Here’s just a quick soup I came up with when I happened to have basil on my counter and I needed to get rid of some sweet potatoes. It has a great balance of sweet and savory, and I love that I didn’t need to add any kind of stock—the flavor was great without it. The sweet potato rounds out the acidity of the tomatoes, and can be the main star of the soup, or just play a supporting role.
I need to drum up some serious positive thinking, ‘cuz I just came down with something and right now I feel like a blunt awl is tunneling into the left side of my skull.
Positive thought #1: Good thing I made this chicken soup for the kids last week. They had all taken the week off from school, with their little faces glued to shows like Kickin’ It and Good Luck Charlie, so they could get rid of this fever and sore throat they all had. They never ate (drank, whatever you insist on saying) the soup, so now I still have a big pot of it for me.
Positive thought #2: On Saturday night, when I was watching a movie with some friends, I started aching all over my body and shivering. I knew had caught what my kids had. Oddly enough, I kind of like fevers—they mean I have a provable illness and can take time off and no one will judge me—but the headaches that come with them . . . they’re maddening. (In case you missed the positive thought in there, it was the bit about taking time off.)
Positive thought #3: The people at Muir Glen sent me samples of their amazing tomatoes awhile ago, and I used them for the soup. And I’ll totally be talking about them again soon.
Positive thought #4: I awoke this morning to find my friend Jon shoveling my walkway at 7:15. I have good friends.
Okay, so I’m not quite sure why this is called a tortilla soup, when clearly there are no tortillas anywhere to be seen, but I’m just gonna go with it. It’s what my Blentec cookbook is calling it.
I love it.
And this soup is my #1 reason why I do.
It’s simple. It’s raw. It’s vegan. And it tastes like heaven.
My good friend Erin Summerill, likes to drag me to the Olive Garden, or the OG, as she calls it. She seems to have a never ending supply of coupons to that place. Though I prefer other restaurants in town, like Pizzeria 712, I do like their soup with the sausage and kale, which they call “Zuppa Toscana.” Erin often makes it at home. I thought it was about time for another copycat recipe, don’t you?
If you haven’t guessed by now, the cookbook has me completely swamped. If I’m not up to my chin in flour and powdered sugar, I am either working on the manuscript for the book, or procrastinating with episodes of Downton Abbey. So to keep myself from only eating cookies and cake that I’m testing, I have started making soup at the beginning of the week, and then serving myself a bowl or two of it everyday.
Last week, I remembered Erin’s homemade version of the sausage and kale soup at the Olive Garden, and I made it myself.
Once, when I was in high school, my brother’s girlfriend got sick. He made a pot of chicken soup for her and cut the carrots into little butterflies. Later, she made him some soup as well, but cut the carrots into little hearts. I pretty much thought they were geniuses, and have copied their idea here and there over the years.
Today, my kids and I were all sick, and I knew we needed something a little extra special, so I made their chicken soup with the heart shaped carrots. Before you panic, there is a trick to making them. I’m going to blog à la Pioneer Woman for a minute, and show you how to do it, step by step.
Ever since I saw the movie Ponyo, I’ve been wanting ramen that looks like this. Simple food elevated into art. Not that any Japanese chef would call my rendition here art, but whatever, we’re not going to talk about that.
For me, collecting the ingredients for Asian food is usually a bit of a process, and if I were to try it in one go, it would mean several trips to many many stores, and would be one long, and frustrating day. It’s best to do this in intervals. The collection for this soup started with the ramen noodles. I found a package of plain Chuka Soba noodles. Grocery store ramen contains a heavy amount of hydrogenated oil (at least it did, the last time I checked), and I wasn’t about to have that stuff tainting my masterpiece.
That sat around in my cupboard for awhile until the neighbor kids started selling me eggs from their chickens. Once the chickens started to eat a lot of greens, and the yolks started becoming brighter, I knew it was time to finish collecting the ingredients for my ramen.
Miso, which is a soy bean paste, was easy enough to find once I asked the health food store worker. It’s kept in the refrigerator section. I bought a small organic tub of white soy bean paste for about four dollars. Since you only use a little bit for one pot of soup, I still have tons, and it keeps for a very long time.
Then I searched for a good protein. I thought of using seared ahi, but that would have made this a more costly soup than I wanted it to be, and then on Ponyo, they use ham, which I wasn’t too excited about. My friend JoLene—who is a foodie I’ve mentioned before, and was a missionary for our church in Japan some years ago—and I talked this over for some time, and we concluded that shrimp would be the best choice here.
My last mission was to come up with some colorful vegetables. I wanted baby bok choy, but could only find the big kind, and it turned out that either variety was fine. I gravitated to a globe of red cabbage in the grocery store, so I bought that as well, and then I remembered I had seen these radish roses, by Noriko at NorikoBurky.com. Hers are even more beautiful.
Then I grabbed some roasted seaweed, or nori, which I have to keep under lock and key at my house, since my daughter, who you all know is probably the pickiest eater in the world, can down a package of that stuff in about five minutes. I’m not kidding. As it was, I had to fight to get the few little strips that are barely visible in the picture.
Once I had everything, putting it together was quite simple.
Someone made a comment on the pumpkin slices post that they wanted to see some savory pumpkin dishes that weren’t soup. I posted the oreccheitte the other day in hopes to answer that request, but unfortunately could not come up with anything more creative beyond that, and am now posting a pumpkin soup.
But really, those cans of puree just beg to be baked into a soup. How could I ignore that? When something is practically a soup already, and all it needs is a pinch of this and a swig of that, I say let the soup be made! It will save me at least 500 sit-ups, which is what I would be doing if I were to make the can of puree into the other obvious choice: pumpkin pie.
Oooh, that would be good. If you want a pumpkin pie recipe, click here.
If that is too boring for you, then click here for pumpkin crème brûlée.
Or better yet, come back in a few days for when I post the pumpkin torte with brown sugar whipped cream cheese icing.
I came up with this recipe right after making the pinkalicious cupcakes because I wanted something green afterward (when you read the story, you’ll understand why). Since I had a huge zucchini sitting on the counter, and they happen to be a perfect end-of-summer-lead-into-fall sort of vegetable, I decided to take my chances and turn it into a soup.
You. have. no. idea. It was absolutely delicious. And I don’t say that very often (or at least, I think I don’t). Since then, I have made two batches. My foodie friend Shannon loved it even, and so did her cute baby Clare.
This soup is easy, elegant, cheap, healthy, and low in calories (only 3 tablespoons of cream for the whole pot!). I don’t think you could ask for more.
Okay, I’m done with my little commercial. Now go make this!
You won’t be sorry.
We’ve been watching a lot of Kung Fu Panda lately. The movie stirred up strong craving for noodles in my nine-year-old. This is what I came up with. He insisted on eating the soup with chopsticks.
I now present to you: Kung Fu Panda Soup.
I know for some of you the weather is getting a bit too warm for a soup like this, but I wanted to sneak it in before the summer. It is one of my favorite soups. It has tons of fiber, tons of vegetables, and tons of flavor. I make it, freeze it, and then anytime I want to feel good about what I eat, I pull a bowl of it out my freezer and heat it up for lunch.
Though I changed this recipe so much that it is definitely my own now, my inspiration came from a book my friend Shannon gave me. It’s by America’s Test Kitchen and is called The New Best Recipe. It’s a fantastic cookbook, and I would recommend it for anyone who is a serious cook. My starting point for this lentil soup was their “hearty lentil soup.” I switched mine to vegetarian, and changed some other things around, but I couldn’t have made this good of a soup without the book.
Oh, and I just want to briefly mention that the toast in the picture there is from the same baguette I froze a couple weeks ago. All I did was pop the frozen pieces in the toaster.