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Peruvian Quinoa Potato Soup

5 Nov

This is a quick, tasty, hearty soup I made on a weeknight.  The recipe if from the Urban Vegan cookbook, by Dynise Balcavage.  This makes a ton of soup, so be prepared!  You could halve the recipe, or just cut the amount of quinoa in half to make less soup.  You will almost certainly have to add additional liquid to this soup–the quinoa absorbs a lot of water.  (Note:  I did not copy the recipe exactly and changed some of the quantities of different ingredients.)


1 T olive oil

1 small white onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 T achiote, dissolved in 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

3-4 medium potatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup rice or soy milk (I used almond milk)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the achiote and broth.  Bring to a boil and then add the quinoa.  Boil gently for about 10 minutes.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add the potatoes and cook, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.  If the soup dries out/gets too thick, add more broth or water to think it out to your liking. Add the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk and Pears

6 Oct

I gave away this soup entirely (almost) with the title of this post.  It’s so simple, the other ingredients are water, onion, and pumpkin seeds.  Butternut squash truly makes one of the creamiest, silkiest pureed soups that one really doesn’t need much else to make it fabulous.  I added coconut milk to this soup because I love coconut milk, but you don’t really need to do that.  It’s wonderful, though, so I highly recommend it.


1 medium (about 2 lbs.) butternut squash

1 medium onion

2 large or 3 medium pears of your choice (I used bartlett pears)

2 T olive oil

1 cup coconut milk (About half of a can–save the rest for another use, freezing if necessary.  I like to use it in my coffee!)

4 cups of water

Salt to taste

Pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) for garnish (optional)


Chop the squash in half, and then small pieces to make peeling easier.  Peel the cubes of squash with a knife suitable for peeling.  Peel the pears and chop the onion.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion once the oil is hot.  Stir to coat the onion with the oil, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped pears and squash, stirring together. Add the water, and turn on high to bring to a boil.  Once the mixture boils, turn down to medium low, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender (about like a cooked potato).  Once the mixture is cooked, use a hand blender or a regular blender to puree the soup, working in batches.  Be careful not to overfill the blender so the hot liquid does not pop out and burn you.  Transfer each batch to a large bowl or other container.  Once it is completely pureed, return to the pot, and add the coconut milk with about 2 tsp of salt.  Stir, and taste.  Add more salt if needed.  Serve the soup topped with pepitas.

Caldo Verde

22 Sep

Caldo verde is a hearty soup of Portuguese origin, and usually includes kale, potatoes, and sausage of some type.  It’s a perfect cold weather soup.  Not that it’s cold in Austin, but I love fall and sometimes get ahead of myself by making fall dishes when it’s still hot outside.  Oh well.  Kale is a great winter vegetable I wish more people ate.  It’s literally the most or second most nutrient-dense food on Earth, so be good to your body and eat kale!  I didn’t eat kale up until about 5 years ago.  It may take some getting used to, but it’s such a great vegetable and SO good for you.  Though there are several varieties of kale, my favorite is lacinato, or “dinosaur” kale.  Look at this beautiful leaf:

I used chorizo made of seitan (wheat-based “meat”) for this recipe.  I made the chorizo using a base of wheat gluten and adding chorizo spices and steaming it.  Though not hard to do, I can imagine one not wanting to make their own chorizo seitan.  Field Harvest also makes an excellent wheat-based chorizo.  If you’re a meat eater, you can obviously use an animal sausage, which is used in the traditional dish.  Or, instead of chorizo, you could substitute white beans to provide a similar level of heartiness.


5 or 6 medium red potatoes

1 medium white or yellow onion

2 T olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used Rapunzel, but Better Than Bouillon organic veggie bouillon is also really good) plus about 5-6 cups of water (you can just add the water with no bouillon too–I do this frequently with soups)

1 tsp thyme

1 bunch of kale

2 links of seitan chorizo or 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Red wine vinegar

Hot sauce


Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Meanwhile, chop the onion, potatoes, and garlic.  Once the pan is hot enough, add the onions.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, and add the garlic, potatoes, and thyme.  Stir to mix, and then add the water and bouillon.  Turn on high to bring to a boil.  As the potato/onion/garlic mixture heats to a boil, get out a skillet and heat a few tablespoons of oil to brown the chorizo.

Once the potatoes come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium/medium low, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.  While the soup cooks and you keep and eye on the chorizo, wash your kale and chop it into strips.  Once the potatoes are cooked, add the kale, stirring the soup the incorporate the kale.  Only cook for 1 or 2 minutes.  Remove the soup from the stove, adding the salt and pepper.  Mix in the chorizo, and serve with a splash of red (or white) wine vinegar and a bit of hot sauce if you like.

Red Lentil Soup with Brown Rice and Vegetables

30 Jan

I love lentils in general, but red lentils are especially fun because they cook so fast and break down to make a nice, smooth soup.  Red lentils are always a soup ingredient, whereas green or brown lentils retain their shape much better and can be used for other types of dishes, like salads.  I normally use them to make Indian dal, with ginger, turmeric, cilantro, and the other ingredients, but lately I’ve been making red lentil and brown rice based soups.  That combination in and of itself is fabulous, but I’ve also started adding vegetables like potatoes and carrots.  This time I threw in some frozen peas and corn for fun.  I happened to have some cornbread I made a week or so ago still in the freezer (I like to make a pan, cut into pieces, and freeze them to heat individually.  That way I don’t end up eating a whole pan of it, and nothing goes to waste either.)  So, I ate some of this soup just now with some cornbread with pieces of corn, some butter and a drizzle of honey.  Yum!!  Also, a green salad would be an excellent way to round out the meal.  However, I just at a big bowl of soup and a lovely piece of cornbread, and that was really enough.


2 T olive oil or butter

1 onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, ends cut off and sliced

1 medium potato, chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp minced ginger

2/3 cup red lentils

1/2 cup brown rice

Salt (start with 1 tsp, add more if needed)

5-6 cups water or broth

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 cup fresh spinach


Heat the butter or oil in a pot.  Add the onion, stir to mix with the butter or oil.  Cook for a few minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, and ginger.  Stir to mix and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the carrot, celery, and potato.  Cook all together for about five minutes.  Add the lentils and rice.  Add the water and salt.  Turn on high and bring to a boil.  Once the soup boils, cover the pot and lower the heat to medium low.  Set a timer for 30 minutes.  Five minutes before the timer goes off, add the peas, corn, and spinach.  Cook five more minutes, taste to make sure the rice is cooked and to test the soup, adding additional if needed.

And you’re done!

Marrakesh Minestrone with Cilantro Puree

14 Jan

I have a cookbook called The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld that I absolutely adore.  Every recipe I’ve tried has been divine, and this one is no different.  The book has very interesting and flavorful combinations, most with an international flair. The book is based on the idea of “flexitarianism,” or eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but not eliminating meat entirely.  I’ve been eating this way for a about four years, though lately I’ve been trending more toward eliminating meat altogether.

I decided to make this particular dish because this past weekend my Foodies group (I found a group of people who love to cook as much as I do!)  had a Middle Eastern-themed extravaganza.  We each took a different dish, and I picked this Moroccan-style stew, which mixes sweet with spicy in a really amazing way.  Other featured dishes included hummus, rice with dried fruit and pistachios, garbanzo soup, tzatziki, roasted leeks and carrots, an amazing dessert made with rice and almonds, tea flavored with cardamom and cinnamon, and several others.  Yum!  I was truly amazed by the range of wonderful dishes everyone made.

This stew is very hearty and can be eaten as a meal.  The starchy vegetables in combination with the couscous and garbanzo beans along with the rich spices come together to make for a very satisfying stew for a cold night. I made a change here and did not use saffron–I tossed in some turmeric instead.  Saffron is pretty expensive and I didn’t feel like buying it on this particular day.


2 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pinch saffron threads (I used about 1 tsp of turmeric)

1 tsp ground fennel seed (I left mine whole)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (I used more–about 1 tsp–because I like it spicy)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used closer to 1 tsp)

1-14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes

5 cups water

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

1 diced carrot

1 zucchini, sliced

Salt to taste

2 cups finely chopped Swiss chard or chopped spinach

1/4 cup couscous

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed

Black pepper

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cilantro Puree

1 tsp whole or ground cumin

2 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 garlic clove

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Toss in the onion to cook for about 7 minutes.  Then, add the garlic, saffron, fennel, coriander, red pepper flakes, ginger, and cinnamon.  Stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, and crush the tomatoes a bit with the back of your spoon.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  (As the tomatoes cook, it would be a good time to wash the chard and chop the vegetables to use your time most efficiently).

Add the water, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini.  Cover and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil.  One the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium low.  Add 1 tsp salt.  Cover the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Next, add the couscous, chard, and garbanzo beans.  Stir.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add the pepper and the lemon juice.  Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Now, let the soup sit to cool and make the cilantro puree.  You can do this with a blender, but I used my food processor, which is much better at chopping than a blender.  Add the cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.  Pulse until the ingredients are finely and evenly chopped.  Then, turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil through the top.  You may have to scrape the sides of the bowl if the puree doesn’t mix evenly.

Spoon some cilantro puree over the soup, and enjoy!  I’m definitely going to make this again.

Chickpea Puree Soup

5 Dec

I really like pureed soups.  They’re smooth, elegant, and require only that you throw stuff in a blender….obviously with a few steps in between, but you get the idea.  This soup was inspired by a NY Times recipe, though I made a few changes.  The original recipe calls for fresh mint, but I used parsley–parsley goes much better with chickpeas, in my opinion.  I also added more lemon juice than the amount in the recipe…around 4 tablespoons instead of 2.

I made the chickpeas ahead of time in my crock pot.  I soaked about 1 1/2 cups of dried garbanzos for 4 hours or so, and then I rinsed the beans and transferred them to the crock pot along with enough water to fill almost to the top.  You can either leave them to cook overnight or while you are gone during the day.

Of course, you can also use a few cans of chickpeas if you like.


4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 cans, drained and rinsed

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Sea salt to taste

Juice of one lemon, about 4 tablespoons

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Olive oil for drizzling


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add the chopped onion and garlic, along with the spices.  Cook around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Add the chickpeas along with about 8 cups of water.  Add some big pinches of salt.  Stir.  Turn on high and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn the heat down to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender.  Fill about 2/3 full–any more can be dangerous.  Once you puree a batch, dump it into a large bowl and set aside.

Once you’ve pureed all of the soup, add it back to the pot.  Mix in the lemon juice and parsley.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.  Serve, and drizzle with olive oil.

A Saturday Russian Feast!

22 Nov

This will be a 4-in1 post–four recipes in one post!  I’ve never shared so much cooking fun in one day!  My Russian friend Ksenia invited me and a few friends to her host family’s house for a fabulous Russian feast.  What a terrific day for food and drink!  There were four courses to this meal, so this post may prove to be long…..But the common theme of the day is that everything we made has only a few simple ingredients with simple preparation.

From left to right, Ksenia, me, Michelle, and Sarah

I made borscht, a bright magenta soup made of beets, potato, cabbage, carrots, onion, dill, and vegetable broth, topped with plain, whole milk yogurt.  Michelle brought a simple Russian salad she ate often while she lived in Russia, and Sarah brought vodka, Kahlua, and cream to make White Russians, which is probably a very un-Russian drink.  Except that it contains vodka as a key element.  Ksenia made crepes using her grandmothers batter recipe.  So authentic!

Let’s start with the borscht.  There seem to be a million ways of making borscht–the only common element seems to be that all borschts are made with beets.  Ok, fair enough.  Borscht=soup containing beets.  I got it.  Here is the recipe for my borscht:


(Makes about 6 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium beets

3 medium carrots

1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion

1 russet potato

1 or 2 cups cabbage

8 cups of water or vegetable broth (I used a few tablespoons of Better than Bouillon organic vegetable broth paste, mixed with 8 cups of water)

3 tablespoons dill (it’s really, really hard to get too much dill)

Salt and pepper to taste

A few splashes of red wine vinegar


Peel and chop the vegetables into roughly the same size.  Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, and stir to coat the onion in the oil.  Cook just a few minutes, then add the beets, carrots, and potato.  Stir to mix and coat in the oil.

Fill the pot with the broth or water, turn up to high, add a few teaspoons of salt, and grind some pepper into the soup.  When you soup comes to a boil, turn down to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, add the cabbage and cook for 10 minutes more.  Make sure the beets are tender to test if the soup is done–they will be the last of the vegetables to finish cooking.  Once the cooking is finished, get out your blender.  Strain the vegetables using a slotted spoon (big spoon with holes in it), and add them to the blender.  Add a few ladles of broth.  Puree.  Dump your newly pureed soup into a separate large bowl and set aside.  Repeat this process until all the vegetables are pureed, and you’re left with some broth in the pot.  Only fill your blender about 2/3 full, because hot soup in a blender can be a dangerous thing.  Once all the vegetables are pureed, add them back into the pot of broth, and stir.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary–you may need additional salt at this point.  Stir in the dill.  Ladle your soup into bowls, top with more dill if you want, and spoon some yogurt over the top.  Yum!

Russian Salad


3 medium tomatoes

2 cucumbers

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup fresh dill

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt to taste

Chop the tomatoes and bell pepper and add them to a large bowl.  Peel the cucumbers and chop, and add to the tomatoes and peppers.  Chop the dill, and toss it with the vegetables, olive oil, and add some salt to taste.

Of course, the White Russians!  Sarah mixing some up:

Sarah’s White Russian formula for two servings:

2 shots vodka

1 shot Kahlua

4 shots half-and-half


Mix and drink.  Repeat.

Last, but certainly not least, Russian crepes!  Ksenia making the inaugural crepe of the afternoon:

Ksenia’s Russian Dessert Crepes


2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

a few pinches of salt and baking soda

2 cups of flour

2 cups of water

1 cup hot milk



Heat a crepe pan or skillet over medium heat.  When I make crepes, I just use my stainless steel skillet and coat it in butter between each crepe to keep them from sticking.  Crepe pans don’t require butter.  Heat the milk in the microwave for about a minute and a half.  Add to a mixing bowl, and beat in the 2 eggs, add the water and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix using a whisk.

Once the pan is hot, use a ladle and spoon a ladle-full of batter onto the pan.  Immediately pick up the pan and move it around to spread the batter around.  The crepes will only take a minute or two to cook, and don’t really require flipping.  They are so thin that they cook on both sides at once.

For fillings, we used apples, strawberries, ricotta cheese, honey, and sour cream….not necessarily all together!  I spread some ricotta on my crepe, added apples, and a bit of honey.

Wrap up, and enjoy!

What a fun afternoon!  Thanks ladies!