Soups/Stews

Winter Veggie Stew

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Apologies for the absence- a couple things have happened in the past month or so, including a wedding (yes, ours) and a honeymoon (also ours!). We are back to cooking and today we are pining for the long, lost seasons! In California everyone raves about the weather, but we miss having actual weather- and four, distinct seasons!

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Because the rest of the country is still sort of experiencing what some might call “winter,” we decided to make a stew with a few seasonal, winter veggies. To be fair, calling this a stew is a bit generous. It’s a fairly thin soup that isn’t chunky. However, it has all of the super comforting and cozy makings of a good stew, so we’re going with it!

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This recipe was inspired by a NYT recipe, you can find that here. I do love the NYT cooking section, however I often find their vagueness disconcerting. They leave much of the decision-making up to the reader, which is fine for experienced cooks who know all of their favorite flavors and combos, but not really useful for your average person who just wants to follow a recipe and get a tasty meal out of it.

We developed our own version that changes up the ratios to make this soup not only heartier and healthier, but also less wasteful. One notable thing we southerners tend to do is try to use every part of the veggies we are cooking with. That’s what we did here. No discarding of vitamin-rich greens, and very little peeling. (It also happens to be less work- yay!)

One caveat for this recipe- you will need a blender or food processor. You will also want some string for your bouquet garni. (Don’t be offput by the fanciful French. It’s just a bunch of yummy herbs for a “broth” base).

Winter Veggie Stew

8 servings (2 cups, 120 calories each!)

Ingredients

for the bouquet garni
3 bay leaves
2 tarragon stalks
4 sage stalks
3 thyme stalks
3 rosemary stalks
2 parsley bunches

4 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 leeks
3 garlic cloves
2 turnips
1 lb russet potatoes [yes, it’s possible you’ll only need one, giant potato for this!]

salt and pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche + more to top [if you want to keep it vegan, skip the crème fraîche!]

optional to top
french bread
parmesan cheese

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Begin by creating your bouquet garni. Wash all the herbs and stack them in a giant pile. I recommend placing the bay leaves in the center to keep them from falling out. Tie them together with string like this:

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Place your bouquet garni in about 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) of water. You will want the largest pot you have for this!

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Next, prepare your veggies. This is the most time intensive process of the entire meal, and it’s a great opportunity to get your family in the kitchen to help out! You need to: wash, peel, and dice the carrots; wash and dice the celery (please include the leaves, no need to waste them!); wash and clean the leeks, slicing all but the yellow portions on the innermost layers; mince the garlic; clean, peel, and dice the turnips; clean and dice the potatoes (or potato).

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After your veggies are prepped, you’re ready to begin the super easy cooking process!

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Throw all of the veggies into the pot of water along with 4 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper. You’re making about 16 cups of soup, so don’t worry if this sounds like a ton of spice. Simmer all of this for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After your soup is done with its initial cooking, carefully remove and discard your bouquet, I recommend even counting the bay leaves to ensure none of them escaped during cooking!

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In batches, blend your soup to a thick, but creamy consistency.

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Place it all back into the pot, and add in 1/4 cup of crème fraîche. If you are vegan, you can skip this part!

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Serve topped with parmesan, additional crème fraîche, or even some french bread!

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Enjoy!

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P.S. You can freeze this soup and it gets even better when you reheat it! Great for meal-preppers, who like to have go-to healthy meals in the freezer for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight!

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Smashed Potato Soup

smashed potato soup

Whenever I want a hearty, vegetarian-friendly soup I go to this potato soup. Recently, I spruced it up a bit to make it more flavorful and easier to actually make.

Many potato soup recipes call for a blender or food processor. I have several issues with this. First, on a really basic level it concerns me to put boiling liquids into any machine that will spin them around at high speeds. It just doesn’t seem super safe. Second, I will be honest with y’all, it’s just too much effort. I have to get the cuisine art out of the top shelf, which requires William’s help because I can’t even reach it, I have to put the thing together, then I have to take the soup in batches and process it, probably burning myself in the process and accruing double the dishwashing duty I had originally planned for. Just…no. Finally, I really like preserving the natural texture of mashed potatoes. I think they are delicious, and in soup form with cheese, fake bacon, and all sorts of other things on top– I mean, it’s amazing.

Really, that’s why I’m calling this “smashed potato soup”. It’s probably the weirdest thing about the recipe, but you do have to spend some time smashing the potatoes against the side of the pot. However, it gives you complete control over the texture of your soup and it means no messy/dangerous boiling-liquids-in-the-food-processor situations! 🙂

smashed potato soup

Smashed Potato Soup
makes about 6 servings (assuming 2 cups per person)

Ingredients
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 large shallots, minced
1 head of garlic (peeled, whole)*

3 lbs yellow potatoes, diced
2 large leeks cleaned and cut

5 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon herbs d’Provence
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, rinsed and chopped
1/3 cup sour cream

optional toppings
cheddar cheese
fake bacon
sour cream
chives

*You can slice off the end and it makes the entire clove much easier to peel.

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Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the minced shallots and the garlic head. The garlic should be peeled, but does not need to be chopped as it will naturally dissolve into the soup! Let this simmer for a few minutes, until the onions and garlic become browned and fragrant.

Add in the diced potatoes, leeks (chopped and cleaned), and vegetable broth. Simmer for twenty minutes.

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Add in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and other herbs. Let simmer for another twenty to thirty minutes. Continually stir the mixture, checking on the doneness of the potatoes. Depending on what type of soup you want (brothier vs creamier), you can let the soup simmer for less time or more! The longer it simmers the more smashed the potatoes will be, and the creamier the soup will be.

Once they become soft enough to smash, use a large spoon to slowly smash them against the side of the pot. The soup will slowly become thicker. The thickness is totally up to you! If you would like to completely process the soup in a food processor, you can, but I prefer the hand method so I can get the exact thickness and potato chunks that I want!

Peel the carrots. Chop the carrots and celery. Add these into the soup and cook for another 10 minutes. Continue stirring and smashing the potatoes.

Add in the sour cream and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

After this, your soup is ready to serve with any and all desired toppings!

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Enjoy!

Minestra con pasta e fagioli

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I am exploring a new cookbook, Share: the cookbook that celebrates our common humanity. It was published by Women for Women International, an organization that helps women in war torn countries. Aside from learning about their stories, I’ve found some neat recipes that I never would have tried before.

This book is really fun to flip through because the recipes come not only from the women being helped, but also the women doing the helping. This provides for an interesting look at food around the world– who’s using enriched ingredients, which traditions favor simpler dishes, etc. I hope to make many of these recipes, especially those that are a bit more unique. However, I started off with a hearty stew that pretty much any mediterranean foodie knows: pasta e fagioli.

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Pasta e fagioli is a very traditional, Italian stew (pasta and beans), and I want to talk a little bit about the terminology here. I have labelled this post in particular as minestra. Any students of Italian will naturally question this, because the word that most commonly refers to “soup” is zuppa. The history of these terms is fascinating, and really important in terms of how we should view dishes like these.

In Italian, zuppa refers to a soup with broth and chunks of bread, no pasta. Apparently, the term actually comes from a Gothic word meaning “soaked bread.” On the contrary, my new favorite, minestra, is a soup that does usually involve pasta. Nowadays, this soup is typically considered a first course (not fancy enough to be an entree). However, minestra was originally the main (and only) course given to slaves in ancient times, and the term comes from the Latin ministrāre, ‘to supply.’ (Thanks to this Italian Life for the crash course!)

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Obviously, I geeked out a bit at that! On a more serious note- I don’t believe we need to look at this simple minestra as just a first course. This soup was originally meant to sustain men and women throughout an entire day. It might be vegetarian, but it’s jam-packed with protein and carbs. I “beef” it up a bit by adding in a fabulous herb mixture, but this soup can truly be anything you want it to be. The base is a vegetable broth with pasta and beans. You decide the rest.

Because it’s summer, and I am on a farmer’s market roll, I decided to throw in some seasonal veggies as well. Thankfully, this soup also doesn’t take long (about forty to fifty minutes in all).

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Minestra: pasta e fagioli
serves about 4, as a main course

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3/4 large onion
5 small carrots (with stems)
2 ribs celery
14oz can cannellini beans
14oz can diced tomatoes (if you can find San Marzano, bless the town you live in for carrying them and please make use of them!!)
4-5 cups vegetable stock (I use Knorr bouillon cubes, because it’s cheaper)
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 medium zucchini
2 bay leaves
1 cup macaroni

optional for topping
parmesan cheese (leave off for vegan option)
dill, Italian parsley, and carrot-top herb mix
salt and pepper

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The most tedious thing about this recipe is all of the chopping you are going to have to do! (It’s totally worth it though, so don’t let that scare you!)

First, chop the garlic and onion. [Pro-tip: Bring a miniature cutting station to your living room couch and a bunch of tiny bowls. I watched some Mad Men while making this, so I was chopping everything and separating it out before I even approached the stove!]

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Next, chop off the stems of the carrots (but save those leafy greens for later). Peel the carrots and quarter them. Honestly, you can probably get away with just slicing the carrots, but I knew I wanted a softer stew, so I went ahead and cut them into smaller bites. I even added in a big carrot because it seemed like a good amount of orange…I wouldn’t recommend it, because it ended up leaving me with little broth and LOTS of stuff in my soup! In the end, it will be delicious anyway.

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Trim and chop the celery, adding it into the bowl with the carrots.

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In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and add in the garlic and onions.

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After about a minute, add in the carrots and celery. Make sure you stir everything a bit so that the onions do not overcook at the bottom of the pot.

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Let this cook for about five minutes. During this time you need to rinse and drain the cannellini beans, and prepare your five cups of broth. Drop two or three cubes of Knorr bouillon into 5 cups of boiling water and stir until the cubes have dissolved. If you are using pre-made broth, you’ve saved yourself some time (and an extra pot)!

When the carrots are tender but still have their color, add the beans, diced tomatoes, and broth into the pot. This mixture needs to simmer for about twenty minutes.

During this time you can: watch more Mad Men, finely slice a zucchini (if you want to add that), and chop up your herb mixture.

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For my herb mixture, I used 1/4 cup dill, 1/2 cup Italian parsley, and the stems from my carrots! I washed them all and bunched them all together and chopped them. This was hastily done because I was hungry for soup, so you could probably mince them carefully and separately and it would be fancy and beautiful, but that’s not really what minestra is about, so I say just go for it and slow down just to enjoy the flavors at the end!

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After the twenty minutes is up, add in the peas, zucchini, bay leaves, and pasta. Stir everything together really well, and leave it to simmer for another ten minutes.

Next, serve each bowl with a heaping pile of fresh herbs and Parmesan. Add some salt and pepper to the top for taste.

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Enjoy!

 

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Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

matzo ball soup

 

What can  I say about this soup? It is better than chicken noodle at comforting a tired soul and aching body. It is one of those soups that, when you take your first sip, you really can taste your momma’s love. In every recipe, you can see that this soup has stood the test of time. It has a few variations depending on whose grandma’s recipe you’re exploring, but the basics are always there.

This is a homemade vegetable broth (read: vegetables stewed with water). It is so clearly one of those dishes that has such an incredible history to it, and when I eat it I feel that. Obviously, as an historian I am probably biased. So, when you take your first sip you might not feel the spark, the connection, the tug on the line in your gut that ties you to the thousands and millions and billions of people that have come before you, walked this earth, and used nature to nourish themselves. I feel that. It’s pretty dang awesome.

Buuuut even if you don’t feel that feeling, you will feel like you’re back at home, on your mother’s couch, enjoying the sweet, healing comfort that only moms can give. For me, it’s reminiscent of Campbell’s Noodle O’s and a nice, crisp Sprite. For many others- it will actually be reminiscent of matzo ball soup.

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Jewish culinary heritage is one of those things that makes me swoon. I am not Jewish, and I did not have much contact with these types of foods growing up. However, many of these recipes are legitimate old world recipes that can be really easily adapted for vegetarian consumption, because back then we didn’t have easy access to factory farmed meats all the time.

In particular, matzo ball soup was really easy to adapt for the Daniel Fast. To me, this appears to be no coincidence. The origin of the fast comes from the book of Daniel, when Daniel and his friends have been captured and taken to Babylon. There, they are taught to follow Babylonian customs (many of which conflict with the laws of Judaism). Daniel chooses to change his diet drastically while there. He receives only vegetables to eat and water to drink. While living in the king’s court as a servant, he makes the choice not to partake of any royal foods or extravagant meals. Considering the Jewish origins of matzo ball soup, it seemed the perfect dish to make and eat as a part of our fast!

We did need to make a few alterations to the recipes, in order to make them fully compliant with the guidelines of the fast. We need to take out the typical egg as the binding agent in the matzo balls, and also remove any leavening agents in the matzo meal/ matzo balls. This means that the matzo balls for this recipe fall apart very easily. You want to be extra careful while cooking them for this reason!

 

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

makes about 5 servings of matzo ball soup, with some veggie broth left over

Ingredients

for the broth

5 medium carrots
5 celery stalks
1 leek
1 yellow onion
1 small bunch + 2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 small bunch Italian parsley
5 garlic cloves
1 pinch Spanish saffron
3 bay leaves
10-15 whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups water

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for the matzo balls

2 gold potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon seltzer water
1/2 cup matzo meal (check the ingredients to make sure it is unleavened)
1 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon fresh, minced dill
1 pinch Spanish saffron
12 cups water

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Step one is going to be to make the vegetable broth. This will make a TON of broth, which is great because it’s cheap and freezes very well. You can also use it as a base for many other kinds of soups, if you like. First, take out the biggest pot you have! A pasta pot is ideal for this.

Peel and chop the carrots.

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Wash and finely chop the celery. Make sure you chop the leaves as well, you want to include every part of the celery for the broth!

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Take apart the leek and clean it very carefully. Leeks can get a ton of dirt caught up in them, so you do want to be very careful especially if you buy organic.

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Chop the onion in half, but keep the skin on! Clean the dill bunch, and chop an additional 2 tablespoons of dill.

Add the carrot, celery, leek, onion, and dill to the pot.

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Wash and destem the Italian parsley and add it into the pot.

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Next, add in the garlic (peeled), saffron, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt.

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Finally, add in the olive oil and the water!

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Heat the mixture up to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 90 minutes. After it is done cooking, pour the broth over a strainer into a large bowl. You need to pick the celery and carrots out of the cooked vegetables in the strainer and add them back into the large bowl of broth. This part is not really fun, and it’s kind of tedious, but if you have someone helping you, it shouldn’t take too long.

 

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After you have “reassembled” the broth, you can just keep warm it on the stove until you’re ready to eat!

 

 

 

Step two is to make the matzo balls. First wash the potatoes and boil them in a pot of salt water until they are very tender. Once they are done, remove them form the water and mash them in a bowl.

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Whisk together the mashed potatoes with the olive oil and seltzer water. Add in the matzo meal, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and minced dill.

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Mash everything together to form a ball, and refrigerate it for 45 minutes.

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After the matzo dough has refrigerated, hand-shape ten smaller balls. The dough will be a bit sticky, so you can dip your hands in water to help manage this while you are forming the balls.

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Set 12 cups of water on the stove to boil, and add in the remaining tablespoon of kosher salt and  a pinch of saffron. While the water is heating up, keep the matzo balls refrigerated. This amount of constant refrigeration will really help them stay together during the cooking.

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With the water at a simmer, gently drop the matzo balls in and cover the pot. For ten minutes, leave the pot covered and then gently take the matzo balls out with a slotted spoon. You want to place them carefully on a plate after cooking, you will notice how fragile they are. If you are not going to eat the soup immediately do not put them in the broth. After they have cooled down, you can bag them up and freeze them for later.

 

If you are going to go ahead and eat them, dole out some of the broth into a few bowls and drop the matzo balls in!

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Enjoy!

matzo ball soup

Pumpkin Coconut Curry

pumpkin coconut curry

 

This was an interesting project for me. I absolutely love squash, and pumpkin is a really rich type of squash. It is so much fun to cook with, and it is a great exercise in sustainability. I was looking into curry recipes that use pumpkin and so many of them were wasteful recipes- instructing the cook to “discard pumpkin skin” and just throw away those absolutely delicious pumpkin seeds. To me, there is absolutely no reason not to use every bit of this delicious squash. So, I made my own recipe, and decided to use as much of the pumpkin as I possibly could so that nothing would be wasted unneccessarily.

Also, many recipes call for the pumpkin to be roasted lightly and then skinned and cooked down. I decided instead to roast the pumpkin for a longer amount of time, at a higher temperature, in order to caramelize the skin a bit and add it into the soup as well.

 

Bringing these bad boys home from the grocery store was a bit of a feat. I chose them carefully from a giant bin in Whole Foods, trying to find the cutest, smallest pumpkins I could. After all, I wanted to make soup for two and maybe a few frozen servings- not soup for the whole country!

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Turns out, these two pumpkins alone made about 10 servings of soup with some leftover for homemade pumpkin puree (which I later recycled into delicious pumpkin pancakes!). Aside from being much better for the environment, recipes like this are also extraordinarily economical because of how little it takes to make so much food!

 

Anyways, I started by placing my new friends on a baking sheet and popping them into a hot oven for about half an hour.  I just wasn’t up to the task of butchering raw pumpkin, as I have endured the workout that a butternut squash provides.

Once the pumpkin was slightly softened, I grabbed my best knife- which happens to be a Wüsthof (an absolutely incredible gift from my wonderful chef mom!).

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I butchered these guys carefully: slicing them open, cutting out the core and stem, and cleaning the pulp and seeds out.

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I discarded the pulp and stem- I know, I know, I promised this wasn’t wasteful! I just could not figure out how to incorporate them. I placed the pulp and seeds into a small bowl.

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Then, I started the process of dicing the pumpkin into rather large chunks for roasting.  It always helps to have friends in the kitchen for tasks like this. For one, the amount of meat inside two pumpkins is shocking, and definitely takes a while to process. Secondly, cooking new and exciting kinds of food is an adventure, and adventures are always better when you have them with a friend!

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I splashed the diced pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I let them roast in a very hot oven for about 45 minutes.  They make your entire apartment smell incredible and really get you in the mood for Fall (in my opinion, even more than a pumpkin spice latte!).

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While the pumpkin is cooking, I made a little stock base to add it to.

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Freshly grated ginger adds the perfect spice to this kind of dish! It doesn’t overwhelm or add too much heat, but it does add a nice depth of flavor and it forms a perfect union with coconut! I went ahead and bought an entire ginger root so that I could have freshly grated ginger, and it may seem wasteful, but you can also boil it with water and make a great tea (albeit a strong one) that will cure almost any kind of stomach ache or nausea!

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The stock was comprised of garlic, onions, ginger, coconut oil, curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, and a bit of lemongrass paste. It smelled incredible, and looked absolutely beautiful!

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After cooking it down a bit, and letting it get even more fragrant, I started stirring it all together before adding in the pumpkin.

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I added in the pumpkin with a bit of full-fat coconut milk, and let that simmer for a good while.

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This is the point at which I got to work cleaning the pumpkin seeds and preparing them for toasting. You can make them two ways: cajun style (with salt, pepper, and cajun spices) or sweet (with butter, cinnamon, and sugar). I did half and half, since I had a crazy ton of seeds to work with.

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You can dry them a bit and then stir them in with the seasoning.

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Then, toast them in the same oven and even on the same pan. Toast until the seeds begin to get dark and caramelize.

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The cajun style are shown above and the cinnamon are on the right. I sprinkled them over the soup, but also just kept them out for about a week as a nice, easy, and natural snack.

 

After the soup has simmered, blend it together in batches and it is ready to serve!

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This was originally a guest post I created for Comparaboo’s blog. You can find the full recipe here.

For this recipe, I used all natural, vegan alternatives for everything. I enjoyed working with coconut oil and kaffir lime leaves the most! These were two, new ingredients for me and I am obsessed now! I just want to find more recipes that use these things!

This recipe does call for the use of a blender, in order to soupify the soup, but it is so worth it. The soup has such an incredibly rich flavor that freezes well and makes for a quick and easy (but still incredible) workday dinner!

 

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Jambalaya

 

Jambalaya

 

Readers,

For this recipe, I have asked my wonderful boyfriend, William, to write a guest post. He is the author of this vegetarian jambalaya. Always considerate of my dietary restrictions, he is constantly trying to find ways to adapt new dishes to a vegetarian diet. I am so incredibly grateful for his ability to allow my meatless lifestyle to rule our eating habits so often with such grace and selflessness. I hope you enjoy his healthier and much, much spicier take on this traditional, Cajun dish!

-Katie

 

This is my take on a southern classic- Jambalaya.  If you were to search ‘how to cook Jambalaya’, it is typically started with a sautee of meat and vegetables in a pan. Next, the rest of the dish is built around those ingredients (effectively making it meat centered). This recipe makes rice the star component of the dish and focuses on infusing the spices and flavors into each grain.  More importantly, I wanted to make it vegetarian friendly.  With that in mind, real meat can easily be added to this dish (be it shrimp, chicken, or sausage).

Two quick things before we get into the recipe and the ‘how to’. One: this dish is fairly simple, with most of your time being spent stirring the pot; and two: I made mine very spicy. So, if heat is a problem, tone down some of the ingredients, such as the cayenne pepper.

 

Vegetarian Jambalaya
1 whole, green bell pepper
1 cup white rice
8oz box Zatarain’s jambalaya mix
28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
32oz box vegetable broth
1/3 – 1/2  large sweet yellow onion
3 – 4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon cajun spice
Up to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (taste before adding, then add it 1 tsp at a time)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 – 3 Tofurky andouille sausage links (or real meat if you want)

Jambalaya

 

The first step is to chop up your onion, pepper, and garlic cloves.

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Next, you’ll want to add them to a frying pan in the following order: onions, peppers, garlic. Give each addition roughly 2 – 3 minutes before the next (onions, 3 min; peppers, 3 min; garlic, 3 min).

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While the vegetable mixture is cooking, put your tomatoes in a large pot and then crush them by hand.

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When they are good and mashed, add in your rice, Zatarain’s mix, spices, and your vegetable mix. Let it cook for about 10 minutes with intermittent stirring.

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After the rice has stewed for about 10 minutes, then add in your milk and butter. This will tone down the heat a bit and give the jambalaya a creamier texture. Continue to cook this for another 15 – 20 minutes, again intermittently stirring.

JambalayaWhile the rice mixture is stewing, slice the sausage and cook it in the same pan that the vegetables were in, with some olive oil. This will infuse some of the flavors and give your sausage a nice, browned edge.

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After your rice is done stewing and your sausage is done cooking, mix them together for a delicious spicy, Cajun bite! If you like, you can sprinkle cilantro on top; it adds color and is a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the jambalaya!

Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

 

Gazpacho is, in very simple terms, cold soup. It sounds weird and gross, but it is so delicious when it’s made with the right kinds of ingredients!

This is the perfect appetizer for summer, and that is exactly the time of year that it is traditionally eaten. The dish hails from Spain and Portugal, and typically features a tomato-water base. While it is both healthy and refreshing, I wouldn’t recommend this watermelon-cucumber gazpacho as an entree. Whenever I have eaten it as an entree, I always end up feeling hungry soon afterwards, and it functions much more appropriately as an appetizer.

While I can image a ladies luncheon with tea sandwiches and this soup, properly eaten with pinkies raised, it can also be “dressed down” for casual meals, and stored in tupperware for a week or two.

As for the flavors, if you can find a nice and ripe watermelon, that summery sweetness will come through the most! Be warned though, the cucumber is a force to be reckoned with and if you are planning to store this in your refrigerator I would definitely make sure you’ve got baking soda in there as well! I was drinking cucumber-infused water for about a week after making this!

On another note, I found that this recipe makes a ton of soup! I mean, probably 8-10 cups! If you’ve got hearty eaters in your household or lots of mouths to feed, this soup is amazing, because the ingredients are fairly cheep and it makes so much! However, for a couple’s dinner it is a little excessive and I would recommend you split it in half. As we all know, whole watermelon makes a delicious snack, so there’s definitely no need to turn all of it into soup!

 

Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho
serves 8-10 (appetizer portions)

Ingredients
1 cucumber
1 small, seedless watermelon
1/2 cup cilantro
1 green onion (I love onion, if you don’t, I’d recommend only using 1/2 of an onion)
8 grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

optional: mint and basil

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Most recipes like this call for a food processor. However, I (like many people) am operating in a small kitchen without many gadgets, so I opted to use the small end of a food grater for the “juicing”. Honestly, the result is so much better than what you’d get with a food processor anyway. I mean, I want my gazpacho to at least kind of resemble the foods that it came from! Using the small end of a food grater gives you a chunkier consistency and makes the soup a bit heartier. As an added bonus, these ingredients are soft and super easy to grate so it takes no time at all!

First, grate the cucumber into a large bowl. This shouldn’t take too long, especially if you have softer cucumbers.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Next, slice up the watermelon and grate it piece-by-piece. This is a little tedious, only because watermelons (even small ones) are fairly large, and you will need to cut them into smaller slices to fit them on the grater.

However, the watermelon is even easier than the cucumber to grate. But I will say that ‘seedless’ usually means no giant, black, inedible seeds. It does not however mean that there are no seeds at all. If you are really really anti-seed-in-soup, you will need to grate your watermelon into a separate bowl and then pour it into the larger bowl over a strainer. I do not mind having little seeds in the soup, so I didn’t opt for this. As much as possible, I’ve kept to the techniques that will result in the most natural-looking gazpacho.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

We got very lucky with a beautiful, ripe watermelon that had tons of juice!

Next, wash and mince the cilantro. You can also mince mint and basil if you love the herby flavors, but I opted for plain cilantro and just decorate the soup with a leaf or two of mint. Add the cilantro to the large bowl and stir everything together.

Wash the tomatoes, and mince them as well.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

You want to try to get them as small as possible, so that they blend in with the rest of the soup. But you can’t really grate them because the peel just ends up separating from the meat and then you just have a ton of wasted tomato!

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Add the tomatoes in, and then mix in the fresh lime juice!

Finally, chop up the green onion and stir it in there with the rest of the ingredients.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Right after everything is grated, the soup will look a little bubbly and foamy. This is normal, and it will settle down as the soup is chilled or spooned into a bowl.

If you want, feel free to add salt and pepper to taste. You can also garnish the bowl, as I did, with whole ingredients (slice of watermelon, tomato slices, mint leaves, and green onion slices). Of course, the soup is still delicious without these additions!

You can serve the soup immediately, or chill it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Cinco De Mayo Vegetarian Black Bean Stew

black bean stewIt’s the 5th of May! It’s time to celebrate the fight for freedom and democracy, and all things Latin American!

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t be teaching a history lesson on Cinco de Mayo, but I definitely have a few great recipes that are cucina Mexicana inspired for this week! This one, for black bean stew, uses adobo sauce, which you may not have ever used before but you can usually find it in the ethnic foods aisle of the grocery store. It is a traditional Mexican sauce that can be used as a marinade or condiment. You can make your own if you’d like (all the ingredients are fairly basic: garlic, vinegar, chiles), but I always just purchase it.

This stew is similar to a chili, and even though it is meatless I promise it is super filling! Also, this recipe is very low in fat and cholesterol. If you can’t handle that though, I recommend chorizo or andouille sausage as a topping.

That’s the other thing about this dish: the toppings!

black  bean stew

There are so many options, this is such a great dish for groups because everyone can personalize it. A few of the toppings we used were: sour cream, Mexican cheeses, sausage, fritos, avocado, lime, and cilantro. Obviously, all of these things aren’t necessary, but I include them as optional on the ingredient list and I definitely recommend all of them if you’re making this for a dinner party or for kids! Also, this is a one-pot dish, so it is easy to clean up!

Cinco De Mayo Vegetarian Black Bean Stew
Adapted from Healthy Eating magazine
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced carrot
1 cup of salsa
1 15oz can of black beans
1 15oz can of refried beans (this will make the stew really thick and yummy)
2 cups of chicken stock (as always, I substitute vegetable stock and would actually recommend it)
2 tbs adobo sauce
kosher salt to taste

Optional Topping Ideas: fritos, Mexican cheese blend, sour cream, andouille sausage, chorizo, avocado, lime, cilantro

black bean stewIn a large pot sauté the garlic, onion, and carrot until they are almost tender (about 6 minutes). Add in the salsa, black beans, refried beans, and stock. Season with the adobo sauce and salt to taste.

black bean stewCover the pot halfway with a lid and simmer the soup over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Everything will begin to break down and thicken, and once all of the vegetables become tender the soup is ready to eat! This should really only take about 10 or 15 minutes!

black bean stew

Add toppings of your choice and enjoy!

black bean stew

 

Shakshuka: Tunisian Tomato Stew

 

shakshuka

Adapted from the amazing, Smitten Kitchen, this recipe is one of the staples of my diet these days. It is hearty, vegetarian, and features poached eggs in tomato sauce. Growing up, I never once ate spaghetti without a boiled egg in tomato sauce. As my Granddaddy always says, “these boiled eggs are a Sicilian tradition.” Believe me, they’re the best thing that ever happened to pasta. But we’ll save that recipe for later!

shakshuka

As for shakshuka, I’ve read that the dish is traditionally Tunisian, but it’s eaten in many parts of the world now. It’s best with fresh pita bread. This recipe can be easily frozen and saved for later, which makes it great to have in the wintertime. I like my food pretty spicy, so if you don’t love some heat on your palate, just decrease the jalapeño count!

shakshuka

Shakshuka

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 Servings (though I recommend doubling up and freezing as much as you can!)

1/4 cup olive oil
5 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika (this is a great place to break out the nice Hungarian variety)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained (I recommend San Marzano)
Kosher salt, to taste
4-6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

shakshuka

Heat oil in a large skillet or saucier (make sure you have a lid for this pan!) over medium-high heat. Add jalapeños and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

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Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk.

Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

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Enjoy!