Kale tomato white bean soup

Kale, Tomato, & White Bean Soup

Though I have little room in my freezer (due partly to roommates that have frozen vegetables and TV dinners…), I still love to cook pots of soup in the winter and freeze the leftovers for a rainy day (or, better, a snowy day). Soup is a comfort food to me; growing up, I ate bowls of my Nana Fracaro’s chicken soup with tubettini pasta, no matter if it was in the middle of winter or at 11:30 on a hot summer’s morning while we watched “The Price Is Right“. Whenever I go to a restaurant, if I see a good Soup Du Jour on the menu, I go for it. I’ll take my soups any way I can take them, though I tend to lean towards a good classic chicken noodle, gazpacho, vichyssoise, French Onion, or cream of tomato.

Over the years, I’ve been trying to lighten my recipes up where I can (such as with my plant-based Creamy Tomato Soup with Cashew Cream or my Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs), and, well, here is another example! Trying to get back to my good veggie grind, I wanted a hearty vegetable-packed soup to last me a few work days.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Between the tomatoes, kale, carrots, onions, garlic, and herbs, I felt as though I ate the entire garden. That is not a bad thing.

Kale tomato white bean soup

Kale, Tomato, & White Bean Soup
(Adapted from the New York Times recipe for Quick Tomato, White Bean, & Kale Soup)

Ingredients:

– 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
– 1 large carrot, chopped
– 2 large garlic cloves, minced
– 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
– 1 medium Yukon Gold or Russet potato, peeled and diced
– 4 cups kale, stemmed, washed, and roughly chopped (roughly 1/4 pound of kale)
– 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 6 cups water
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 teaspoon oregano
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– 1 teaspoon dried parsley
– 1 – 2 cups pre-cooked rice (optional)
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– This soup tastes absolutely amazing on its own! That being said, after making and photographing my initial batch, I added some leftover rice I had from some Indian takeout I had a few nights prior. WOW. The soup was really enhanced by the rice. Though loaded with vegetables and beans, the broth is, well, brothy! It’s not creamy or fatty. The rice does add a tad of starch to the broth, as well an a little bit of bulk to the soup in general. It’s a lovely addition if you choose to go that direction!

Directions:

1.) Place a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven on the stove. over medium heat. Add olive oil, allow to heat up slightly, then add add the onion, carrot, and a pinch of salt. Cook vegetables for approximately 6 to 8 minutes or until tender; be careful to not let vegetables brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.

2.) Stir in tomatoes and juice from the can and combine with vegetables. Continue to cook over medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until until the tomatoes have slightly reduced.

3.) Add water, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, parsley, and potato. Bring soup to boil, cover, and simmer until potato chunks are tender, roughly 10 minutes.

4.) Add the kale and simmer another 10 minutes, until the kale is wilted down but still holds some of its shape. Stir in the beans and heat through for 5 minutes; if adding pre-cooked rice, add and stir in with beans. Serve immediately or allow to cool slight before putting into storage containers for refrigeration or freezing.

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Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Bye bye, bad foods! I’ve consumed more junk than nutrient-dense food in the past two months, and it’s time to switch it back! (Save for the occasional treat. Duh!)

I’ve been off work since December 16th and don’t go back until January 3rd. Save for a few days up in Connecticut, I told myself, “Use this time to do things in the city you normally can’t do on work days. See a movie in the afternoon. See a play. Go to a museum. Find a new restaurant. Go to the gym. Walk through a park!”

In reality, I’ve spent my time either reorganizing my bedroom (…hey, I made four huge bags of clothes and linens to donate!), reading (Where Am I Now” by Mara Wilson is AMAZING, and I’m still contemplating over which “Molly On The Range” recipe to make first), or developing recipes. After my Inspiralized – inspired “get back on the right track!” epiphany the other day, I’ve been playing with lots of veggies and whole foods again. Hell, in the past few days, I’ve felt so much less bloated, which is always a good sign. Amazing what some huge salads, baked chicken, and kombucha will do.

At C-Town on Wednesday morning, I went to buy some ground pork on my grocery run, and accidentally bought ground veal, thinking that the pork had the special $1.10 price tag. A “South Park” fan through and through, this is all I could think of…

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Honestly, I’ve never cooked with veal and was trying to think what the HELL to do. Looking through my pantry, I found a can of crushed tomatoes, some chicken broth, a bunch of spices, and decided that soup would be excellent on that 45°F degree rainy late December afternoon.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

This actually came together quite nicely, which was great since I was just winging it! Though I started with a pound of veal, I only used half. (Hey, I’ve got more veal frozen for my next batch, now!) This soup is more brothy than stewy, but the fat from the veal gives the broth a subtle velvety mouthfeel.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Overall, this is just a simple, clean, filling soup.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Gotta end 2016 on a good note so I can start 2017 on a smooth path. ✌️

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Happy New Year, all!

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 pound ground veal (or ground meat of choice)
– 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
– 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
– 1 medium-sized zucchini, spiral cut
– 1 teaspoon oregano
– 1 tablespoons garlic powder (for soup) plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder (for veal)
– 1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 teaspoons salt

Before We Get Started…

– If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a julienne peeler or very carefully julienne cut zucchini into noodle-like strips.

– If making this soup for a meal (or meals) for later in the week, keep zucchini noodles raw and separate from the broth until you eat them. This will prevent them from getting soggy. Heat soup (on the stove until simmering or in the microwave for one minute), add noodles, and allow noodles in sit in soup for approximately 1 – 2 minutes before eating.

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, combine ground veal, oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Roll veal into small meatballs, roughly the size of a marble; I yielded 30 meatballs when crafting this recipe.

2.) In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and stir immediately so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. (NOTE: They WILL stick, to some degree. Don’t be alarmed!) Cook meatballs for approximate 1 – 2 minutes or until all sides are browned; they will still be uncooked in the middle.

3.) Add tomatoes, broth, 1 tablespoon garlic powder to the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow soup and meatballs to simmer for 20 minutes.

4.) While soup is simmering, spiralize your zucchini and trim noodles to noodle length. (i.e.: When spiralizing, many zucchini strands can, indeed, stretch out several feet in length! [Yes, I’ve stretched them out to see. Ha!] Just run a knife through the noodles to get them to proper noodle length.) After soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add zucchini noodles and cook for 1 minute before removing from heat.

5.) Serve soup immediately!

cream of tomato soup cashew cream vegan

Creamy Tomato Soup with Cashew Cream [VEGAN]

Nothing compares to the mouthfeel of cream. It’s such a luxurious and comforting texture to me. I refuse to drink anything less than whole cow’s milk; 2% milk is a watery hell. I often use almond milk and coconut milk in cereals and oatmeals, namely because they have a longer shelf life than dairy milk. They work to wet my flakes and Cheerios, sure, but the bowls as a whole are lacking that creamy complementary texture. Cashew milk, on the other hand, is the closest plant-based milk that can hold a torch to cow’s milk regarding its texture. I remember the first time I had cashew ice cream, and I was taken aback. A few months ago, I had some cashew cream on some tomatillos, and I fell in love!

cream of tomato soup cashew cream vegan

The idea of making cashew cream has long intimidated me. I won’t even mince words here: if I blend something for too long in my trusty but relatively-old blender, the scent of grinding metal is a bit disheartening after a few minutes. (Haaa.) However, if proper precautions are taken (i.e.: you soak the cashews for a nice long time), the results are worth it, even in the shoddiest of blenders. A Vitamix would be a nice kitchen accessory; until I’m at a point in my life where blowing $1,276 on my share of the rent, utilities, and a student loan payment during the first six days of the month doesn’t make me cry, it’s not exactly on my shopping list. Here’s hoping for a nice salary increase in 2017, eh? 😉

cream of tomato soup cashew cream vegan

Another fact: I’ve never made homemade tomato soup before! I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, but a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup is classic, comforting, and damn delicious. I will defend the awesomeness of that soup to the death! That being said, I figured knowing how to make a good creamy tomato soup from scratch would be a good recipe to store in my mental annals.

cream of tomato soup cashew cream vegan

I am genuinely surprised how much I love this soup. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I took my first few bites and got a little bit giddy! You’ll love it, vegans and carnivores alike! Well…if you’re allergic to cashews, perhaps you won’t be as big of a fan of this soup. I apologize. Haaa.

cream of tomato soup cashew cream vegan

Creamy Tomato Soup with Cashew Cream [VEGAN]
(Cashew cream portion adapted from Pinch of Yum’s recipe for Five Minute Cashew Cream)
(Serves 4 to 6)

For Cashew Cream:
– 8 ounces raw cashews (do not use roasted cashews!)
– 5 cups water, divided into a 3-cup portion and a 2-cup portion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 teaspoon salt

For Soup:
– 28 ounces (1 can) tomatoes, unseasoned
– 1 cup water or vegetable broth
– 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
– 2 cups chopped onions (white or yellow)
– 1 cup parsnip, diced, or 1 cup celery, sliced (see Before We Get Started…)
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 tablespoon dried basil
– 1 tablespoon oregano
– 1 teaspoon ground coriander
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– Chopped herbs, for garnish (optional)

Before We Get Started:

– I absolutely ganked the cashew cream sauce from Pinch of Yum, full credit! (I love that blog. How can you not?) This is a wonderful and versatile sauce. For this recipe, I stuck to the original recipe and added the garlic into my cashew cream, but if you are adverse to garlic or don’t want as much (as there is garlic in the base of the soup), feel free to omit. That being said…that clove garlic truly makes all of the difference.

– A lot of recipes call for celery as, what I consider to be, a filler vegetable. Its addition bulks up the dish it’s added to. Honestly, I hate buying giant packs of celery. I’ll use a stalk or two for a meal, then the rest will sadly go to waste. Locally, I can never find loose celery stalks for sale, but I’ve started using parsnip as my filler for some recipes, as I can easily find loose parsnips. I love it! I’d recommend whichever you prefer, as both bulk up the soup but do not add overwhelming flavors to the batch.

Directions:

1.) Place cashews into a large bowl and cover 3 cups water. Allow to soak for 2 hours before draining and rinsing. In a blender, add cashews, 2 cups of water, garlic, and salt. Start blending ingredients on low, increasing to a higher speed after ingredients start to incorporate; continue to puree until smooth, roughly 3 – 5 minutes. If necessary, add additional water to thin out the consistency of the sauce. Set aside.

2.) In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery or parsnip. Cook for roughly 5 minutes or until onions and celery or parsnip are translucent; do not allow them to brown! Add garlic and cook for another two minutes.

3.) Add tomatoes, water or broth, the blended cashews, and stir. Add all spices and stir to combine. Bring soup to a gentle simmer and cook until it begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. Blend, using an immersion blender, until smooth; if you do not have an immersion blender, blend soup in small batches in your blender. (NOTE: Do not blend more than a cup or so at a time; hot liquids and blenders are NOT the best of friends. Unless you want to wipe hot soup off of your kitchen walls, blend in batches!) Return to pot and taste to adjust seasonings; add more to taste.

4.) Serve warm, topped with optional herbs. If you have any leftover cashew cream, feel free to spoon some on top! If not eating immediately, store in containers to refrigerate or freeze.

butternut squash soup roasted kale

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Kale

Autumn just came out of nowhere, both chronologically and atmospherically. I swear, it was May just a minute ago, and social media reminded me that this past Thursday, at 10:21 a.m., was the autumnal equinox. Two, I was walking around the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy on Thursday night, sweating in a pair of shorts at 8 p.m., enjoying the extension of summer weather.

Less than 48 hours later, I was tromping to the Inwood Greenmarket in leggings and a sweatshirt, teeth chattering a bit as the temperature hovered around 56°F at 9 a.m.

I love autumn. It’s my favorite season. However, when the temps take a drip quick, it’s more than I can handle sometimes. Yeah. I’m a big baby for a day or two, guilty as charged. Ha!

However, I welcome the return of my two favorite sub-seasons of autumn: oven season and soup season! Turning the oven on will no longer cause my apartment to swell to temperatures close to 95°F! Also, I will soon start making soups en masse and freezing them in my freezer for future work lunches. I can only hope my roommates forgive me for the amount of space I’ll be usurping soon. (Then again, after more than a year of living with me, I am sure they are used to me annexing our fridge and freezer with many of my culinary creations.)

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Backtracking to my local greenmarket, the peaches and berries were sparser this morning while the fall squashes and gourds have been pushing their way through to the larger tables. Most of them were begging me to cook them. How could I deny their request to become my dinner?

butternut squash soup roasted kale

Needing some greens, I could not help but buy some crisp kale before I headed back home.

butternut squash soup roasted kale

And yes, I’ll be drinking some chardonnay along side it, thank you very much.

butternut squash soup roasted kale

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Kale
(Serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients:

Soup:

– 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped, seeds removed or 20 ounces pre-cut butternut squash (I use Earthbound Farm Organic butternut squash)
– 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
– 1 carrot, chopped
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped (I used a Macintosh, but a tart green apple also works well within this recipe)
– 3 cups broth / stock of choice
– 1 cup water
– 1/4 cup chardonnay (optionalI used the 2014 Chardonnay by Louis Jadot)
– Dash of grated nutmeg
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted Kale:

– 1/2 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves cleaned and roughly torn
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– Salt, to taste

Before We Get Started:

– The amount of roasted kale made will likely eclipse the amount you’d put on top of your soup. Leftover kale not used for garnish can be stored in an airtight container. (It makes for a great snack!)

– Keep this recipe vegan-friendly by replacing butter with oil and using a vegetable-based broth or stock.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease or place parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Set aside.

2.) In a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add butternut squash, apple, broth, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and continue simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables and apples have softened; add chardonnay 20 minutes into simmering time.

3.) While the soup is simmering, prepare the kale: Add kale to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Thoroughly massage kale with olive oil. Toss with salt, to taste. Spread leaves out on baking sheets evenly; leave enough space around the leaves for them to bake and dry out. Place in oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until dark green with roasted spots, but not completely brown! Remove from oven and allow to cool.

4.) Using an immersion blender, purée the soup inside of the pot; if you do not have an immersion blender, work in batches to purée the soup in a blender.

5.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with roasted kale.

– – – –

Editor’s Note: This recipe has been entered into Louis Jadot’s Modern Meals contest. I would like to thank Louis Jadot and Elayna from EVINS Communications for their generosity towards this post!

butternut squash soup roasted kale

curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg

Have you ever been extremely well prepared when going to the grocery store, list of ingredients and recipes in hand, and then you get to the store and have a total panic attack over what to get?

Oh, god, it’s just me, isn’t it?

That was me last night. I spent my lunch break yesterday thinking of ideas for dinner and lunches for the rest of my work week. Maybe I could cook up some chicken with coconut milk and curry with a side of brown rice and vegetables. Maybe I could roast chicken thighs in the oven with carrots and saute some zucchini. As I walked around the store, I found myself looking at chicken and getting frustrated. I couldn’t find any pieces that looked good. I walked around the vegetable section. Every single container of washed baby spinach was gone. GONE. I went to the fresh spinach section, and the amount of slime on it made me cringe. I went to the Goya section, and all of the coconut milk was gone except the industrial-sized barrels (read: family-sized cans) of it. I started to get frustrated: it was hot. I was tired. I just had to endure a horrible commute home because traffic on 57th Street was tied up due to some moron trying to scale Trump Tower. I JUST WANTED MY DINNER TO COME TOGETHER.

Out of the corner of my eye, on my third return to the vegetable aisle, I spotted some radishes. I don’t know why they clicked, but it did. “That might be good with some ramen noodles,” I thought.

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Well…

I got home with my radishes and 19¢ package of ramen noodles, found some chicken broth and frozen spinach, and ended up being complete placated about 30 minutes later as I ate my impromptu creation.

curried vegetable ramen

P.S.: How great are these blue eggs I found? I used minimal photo editing to enhance the color of the yolks, too. They really were that brilliant.

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curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

– 1 package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
– 2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegan version)
– 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use Jamaican style)
– 1/4 cup frozen spinach or 1/2 cup spinach, washed and finely chopped
– 1 – 2 radishes, rinsed and sliced (I used just one for these photos)
– 1 soft-boiled egg (omit for vegan version)

Before We Get Started…

This meal, as stated in the ingredient notes, can be made vegan. Substitute vegetable broth or water for chicken broth and omit the egg. See Step #3 under Directions for egg substitutes.

Directions:

1.) In a medium sauce pan, bring broth to a slow boil; add curry powder and stir. Add ramen noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until separated and softened. Add spinach and stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

2.) To make soft-boiled egg, fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add egg and time for 6 – 7 minutes; do not cook longer than 7 minutes! Keep an eye on that clock!

3.) Transfer noodles and broth to large bowl. Top with sliced radish and egg; substitute additional vegetables / mushrooms of your choice in lieu of egg if making a vegan version.

curried vegetable ramen