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Posts Tagged ‘easy soups’

 

Back from the dead–or so it would seem.

I’m sorry there haven’t been any posts in such a long time. Between work and summer travel, I struggled to find any time–other than a few Instagram pics. My family and I spent two weeks in Europe visiting friends and family and then spent an incredible two weeks in Africa. (Look for a post on that soon.)

You might think that after taking a hiatus from the blog that I would post something really elaborate or spectacular. But in reality, I want to share an unbelievably simple, but delicious recipe as I start back up with my blog.

With all I see happening in the world right now, I’m personally craving comfort, simplicity and nourishment.

Maybe you live in a part of the United States that saw the brutal force of our world’s ever-strengthening storms. Or maybe you live in a country recently targeted by terrorists. I know it’s all relative, but until the last decade, my generation has managed to avoid a lot of large-scale and widespread adversity. Now I look around at what’s happening in many regions of the world and read news reports, and find myself nearly in a state of disbelief that so much division, animosity and chaos exists.

While it may not necessarily be recommended, many of us take comfort in food. And fortunately, food remains one of the main ways in which we experience other cultures, experience camaraderie and strengthen our families and our ties with friends, so I plan to start posting a lot of simple, healthy and comforting recipes. Try this super easy cold soup, which makes a perfect starter to a late summer or early autumn lunch or dinner.

 

Ingredients

1 ripe melon*, seeds removed, scooped from rind and cut into large chunks

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

4 tbsp fresh mint leaves

Juice of one lime

1/2 tsp salt

Mint leaves for garnish

*Canary or Honeydew melons work best for this recipe, but nearly any will do.

 

Preparation

Place first five ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend on high for approximately 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning as needed and blend to incorporate. Chill for 1-2 hours.

Stir or lightly reblend, then ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprig of mint.

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

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I consider sweet potatoes a near-perfect food. I know they’re considered a starch, and those trying to lose weight might avoid them, but they’re full of so much goodness. They’re rich in fiber, and they’re one of the best sources of beta-carotene– for Vitamin A. You can do just about anything with them. For example, you can turn them into fries or use them in pies (hey, that rhymes!). Bake them in tarts and brownies. Serve them on the side of meat dishes. Roast them and use them in salads. Use them in soups or in place of regular potatoes for your breakfast hash. The list goes on and on.

I think I serve sweet potatoes at least 2-3 times each week in my home. We all love them, and I’ve convinced the kids that the more color they have on their plates, the better off they’ll be. So the kids welcome the sweet potatoes I serve them in any form.

We have endured a particularly wet winter here in Northern California, and that means less time outside and more time inside, hunkered down, trying to avoid growing webbing between our fingers and toes. That also means more warm soups to stave off the damp chill.

I love this recipe because it’s super easy to prepare (my number one criteria most of the time!), tasty and comforting. I like to top it with toasted prosciutto and toasted pecans, but you could easily sub a vegetarian or vegan option. I’ve also topped this soup with spiced, toasted pepitas ¬†(see my recipe here). Of course, you don’t have to garnish your soups at all, but I think it’s nice to have a contrast of textures when you’re making a super smooth soup. This recipe serves 4-6 depending on whether you’re serving it as one of several courses or whether it’s the main attraction.

 

Ingredients

1 small red onion, skin peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil

1 tbsp ghee

2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Sea salt

3-4 slices of prosciutto

1/3 cup pecans

 

Preparation

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium het. Add in the onions and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions soften. Add in the sweet potatoes. Pour in enough stock to cover. Submerge the bay leaves. Tap in the cinnamon. Turn up the heat; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender (25-30 minutes).

While the soup is simmering, place 3-4 strips of prosciutto and the pecans in a shallow baking dish and cook in a toaster oven (if you have one) on the “toast” setting or regular oven on broil until crisp. Be careful not to let it burn! The high fat content make both susceptible to burning.

When the sweet potato is cooked through, remove the bay leaves. Puree the mixture using a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) or a good immersion blender, adding a bit of warm water or more stock if you think the consistency is too thick. Stir in the maple syrup and 1 tsp salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, to your liking.

Pour into bowls, and garnish with crumbled prosciutto and pecans. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

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DSC_1217zucchini soup closeI think zucchini are a seriously under-appreciated vegetable. You can prepare them dozens of ways, and they always make a great accompaniment to meats. During the summer, I like to cut zucchini lengthwise into strips, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, sea salt and pepper, and grill until the strips begin to carmelize slightly. You can make a similar preparation indoors by lightly dusting strips of zucchini with rice flour and a sprinkling of nutmeg and salt before frying them in a pan coated with butter or olive oil. And when the weather turns colder, I like to make zucchini soup.

At the market and in the stores, the zucchini are beautiful right now–firm and dark green with subtly shiny skins. I bought a couple pounds so that I could make this recipe that originally came from my sister. I’m partial to it because the last time I made it, my 5-year-old asked for seconds and then thirds!

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small- to medium-size yellow onion, chopped

2 1/2 lbs zucchini, tops and ends removed, and chopped in 1/4-inch slices

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or marjoram)

4 bay leaves

chicken stock to cover (approximately 1 quart)

1/2 cup cream

sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Warm the butter (or ghee) and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally another 5-6 minutes. Toss in the bay leaves and chopped oregano and pour in the stock–enough to completely cover the vegetables.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and puree in a blender until thoroughly blended. Stir in the cream (or milk) and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve warm. Note: the flavors in this soup deepen over the hours, so I recommend–time and forethought permitting, cooking it earlier in the day and reheating it for dinner. It’s also good the next day.

Make it dairy-free:

Use ghee (clarified butter) in place of butter, and coconut or almond milk in place of the cream.

Enjoy!

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