Tag Archives: soup

Menu update from last week

21 Jan

I have something delicious to share from this weekend, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow since I owe you some food recaps from last week. It’s amazing how being sick for barely more than a day can throw off so much!

Anyway, I followed my meal plan pretty well and, as promised, I will share my triumphs and tweaks with you.

First up is the red beans, barley and Swiss chard:

Red beansThe beans were based on this recipe from the Fat Free Vegan blog (one of my favorites). Here are my tweaks:

  • I precooked the kidney beans and then let them simmer all day in the slow cooker
  • Halved the recipe
  • Omitted the celery

The end result was almost perfect except for one thing to which, I fear, I must admit: I burned the beans. I was in a bad mood last Sunday, which is when I precooked them, and I accidentally burned them. They weren’t destroyed, just a little charred, but the end result wasn’t as delicious as it should have been. Otherwise, though, the spices were wonderful, and simmering everything in the slow cooker was easy and yielded a great consistency. Also, obviously, we served ours with barley instead of rice, since I’m currently freaked out about the whole arsenic thing.

The next meal I wanted to share was the Butternut Poblano Soup, which made a wonderful lunch:

Butternut soupI tweaked this one quite a bit:

  • Used one small butternut squash and one medium sweet potato
  • WAY reduced the fat — more like 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Omitted the celery (sensing a theme? I don’t like celery!)
  • Used about four large cloves of garlic
  • Omitted the cinnamon and parsley in favor of more cumin and chile powder
  • Added 1/2 cup dry red lentils

I really loved this soup. It was hearty, creamy, and had a great balance of flavors. I imagine it would be good with any winter squash (other than spaghetti, of course) or just straight sweet potato. You could also use two poblanos and leave some of the seeds in for more of that great spicy, smoky flavor. It was a perfect lunch.

And finally, here is another creamy, delicious soup from this week:

Creamy chickpea soupI used the Chickpea & Rice Soup with a Little Kale recipe from Post Punk Kitchen and made the follow alterations:

  • Say it with me now: I omitted the celery. Also the carrots because I was sick and could not muster the energy to chop anything else.
  • Again, swapped in barley for rice
  • Upped the veggie broth to six cups
  • Used closer to 4 cups of freshly cooked chickpeas

The soup is impossibly creamy and filling. The flavors were surprisingly mellow, though, so we topped each serving with lots of black pepper and a little hot sauce. It was very soothing on my sick day and it reheats well. I will be enjoying the last tiny bowl for lunch today. Be forewarned, though: this recipe (well, my version of it) has more calories than I was expecting. It is very filling, so it’s not too terribly surprising, but I was a little shocked when I ran the nutrition information. I just wanted to point that out so, if you decide to make the soup, you plan the rest of your menu accordingly.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, whether you’re at home or the office!


Soup and tostadas

13 Nov

I have a couple of easy recipes for you today. This past week, I wanted to make my Pro-Immunity Chickpea Noodle Soup, but neither Trader Joe’s nor Ralph’s had miso, and frankly I was not in the mood to drive anywhere else. I decided to improvise, and the end result was way more like traditional chicken noodle soup — minus the death. Even Mr. X commented on how authentic it tasted, so I thought I should share the recipe. Also, I want to note that I made this during the tenseness that was Election Night, so somehow I accidentally made a vat of soup. We ate every bite, though, so don’t let that deter you.

Classic Chickpea Noodle Soup

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped or 4 scallions, sliced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint mushrooms (cremini or button both work), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • A couple of sprinkles of herbes de Provence (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water (plus more, as needed)
  • 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1/2 package cooked whole wheat noodles (I break them in half before boiling)
  • 6 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 3 cans, drained and rinsed)
  • Several dashes of hot sauce, to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the celery and cook until softened. Now add the garlic, mushrooms and spices and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant and the mushrooms are coated with the mixture. This will only take about a minute. Pour in the vegetable broth, 4 cups of water, parsley, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the noodles and garbanzo beans. If the soup is too thick — like mine was — add more water (I ended up with two more cups). Taste for spice and add more, including a little hot sauce, to taste. Eat and enjoy.

Makes a billion 8 to 10 servings.

On Saturday, I wanted to spiffy up the tacos I was planning to make. Since our tortillas were a little stale, I turned them into tostadas. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method — a ridiculously easy one. Just preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray both sides of your tortillas with cooking spray (or brush on oil). Sprinkle with salt and spices, if you want. Bake until they are crispy. Mine went for about six minutes on each side.

For the toppings, I sauteed onions and garlic and added soy chorizo and leftover pinto beans to the pan. That went down first, followed by shredded jalapeno jack cheese and then sliced avocado. We garnished with lime juice and hot sauce. Delicious! Mr. X got the fancy plate because it was his birthday.

Tacos and their variants are so easy and delicious, so we pretty much always have tortillas in the fridge these days. They are also a big part of the reason that I have started cooking entire bags of beans at a time instead of just what I need for a recipe. I never run out of things to do with them.

Weeknight recipes

10 Oct

Frequent readers of this blog know I’ve been pretty hardcore about meal planning the last couple of months due to my CSA, my need to save money, and my desire to eat better. Naturally, these efforts necessitate cooking during the week, even when I’m tired and cranky (or, in the case of last night, fighting off some nasty allergies). I’m turning to meals that sound delicious but are not complicated, and so far I’ve had great success this week, so I wanted to share a couple. First off is a variation on my Basic Lentil Soup:

I adapted it for the slow cooker, though, since I still only have one working burner at home.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 3 small-medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 container of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts) — you could use a small onion instead
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tofurkey Italian Sausage, chopped coarsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The soup epitomizes what I love about the slow cooker: combine everything in your cooker, add eight cups of water, and set to cook. You can put it on low and let it cook all day while you’re at work, or you can set it to high, and it will be done in three or so hours. I did the latter since I was preparing it for lunches on Sunday evening. It makes a very thick soup that is filling but not too heavy.

Serves 6ish.

I love lentil soup because, really, you can add any vegetables you want and season it however you prefer. I went Italian this time, but it could just as easily been curried or made Mexican-style.

For dinner Monday and Tuesday night, we enjoyed a variation on Oh She Glows’ Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.

I made the following modifications:

  • Used olive oil instead of Earth Balance.
  • Added two garlic cloves (instead of the powder), two scallions (though I would actually saute regular white onion next time for even more flavor), and a lot of crushed red pepper.
  • Mashed the roasted butternut squash with a fork and didn’t bother with a blender.

Our bowls contained the sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, shiitake mushrooms, the rest (FINALLY!) of the white beans, and kale. I would guess the ratios were:

  • 1 recipe of the sauce
  • 1 bag of spaghetti minus one serving (though I did boil the spaghetti fresh each night since I really hate the texture of leftover whole wheat pasta)
  • Half a container of shiitake mushrooms (button or cremini would work great, too)
  • 1.5 cups cooked cannelini beans
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn into pieces

Made 4 hearty servings.

Since I had roasted the squash on Friday night, the meal came together really fast, especially last night, since all we — Mr. X, rather, since I was feeling sick and, therefore, had regressed to a whiny baby — had to do was boil some pasta and reheat the sauce. I won’t say it truly tasted like a cheese sauce, but the flavor was delicious and very interesting. It also had a great consistency even without blending it.

Tonight we’re having variation #10 billion on X’s Spicy Portobello Chili, and he has demanded I update the recipe with our current favorite combination, so expect that post soon.

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

20 Sep

I received a bag of red quinoa in the mail from a swap — that I’ll write about soon! — and I knew it would be perfect for a tasty salad. I rarely make grain salads because I find that many don’t keep well texture-wise. They get too clumpy and dry, especially rice. Similarly, I may be the worst architect of pasta salad in the world. I can’t remember the last time I made one that was much more than just edible. Quinoa is a good exception, however. It maintains its fluffiness well, and I find it far more filling cold than other grains. I think maybe it’s the quantity of the individual grains (or seeds, really, I guess).

(As a side note, the quantity discussion reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke: “I can’t eat spaghetti, there’s too many of them. No matter how hungry I am, 1,000 of something is too many.”)

Anyway, I adapted this recipe from one my friend and former book-group leader shared. It features a nice combination of summer and fall items, so I chose a ridiculous name to reflect it.

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped (peeled if preferred)
  • 1/2 a container of cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 green onions, sliced (green and white)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup pecans

This is a very easy recipe. Just cook your quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water. When it’s ready, put it in a large bowl with everything but the pecans. Chill and eat topped with pecans. Serves 6.

The salad keeps very well in the fridge and welcomes substitutes. You can use any color of quinoa, but the red gives it a nice color contrast with the greenery.

On another food note, yesterday I showed you the soup I made, but I wanted to mention the ways I have mixed it up in subsequent eatings. On Tuesday night, I reheated it in the slow cooker and added half the giant bunch of chopped rainbow chard, another 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas, and an additional chopped hot pepper.

And then I got home late last night, so instead of making the kale salad (on tonight’s menu now), I whipped up a serving of polenta for one (boil 1 cup water, whisk in 1/4 of cornmeal, and cook over a simmer, stirring constantly until it’s very thick, about 10 minutes). I then ladled a cup or two of soup over the top, mixed it all together until warm, and seasoned with additional pepper.

Mr. X calls polenta gruel, and I know it looks hideous, but I think it’s delicious. So there.

What’s your favorite way to upgrade or reinvent leftover soup?

What I Ate Wednesday

19 Sep

I decided to give this trend a go roughly 10 years late to the party. I’m like that with every trend. I ignore until it’s been around so long that it isn’t a trend any more, and then I’m ready to jump on board.

Apparently part of WIAW is writing a little about the month’s theme, and September’s is “fall into good habits.” Since August, my goal has been cooking with the veggies I receive in my CSA share each week and only eating out once per week. It’s going well, though there have been a few hiccups along the way, so recommitting to my plan is still on the list for September. My non-food goals include budgeting (ugh), getting out of the house more (kind of a conundrum when we’re also trying to spend less), and doing creative projects. Someday I’ll have to do a post about my clothing makeovers, if that would interest you.

And now, food. We are covering Monday here, and once again I started the week off with overnight oats:

It was about 1/2 cup of oats soaked in enough almond milk to cover overnight, plus vanilla and cinnamon. In the morning, I add peanut butter — currently obsessed with this one — and cut up banana. Not terribly exciting or photogenic, but I love it.

I was running around on my “lunch hour” (in quote marks because I’m salaried and, therefore, don’t really have a lunch hour — and it was also 2:00) doing errands, so I grabbed a bag of Pop Chips, which I forgot to photograph. They were the jalapeno flavor, my favorites.

Back at the office, I ate my quinoa salad:

I will share a recipe tomorrow. It turned out really good — basic, but tasty.

Towards the end of the day, one of my employees was putting out snacks for a training that evening. I couldn’t resist a handful of these ridiculous Flipsides Pretzel Crackers:

Then I made the long drive home to enjoy dinner with my insanely cute husband.

It was a simple meal of soup and bread, but it was made 1,000 times fancier by our . . . NEW TABLE! Here is the meal all plated (well, bowled) and displayed:

The table is not actually new, just new to us, and we can’t say THANK YOU enough to Chris and Jessica, our friends from Bakersfield, who gave the set to us. We feel like real grown-ups now.

Back to the meal. The soup was inspired by this stew, but I switched it up a lot by throwing together things in the pantry and the fridge. It ended up being a really nice taste of summer.

To make it, I added one can of fire-roasted tomatoes, half a chopped onion, four minced cloves of garlic, two chopped yellow squashes, half a container of chopped cremini mushrooms, leftover cooked garbanzo and black beans (maybe 3 cups total), the remnants of a bag of barley (probably 1/4 cup), three hot peppers, and spices (salt, pepper, thyme, and herbes de Provence) to the crock pot and put it in the fridge. We then cooked it on low for about eight hours the next day. When I got home, I stirred it, added about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast and one bunch of chopped parsley, and then let it simmer while I reheated the focaccia in the oven:

We each had seconds on the soup (X another full bowl, me a half bowl). We also realized the pickles I mentioned two weeks ago were ready.

I had one bite since I’m not a pickle eater, but he ate several.

The verdict is that they are very good! We will try making them spicy next time, just for fun.

Dessert was the last of the watermelon (this x2):

That was my Monday in food. I will be back tomorrow with some recipes. Tonight I’m attempting to make a kale salad that will be filling enough, so we’ll see how it goes.

Blend no more

13 Aug

Well, Sunday prep day was off to a good start. I bought all my groceries (from the farmers market, Ralph’s, and then a quick jaunt to Trader Joe’s). I made soup for lunches, even though it was approximately 9 billion degrees in the apartment. I even made a batch of iced tea and remembered to freeze my banana AND soak my oats for this morning’s smoothie. Then today started well enough. I got up and went for a run/walk (which wasn’t my best performance, but it was better than sleeping in). I soaked my black beans and my cashews. And then I was ready to make the Overnight Oats Smoothie when . . . my blender went on strike. I have no idea what’s wrong with it beyond the whole it-not-blending thing. It’s probably the motor, but it was definitely still turning, so maybe it’s the blades? I have no idea. Tonight I will see what I can do to repair it using my non-skills. I really need that little beast this week, too, for seven freaking meals. Blargh. Let me just advise all of you not to try making the aforementioned smoothie with an immersion blender. It was chunky. 😦

At least the soup turned out magically delicious:


I added a whole package of tempeh this time and reduced the potatoes slightly (closer to 1 lb than 1.25). It came out thicker than last time, though it is slightly less tangy, but still a wonderful lunch. I may or may not have brought the entire pot with a massive spoon to work:


If I don’t manage to fix the blender, I guess I will attempt to make salad dressing — involving raw cashews — with the immersion blender, too. Excuse me while I shed a tear.

Sick day eats

27 Jul

I stayed home from work yesterday nursing a bout of the ickies. I will spare you the details, but it was way, way less than fun. Somehow I gathered the energy to cook not one, but two delicious and satisfying meals.

A couple of weeks ago, the Hungry Hungry Hippie posted a tempeh stew recipe that I filed away in the back of my head. When I was meal planning for this week, I flipped through my copy of Veganomicon and landed on their veganized Cholent. I kinda combined the two ideas and came up with this easy and crazy delicious soup:

Tangy Tempeh Tarragon Soup

  • 1/2 to 1 block of tempeh, diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (plus more if needed)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth (or a combination)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.25 pounds Yukon gold (or similar) potatoes, chopped bite-size
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Bring a small pot of water to boil, then steam your diced tempeh for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over the medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it softens. Add the garlic, tarragon, salt, and pepper for about a minute. Then add the tempeh (and more oil, if the onion absorbed it all) for about two more minutes. Now pour in the water, bay leaves, potatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. After 30 minutes, check the potatoes for doneness. When they are fork tender, add the beans and peas until hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

Mine was more soupy than stew-like, but I actually liked it that way. Check out all the deliciousness:

I only used a half block of tempeh because I have a bad track record with preparing it myself, but it was actually my favorite part, so I recommend using a whole block. You could also add any sort of veggies to the mix — carrots, celery, green beans, etc.

For dinner, I threw together a pantry scramble meal that actually turned out really well. The whole thang:

For the entree, I used this recipe as a jumping-off point and ended up with a Mexican-inspired dish.

Black Beans and Barley

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
  • 3 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth, or a combination
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium and then add the onion. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper and stir for 1 minute. Now add the barley and stir to combine for 1 more minute. Pour in the water or vegetable broth, add the cayenne, and heat to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. After 30 minutes, check the barley for doneness. If the water has been absorbed but the barley is still too chewy, add 1/2 cup of liquid. Check in 10 minutes. Repeat the process until the barley reaches the desired consistency. When it’s ready, add the beans, stir to combine, then heat until warm.

Makes 3 servings.

We served ours alongside a simple salad: romaine lettuce, avocado, and a quick mustard dressing (2 tablespoons of my beloved Smoky Onion Garlic Mustard, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and juice of half a lime).

Perfectly easy and delicious.