Broccoli Bean Soup

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In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that I usually feel a bit deceptive whenever I record one of my own recipes on this blog (so about 95% of the time).  Recipes are ontologically systematic, and if anything, the way I cook is the opposite of systematic.  I rarely use measurements and I am usually taste-testing everything throughout the whole process and adding spices or throwing in onions according to what my taste buds deem necessary.  The only problem with this is that I am now accountable to a blog, and I cannot just give out a nebulous recipe comprised of “a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a little bit of love all thrown together in a pot.”  I am slowly getting better at self-discipline and training myself to pay attention to the amounts I am using, but I am far from perfect in this regard.  I feel I owe it to people to offer this as both a disclaimer and an encouragement to think a little outside the box and adjust your ingredients to match your gustatory preferences.

That said, this wonderful soup was made in a haphazard fashion, and while I think the measurements of the ingredients provided will yield a most satisfactory result, I cannot be too sure.  So exercise your freedom and edit as you see fit should you decide to stir up this delicious soup in your own pots.

Ingredients

1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
2/3 cup carrot juice (simply puree 3 large steamed carrots with a bit of water)
1/2 cup brown rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup cooked kidney beans
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Use a food processor to blend together the broccoli with the milk, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese. Pulse until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a medium size pot over low heat. Add the carrot juice, beans, rice, salt and pepper. Cook for an hour and serve hot. Enjoy! Tastes great with a side of tortilla chips.

Serves about 4
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Cauliflower Zucchini Curry

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The weather has been calling for lots of soups and stews lately, with all this dampness hanging in the air and making everyone sick. Luckily, this curry happens to be a great defense for the immune system, in large part because of its spices. Cumin and turmeric are well known for their healing and fortifying properties. The carrot juice provides the vitamin A, while the kale is chock-full of wonderful vitamins. Both the cauliflower and zucchini are anti-inflammatory vegetables with B vitamins. Cauliflower also contains stores of omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin K.
I like using cauliflower because of my impossible weakness for the underdog in every situation. It seems cauliflower doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, and if there’s anyone who will side with the losing team, its me. Cauliflower is making a slow come-back these days, as it should, because it is extremely versatile and can be incredibly tasty when treated properly. I like to think that I am playing my part by making this warm toasty curry. This dish is packed with flavor, spice and color, and it’s just the thing to chase away the blues that can come with too many rainy days.

Ingredients

2 medium yellow zucchinis
1/2 head cauliflower
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped kale
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
2/3 cup pure carrot juice (about 2 large carrots steamed and juiced)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ginger
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In a medium size pot, simmer together the tomatoes, carrot juice, and half of the minced garlic on low heat. Stir in one tsp of curry powder along with the cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander and ginger. Dice the zucchini and divide the cauliflower into small florets. (I used blended cauliflower that I had on hand from my cauliflower pizza crust, which also worked fine). Heat olive oil over a stove top and saute the zucchini for about 10 minutes or until browned. Remove from oil and add to the pot with the tomato curry sauce. While oil is still hot, add the onion. Saute for about two minutes, then add the cauliflower to the pan and saute for about 8 minutes. Lightly salt, then add the garlic and saute together for a few more minutes until brown. Add to the tomato curry. Stir everything together and add the second teaspoon of curry powder, the rest of the salt, and the chopped kale. Simmer on low until kale has wilted. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Serves 4
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Red Lentil Soup

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To all those practicing Catholics out there, welcome to lent.  To everyone else, today is the annual “Find People With Black Spots On Their Foreheads Day.”  Happy hunting!

While I am not of the opinion that lentils should be reserved for the lenten period, I do believe that lent is a great excuse to make absolutely delicious heartwarming bowls of steaming goodness. When my iron levels dropped dangerously low in Lebanon, my adopted Lebanese family made sure I ate lots and lots of lentils. It wasn’t hard to do, because Lebanon is a genius in the lentil department, and I was soon introduced to many different dishes. Lentils have lots of iron as well as high levels of fiber, folate, and magnesium. They also contain potassium and calcium and are generally great all around.  This red lentil soup is so comforting and tasty that you should try it even if you aren’t a big fan of the more traditional hearty lentil soups.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils
6 1/2 cups water
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt (or more if you prefer)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper

*The measurements for the spices are not very exact. I added a lot of cumin, turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper. You can adjust according to your taste.
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Pour the olive oil into a pot and add the onion. Stir over medium heat until the onion is almost translucent. Mince the garlic cloves and add them along with the spices. Add the water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about half an hour. Use an immersion blender to bring the pot to a smooth, creamy texture. Serve hot.

Serves 4 generously

Soup for What Ails You

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Sometimes in the quiet of the evening when its very cold outside and you’re very tired and when the world seems heavier than usual, the best thing to do is to keep busy and make a pot of hot soup.  Maybe there really is something medicinal about it, not just in the steamy spoonfuls, but also in the preparation.  The laying out and washing of the vegetables, the perfunctory repetition of the chopping on wooden cutting boards, the whispery snaps of the parsley and cilantro leaves being separated from their stems.  This is not a soup that needs measurements or precision.  It will take anything you have, and requires that your senses be the judge.  If the smells are inviting and the broth is full-flavored and wholesome, and the stiff vegetables have yielded to release their bite, its time to fill your bowl.  Pots of soup were being made since humans first walked the earth, and the world still turns.

Ingredients:

Whatever is available.

In this case:

A few chicken bones and some chicken breast meat
2 tsp Hungarian paprika  🙂
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp oregano
2 large carrots
1 turnip
1 parsnip
1 can stewed tomatoes (you can use fresh, but the ones sold in wintertime do HUGE injustice to the perfection of the tomato when its in season)
small bunches of cilantro and parsley
3 big handfuls of kale
2 tsp salt, or however much you prefer
1 onion

Put the chicken bones and meat into a pot of water and set on low heat. Chop the vegetables and add everything in. Let it simmer until the vegetables are tender.

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