What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

February 8, 2011

Love Soup

Filed under: Recipes,Soups,Vegan,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 2:15 pm

Yes, those are little carrot hearts!  Isn’t that sweet?  This is my husband’s veggie soup recipe which has always been a family favorite.  One Valentine’s Day, being the romantic that he is (cough, cough) he made it special for the occasion, turning the carrots into little love messengers!   Since that day, the recipe has been known as Love Soup! 

Love Soup Step By Step:

First, assemble your ingredients:

Note:  Those two suspicious looking jars in the back are NOT salsa.  Those are home grown tomatoes from last summer which have been blended, cooked and frozen in quart containers.  In leiu of frozen or fresh blended tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes, but I’m warning you:  The flavor will not be near as good and I will not be held responsible for the results!

In addition to the items shown, you will also need:

1-2 Tbsp Oil – Olive or Canola

1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning Blend

Salt & Pepper

1-2 Jalepeno Peppers OR 1/2 Green Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

First, put oil into a LARGE stock pot (this makes a ton of soup – about 8-9 quarts).  Now chop 1 large, or two medium, onions and add to the pot:

Next, chop 4 stalks celery.  Dont leave out the leaves!  (Oooh, I made a funny!)

Throw the celery into the pot with the oil and onions.

Chop 10-12 carrots. 

If you are looking for a romantic evening, you can cut them into hearts.  Heres how:

Cut a “V” into one side of the carrot.  Using a vegetable peeler, scale down the sides into the shape of a heart, and into a slight point opposite your cut-in “V”.  Like this:

Now, slice the length of the carrot. 

Aren’t they precious?  

Almost too cute to put in the pot, but do it anyway.

Turn on the heat and cook until onions and celery are slightly tender. 

While they are cooking, you can chop your potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.

Add them to the pot. 

If you are going to take a photo at this point, don’t get too close.

If you do, this is what will happen:

Then, you will have to clean your lens.

Add vegetable broth to the pot.

Drain and rinse 3 – 15 oz cans of beans.  You can use whatever variety you like. 

These are Light Red Kidney, Great White Northern, and Black Beans. 

They look very happy together, don’t they?

Add the beans to the pot.  Then, chop 1/2 head cabbage.

Throw it in!

Now, add the tomatoes and stir.  Place some of the soup mixture into your blender container. 

You’ll want it to be about 2/3 full.  Like this:

Take it for a spin!

Then, pour it in!

It looks gross, I know.  But you must trust me.

Add 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning:

We use a lot of this stuff, so I bought it in bulk. 

Here is the label:

I order most of my herbs and spices from Monterey Bay Spice Company and from Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Monterey Bay:  www.herbco.com

Mountain Rose: www.mountainroseherbs.com

Mountain Rose caters more to the organic product line, but both have great deals on bulk products.  You will pay WAY less for a 1/2 pound at either distributor than you do in the grocery store for a tiny little 2 oz bottle.  Just don’t order more than you can use in a six month period, because you don’t want your herbs to lose their health and taste benefits!

Now, for the other seasonings:

2 tsp Black pepper & 2 tsp Salt

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

How’s everybody doing in there?  Okay?  Good.

Now, for my favorite….Garlic!  You need 10 cloves.

Mince them up and add them to the pot. 

Incidentally, an easy way to peel the garlic is to place the cloves (or the whole head in this case) into the microwave on high for about 15 seconds.  When you cut the end of each clove, the skin should just slide right off.

Look!  It’s a CHILLY Pepper!  (hehehehehe)

These guys just came out of the freezer, and actually they are Jalapenos from our garden last year.  We just wash, dry and freeze them whole in ziploc freezer bags.

Remove the end and seed the peppers:

These guys are ready for a dip in the “hot tub”, I think.

Almost done. 

But I know what you’re thinking.

What about the corn?  Did she forget about the corn?

No.  I would never be so cruel.

The corn is special.  We wait to add it until after the soup is blended. 

You are going to have to take my word for it, because I didn’t take a photo, but ours went in now.

I swear.

Then we lightly sprinkled in some crushed red pepper flakes for a little zip.

If foam develops on the top of the pot during cooking, just skim it off. 

You’ll need to cook this soup over low/medium heat for 1 to 2 hours, stirring every so often.  

Then, remove the peppers and let it cool.  DON”T EAT IT!   

Okay…one little taste, just to check for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  But don’t get carried away.  You really have to wait until the following day for the flavors to fully develop.

Heat and serve topped with parmesan cheese, with a nice crusty bread or crackers on the side.  This soup is so healthy and satisfying and completely guilt free, so no matter if you have more than a couple bowls!

Enjoy! And by the way, since you have SO much soup to share, invite the neighbors over to enjoy it along with you!

November 29, 2010

Magical Mushrooms & “Meaty” Vegetarian Chili

Filed under: Recipes,Soups,Vegan,Vegetarian,Veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 7:27 pm

Mushrooms are magical.  No, not those kind of mushrooms.  I’m talking about the regular ones.

Minced and cooked, these gems can stand in for meat, bringing an earthy, almost meaty flavor and texture that is way more authentic tasting than any processed soy granules.  Healthier, too!

When I set out to make Chili last weekend, I searched the web and found numerous Vegetarian Chili recipes, and a few called for mushrooms.  It was one of those “Aha Moments”.  I knew that instead of the bag of TVP in my cupboard that I’d had in mind, I’d be using the giant package of fresh mushrooms in my refrigerator. 

Another component of many of the vegetarian chilis were vegetables not traditionally used for chili, like zuchinni and corn.  But I wanted a chili that looked and tasted like real chili.   So, I did what I do best…I adapted.

This recipe is loosely based on an Emeril Lagasse recipe for Vegetarian Chili, which can be found here.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 large Onion

2 medium Bell Peppers – Red or Green

4-5 cloves Garlic

2 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers

20 ounces fresh Mushrooms

2 Tbsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Cumin

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Cayenne

1/4 tsp Pepper

3 large Tomatoes

2 – 15 oz cans beans – I used Red Kidney and Black

1 – 15 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 cup Water

What to do:

Prepare vegetables.  First, chop onion.

Chop Bell Peppers.

Mince Serrano Pepper (remove seeds if you don’t like it very spicy) and Garlic.  I used a food processor to get them very fine.

Chop Mushrooms into very small pieces (think burger meat size).  Again, I used my food processor to make this job easy. 

Chop Tomato.

(Oops!  No photo – sorry!)

Rinse and drain beans.

In a large stockpot, heat Canola Oil.  Add Onions, Peppers, Serrano and Garlic and cook until onions start to become translucent.

Add Mushrooms to pot. 

Cook for a few minutes, then add spices and stir for 30 seconds before adding tomato, beans, tomato sauce, and water.

Cook chili over medium heat, stirring often for about 20  30 minutes before serving.

Serve garnished with shredded cheese and sour cream (if desired), beside a hunk of Cornbread or Tortilla Chips. 

This was so Yummy!  The mushrooms really did a great job standing in for the burger meat.  I never would have known the difference, except maybe for the lack of grease!

While were on the subject of mushrooms, have you ever seen a Fairy Ring?  I had always been told that when you found a ring of mushrooms in the grass, you knew the fairies has been dancing there the night before.  

 See?  Mushrooms really are magical.

We were out playing tennis at a nearby park one day last summer and as happens frequently with unskilled players like us, the ball kept going over the fence (never mind that the fence reaches practically to the sky, we somehow managed to still hit it out of bounds over and over again).   During one ball retrieval trip, I spotted this ring of mushrooms and called everyone over to take a look.  My friend snapped this photo, which I just love.

To learn more about fairy rings and their true cause, check it out here.  I, however, am going to hang onto my belief that it really is a mark of the fairies’ recent visit.

July 23, 2010

It’s All Greek To Me! Avgolemono (Lemon-Rice Soup)

Filed under: Recipes,Soups — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 7:51 pm

I thought seriously about not posting this recipe.  Not because it isn’t a great recipe, but because it isn’t a very photogenic one.   As I snapped the photos of the finished dish, I couldn’t help but think that not one of you out there is going to try this, because based on looks alone, I wouldn’t either.  It’s bland colored and lacks much texture.  Plus, there are some people who have tried it and really hate this soup!  But for myself, and my children, this is an absolute favorite.  My husband on the other hand, says “it tastes like licking a tin can”.  Are you sold yet?

Seriously, just try this.  I won’t make you any promises, but chances are if you like tart lemony flavor, you are going to love this soup.  If you don’t, then try it out on your kids anyway…they might just eat bowl after bowl of it like mine do!

You’ll need:

 

4 Cups Chicken Broth

2/3 Cup Extra Long Grain Rice

2 Cloves Garlic

3 Large Eggs

1/3 Cup Lemon Juice

Pepper

What to do:

Place chicken broth in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add rice.

Add garlic which has been finely minced or run through a press.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, break eggs into a large bowl and add lemon juice.

Whisk until well blended and frothy.

Once rice is cooked, take a ladle or two full of hot broth and add to the egg/lemon mixture. 

BUT WAIT!!! 

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you whisk the mixture quickly while doing so, unless you want to be eating lemony scrambled eggs for dinner!

Now that you have tempered the egg mixture, add it back to the pan of hot broth and rice, again mixing well while doing so.

 

Continue mixing while allowing the soup to come back up to temperature.  You’ll notice it thickening somewhat as the eggs cook.  It is very important to continue stirring this soup…the only chunkiness you want in here is from the rice, not from curdled egg!

Add a little fresh ground pepper. 

If you have white pepper, that would actually be a better choice.  I don’t, and so that is why you see a few black specks in that photo up there of the finished soup. That’s nothing a little Photoshopping wouldn’t take care of, but I like to keep it real around here.

It’s ready to be served alongside some grilled pita bread and hummus, or greek salad, or tiny little spinach pies from Costco’s frozen section (which are NOT Gluten Free but  my GF kiddo won’t eat them anyway, so it’s not like I’m torturing him or anything).  Any of the above will make the soup look a little less blah in a photo, too.

If you do make this, please let me know in the comments if you liked it!  If you didn’t, I won’t be offended.  This is just one of those “either you love it or hate it” things.  Kind of like Lady Gaga.

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