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Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Cream of Asparagus 1

(Looking for healthy dessert recipes, or tips for how to eat deliciously on a budget? Then check out my e-books here.)

I wholeheartedly believe that if you can read, you can learn to cook.

However, I appreciate that preparing food is intimidating and daunting for some people. Plus, the popularity of gourmet cooking shows has left many of us feeling insecure about what we create. There’s no need to be Martha Stewart, people.

For those of you who still feel inept in the kitchen, this soup is foolproof. I mean, it’s basically got three ingredients (salt and water not included). You really can’t mess it up.

You’re making this. No excuses.

Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, egg-free, five ingredients or less

3/4 cup chopped onion
1 bunch of asparagus (about 12-15 spears)
1/4 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of water

In a few tablespoons of water, sauté the onions for a few minutes until they soften. Add the asparagus and two cups of water, then simmer until the vegetables are tender – about 20 minutes.

Put the vegetables, cashews and salt in a blender and whirl until smooth (be careful blending hot liquids). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, or add more water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

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Moong Dal 3

Over the last couple of months, I have been secretly experimenting with a deliciously fun and easy toy. I was nervous about trying it at first, and now I can’t believe it took me so long to welcome this ingenious gizmo into my life.

I’m now officially ready to share my adoration for…my slow cooker!

You’re probably yawning and rolling your eyes at me, as if I’m your lame-o mom who just announced she discovered this magical website called Google.

Yes, I realize I’m a wee bit late to the party, but I made it here, didn’t I?

The slow cooker is the greatest appliance to hit my kitchen since the Vitamix. I can’t think of anything more convenient or effortless than tossing a bunch of ingredients into a machine in the morning and winding up with dinner eight hours later.

That’s why I leaped at the chance to receive a copy of Anupy Singla’s book The Indian Slow Cooker, along with her newest release, Vegan Indian Cooking.

The Indian Slow Cooker contains more than 50 recipes, along with helpful tips and information about specialized Indian ingredients.

I’ve made a few things from the book so far, and absolutely loved this comforting, uncomplicated and easy-to-digest dal. I enjoy cooking Indian food, and this definitely tasted far more authentic than many of the things I’ve made in the past.

I significantly reduced the amount of chile powder and chiles, and I still found it a little on the spicy side! Be warned if you have a wimpy tolerance for heat as I do.

Do you own a slow cooker? Please share your favourite slow cooker recipes in the comments!

Simple Yellow Lentils (moong dal)
Recipe from The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla (Agate Surrey, 2010).

3 cups (603 g) dried, split and skinned yellow moong dal, cleaned and washed
1 medium red or yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced, grated, or finely chopped
2-4 Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 heaping tbsp salt
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp – 1 tbsp red chile powder
12 cups water
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Put the lentils, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, green chiles, cumin, salt, turmeric, red chile powder, and water in the slow cooker.

Cook on low for seven hours, until the lentils break down.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve over a bowl of steaming, fragrant basmati or brown rice or with roti or naan.

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In case the title didn’t make it obvious, this soup is very green.

And I’m afraid I don’t have a witty anecdote or sage advice to go along with it.

I was simply cleaning out the fridge to make room for my latest goodies from the farmers market, so I tossed the random vegetable stragglers into a pot and hoped for the best.

In truth, this soup was excellent. Smooth, creamy, flavourful, and a very pleasant surprise. The dill was the shining star here, even though there wasn’t a ton of it – but perhaps I feel that way because I love dill.

How do your fridge-clearing experiments turn out?

A Very Green Soup
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, soy-free

1 small bunch of green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
A few sprigs of fresh dill, to taste
salt to taste

Put all of your vegetables into a pot and add just enough water to cover them. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender.

Blend the soup until creamy, and add salt to taste.

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Want to know why I’ve been posting so many soup recipes lately? It’s still cold here, and rainy, and that means I want the warm comfort that a hot bowl of soup brings.

I typically eat a bowl of soup (or two) as a full meal, but I get that not everyone feels soup constitutes dinner. This one, however, is a hearty, stick to your ribs kinda soup. Even those who consume soup as a first course will likely be satisfied with a thick, heaping bowl.

That’s because split peas are loaded with fibre and protein, plus they are great for balancing blood sugar and preventing heart disease. Due to their insanely high content of the trace mineral molybdenum, they may also help fight the harmful effects of sulfites, which are preservatives added to many of our processed foods.

What’s the weather like where you live? Are you still eating warm winter foods, or have you welcomed summer recipes into your daily diet?

Split Pea Soup
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, soy-free

1 cup split peas
1 small onion
2 medium-sized carrots
2 medium-sized stalks of celery
1 small sweet potato
1/2 tsp thyme
4 cups water
salt to taste

In a pot, sauté the onions in a bit of water until softened. Add the carrots, celery and thyme, then stir for a few minutes.

Add the sweet potato, split peas and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour, until all the vegetables are tender and the split peas have broken down.

Carefully blend the soup until creamy, adding more water if needed. Add the salt, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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Zucchini noodles taste exactly like perfectly al dente pasta. Don’t argue with me, because it’s true.

This is a delicious, easy and speedy soup you can throw together for a no-fuss lunch or dinner (or breakfast too, if that appeals to you).

It’s a blast to use a spiral slicer to make the noodles, and that’s mainly why the pasta-like texture is so spot-on. I get that not everyone has one, though, so you could recreate the effect using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler. If your food processor has a thick slicing or shredding blade, that might work too.

This recipe serves one. If you like it, you could double or quadruple the quantity and share. Or just slurp it up by yourself. I promise I won’t judge.

Zucchini Noodle Miso Soup
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian

1/2 a large zucchini, or one small one
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp miso
1 tsp sesame oil
1 sheet raw nori (optional)

First, make your noodles. Spiralize your zucchini, shred it with a mandolin or peel it into long strips with a vegetable peeler.

In a small pot, sauté the mushrooms in a few tablespoons of water until softened. Add the 1 1/2 cups water, then the zucchini noodles and cook for 3 or so minutes, until the noodles are tender.

While the noodles are cooking, mix your miso with a little bit of hot water until it forms a paste.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in miso and sesame oil. If using nori, tear into pieces and let it wilt in the soup.

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I’ll always remember eating my first bowl of congee because it coincided with my very first glimpse of a beluga whale’s penis.

I promise I’m not a pervert – let me explain.

In 2006, I was a member of the media relations team at the Vancouver Aquarium. One weekend, I was hosting a group of journalists from China and we were having breakfast in the underwater beluga viewing area.

It was before the place opened. The area was quiet and serene, and the lighting dim, which emphasized the glowing white blubber of the four belugas who swam before us.

And then, as we were enjoying our congee, the Aquarium’s sole male beluga glided by the window – splaying his erection for all to see.

Um, awkward.

We had a good laugh about it, because what else can you do? That’s nature. And then we went back to our congee.

This congee recipe is not traditional at all, but it tastes delicious, satisfying and comforting. Beluga whale genitalia is not included.

Brown Rice Vegetable Congee
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, soy-free, five ingredients or less

1 cup brown rice
6-8 cups water or vegetable broth
1 heaping cup shredded zucchini
1 heaping cup shredded kale
salt to taste

Soak the brown rice in water for several hours. Drain and rinse the rice in a strainer, then dump it into a medium-sized pot with four cups of water.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the rice cook, uncovered, for an hour or two, until it breaks down and becomes a porridge. Add more cups of water as needed, depending on how thick you want your congee.

When the congee has reached the consistency you want it to be, stir in the salt, kale and zucchini and turn off the heat. Let the vegetables wilt for a few minutes, then serve.

Makes 4-6 portions.

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I probably should have called this ‘fridge and freezer scraps’ soup, as this recipe came about after I rummaged through the fridge, selected what was old or about to go off and turned it into a meal.

This soup was so simple, and yet I can’t tell you how delicious it was. The texture was incredibly velvety, and the key to this is not adding too much liquid. Make sure you barely cover the veggies with water to create the creaminess.

What’s your favourite fridge bits creation?

‘Cream’ of Spinach Soup
gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan, vegetarian

1/2 a small onion
1 small leek
1 cup sweet potato, diced small (about half of a sweet potato)
2 cups frozen spinach, or 4 cups shredded fresh spinach
2 cups water
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium-sized pot, sauté the onion, leek and sweet potato until soft. Add in the spinach and water, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add in the cup of almond milk, then blend in a blender until creamy and smooth.

Add in salt to taste.

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