Spicy Lentil Vegetable Soup

(dairy free, gluten free, vegan, soy free) Makes approximately 8-10 servings

Lentil are very versatile, allowing cooks to be imaginative in using them. They seem to like being pairs with a wide variety of other foods and spices. Lentils were not something we had growing up, don’t know which parent didn’t like them but my mother never cooked us lentil soup even though both parents loved pea soup. In this recipe, I’ve paired my favorite vegetable soup with lentils. There are various other ingredients you can use in this recipe, depending on what your family likes. Here’s the basics along with some variations. You’ll need:

1 3/4 cups (an 8 oz package) of lentils, no specific type, I used a mixture of green, black and brown

6 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc., I used a combination of water and vegetable stock)

1 cup sliced carrots

1 large onion diced

3-6 stalks of celery diced for approximately 1 cup

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup sweet potato diced

1/2 cup regular potato diced

1 teaspoon curry powder (or 2 tablespoon curry paste)

1 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned)

1 cup frozen peas

1 medium turnip peeled and diced

Add the oil to the bottom of a heated Dutch oven. Add the curry powder and heat for about 15 seconds or until you can smell the curry, but be careful not to burn it. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, celery, potatoes, and turnip. Once the onion is translucent, add the lentils and the liquid. You can also add the tomatoes at this point along with the peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until lentils are tender (if you’re using sprouted lentils, they don’t take as long as regular lentils). If you use curry paste rather than powder, add it here. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until you have the consistency you want. Add salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper). Serve.

Variations: Don’t want vegan – use chicken or turkey stock instead of the vegetable stock. You can also add some cooked sausage (either bulk or links cut into slices) or diced ham before serving.

If you don’t like potatoes, leave them out and add 1/2 cup quinoa when you add the lentils. This will also up the protein!

Don’t like curry? Leave it out and use 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon thyme instead. Or, you can add 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and 2 teaspoons turmeric. Add either of these when you add the lentils.

Want it more tomatoie? Stir in 1 small jar of tomato paste before you use the blender.

Don’t have an immersion blender? Cool the soup in the frig for about an hour and then blend in a standard blender. You might want to leave a couple of cups whole for texture.

Clam Chowder (dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free)

Growing up in New England, chowder was part of everyone’s diet.  Fish chowder, seafood chowder, corn chowder, clam chowder, didn’t make any difference.  Several times a month we ate chowder (pronounced chow-dah for those of you not from New England).  This recipe can be altered to make any of these very easily, just substitute corn (and chicken for protein) for the clams; or add some crab and/or lobster and shrimp; or put in some white fish, usually cod.  Recipe makes enough for 4 appetizer servings or 2 entrée servings.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked (if you prefer, you can use russet potato instead)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas (I usually add them to the pot with the sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 medium onion, sautéed until soft
  • 2-3 slices of bacon, cooked and diced (I use uncured turkey bacon but feel free to use whatever bacon your family likes)
  • 1 can of diced or chopped clams (6-8 ounces) OR 1 pound of fresh clams steamed, cleaned and diced (be sure to save 1/4 cup of the steaming liquid to add to the chowder)
  • 2 cups of rice milk (you could use any milk you like but rice is the mildest and in chowder, you don’t want a milk that interferes with the taste of the clams)
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour made into a slurry with 1/2 cup of the rice milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

After you cook the sweet potatoes and peas, drain and put back into the pot.  Add the onion, clams (don’t drain them but add the juice as well as the clams), and the milk to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the slurry of brown rice flour and stir until the chowder starts to thicken.  We don’t want it really thick, just enough to get a good “mouth feel” when you eat the chowder.  Add the bacon and serve.  You can garnish it with diced scallion or chives if you like.  My mother always served chowder with oyster crackers but those are also optional.  Its so thick and hearty that you really don’t need crackers with this chowder.

Cream of Mushroom Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

One of the most versatile soups, cream of mushroom soup is delicious by itself or in any number of casserole dishes.  Its very easy to make.  This recipe makes two servings.

Add to a medium skillet:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound of diced mushrooms (I usually buy one package of mixed mushrooms and then a small package of baby bella so that it has some variety) [I put mine in the food processor and pulse until they’re diced]
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley

Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add to the pan:

  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour

Mix into the mushrooms and cook over low heat for 2 minutes so that the flour starts to cook.  Whisk in:

  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk of choice

Cook it for a few more minutes until it thickens.  I then like to cook it a few more minutes so that the taste develops.   Ready to eat or use in your favorite casserole.

Chicken and Cranberry Salad with Green Goddess Dressing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free)

As all my allergies progressed, one of the things that most bothered me was a sensitivity to leafy green vegetables.  No more salad, what was I going to do!  Then I discovered that I could eat red leaf lettuces, what a relief.  Now I have a salad almost daily and here’s one of my favorites.  I really like various textures in my salads so I add crunchy ingredients as well as softer ones.  Green Goddess dressing usually has walnuts in it but since I’m allergic to nuts, I used pumpkin seeds instead.  You could substitute sunflower seeds.

You’ll need for the salad (for 2 entries or 4-6 side salads):

  • 1 head of red Romaine, cleaned and broken into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 2 wedges of jicama, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • several scallions or some red onion diced, optional
  • 8 ounces of cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (I used the kind sweetened with fruit juice and unsulphered)

For the dressing, in a food processor put:

  • 1 ripe avocado, skinned and pitted
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley, or 1/2 cup fresh parsley (you can add more if you like parsley; not one of my favorite herbs so I didn’t use much)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons ground pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to get to dressing consistency, 1/4-1 cup (my dressing came out fairly thick and I used 1/2 cup of water)

Blend until creamy and all ingredients are combined.  Here, again, I used some roasted whole coriander seeds that I pulsed in my spice grinder so they were not fully ground and the pumpkin seeds were also only partially ground.  This added some crunchy texture to the dressing.

Sweet Potato and Tahini Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

I made this with sweet potato but pumpkin or pureed butternut squash would work just as well.  The original recipe also called for 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro but since I really don’t like that herb, I used diced scallions and pomegranate arils instead.  The spice in the recipe is also to taste; I love garum masala but if you don’t, try some ground ginger or grated fresh ginger instead.  The tahini gives this soup a very creamy texture.  Makes 4 servings.

Heat a 2-quart saucepan and add:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 diced small scallion
  • 1 diced garlic clove

Cook for only a minute over medium heat and then add:

  • 2 cups cooked sweet potato
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (you can also use chicken stock if you prefer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia OR 1 tablespoon agave or coconut nectar
  • 1 teaspoon garum masala OR 1 teaspoon grated or ground ginger
  • Crushed red pepper to taste (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and reduce heat to low.  Stir in:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (you could also use a nut butter)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Puree in blender or with immersion blender.  Garnish with diced scallion and pomegranate arils.

Tomato Vegetable “Stoup” (vegan, dairy- free, gluten-free)

This time of year with all the fresh vegetables, this is one of my go to dishes.  My husband and I love this soup/stew.  Its one that is easy to customize to your taste since its basically whatever vegetables you have on hand.  Instead of using canned diced tomatoes, I peeled and chopped some of my husband’s fresh off-the-vine tomatoes sitting on my counter top.  Best of all, its delicious whether you serve it hot or cold.  Add some croutons for crunch (made with gluten-free bread of course!).  In the winter, this soup is a great vehicle for cooked chicken. Feel free to play with it and make it your own by adding the vegetables your family likes the best.  But keep the carrots since they add that sweetness that takes care of the acidity in the tomatoes (the parsnips help with that as well).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Peel as needed and dice into like size pieces:

  • 1 medium onion (I used a red onion)
  • 6-8 stocks of celery
  • 1 medium purple top turnip (or a regular one if you like them but the purple top have a milder flavor)
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 baby bok choy (you could use regular chopped cabbage instead of the bok choy and then add some kale or spinach for the greens of the bok choy)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (I like to mix them up so I used half baby bella and half porcini)
  • 1 cup chopped or grated carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans

Add 4 cups (1 quart) of vegetable stock to a large stock pot (if you want, you could add 4 cups of chicken stock).  Be sure to use stock and not broth for that “cooked all day” flavor.  Add the onion, celery, turnip, squashes, bok choy and mushrooms and cook covered over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add:

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I find the Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes taste less metallic than regular canned tomatoes)
  • 1 12 ounce can of your favorite beans (I love the cannellini beans or great northern)

Cook over low heat for another 10-15 minutes until tomatoes and beans are heated through.

French Onion Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Such and easy soup to make and so silky, rich and sweet.  If you like French Onion soup but you’ve always thought it was too hard to make for yourself, this is the recipe for you.  Makes 2 servings.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions (I used a Vidalia but you can use any onion you like)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour such as Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1 blend
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock (or if you can use it, use beef stock but I find the vegetable stock makes a very rich soup)
  • 2 slices of gluten-free bread (I love the DeLong’s millet bread)
  • 2 slices of dairy-free mozzarella or provolone cheese

First, cut onion in half and then cut across into slices.  If you want, you can then cut these slices in half.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a 4 quart pot (you want as much space on the bottom as possible while having room to add the stock later.  Stir the onions every few minutes to be sure that they don’t burn.  You want to caramelize them which takes about 20 minutes and you will probably want to reduce the heat when they begin to brown.  This is the longest, hardest part of the cooking process.

Once the onions are caramelized, add the flour and stir to make sure it is absorbed by the oil.  Over low heat, let the flour cook out for a couple of minutes.  Its okay if it sticks a little to the bottom of the pan since adding the stock will deglaze the pan.  Add 2 cups of stock and stir until it starts to boil.  If the soup is too thick (you want it silky but not as thick as gravy), add more stock to thin.  Reduce heat as low as it will go and cover pot.  Let cook 10 minutes.

According to every recipe I’ve seen on making French Onion soup, it tastes best if you chill it overnight and let the flavors melt together.  But its so good I won’t blame you if you put it hot into two oven-proof bowls and eat it the same day!

Using a large biscuit cutter if you have one or just a knife, cut the bread so that each slice will fit into one of the bowls.  In a fry pan large enough for both slices, heat the 1 tablespoon oil and when hot, add the bread rounds and grill on both sides.  Place on top of the soup and then put a slice of cheese on top of the bread rounds.  Broil (or microwave) until the cheese melts.  If you broil it, you’ll get that great crust on the cheese like in a restaurant.  Enjoy!

Celery Root and Leek Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is a quick and easy soup that tastes wonderful; creamy and rich even without dairy or thickening.  Provides 2 large bowls or 4 smaller ones if you’re using it as an appetizer.

You’ll need:

  • 2 good sized leeks, white and green parts only, cut in half and washed then sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves depending on how much you like garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite herb mixture
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and diced (like potatoes, the smaller you dice the root, the quicker it will cook)
  • 3 cups of chicken stock, or for vegans, use water or a light vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized pot, heat oil and add the leeks and lightly salt them; cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the garlic (you don’t need to slice it, just peel it) as well as the herbs.  Add the stock or broth along with the diced celery root, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until celery root is tender. Blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Tuna Lettuce Wraps

Want a quick and easy yet tasty lunch?  This takes only minutes, is very filling and delicious.  Serves 2.

Mix:

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup cooked peas
  • 2 tablespoons (or enough for your taste, don’t make it too dry) of your favorite vinaigrette (or if you can use it, mayonnaise)

Spoon mixture onto large lettuce leaves (I used red butter lettuce).  You’ll need 6 to 8 leaves depending on how hungry you are and how big a spoonful you place on each lettuce leaf and how many toppings you want to add.

You can top each lettuce leaf with a number of things to give them some crunch and/or added flavor such as:

  • Grated carrot
  • Grated radish
  • Grated jicama*
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced avocado

*If you aren’t familiar with jicama, its also called Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip.  Its a white, fibrous root that has a high water content and is very crunchy like an apple. Jicama is an anti-inflammatory that can help people who suffer from disorders such as IBS, leaky gut syndrome, and ulcers.  Its also very delicious.

Quinoa Salad (gluten-free, dairy-free)

 

 

This is easy to make and one of those dishes where you can follow my recipe exactly or add whatever vegetables your family likes.  Quick and easy.  To turn this side dish into a meal, simply add 12 ounces of flaked tuna or salmon, or cooked chicken.  If you want to add more fiber, you can add some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or even some hemp hulls or chia seeds.  This recipe is also very easy reduce to make fewer servings.

Put in a 2 quart saucepan:

  • 1 cup plain or red quinoa
  • 2 cups water

Cover and cook on medium heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork before you put it in the fridge to cool.

If you like some vegetables cooked, add to a 10-12 inch skillet:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1 small zucchini sliced
  • 1 small summer or yellow squash sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic depending on size
  • 1 small yellow, orange or red pepper chopped

Saute over medium heat until softened.  Put aside to cool.

Add to the pan:

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot (I like to use the rainbow)
  • 1/2 cup diced jicama (or if you prefer apple)
  • 1/2 cup sliced snap or snow peas
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked green peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked yellow or white corn

In a large mixing bowl, add the quinoa and all the vegetables.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your favorite vinaigrette and mix thoroughly.  Chill.  You may need to add more of the vinaigrette after you’ve chilled it since it may dry out as the quinoa absorbs more of the liquid.  I like to serve this on a bed of red leaf lettuce.  This recipe serves 8-10 as a side dish.