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Posts Tagged ‘onions’

Spinach & Kale Soup with Tahini-Dressed Chickpeas

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 15, 2015 at 2:35 am

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”~Lao Tzu

frozen soup

Leafy green soup with tahini and chickpeas

Hey there! Not all “processed” food is bad.

Stocking your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables is an easy, affordable way to get more servings of these plants into your diet. Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as, if not more, nutritious than fresh fruits and veggies. This is because nutrients are lost in the process of harvesting, packaging, storing, transporting, and then displaying fresh produce. Vitamins and minerals can be sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen or, in the case of vitamin C, all three!

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is doing it’s neutralization job by reacting with the oxidants of heat, light, and oxygen. The easy loss of vitamin C is a case for cutting and peeling your fruit immediately prior to consumption to reduce nutrient loss as well as a case for shopping at your local farmer’s market where the time that lapses between harvest and purchase is as short as possible. Additionally, think about how much time your fruits and veggies spend in your refrigerator before consumption.

On the other hand, commercially-processed frozen foods are often flash-frozen very soon after harvest in a process which retains a maximum amount of nutrients and superior levels of antioxidants compared to fresh produce. Additionally, since these fruits and veggies are intended to be frozen soon after picking, they are left to naturally ripen longer than a fruit or veggie that needs to be transported and stored and, possibly, artificially-ripened. More time to naturally ripen equals, again, higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants.

You know what I’m talking about, you have about 36 hours to consume those strawberries that you bought at the farmer’s market before they go soft and smelly on you; however, the plastic box from Costco lasts at least 4 days in your fridge but never tastes quite as sweet and fragrantly delicious as the ones from your local farmer. Well, those frozen strawberries will have a taste closer to the farmer’s market strawberries along with the superior nutrient profile. Admittedly, you will lose out when it comes to texture. Which is why frozen fruits and veggies are perfect for soups, smoothies, and baked dishes where texture isn’t quite as important.

frozen veggies

Frozen veggies: affordable, storable, and super nutritious.

With all the being said, this soup is delicious as well as nutritious and features easy, affordable, long-storing, frozen vegetables!

The other main ingredients (chickpeas, veggie broth, and tahini) are all shelf-stable, potentially allowing you to stock your freezer and pantry with all the necessary ingredients (just pick up lemons and parsley) so you’ll be ready to make this soup at a moment’s notice.

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chili flakes
16 oz frozen spinach
16 oz frozen kale
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups vegetable broth
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparing the soup: Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and chili, lower the heat and let stir for a couple of minutes or until softened. Stir occasionally. Stir in spinach, kale and nutmeg and gently cook for 1 minute. Then broth and cook for 20 more minutes. Blend it silky smooth with an immersion blender and season to taste.

3 TBSP tahini
3 3TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon, juiced
1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15 oz (1 can or 2 cups) chickpeas/garbanzo beans

Preparing the Chickpeas: Whisk tahini, oil and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the chickpeas and mix it all up with your hands, make sure every single chickpea is coated. These just get yummier the longer they marinate so make ahead and enjoy for days. Another option for the tahini-dressed chickpeas: toss over hot soba noodles cooked with carrot peels.

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Spicy Garbanzo & Barley Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

“It’ll destroy you if you try to make it mean anything to anyone other than yourself.” ~Henry Rollins

my eye

My eye after chopping onions for this soup

Eating Junior Mints (a leftover movie theater purchase) while taste-testing a spicy soup recipe does not mix well. Other things that do not mix well: my eyeballs with freshly chopped onions, soup-eating in sunny, 73 degrees F weather or milk with spaghetti (why do parents do that to kids?).

Tori Amos & Sarah McLachlan mix well together and used to accompany me on road trips to Ventura County during my previous life as an environmental consultant. Three hours of singing at the top of your lungs while cruising the empty PCH at 530am is cathartic. Singing at the top of your lungs while recipe-testing is also cathartic so I put both of those women on for good juju while exploring this Tunisian-inspired soup.

moroccan spices

Homemade harissa paste: water and olive oil added to chili flakes, garlic, parsley, caraway, and coriander.

This recipe is adapted from 101cookbooks.com who further adapted it from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, which according to my extensive Google research (not really), appears to be inspired by a common Tunisian breakfast soup involving garbanzo beans in a thin garlic and cumin broth served over stale crusty bread pieces and topped with, potentially, one or all of the following: egg, olive oil, harissa, capers, tuna, lemon, olives, more cumin, etc. It sounds amazing and inspired me to eat this soup again in the morning with a raw egg poached right into the broth. A smell a business idea for a food truck…that’s another topic…

The great thing about this soup is it uses only water as the base instead of a vegetable or meat broth. This allows all the fragrant North African spices and delicate flavors of the carrot and celery to really stand out.

Garbanzo Bean Broth:

garbanzo-barley soup ingredients

The thin, water-based broth perfectly highlights the spices and veggies that provide the base for this delicious soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, diced

4 – 8 cloves garlic, depending on how much you love garlic, crushed

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

4 – 6 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons harissa paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

2 cans, drained, garbanzo beans

6-8 cups water

Fine grain salt and/or black pepper, to taste

Grain to Serve it Over:

barley or farro

Is it barley or is it farro?

1 cup barley or farro (which did I have on hand?)

3 cups water or vegetable broth

Creamy, Herby Feta Paste:

3 1/2 oz feta, broken into large chunks

1/4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)

1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped or just ripped from stem

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt

*for a non-dairy version, add herbs to this cashew cream recipe

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and continue cooking for another 5- 10 minutes. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds and cook for a another 5 minutes, stirring well, until fragrant. Add garbanzo beans and water into the vegetable mixture along with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

barley garbanzo soup bowl

Hydrating and Hearty

Meanwhile, rinse the barley, add to a small saucepan, and cover with 3 cups cold water (or veggie broth for more flavor). Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is gone or barley is soft.

To make the feta paste, put the feta, crème fraîche, cilantro, mint, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small food processor or hand blender until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Serve by adding cooked barley to the bowl and spooning soup over grains and topping with a dollop of creamed/herbed feta paste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Chicken (& Kale) Soup for Your Soul

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 19, 2014 at 12:32 am
sunset

Sunset at Windansea Beach, December 16, 2014

So there is this couple that lives a block away from me and I see them walking down to the water each night at sunset with their hands in each others back pockets. They are the same height, have the same sun-bleached blonde hair and tanned skin. I think they are in their early 50s but I don’t know them well, they seem so satisfied and filled up with just each other, that I don’t even dare introduce myself. And I admire them from afar, thinking that they must have it all. Just last week a beautiful, mint condition, Airstream trailer appeared on their street with the CA license plate: 2HOBOS. Not thinking of them at all, I suspected it must be the two hipsters with the perfect beards I see watching the waves at sunset these days. But, alas, it belongs to the golden couple and not for glamorous reasons. He has a brain tumor and a year to live. They’ve sold their house and are embarking on an adventure together for however long they have…

jung and dylan quotes

Just do it already!

And now I’ve digested that information and I’m sitting on the floor of my kitchen with a bottle of wine and my laptop while the chicken (and kale) soup simmers. Pearl Jam’s “Black” comes on the sound system and the melancholy envelopes me while thinking that I STILL envy this couple. With all the dramatic doom and gloom of a terminal diagnosis and the romance and passion of selling it all and driving off into the sunset. Why? Is it because I fear that, if tomorrow, I was given a year to live, there is no one who would leave their current life behind and join me on an adventure until the end of my life? Or is it because I am thinking of all the things that I DON’T do because I am fearful?

I’ve been making a lot of chicken soup lately. It nourishes me – body and soul. But it also worries me that I make a lot of soup when I’m not physically ill – I am rarely sick – because this means that I am in fear mode. The antidote for fear is massive action (Tony Robbins said that). This mantra has worked for me in the past; however, right now my “massive action” is half-assed. There are 19 unpublished drafts in my list of posts for this blog. Why? I get a burst of action and I write and cook and take pictures and then completely freeze when it comes to publishing.

chicken stock

Making your own chicken stock makes for REALLY good soup

Really good chicken soup starts with really yummy, homemade broth. I usually roast a 5 to 6 lb chicken using this recipe and, since our household is only 1 adult and 2 children (50% of the time), those extra pounds are used for stock and soup. Take that extra chicken carcass (and whatever meat is left on it), put it in a crockpot, cover with water, and simmer on low for 24-48 hours. Your home will smell amazing. Leave the whole lemons and garlic and thyme that stuffed the bird with inside – these will disintegrate into full flavor for your stock. Drain your stock through a colander into a soup pot (not the one you will be using to make soup) and pick out the bones – this is an exercise in finger-burning and super tedious but well worth it. Let it sit there and cool for awhile, if needed. Meanwhile…make sure you have the following ingredients:

64oz organic, free-range, chicken broth

water (maybe)

2 sticks salted butter

1 head of celery – chopped

garlic – as many cloves as you like – smashed with the back of your knife

2 onions – chopped

1 bunch carrots – chopped

salt n pepa – to taste – don’t be afraid to pile it on

crushed red pepper, depending on your audience

fresh thyme – LOTS

Baby kale leaves (boxed or bagged)

chicken & kale soup

Serve over baby kale or egg noodles or brown rice or anything at all, really…

Melt butter in soup pot and add the smashed garlic. Chop all the veggies and sauté with garlic in butter. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Sauté until veggies are a bit soft. Then add broth from the crock pot creation. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are super soft. Add additional (store-bought) chicken broth and more seasonings, if needed. Bring to a simmer and then add reserved chicken from broth-making adventure. Separate thyme leaves from stems (I use an entire container of fresh thyme) and mix into soup pot.

When ready to serve, place a handful of baby kale leaves in the bottom of a bowl and ladle hot chicken soup over the greens. They will wilt to bright green perfection. This soup is so nourishing and soul-stirring that you will eat nothing but this for days and feel warmed and satisfied to your very core.