Archive for soup

Raw Vegetable Soup

I did a cleanse a couple of months ago and one part of it was starting the morning with freshly made vegetable juice before breakfast.  The idea of juicing hadn’t appealed to me before this, because juice is not a whole food and I did not like the idea of all of the pulp going to waste.  The more I learn about it, though, the more I am intrigued by this idea of getting a whole bunch of concentrated vitamins into our bodies first thing in the morning and I actually find it quite powerful.  It’s also easy on the digestion first thing in the morning, because your body doesn’t really have to do any work to assimilate it.  Of course, I do not let the pulp go to waste.  I use it to make dehydrated crackers, I cook it into veggie pancakes, or I add it to breads, vegetable sautes, etc.

A couple days ago, I had to head out to my kitchen very early and I don’t have a juicer there.  It was too early to turn mine on before I left, as my whole family had been with me in the kitchen the night before until later than is prudent and I really wanted them to be able to sleep in.  So, I had to come up with an alternative that would provide all those good vitamins and minerals to start the day, but could be made without a juicer.  Fortunately, with the Summer produce in full force, my vegetable drawers were well-stocked, so I grabbed a few things and headed out.  In this case, I brought carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and fennel, plus some ginger and a lemon.  But, the options for this kind of soup are really endless – zucchini, cabbage, bell peppers, and romaine lettuce would all be good, and of course you can’t go wrong with fresh herbs.

This will make 2 servings – you can have it for breakfast and lunch or you can share it with someone you love.

  • 5 medium carrots
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 stalk fennel, or more to taste, reserve the greens for garnish
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, more or less as you like
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
  • salt, to taste

Place the carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, and ginger in the blender and process until smooth.  Add the avocado and continue to blend.  Add the citrus juice and a generous pinch of salt, then taste and adjust as needed.  Garnish with the green, wispy fennel and serve cold.  Enjoy!

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Raw Avocado and Cucumber Soup

This is a great soup for this time of year and throughout the Summer – it’s light and refreshing, yet so satisfying because of all those yummy good fats from the avocado.  We can actually get local greenhouse cucumbers at the Market now, which is what inspired me to make this soup.  I think I will be making it a lot once cucumbers hit my CSA.  As the herb selection at the Market grows, I can see many different twists on this soup – fresh mint, maybe tarragon, of course dill would be nice…

In terms of serving size, this recipe will make 2-4 portions, depending on what role it’s playing in your meal.  It could also make a nice salad dressing…

  • 2 ripe avocados, medium-sized
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 large lime, juiced and zested
  • a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder, or to taste
  • water, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • for garnish – chopped tomato, minced red onion and parsley or cilantro, optional

Scoop the flesh from the avocado.  Cut the cucumber into pieces.  Put the avocado, cucumber, garlic, scallion, lime juice, cayenne or chipotle powder, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed to process.  Check texture and add a bit more water if a thinner texture is desired.  Once the texture is how you like it, taste and adjust seasonings.  Garnish with chopped tomato, minced red onion and chopped parsley or cilantro.  Enjoy!

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Kik Kei Wat

First an apology in case I’m not accurate in my naming of this dish.  I took a guess, because I knew that if I gave it a descriptive title like Berbere Split Pea soup, a) it wouldn’t sound as interesting and exotic, and b) approximately 75 percent of you wouldn’t have opened this post.  So many people have had a bad experience with split peas and it’s really too bad because, cooked well, they are a delicious, healthy, and economical food.  So, read on, please!  Whether your trouble with the split peas of your past is digestive or textural, I think this recipe can turn it around for you.

Meals in Ethiopia (based on what I’ve read and heard, since I’ve never actually been there) are often thick stews, served directly on a large injera (spongy flatbread) that’s been spread out like a tablecloth, then eaten using torn pieces of injera as utensils.  The more authentic version of this stew might be very thick and consist only of split peas, but it would probably be served as one of many stews including a thick vegetable stew.  To keep things a little simpler, I like to serve a thinner version of the spiced split pea puree that is thickened with grains and vegetables, then eaten with injera.  It’s flavored with onions, garlic, ginger, and berbere spice, which is traditionally very spicy, but can be tempered according preference.  It is SO yummy. Since I don’t know where you are getting your berbere or what’s in it, I’m going to provide a very large range for the amount used.  Mine is primarily paprika, but still has quite a kick from the dried chili powder.  If you’d like to make your own Berbere, you can find recipes online.  The main components are dried chilis and fenugreek, but all kind of other spices can be in there too.  Please note: this is powder from pure dried chilis ground to a powder and is totally different than the chili powder that flavors chili and usually contains cumin and chili peppers, among other things.

For planning purposes, this is a pretty large batch of soup.  It seems silly to me to make small amounts of soup as it’s so good left over and also freezes well, but along with the Millet and Roasted Vegetables plus the Injera, this is definitely a lot of food. If you cut the recipe in half and serve per my suggestions, you can still generously feed a family of four.

  • 2 cups green split peas, soaked overnight
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • 1 strip of kombu
  • 5 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 3 large stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 medium celeriac, optional, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil)
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2-2 teaspoons berbere spice blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (omit if your berbere has fenugreek)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • generous pinch cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Rinse the split peas, put them in a large soup pot, add the water and bring to a boil.  Skim the gray foam that gathers on the surface of the water, then add the kombu, asofoetida, carrots, celery, and celeriac.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are very soft, stirring to keep it from cooking to the bottom of the pan and adding water as necessary.  If you are using a pressure cooker, you can cook the beans at high pressure for about 20 minutes.  While the beans are cooking, heat a large skillet to medium and add the ghee and onions.  Once the onion have started to brown, add the shallots and cook another 2 minutes or so.  Now add the ginger and dry spices, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Once the beans are soft, add water if necessary to adjust the texture of the soup, which should be a thin puree, but not watery.  Once the texture is right, add the ghee/spice mixture and salt, taste, and adjust salt and spices if needed so all of those flavors come together.  Stir in your Millet and Roasted Vegetables and pour it all over a bowl lined with a piece of injera.  Pull off pieces of injera and scoop up the stew with it.  You’ll especially love any injera left at the bottom that has soaked up the yumminess of the wat.  Enjoy!

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Country Lentil Stew

This is a homey, hearty stew – perfect for the April showers we’re hoping to get here in Colorado soon! It’s full of chunky vegetables, French lentils, and a touch of tomato and is delicious served over golden turmeric-spiced rice with a side of roasted veggies and maybe some bread and avocado. I like to cut the vegetables into relatively large pieces, which, to me, is what makes it a country-style stew. I start with the usual – onions, garlic, celery, green beans, and carrots, but shallots, celeriac, and lots of chopped kale add more depth, heft, and nutrition. Of course, fresh parsley is a must in any soup broth. You could also add some cabbage at the last minute; just give it a couple minutes to soften up – you don’t want it to get mushy. I currently have a toothache, so turmeric abounds in my cooking because of its anti-inflammatory effects. I’ll take all the anti-cancer benefits too. Red chili flakes add a little kick and will help keep our sinuses healthy as the weather shifts between Winter and Spring. You can pack a lot of health benefits into this one pot, huh? And, it tastes fabulous, so enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils, soaked overnight with a strip of kombu*
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, thickly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, cut in thick rounds
  • 1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into chunks**
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, plus more later to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups jarred diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water (more if you didn’t soak the rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

*Kombu is a mineral-rich (including iodine) sea vegetable. When soaked/cooked with beans, it helps to soften the beans and makes them more digestible. It often dissolves with cooking, but I typically remove any big pieces that have not dissolved, as they are unpalatable to certain members of my family…

** Celeriac, aka celery root, looks like a knobby, dirty turnip. Use a pairing knife to peel off the skin and you’ll find white, tender flesh. Now that all of my CSA potatoes are gone, I like to use it anywhere I would otherwise use a potato.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil and onion and saute until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown. Add the shallot and saute until it starts to brown. Make a space in the middle of the pot, add a little more oil, then add the garlic and saute for about a minute or until it’s very fragrant. Stir in the celery, carrots, and celeriac, and green beans, cover and saute a few minutes more. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the lentils and add them to the soup pot. Add the water and onion and garlic powders, turmeric, and chili flakes. Turn the heat to high, and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the lentils are very soft. While the soup is cooking, drain and rinse the rice and put it into a medium pot with the water, salt, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Once the lentils are soft, add the kale, tomatoes, salt (start with 1 teaspoon), pepper, and simmer on low for another 10 minutes or so. Season to taste and serve over rice. Enjoy!

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Kitchari Cleanse and Kitchari with Quinoa, Curried Winter Squash, and Sautéed Greens

Several people asked about my kitchari cleanse after I mentioned it a couple weeks ago, so I would like to share a bit about it with you.  In case you aren’t familiar, Kitchari is a porridge made with mung beans and basmati rice and mildly seasoned with ginger and dahl-like spices such as cumin, turmeric, coriander, etc.  Eating only kitchari is considered a “mono-diet” (eating just one food) and the theory behind it is that it provides enough sustenance to keep most people going for the duration of the cleanse (usually 3-10 days), but gives your body a rest from digesting the myriad of foods we typically eat in a day.  I decided to do it because I was feeling very ungrounded and “spinny” and, while most cleanses or fasts would be totally outrageous for me (especially in mid-Winter), simplifying my diet seemed like a really appealing idea.

So, what’s so good about kitchari?

  • Mung is the most easily digested type of bean.
  • The combination of beans and rice makes a complete protein and, as evidenced by the cuisine in many areas of the world, provides good, solid, satisfying nutrition.
  • The spices typically used in kitchari aid in digestion, among other things including decreasing inflammation
  • Kitchari can be made in many variations to suit individual preferences.
  • It is absolutely nourishing, warming, and delicious – a true comfort food that’s good for your body.

Why might one do a kitchari cleanse?

I cannot necessarily speak to all of the reasons, but after doing it myself, here are some benefits as I see it:

  • It can help change less-than-optimal eating patterns.  For example, I ate more sweets than normal over the holidays and then continued to crave sweets as a result.  Doing the cleanse helped me regain my blood sugar balance.
  • It can be used as an elimination diet.  Assuming you feel good eating kitchari, you can add foods you are questioning back into your diet slowly to see if they change how you feel.
  • It helps create more space and awareness around eating.
  • It gives your body a rest, as I mentioned before, but I find that it also gives your mind a rest.

I did the cleanse for a few days and have been on a modified version of it for the past couple weeks.  I went into it thinking I would just stay on it until it seemed like the right time to get off and, while I have had some non-kitchari meals, I’m still finding that I am enjoying the simplicity of the (modified) cleanse.

Even during the true kitchari-only days I added some variety by serving it in different ways (with the rice in it, with the mung beans in a separate bowl next to veggies and rice, and using different vegetables either as garnish or stirred into the soup).  And, in case you are wondering about snacks, I did eat fruit sometimes between meals.  After the first few days, I started to replace the rice with quinoa for one meal, or eat mung bean pancakes with grains and veggies on the side instead of the porridge version.  Then, I started to use red lentils, which are a little harder to digest than mung, but still very digestible, for one of the meals.  Now, I am eating kitchari or something close to it for 2 meals a day and eating something different for 1 meal; when needed, I eat other foods for snacks, as well.  I’m not being rigid about it, because that would defeat my purpose, as our state of mind while we eat also has a significant effect on our digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Doing the kitchari cleanse was not difficult and I feel much better as a result.  I’m glad to be off my little blood sugar roller coaster and I feel more grounded and clear.  I will definitely keep it in mind when I need a little pick-me-up in the future during the colder months.  Since I don’t think I’ve ever read about a cleanse or fast without seeing a warning to talk to your healthcare provider before undertaking any major dietary changes, I’ll pass on that warning too…

I’ve posted recipes in the past for mung bean pancakes as well as kitchari, but here’s another version.  It’s simple, with just parsley cooked in, but I like to garnish it with Curried Winter squash cubes and sautéed greens.  It’s not traditional kitchari, but it’s a delicious variation.

  • 1 cup split mung beans (can also use red lentils or other small lentil or bean), soaked 2-8 hours
  • 3 Tablespoons ghee (or olive oil for a vegan version)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • pinch asofaetida*
  • 1 strip kombu, optional (can be soaked with the beans)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 cup finely minced parsley
  • lime juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cooked quinoa (or grain of your choice) for serving
  • Curried Winter squash cubes and sautéed greens for garnish

Asofoetida, also known as “hing”, is a spice used as a digestive aid and commonly paired with beans for that reason.  The smell of the raw spice is strong, to say the least, and has been compared to stinky feet, so it needs to be stored in an airtight container.  However, it mellows when cooked and is thought to have a taste reminiscent of sauteed onions and garlic.  Just a pinch of it is all you need.

Rinse the soaked mung beans well and set aside.  Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the ghee and cumin, and cook for about a minute or so, then stir in the turmeric, cayenne, and asofoetida.  Mix the beans into the spice mixture, then pour enough water over the mixture to cover it by 2-3 inches, add the kombu and ginger, and bring it to a boil.  Once it boils, turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer until the beans and soft and creamy.  Add the parslty, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper, stir well and give it a taste.  Adjust seasonings as needed, keeping in mind that this is a cleansing meal and should have just enough salt to pull the tastes together.  Serve over quinoa and garnish with plenty of curried squash cubes and sautéed greens.  Enjoy and be nourished!

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Lubiya (Middle Eastern Black Eyed Pea Stew)

I’ve been in the mood to branch out a little with my cooking lately.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my local spice shop, tasting, smelling, discussing, and being inspired.  If you are in Boulder and haven’t yet made it into Savory Spice on Broadway off the Pearl Street Mall, you should really stop in someday when you have a little time to browse.  I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing that many different cultures, so this is my way of connecting to people in other areas of the world and I find that so many of their staple foods have a very strong appeal for me.

I haven’t found a ton of information on this particular dish, but from what I can gather, it’s a Jewish dish with the taste of the Middle East.  For some reason, black eyed peas represent abundance and wealth in many cultures and are popular around the new year, so this is a dish you might find at certain tables at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.  I love the symbolism of purity, abundance, and new beginnings, so I think it’s a nice dish to eat any time of year.  Plus, I think it’s delicious, especially accompanied with some Za’atar Flatbread.  Just like some of us spread butter on our bread or dip it in good olive oil, people inhabiting the Middle East often dip their pita in olive oil mixed with a special spice blend called za’atar.  My blend is made of sumac, which has a deliciously acidic taste, sesame seeds, cumin, thyme, and oregano, and a few other herbs, but I’m imagining that different regions and households throughout the Middle East have their own personal blends.  Anyway, it is really, really yummy.  I wasn’t sure when I bought it, because cumin can be overpowering to me at times, but za’atar is addicting.  I baked some breads, brushing them with olive oil infused with za’atar about halfway into baking, then again when they came out of the oven.  You could bake your own, or brush it on some lightly toasted pita.  Once you have the Za’atar around, you might want to sprinkle it on your roasted veggies, eggs, popcorn…

Both beans and rice can benefit from soaking – this is mildly controversial, but I’m giving you my opinion based on my experience.  About 8 hours before you plan to cook the Lubiya, soak them in separate bowls in enough water to cover by an inch or two.  You can also add a strip of kombu to the soaking water of the black eyed peas.

  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac, if available (if not, use add lemon juice when beans are soft; see next ingredient section)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 fresh or roasted chili pepper, minced – heat to your liking – or cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup strained tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste (if sumac is not available)
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • a dash of coconut aminos if you have it
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, preferably soaked overnight
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of saffron (optional, but will turn the rice a gorgeous orange color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • water to cook (1 3/4 cups water if rice was soaked)

When you are ready to cook your Lubiya, drain and rinse your black eyed peas and rice, keeping them separate, and set aside.  In a large soup pot set over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil until lightly browned, then add leeks and continue to cook.  When the leeks begin to brown, make a well in the center, pour in a little more olive oil, and saute the minced garlic and cumin for a minute or two until it’s very fragrant.  Stir it all together, then add the celery, minced chili pepper, water, paprika, and turmeric.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium low and cook until the beans are as tender as you like them.  You can expect that to take about 1 1/2 hours, but that really depends on the age of the beans and your altitude, so don’t hold me to it!  Meanwhile, cook the rice .  If you’ve soaked it, put it in a medium pot with the olive oil, saffron, salt, and water in the proportions given above.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium low and cover to simmer for 30 minutes.  If you didn’t soak it, follow the rice:water ratios provided on the package. as well as the cooking time.  Now it’s time to finish the soup.  Once you add the acidic ingredients (tomato and lemon) and the salt, you might find that the beans won’t soften any more, so be sure they are soft enough before you do that.  The rice is fine sitting in the pot until you are ready for it.  Add the tomato, lemon, salt and pepper and simmer for about another 15-30 minutes (or more).  Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve over rice with some yummy za’atar spiced bread.  Enjoy!

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Simple Red lentil Soup

This soup is my very favorite at the moment.  It’s simple to make, completely versatile, and so nourishing and warming – perfect for the onset of the cold weather.  If you have a pressure cooker, it’s done in about 15 minutes; even without it will take less than an hour with 5 minutes of labor on your part, if that.  You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand – greens, root vegetables, cabbage, carrots; it’s different every time and always delicious!  If you don’t have time to put the vegetables in, just do the red lentils, kombu, ginger, and cayenne.  You can always add veggies later; when I make the super-quick version, I like to garnish it with a big pile of crispy kale.

This recipe will make about 4-6 servings; I highly recommend doubling it!

  • 1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed
  • 1 strip kombu*, optional
  • water to cover by about 2 inches
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon to squeeze into your soup

Optional

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch of your favorite leafy green, roughly chopp
  • cooked basmati rice or quinoa

*kombu is a sea vegetable that is often cooked with beans to make them more digestible.  It also adds minerals (especially iodine) to your broth.  You can buy it in the seaweed section of any health food store.  Depending on how long/how you cook your soup, it may dissolve completely.  If not, the texture can be unappealing (an understatement in the case of my family) to many, so you can remove and discard it before serving.

Place the rinsed lentils, kombu, water, ginger, and cayenne in a pressure cooker or soup pot.  Bring to a boil and, if using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.  If cooking in a regular pot, simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils have broken down and you have a smooth broth.  Add vegetables, if using, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.  (You can pressure cook another 3 minutes).  Stir in cooked grains, if using.  Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into each individual bowl.  Enjoy!

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