Sunday, August 24, 2014

Green Bean and Almond Soup

This is a modification of a recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini blog. I used coconut oil rather than olive oil, and reduced the amount of almond meal to keep the fat content more manageable for me. The use of almond meal was new to me as a way to thicken a soup without a dairy product such as cream.  I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture.  The almond meal gave the soup a slightly nutty, earthy taste and a finely nubby texture that was pleasing. Definitely a strategy that adds Pzazz and I will apply to other soup creations.  

Royal Burgundy  Bush Bean
Celery, Carrots, Beans
The beans that Tom planted again this year are Royal Burgundy Bush Beans, and turn green when cooked. Their color as well as their placement in the raised garden bins makes picking easy!  

Tom planted orange, yellow, white and red carrots this year. He mixed all of them together in the row so when I pulled some for this recipe, I didn't know what I would get and there were 4 orange ones, and one red one.  Next time, I think I will hold out for the white ones because they won't discolor the green soup as much as the orange and red ones did.

1 T. coconut oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced carrots
500 grams (a little over a pound) green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup almond meal

Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, and carrots, and cook over medium heat, stirring every now and then, until softened and very lightly golden. In the meantime, trim the green beans and rinse them well. Add to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Pour in the stock or water, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. In the meantime, pour the powdered almonds in a dry skillet. Set over medium-high heat and toast for about two minutes, stirring constantly and watching closely, until golden and fragrant. Set aside in a bowl to prevent overtoasting.

When the vegetables are soft, add the almond meal to the pot and stir well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a blender, purée the soup until completely smooth. Taste, adjust the seasoning, reheat over gentle heat if necessary, and serve.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 132
Total Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 210 mg
Total Carbs: 15 g
Dietary Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 4 g

Monday, August 18, 2014

Watermelon Gazpacho

On one of the rare steamy hot summer days in Duluth last week, I yearned for a cold, refreshing soup that was a bit different from my usual tomato gazpacho or cucumber soups.  This one from Eating Well fit the description for my desires.  The only modification I made to it was to reduce the amount of olive oil and salt.  I considered trying coconut oil in it, but thought the coconut oil would harden in a cold soup.  So I opted for the olive oil and reduced the amount.

Unfortunately, by the time I could make the soup, the temperature was down to 61 degrees.   But the soup was still filled with Pzazz!  My husband, Tom, and our son, Sam, both gave it a thumbs up, as well.  

8 cups finely diced seedless watermelon, (about 6 pounds with the rind)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Puree to desired consistency.  My immersion blender worked well for this. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition per serving :
Servings per recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 68
Total Fat:  2 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 138  mg
Total Carbs: 12 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cold Pickled Beet and Basil Soup

I had originally planned to make a warm beet soup, but realized Tom hadn't planted many beets this year and the few we have aren't quite ready to be harvested. But I did have a jar of pickled beets in the cupboard. And an abundance of basil in the pots on the deck.  Thus a marriage of flavors was born. Beets and basil are an exquisite couple.  

As I was beginning to take a photo of this incredibly delicious and simple soup, Tom brought me a few of the highly fragrant Nicotiana flowers from the garden. These flowers are fragrant only in the evening, but attract hummingbirds throughout the day to their trumpet shaped flowers.  They are also known as Tobacco Flower, and have high concentrations of nicotine.  

Even if you don't have any Nicotiana to add to your dining Pzazz, I think you will enjoy this soup.  

Potted basil  and other flowers and herbs on the deck 
8 whole pickled beets (medium sized)
4 -5 fresh purple basil leaves and extra for garnish (either green or purple)

Purple Basil and Genovese Basil 
I used my Magic Bullet to puree the beets and basil together and it worked perfectly.  You might need to add just a bit of the beet juice to get the consistency you want.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 81
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium:  260 mg
Total Carbs: 20 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 0 g
Variety of Nicotiana from the garden

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spicy Broccoli Soup

Tom's garden bins raise gardening to new heights!!   Wow!  He picked the second crop of broccoli yesterday and there is still more coming.  Last year when he built them, I thought they looked like over-sized caskets in our back yard.  Now they are a verdant abundance of living produce! And I am totally convinced of their merits in terms of production as well as ease of caring for them. No more bending to plant, weed, or harvest.  And the depth of soil conserves water and heat and he has not needed to water the garden even once this summer.  The only problem they create is keeping up with the harvesting!  

Raised garden bins containing tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, & beans

View of the bins from our deck

This delectable and mildly spicy soup is my modification of a recipe in the Soup Bible (Penguin Books, 2007).  The coconut milk adds a creamy dimension and is surprisingly complimentary to the broccoli.  I enjoyed some for lunch, even on this wonderfully warm summer day!  The rest will be frozen for a winter treat.  

    1 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 Tablespoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
    1 cup lite coconut milk
    2 lbs broccoli, cut into small pieces  

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and cook gently for 4 -5 minutes until onion is soft. Add ground spices and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Pour in stock and coconut milk, and slowly bring to a boil. Add broccoli, reduce heat and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool a little.Puree to desired consistency. 

Garnish with cilantro or mango chutney also is a great compliment for it.  

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 8                        
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 80
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                  
Sodium: 158 mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 4 g

Sunday, July 13, 2014

White Bean Sage Hummus

Why did I plant so much sage in my herb pots on the deck?  I have no clue.  And I usually associate sage with fall cooking, like with turkey, so I was a bit perplexed to figure out what to do with this beautiful abundance.  As I searched a bit on-line I was struck by the pairing of white beans with sage, especially in the form of a hummus.  So this is my adaptation of several recipes I found. I mixed some with a baked/mashed potato and thought it was delicious.  

Fresh sage in pot with parsley and rosemary

Most of the recipes I found used canned cannellini beans.  But Tom had just ordered and cooked some delicious corona beans, after listening to a show on The Splendid Table about these wonderful types of beans.  Corona beans are large white beans, also known as crown beans, and are a favorite in Italy's Piedmont region.  Tom ordered his through Purcell Mountain Farm.  He also ordered a few other types of dried beans from that source and I'll keep you posted if we find some other delectable ways to use them.  

    2 cups cooked beans (I used corona)
    3 Tablespoons tahini
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    6 - 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped to about 3 Tablespoons
    2 Tablespoons water

Puree it all together. ( I used my magic bullet when I made 1/2 batch.) Chill thoroughly before serving. 

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 16
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Calories: 45
Total Fat:  2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium:  88 mg
Total Carbs: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cold Tomato-Cilantro Soup

The weather forecast was for a couple of warm and sunny days in the midst of the persistent rain, fog and cool days we have been experiencing in Duluth.  Time to prepare for my quintessential summer day - eating lunch on the deck in the sunshine, while watching the hummingbirds and yellow finches dart among the flowers.  Finally, I would be able to try out this recipe that I found on the NY Times site for a tomato-cilantro soup.  The weather and the soup both delivered!  A wonderful lunch on the deck on a sunny summer day in Duluth, and I even used up a large portion of the abundant cilantro in the deck pots.

The only modification I made to the recipe that I found on the NY Times was to use coconut oil rather than olive oil, and to reduce the amount of water from 4 cups to 2 cups. Four cups seemed too much to my culinary instincts, and I was right - at least for the consistency of a cold soup that I like.  The soup also maintained a great consistency in the refrigerator for a few days, while I waited for another warm, sunny day to enjoy on the deck.  Fortunately, we have had a few more of those delightful days!

1 large or 2 small bunches fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, whole or diced, with liquid
2 cups water
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lime

Pull off a small handful of cilantro leaves to use for garnish and set aside.  Tie remaining cilantro into a  bundle with kitchen twine.
Heat oil in a deep, medium-size heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring until softened and golden, about 8 minutes; reduce heat as needed to prevent browning.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute; then add tomato paste, cumin, paprika, and cayenne, and cook until tomato paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes more.
Add tomatoes with liquid, 2 cups water, and cilantro bundle, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes, covered.  Set aside until cool enough to blend, then remove cilantro bundle.  Using regular or hand-held blender, blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, squeeze in juice of half a lime, and add salt and pepper to taste; the soup should not be very salty.  If desired, squeeze in remaining lime juice.  Serve in small bowls or cups, garnished with a few whole cilantro leaves.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 5
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 95
Total Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 165 mg
Total Carbs: 9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

From The NYTimes
Published: March 24, 2009
Adapted from “Mediterranean Light,” by Martha Rose Shulman (Morrow, 2000)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mexican Cold Cucumber Cilantro Soup

The cilantro in the pots on our deck have flourished in the past week.  I wish I could say that it was because of wonderfully warm weather, but that hasn't been the case here in Duluth.  Today our high was 50 degrees with rain, fog, and a strong wind from Lake Superior. Sometimes I think if I try hard enough warm weather will arrive.  So I try to induce warmer weather by wearing capris rather than polar fleece jackets.  I try by  bringing my lunch to the deck.  I try by making cool, refreshing soups.  Ah...Mother Nature will have none of my cajoling. So, I taste this wonderfully refreshing soup and decide if I eat it with a heated Amy's gluten-free, dairy-free burrito I can have a bite of summer with the warmth of comfort food. I have to say the combination was delightful!

If cilantro isn't your thing, (and I've heard that it is a genetic preference), then you might not like this.  Tom and I both thought it was refreshing and light. 

The original recipe was from and used skim milk.   I substituted goat yogurt, and was very delighted with the result.  I was also surprised that the soup was not too watery.  I think it was the goat yogurt that made it just the right consistency and it maintained its consistency for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  

What's your favorite way to use cilantro?  As you can see from the photos, I have an abundance of it and have some other ideas to try, but would love to hear from you. 

1 lb. cucumbers, (about 2 large cukes), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup cilantro (firmly packed)
1/2 cup plain goat yogurt or plain dairy yogurt or skim milk. 
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice  

Puree all ingredients in blender. Cover and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours.   Serve and garnish with cilantro leaves, or the original recipe suggested chopped chives.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 2
Serving Size: 1 3/4  cup
Calories: 61
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 3  mg
Sodium: 355  mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 2
Protein: 4