Garlic Tomato Spinach Soup

luluesque-vampire proof tomato soup

‘Tis the season…for inFLUenza, that is! “Feed a cold. Starve a fever.” Whatever the old saying is, it’s never good to starve oneself (think of how bad that would be on your metabolism or your appearance!), no matter how terrible you are feeling.

This vegetarian soup is super easy to make, tastes delicious, and the garlic and spinach should help you get back to your healthy-oxen self again in a jiffy! It may also help you rid of those pesky Vampire problems I hear you’ve been having in your town!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 carton Pacific creamy organic tomato soup
  • sunflower oil
  • 8-10 roma tomatoes ~ blanched, skin removed, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 bulb garlic ~ peeled, 1/2 minced and 1/2 smashed
  • 8 cups fresh organic baby spinach
  • 1/4 bunch organic curly-leaf parsley ~ washed, stems removed, chopped
  • scallions ~ ends removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • sea salt ~ dash
  • organic evaporated can sugar ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stainless steel pot, heat the oil and sauté the smashed garlic until a golden brown. Add the tomatoes and sauté until 1/2 cooked.
  2. Add the carton of pre-made tomato soup, minced garlic, and 1/2 cup filtered water.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil for 3 minutes then let the soup simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Turn off the stove & leave the covered pot on the stove for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add sea salt and sugar to your liking.
  5. Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the spinach.
  6. Serve hot with freshly-ground black pepper and chopped parsley.

Udon-Shiitake Sensation

luluesque-vegetarian udon-shiitake soup

I am beyond the moon at how this turned out, given it’s my first time to tackle a Japanese udon soup. I looked at several recipes for inspiration and pulled out the ingredients I liked from them to “Frankenstein” my concoction. 🙂 I wanted a veggie-based broth and had three bouillon cubes left. I know that most vegetarian broths always have carrots, celery, onions, and garlic as the base, so I decided to add some “oomph” by making my own broth, in addition to the remaining bouillon.

Put on your apron — here we go!

INGREDIENTS:

*makes about 4-6 servings

  • 12 cups filtered water
  • 2 lbs pre-cooked Japanese (or Korean) udon noodles
  • 1 small bag snow peas (optional) ~ washed, tips removed
  • 1 bunch Chinese broccoli (optional) ~ ends removed, washed, leaves separated from stems/stalks, stalks sliced diagonally
  • 3 large stalks organic celery ~ ends removed, washed, cut into large chunks
  • 3 medium organic carrots ~ tops removed, washed, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large bulb garlic ~ peeled, smashed
  • 1 medium purple onion ~ end removed, peeled, washed, cut into 1/4
  • 1 small root ginger ~ as fresh as possible; washed w/ a veggie brush; 1/2 thinly sliced, the other 1/2 minced
  • 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms ~ rinsed, caps and stems sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro ~ washed thoroughly, reserve only leaves
  • 3 sprigs scallions ~ ends removed, washed, sliced thinly diagonally
  • Walnut Oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 cubes Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon (purchased from Sprouts)
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • organic evaporated cane sugar ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stainless steel stockpot, heat the oil and sauté the garlic until aromatic. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, sliced ginger, onion, and broccoli stems. Stir the veggies until browned. If anything sticks, add a bit more oil.
  2. Add water, minced ginger, salt, sugar, and bouillon. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
  3. In a separate small-medium stainless steel pot, bring some water to a boil and soften the udon noodles. Once soften and separated, drain the noodles and set aside.
  4. After 20 minutes of simmering, turn off the burner to the soup and set the soup on a cool burner. (Note: You can strain the broth and discard the veggies or keep the veggies. I keep mine as they add a nice “stewed veggies” touch to the soup.)
  5. Add the rice vinegar.
  6. In your bowl, arrange the broccoli leaves and snow peas, then add the udon.
  7. Finally, scoop 2-3 ladles of hot broth (& cooked veggies) into your bowl. This cooks the snow peas and broccoli leaves al dente style.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and scallions. VOILA! 🙂

Fish Congee II

I have vegetables coming out my ears, thanks to a generous microgarden and a biweekly CSA share from a local organic garden. I have stir-fried, baked, boiled, steamed, sizzled, sautéed, julienned, pressed, and pickled — and have enjoyed all of it. 🙂

I was trying to use what I had on hand, and it just so happened a soothing pot of congee was in my culinary stars. 🙂 From this box, I was able to use the carrots, yellow onion, shallot, and green bell pepper. I think maybe this is the BEST congee I’ve made thus far. NOTE: Fish Congee, Recipe #1.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup broken jasmine rice ~ uncooked, rinsed twice, drained
  • 3 large fillets of white fish (I used Vietnamese Swai) ~ washed, cut into large chunks
  • 1 bunch chive flowers ~ washed, cut off about 2″ of the ends, then cut the rest into 1″ sections
  • 1 bunch organic cilantro ~ washed, chopped
  • 3 sprig scallions ~ washed, chopped
  • 4-5 organic carrots ~ washed, chopped
  • 1 large organic yellow onion ~ peeled, washed, sliced
  • 1 organic purple shallot ~ peeled, washed, sliced
  • 1 handful garlic cloves (yes!) ~ prepeeled, smashed
  • 1 handful dried, sliced shallots ~ I get this @ the Asian market
  • 1-2 organic green bell pepper ~ washed, seeds & stems removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable soup seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • organic cane sugar to taste
  • olive oil
  • 10 cups filtered water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large stainless steel pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Sauté the garlic, yellow onion, purple shallot, and carrots until an aromatic, golden brown.
  2. Add the fish and sauté until mostly cooked.
  3. Add the uncooked rice and dried shallots; stir all the ingredients for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add all 10 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil. Once it starts to roll, turn the heat back down to medium-high. (skim the broth as it boils and discard that foamy byproduct)
  5. Stir in the salt, sugar, and veggie seasoning. Turn the heat to low-medium and place the lid on, allowing the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the soup from the stove.
  7. Stir in the green bell peppers, scallions, chive flowers, and cilantro.
  8. Serve garnished with freshly ground black pepper and chopped cilantro.

Gazpacho

gazpacho-aGazpacho is a tomato-based soup, best served cold. My belly and taste buds think its a delicious salsa made into a hearty meal. Anytime I tell someone I made gazpacho, they respond with a very puzzled look on their face: “What IS gazpacho?!!” 🙂

This is one of those times where I looked at SO many online recipes, blogs, and photos that I overwhelmed myself on such a simple cold soup. Thus, I can only refer you to one of the best inspirations during my search: The Best Gazpacho Recipes by Food & Wine. I’ll still provide a list of ingredients that I used, but I feel like this dish is quite forgiving, so you can’t go wrong no matter how little or too much of a certain ingredient.

Mostly, it’s what I had from my garden and CSA share for the week. It’s the perfect “soup” for the rising mercury here in centrale Tejas. I added boiled shrimp and homemade garlic bread (with butter, minced garlic, and fresh parsley from my garden) to my meal. It was magnificent! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • organic heirloom, roma, & cherry tomatoes ~ washed, cut into chunks
  • organic pickling cucumbers ~ washed, cut into chunks
  • 3-5 large cloves garlic ~ peeled
  • 1/2 small yellow onion ~ washed, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 organic red bell pepper ~ washed, cut into chunks
  • 2 sprigs scallions ~ washed, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch organic cilantro ~ washed, stems removed, & chopped
  • 1 cup spicy V8 juice
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tb distilled vinegar
  • 1 tb organic cane sugar
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the ingredients & 1/2 of the cilantro in a food processor and whirl until desired texture. I don’t recommend that it gets too smooth; you might as well drink the V8 for dinner. 🙂
  2. Add the 1/2 reserve of chopped cilantro and fold it into the soup with a spoon.
  3. Serve chilled with garlic bread, boiled shrimp, and fresh sugar snaps (if you have any). Voila!

Kabocha Soup

As with most of my dishes, I usually throw stuff in a skillet or a pot, and VOILA, a meal. I’d say about 90% of the time, I’m lucky and it tastes delicious enough that there really isn’t much left over for the following day’s lunch. 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium kabocha squash ~ skin removed (optional), seeds removed, cut into large chunks
  • 8 cremini mushrooms ~ washed, cut into quarters
  • 1 bulb garlic (yes!) ~ peeled, smashed
  • 1 large yellow onion ~ peeled, washed, & sliced
  • coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • filtered water
  • 1 cup organic cilantro ~ leaves only, chopped (this was from my garden)
  • sea salt
  • evaporated cane sugar
  • veggie seasoning
  • olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large stainless steel pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until they are golden & aromatic.
  2. Add the squash and sauté to achieve brown edges.
  3. Add the water and bring to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. Skim off the foam.
  4. Add the coconut milk, frozen peas, sea salt, sugar, and veggie seasoning.
  5. Reduce the heat to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, with the lid on.
  6. Serve hot and garnish with cilantro.

Fish Congee I

We all have some kind of dish that conjures up fond memories of a loved one, our childhood, or of fun some event. For me, it’s a nice bowl of hot congee soup with white fish; it reminds me of my sweet Mother who happens to be an extremely TALENTED cook. I use her techniques; however, now that I feel more comfortable with the recipe, I branch out a bit and  tailor the ingredients to my tastebuds. I love color and the fresh crunch of raw or al dente veggies in my meals.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup broken jasmine rice ~ uncooked, scoured clean
  • 1 large yellow onion ~ thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb garlic ~ peeled, smashed
  • 4 large fillets of white fish ~ I used Swai
  • 1 cup fresh scallions ~ chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro ~ leaves only, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 bunches of bunashimeji mushrooms

DIRECTIONS:

I’ll have to come back another day to fill out the “directions” part of this recipe. I’m tired. 🙂

Asparagus Crab Soup

Asparagus was introduced to the Vietnamese by the French. It was termed, literally, “Western Bamboo” for its similar growth characteristics. Spring is the perfect season to enjoy this soup, as asparagus and scallions are abundant. For an added crunch, add matchstick-zucchini at the end. I cannot remember where I found this delicious recipe, but I modified it to my liking and it has become my favorite crab soup!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. asparagus ~ washed, woody end removed, and cut diagonally into 1″ pieces, being sure to leave the tips in tact
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 tbsp shallots (or scallions) ~ finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic ~ minced or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I like to make this from scratch)
  • 16 oz. lump crab meat
  • 4 tbsp kuzu root powder (you can find this in Asian markets in the Japanese section, or at health stores such as Whole Foods)
  • 4 tbsp filtered water
  • 2 eggs ~ lightly beaten
  • dash organic cane sugar
  • dash sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper ~ for garnish
  • chopped scallions & cilantro ~ for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, in a large stainless steel pot.
  2. Sauté the shallots and garlic until it reaches a lovely aromatic, golden brown.
  3. Add the asparagus, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook the asparagus until it turns a bright, dark green.
  4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the kuzu root powder and water, stirring to make a thin, smooth paste. Add it to the soup.
  6. Stir the soup well and drizzle in the beaten egg slowly.
  7. Add the crabmeat and stir well.
  8. Garnish with the chopped scallions, cilantro and some freshly ground pepper.

Caldo de Pollo

The first time I ever had Caldo de Pollo, it was so delicious, I was instantly hooked! It was at a restaurant called El Sol y La Luna in Austin, TX. This recipe is, more or less, just me throwing together what I remember seeing in my bowl, then modifying it to my taste. This is my “feel good” soup when the mercury starts to drop or if I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Caldo de Pollo is delicious and undoubtedly MORE nutritious than your average canned chicken noodle soup! Instead of using zucchini, I opted for calabaza squash.

Ingredients: 

  • 5-6 tbs grapeseed oil (use more if necessary)
  • 1 bulb garlic ~ peeled and smashed flat
  • 2 small shallots ~ thinly sliced
  • 3-4 large skinned chicken breasts ~ washed and cut into chunks
  • 1-2 ears of corn ~ washed and cut into chunks
  • 3 medium organic carrots ~ washed and cut into chunks
  • 5-6 large organic celery stalks ~ washed and cut into chunks
  • 5-6 medium calabaza squash ~ washed, cut into chunks (See the “chunking” pattern? Good!)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole cremini mushrooms ~ washed and cut into halve if they are large
  • 8-10 cups filtered water
  • organic cane sugar ~ enough to season to taste
  • sea salt ~ enough to season to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper ~ enough to season to taste
  • fresh avocado slices
  • 1 small-medium lime (I have learned that the smoother and thinner the rind, the juicier the fruit) ~ cut into wedges
  • finely-chopped purple onions ~ for garnish
  • chopped cilantro ~ for garnish

Directions:
*In a large stainless steel stockpot, heat the oil on medium-high and sauté the shallots for about 30 seconds. *Add the garlic and sauté until the pieces become aromatic and golden-brown. *Add the chunks of chicken and sauté until they are lightly brown around the edges and are half cooked. *Add the corn, carrots, and celery and sauté for about 4 minutes. *Add the water and bring to a boil, skimming off any scum along the way and discard. *Turn the heat down to achieve a soft rolling boil for about 5 mintues. *Turn off the burner and add sugar, salt, and black pepper to taste. *Leave the pot on the burner and add the mushrooms and calabaza squash. *Place the lid on top and walk away for about 20 minutes. The trapped heat will cook the squash just right. *Serve the soup with finely chopped purple onion, chopped cilantro, sliced avocados and a wedge of fresh lime.