Garlic Scape Soup


Garlic scapes are one of the most unusual, yet beautiful, items you’ll find at the farmers’ market. Fleeting, too, as they’re only around for a few short weeks in early summer. They can be used in a variety of ways—in stir-fries, pesto, scrambled eggs, and even replace a utensil in this Grilled Mushroom Satay with Garlic Scape Skewers I made a couple years ago.


With a lovely bunch of scapes on hand, today I decided on soup. A pretty puréed soup full of healthy ingredients and mild garlic flavor. Potatoes give it body and some fresh spinach helps keep the vibrant green color, although the addition of the milk dilutes it a bit. Garnished with fresh thyme from my herb garden and a sprinkling of pistachios to maintain the green color scheme, we had a light, but delicious lunch.

Originally thinking this would need to go through a fine mesh sieve after puréeing, it didn’t. I discarded the thicker last few inches of each scape and this resulted in no fibrous pieces remaining after pureeing. Was it smooth as silk? No, but darn close. Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

Garlic scapes, cut into 2 inch pieces, to measure 2 cups (cut off the end from the flower bulb on up and if the other ends seem fibrous, cut off a few inches there as well)

½ a large yellow onion, chopped

1 medium to large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

A couple handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

4 cups good quality vegetable broth/stock (homemade is ideal)

1 cup milk of choice (whole, low-fat, cream, almond, evaporated, etc.)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped pistachios for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stockpot or Dutch oven. When oil is hot, add scapes and onion, sprinkling with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until scapes and onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in potato, thyme leaves, and spinach; add another small sprinkle of salt. Cook for an additional minute or two. Add stock/broth, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cover pan, with lid slightly askew, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup until very smooth (alternately, purée in a blender in small batches, venting the lid to let steam escape, and return to pot). Place pot over medium heat and stir in milk, cooking until heated through, but not boiling. Add sherry vinegar or lemon juice and stir. Season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved thyme and pistachios. Makes 4-6 servings.

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Spicy Tortilla Soup

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Sometimes when paging through a not-so-new-to-me cookbook, I’ll stumble across a recipe that sounds so amazingly good it’s hard to believe I haven’t made it before. This is especially surprising when it’s a vegetarian version of a dish that has always sounded tempting on restaurant menus, but wasn’t meatless.

Going through the fabulous Robin Asbell’s Big Vegan, a collection of over 350 recipes chock full of vegan deliciousness, which I’ve had for several years, Tortilla Soup with Mock Duck and Chipotles caught my attention. Chicken tortilla soup started appearing on restaurant menus about the time I became a vegetarian so I’ve never had it. After reading this meatless recipe the other day, it seemed reminiscent of those restaurant versions, so I had to try it and the timing was perfect—just before Super Bowl Sunday—perfect game day fare! Hearty, healthy (but tastes sinful), and oh so yummy. Double or triple the recipe for a Super Bowl crowd. Enjoy!
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Spicy Tortilla Soup

Slightly adapted from Robin Asbell’s Big Vegan 

Six 6-inch corn tortillas

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 10-ounce can mock duck, torn into small bite-sized pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pinch ground cloves

1 quart vegetable stock, homemade if you’ve got it

1 small sweet potato, cubed

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon chipotle chili in spicy adobo sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

Garnishes:
Tortilla strips

1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

Sliced or diced ripe avocado

Sliced scallions

Shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stack the tortillas and slice them into ¼ inch wide strips. Place the tortilla strips in a medium bowl and drizzle with the grapeseed oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and toss until tortilla strips are evenly coated with oil and salt. Place strips on a large baking sheet and spread into a single layer.

Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the strips are crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Remove strips to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in a stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mock duck, garlic, cumin and cloves. Stir and let cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Add the stock, sweet potato, quinoa, chipotle and oregano. Cover and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt (if using homemade stock with no salt) or ½ teaspoon of salt if using salted stock. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is curled and sweet potato is tender.

Ladle hot soup into bowls and top each with tortilla strips, avocado, scallions and cheddar. Squeeze lime juice, to taste, over soup. Makes about 4 servings.

Vegetarian Pho

Pho
I’ve been musing about soup as seasonal comfort food ever since the weather turned chilly, but after having pho (pronounced “fuh”) tonight for the first time in my life, I now realize you truly don’t know soup as comfort food until you experience this Vietnamese rice noodle and broth concoction. On the day of our first snowfall, which was accompanied by sleet and icy winds, this recipe could only be more apropos if one had a cold—it would be the perfect food-as-medicine meal!

In the past, I’ve just skipped over the pho section on the menu at Vietnamese restaurants because it’s always been made with meat and meat broth. But a few weeks ago when I was reading 101 Cookbooks’ most recent favorites list, it included a “to cook” link that brought me to a vegetarian pho recipe from www.happyolks.com, a new-to-me blog. Upon reading the ingredients, I could practically smell the fragrant broth. And vibrant fresh veggies and herbs, plus brown rice noodles (pasta—yay!) had me moving this recipe to the top of my “to cook” list.

I made the recipe pretty-much as written with the exception of using baby bok choy in place of the called-for head of bok choy because the co-op didn’t have it. You’ll like this any time of year, but it will be an especially welcoming meal if you’re having weather like we are. In addition to being vegetarian, it’s vegan and gluten-free, and after seeing how much my non-vegetarian husband loved it, you’ll likely satisfy just about anyone. Enjoy!
SpicesSimmering

Vegetarian Pho

From www.happyolks.com, as adapted from Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

2 large onions, peeled and halved

A nub of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

4 cinnamon sticks

4 star anise

4 cloves

4 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 fennel bulb, quartered, stalks removed

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce (tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce)

8 cups vegetable stock

4 heads of baby bok choy, halved

Fresh basil

Fresh mint

2 cups beansprouts

Sliced jalapeño peppers

Several limes, quartered

Thin sweet onion slices

1 pound brown rice noodles

Sriracha sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place onions and ginger slices onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the edges are starting to brown.

Place spices in a stock pot and dry roast until fragrant, stirring to prevent from burning. Add vegetable stock, tamari, carrots, fennel, and roasted onions and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain soup base through a fine mesh strainer to remove vegetables and debris, then return strained broth to the pot and reheat. Cook noodles according to packet instructions. Prepare serving bowls with cooked noodles, bok choy, beansprouts, onion, fresh herbs, jalapeño, and lime wedges. When ready to serve, pour over hot broth and serve immediately. Garnish with sriracha, if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.

 

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

 

Soup above

Yep, another soup recipe. Just can’t help myself—it is soup season after all! This recipe came about after we returned from a cabin trip to some cauliflower and potatoes that were soon to hit the far side of prime.

The trip was wonderful, with fall colors stunning on the way there. Even at the cabin, where a lot of the vibrant leaves were gone, there was color—scarlet sumac and dogwood, bright golden tamaracks, and I never realized how beautiful the leaves turn on the wild rose bushes along the shore. No matter the time of year, you can always find color to make a bouquet! And the chives were still thriving so I was able to bring home a bagful.
BouquetBouquet in vaseFire and rose bushes

Otis came along and while it was jacket weather for us, he still loved playing in the frigid waters of Lake Superior! He’s getting a little better at quieting his excitement on the drive there and back too, but he’s not quite there yet. He definitely brings a different level of fun though!

Otis in Lake Superior

Otis by cabin

Fall and winter get me craving a wild rice soup spiked with sherry, which seemed good compliments to the must-use-soon veggies. Shallots and garlic provide a flavor boost, along with creaminess from your milk of choice (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—whatever floats your boat), and a comforting meal is born. Add a fall-themed salad such as this and some crusty whole-grain bread and your lunch or dinner is complete. Enjoy!

Soup side

Creamy Cauliflower Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter

½ cup sliced shallots

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ head cauliflower, cut into 1” pieces

2 medium gold or red potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup milk (buttermilk, skim, almond, cashew, evaporated—your choice)

2 cups cooked wild rice

2 tablespoons dry or medium dry sherry

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped chives and additional wild rice, for garnish

In a stockpot, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic and cook about another minute. Stir in the cauliflower and potatoes and cook for about two minutes. Add the wine and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has pretty much cooked off. Add the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup until it is completely smooth (alternately, cool soup a bit and purée in a blender, in batches, and return to pot). Over low heat, stir in the milk, wild rice, sherry, and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped chives and a bit of wild rice. Makes four meal-size servings or six appetizer servings.

Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup
The cooling temperatures, shorter days and changing leaves have got me craving soup. A fall soup, of course! In years past squash soup has been my go-to when the chilly weather arrives. Thinking I might switch that up a bit, I considered a beet soup, but then I spied some beautiful sweet potatoes at the farmers’ market. Decision made!

This soup was our first course when Pete’s parents came for lunch last weekend. It was so good, I had to cook up another batch for this week’s lunches and added a little kick with cayenne pepper, making a really good soup downright fabulous. You can vary the amount depending on your heat preference, or leave it out altogether if you prefer.

Topping off the soup Monday was a little dollop of Greek yogurt and fennel fronds. Today, I threw in some leftover cooked wild rice before I heated it up and it was a great combination. Use your imagination or just have the soup plain, regardless, the flavors will be like a warm blanket snuggling you through the change of seasons. Enjoy!

Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon good quality curry powder (I used Madras-style curry)

¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½” size pieces

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk (regular or light)

Salt & pepper to taste

Greek yogurt, fennel fronds, toasted pumpkin seeds or almonds, for garnish

Cooked wild rice makes a good addition for a more filling version (stir in wild rice after soup is done and heat through)

Heat oil in stock pot over medium heat. Cook onion until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add curry and cayenne and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds, until spices are fragrant. Add sweet potatoes and vegetable broth. Bring soup to a low boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.

Turn off heat and blend soup, using an immersion blender, until completely smooth and velvety. Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with a small dollop of Greek yogurt and fennel fronds and/or mix in some cooked wild rice for a more filling soup. Makes about 6 good size servings.

 

 

Split Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Spinach over Brown Rice

Dal Soup
After a rainy, dreary day, I was thinking soup after work. A hearty soup, maybe earthy with lentils and spinach. Perusing a few cookbooks, I stumbled upon a red lentil soup that sounded wonderful—fennel seeds, ginger, garlic, and spiced up with red pepper flakes—the aroma practically floated off the page. After a quick pantry check, I found red split lentils (actually are more golden than red when cooked), which would cook even faster than whole lentils and dinner would be on the table that much quicker.

The recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers by the Moosewood Collective. The Moosewood Collective is comprised of nineteen people who own and operate the iconic Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. The restaurant, open since the early 1970s, is known for their vegetarian food and has amassed many accolades over the years, including James Beard Awards, and was named one of the most influential restaurants of the 20th century by Bon Appetite Magazine. In other words, they know what they’re doing.

Ladled over brown basmati rice and topped with chopped green onions, this dal soup will make your belly happy and your kitchen smell fabulous. Enjoy!

Split Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Spinach over Brown Rice


1 ½ cups split red lentils
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh gingerroot
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup full-fat coconut milk

Cooked brown basmati rice
Sliced scallions, for garnish

Rinse the lentils, picking out any shriveled lentils or debris. Drain. Place lentils in a stockpot and add the teaspoon of salt and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, gingerroot and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Stir in the spinach and ½ teaspoon salt and cook just until spinach is wilted. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another minute. Remove from heat.

When lentils are cooked, add spinach-coconut milk mixture and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Scoop hot brown rice into bowls and top with a couple ladles full soup. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. Makes 4-6 servings.

Vegetarian Borscht

Borscht
In honor of the warm, friendly, and mostly snafu-free atmosphere it appears the Russians have delivered as Olympic host country, how about a batch of borscht?

Pete and I have been having so much fun watching these world class athletes throw their hearts and souls into competition and giving us thrills, chills, exhilaration, joy, and in some cases disappointment (never in the athletes, just some of the results). From the beauty of the opening ceremony, through the excitement of competition and the personal stories, the games have brought so much enjoyment, we’re sad to see them coming to an end with the closing ceremony tonight.

The skiing has especially entranced us. Near and dear to our hearts have been the cross country races, (we both got our first skinny skis when we were 12 and love the sport, with Pete still competing in Vasaloppet USA). And the amazing downhill events: super G, giant slalom, ski-cross. Also the different snowboarding events, sliding sports, hockey (yes, it still hurts), speed skating, figure skating and curling, it’s all been such a delight to experience from afar.

We’ve also recently had the excitement of the biggest snowstorm of this winter, so a soup is especially appropriate. And the stunning color of borscht is a beautiful backdrop to our snow-white landscape.
SnowCardinal
No matter how old I get, I still get giddy over the prospect of a good old-fashion blizzard, and this latest storm didn’t disappoint, although it has made driving extremely slow and stressful, even a couple days after the snow ended and the sun came out. Oh well, spring is less than a month away, and we’ve got borscht to warm us when we come inside. That, and maybe a shot or two of vodka! Vashe zdorovie!

Pulled together after reading a few recipes (including this and this) borscht is a hearty, filling soup that only needs some crusty whole-grain bread on the side for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Shredded beets and carrotsSachet

Borscht

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 medium beets, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

2 large carrots, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks

3 ripe tomatoes chopped (can use good quality canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)

8 cups water

3 cubes good quality vegetable bouillon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 bay leaves

4 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnishes:
Chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, beets, carrot, and potato. Continue to cook for several more minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the veggies are cooking, cut a square of cheesecloth and place the bay leaves and whole cloves in the center. Bring the corners together and tie with kitchen twine or string, making a sachet or bouquet garni. Set aside.

To the stockpot, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir it all up and then place the sachet or bouquet garni into the soup and give it another stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Remove the sachet from soup before serving.

To serve, ladle the hot borscht into bowls. Squeeze a little lemon over soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with lots of chopped dill. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread for a full meal. Makes about 8 servings.


Bowl of Borscht