Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)

I am sure you will agree that there is no food more comforting than a warm bowl of soup.  In my house they are welcome on any nights but especially on cold, wintery nights. Although spring is here, last weekend ended up being chilly. As I was wondering what to cook for dinner on sunday night, I noticed that there were a lot of different vegetables leftover in the refrigerator. So what better meal than a soup to be able to use all of them?

I make this ‘fridge clean up’ soup quite a lot. And usually it is on sunday nights.  Best part about soups is that you can create variations by just changing the combination of vegetables and the spices used. Before I went paleo, I used to make Minestrone soup all the time where I would add vegetables to the beans and use tomatoes to make the typical Italian favorite. So now I decided to make some changes – since I wasn’t going to add the beans, I decided to add in more of the starchy vegetables like turnip and taro root. And I used my favorite substitute for tomatoes – cranberries!  The soup turned out fabulous. The family ate it with some whole grain bread while I had mine with a small piece of boiled yucca on the side. Yes and that’s how I got the idea of adding the grated yucca on top!  I couldn’t resist – the grated yucca looked so much like grated mozzarella! But tasted so much better 🙂 Yum! 

Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main course
Cuisine: Italian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A vegan and Paleo version of the Italian Minestrone soup - hearty and comforting with a variety of vegetables cooked in a delicious blend of Italian and Mexican spices
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 large cloves of garlic chopped
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ of a large purple turnip, chopped about 1 cup
  • 2 medium size taro root, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup cubed zucchini or smooth gourd
  • 6-8 frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
For garnish:
  • Boiled yucca, grated
Instructions
  1. In a large cooking pot, heat the oil. Then add the chopped onions and celery.Saute for about 2 minutes.
  2. Next add the garlic and ginger and the bay leaf. Sauce for a minute.
  3. Then add the turnip, taro root and green beans. Add the salt and all the spices. Stir for a minute.Then cover the pot with a lid and turn heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the pumpkin, cabbage, the zucchini (or gourd) and the cranberries. Add the water and cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked.
  5. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed. Turn heat off.
  6. Serve soup warm with grated boiled yucca on top!
Notes
You can use any combination of vegetables. Just add the hard ones first to allow for more cooking time for them.
For AIp version, skip the cumin, coriander and cayenne powder

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

img_2204Winter is here after all. Sigh. The last few weeks I have been visiting all our local farms to try  and stock up on all the fresh apples of this season. Along with apples, there have been a good bounty of pumpkins and squash as well. This past weekend when I scouted the farms again to pick up any leftover apples – before they closed for the season, I found squash at throwaway prices. 99c for one. Not a bad deal! So I picked up Butternut squash and a couple acorn squash.

Butternut Squash is a winter squash very popular in the US and Canada and also in Australia and New Zealand. It tastes very much like pumpkin – quite sweet but has a nutty flavor. Because of its sweet taste, I have personally liked it only in soups. Roasting it is the easiest way to cook it plus also gives it additional flavor.

So I decided to make the soup mixing both the butternut and acorn together since acorn squash is a little less sweet. Halfway through my cooking process, I decided to add cranberries. I thought that would be a good way to mellow the sweetness down plus add a bit of tanginess.  You could also use tomatoes for this purpose but since I am avoiding all nightshades I decided to use cranberries for this purpose. Cranberries turned the soup into a nicer color too, imparting it more of a reddish tinge. Unfortunately since it was night time the photos don’t do justice to the actual color of the soup.

Butternut Squash soup with cranberriesMy son who is my main food critic at home, loved it and gulped down two bowls of the soup! And my daughter who doesn’t usually eat any vegetables much slurped it down too merrily. What more can I ask for 🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 servings
  • Time: about 1 hour prep(baking) and 30 mins cooking time
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large butternut squash
  • 1/2 of a medium acorn squash
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top
  • red chili flakes for extra heat (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Cut the acorn squash in half and place in a tray lined with al foil face down (skin up). Add the garlic cloves with skin on onto tray as well.

Place tray in the oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until the flesh inside the squash is tender. Remove from oven and Cover the squash pieces with foil and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the skin from the squash and the garlic and keep the flesh aside.

While the squash is in the oven, chop the onions and celery.

In a large cooking pot, add the oil and the onions and celery. Salute for 5 minutes on low until tender. Then add all the spices and the salt.

Next add the roasted squash and the roasted garlic(peeled). And add the cranberries and the water. Let simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Turn heat off. take an immersion (hand) blender and puree the soup in the pot. (Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender – but wait until the soup is less warm)

Serve with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and some red chili flakes on top!

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Butternut Squash soup with cranberries

 

Yam and Coconut Soup (Elephant foot yam curry)

Elephant foot yam? Now what is that? My kids were stumped. What a weird name! But if you see this yam, which is like a super large  yam or potato, it does indeed resemble an elephant’s foot!   In Indian cuisine this yam is used in almost every region although it is called by different names – Oal in the East, Chena (Kerala), sennai kizhangu in Tamil, sudan in the west and jimmikhand in the North.

In Kerala cuisine this yam is used in Avial (the traditional mixed vegetable dish) and in other similar dishes. My mom used to also add it to her shrimp curry or fish curry at times. And that’s why last week when I was cooking fish curry for my family, I thought why not create a vegan version for myself! That way I can still taste the deliciousness of the curry with the kodampuli (black tamarind that is native to Kerala) which I love so much.! Hence this vegan version was born.  Worked out quite efficiently for me actually since it took me the same amount of time -only 2 different pots to cook both versions of the curry.

Turns out that this yam has some medicinal benefits and is used in Ayurvedic system of medicine quite extensively.The curry turned out very tasty – how could it not? The unique flavor of this curry has a lot to do with using kodampuli(Garcinia cambogia). Kodampuli is a type of sour fruit that is indigenous to only kerala in India. It is available in Indian grocers that stock Kerala foods. If you are unable to get this item, you can substitute with tamarind or with green mangoes.

This soup is vegan and paleo. For an AIP version, all you need to do is skip the green chillies and the red chili (cayenne) pepper.

Suran Coconut Curry (Elephant foot yam curry)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Soups
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
A tangy, mildly spicy and creamy soup of elephant foot yam with coconut milk and curry spices
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of suran (elephant foot yam) pieces cubed (I used frozen suran pieces after thawing the in hot water for 5 minutes)
  • ½ tsp thinly chopped ginger
  • 2 small green chillies slit length-wise
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust as per desired spiciness)
  • 1 tsp of salt (or as per taste)
  • 2 small pieces of kodampuli soaked in about 2 tbsp water (or you can use 2-3 tamarind pieces pit or 1 tbsp tamarind pulp)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups coconut milk (canned or fresh- see recipe for making fresh coconut milk below)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red onions or shallots
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
For getting coconut milk:
  • 1¼ cups of fresh grated coconut or (frozen grated coconut that has been thawed)
  • 2 cups warm water (divided)
Instructions
  1. Take a medium size cooking pot (I use earthen pot since that’s what’s used traditionally in Kerala and this imparts a nice smoky flavor to the curry). But you could use any stainless steel or non stick pot. Add the suran pieces into the pot. Next add the green chillies and the ginger. then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Next add the kodampuli that has been soaked in a tbsp of water for 5-10 mins(or you can use tamarind). Add the water.
  2. Place the pot on the stove on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes till you see the water boiling. Immediately put the burner on low simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook covered for about 10 minutes swirling the pot gently every 5 minutes or so in order to prevent the suran pieces from sticking to the pot. Next open the lid and add the coconut milk. Let simmer for about 3-4 minutes on low heat. Turn heat off.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a tadka pan for about 30 seconds. Then add the chopped onions and saute till golden brown. Add the curry leaves with its stem. Pour all the coconut oil along with the onions and curry leaves into the pot.
  4. Serve with cooked parboiled rice.
For making fresh coconut milk:
  1. Take the fresh grated coconut (or thawed frozen grated coconut) and add to a blender along with 1 cup of warm water. Blend for about 1-2 minutes. Then strain using a large strainer into a container. Next take the coconut from the strainer and again add to the blender with another 1 cup of warm water. Blend it again for about 1 minute and strain this milk into the pot so you will have approximately 2 cups of coconut milk.
Notes
!For AIP version, skip the green chillies and the red chili powder

A Japanese meal on a weeknight!: Miso soup, salad with Miso Ginger dressing and Vegetable California rolls

DSC_1375 DSC_1372This Monday night at around 5 PM , my husband and I both look at each other and ask the unspoken question -“What are we doing for dinner?” I think for a few seconds and go ‘let’s make something really good’. The ‘really good’ from me was because I am trying to do vegan for a few weeks (not sure how long I will last). So I say ‘let’s make pooris and potato sabzi’! Poori sabzi is one of my favorite vegetarian meals.  Hubby says ‘wonderful, let’s do it’ and he volunteers to make the dough for the pooris while I go for a shower.  I come back in 15 minutes to see hubby trying to hide behind the children.  Finally he says sheepishly ‘Hon I missed the atta (whole wheat flour) from your grocery list. OK so that was the end of the poori sabzi craving 🙂

So it was after that, that I came up with the idea of going Japanese! In my house this is pretty common- to change directions radically especially when it comes to cooking! Hubby being an expert in sushi, I now volunteered him for making the sushi rolls. And I decided to attempt miso soup and miso ginger dressing. The family has always loved this wonderful miso ginger dressing at our local Japanese restaurant and I always wanted to try and make it at home. So today was going to be the day!  I washed and kept the sushi rice in a pot to cook while I googled for a good miso ginger dressing recipe.  I short listed three that I liked and then mixed them a little bit to try to mimic the taste of the dressing at our favorite local Japanese place.  I had to try mixing and changing proportions a little bit until I came pretty close to the benchmark I had set up for myself! Hmm…darned good I must say!

DSC_1372Next the miso soup was a breeze. Just Add spring onions and tofu to a pot of boiling water. And the mix in the miso along with some kombu pieces. I used sesame garlic tofu and so that additionally also added some flavor to the soup. It came out pretty darned good too.!

Hubby dear did a fabulous job as usual with his vegetable california rolls.  I have posted the detailed recipe for making sushi rolls here before.  What a team we make! So thus we delivered yet another successful and far from boring weeknight meal that all four of us loved!

So what are you waiting for? Turn your boring weeknight meal to a fabulous, fantastic one by making this meal!

Bringing this fabulous vegetarian Japanese meal to Throwback thursdays this week where my Chicken Curry from last week made it to the Features – Hurray 🙂 Also linking to Fiesta Friday this week.  Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living are the co-hosts at FF this week.

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Miso ginger dressing

  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup
  • Time: about 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1″ by 2” piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 small carrots, chopped

Method:

Take all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth creamy mixture.

Miso soup

  • Servings: Makes 4-5 servings
  • Time: about 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

5 cups of water

about 1/2 cup chopped scallions (spring onions)

1/2 cup tofu pieces (I used sesame garlic tofu)

4 tbsp miso paste

3-4 kombu pieces

Method:

Boil the water in a cooking pot. Add the scallions and tofu pieces. Cook them for about 2 minutes. Then add the miso paste and the kombu pieces. Turn heat off. Stir well to mix.  Serve warm.

Vegetable California Rolls

Check my recipe that I posted for Spicy shrimp Sushi Rolls here for making sushi rolls. Skip the shrimp and only add cucumber and avocado pieces for a vegetarian version.

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Lentil and Cranberry soup (Cranberry Rasam)

DSC_0414Rasam is a restorative and rejuvenating lentil soup with lots of black pepper, garlic and fresh cilantro.  It is generally eaten with some good old white rice. I have posted the recipe of Tomato rasam here before. Why cranberries in a rasam, you may ask? Well, necessity is the mother of invention and of improvisation:) Of late I have been trying to avoid tomatoes in my diet since they have been known to increase inflammation in the body and many ‘arthritis friendly’ dietis recommend eliminating tomatoes.  Recently I have also been on a gluten-free and dairy free diet as well. For me, that wasn’t as tough as having to eliminate tomatoes. All my south Indian ‘go to’ curries … Dal, sambhaar and rasam…need tomatoes! Without tomatoes, they didn’t taste half as good. 🙁

Then this evening while deciding what to cook and with a sudden craving for simple ‘rasam’, I noticed the cranberries inside the fridge. I had got a huge pack of fresh cranberries last week since they were supposed to be super beneficial for me and was planning to add them to my smoothies. So had a brain wave. Why not add cranberries to the rasam to get the tartness it needs? Couldn’t wait to try it! And the result – tasty rasam which tasted so much like normal rasam that husband dear could not even guess that something was different! That’s what I call a perfect substitute and this one has added medicinal benefits too! Cranberries provide us with an astonishing array of phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits. Cranberries are a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese, as well as a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and pantothenic acid. You can read more about all the goodness of cranberries here.

The rasam also has garlic and turmeric additionally which are also beneficial for the arthritis patient. Turmeric helps reduce inflammation and also is an effective pain reliever. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory properties. Normally I add tamarind to the rasam but the cranberries provided enough sourness so that eliminated the need for tamarind.

I hope you like this cranberry rasam! Maybe you can make this for your thanksgiving dinner! 🙂 I am bringing this cranberry lentil soup to Fiesta friday and to Foodie Fridays this week.


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Lentil and Cranberry soup (Cranberry Rasam)

  • Servings: Makes about 4 servings
  • Time: About 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup yellow lentils (Toor dal)
  • 4 cups water
  • about 18-20 cranberries (reserve 5-6)
  • 1/2 of a medium size onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped fine
  • 1 tsp cumin powder(preferably freshly roasted)
  • 1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1 tsp coconut oil(melted) or olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
  • 1 dry red chili , cut into two pieces 3-4 fresh curry leaves

Method:

Take lentils in a medium size pot or a pressure cooker if you have one and wash the lentils thoroughly 3-4 times until the water starts running clear.  Add the 4 cups water and also add the onion, cranberries, garlic, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.  Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes (cook for 3 whistles if using pressure cooker). Check to see if the lentils are fully cooked. if not add more water and continue cooking until lentils are very well cooked and almost mashed. Check consistency at this point – add more water if needed so that you get a watery soup like consistency.

Continue cooking on low heat and add the cumin powder and black pepper powder and after 1 minute turn the heat off and add the fresh cilantro leaves. Keep this aside.

Heat a small pan (tadka pan) and add the oil. When it gets hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, lower the heat to low and add the cumin seeds and the methi seeds.  Wait for about 1 minute until the methi seeds turn dark brown. Turn the heat off and add the dry red chillies and the curry leaves.

Pour the above tadka (oil mixture) on to the lentils mixture. Add the reserved cranberries. Cover with a lid for about 2-3 minutes so that the cumin and methi seeds turn soft.

Serve rasam hot with some white rice.

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