Zucchini and sweet potato soup

Zucchini and sweet potato soup
Zucchini and sweet potato soup might just be my most favorite soup. In addition to being easy to make, the soup has great flavor and sweetness from the sweet potato and the raw cashews make it hearty.

Zucchini and sweet potato soup

Another ingredient that gives the soup an extra flavor boost is fresh basil that takes the flavor to a new level. A drizzle of basil oil at the end is a perfect compliment to this.

Zucchini and sweet potato soup

Ingredients (yields 4 servings)                                                     print recipe

  • 1 pound, 4 medium green zucchini, cut into small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if need to thin the soup
  • 1 tablespoon, fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Basil oil

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the zucchini and a pinch of salt and pepper, sauté for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the shallot and sauté until softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute being careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the potato, bay leaf, cashews, stock and another pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the zucchini is softened.
  7. Remove the bay leaf.
  8. If you have an immersion blender, blend the soup in the pan. If not transfer in batches to a blender.
  9. Add more stock if the soup is too thick.
  10. Test for seasoning.
  11. Serve into bowls and drizzle with the basil oil.


Zucchini and sweet potato soup

Roasted carrot ginger soup

Roasted carrot ginger soup


So we are just about half-way through January and if you’re like me, all you’re reading is, detox, cleanse smoothie, etc. This is my contribution to the bandwagon. This soup gets flavor from a couple of different techniques. Firstly, the vegetable stock (recipe), so important that this ingredient has as much flavor as possible. Secondly, roasting the vegetables gives huge flavor by browning and adding a lot of sweetness, especially roasted garlic, because who likes boiled vegetables?

Roasted carrot ginger soup



Ingredients  (4 servings)                            metric conversion                         print recipe

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 medium, or 1/2 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (recipe)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add the carrots, onions and garlic to a sheet tray and spread out evenly.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and an even sprinkling of salt and white pepper, mix until coated.
  4. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until tender and golden.
  5. In a large saucepan add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the carrots, onions, garlic, squeezed out of it’s peel and ginger.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add 1/4  teaspoon salt and small pinch of white pepper.
  9. Using an immersion blender, or add to a blender in batches, blend soup until it is smooth and reaches the desired consistency, if it is too thick, add more stock.
  10. Check for seasoning. * (see note)
  11. Serve and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan frico crisps (recipe).

* You can adjust salt, pepper and even the ginger flavor to your taste.

Roasted carrot and ginger soup

Roasted carrot ginger soup


Here is a great side dish to go with the soup, parmesan frico crisps.



Chinese hot and sour soup

Chinese hot and sour soup

This is my favorite, easy soup recipe when I need something hot and comforting.  This recipe is has no meat, only because it is faster than adding pork or chicken, but you can add either of these if you chose. I use chicken stock because it has more flavor and I always have some on hand, you can use vegetable broth to make this soup vegetarian/vegan.

Don’t be scared by the ‘hot and sour’ name, it is neither too much of any of those, just perfectly balanced.
This soup is also great when you have a cold because you can make it spicy and it will help clear the sinuses.


 Chinese hot and sour soup


Ingredients (4 servings)                      metric conversion                   print recipe

  • 4 cups  chicken stock (recipe) or vegetable stock (recipe)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned (here’s how to julienne carrots)
  • 4 ounces firm tofu, drained, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1-8 ounce can of bamboo shoots
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (I use Huy Fong)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Green onions, sliced thin


Directions

  1. In a large saucepan add all of the ingredients, except the eggs.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  3. While stirring, drizzle in the eggs until they are incorporated, they should cook immediately.
  4. Test for seasoning, if you would like it more sour, add more vinegar, if you would like it saltier, add more soy sauce, if you would like it spicier, add more chili sauce.
  5. Serve and garnish with green onions.

Chinese hot and sour soup


Chinese hot and sour soup

Ham and split pea soup

Ham and split pea soup

Christmas Eve dinner in our house is traditionally an orange glazed spiral cut ham with sweet potatoes and green beans. The ham makes great leftover sandwiches, but when all the large slices are gone and you get close to the bone, all there’s left are small pieces of ham, that’s when I love to make my easy ham and split pea soup.


Ham and split pea soup

I like to dice all the ingredients the same size, that makes for even cooking and easier eating. You can of course, chop them larger if you like a chunkier soup. I also have in the past added diced potato, but that is optional.
It’s always nice to have something crunchy to dunk into any soup. I like to serve slices of grilled ciabatta bread on the side, just simply brushed with olive oil and toasted in my panini maker. You can also put the slices of bread in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until golden (but keep an eye on them).
Ham and split pea soup
Ingredients    (6 servings)                                 metric conversion                     print recipe
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced small (see note)
  • 1 pound green split peas, rinsed
  • 8 cups chicken stock (recipe) or vegetable stock (recipe
  • 1 dried bay leaf
Directions
  1. In a large soup pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots and celery, salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the diced ham, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the green split peas, chicken stock and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 1 hour or until peas are soft and broken down. Check periodically to make sure liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly. If it does, add more stock or water to thin it out.
  6. Test for seasoning and adjust, because there is salt in the ham we only added salt once.
* To make this soup vegan/vegetarian, omit the ham and use vegetable stock

Storage: The soup will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Ham and split pea soup



Chicken wonton soup

Chicken wonton soup

Wonton, which translates to ‘swallowing a cloud’,  is a great way to describe how light these dumplings are. This is a quick, delicious, complete meal that can be ready in minutes (once all your dumplings are made) and is healthy too. Napa cabbage is traditional in wonton soup, but I like to use bok choy because it gets greener when it cooks which makes this soup very eye-catching and bright.

Chicken wonton soup

The key to making the wonton assembly go quickly is to have everything lined up around your work area. Wonton wrappers, the chicken filling and a small bowl of water. From then on they come together very quickly once you get the hang of making them. I like to lay out as many wonton wrappers that will fit on my board. In this case I was making them in batches of 6.

 Chicken wonton

As you can see in the picture below, they come together in 4 steps:

1. Spoon a teaspoon of chicken mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper.
2. Dip a finger in the water and wet the top and right edge of the wonton wrapper
3. Fold the bottom left corner over the filling to meet the top right corner (this can be reversed if you are left handed).
4. Pinch so all the air is out and the wonton wrapper is tight around the filling.
5. Then take the right and left corners and bring them around to meet at the bottom, wet one corner to  help them stick.

*This recipe makes a lot of wontons,  you can freeze whatever you don’t use.
To freeze, put the unused wontons in a ziploc bag, in a single layer. Put the bag flat in the freezer and then just pull out however many you need, when you need them.

Chicken wonton


Ingredients (6-8 servings)           print recipe

For the wontons (makes 30)

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 medium green onion (scallion), chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Small pinch of salt
  • Small pinch black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sugar
  • 30 wonton wrappers

For the soup

  • 6 oz baby bok choy
  • 3 cups chicken stock (recipe)
  • 1 green onion (scallion) cut on diagonal
  • 3 very thin slices of ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil


Directions

For the wontons

  1. In a food processor, add the chicken, chopped green onion, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, sugar and pepper.
  2. Pulse until the meat is ground and comes together in a ball.
  3. On a clean surface or cutting board, arrange the wonton wrappers.
  4. Have a small bowl of water nearby.
  5. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of of the chicken mixture into the center of each wonton.
  6. Wet a finger in the water and wet 2 edges of the wonton.
  7. Fold the opposite corner to meet the wet edge to make a triangle.
  8. With the wet corner facing away from you, bring the left and right corners around to meet at the bottom, press together. Use water to help them stick.
  9. Set aside.

For the soup

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.
  2. Blanche the bok choy for 2 minutes, remove and set aside.
  3. Drain the water.
  4. In the same saucepan, add the chicken broth, ginger, sugar and pepper and simmer.
  5. Add wonton and simmer for 3 minutes.
  6. Serve and garnish with green onions and a splash of sesame oil.


*You can use as many wonton in the soup as you like per serving.

Chicken wonton soup

Autumn minestrone soup

Autumn minestrone soup


I haven’t eaten canned soup for as long as I can remember. From what I can remember it’s not very good. Despite the ad’s that say ‘new improved flavor’ or ‘lower sodium’, doesn’t matter, don’t care. It’s still salty mush to me that has been sitting in can on a shelf for months and all it’s nutritional value packed up and left before it even left the factory, sounds appetizing doesn’t it? 

This is how far I’ve gone to make my own soup. When I was living alone in my 20’s, I had the flu and a 101 degree fever. I dragged myself to the supermarket to get chicken, celery, carrots, parsnips and potatoes so I could have my own homemade chicken soup. It may sound extreme, but I did not have any food in the house and it was just as easy for me to buy the fresh ingredients, get home and throw them all in a pan, than buy a can of soup, open it and warm it up. And I knew that I was getting all the nutrients from my homemade soup.



I could live on soup, everyday, 2 meals a-day (no, I would not go as far as eating it for breakfast). It’s a perfectly balanced meal in a bowl and large batch of fresh homemade soup will survive just nicely in the fridge for about a week, or month’s in the freezer. Another good reason not to eat canned soup.
So today, I made minestrone. I’ve tried the recipe with the traditional pancetta and I actually prefer it without.



Ingredients (4 servings)       metric conversion     print recipe
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 cup of swiss chard or kale, chopped
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 5 small or 2 large gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 15oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 cups beef stock or vegetable stock if you prefer (recipe)
  • 1 15oz can of cannellini beans

Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, carrots, celery, zucchini and sauté until the vegetables are softened.
  3. Add the garlic and rosemary, cook for another 2 minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the swiss chard or kale, potatoes and chopped tomatoes. 
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook until the swiss chard or kale is wilted.
  6. Add the beef stock and beans, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Autumn minestrone soup