Carrot Coconut Soup

I love the sweet, delectable carrots I get in my CSA box, and had a big bunch as they are plentiful this time of the year.  I combined the carrots with fresh turmeric and creamy coconut milk for a warming, aromatic, lightly spiced soup.

Carrot Coconut Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup

I enhanced the natural sweetness and aromatic qualities of carrot and turmeric with a hefty dose of black pepper, rounding out the flavor with a quality curry blend and balancing the soup’s flavor with fresh lime juice.

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Topped with fresh cilantro for a green burst, this is a savory and tasty soup.  It’s also vegan – so is a fabulous for all eaters.  Enjoy!

Carrot Coconut Soup

1 1/2 LB carrots, rinsed and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3 TB oil
1 can coconut milk
2 small rhizomes of fresh turmeric, diced (or 1 TB ground dried)
sea salt
water
2 tsp. quality curry blend, spiced to your liking
1 lime, juiced
black pepper, freshly ground, 1/2 to 1 tsp

Heat large sauce pan over high flame until medium hot.  Add oil and onions.  Sauté for 4 minutes, then add the carrots and fresh turmeric, then add enough water to not quite cover the carrots.  Cover, bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer, covered, until the carrots are quite tender.

Add the coconut mill, salt, curry blend, and black pepper.  Blend in a blender or use an immersion blender to create a smooth, even texture in the soup.  Adjust salt, then add the juice of 1/2 to 1 lime — enough just to add balance and brightness to the soup.  Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Peanut Ginger Soup

When I want a deeply savory, easy to make soup for a cold, gray day – this spicy, gingery, garlicy soup is the one.

Peanut Ginger Soup

Peanut Ginger Soup

Stunningly flavorful, this vegan soup is simple to make with almost all pantry staples.  The base of this soup relies on the powerful trinity of garlic, ginger, and chili flakes.
IMG_7837
Peanut butter and tomatoes adds richness, body, and tangy umami.  Top with chopped peanuts for texture and cilantro for freshness. Enjoy!

Peanut Ginger Soup

1 1/2 LB ripe, red tomatoes, chopped or 1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic
fresh ginger, 2 inch chunk, peeled
2 tsp. red chili flakes
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 – 6 cups water
sea salt
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, rough chop – for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro – for garnish

Using a food processor or blender, puree the ginger, garlic, and chili flakes with 1/2 cup water until pretty smooth.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed covered soup pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, water, garlic/ginger/chili flakes mixture, peanut butter, and 2 tsp. salt.  Stir together until the peanut butter is incorporated into the liquid.  Bring to a light boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes or so.  Stir the soup, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.

Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Adjust salt and chili flakes to taste.  If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water.  If the soup is too thin, add another TB peanut butter and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves.  This is a deeply flavored, richly nutritious soup – so keep the serving size modest.  This soup is delicious with levain bread.

White Bean and Kale Soup

It was cool and cloudy this week — a glimmer of wet weather relief for California.  I was inspired by the weather and the abundance of produce at this year’s National Heirloom Expo to make this very simple soup.

White Bean and Kale Soup

White Bean and Kale Soup

It’s a remarkably savory vegan soup, made with cannellini beans, garlic, and deep green kale.  Top with your best olive oil to heighten the flavors.  Enjoy!

White Bean and Kale Soup

6 oz dry cannellini beans (or two cans prepared beans, drained)
3 TB olive oil, plus more for drizzling
one large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunched lacinato or tuscan kale, chopped
water
sea salt to taste
black pepper, fine ground, to taste
a handful of dry pasta (optional)

If you are using dried beans, begin by soaking beans for 6 – 8 hours, or overnight.  Cover with at least 2 inches of water in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, then simmer until almost tender.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion.  Sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic, kale, water, beans, and about 2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a simmer, and cook – covered – for about 45 minutes.  Add the dry pasta, then simmer for another 15 minutes or until tender.  Add some pepper to taste, then adjust salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls and drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil.

 

Asparagus Arugula Soup

I just got some true harbingers of Spring in my CSA box — asparagus and arugula.  I also got a rare seasonal treat — green garlic.  What better than a tasty soup to combine these three flavors for a green, savory, creamy soup for supper.

Asparagus Arugula Soup with chevre toast

Asparagus Arugula Soup with chevre toast

This soup is creamy and flavorful, yet has no cream and can easily be adapted for the vegan eater.  Green garlic is the immature garlic plant.  It looks like a cross between a leek and a spring onion, but the flavor is different than either of these.  It’s garlic, but softer and fresher.  If you don’t have access to this, please substitute yellow onion.

green garlic

green garlic

Asparagus 2

asparagus

The cayenne pepper doesn’t make this soup hot — just accentuates the flavor.  I served this soup with toasted baguette spread with goat chevre drizzled with best quality olive oil.  The flavors combine very nicely with the soup and altogether makes a satisfying Spring soup.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Arugula Soup

1 large bunch asparagus, chopped into pieces (reserve a few tips for garnish)
3 green garlic bulbs, or one medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 stick butter or 3 TB olive oil
1 bunch arugula, rinsed and chopped
sea salt
water
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
lemon juice, a squeeze (optional)

In a covered saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or use olive oil) and gently saute the diced garlic or onion for a few minutes.  Keep the heat low enough to sweat them without browning.

asparagus and green garlic, sauteing

asparagus and green garlic, sauteing

Add the asparagus pieces and just enough water to barely cover the asparagus.  Add 1/2 tsp. sea salt and cayenne pepper.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the arugula and more water to barely cover vegetables, if needed.

When all vegetables are very tender, use a blender or immersion blender to create a rich, smooth texture.  Add more water if needed.  If you’d like a very smooth texture, blend thoroughly and strain through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Adjust seasoning with salt and, if needed, a few drops lemon juice to brighten flavor.

Saute the reserved asparagus tips in a bit of oil to garnish the soup.

 

Beef Chili

Rich chilies, tangy tomatoes and savory beef make a bowl of chili a homey, soul satisfying classic.  A friend had a bonanza of grass fed ground beef, and I was the happy recipient of her largesse.  This bowl of chili was the result.

Bowl of Chili

Bowl of Chili

Chili is fast, nourishing, and tasty.  The key?  Good chili powder.  There are many different chili powders from which to choose.  Chili powder is a mix of ground chilies and other spices, while ground chilies is just that — ground, dried chili.

Chili flavor agents: onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin

Chili flavor agents: onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin

I like my Beef Chili spicy, so I use a hot chili powder.  If you like your chili on the mild side, buy a mild chili powder.  Whatever your taste, be sure to use enough chili powder — the key to Beef Chili flavor.  This is fabulous served with hot corn bread.  Enjoy!

Beef Chili

1 LB lean ground beef
one yellow onion, diced
2 TB olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
2  cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes, or equivalent amount fresh chopped tomatoes
2  cans (14 oz each) beans, drained, or three cups home cooked beans (kidney beans, pintos, and black beans are all great)
1 1/2 cups water
3 – 4 TB chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 – 3 tsp. salt

In a large covered pot, saute onion in olive oil until turning translucent.  Add the ground beef and garlic.  Fry until beef is getting a bit of brown color.  Add all other ingredients, starting with 2 tsp. salt, especially if you’re using canned beans and tomatoes which usually contain added salt.  Bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered for at least one hour.  Serve piping hot in bowls, with corn bread or tortillas on the side.

Chili is a great dish to make ahead, as it keeps well in the fridge for several days.  You may also freeze chili for later use.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is velvety, tasty, nutritionally loaded – and surprisingly simple to make.

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

There are many varieties of squash, but nothing rivals the queenly butternut squash in this soup because of its smooth, creamy texture.

Butternut squash chunks

Butternut squash chunks

Sauted onion creates a savory base, and a touch of spice lends interest to the otherwise sweet and pleasing flavor of butternut squash.  While this soup has a fabulously creamy mouth feel, it is surprisingly low in fat.  I like the flavor of butter to saute the onion in this dish, but oil works just as well.  This soup takes well to a number of garnishes, including crisp fried sage leaves, toasted buttery crumbs, or a dollop of creme fraiche.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
1 yellow onion, diced
2 – 3 TB butter or oil
sea salt
dash of ground cayenne pepper or hot curry powder* (optional)

Peel the butternut squash, taking care to get past the thin pale layer that lay just beneath the skin.  Split the squash, remove the seeds from the hollow cavity, and cut the squash roughly into 2″ chunks.

Heat a large soup pan on medium heat.  Add the butter or oil to the pan and saute the onion until translucent.  If you are going to add a bit of spice, add it to the cooking onions and give give it a quick stir just before you add the squash.  Add the butternut squash chunks and then add water to not quite cover the squash.  Here’s a photo of my pan just after adding the water:

butternut squash in pot with just the right amount of water

butternut squash in pot with just the right amount of water

Add 1 tsp. salt, then cover and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Check for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.  If the soup is too thick, add a bit of water until it gets to the consistency you prefer.

*Spice note:  I used a Penzey’s Berebere mix in my soup.  It’s quite hot, but also has a great warmth to its scent.