Easy Creamy Asparagus Soup

I love asparagus. It’s my favorite vegetable. But alas, again it’s one of those things I shouldn’t eat anymore. Not allergies this time but due to a medication I take. So green asparagus is out! But what about white asparagus. Tastes just like the green stuff but for me it’s a definite YES! Feel free however, to make this soup with the green asparagus remembering that your’s won’t look like mine.

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat:

2 cups vegetable broth* (or chicken stock)

1 pound of asparagus cleaned and cut into chunks**

Cook over medium heat until the asparagus is tender, the length of time will depend on the size of the asparagus used, smaller pencil asparagus will obviously cook much faster than the larger stalks.***

Remove about half of the asparagus pieces to add back into the soup once it’s blended. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion one****, blend the stock and asparagus until smooth. Remember if you’re using an immersion blender to turn it off before lifting the blender out of the soup mixture so that it doesn’t splatter all over the stove (and you!).

Whisk together in a small bowl:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (any kind other than soy which won’t thicken), I suggest using oat so it doesn’t interfere with the taste of the soup

1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

Make sure there aren’t any lumps in the milk mixture before adding it to the soup. Bring the soup back to a slow boil and stir until it thickens, about a minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the pieces back into the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste and add:

1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley)

And it’s ready to serve! Add any protein you like, I added some diced chicken breast but some white beans would also work. Makes approximately 4 1cup servings. Garnish with some cut scallion greens or chives (instead of cutting them with a knife, I use my kitchen scissors, much easier).

*I generally like to use stock rather than broth but in this instance if using vegetable, we don’t want the strong flavor of mushroom to overpower the asparagus so a lighter broth works best, preferable one without mushrooms.

**If you are using a larger stalk asparagus, add the largest pieces to the stock/broth first so that the smaller pieces don’t get too mushy since those are what you’ll probably want to save out before blending and add back into the soup

***The larger stalks often times have very thick skins so peel them with a potato peeler before chopping and adding to the stock/broth.

****If using a regular blender the mixture will either need to cool down a bit before blending or hold down the lip of the blender with a kitchen towel to prevent it flying off when you turn on the blender as it releases the hot air from the mixture and will pop that cover right off if you’re not careful. I always try to cool the soup first when using a regular blender, much safer!

Avocado Coleslaw

I think I’m definitely getting lazier in my old age. Or perhaps it’s just a case of now only having to cook for myself so I don’t care anymore if someone else is going to like it. Anyway, instead of buying a small cabbage that I have to prepare, along with carrots, I’ve started buying the bagged coleslaw mix at the supermarket. So easy and so tasty.

Place in a medium size mixing bowl:

contents of one bag of prepared coleslaw vegetables – cabbage, red cabbage and grated carrots

1/2 to 1 cup of additional grated carrots*

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender) combine:

1 avocado peeled and seeded

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon agave nectar (or coconut nectar or honey)

1 teaspoon celery seed

Blend until smooth. If too thick, add several tablespoons water until it’s the right consistency. This will depend on the thickness of your mayonnaise since different brands can be thinner or thicker.

Combine the dressing with the coleslaw vegetables and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*TIPS: Liven up your coleslaw by adding some diced apple, pear, or jicama. I’ll also sometimes finely dice another 1/2 an avocado and add that to the mix.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

Every once in a great while I buy a rotisserie chicken at the store because, like everyone, I just don’t feel like cooking. I bought one several days ago and like so often happens, found I couldn’t eat all of it before it would spoil. In those cases, I usually dice up the chicken breasts and freeze them for later use. It’s amazing, I don’t understand why, but when cooked chicken is frozen, it makes such a better chicken salad than fresh chicken. Perhaps because it’s really cold? Anyway, try putting the diced chicken in the freezer for about an hour before making the salad and let me know if you agree with me that it has a better taste.

For the salad:

2 rotisserie chicken breasts diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons dill relish (or up to 1/4 cup depending on taste)

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, or diced jicama, or diced water chestnuts (just looking for more crunch)

1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:

1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (depending on how much chicken there is)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon herbamare (herbed salt)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black (or white) pepper

2 tablespoons honey (or agave or coconut nectar, or date syrup)

Mix all the ingredients and serve with lettuce. Garnish, if you have some, which I didn’t, with chives or scallions. Also, it’s delicious with sliced fresh strawberries or tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Zoodle Salad

I do love zucchini noodles. I remember when I first discovered Whole Foods in western Massachusetts, they had grated zucchini on their salad bar and I used to love adding it to a salad. Like many recipes I blog, this one is totally adjustable for your family’s taste. Here’s the vegetables I used.

In a medium size bowl, combine:

3 cups zucchini noodles

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup green onion slices

2 tablespoons sliced jalapeno peppers (seeds removed)

In a small bowl mix the dressing:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy substitute (see recipe under sauces)

2 tablespoons date sugar (or syrup)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the vegetables and mix well. Chill before serving. Makes 6 servings.

TIP: To make this a main dish, add 1 cup of diced cooked chicken or sautéed tofu (or tempeh).

TIP: Jicama or water chestnuts would add some crunch to this salad or even some diced cucumber.

Easy Curried Pumpkin (or sweet potato) Soup

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know how much I love curry! If I could, I would put curry in everything. Pumpkin soup has always been a favorite so I’m surprised I never thought to put curry in it. But today, here it is. And an easy, quick, very warming soup. Just perfect for these subzero days here in Minnesota. Makes 4 -6 servings.

In a high sided skillet or a large saucepan, heat over medium heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped mushrooms

Cook until onion is translucent and mushrooms are slightly browned. Add:

1-2 teaspoons madras curry powder (I used 1 1/2 and it was almost too spicy for me)

Stir and let cook on low heat until you can smell the curry, about a minute. Add:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

Stir in and let the flour cook for a minute. Slowly stir in:

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or if preferred chicken or turkey)

Cook for a minute and then add:

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or just a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice)

Combine and leave on the burner until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Optional: Garnish with chopped scallions or chives.

Carrot Chowder (dairy-free, gluten-free)

Carrots are so versatile. Not only are they great in savory dishes like soups, salads, stews, curries, and stir-fries, but they also work very well in desserts. Here’s a great carrot soup with a hint of creamy tomato soup that’s hearty and satisfying. If you want a vegan soup, substitute the ground turkey for a ground vegan product and the chicken stock for vegetable stock.

In a Dutch oven pot, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil and add:

1 pound ground turkey or chicken, when browned add:

1/2 cup chopped celery and

1/2 cup chopped onion and cook until onion is translucent

Add 2 1/2 cups grated carrots

32 ounce can of tomato puree

1 cup non-dairy yogurt

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon thyme, marjoram, and/or basil (I use a pre-mixed Italian blend that includes all three)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon date sugar

Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. I like to serve this with seasoned croutons (gluten free of course) or gluten free rolls. Serves 4-6 depending on if you want it for an appetizer or a main dish.

Easy Creamed Turkey Soup with Vegetables (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is an easy way to use up extra turkey (or chicken if you prefer). I didn’t have a lot of soups growing up because my father wasn’t a “soup” guy. But a long-time friend really loved creamed soups and when she was dying of cancer, one of the few things I could always get her to eat was my cream of chicken or turkey soup. So here’s the recipe revamped without the dairy or gluten.

In a medium size Dutch oven, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced turnip and/or parsnip

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dry sage

Saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour and stir to mix and absorb all the fat. Let cook for several minutes before adding:

2 cups chicken or turkey STOCK (use stock not broth for a stronger flavor)

1 small bag of mixed vegetables (if you’re like me, remove the corn; wish someone would make mixed frozen vegetables without corn!)

Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer until vegetables are cooked, 10-15 minutes.

The soup will thicken while it simmers so stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the vegetables are cooked, add 1 cup of non-dairy milk and 1-2 cups of cooked brown rice. Heat and serve.

Variations if you don’t care for sage or tumeric, or just want a different taste!

Italian: Add 1 tablespoon diced garlic and substitute thyme, basil, marjoram, and/or rosemary for the sage and tumeric.

Indian: Use a peeled and diced sweet potato instead of the turnip/parsnip. Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder instead of the sage and before the flour. Curry powder needs to develop its flavor so cook it for a few minutes before adding the flour and stock.

Mushroom: Add a 6-8 ounce box of sliced baby bella or whatever mushrooms you love instead of the mixed vegetables.

Vegan: Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or turkey and delete the meat. Add a drained can of your favorite beans.

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 cup vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 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.