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Soups

Tom Kha with Baby Eggplant

Something happened today that reminded me of my blog. Something told me “you’ve got a blog, girl!”. I don’t know precisely what but I have the feeling that has something to do with me feeling relaxed again. With having time to cultivate and hobby, with not feeling stressed.

Since I wrote my last blog post where I declared to the world that I was (kind of) back to blogging I changed job, city, home… I almost changed everything (not my love for thai soups, obviously)  but it still feels like I need some “more change”, more challenge, more drive to become a healthier and active person. Changing job and city is really nothing when compared to what I would really like to change in my life (like this couch potato and lazy status where I hardly ever cook during the working days).

Let’s start from a soup, the most flavourful of the soups. The Queen Soup. Because I had to prepare this myself, leave the bed to go grocery shopping, this soup it’s a good starting point in my journey to a more active lifestyle. Even more so if you consider that I wiped the beads of sweat while slurping eating it. So hot and spicy and flavourful.

Whatever it reminded me of my blog today, it’s a pleasure to be back and, because homemade food is almost always better than store bought or restaurant food, the perfect step towards a better diet and healthier food.

Tom Kha with Baby Eggplant

Yield: 4-6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms
  • 6-8 small eggplants
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 2 handfuls of fresh cilantro
  • 1 inch fresh ginger thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh red chilies

Instructions

  1. Cut the eggplants and carrot into pieces. Then slice the mushrooms into half size pieces. On high heat bring the veggie broth to a boil.
  2. Add in the coconut milk, eggplant, carrots, chilies and ginger slices. Now with a sharp knife trim the base of the lemongrass stalks.
  3. Press the stem with the flat side of a knife to bruise and release the flavour. Cut into inch pieces and add it to the broth.
  4. After 10 minutes, toss in the mushrooms, lime juice, and pinch of salt, and let this simmer for about 10 minutes. Once finished, stir in the cilantro and enjoy hot.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/tom-kha-baby-eggplant/

10 Amazing Vegetarian Soups to Kick Off the New Year

zabbelee-0189 It’s not a secret that I’m spending less time in the kitchen since I left London. It seems that the more I stay away from the kitchen the more I get to appreciate food. In fact, as a result of a rather strict self-judgment, I am never too enthusiastic about what I cook while I am more objective when it comes to tasting meals prepared by others.

I’m in Italy now, in my mother’s house, and I know it won’t be easy to make way to the stove (my relatives like keeping their meal traditional, hence I am not welcomed in the kitchen). All I have to do is getting served. Not bad, isn’t it? Food tastes really great! Having someone to prepare my food is not just a luxury, though. It is also becoming an easy way to lose control over how much I eat (“eat this, eat that, food can’t be wasted, ect”).

If you can picture the abundance of a typical Italian Christmas menu you can also understand why I am not feeling like cooking these days. As much as I love Italian cuisine, I’d feed myself with healthy asian soups and skip both Panettone and pasta. Here is why I am sharing with you this collection of vegetarian soups: they are light, packed with veggies, nutrients and heartwarming. Above all, they are the best way to keep myself warm and take a break from heavier festive dishes.

30-minute vegetarian pho – Oh My Veggies

pho-soup-with-sauteed-shiitake-mushrooms-1 Vegetarian Curry – Pickled Plum

red-curry-soup-600 Lemongrass Coconut Soup {Vegan} – Earthy Feast

CoconutSoup02 Kabocha Squash, Fennel + Ginger Soup W/ Spciy Coconut Cream (V + GF) – Dolly and Oatmeal

kabocha+squash,+fennel+++ginger+soup+w-+spicy+coconut+cream+-+dolly+and+oatmeal Miso and Soba Noodle Soup with Roasted Sriracha Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms – The Bonjon Gourmet

miso soup- lede-1 Cauliflower Potato and Leek Soup – Making Thyme For Health

Cauliflower-Potato-and-Leek-Soup-_thumb8_thumb The Best Coconut Soup, Ever – My New Roots

coconutsoup1 Hearty Alphabet Soup – Tiffany Bee

0014 Easy Tomato Soup in a Blender – FoodRecipesHQ

tomato-soup-blender-not-acidic-0041 Red Lentil (Vadouvan) Curry Coconut Stew – Wild Greens and Sardines

red lentil Can you see how much my tastes are influenced by my just concluded Asian trip? I am probably going to spend the next few days trying to show my family that it is possible to enjoy a soup made with not-so-typical ingredients (at least for Italians) such as lemongrass and coconut milk. What about you? Did you also try to add new recipes to your traditional family menu?

Curried Zucchini and Carrot Soup

zucchini-soup-0313 As a consequence of my recently new status of “unemployed person”, lately I have been quite often home alone.  I am in search of opportunities, the right job opportunities, and I’m a lazy job hunter (maybe I fear rejections?) who from a job application to another takes advantages of her new total freedom to cook, to prepare herself light and wholesome meals. Not long ago I made some zucchini-ricotta patties that went down a storm and from that day on I always added zucchini, or courgette as we say here in London,  to my shopping list.

zucchini-soup-0306 Soon I’ll leave my nice little apartment in London. I have a few things to get rid of: clothes (I’ll donate to charities), a couple of kitchen appliances, my small collection of handkerchiefs/kitchen towels and a couple of bags I have never used. Many things will be lost, too. It goes this way every-time I move to a different apartment. Now the situation is slightly different, though: I am not moving to a different apartment but somewhere I don’t know where. I still don’t know the final destination for  my belongings. They will come with me, of course, but where? Where in the world do my things (and I) will settle down?  I just hope it is going to be a warmer place, where people smile a lot.

zucchini-soup-2 Among those things I have to dump or consume before I leave the UK, there is this collection of asian spices of mine called “Panch Phoron”, literally meaning “five spices”. All of the spices in Panch Phoron are seeds that, in recipes generally containing vegetables, are used whole and never ground.

I do not remember how long these seeds have “inhabited” my pantry. It seems to me that more I have used them, the more they have increased in volume. After a significant number of curried dishes, that little bag of aromatic spices is still half full. Expect a lot of curry recipes in the coming weeks, since I doubt I’ll bring these seeds with me, upon leaving London. I am determined to make good use of everything  my beloved city – and my cupboard – has to offer.

Have you ever moved to a different city? If so, how did it feel to change “everything”?

Curried Zucchini and Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Panch Phoron (cumin seeds, fenugreek, mustard seeds and fennel) or curry powder
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and curry seeds (or the powder); cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minute.
  2. Add zucchini, carrot and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and and 1 cup water (more if you like your soup to be liquid). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, 10 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup in a blender (do not fill more than halfway) for about 1 min; serve immediately, or let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese or a dollop of cottage cheese.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/curried-zucchini-soup/

Potato Locro aka a very popular Ecuadorian Potato Soup

locro-0269 This a creamy yet very light soup.

I cleaned the pot with my fingers to have a preview of its taste. After licking off the soup from my fingers I reckoned I could add some fats by drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top. It was almost “too” light. Maybe because I used cottage cheese rather then some cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese (I know, I should stop counting calories).

locro-0275 After two or three spoons I  was almost “already” overwhelmed, though. The creaminess that comes after blending some of the soup with its potatoes is a very distinctive characteristic of this  popular south american dish. I guess if you’re not a fan (like me) of creamy soups it is just enough to skip the “blending step”.

locro-0294 A good amount of avocado makes this potato soup different from the others. Not that the taste is significantly altered: avocado is starring here pretty anonymously, not kicking in extra flavor but rather making the soup more relevant from the nutritional point of view.  The amount of carotenoid antioxidants provided by avocado is impressing, isn’t it?

locro-0272 Nutrients apart, when you prepare something so simple you can only make it right by using the best ingredients. I’ve read that this Ecuadorian version of  Locro is typically made using a specific kind of potato called “papa chola”, which adds unique taste and it is difficult to find outside of its home region.

No papa chola in London, but lots of rain, on the other hand.

Lucky you if you live in a country that gives you papa chola all year long and sun during summertime.

locro-0302

Locro: Ecuadorian Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into small and large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (cottage cheese, if you want to keep it light or mozzarella, monterey jack)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, leaves only, minced
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare a base for the soup by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot; add the diced onions, minced garlic cloves and cumin. Cook until the onions are tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped potatoes to the pot and mix until they are all coated.
  3. Add the water and bring to boil, cook until the potatoes are very tender. Use blender to mash a laddle or two of the soup with potatoes in the pot. Don’t blend all of potatoes, the consistency of the soup should be creamy with small tender chunks of potatoes.
  4. Turn the heat down to low, stir in the milk and let cook for about 3-4 more minutes. Add more milk if the soup is too thick.
  5. Add salt to taste, grated cheese and cilantro. Mix well, and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve warm with the avocados, more cheese and a few slices of bread.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/locro/

Easy Tomato Soup in a Blender (How NOT to make it acidic)

tomato-soup-blender-not-acidic-0034 Since I bought a food processor my cooking has been revolutionized. It’s nothing but a simple juicer that soon earned space and authority in my kitchen as the author of many smoothies and drinks. This tomato soup made on a windy winter day in London, is only one of the ways I implemented the cheap tool. I am not ashamed to tell you I have even used it to make a ragu (well, my mum in Italy would be ashamed). 

Although effortless in principle, a good tomato soup is not easy to make. I’ve experienced a few disasters with most of my attempts leading to sour and/or too liquid soups. We all know how good fresh tomato is: why is it that when cooked and processed to a sauce, tomato brings lots of acidity to the palate (and stomach)?

tomato-soup-blender-not-acidic-0041 In short, I was never that lucky to find the perfect sweet tomatoes and I always disliked the taste of my soup.

Then I changed strategy:

I started selecting the right ingredients what I like to call “the unconventional tomatoes”. Those ones pretty soft and very ripe. Those ones you wouldn’t consider because they are too mature and you’d never buy for any other recipe. Long and moisty San Marzano tomatoes would be just perfect, otherwise well ripen tomatoes on the vine would do well too. 

tomato-soup-blender-not-acidic-0046 Before leaving you to the recipe I’m going to “reveal” one last secret. How I prevent the soup from becoming too acidic. Which would always happen otherwise, no matter the kind of tomato I use, since any tomato juice has a pH of about 4.3, a rather low value  (low pH,  high acidity).

All types of dairy products produce acids in our stomachs. Cream, butter and  milk are among them. Fresh low-fat yogurt is an exception, providing proteins that nourish without producing acids. Here’s then unveiled my secret ingredient: yogurt. Many would choose a sour cream or butter; to make the soup gentle to my stomach I opt for a dense organic yogurt, instead. Try it this way and let me know.

Now off to blend more stuff. What do you use your blender for? If you have any “crazy” idea, please share it with me!

Tomato and Basil Soup

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 5 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper (optional)
  • salt and chilli
  • 3 Tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (italian passata)
  • Few leaves of basil
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Bring the tomatoes to the boil. Cook until the skin starts peeling off.
  2. In another pan meantime cook the tomato sauce with chilli and oil for 10-15 minutes minutes.
  3. Let this sauce cool down then pour it the blender together with the tomatoes and blend on high for about 60 seconds or until blended to a smooth consistency.
  4. Add the basil leaves to the soup and transfer to a sauce pan, heat for for 3-4 mins. Turn off the fire, add the yogurt and stir well. Garnish with more basil and, and if you want the soup chunkier, dice up some pieces of vegetables you have available. Serve with toasted bread (which you can drizzle with olive oil, vinegar and oregano and grill in the oven for 3-4 mins).
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/tomato-soup-blender-not-acid/

Savoy Cabbage and Potato Soup with grated Leicester Cheese and Greek Yogurt

savoy cabbage soup I’m back from a conference in Birmingham that saw about 130 women get together to discuss how to establish themselves in one of the most male dominated working areas: engineering. I met very well rounded and structured ladies, with personalities strong as carbyne (the new world’s strongest material) and CV’s that would turn pale even the CEO of Microsoft.

savoy cabbage soup Julia King, successful engineer and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (!), held an outstanding speech. I particularly loved when she mentioned rights at work being equal for both women and men (who can get paternity pay and leave too). I believe merit makes no difference in gender and that equality for women is rather well established here in the UK.

But it is not all a bed of roses. While attending the workshops, I could not refrain from wondering: how’s the personal life of a women with an incredibly successful career? Do these women ever find time to prepare a soup? I know, I know, homemade soups are not that big deal. You can live without (right?). However, everything homemade is the emblem of quality time spent on ourselves and our beloved ones and I wouldn’t like to miss those moments.

savoy cabbage soup How many nannies do you need to change to raise your children, how many ready made meals do you need to bring back home after 12 hours at work? A woman in power (and not just in career) looks to me almost like a tightrope walker that if loses balance can only land on an intricate web of duties and get trapped in them. Just it like happens to men in power, of course.

It goes without saying that the more those ladies were telling their stories of success the more my curiosity grew: I wanted to know more about their work-life balance. I approached a few of them and asked something “personal” to get my doubts unveiled.

savoy cabbage soup

No remarkable answer: either they have never had children or they had kids only after they started to work for themselves, at home. Draw your conclusion, mine is all in the idea that I cannot imagine a female CEO of a big company rolling wine leaves, cutting the potatoes, stir frying them with crispy savoy cabbage to prepare her children a genuine homemade soup such as this one below. It may be the case that to have  more women with both top careers and children we just need to leave more men at home :).

savoy cabbage soup

Savoy Cabbage and Potato Soup

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 1 salad onion
  • 5-6 savoy cabbage leave, cut in stripes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2 tablespoons grated Leicester Cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and potatoes, season well, then reduce the heat and cover the pan.
  2. Gently cook for about 10 mins until starting to soften, then add the stock bring to the boil. Add the cabbage, cut in stripes.
  3. Simmer for 10 mins more.
  4. Blend he soup in the food processor until smooth and leave a few potatoes in the pan.
  5. Pour the soup in bowls, season to taste, add the remaining potatoes and serve with a sprinkle of grated Leicester cheese.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/savoy-cabbage-and-potato-soup-with-grated-leicester-cheese-and-greek-yogurt/

Easy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

quinoachilli-0086 The first reason why I love chili is that it allows me to pull together a meal in no time, requiring the use of just one pan. This is a particularly valuable detail: more time to spend enjoying my meal instead of washing plates. The second reason is the taste: fresh, spicy, juicy, bold.

chilliquinoa I also love cooking chili because of the fragrances. The aroma from a slowly simmering stew can be a strong stimuli for my memory. Sometimes just by “dipping”  my nose into the steam coming from the pot, I can daydream until childhood memories come up. More often, breathing those palatable smells just helps me soothe the hunger and anticipate the flavors the recipe will bring up.

quinoachilli-0076 This vegetarian chili is perfect for those cold nights when you want something simple to prepare but still appealing enough to be shared with picky friends and family. Quinoa has a texture similar to couscous. When cooked in tomato sauce and with other ingredients like in this chili, its taste becomes even more subtle, making the stew even good to people who are not in love with Quinoa. Serve it warm accompanied by a bowl of guacamole or yogurt – which is a always a cool replacement for sour cream.

quinoachilli-0083 In the past I’ve shared a few recipes including Quinoa, such as these “Quinoa and Polenta burgers”. Sometimes I even use it in my breakfast. However, I still struggle to make room for it in my cuisine. Do you have any Quinoa-based recipe to suggest? I’m all ears!

Vegetarian Quinoa Chilli

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small avocado
  • 1/4 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder, depending on your taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash quinoa to remove saponins. Chop the carrot and pepper.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the carrot, corn and peppers and cook about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the quinoa, kidney beans and tomato sauce. Season with chili powder, cumin and salt. Simmer the chilli for about 20 minutes and add water if it gets dry. Serve warm.
  4. Garnish with avocado slices.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/vegetarian-quinoa-chilli/

Black Beans Soup, a Cuban-Inspired Recipe


Black beans boast the greatest amount of fibers compared to other varieties of beans and even some phytonutrient benefits more. Did you know that? This is what I recently found out. Also known as Turtle Beans, they comes with a black outermost coat which hosts flavonoids with antioxidant abilities. They are extremely popular in Latin American and in the Caribbean cuisine, where are usually served with white rice.

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Spiced purple carrot, coriander and mint soup

This is a soup full of character, dense, fulfilling, nutrient and obviously healthy. Purple carrot, potato, coriander, onion and garam masala, are the main ingredients. However it is the minty twist that – together with the coriander – makes this soup uniquely fresh. This soup will delight you because of its delicate flavor and its particular color. Continue Reading