Tag Archives: Basil

Nori Wraps

22 Jan

Instead of using tortillas to make a wrap, I experimented with using sheets of nori, typically used for sushi.  The contents of this wrap could be almost anything, but here I went with a red bean hummus, avocado, arugula, some basil leaves, and sliced red onion.  First, the hummus.  I love making my own hummus.  Store-bought hummus is usually pretty fake tasting, and whipping up a batch is pretty easy given you have a device suitable for pureeing.  A blender would work, but is more difficult.  If you have a food processor, making your own hummus is a breeze.  I really like traditional, chickpea-based hummus, but I made it with red beans and added some cilantro this time for variety.  Here is the recipe and the process:


1 can red beans

3 T tahini

Juice of one lemon

3 T olive oil

Pinch or two of salt

1 clove garlic

2/3 cup fresh cilantro


Put all ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth.

Next,  prepare the wraps.  Put a sheet of nori on a plate, and spread some hummus in the middle. Then, add some basil leaves (optional) and some avocado slices.

Then, add the red onion, and top with argula. (I forgot to take a picture with the arugula on top, but I used about a cup.)

Finally, roll up the nori into a wrap/burrito-like shape, and cut in half for easier eating.


Creamy Tomato Basil Soup–Take That, Campbell’s!

16 Aug

Ever thought you could make your own tomato soup?  No?  It’s not as hard as you might think.  It’s actually quite simple.  I’m serious.  My Creamy Tomato Basil Soup is pretty tasty, made with all whole, natural foods.  No preservatives, no crap.  I’ve made variations of this soup before, but this version is loosely based on the tomato basil soup I’ve had at La Madeleine, except here I cut the amount of cream and butter and add sun dried tomatoes for an extra burst of flavor.  Don’t be afraid of the cream and butter.  The amounts are small for an entire recipe that serves 4-6 people, and they give the soup more substance.  As with most things in life, cream and butter are great as long as you don’t overdo it.  In this recipe, I used organic cream and organic butter.  Why?  No artificial hormones or antibiotics, which are routinely given to non-organically raised dairy cows. I usually buy Organic Valley brand, which is a co-op of small dairy farmers.  You can find Organic Valley at natural foods stores and in many well-stocked all purpose grocery stores.  In Austin, that means Central Market, some HEB stores, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocers, among others.  If you don’t want the cream and butter, don’t use it.  You’ll still have a very tasty soup.  Remember, you are the boss in the kitchen!

The idea for making this soup and posting it on this blog came about when I decided to check out the ingredients label of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup.  What did I find?  The following:

tomato puree (water, tomato paste), water, wheat, flour, high fructose corn syrup, contains less than 2% of the following : salt, ascorbic acid (added to help retain color), flavoring, citric acid

Why is there high fructose corn syrup in tomato soup?  Your guess is as good as mine.  In addition to preservatives and highly processed ingredients, this soup has 710 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup of condensed soup, or 1 cup of prepared soup.  That’s 30% of what we’re supposed to consume in one day.  Yes, one cup of canned tomato soup has nearly a third of your daily sodium.  Ew.  My soup, on the other hand, is pretty light on sodium.  The tomatoes have very little–260 mg for the whole can.  There’s some salt in the butter, and I added a bit of salt at the end.  All told, my soup beats Campbell’s butt on sodium, and flavor, for that matter.

You can double the amounts or halve the amounts in this recipe, if you want more or less soup.  If you have leftovers, you can freeze it for a later time.  When you’re ready to eat it, pop the frozen soup in the refrigerator a day or two before you need it it to allow for the soup to thaw.

Here is the recipe:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 4-6

Time needed:  About 25-30 minutes.

Equipment needed:  4 qt saucepan or larger (see photos for example), 1 good knife for chopping (see example in picture below), cutting board, large spoon for stirring, soup ladle, measuring cups and spoons


Few ingredients

1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes

4 cups of water or tomato juice

About ½ cup of chopped fresh basil, or 1-2 teaspoons of dried basil in a pinch

½ cup heavy cream or sour cream

¼ to ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Combine tomatoes with water or tomato juice in saucepan.  Bring to a simmer (the mixture will start to steam) on medium heat.  Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop basil.  Layer about 10 basil leaves, roll them up, and chop into ribbon-like pieces, as shown in the photo.  Repeat until you have as much basil as you want for your soup.  It’s hard to get too much.

chopping basil

basil and knife

Then, chop the sun dried tomatoes, like so.


After the timer goes off, take the pan off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes and basil.


Add the butter and stir until melted.

soup and butter final

Add the cream and stir until combined completely.

soup and cream

Finished soup

Add freshly ground black pepper if you have a pepper mill.  If not, pre-ground pepper is fine, just not nearly as tasty.  Taste the soup, and add salt if needed.  Start with a ½ tsp or so.  Add more if necessary.  Ladle into bowls, and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.  Serve alone or with a fresh, crusty baguette or other good quality bread.  Dip the bread in the soup and let it absorb the soup….so good!

Bowl of lovely soup