Soup

Veggie green chili to warm your winter

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 This post I'm breaking rules. I never buy a load of fresh green chiles in the dead of winter, but like I said, I'm breaking rules! Another rule is the Colorado Green chili cannot be vegetarian. DONE and BROKEN. I'm also shattering realities this week in my own life. I'm selling things from our home and life, we're packing all our stuff in boxes, and saying goodbye to this lovely piece of farm and woods we've called home for the past few years. So yeah, I get to break rules this week and find comfort in a hearty, warm, chile-packed bowl of white bean chili. You should break rules too. (You can also serve this the Denver way. Poured over top a burrito).

6 - poblano peppers
4 - anaheim peppers
1-2 - jalapeno peppers (depending on your desired spice level)
1 - large yellow onion (diced)
8 - garlic cloves (grated or minced)
3-4TB - olive oil
1 bunch - green onions (slivered) I use it to about half way up the green stalk.
2 cans - tomatillos (11 ounce cans of tomatillos, drained) chopped
2 cans - white beans (drained and rinsed)
4-5 cups - vegetable broth
1-2 - big handfuls of cilantro
2 - limes (juice of 2 limes and zest of 1)
3 TB - cumin
2 TB - coriander
1 TB - chile pepper
1-2 tsp - paprika
salt to taste
Sour cream, thick greek yogurt, tortilla chips, cheddar, pumpkin seeds (optional toppings)

Roast all the chiles until the skin is blistered and soft. You can either do this by roasting the peppers over the flames of your gas stove, rotating every few minutes (like pictured in the photo above). Or you can roast chiles in the oven, rubbed with a little oil, at 475 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Once peppers are roasted, set them aside until they are cool enough to handle. Once cool enough, peel off the charred pepper skin and discard (keep just a few pieces of charred skin to chop up with your peppers). De-seed your roasted peppers and then chop them into small pieces and set aside for later. Chop up the garlic and onions, place into a large pot with 3TB of olive oil. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, drain your cans of tomatillos and dice them up, also slice up your green onions.

Add in your cumin, coriander, chile pepper, and paprika to the onion mixture. Stir and cook for a minute. Then add in all your roasted chiles (along with the few bits of reserved charred skin) and green onions. Stir for a minute or two and then add in all your diced tomatillos and both cans of white beans. Stir gently. Then add 3-4 cups vegetable broth. If the chili seems too thick for your liking at this point, add in a little more vegetable broth. Bring the chile up to a simmer and add in the lime zest. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and then add in the lime juice and cilantro. Add in salt, to taste, and also adjust your spices here, if desired. Serve warm, topped with a dollop of sour cream or thick greek yogurt with tortilla chips or pumpkin seeds.

A summer zucchini soup in a curry-coconut broth

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Today, I leave you with something short.

The first zucchini I ever saw, I killed it with a hoe.”
— John Gould, Monstrous Depravity: A Jeremiad & a Lamentation about Things to Eat, 1963

This soup is one of my favorite dishes. We leave for Guatemala tomorrow and I could not be more excited (stayed toned on a future post featuring.... I don't know... Guatemalan chocolate maybe?). I've been frantically trying to eat up garden produce before we leave. Nothing is sweeter than summer squash straight from the vine (well, maybe summer tomatoes). This dish originally started with making Hedi Swanson's summer squash soup found in her Super Natural Every Day. The first time I made it was when I was living in Charleston, SC. I've been making it for 3 summers now and it has adapted into my own dish. I hope you do the same to yours :).


Recipe (Serve 4 large servings or 6 small)

Curry paste

Turmeric root (fresh) - 2 small numbs, peeled, about 2 - 3 TB

Hot pepper - 1 (deseeded), chopped in half. (I've used every type of hot pepper here. I've tried jalapeño, ghost pepper, habanero, and thai pepper. My favorite is actually the ghost pepper but used whichever pepper you have or to your heat preference.

Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled

Ginger root (fresh) - One small numb, peeled, 1-2 TB

Miso - 2tsp (I used yellow miso)

Soy sauce  - 1 TB (I used tamari)

Shallot - 1 small shallot, peeled  coarsely chopped (I've also used a few TB of red onion when I did not have shallot around)

Lemongrass (fresh) - 1 - 2 small stalks of lemongrass. The papery outer layers discarded. You only want to use the soft/tender inner parts of the lemongrass.

* Place all the curry paste ingredients in a small blender or food processor. I use a small "magic bullet" type blender for this... it just works so well! Blend until smooth & set aside for later.

Soup

Coconut oil - 4.5TB

Vegetable broth - 2.5 cups

Coconut milk - 16 ounce can (I used light but regular would taste wonderful too)

Zucchini - 1 large zucchini, cut into thin half moons

Yellow squash - 1 small, cut into thin half moons

Tofu (extra firm) - pressed & cut into medium chunks

Soy sauce - 1.5 Tb (I used tamari)

Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup, halved

Red onion - 1/4 a small red onion, slivered

Eggplant (optional) - I had a few baby eggplants that I added this time ( 3 baby eggplants), sliced really thin, like 1/8 an inch.

Fresh basil - chopped (any type if basil will work)

Salt - to taste

* Chop up all your ingredients. Place the squashes, eggplant (if using), and red onion in a bowl together. The tofu & cherry tomatoes can remain separate. Place 1.5 Tb of coconut oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add all of your squash mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5-8 mins. Until all the vegetables are tender but still have a little crunch. You don't want them too watery & soft. Dump the vegetables back out into a bowl.

Place the skillet back over heat and add 2 TB of coconut oil. Add in your tofu and cook on high, tossing frequently, until the tofu gets brown & crispy. After about 5 - 10 mins of crisping up the tofu add in the soy sauce & toss to combine. Dump out the tofu into the bowl with the squash. Then return the skillet to medium heat & add in your cherry tomatoes. Cook for a min or two until blistered. Then dump into the bowl with the rest of your veggies.

Then get out a medium pot & heat it over medium high heat. Add in your last TB of coconut oil. Once it is hot add in all of your curry paste. Stir to combine & let bubble for 1 min. Then pour in your coconut milk. Stir to combine and let it cook for a min or two, until the coconut milk starts to bubble around the edges. Then add in your veggie broth. Let cook for a few more mins, until the broth is thoroughly heated through & bubbling. Add in your basil (reserve some basil for the top - if desired) & salt to taste (remember the miso & soy sauce is already pretty salty). Distribute the vegetable/ tofu mixture into four bowls. Distribute the brother into the four bowls evenly. Sprinkle basil on top, if using.

Enjoy!

* If you are saving leftovers, I would store the veggies & the broth in separate containers.

Cauliflower Caldo Verde

Autumn. 

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This week was an explosion. After the cold spell of last weekend and our first hard frost, the leaves decided that it was Autumn. Sprays of orange, red, and yellow arched over all the roadways and street trees, their clipped canopies look like brightly colored Christmas ornaments dangling over the sidewalk. I love this weather. The forests get excited too, dressing up for a fancy party once a year. I get equally as giddy, how could you not with all these fancy, well-dressed trees around? Fall time is where energy is directed downwards, into the roots, a very building time of year. I've rooted down deep into the things that I am doing, and I am building them. Enjoying my job, building my side business (Forest Things), and working here in the space. I'm excited for this fall time, for root building, and for soup eating.

This soup is vegetarian take on a portuguese soup called caldo verde. It is usually a potato soup with sausage and kale or collard greens. I've adapted my recipe from this recipe on food52. I was particularly drawn to it because cooking cauliflower with paprika is one of my favorites, something my grandmother use to to a lot when I was a kind. Served steamed, drizzled with melted butter and paprika. Delicious. 

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Recipe (Makes 6 servings) 

Cauliflower - 1 large head, chopped into pieces

Yellow Onion - 1 medium onion slivered

Garlic - 2 large cloves, minced

Mushrooms - 1/2 heaped cup, chopped

Mushroom broth - 4 cups

Collard greens - 1 bunch, tough parts of the stalk removed and then slivered

Lemon juice - juice from 1 lemon

Olive oil - 5TB

Paprika - about 2TB

Cumin - about 2TB

Cayenne - 1-2tsp

Salt - to taste

Toasted pine nuts - to top (optional) 

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and chop/prep your cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Toss the chopped cauliflower in a bowl with 2TB olive oil, 1TB of the paprika, 1TB of the cumin, 1tsp of cayenne, and then a few good pinches of salt. Lay the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minuets, turning half way through. 

Meanwhile, heat up 2TB of olive oil in a large pot on medium and add in your garlic and onions. Cook and caramelize your onions for about 20 minuets, stirring frequently. Then add your chopped mushrooms and cook stirring frequently for another 10 minuets.

Once the cauliflower is done roasting, pour a little liquid into the pan to de-glaze. Then scrape the cauliflower and loosen the stuck-on bits into the pot of onions and add in the mushroom broth. Simmer for 10 minuets. Place the soup into a blender and blend for a minuet or two, until smooth (or use an immersion blender if available). Add the soup back into the pot and keep on low, adding in a little water to thin out the soup to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust for spices adding more salt first. Then add in the rest of the paprika & cumin and the cayenne if needed. 

Heat up the last TB of olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat and add in the collard greens, tossing as you cook for several minuets. Add in the lemon juice and salt, cooking it until it is wilted but still vibrant and green. 

Add the collard greens into the soup and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with toasted pine nuts, if desired, and another sprinkle of paprika.

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Leek, squash blossom, & corn chowder for the harvest moon.

Silver lady. 

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The moon is mysterious, wise, and beautiful as women themselves. I think all women have a little bit of the moon inside us. Illuminating the world at night, watching the earth at sleep. At some point all of us have been stopped dead in our tracks because of a gorgeous moon. We should do that every time. Early this morning was a most beautiful harvest moon or the corn moon. Where I am located, the moon wrapped herself up in an orb of soft, warm orange. I stood outside with Ty, my bare-feet in the cool dirt and hands cupped around a small bowl of corn chowder.

This moon was particularly important to Native Americans and its light told them that crops such as corn, squash, beans, and wild rice were ready for harvest. The moon was so bright that it invited them to work late into the night harvesting plants in lady moon's bright glow. They worshiped their light-bringers, and we should be thankful for them as well. Almost all cultures/religions (Ancient Egyptians, to Chinese, to Druids, to Ancient Greeks, Early European, to North and South Americans, to Christianity) were heavily drenched in moon lore. All religions are still colored with the moon today, even if we do not realize it. One of the most carving experiences of my life was exploring the Mayan culture on a four day hike to Machu Picchu, where, among other things, I saw the Inca temple of the moon. During the hike, our guide taught us to pour out a little food from everything we ate to give it to Mama Pacha (mother world). It only makes sense to give a little back the the earth that gives us so much. I left my little bowl of chowder out on a stump under the glow of the harvest moon and mama pacha. 

This corn chowder is perfect as we approach the end of summer and welcome fall.

"On a gold throne, whose radiating brightness
  Dazzles the eyes--enhaloing the scene,
Sits a fair form, arrayed in snowy whiteness.
  She is Chang-o, the beauteous Fairy Queen.
Rainbow-winged angels softly hover o'er her,
  Forming a canopy above the throne;
A host of fairy beings stand before her,
  Each robed in light, and girt with meteor zone.'"

                                                  -Mr. G. C. Stent idea of the Chinese versifier translated

 

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Recipe (Serves about 8 bowls, freezes well too)

 

Corn- 6 ears, shucked and kernels cut off cobb (keep cobbs)  

Leeks - 3, washed and sliced into thin slivers

Red onion - 1/4 an onion, diced

Sweet peppers - 3 small, or 1 small bell pepper, chopped

Squash blossoms - 3-4 (chopped + extra for garnish) (optional) Make sure to remove the stamen (central stalk of the bloom)

Red skinned potato - 1 medium, diced

Spinach - 2 large handfuls, fresh, finely chopped

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Mushroom broth - 6.5 cups (or veggie broth but I think mushroom is better) 

Olive oil - 2TB

Butter - 2TB

Flour - 1.5TB

Light cream - 1 cup

Mild cheddar - scant 1/2 cup, grated.

Salt/ pepper - to taste, about a teaspoon but I was generous with the pepper

Bay leaves - 3

Dry sage - 1TB

Thyme - 2tsp

Chives - a few TB for garnish (optional) 

Chop all veggies and have them ready. Place the 2TB of olive oil in a large stock pot on medium heat, add garlic, leeks and onions. Let them sweat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the sweet peppers, squash blossoms, sage, and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the broth, the potato, bay leaves, and corn cobs (with the kernels cut off). Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add in 1/4 of the corn kernels. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and corn cobs.

Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Have a ladle, a whisk, and the blender full of soup handy. Return the empty pot to medium heat on the stove and add in the 2TB of butter, you are going to make a roux. Once the butter melts whisk in the flour and then, while whisking, ladle in the soup slowly. Continue doing this, whisking in-between ladle fulls until it is all incorporated. The soup will be a little thicker now. You are almost there! Keep the soup on medium heat and add then place another 1/4 of the corn kernels into the blender with the cream. Blend until smooth. Add the cream mixture into the soup and then all the rest of the reserved corn kernels and fresh spinach. Let it heat up at least another 10 minutes (not boil). Add your cheese and let it melt. Season it with salt and pepper, and serve warm topped with chives and squash blossoms. 

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Watercress, fennel, & potato soup

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This soup will make such a lovely shade of green if you have a good blender or immersion blender. My soup was printed with flecks of watercress green, but it was just as tasty. Originally, I had not planned on making this a creamy soup but the process just took me there and I am glad it did. Although, if you want to cut back on the dairy, this soup will still be just as good. You could double the bunch of watercress and it would be better yet.

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Watercress - 1 Bunch

Potatoes - 1LB Chopped into equal size for boiling

Yellow onion - 3/4 of a large yellow onion, slivered

Fennel - 3/4 of a fennel bulb, slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Butter - 3TB

Vegetable broth - 4 cups

White wine - 1/2 cup

Cream - 1/2cup

Parmesan - 1/4 cup finely grated

In a medium pot melt 3TB of butter on medium heat. Add your garlic, onions, and fennel. Cook no more than 5 minutes and let them soften. Add the vegetable broth and potatoes and heat up the broth to a low boil until the potatoes are cooked. Add in the watercress and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and put all the soup into a blender, blend until smooth. Add the soup ingredients into a pot, stir in the wine and parmesan and cook for just a few minutes on low heat. Run the soup through the blender again if need be. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and slowly stir in a little extra cream on the top of each one and sprinkle with fresh black pepper.

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Vegetarian ramen with homemade noodles

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I never really did the whole college ramen cuisine thing. Not because I didn't eat easy, packaged food, I did. I was just way too weight concerned (with incorrect nutritional knowledge) that I wouldn't make a habit of a whole meal out of carbs (still a good habit not to do). I missed the boat on the ramen train, admittedly, I'm a little sad about it. Recently, we took a weekend trip into DC. We went to the United States Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of the American Indian, did a lot of walking around, visiting memorials, flea market, Sigur rós show, ate at a great Indian restaurant, crêperie, and an El Salvadorian pupusaria. Although I have this image stuck in my head from a magazine about DC's 100 best restaurants. One of them being a restaurant that sold traditional Japanese ramen. Oh my stars it looked good. Ty glanced at it and responded, "I want that." Yes Ty, so do we all. 

This is my version of traditional Japanese ramen that is not so traditional. Traditional ramen varies in the type of broth, a fish broth, pork broth, soy sauce broth, or miso broth. There are some borrowed flavors from pho broth here, but also I combined the soy sauce and miso style broths into one. I also took my hand at making homemade noodles. They were very good and easy to make even though I do not have a pasta machine. Feel free to buy regular ramen noodles too!

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Recipe (Makes 4 bowls)

Veggie broth - Great time to use your own if you have, you want it tasty.

Lemon grass - two stalks, sliced

Star Anise - 3

Tofu - 1/2 brick sliced into squares

Kale - 1 bunch torn off the stem into pieces

Crimini mushrooms - 5 or 6 sliced mushrooms

Radish - 3 radishes slivered

Green onions - 2 or 3 slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves

Eggs - 2 soft boiled (5 minuets)

Sesame oil - 3TB 

Mirin - 1TB

Yellow miso - 1TB

Soy sauce - 2TB

Rice vinegar - 1TB + 1tsp

Sriracha - to top

For the Noodles

All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Egg yolk - 1

Baking soda - 1tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Water - 1/4 cup + a few TB

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Make the noodles. Mix together the flour, salt, & baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the center and egg in the egg yolk. Pour in 1/4cup of water in the well. Using your fingers mash up the egg yolk with the water and stir into a slurry, slowly incorporating the flour. Adding in another tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together but before it sticks on your hands. Knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a little extra flour. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes at least but an hour would be better. Go on with the rest of the meal. When the dough is done roll out the dough into a long rectangle as thin as you can get it. Lightly flour the rectangle and fold it in half, hotdog style. Take a very sharp knife and slice into very thin noodles, mine were about 1/8" thick. Unfold the thin noodles and lay out flat to dry for a bit. 

Heat up the veggie broth with the lemongrass and star anise and let it simmer/ low-boil for 30 minutes at least. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest. Heat up 2TB of sesame oil in a large skillet on high heat and then toss in the tofu. Toss and flip for 5 minutes or so until they turn golden. Add in 1TB of tofu and stir until combined. Dump out the tofu into a bowl and add in the last TB of oil. Add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms, cook for about five minutes until it colors a bit. Add kale (in two batches) cooking for a few minutes until wilted and all the kale can fit into the pan. Add in 1TB of mirin and stir until combined. Pour out into a bowl. Strain out the broth and place back into the pot and keep on low heat, do not let it boil at this point. Add in 1TB of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and miso. Whisk until combined. Heat up a medium salted pot of water to a low boil. Add in the noodles and the whole eggs and cook for 5 minutes after they get back up to a low boil until done. Run the eggs under cool water.

Distribute the noodles into four bowls and ladle over some broth. Top with some of the kale/mushroom mixture on one side, sliced radishes on the other, tofu cubes in the center, and then sprinkle over some scallions. Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half carefully, the yolk will still be runny. Place an egg half in each bowl and squeeze over some sriracha.

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A scented rutabaga soup for that last cold front.

Rutabagas. 

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I love soup. I really think I could have a cup of soup, a light salad, and a good crunchy piece of bread with a smear of butter for most meals. There will be plenty more soup recipes to come in our time together, hopefully it will be a long one, but as we are approaching warming months we have to temporarily part with beloved soup. I'm sorry soup, its not you, its me, but I am sure we'll have a fling or two this summer. Rutabagas are such an interesting vegetable. They are beautiful too... and I am a sucker for anything even the slightest bit purple. I've made this soup over and over, it is fantastic. I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook Lucid Food. The ingredients here are slightly different and I change the texture of the soup quite a bit, which I think makes all the difference, but she has beautiful recipes and this soup is brilliant. Star anise and rutabaga - who knew? 

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Recipe (serves 4) 

Rutabaga - 3 cups peeled and diced

Shiitakes - About 1 scant cup chopped

Tofu - 14oz pressed and cubed

Vegetable broth - 4 cups *see note*

Shallots - 2 small, minced

Scallions - 1 bunch

Garlic - 2 cloves minced

Ginger - 1 inch numb minced

Star anise - 4 stars

Soy Sauce - 4TB

Oil - 5TB (I used coconut here for the tofu and sesame in the soup)

White pepper - 1/2Tsp generous

Rice vinegar, scallion greens, and red pepper flakes for toppings

*This recipe would be a great time to pull out any homemade vegetable broth (mushroom or any broth you have). The flavor is pretty imparted on the soup here. I happen to have some broth in my freezer I had made with significant rutabaga peelings and other roots. I like to save all my vegetable trimmings from the week and make a vat of broth.

I like to press my tofu when I have the time, or when I am frying it. It gets out the extra water so that the tofu is crisper and takes less time to pan fry. Wrap your tofu in a kitchen towel, set on a cutting board our counter and place books on top. You can do this for several hours if needed - but at least 20 minutes. Move on to prepare your soup.

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Separate you scallion "meats" from the whites and slice each thinly into slivers. Mince up your garlic, mince your shallot, and peel/cube your rutabaga into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Toss in garlic, shallots and scallions whites, let infuse and soften for a minute. Add your rutabaga, white pepper, star anise, and 2TB of soy sauce. Cook for just a few minutes. Add the stock and let boil softly for 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is very tender. 

While rutabaga is boiling and tofu is pressing mince up your ginger and trim/cube your shiitakes. Once tofu is ready slice it into about 1/2inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of coconut, sesame, or olive oil in a skillet on medium-high/high heat. Add your tofu. Cook tofu, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden, about 5-10 minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add in another TB of oil, your ginger, and shiitakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until aromatic and shiitakes are tender. Pour over about 2TB of soy sauce and stir until absorbed. 

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Back to the rutabaga. Remove the 4 star anise - they should be floating. Pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pot and taste, season with salt. I usually do not need any - soy sauce is pretty salty and you are adding the tofu/shiitakes, keep this in mind. Ladle soup into bowls and place spoonfuls of the tofu/shiitake mixture in the center. Top with scallion greens, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of rice vinegar. Yum!

Even wolf pups like rutabagas. 

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