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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.




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


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.


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


3. Chop the leek into little half moons slices.


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.




Tabouli Salad


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.


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!


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


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!


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!


Curried yellow split pea soup
Barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen


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)


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!

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.




red lentil soup with lemon

red lentil soup with lemon

Red lentils are a favorite legume around here. They are inexpensive, easy to cook, very tasty, and a good source of vegetarian protein. We just love ‘em.

Here is a delicious red lentil soup that is really easy to make. There is very little chopping/prep work involved, which has been a top priority during this busy winter season. The flavor of the soup is wonderful; the cilantro and lemon add a nice brightness to the lentils, so don’t leave them out!

The amounts here make a big pot of soup. If you’re cooking for just a few, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to freeze for quick work lunches or weeknight meals later on.

Happy soup-making, everyone! ~Inge

red lentil with lemon

Red lentil soup with lemon
From Molly at Orangette, who adapted it from Melissa Clark (original recipe here)

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
8 cups veggie stock
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped cilantro


1. Heat oil in your favorite soup pot, then add onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir everything around and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, lentils, carrots, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, and then partially cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes (until the lentils are soft).

2. Remove the soup from the heat, and use an immersion blender to puree about half of the soup. You can puree the entire soup if you want, but I like to keep a little texture. Warm the soup back up and stir in the cilantro and lemon juice. Taste the soup at this point to see if you need more salt, lemon juice, or pepper. Adjust to your own taste preferences! Enjoy!


vegetable stew with corn + sage dumplings {virtual vegan potluck}

veggie stew with dumplings

Welcome potluckers! I made a really tasty vegetable stew that is perfect for the cold winter months ahead. There is a ton of veggie goodness in this pot, including carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and corn. The soup is flavored very simply with cloves and cayenne. The cloves really add an interesting flavor to this soup, sort of spicy but also a little sweet. This is the first time I’ve added cloves to soup, and I really liked it. And it made my kitchen smell so good while this soup was bubbling away!

One of my favorite things in the world is making dumplings. It makes you feel like a rock star chef when you drop the dough in the soup, cover the pot, and then 15 minutes later uncover the pot to reveal plumped-up and perfectly cooked dumplings! This time, I made them with corn and chopped fresh sage. You could certainly make this soup without the dumplings and it would still be tasty, but I like the dumplings because they help thicken up the whole soup. So, be all fancy and make some dumplings!

veggie stew with dumplings

As always, I was inspired by the great Jeanne Lemlin for this recipe. In my opinion, she writes some of the best vegetarian cookbooks, hands down. Seriously, pick up any of her cookbooks – you will find endless inspiration and consistently good recipes!

Thanks for visiting my blog! Scroll down to find the link for the next blog in the potluck. Happy soup-making, everyone! ~Inge

in bowl with spoon

Vegetable stew with corn + sage dumplings
Adapted only just a tiny bit from Jeanne Lemlin’s Simply Satisfying

This is a delicious and aromatic vegetable stew that spiced with cloves and cayenne, and the vegan dumplings are flavored with chopped fresh sage. Your kitchen will smell really good as you make this. The original recipe calls for lima beans, so I added them, but I think leaving them out would also be fine.

¼ cup olive oil
3 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon cayenne
8-10 cups veggie stock
1.5 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups frozen lima beans (optional)
2 cups frozen corn

For the dumplings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
½ cup frozen corn, thawed
2/3 cup cold unsweetened almond milk (soy would also work)
1 tablespoon olive oil

To make the soup:

In your biggest soup pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, cloves, and cayenne, stirring everything around. Cook for another minute or so. It will really start to smell good in your kitchen at this point!

Once the spices are fragrant, add the veggie stock, salt, pepper, tomatoes, ½ cup of the parsley, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, and lima beans. Stir everything up and cook for about 45 minutes, until the veggies are soft. For the veggie stock, I start with 8 cups and then add more (up to 10 cups total) if needed, as the soup cooks down.

Once the veggies are soft, add the corn and remaining ¼ cup parsley to the soup. Cook for another 5 minute or so. Remove the bay leaves.

To make the dumplings:
While the soup is cooking, prepare the dumpling mixture. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and sage in a bowl and mix well. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the olive oil, almond milk, and corn all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon, until just moist. Avoid overmixing! At this point, cover and chill the dumpling dough until ready to use.

Once you have removed the bay leaves from the soup, you are ready to cook the dumplings! Keep the soup at a simmer, and drop spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the pot. You should get about 8 large dumplings or 10-12 smaller ones. Work fairly quickly dropping the dumplings into the pot (don’t stir them). Then, cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes. You can tell if the dumplings are done by inserting a toothpick in the center of one. If it comes out clean, they’re done!

I like to serve the soup with 1 large or 2-3 smaller dumplings per serving, plus a little chopped parsley as garnish. Enjoy!

Click here to visit Canned Time, the next blog in the potluck.

Click here to go back to On The Path To Zen, the previous blog in the potluck.

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lime rickey

Busy, busy, busy. That has been my July and August (so far) in a nutshell. Lots of work but also lots of fun things, including a trip with family to sunny San Diego where I tried In-and-Out Burger (the veggie option) and stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. I give the former a B+ and the latter an A+. I also had a great weekend visit here in Chicago with an old friend. It’s fun to be a tourist in your own city every now and then. So far, it’s been a stellar summer.


This post is about the lime rickey. It’s a refreshing, summery, and easy cocktail. It really hits the spot after a long day of work. I have no idea if this is the authentic way to make this drink, but it’s the way I like to make it.

lime rickey

I’ll be back soon with some great summer vegetable recipes we’ve been cooking! ~Inge

lime rickey

serves 1, scale accordingly

In a cocktail glass, squeeze the juice from half a lime. Drop the juiced lime half in the glass. Add a tiny pinch of salt and a drop or two of agave syrup. Add your desired amount of gin. Drop in 2 ice cubes and top off with club soda. Give it a quick stir and enjoy!