Broccoli Asparagus Soup

Weather in Minnesota, particularly in the spring, is somewhat unpredictable. We’ve been on a weather rollercoaster of sorts over the past few weeks, with highs ranging from low 50s to low 80s. Today it’s hot, humid, and breezy as we’re expecting storms later, but a cold front moves in tomorrow and we’re only supposed to have highs in the mid- to upper-40s. I might have to get my wool coat out again…On the positive side, tomorrow is the perfect day for soup, and this one uses one of my favorite spring vegetables, asparagus.

Broccoli Asparagus Soup

Broccoli Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 (1-pound) bunch asparagus, woody stems snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp round cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • a sprinkling of chives (optional topping)

Instructions

  1. Cut the leek in half and pull back and rinse the outer layers. Put the layers back together as best you can and slice the leek. Place into a large soup pot with 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth. Simmer on medium heat until tender.
  2. Add the garlic, potatoes, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil and then add the broccoli, asparagus, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil again, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender remove the pot from the heat and let the soup cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into bowls, sprinkle with chives if desired, and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Whole Foods Market

French Onion Soup

My first experience eating French onion soup was memorable, and not in a good way. I was on a field trip with my French class, and French onion soup was one of those things we just HAD to try. I don’t remember if we got to pick our food option or not, but I don’t know that it would have mattered much as I had never had it before. It looked gross, all brown with a hunk of congealed-looking cheese on top; and it tasted gross, which may have had something to do with the fact that the cheese on top was probably Gruyere, which is definitely not my favorite. I’ve seen French onion soup on many a menu since then, but haven’t been gutsy enough to try it after the experience I had as a youngster.

After eating a bowl of this soup (with a thick slice of lentil bread and some melted mozzarella cheese on top), I’m convinced that I can like French onion soup. In fact, I would probably eat this for every meal forever if it didn’t take so much time to make and if it was a bit more nutritionally sound.

French Onion Soup

FOS 2

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy spread (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 thick slice of bread, cut in half
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Cut the onions in half top to bottom and peel off the outer layer(s) of skin. Thinly slice each half and then cut the slices in half. Transfer cut onions to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the non-dairy spread with the oil in a large saute pan or soup pot over low heat. When it starts to sizzle add the onions and stir to coat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover the onions and stir in the salt, black pepper, and sugar. Cook, uncovered, over low to medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently and lowering the heat if they start to scorch. You can add a bit of liquid or oil to the pan if they seem to be sticking or scorching a lot.
  4. When the onions are golden brown heat the vegetable stock in a separate pan. Stir the flour into the onions and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Add the hot vegetable stock, bay leaves, and thyme to the onion mixture. Cook the soup over low heat, partially covered, for an hour or until it’s as thick as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. If you’re going to add bread and cheese to the soup, now’s the time to do it. If you have oven-safe bowls you can place the bread and cheese right on top of the soup, otherwise place the bread on a baking sheet and top with the sliced cheese. Broil on high until the cheese gets bubbly and starts to brown.

You can make this vegan by not using the mozzarella cheese, or by using a non-dairy cheese alternative.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn.

Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

I’ve mentioned my love of squash before, so it’s no surprise that I always seem to have one sitting around waiting to be used in some recipe or another. This time it was an acorn squash, and I wanted to use it to make something fit for a Minnesota winter (usually pretty cold this time of year, but we’ve been experiencing  a warm streak), something warm and comforting, AKA soup.

 Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

Acorn Squash and Pecan Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, drained and puréed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Mix the olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cumin together in a small bowl. Brush the squash halves with the mixture and set cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Once the squash has cooled scoop it out into a blender or food processor. Add the pecans, vegetable broth, agave nectar, and remaining spices. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and stir in the puréed cannellini beans. Cook over medium heat until heated through.

Source: Adapted from Food 52

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with a Tasty Salsa

I’m coming up on the end of my VISTA term, and spending a lot of time looking for my next job. Translation: I’m digging simple recipes that don’t require a ton of prep or cook time right now. I’ve been wanting to make a chilled soup for a while but hadn’t come across a recipe that sounded good. I finally found a recipe, and of course, happened to pick like the coldest week of the summer to make it. This one is really easy and tastes very fresh. Enjoy!

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with a Tasty Salsa

Cucumber Avocado Soup

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • flesh of one large Hass avocado
  • 2 green onions, chopped (include both white and green part)
  • 1 cup almond milk (preferably vanilla flavored)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Salsa

  • 1 mango, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato, chopped
  • flesh of half an avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw shucked corn
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place all soup ingredients except salt and pepper into blender and blend until smooth, adding about 1/2 cup of water to give it a creamier texture. Taste the mixture, then add salt and pepper and blend as needed until it tastes just right.
  2. Mix the salsa ingredients together with a spatula in a small to medium sized bowl.
  3. Pour the soup into bowls and top with some of the salsa.

I originally used water to make this soup creamier, but it ended up being too tart and not creamy enough for me. I added 1 cup of vanilla almond milk to cut some of the tart flavor and increase the creaminess.

Source: Adapted from Food 52

Irish Beef Stew

We’re expecting a resurgence of winter this week –  good ol’ Minnesota weather – so I thought it would be a good idea to make something warm and filling.  With St. Patrick’s Day coming up tomorrow, this stew fit the bill.

The first time I made this stew I was living on my own for the first time in an apartment in Minneapolis, and was slightly afraid that the crock pot would burn my building down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and the end result was delicious.

Irish Beef Stew

Irish Beef Stew

Ingredients

Note: Feel free to vary the amount of vegetables you use in this recipe, depending on your preferred meat to vegetable ratio.

  • 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch-pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter or non-dairy alternative such as Earth Balance
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup stout beer (I used Furthermore’s Three Feet Deep)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Put the potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots in a crock pot.
  2. Rinse the stew meat and pat dry, then sprinkle with some salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the stew meat and cook until it’s browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the skillet and add it to the crockpot, leaving juices in the pan.
  3. Add the butter or non-dairy alternative to the skillet and let it melt. Add the beef broth, red wine, beer, tomato paste, sugar, soy sauce, and thyme, and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes, and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch and water mix and let simmer for a minute or two over low heat until the sauce thickens to desired consistency. Add more cornstarch/water mixture if needed.
  4. Pour the sauce into the crockpot and add the bay leaves. Stir the stew so everything is mixed up well. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 6 to 9 hours.

To really get in the St. Patty’s Day spirit, serve this with Irish soda bread.

Source: Adapted from the little kitchen

Mustikkakeitto (Finnish Blueberry Soup)

I’ve written briefly about fruit soup before – and even attempted to make the Scandanavian kind a few years ago (not so good), but the recipes from last Thursday’s “Eat” section inspired me to give it another shot. Given the large volume of frozen blueberries currently residing in our freezer, this seemed like a good choice.

Mustikkakeitto (Finnish Blueberry Soup)

Blueberry Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used leftover lemon sugar from another recipe)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine blueberries with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until you notice the berries start to pop.
  2. Strain the berries over a large bowl, pressing the berries with a spoon to get all the juice out. I put about 1/4 cup of the pressed berries into the bowl with the juice, and used the rest to make a fruit smoothie.
  3. Pour the juice back into the saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water. Add to the pan and cook the mixture for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the soup starts to thicken. Remove the cinnamon and discard.

I’ve seen recipes serve this soup with a sprinkle of sea salt on top and some whipped cream, or a bit of plain yogurt and granola.

Source: Adapted from recipe printed in the Pioneer Press, February 13, 2014

Vegan Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup

I was at Cahoots Coffee Bar in Saint Paul for a meeting one day after work, and was hungry but not in the mood for a super big meal. I ordered their Vegan Cream of Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup (I think that’s what it was called… it was a long name) and it was great, especially on such a cold day (we get quite a few of those here in Minnesota). I wrote myself a note in my planner, and finally got around to trying to replicate the soup today. It’s a little less creamy than the original, but still delicious.

Vegan Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup

Butternut squash soup 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, split in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil on squash and sprinkle with one teaspoon salt. Place cut side down on cookie sheet
  3. Roast squash for 30 – 45 minutes, or until tender. When squash is done, remove form oven and let cool.
  4. While squash is cooling, pour remaining tablespoon of olive oil into large soup pot. Add the carrots and onion and saute until they’re tender.
  5. Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, and spices, and stir until combined.
  6. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add to the soup pot.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly blend the soup.

This soup is good with a bit of fresh thyme sprinkled on top.

I am officially on winter break (one of the perks of working at a public school) and am looking forward to all of the cooking I’ll be doing between now and the end of break on January 2nd.

Source: Adapted from Eclectic Recipes