Pumpkin & White Bean Bisque

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Spring has sprung, according to the calendar, but in New England that’s a technicality. Mornings, evenings, and sometimes days are chilly, and a hot bowl of soup is as welcome as it was in the winter. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for months, and based on the forecast, I didn’t have to rush to get it in ahead of warmer weather.

This soup has the silkiest texture. It’s the only soup I’ve made that I would call a bisque! The combination of pumpkin, pureed beans, and milk is so smooth and feels professionally crafted. I chose to spice it with sage, thyme, and onion powder; cumin or basil would also be interesting. Either way, you can make this soup a bit richer by adding a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to each bowl.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 15.5-oz can white beans
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the sage and thyme and simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, beans, pumpkin, and onion powder. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a bubble, and then put it back to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and parsley. Remove the pot from heat and puree the soup well with an immersion blender. IMG_5417
  4. Return the pot to low heat. Add the milk, vinegar, and coriander; stir and heat through. Serve topped with parsley and more salt to taste.

Serves 4. Active time 20 minutes; total time 30 minutes. Adapted from http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/2013/11/pumpkin-and-white-bean-bisque-with-sage-pesto-and-dill-rolls.html

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Velvet Carrot Soup

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This soup is so rich in texture, and with hardly any fat. It’s the type of soup you have to scrape out of the pot. The trick is to blend it for a long time, allowing the immersion blender to whip water and air into the carrot mush. I couldn’t believe the textural transformation that took place after about a minute of blending.

I made this soup using Trader Joe’s frozen Parisian carrots. These carrot balls are naturally round and quite cute! I don’t often buy frozen vegetables, and after these sat in my freezer for months, I knew I would never get around to roasting them. When used in the soup, I couldn’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen.

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The carrot flavor is strong and bright in this dish, and the miso adds an interesting backdrop without tasting definitively Japanese. If you want to get fancy, either sesame oil or lemon oil can act as the final flourish. Sesame oil gives the soup a sushi-restaurant feel. Alternatively, lemon oil feels fresh and springy. Either way, this is a warm, creamy bowl of goodness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb frozen carrots
  • 1 cup baby bok choy, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil or lemon oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and bok choy, and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the onion powder, coriander, broth, and ginger. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the carrots are fork-tender. IMG_5045
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Return the soup to low heat.
  4. Heat half a cup of water in the microwave for 1 minute, and stir in the miso until smooth. Add the miso mixture to the soup and blend until completely incorporated, adding another one-fourth to one-half cup of water to reach your desired consistency. Allow the soup to warm in the pot for a few minutes. IMG_5046
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with a half-teaspoon drizzle of sesame or lemon oil.

Serves 3. Active time 30 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/01/carrot-soup-with-miso-and-sesame/

Miso & Soba Noodle Soup

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Want to make soup, but don’t have any broth? Miso paste is a convenient alternative. It’s also a lot less expensive; a cream-cheese-sized tub is only a few dollars, and it doesn’t go bad.

This soup is simple, fragrant, and filling. My bowl was full to the brim, yet all with healthy ingredients. All of the vegetables can be substituted with what you have, as well. This is the type of easy meal I want to throw together on a frigid winter day. I’d say it’s great to serve to a sick loved one, except that the noodles necessitate the use of chopsticks along with a spoon. That may be too much effort for someone who’s under the weather!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup frozen edamame
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp miso paste
  • 3.5 oz soba noodles
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Put water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add carrots, edamame, bok choy, ginger, and onion powder to the boiling water, and turn down heat to a simmer. Add miso and stir until distributed. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate pot, boil 4 cups of water and add the soba noodles. Boil for 5 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain and divide into 2 soup bowls. IMG_5028
  4. Pour the soup over the noodles, splitting the liquid and vegetables evenly into the 2 bowls. Drizzle each bowl with half of the sesame oil, and top with cilantro before serving.

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Serves 2. Active time 25 minutes; total time 30 minutes. Adapted from http://www.theconsciousdietitian.com/all-recipes/japanese-miso-and-soba-noodle-soup/

Creamy Triple Mushroom Soup

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This soup has more mushroom flavor than any dish I’ve ever had. It reminds me of the mushroom pierogi my Mom gets from the Polish deli at Christmastime. I go nuts over those things, and I was thrilled by the bold flavor of this soup. As my first time using dried mushrooms, it turned out so well.

Mushrooms are satiating in the way meat is, and this was a great recipe to make during my meat-free January. However, I ran into the same issue I have with meat: After a certain amount, I just can’t eat any more. Maybe it’s too much umami, or perhaps my body only accepts my beloved carbs after a certain point.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to eat a full bowl of this a dinner soup. Instead, I had a small serving of it with a salad (lightly dressed with olive oil and rice vinegar). I recommend serving this as a first course—but if you have company, make sure they like mushrooms!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oz mixed dried mushrooms (I used porcini, shiitake & oyster)
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • 12 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 cup packed mixed greens (I used baby spinach, kale & chard)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the dried mushrooms under warm water. Boil the broth in medium saucepan and remove from heat. Add the dried mushrooms and let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, reserving the broth but discarding any sediment. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms. IMG_5008
  2. While mushrooms are soaking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the white and baby bella mushrooms and saute until browned, about 8 minutes. (Add a splash of water if it looks like they will burn.) Add the thyme, oregano, onion powder, and dried mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms; stir for 1 minute. IMG_5011
  4. Stir in the reserved broth and then the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the miso paste and greens. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute. IMG_5015
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the rice vinegar. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth. Add salt to taste (I did 10 grinds from a sea salt grinder), and serve sprinkled with parsley leaves.
Serves 6. Active time 35 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wild-Mushroom-Soup-106299

Green Soup with Goat Cheese

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Looking for health food to counteract holiday overindulgence? For me, dinner salads and smoothies aren’t appealing in the colder months. Instead, this green soup fills me with vegetables while warming my belly.

As I enter my annual meat-free January, this soup will be my comfort food. (Who needs chicken noodle?) I pair it with whole-wheat crackers, a toasted slice of fresh bread, or homemade croutons.

When I heard “green soup,” I was picturing it to be the color of a Crayola crayon. Instead, it’s a forest green because cooked kale doesn’t maintain its bright color. With a swirl of goat cheese, it looks pretty enough in the bowl. Be forewarned, though, that the leftovers will brown in the refrigerator. They look more like black bean soup, but they still taste great.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 Braeburn or Gala apple
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 oz kale, thick stems removed
  • 8 oz chard, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, tough stems removed
  • 1 heaping tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • sea salt
  • 2 oz goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato and apple, and put them in a large soup pot with the water and broth. Thoroughly wash the kale, chard, and cilantro, and add them to the pot, along with the ginger and bay leaf. IMG_4965
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 25 minutes. Add the onion powder, oregano, and cumin, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Stir in oil and vinegar, and add salt to taste. IMG_4966
  4. Stir a half-ounce of goat cheese into each portion and serve.
Serves 4. Active time 20 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/10/green-soup-recipe.html