soup and such

simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more


cream of broccoli soup

When I was growing up, broccoli was a favorite vegetable at our house. I’m one of five kids, and as far as I remember, we all loved broccoli. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for my mom to make dinners that were a hit with everyone, but she could never go wrong with a big bowl of steamed broccoli on the side. And it was even better when she made homemade cheese sauce for the broccoli. Oh yeah, that was a special treat. It was even a frequent request from all of us for birthday dinners. Imagine that, kids requesting broccoli on their birthday! We were an odd bunch. This is probably why three of us are now vegetarians and the other two are big veggie lovers!

cream of broccoli soup

cream of broccoli soup

Another family favorite was my mom’s cream of broccoli soup. I decided to make a big pot of this soup last week and it was delicious! In my opinion, the key is to add the juice of one lemon to the pot once the soup has finished cooking. It really makes all the difference. Taste the soup before and after adding the lemon juice – it’s amazing what a little citrus can do!

After I made this, I called my mom to compare recipe notes. Turns out she also adds the lemon juice, which is probably why I liked the lemon flavor so much because it reminded me of her soup.


p.s. Please remember to VOTE for my asparagus and leek soup in the soup category for the 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck! Go here to vote! Voting ends May 31!


Cream of broccoli soup
Recipe created with a little guidance from here and my mom

For the broccoli, I use the florets and chop up part of the thick stem, too, so almost nothing goes to waste. If you use a non-dairy alternative to the milk and butter, this soup is easily made vegan.

8 cups chopped broccoli
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
4 cups veggie stock
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 lemon


1. Melt the butter in your favorite soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until the veggies are soft. Add the chopped broccoli and stir it around, cooking for a few minutes. Then, pour in the veggie stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the broccoli is soft.

2. Take the soup off the heat and puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. I tried to leave some pieces of broccoli un-blended so that the overall soup had a nice texture.

3. Put the soup back on low heat. In a small jar with a lid, combine the flour and about ½ cup of the milk. Shake it up so that you have a smooth “milk flour” mixture. Pour this into the soup along with the rest of the milk. Cook the soup for just a few minutes on low heat to thicken it and make sure the raw flour taste is cooked out.

4. Add the juice of one lemon to the pot of soup. Stir it up and enjoy!



spinach + herb pesto

This is a great idea for pesto when you’re looking for something a little different. The base for this pesto is baby spinach, almonds, and fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, and basil. Then you add in lemon juice, chopped garlic, a little parmesan cheese, and of course olive oil. You also add a little veggie broth, which allows you to cut back on the amount of oil needed.

spinach and herb pesto

spinach and herb pesto

You can use pesto as a sauce for just about anything such as steamed veggies or roasted potatoes. You can swirl it into a bowl of soup, drizzle it over scrambled eggs or tofu for breakfast, or use it as a sandwich spread. This time I went the traditional route and mixed it with some spaghetti for a simple pesto pasta dinner one night. Easy and tasty!

spaghetti with spinach + herb pesto

spaghetti with spinach + herb pesto

Have a great weekend, everyone! ~Inge

p.s. Last week I participated in my first Virtual Vegan Potluck and it was awesome! I think everyone really enjoyed my asparagus and leek soup, which is very exciting! The potluck organizers are now encouraging folks to vote for their favorite dish in each category.

If you’d like, you can go here to vote for Soup and Such in the soup category.

In case you missed the potluck, you can check out all of the tasty recipes and dishes here. There were so many good ideas!

My favorites were Herby Kale Olive Tomato Bread from My Good Clean Food, Mushroom Miso Ramen Soup with Wontons and Spinach from House Vegan, Peanut Butter Banana Muffins from Pass The Veggies, and Cinnamon Plantains from Veganishy. Wow, I want to make all of these recipes right now!

Spinach + herb pesto
Adapted from Cooking Light

This recipe calls for such a small amount of cheese, I think you could easily omit it to make this vegan and not lose any flavor mileage.

2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
¼ cup slivered blanched almonds
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons veggie broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (or more, if needed)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


Place spinach, almonds, basil, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and garlic in food processor. Process until chopped. Add broth, lemon juice, and salt; pulse 5 times. With food processor on, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add more oil if want to make your pesto more sauce-y. When you’ ve got your desired consistency, turn off the machine and transfer the pest to a small bowl. Stir in the cheese. Enjoy over pasta or veggies or whatever you’d like!


asparagus and leek soup {virtual vegan potluck}

I’m so excited to be participating in my first Virtual Vegan Potluck today! Welcome to Soup and Such fellow potluckers! Pull up a chair and let me get you a bowl of soup.

I wanted to try something new for the potluck, keeping it seasonal and simple. I settled on this creamy asparagus and leek soup, thickened with some white beans and flavored very simply with salt, pepper, and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice. It is super easy to make, 100% vegan as is, and most importantly, delicious!

Asparagus and leek soup

Asparagus and leek soup

The inspiration for this soup comes from Deborah Madison’s recipe for asparagus soup in her excellent Vegetable Soups. That cookbook is one of my favorites because her flavor combinations are always so good. Having said that, however, I did play around with the ingredients to simplify things a bit. I used leek instead of green onions and white beans instead of potato as a thickener. I just love leeks in pureed soups, so I couldn’t help myself. I took a chance with the white beans, but they worked really well here.

This soup would make a lovely starter for a special meal, but I ended up eating two bowls as an early lunch right after I made it. It was so good! Also, I didn’t have any on hand, but I think homemade croutons would make an excellent topper for this soup. I’ll do that next time.

Happy springtime cooking, everyone! ~Inge

p.s. If you’d like, you can subscribe to Soup and Such and receive an email every time a new post is available. I usually post about once a week. Everything I make is vegetarian and some things are vegan. Subscribe by clicking on the “follow” button at the top right!


To visit Eat.Breathe.Balance (the blog that precedes mine in the potlick), click here!

To visit House Vegan (the blog that follows mine in the potluck), click here!

To start at the very beginning of the potluck, click here!


Asparagus and leek soup
Inspired by Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Soups

An important tip: don’t leave out the fresh lemon juice at the end because it really brightens everything up. I even squeezed more lemon juice into my individual bowl of soup. If you’re thinking about adding a fresh herb, that is a good idea! Perhaps some chopped tarragon or basil stirred in at the end? You can also go the extra mile and make homemade croutons as a soup topper.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus (about 5 cups chopped)
1 leek (about 2 cups sliced)
4 – 5 cups of veggie stock
1 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
Salt + pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice


1. Heat the olive oil in your favorite soup pot over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then, add the sliced leek and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Pour in the veggie stock. You’ll probably use between 4 and 5 cups of stock. Use less stock if you like a thicker soup, more if you like a thinner soup. Once you add the stock, bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Add the white beans and turn off the heat.

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 juice from half of a lemon. Taste the soup and decide if you want more lemon, salt, and/or pepper. Enjoy!

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stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

This is a new favorite recipe! Collard greens are stuffed with a quinoa, spinach, and cheese mixture, then covered in a spicy tomato sauce and baked until bubbly. It is so, so good. I had never stuffed and baked greens like this before, but I am now hooked! It’s fun to find new ways to prepare familiar ingredients. And of course, we are a quinoa-loving household, so this dish easily made its way into the regular rotation.

Stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

Stuffed collard greens in spicy tomato sauce

I was inspired by this recipe from Lattes and Leggings. I made some alternations, though, using collards instead of chard and changing up the filling a bit. I think there are endless possibilities with the filling and I’m looking forward to more experimentation in the future.

The assembly is very easy. Prepare the sauce and ladle a bit in the bottom of a baking dish. Then, mix up the filling and place a small amount in the center of a collard green leaf.

Getting ready to wrap and roll

Getting ready to wrap and roll

Roll or wrap it up, then place each roll-up in the dish. Cover with more sauce and bake until hot and bubbly – simple and delicious!


collard roll-ups

This dish is so tasty. I hope you give it a try. I love when a new recipe really works. I’ve tried a few duds in the kitchen this week, so it’s nice to have something new turn out so well! Have a great weekend, everyone! ~Inge

Stuffed Collard Greens in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Lattes and Leggings

My recommendation is to use 3 cups (cooked) of whatever grains you have on hand for the filling. The original recipe calls for a mixture of lentils and farro. I’ve made this dish two different ways, once using all quinoa and once using 2 cups quinoa and 1 cup cooked lentils. Results were tasty both times. I think brown rice would also work. Also, I included ricotta cheese in the ingredient list, but I’ve also used goat cheese, which makes the filling a little tangier. Overall, the filling mixture seems very flexible, so play around with it.

For the filling:

3 cups cooked quinoa (or other grain, see note above)
1 ½ cups packed baby spinach, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese (or 4 oz. goat cheese)
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

For the sauce:

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted, if possible)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ – 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

You’ll also need a nice bunch of collard greens. You’ll need 5 or 6 big leaves to make 10-12 of these roll-ups.


1. To make the spicy sauce, sauté the minced garlic and red pepper flakes in a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan. When fragrant (don’t let the garlic burn!), add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.

2. To make the filling, combine the quinoa (and other grains, if using) with the remaining seven ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir so that everything is combined.

3. Prepare your collard green leaves. For the large leaves, I cut them in half lengthwise, cutting out the hard stem in the middle of the leaf. You want them to be pliable enough to be able to roll them up.

4. To assemble, put a few ladles of sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. I used a 9 x 13 pan. Take a collard green leaf that you’ve prepared and place a few spoonfulls of the filling in the middle of the leaf. Carefully roll or wrap it up. This part gets a little messy, but it’s also kind of fun. Place each roll-up in the baking dish. It’s okay if they are tightly tucked together; it’s easy to get them out individually after they’ve baked. You should end up with 10-12 roll-ups in the dish. Ladle the remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese, if desired.

5. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Enjoy!


spicy popcorn

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. I love experimenting with different flavorings and toppings. I decided I wanted something spicy, so I came up with this blend. It was pretty tasty and made a nice treat for movie night.

spicy popcorn for movie night

spicy popcorn for movie night

What are YOUR favorite ways to eat popcorn? I need more flavor combination ideas! ~Inge

Spicy popcorn

Prepare ½ cup popcorn kernels using your favorite popping method. In a small bowl in the microwave (or in a small saucepan on the stove), melt 2 tablespoons of butter (or a vegan alternative) with ¼ teaspoon each of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Use less of the cayenne if you don’t want it too spicy. Pour the spicy melted butter over the popped corn. Add salt, if needed. Toss and enjoy!


roasted cauliflower with ras el hanout and tahini

Hi, folks!

Around here, we can never get enough recipes for cauliflower, and this is one of our favorites right now. We’ve made it more than a few times in the last several months. It’s very easy to throw together, making it the perfect weeknight meal.

The star of this recipe is the spice mixture, called ras el hanout. To make it, I followed a recipe printed in a recent issue of Vegetarian Times. I hope you’re not put off by the lengthy list of spices you need for this mixture. I found all of them in my spice cabinet and was happy to have a reason to use some of them up. I buy things like allspice and ground ginger for holiday baking, but don’t really use them regularly, so it was nice to give them a new purpose.

We like to eat this cauliflower tucked into pitas with chopped lettuce and tomatoes. We also sometimes add a dollop of plain yogurt (or raita) and a few dashes of hot sauce on top. To make it totally vegan, just leave off the yogurt and mix up a tahini sauce. Yum!



I think this spice blend has some potential in my kitchen. I’m thinking it might be nice on other roasted veggies…like carrots or squash? If you try this, let me know!  ~Inge

Roasted Cauliflower with Ras el Hanout and Tahini
Adapted from Vegetarian Times (I cannot find the link to the original recipe!)

To make ras el hanout, combine the following spices in a small bowl:

2 tsp. paprika
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional

Then, make the rest of the dish:

Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons tahini, and 2-3 tablespoons ras el hanout in a large mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower pieces and toss to coat with sauce. Add a little salt, if desired.

Spread cauliflower on baking sheet and roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes.

After removing the cauliflower from the oven, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the entire pan. Eat and enjoy. Or, serve cauliflower in pitas with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt (optional), chopped cilantro, and perhaps hot sauce.


Butternut squash, potato + leek soup

Butternut squash soup is always great, but truth be told, it sometimes feels a little on the boring side to me. I make a simple pot of it every now and then, with just the squash, a little onion and carrot, veggie broth, salt + pepper and a quick turn of the immersion blender. But if I want to do something really special, I make this soup. The combination of butternut squash, potato and leek is just delicious. I think it really takes butternut squash soup to the next level. The texture is so velvety and the color is such a pretty autumnal yellowish-orange. I want a scarf the color of this soup.

creamy butternut squash, potato + leek soup

If you’re thinking of making some toasted baguette slices with melted cheese to have on the side of this soup, that’s a good idea. Soups need dippers, right? Arrange slices of baguette on cookie sheet, top with shredded cheese and pop ’em in the oven on a high temperature for a few minutes until the cheese melts. The flavors of this particular soup go really well with Gruyère cheese, but parmesan also works if that’s what you happen to have.


Butternut squash, potato + leek soup
Adapted only just a little from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped (about 5-6 cups)
1 large potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 leek, sliced (about 2 cups)
4-5 cups veggie stock
1 teaspoon salt (or less, if your stock is salty)
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk


1. Prep all of your veggies.
2. Heat butter in large soup pot. Add the squash, potato, and salt + pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes. I usually look for a little browning to happen and some color to develop on the bottom of the soup pot. Then, add the leek. Cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the stock, stirring to scrap up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer until the veggies are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the soup from the heat. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender) and puree the soup. Add more stock if you need to adjust the consistency.
5. Return to a low heat and stir in the milk. Enjoy!