde11 In a large saucepot heat 1/2 T olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add in the onions, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent. caldo verde9Add in the potatoes and water. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then decrease heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender when pierced – about 8-10 minutes. caldo verde10While soup is cooking, cut up the collards. First, remove and discard the center stem. caldo verde4Then cut the greens into 1″ pieces. caldo verde5When potatoes are cooked, remove 1/2 cup of the solids and 1/2 cup of the liquid to a blender. Don’t blend yet.

Add the collard greens to the soup in the pot and cook another 8-10 minutes, until green are tender. caldo verde7Start the blender and slowly drizzle in the remaining 1½ T olive oil. When it’s all added, continue to blend for 1 minute. caldo verde2Pour into soup. Add in the sausage (if using), vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning, as needed. (I add another 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.)caldo verde3

CAULIFLOWER SOUP: Eat As Much As You Want!

cauliflower soup6
Once again, we’re nearing sweater-shedding season and those holiday pounds are coming home to roost. But weight-loss doesn’t have to be painful. Starting a meal with a bowl of soup takes the edge off hunger, keeping you from inhaling two helpings of the main course. And, of course, soup can become a main course.

This low-cal CAULIFLOWER SOUP recipe is full of flavor and fills you up enough to leave the table sated. It’s, also, very quick and easy to make.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP – makes about 5½ cups

  • 6 T butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4½ cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 3 T chives, chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice

In a 4 quart or more sized pot, melt 3 T butter over medium heat. Add in the shallot, onions, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft, but not brown – about 7 minutes. cauliflower soup3Cut out stem core from cauliflower. Remove and discard the outside area – you’ll see a difference in color – then slice up the remaining core. cauliflower soup1Cut the head into 1/2″ slabs. cauliflower soup2Remove 1 cup of cauliflower florets and cut into about 1/2″ pieces – these will become garnish. Set them aside.

Put half of the slabs and all of the core pieces into the pot with the onions. Add in the water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add in the rest of the cauliflower, bring to boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook another 15 minutes, uncovered. cauliflower soup5While the soup is cooking, prepare the garnish:  Into a small skillet, melt the remaining 3 T butter. Add in the garnish cauliflower pieces and sauté over medium/high until golden brown – about 7-9 minutes. cauliflower soup4With slotted spoon remove cauliflower bits to a small bowl. Stir in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt. Save the butter in the skillet – that will be garnish, too.

Once the soup has cooked, pour it into a blender and purée. You may need to do this in batches if you don’t have a large blender. The soup is hot, so don’t overfill the pitcher. Start blending at a very slow speed, working your way up, so it doesn’t splatter. Clean out pot and add the pureed soup. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning – I add at least a tsp of salt and some ground pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, add in some cauliflower pieces, sprinkle on chives, and drizzle with a little butter from the skillet. (If you want to cut down on calories, don’t do the butter drizzle.)

HOT & SOUR SOUP – Super Duper!!!

hot & sour soup textOne of my family’s favorite soups is HOT & SOUR. Not only does it have an appealing kick, but I love that you can eat a lot of it with almost no calories. Yay! When I start my meal with a big bowl, it takes the edge off my hunger so I don’t inhale half a dozen eggrolls.

Added bonus:  HOT & SOUR SOUP is fast and easy!  Who doesn’t love that?!

HOT & SOUR SOUP – makes about 7 cups

  • 6 cups vegetable stock (homemade or purchased)
  • 9 oz (1 cup) fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 oz canned bamboo shoots
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1¼ tsp fresh grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp powdered
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T + 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
  • 3 T + 1 tsp water, divided
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin

Thoroughly wash shiitakes, discard stems, then cut into 1″-ish pieces. hot & sour6Cut bamboo shoots in half widthwise, then into slivers lengthwise. hot & sour9Press out excess liquid from tofu, then cut into 1/2″ cubes. hot & sour7Bring vegetable stock to a boil.  Add in mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Simmer for 5 minutes. hot & sour1In a small bowl stir together 3 T cornstarch and 3 T water. flour-pasteStirring stock, pour in slurry (cornstarch/water mix). Add in tofu, white pepper, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and scallions.hot & sour4Simmer 5-10 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, 1/2 tsp cornstarch, and 1 tsp water. Turn off heat. VERY SLOWLY drizzle in the egg in a thin stream, going in all directions. hot & sour2Turn the heat on again and whisk gently to break up egg strands. Serve.hot & sour3