Posts tagged with Soup

CSA season is upon us!

Spring Soup with homemade veggie burgers.

Spring Soup with homemade veggie burgers. by Sarah Henning

It’s nearly May, and you know what that means, don’t you? CSA time!

For the past several years, I’ve been documenting how I use the CSA (community supported agriculture) box I get weekly through the spring, summer and fall from Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance. If you are new to the idea of CSAs, basically, you as a consumer make an agreement with a farm or group of farms to buy produce from them every week in a “share.” This means the farmers get guaranteed customers for a certain period of time and that as a buyer, you get fresh produce every week, usually at a slight discount.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved, in my opinion, but I’ve also done it for several years. If you’re newly signed up, it can actually be a bit daunting. Mostly because A: You have no or little control over which items you pick up each week; and B: Sometimes you have no idea what to do unfamiliar foods that can be part of the bounty (kohlrabi, anyone?).

Thus, in an effort to help keep all that local goodness from withering in your fridge (and mine), I’ve written for years about how I used my CSA box in hopes that it’ll help newbies and veterans alike use their produce and enjoy it.

That said, this CSA season, we’re going to try something a little different. Rather than writing about it each week, I’ll write monthly specifically about ideas for your bounty. Though I may write more frequently in the middle of the summer when we’re all drowning in tomatoes.

Fear not, there’s plenty of backlog in this blog for you to seek out if you need weekly inspiration. Just search and enjoy. Plus, this will allow me to write about gardening with kids, farmers market finds and other fun foodie things in the summer.

But, for those of you getting your first CSA box in the coming week or so, or who have overloaded at the farmers market with a bunch of pretty spring vegetables, I’ve got a great spring-y recipe for you to kick off the season.

My family signed up for my CSA’s “early bag,” which means we’ve been picking up local greens and other veggies for the past three weeks. And one of our favorite new recipes we’ve tried so far this season is from the cookbook I find the most helpful during the local growing season, Nancy O’Connor’s "Rolling Prairie Cookbook".

It’s a soup that helped us use up one of the hardest early veggies for me to finish: green onions. We enjoyed it with homemade veggie burgers, and it was the perfect addition.

Spring Soup

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 cups chopped green onions

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

6 to 7 cups water or vegetable broth (up to 1/2 cup of this can be dry white wine)

Several generous grinds black pepper

1 cup snow peas, sliced in half, on the diagonal (we used just regular peas)

1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked basmati rice (optional)

1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped green onions for garnish

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add green onions and ginger. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, water or broth and black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add snow peas. Simmer 1 to 2 more minutes. Serve immediately. A tablespoon or two of cooked white or brown basmati rice may be added to each serving if desired. Garnish with raw, chopped green onion. Serves 6.

— Recipe from "Rolling Prairie Cookbook" by Nancy O’Connor


Spring, sweet spring, where are you?

Made-from-scratch black bean soup was perfect as the SPRING snow came down.

Made-from-scratch black bean soup was perfect as the SPRING snow came down. by Sarah Henning

I thought I was done with winter. You know, get out the gardening supplies, put the sweaters and boots away.

But, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast,” snow is on the ground, a chill is still in the air and that whole “out like a lamb” thing belongs in the same shaming hole as that groundhog.


Not really, but what else can we do but throw the calendar out the window, grab a sweater and make soup? That’s exactly what we did this weekend, and, for a change, we made soup with dried beans.

Normally, we’re a tad too impatient to do the soaking routine, even though we know it’s better for us and cheaper, too. But, in an effort to spice things up, we decided to give it a go (we normally only manage to soak garbanzos), choosing a recipe we’d never made before that starts with dried beans so they’re a blank canvas.

And you know what? Soup made this way really did taste different than all the other soups we make with canned black beans. And by taste, I don’t mean “salt level” (I buy salt-free canned beans). The texture was different — sturdier, almost.

Now, I know this recipe looks long, but it really isn’t much of a hassle. Also of note: Make sure to include one or two of garnishes at the bottom, they really kick this soup up a notch or two.

Black Bean-Vegetable Soup (Recipe from “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight

6 cups water

2 bay leaves

Pinch of baking soda


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-size onions, diced finely

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely (we used 1 cup of a frozen mix of red, yellow and green peppers)

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 stalk celery, diced finely

1 carrot, peeled and diced finely

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

3-4 cups vegetable stock

Garnishes for serving:

Lime wedges

Chopped avocado

Minced fresh cilantro

Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.

During the last 30 minutes of the beans’ cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft, then add the jalapeño, celery and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.

When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.

Garnish each serving of soup with chopped cilantro and chopped avocado. Serve with lime wedges.


Kitchen sink chili, as unusual as it is tasty (and HOT)

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts.

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. by Sarah Henning

It’s no secret that if you follow this blog, you know that this winter I’ve been digging the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts combination. Steamed or roasted, I love putting them on salads or veggie burgers or just eating them as is. Those two foods are basically “winter” to me right now.

So, I was excited to find a new way to eat them. A very unexpected way, for me, for sure: chili. Yes, the thought of Brussels sprouts in chili sounds strange (maybe not sweet potatoes, so much), but, I assure you that even if you hate Brussels, chances are you might like this recipe.

As Example A as to why this is, I give you my husband, who, though he HATES Brussels, actually chose to make this recipe. He knew we had pretty much everything on hand and that I’d probably like it and thought he’d take one for the team. But, as it turned out, he liked it. And I’ll tell you why: This chili is so saucy, you can’t even taste the Brussels. I’m serious. Everything is so spicy and smoky and delicious because of the adobo peppers, that we could’ve thrown cardboard in there and been none the wiser.

This description probably doesn’t make this chili sound appealing, but it is. Really. And I think that if you have someone in the house who isn’t the biggest yam/Brussels fan (including yourself), but you want to push them because you know they have awesome nutrient value, then try this recipe.

Also, a word of caution: The adobo sauce and peppers are what makes this recipe really work, but you might want to be careful if you aren’t too keen on spice. We only used two of the three peppers, and it was still nearly too hot for us. We’re not total wusses, but still.

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 red onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped (we only used 2 and it was plenty spicy for us)

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 average-size), peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 ½ cups)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Freshly squeezed lime juice

In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 to 7 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, coriander seeds, and oregano, and saute for a minute more. Add the remaining ingredients (except the lime juice). Mix well. The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts will be peeking out of the tomato sauce, but don’t worry, they will cook down.

Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for about half an hour, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste and adjust any other seasonings. Let the chili sit uncovered for at least 10 minutes before eating.

(Recipes from “Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


Warding off the chill with Crock-pot chili

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili.

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili. by Sarah Henning

Dang, it’s cold out there. It’s just so classic “Kansas” that we went from 60 degrees one day (Friday) to hovering around freezing the next. Boo.

By the time we’d been through that horrible temperature swing, we were all for breaking out the slow cooker on Sunday morning. We adapted a recipe that was supposed to be made on the stovetop by just dumping everything in the slow cooker and crossing our fingers that it turned out right.

It did and it was delicious. I totally recommend making this soup when you feel like you want some chili to ward off the chill. Enjoy!

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, diced small

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small (We used an orange bell pepper)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced small

1 pound zucchini, cut into medium dice

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen (thaw first if frozen)

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (We didn’t use it)

2 teaspoons agave nectar (We used honey)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Put everything except the agave nectar and lime juice into a slow cooker. Cook, stirring occasionally, on high for five to six hours. When ready to serve, stir in agave/honey and lime. Serves six.

(Recipe adapted from “Appetite for Reduction,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


Delicious Thai-inspired chili

Red Lentil Thai Chili on the left, a sampling of this month's Delicious/Nutritious yumminess on the right.

Red Lentil Thai Chili on the left, a sampling of this month's Delicious/Nutritious yumminess on the right. by Sarah Henning

Confession: I'm not a huge chili person.

Yeah, yeah, this is a major flaw of mine. I mean, I know people who love chili better than anything else when it comes to winter. Better than snowflakes, hot chocolate or an open fire. Me? Not so much. Heck, even back when I ate meat, it wasn't a favorite. When everyone else was so excited about having a pot of chili, I would just kind of be like, "Meh. Where's the bread."

That said, as of late I might have to change my tune, however so slightly. Because I think I've found THE chili for me.

This chili isn't your cowboy "chuck wagon" variety, but even if you like that, I think you'll dig this. It's hearty, chunky and has a great combination of flavors. Plus, it is amazingly cheap for the amount of food and nutrition you get when you make it. Sweet potatoes, red lentils, onion, bell pepper, beans and spices all play together nicely, don't cost much at all and have great healthy benefits.

Honestly, the hubby and I made it on a weekend and it's all I can do not to make it again, even after days and days of eating it.

My only regret with this chili is that I didn't take a better pic. I was hungry and eager to dig in! Check out the link to the original post to get an idea of just how awesomely pretty the soup is.

Note: We made this in our slow cooker on a Sunday. Check the comments on The PPK post if you want to do it that way. It's slower, but, boy, did the house smell good all afternoon.

Red Lentil Thai Chili

Olive oil (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, however much you feel like using)

1 large yellow onion, diced medium

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, cut into ¾ inch chunks

1 cup dry red lentils

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups vegetable broth

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1 15-ounce can low fat coconut milk

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

½ cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Limes for garnish (optional)

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more.

Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Taste for salt and seasoning, top with cilantro and lime and serve!

(Recipe from The PPK)