soup and such

simple, fresh vegetarian soups and more


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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

Method:

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!

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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!

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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.

Method:

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!


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a spring brunch :: spinach and cheese strata

Hello, readers! It has been a few weeks since the last post. I hope spring has sprung where you live. We’re still waiting on it in Chicago. I haven’t retired my winter coat yet for the season, and that is always my barometer around this time of year. I was thinking this morning that maybe, just maybe, I’ll put away the winter hats, gloves and scarves. But I don’t want to jinx it.

Figuring out what to cook is tricky this time of year, isn’t it? My neighborhood farmer’s market is still many weeks away from opening for the season, and I can’t figure out what I’m in the mood to eat.

A few weeks ago, we decided to make ourselves brunch one weekend morning. I can’t remember why we did it, but it was a great idea. Brunch at home is fun.

springtime brunch-for-two

springtime brunch-for-two

For the main dish, we made a strata. My sister introduced me to this recipe (thanks, A!). She made it for Christmas morning a few years ago and it was a big hit. I’m typically not a fan of egg dishes, but this strata isn’t too egg-y, and of course, Gruyère cheese makes everything insanely good.

It takes a bit of planning because you assemble the strata the night before. Then, you leave it in the refrigerator overnight, pressing it down with whatever you have handy. I used some cans and a bag of lentils.

pressing down the strata

pressing down the strata

All you have to do the next morning is pop it in the oven. While it’s baking, you can get the rest of the meal ready. We ate this with a green salad and some fresh fruit. It was delicious! ~Inge

spinach and cheese strata

spinach and cheese strata

Spinach and cheese strata
Adapted just a little from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

8-10 slices of baguette
3 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (or another good melting cheese)
6 eggs
1 ¾ cup milk

Method:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet and sauté shallots about 3 minutes. Add spinach and salt and pepper (to taste). Cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Pour the wine into the same skillet and simmer until reduced, for about 2 minutes. Set aside.

2. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish with remaining tablespoon of butter. Arrange half of the bread slices in a single layer in the dish. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture, then ½ cup of the cheese over the bread. Arrange remaining bread slices in a single layer over the cheese, then sprinkle the rest of the spinach mixture and another ½ cup of cheese evenly over the bread.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together. Then, whisk in the wine, milk, and a scant 1 teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste).

4. Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread layers. Cover the surface flush with plastic wrap and weigh down. Use whatever you have handy in your kitchen to do this (I used cans and a bag of lentils). Refrigerate the strata overnight. The original recipe indicates that you could also refrigerate it for 1 hour, but I’ve always done it overnight.

5. The next morning (or at least 1 hour later), remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Uncover strata and top with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake at 325 degrees for about 50-55 minutes. It’s done when the edges and center are puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish. Cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy!


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stuffed peppers with quinoa, spinach and feta

This is a really tasty recipe that I don’t cook nearly enough. Bell pepper halves are filled with a flavorful quinoa and spinach stuffing, with some feta crumbles thrown in for good measure. It is filling and wholesome. Served with a fresh green salad on the side, it makes the perfect dinner and leftover lunch the next day.

Here’s how I make this dish. First, I prepare the pepper “cups,” making sure to season them with a little olive oil and s+p. I want the peppers to have as much flavor as the stuffing. Then, I cook the quinoa and prepare the stuffing mixture. It all comes together pretty quickly.

pepper "cups" and quinoa stuffing mixture

pepper “cups” and quinoa stuffing mixture

Next, the peppers are stuffed. I add an extra drizzle of olive oil over the tops of the stuffed peppers and pour a few tablespoons of veggie broth (or water) in the bottom of the pan. I think the broth helps keep the peppers from drying out while baking. Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are crispy and a little brown. Enjoy! ~Inge

Quinoa stuffed peppers with spinach and feta

Quinoa stuffed peppers with spinach and feta

Stuffed peppers with quinoa, spinach and feta
Adapted from Deborah Madison

I often prepare the pepper “cups” first so that they are waiting for me when the stuffing is ready. For the spinach, I usually use two entire bags of baby spinach leaves. It seems like a lot when you add it to the pan, but it really cooks down. Also, don’t forget to add the extra drizzle of olive oil before baking – it helps to brown and crisp up the tops!

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon cumin
2 bags of baby spinach
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 container crumbled feta
4 bell peppers, whatever color you’d like

Method:
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when most of the water has been absorbed and the grains reveal their spirals.

2. Prepare the pepper “cups” for stuffing. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and cut out the membrane and seeds. Simmer them in some salted water for about 3-4 minutes. You just want to get them a little soft; don’t overcook them. Remove with tongs and set them in a baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the peppers and season with salt and pepper.

3. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the scallions and jalapenos and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add garlic, cumin and spinach, along with 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, cooked quinoa and feta. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper. Then, stuff the peppers with this quinoa mixture.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the peppers and pour a few tablespoons of veggie broth (or water) in the pan. Bake the dish (uncovered) for about 30 minutes until nice and brown on the tops. Enjoy!


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lemony spinach salad

Hi there!

This will be my first picture-less post because of a camera-related incident a few weeks ago. I was taking a picture of a hot and bubbling cauliflower gratin when I dropped my camera…into the gratin. The gratin was tasty, but the camera hasn’t been working properly ever since the fall. I finally found a repair service, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to post because I don’t want to lose momentum on the blog. Also, I really want to tell you about this salad because it’s so good.

This spinach salad has become a regular fixture in our dinner rotation. It’s super easy to throw together and delicious. The salad itself only has two ingredients, fresh spinach and red onions. The dressing is a tangy mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, s+p, and a dash of sugar. So simple. So tasty.

We love homemade salad dressings around here and this one is a keeper. It pairs very nicely with the fresh spinach. I found the idea for the salad and dressing in an old issue of Cooking Light as a side dish suggestion for a butternut squash soup. This salad does go really well with a creamy and slightly sweet soup, like butternut squash. But we’ve mostly been eating it alongside that roasted garlic quinoa and (truth be told) take-out pizza. It’s a great salad for pizza night.

Happy cooking! ~Inge

Lemony Spinach Salad
The amounts here work out just perfectly, so get out your measuring cups and spoons! I usually eyeball throwing together salads and dressings, but in this case, I do take the time to measure because the proportions are just right.

6 cups fresh baby spinach
½ cup thinly sliced red onion

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Place spinach and red onion in salad bowl. To make dressing, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl. Add dressing to spinach mixture and toss to combine. Eat and enjoy.


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Quinoa with roasted garlic, spinach, and tomato

Our microwave was recently the casualty of an electricity incident in our apartment building. Instead of immediately replacing it, we decided to go microwave-free for a few weeks as an experiment. It’s actually been really easy to do, and looking back, it seems silly that we let such an unnecessary piece of kitchen equipment take up so much counter space. Counter space is like gold in tiny kitchens. With the microwave gone, there are now two comfortable prep areas in the kitchen, which makes cooking together so much easier. I’d take that over a microwave any day.

Another upside to this new normal is that I now get so much more use out of these little Le Creuset baking dishes. I always kept them around because I thought they were cute, but now we use them almost every day to reheat leftovers in the oven. And guess what? Leftovers taste a million times better when cooked in the oven rather than the microwave. Who knew?

Quinoa with roasted garlic, spinach, and tomato reheated in a cute little dish!

All of this is to say that this quinoa dish reheats very well in the oven, making a tasty lunch the day after you make this for dinner. It’s one of our favorite ways to eat quinoa. You toast up uncooked quinoa with some chopped shallots and a dash of white wine before cooking it in veggie broth. When the quinoa is fully cooked, you stir in roasted garlic, chopped tomato, fresh spinach, and a little cheese. It’s really, really, really good.

~Inge

Quinoa with roasted garlic, spinach, and tomato
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 whole garlic heads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons white wine
2 cups veggie broth
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 small tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt

Method:

1. First, you need to get the garlic roasted. Remove as much papery skin as you can from each head. Then, cut each head in half crosswise. Make sure each clove is exposed (sometimes I have to do a little trimming here and there). Wrap both heads in aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about an hour. Let the roasted garlic cool for a little bit and then squeeze out the individual cloves (which will be kind of pulpy and paste-like at this point) and set them in a small bowl for later.

2. Now, make the quinoa. Heat oil in saucepan. Add shallots and red pepper; cook for a minute. Add quinoa and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Carefully add the wine and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the liquid is absorbed. Then, add the veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

3. Remove the quinoa from the heat, and then stir in the garlic pulp, spinach, tomato, cheese, and salt. Eat and enjoy!