soup and such

simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more

1 Comment

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!

kale and quinoa salad2

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



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


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.





carrot, parsnip, squash, and kale soup

carrot, parsnip, squash, and kale soup

This is a really tasty soup that is full of veggie goodness. It’s perfect for when you want a bowl of something hearty and warming but on the healthy-side. The combination of veggies is so, so good. When making the soup, the key is to saute the carrots, parsnips, and squash for a good amount of time before you add the stock. The veggies will get a little brown in spots during this step, and that makes the soup so flavorful!

cooking up the carrots, parsnips, and squash!

cooking up the carrots, parsnips, and squash!

The weather has definitely turned a corner here in Chicago and I broke out my winter coat (and hat!) for the first time this week. Having leftovers of this soup in the fridge has been a very, very good idea. A bowl of warm soup for dinner on a cold night is one of my most favorite things.

Happy soup-making! ~Inge

Carrot, parsnip, squash, and kale soup
Adapted only just a tiny bit from Jeanne Lemlin’s excellent Main-Course Vegetarian Pleasures

¼ cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 parsnips, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 red potatoes, diced (I don’t bother to peel them)
10 cups veggie stock
½ teaspoon dried thyme (sometimes I leave this out, it still tastes great)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups kale, chopped into small pieces
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Heat oil in your favorite soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the parsnips, carrots, and squash to the pot. Stir it up so that everything gets coated in the oil. Cook the veggies for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Jeanne Lemlin advises to not skip this step because it “adds depth to the soup’s flavor.” I absolutely agree. You want the veggies to get a little brown. Don’t worry if any brown pieces stick to the bottom of the pot – they will get taken care of when you add the stock in the next step!

3. Once the veggies are a little browned, add the stock, potatoes, thyme (if using), salt + pepper. Use your wooden spoon to scrape up any veggies that stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the veggies are soft.

4. Add the kale and chickpeas. Cook for about 5-10 more minutes. At this point, you could eat the soup as is and it would be delicious. Or, you can puree some of it to get a creamier consistency. It’s your call. I usually just stick my immersion blender in the pot and give it a little whirl. I think blending a little of it up helps marry all the flavors together. Enjoy!


kale and soba noodle salad


Soba noodles are a Japanese-style noodle made with buckwheat flour. When made with 100% buckwheat, they are a good gluten-free option because buckwheat, despite its name, doesn’t actually contain any wheat. I’ve read that in Japan soba noodles are traditionally served plain with a dipping sauce on the side. I think the method is to dip and slurp, and I look forward to trying that out if I ever find myself in Japan one day.

But for my first venture into soba noodle territory, I decided to turn them into a cold salad with a sesame dressing and lots of raw kale plus other assorted veggies. Oh, I also threw in some cubes of baked tofu for good measure. It was delicious. This will definitely be going into the summer salad rotation around here.

kale and soba noodle salad

kale and soba noodle salad

I actually made this salad twice, using two different brands of soba noodles. The first time I used Hakubaku organic soba noodles (the no-salt added variety – you can buy a pack of 8 for only $20 on amazon!). It turns out that this brand of soba noodles is actually a blend of wheat and buckwheat. The second time I used Roland organic soba noodles (this brand did have salt added). Results were tasty both times, but I preferred the no-salt added variety from the Hakubaku brand. Those noodles were much tastier and had a better consistency, in my opinion. So, that is my amateur soba noodle report from the field.

Happy salad-making, everyone! ~Inge

Kale and soba noodle salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s excellent Vegetable Literacy

Instead of the Brussels sprouts, you could use baby bok choy or napa cabbage. Also, any kind of crunchy vegetable would be a nice addition to this salad. The baked tofu is optional, but a good choice if you want to bump up the protein.

6-8 ounces soba noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 bunch kale
6 Brussels sprouts
5 teaspoons light sesame oil
1 large garlic clove (or two small ones)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
A few pinches of red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ cup carrots, thinly sliced
6 ounce package of baked tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Trader Joe’s teriyaki-flavored baked tofu), optional
Siracha hot sauce, optional

1. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place noodles in a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Set aside.

2. Cut the tough stems off the kale leaves. Then, thinly slice the kale using the “stack and roll” method. Stack a small amount of the leaves up, then roll and slice into thin shreds or ribbons. Put the kale ribbons in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the light sesame oil. Using clean hands, squeeze the kale ribbons “until they glisten” (a quote from the original recipe – it’s the perfect description of what the massaged kale will look like).

3. Remove any yucky-looking outer leaves from your Brussels sprouts. Slice them very thinly and toss with the kale.

4. On a cutting board, mince your garlic. Then, sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over the pile of minced garlic. Using the flat side of your knife, apply pressure and move the knife back and forth across the salt/garlic mixture. Doing this helps the salt break down the garlic and creates a paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar, remaining 4 teaspoons light sesame oil, and the soy sauce. Whisk together. Pour the dressing over the kale/Brussels sprouts mixture and toss well.

5. Add the cooked soba noodles to the greens along with the carrots, green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and tofu (if using). Toss everything together (tongs work best for this job). Taste and decide if you need more soy sauce or other seasoning. Serve with a few drops of siracha hot sauce on top, if you like things spicy!


hearty kale soup

We made this soup during a snowstorm this week. It was the perfect thing to have simmering on the stove while the wet, icy snow fell outside. Then, we slurped it from bowls while curling up on the futon and watching a mini-marathon of a much-loved TV show.

hearty kale soup

hearty kale soup

I ended up working a lot during the last few weeks and haven’t had a ton of time for cooking. As a result, healthy meals have been kind of hit or miss. When I finally had a small break, I found I was craving a broth-based hearty soup with veggies and greens. I decided on this kale soup from Jeanne Lemlin’s Vegetarian Classics. It did the trick!

I tweaked the original recipe a bit by adjusting the amounts of some ingredients. The big change I made was to use smoked paprika instead of regular (sweet?) paprika. Wow! Smoked paprika is amazing. Has everyone else known about this except for me? It pairs perfectly with the kale and chickpeas in the soup. I can’t wait to try adding it to more dishes.

This soup is really, really good. A bowl of wholesome and hearty goodness to get you through this last stretch of winter. It is vegan as is, and the leftovers are even better – so make a big pot this weekend and eat it all week! ~Inge

Kale soup
Adapted from Jeanne Lemlin’s wonderful Vegetarian Classics

I used smoked paprika, but the original recipe calls for regular paprika. If you can find smoked paprika, go for it! The flavor is out of this world. The leftovers of this soup are delicious, so don’t hesitate to make the entire batch, even if you’re just cooking for one! For the two of us, this was enough to feed us for two dinners, one lunch, and fill two mason jars to keep in the freezer for later.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
10 cups veggie stock
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound kale (you should have about 10 cups finely chopped)
1.5 pounds small red potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper (don’t be shy)

1. Heat oil in the largest soup pot you have. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and start to brown.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring the soup to a boil (raise the heat to do this). Once it boils, lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender enough to spear with a fork.

3. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove 2 or 3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor. Return it to the soup and stir to blend. This extra step adds some creaminess to the soup. This soup only gets better with time, so if possible, make it a few hours in advance of when you want to eat it.

Leave a comment

potato + kale enchiladas

I made a summer minestrone soup last week that I was going to tell you about, but then we made these potato and kale enchiladas on Saturday that are so good they jumped to the front of the line for Soup and Such. Plus, they are vegan! This was one of the main reasons we tried this recipe because we are always looking for more dairy-free veggie dishes to make.

The standout element of this whole recipe is the potato + kale mixture. I knew these two veggies liked each other but I didn’t know what adding a little lime juice, cumin, and pumpkin seeds would do. Wow, that is a really tasty combination.  The pumpkin seeds are delicious! We rolled this filling up in corn tortillas, smothered them with a spicy tomato sauce, and then baked it all up in the oven. There’s no cheese inside or on top of these enchiladas but we didn’t miss it one bit.

Here’s a picture of the pan of enchiladas when we took it out of the oven. Tasty!

potato + kale enchiladas (w/ chopped cilantro on top)

The recipe is from the Veganomicon cookbook. I have only made a few dishes from this book in the past, but nothing really blew me away until I found these enchiladas. If you’re new to the book, I recommend starting with this recipe because it’s a winner. If you know Veganomicon well, tell me what the other standout recipes are – I’m all ears!

Hope you enjoy these! I’m going to keep this recipe in mind for holiday meals. The last few years my family has always had a pan of enchiladas alongside our holiday soup on Christmas Eve. I think this veggie version would be a hit, provided nobody objects to the missing cheese. ~Inge

potato + kale enchiladas
Adapted only just a little from Veganomicon

My advice is to not skimp on any ingredient for the filling mixture because they really all go together so well. So go get yourself some pumpkin seeds! For the sauce, we made it from scratch mostly following the recipe from Veganomicon. Doing that really added to the preparation time of the whole dish because we had to roast jalapenos, cook the tomatoes, and puree it all up with an immersion blender. It turned out to be a tasty sauce, but I wonder whether there is a simpler approach that would make these enchiladas more appropriate for weeknight cooking. I’ve included the sauce recipe below in case you are feeling industrious. But if you have a favorite jarred enchilada sauce you want to use instead, I would recommend having around 3-4 cups of it on hand for this recipe (so you have enough for leftovers). I’ve been told the one at Trader Joe’s is pretty good, but I haven’t tried it yet. 

For the enchilada sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 jalapenos
2 ½ teaspoons chile powder
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano (the original recipe calls for epazote but we just used regular oregano)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes (we used crushed)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons salt

For the potato and kale filling:

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
½ pound of kale (we used one small bunch)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup veggie broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons salt

You’ll also need about 12 corn tortillas. When we made it, the filling was enough to make 12 enchiladas, but it might depend on the size of your tortillas and how much you stuff them.

To make the sauce:

1. Roast the jalapenos in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, until they are blackened a bit. Take them out and let them cool on a cutting board for a few minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, slice them open, remove the seeds, and give them a rough chop.

2. Next, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the diced onion and sauté for about 10 minutes. Then, add the jalapenos, chili powder, cumin, oregano, sugar, salt, and canned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes so that all the flavors come together. Then, remove from heat, let it cool a bit, and puree the sauce so it has a smooth texture. I used an immersion blender right in the pot to do this, but you could also transfer to a regular blender.

To make the filling:

1. Chop the kale into small pieces and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes and then boil them until you can pierce them with a fork (just like you’re making mashed potatoes). Then, drain the potatoes and set them aside.

2. In the same pot you cooked the potatoes in, add the olive oil and garlic and cook for just a second. Don’t let your garlic burn! Then, add the chopped kale, sprinkle a little salt, and stir the kale around so that the oil and garlic get all over the kale. Halfway cover the pot with a lid and let the kale steam about 5 minutes (check on it and stir when needed). You just want the kale to get soft and bright green.

3. Now, take off the lid and add the potatoes, veggie stock, lime juice, pumpkin seeds, and salt. Stir everything up with a wooden spoon, smashing up the potatoes against the side of the pot as you do this. Keep stirring and smashing, cooking for another 5 minutes. You want the stock to get absorbed so that the filling isn’t too liquid-y. Try a small bite to see if you want to add more salt or lime juice. It’s really good, isn’t it?

To assemble the enchiladas:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Get out a baking dish big enough to hold 12 enchiladas. We used a 8 x 12  pyrex baking dish, but found that it only held 7 enchiladas, so we also used another smaller dish for the remaining 5. Spread about ½ cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of whatever baking dish(es) you’re using.

2. Ladle about 1 cup of the sauce in a large shallow bowl (a pie plate works great for this). Take a tortilla and place it in the pie plate, covering each side with sauce.

3. Now, place the sauce-covered tortilla in the baking dish and spoon the potato + kale mixture down the middle. Roll it up and leave it seam-side down in the dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas and filling mixture. Make sure to pack these guys tightly in the dish so they keep their shape. When you’ve got them all made, ladle about 1-1/2 cups of sauce on top.

4. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for another 10 or so. We let ours cool just a few minutes before serving them up and that method seemed to work well.

Additional notes:

  • The original recipe instructs you to heat the corn tortillas on a griddle before covering them in sauce and filling them. We skipped this step because our tortillas seemed soft and pliable enough to roll up, so I’m not sure if you should heat yours before filling.
  • We topped ours with chopped cilantro and I thought sliced black olives or avocado would have also been a good choice. We had a store-bought tomatillo + avocado salsa on hand that was also really good as a topping. I’ve been thinking that this sauce would be excellent, but if you don’t care about the entire dish being vegan, you could just go with a dollop of sour cream.
  • These make tasty leftovers, but they do need a little extra smothering of sauce before reheating. Make sure you have some leftover sauce for this purpose. Or just use some jarred salsa.