soup and such

simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more


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simple leek + potato soup

Gray skies, rainy days. A pot of homemade soup simmering away on the stove feels really good right now. I wanted to make a leek and potato soup earlier in the week and finally decided on Alton Brown’s recipe after some light online research. It seemed like a good outline to follow. I opted to use regular 2% milk instead of the heavy cream and buttermilk combination he calls for, just because that’s what I had on hand and I wanted it to be really simple.

In general, I’m on the hunt for a brand of unsweetened plant milk (almond, coconut, etc.) that would be a reliable substitute anytime a soup recipe calls for milk or cream. I’ve found a really delicious brand of almond milk that I buy for my tea, but it’s just a little too sweet for some of my savory recipes. Any good suggestions?

This is a tasty soup and I recommend it! I’ve heard some people say they shy away from recipes with leeks because they are such a pain to clean. Not true, in my opinion! I took photos this time as I cleaned and chopped the leeks for this soup. I don’t remember where I learned how to do this, but I’ve always found it the easiest way to deal with leeks. I’ll post the step-by-step method below, after the recipe.

Stay warm everyone, and make a pot of soup.

 

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Simple leek and potato soup
Lightly adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe

3 tablespoons butter
4-5 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups veggie stock
1 cup milk of your choice
Salt + pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Melt the butter in your favorite soup pot. Add the sliced leeks and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook for another 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the leeks to be tender and delicious looking.

2. Add the potatoes and veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) until the potatoes are soft (probably another 30 minutes or a little longer).

3. Puree the soup. I used my trusty immersion blender, but you could also do it in batches in a regular blender.

4. Put the pureed soup back on the stove, keeping warm, and stir in the milk. You will also want to add a good amount of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Enjoy!

 

How to clean leeks:

1. Place the leek on your cutting board. Trim off the root end and the dark green top parts.

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2. Cut the leek in half, then cut each half down the middle lengthwise.

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3. Chop the leek into little half moons slices.

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4. Transfer the sliced leek into a big bowl and fill with cold water. Using your hands, swish the leek around in the bowl, separating the slices as you go. All the dirt from the leeks will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Now you have clean leek slices! I just take the slices right out of the bowl of water (don’t drain it) and add to the soup pot. Easy peasy.

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Pinto bean tostadas with lime cabbage slaw

Here is a fantastic summer meal idea when it’s too hot to turn on the oven and you’re tired of eating salad for dinner. That was us last week! So we decided to make some tostadas with an improvised cabbage slaw and a doctored-up can of pinto beans. Everything turned out really tasty, so I figured I’d share the idea here. These aren’t really strict recipes, just ideas for inspiration in your own kitchen during these dog days of summer. Tostadas are fun – make some tonight!

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Pinto bean tostadas with lime cabbage slaw
These aren’t hard-and-fast recipes here, just quick and easy ideas to get you started! Adjust ingredients, amounts, and seasonings to your liking. Make the slaw first and let it marinate in the fridge while you get the rest of the meal prepared.

For the beans:
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
About ¼ cup of diced red onion
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and/or coriander
Juice from 1-2 limes
Fresh chopped cilantro

Heat a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan or deep skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add drained and rinsed pinto beans and whatever spices you are using. Stir everything around and let cook for a few minutes. Add lime juice. Smash up the beans a bit (I use a potato masher) to desired texture. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro, more lime juice (if you want), and adjust seasonings (sometime I add a little salt, depending on how salty the beans were to begin with).

For the lime cabbage slaw:

About 4 cups very thinly sliced cabbage
3-4 scallions or green onions, sliced
Big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
Good pinch of salt
Pinch of oregano
Juice of 2-3 limes

Place the cabbage in a bowl and add a good pinch of salt. Toss to combine. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and stir it all up. Let the slaw sit for about 30 minutes so the flavors combine and the cabbage softens a bit. Add as much lime juice as you want/need – we like ours very lime-y!

Assemble the tostadas:

On each tostada shell, spread some of the pinto bean mixture. Top with whatever toppings you’d like: chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, shredded cheese, grilled veggies, chopped onion, etc. Add your favorite salsa or hot sauce then pile on the cabbage slaw! I always add a little extra fresh chopped cilantro to mine. Enjoy!


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Tabouli Salad

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Is it Tabbouleh or Tabouli? I’ve seen both spellings. Either way, it’s a pretty tasty salad that’s super easy to make! I always like to pick up a container of Tabouli at the Middle Eastern bakery in our neighborhood where we buy our favorite dill hummus and spinach pies. I also sometimes buy Cedar’s brand Tabouli at the grocery store, which is surprisingly very good.

A few weeks ago, I was scrounging around the pantry looking for things to use up. I had forgotten about this bag of bulgur that I bought to make our new favorite veggie chili recipe. Anyway, the back of the bag had a recipe for Tabouli so I figured I’d try it! It was a delicious experiment.

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Fair warning: there is a not-insignificant amount of veggie and herb chopping involved in making this salad. But the end result is worth your effort, promise! And buy more parsley than you think you’ll need. I ended up using the entire bunch to just barely get the 1 cup needed. Also, and this is for a certain Soup and Such reader who tends to go rogue on recipes, don’t skimp on the chopped fresh mint! It adds such a nice flavor to the salad.

Obviously hummus is a perfect companion here, but I ended up making this favorite white bean dip to eat with the Tabouli. A super refreshing and light summer lunch! If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

~Inge

Tabouli Salad

½ cup bulgur (also called cracked wheat; if you can’t find it, substitute couscous or quinoa)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt + pepper to taste

Method:

1. Rinse bulgur in a strainer or sieve a few times, until the water runs clear. Place rinsed bulgur in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Chop all the veggies and herbs and combine with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt + pepper in a bowl.

3. Drain the bulgur. You want to try and get as much water out of the bulgur as possible. What I did was use my (clean!) hands and squeezed handfuls of the bulgur to get any remaining water out. Then, add the bulgur to the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Let the salad sit in the fridge for about an hour before you eat it. You want to give it some time so the flavors can mingle and marry. Enjoy!


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Gougères with cumin

gougeres plated

This is a favorite recipe around here. We especially love it as a special appetizer or snack, like for Oscar night or New Year’s Eve. These little guys go very well with a glass or two of bubbly. But lately we’ve been making a batch of these to have as a light dinner, served alongside a big green salad.

Gougères are basically like little soufflés or cheese puffs. I first had them when I was teaching English in France. The principal of the school where I was working invited me over for a Sunday lunch and his wife served champagne and gougères before the main meal. They were absolutely delicious.

gougeres ingredients

I thought they would be difficult to make, but they aren’t! There are just a few tricks to remember: measure out all your ingredients beforehand and do not (!!) open the oven door for the 20 minutes of baking time. Once you’ve got those two tricks down, they are pretty easy to make. Make some the next time you’re feeling like something fancy and French!

gougeres from oven

Gougères with cumin
From Chocolate and Zucchini

6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted; if you have salted, use a scant ½ teaspoon salt)
½ teaspoon salt (or just a bit less if using salted butter)
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyère cheese (you can also use a good-quality Swiss)
Method:

1. Measure out all your ingredients. Have everything ready to go.

2. Combine butter, salt, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. I use a 3-quart saucepan and there is plenty of room; a 2-quart pan would probably also work. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour all at once. Use a wooden spoon and stir the flour quickly until everything is well combined. Then, return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has formed into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan. (When I return the pan to the heat after mixing in the flour, it usually only takes 1-2 more minutes of cooking before it’s pulling away from the sides of the pan).

3. Take the pan off of the heat and let it cool for 3 minutes. I always time this exactly, so that’s what I recommend. Then, add the eggs one at a time, stirring very well after each addition. At first it might seem like the egg isn’t blending in, but don’t worry, they do! Just keep stirring!

Sidenote: I once made a double batch of this recipe for my family at Christmas, which meant I had 8 eggs to incorporate one at a time. It took me forever and my arm was killing me!

4. Once the eggs are stirred in, then add the cumin seeds and black pepper. Give the mixture a stir to incorporate those. Then, fold in the grated cheese. You will have a very thick batter at this point! Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. It can stay in the fridge for longer than 30 minutes, too. In fact, I’ve made the batter up to 48 hours in advance and it worked out just fine.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge. Using two small spoons, scoop the batter into small balls (about 1 inch across) and place on the baking sheet. They need a little room between them, but not much. Keep any remaining batter in the fridge for a later batch.

6. Bake the gougères in the oven for 20 minutes. I always time this exactly. Whatever you do, DO NOT open the oven door while they are baking! This will cause them not to rise properly. If you have an oven window, you can peek on them through that. If you don’t, wait at least 10 minutes before you open the oven door to peek. Once the 20 minutes is up, they should be puffy and golden. Turn the oven off and leave the door open just a crack for a few minutes before you take then completely out of the oven. This helps them not deflate! Although, if they do deflate, rest assured that they will still be just as tasty!

Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy with a favorite beverage, or serve alongside a big green salad for a light meal. Yum!


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curried yellow split pea soup

curried yellow split pea

Aaaaaand we’re back! Apologies for the unintended hiatus.

Here’s one more soup idea for 2014. It’s easy to make, delicious, and a little spicy!

All the credit for this soup goes to The Sprouted Kitchen. I’ve written out the recipe below, but I didn’t really change much from the original, other than subbing carrots for the sweet potato because it’s what I had on hand. I’m sure the sweet potato option would be equally delicious. Either way, this recipe is a keeper.

Happy holidays to all the spirited Soup and Such readers out there! I hope you get to clink glasses with people you love as you ring in the new year. I have promised myself to keep this blog freshly updated throughout 2015. Can’t wait to share more easy vegetarian soup et al. recipes with you!

Until next time!

~Inge

Curried yellow split pea soup
Barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
1.5 cups dry yellow split peas
6 cups veggie broth
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup orange juice
chopped cilantro (optional garnish)

Method:

1. Melt butter in your favorite soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, cumin, curry, cayenne, split peas, and broth. Mix everything up, bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) for about 45-55 minutes (or until the peas are very soft).

2. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to desired thickness. Then, stir in the coconut milk and orange juice. Warm the soup back up and give it a taste for a seasoning check. Mine didn’t need anything at this point – it was good to go!

3. Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro as a garnish plus an extra drizzle of coconut milk, if desired. This soup goes really well with Naan on the side!

 


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kale and quinoa salad with feta

 

kale + quinoa salad

Meet my new favorite salad. I made it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I’ve made it about three times since then. It’s delicious and very easy to throw together. The only thing you have to cook is the quinoa; everything else just gets chopped and thrown into the bowl. Mix up a super simple honey-dijon dressing and that’s it! Lunch is ready.

This is one of my new favorite ways to eat kale, too. I’ve tried a few raw kale salad recipes before, but this is by far my favorite. For this salad, make sure to use flat-leaf kale (not the curly kind). One of my grocery stores calls it lacinato kale, and the other calls it dinosaur kale. The name dinosaur kale is appropriate because its leaves are bumpy, like what I imagine petting a dinosaur would feel like.

quinoa and kala salad ingredients

I find that it’s a great variety of kale to eat raw in a salad because the leaves seem more tender and don’t require any massaging to break down. I never have any trouble finding it in my various grocery stores, so keep an eye out for it!

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I hope you give this salad a try. It’s so good!

~Inge

 

Kale and quinoa salad with feta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This salad makes a super satisfying lunch, especially on a work day. The nuts and berries can be easily substituted with whatever variety you have on hand. I used feta, but the original recipe calls for ricotta salata. The lemon zest really adds some flavor, so be sure to include it. 

½ cup quinoa, rinsed well (or 1.5 cups cooked leftover quinoa)
1 bunch of Lacinato kale, very thinly sliced (see directions below)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or more, to taste)

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white/red wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
Scant 1 teaspoon honey
Salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. To make the quinoa, combine the rinsed quinoa with 1.5 cups water in a medium saucepan. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Set aside to cool, then fluff with a fork.

2. Rinse and dry the kale leaves. Remove the tough stems and ribs from the leaves. You should end up with long, thin leaves. To slice them, stack a few of the leaves into a small pile. Then, roll up the stacked leaves (the long way) as tightly as you can. Using a sharp knife, very thinly slice the rolled-up stack of leaves. You should end up with thin ribbons of kale that resemble the fake green grass people put in Easter baskets.

3. Combine the kale ribbons and cooked quinoa in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients (almonds, cranberries, scallions, lemon zest, and feta).Toss to combine.

4. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Alternatively, you could add all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour the dressing on the salad and toss to combine. I find that tongs work best for this job.

Enjoy!

 


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chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

chevre chaud salad

 

Ever find yourself in a cooking rut? Some days (or weeks) nothing really sounds good and you end up making the same old same old. When I’m lacking inspiration for meal ideas, I usually turn to this salad. It’s super simple to make but it feels like a special treat. Just the thing to get me excited about dinner again.

This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea, in case you need some inspiration of your own for dinner.

Happy salad-making!

~Inge

chevre chaud

Chévre chaud salad with dijon-shallot vinaigrette

For the salad:

  • goat cheese (at room temperature so it spreads easily)
  • baguette slices
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Za’atar (optional)
  • salad greens
  • chopped tomatoes

For the vinaigrette:

  • about 1.5 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • about 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • about  1.5 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • good pinch of salt + freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arranges the baguette slices on a baking pan. Spread the goat cheese on the slices, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes I also sprinkle on some Za’atar. Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread gets a little crispy. You could also do this step in the broiler or a toaster oven.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the salad greens and tomatoes and whatever other veggies you’d like to throw in.

3. To make the vinaigrette, add the minced shallot, dijon, salt + pepper, and vinegar in a small bowl. Using a whisk, add the olive oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to combine. Make sure to taste the vinaigrette to see if you want to add more of any of the ingredients. The amounts I listed are really flexible; I never even measure when I make this. I generally prefer my vinaigrette to be on the more mustard-y side, so you might want to start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up.

Another way to make the vinaigrette is to add all the ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Then just shake it up. Super easy. This is a good way to go if you’ve reached the end of a jar of mustard. Just make a vinaigrette in the jar!

4. When the toasts are ready, toss the dressing with the salad and assemble your plate. Enjoy!