Corn-Potato Soup

In the winter, as the cold settles in, I’m often reminded to nourish myself with things that make me warm, from soup and lattes to yoga and long hikes. But it’s not just during the cold months that we need to bring warmth and nourishment into our lives.

Tangible things that make the body warm like hot foods and activities that increase your heart rate are what people initially think of when they want to heat their body, but warmth also means surrounding yourself with people you love. Catching up with a friend, snuggling up with your cat or enjoying the company of a loved one makes you feel loved and wanted.

Lately I’ve been focusing on bringing more warm and nourishing elements into my life, because life is too short to live feeling cold. Simply thinking about all of the people, close by and thousands of miles away, that support me and care about me gives me a warm feeling inside. So before the next cold burst comes, I challenge you to reflect on what makes you feel warm and nourished and bring more of that into your life.

Soup is one of the tangible things that is nourishing and warm, so I’ve been experimenting with different recipes. This one is inspired by a corn chowder that a good friend made. While it’s hard to beat delicious soup and good company, this recipe is a healthy vegan alternative to classic corn-potato soup.

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Corn-Potato Soup

Ingredients

> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> 1/2 large white onion, chopped
> 4 cloves garlic, minced
> 2 russet potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
> 2 cups frozen corn, or 4 ears fresh corn
> 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
> 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
> salt and pepper
> 2 green onions, chopped for garnish

Instructions

Sauté olive oil, onion and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add potatoes and season with salt and paper. Cover and steam for 5 minutes.

Add corn, broth and almond milk and stir. Cover and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.

To serve, top with chopped green onion, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (for a cheesy flavor) and paprika.

Makes 4 servings.

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Carrot and Kale Thai Soup

At the start of the year, many people make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more and drink less. While these goals are well intentioned, they often last a couple months — or sometimes as short as a few weeks.

To me, New Year’s resolutions should be goals or things you want to do for life, not just a couple months. And that may mean not making your resolutions very extreme. For example, instead of trying to eat healthier by cutting meat from your diet and avoiding all sugar, consider eating lean meat a couple times per week and saving sweets for certain days of the week or special occasions. Moderation is key.

After the indulgences of the holidays, I yearned for a simple, healthy and flavorful dish. I found a recipe called “Carrot and Kale Detox Soup,” which sounded like it would do just the trick. The mere name of the recipe inspired me to think about what “detox” means. To me, this recipe was filled with veggies and required only a few ingredients and minimal cooking time — just what I needed during the first few busy weeks of the year. To others, the word detox might cause them to think the recipe isn’t going to be as yummy or filling because it’s meant to be healthy. That’s not the case at all.

Words have certain connotations, but it’s all about how you interpret that word and what it means to you.

When I described this recipe to friends and co-workers, many said it sounded like a delicious version of Thai soup — thanks for the inspiration for the recipe name. Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

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Carrot and Kale Thai Soup

Ingredients

> 3 cups kale, chopped
> 4 medium carrots, grated
> 2 cups coconut milk
> 3 cloves garlic, minced
> 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> salt and pepper

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, sauté olive oil and garlic over low heat. Add kale and carrots. Stir and continue to sauté for about 7 minutes.

When the carrots and kale begin to soften, add coconut milk. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add turmeric, salt and pepper, and stir. Serve and garnish with chopped green onions or cashews.

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Lentil and Cauliflower Soup with Gruyere Cheese

I’ve always loved veggie-dominant soups, preferring minestrone to chicken noodle, even before I stopped eating meat. When I stumbled upon this recipe from Martha Stewart, I knew I had to try it because it combines the components that I love about lentil soup (minus the ham) with those from minestrone soup. The smoked gruyere cheese on top is the perfect finishing touch, especially as the cheese melts atop the cauliflower and other veggies. It reminds me a bit of French Onion soup, without being too dominant of a cheese layer. Enjoy!

Lentil and Cauliflower Soup with Gruyere Cheese

Ingredients:

> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 onion, finely chopped
> 1 head of celery, finely chopped
> 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
> salt and pepper
> 1 1/2 cups lentils
> 4 cups vegetable broth
> 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
> 4 ounces smoked Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and bell peppers and season with salt. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.

Add lentils and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with cheese on top.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Curried Heirloom Carrot Soup

Carrots are a staple in my fridge. If I don’t have any other veggies, I’m bound to have these — and most likely they’re the heirloom variety from Trader Joe’s. I’ve made carrot soup with crisped chickpeas before, but this soup has new textures and flavors thanks to the leek, fennel, celery and apple.

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

> 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
> 1 medium onion, chopped
> 2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
> 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
> salt and pepper
> 2 pounds heirloom carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
> 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
> 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
> 1 tablespoon curry powder
> 2 garlic cloves
> 1 quart vegetable broth
> 1 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, melt the better. Add the onion, leek, fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, until softened, about 9 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, apple, curry powder and garlic and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve with roasted sunflower seeds on top, and any other garnishes. (I added roasted white beans to provide additional protein.) If the curry is too dominating, add milk to subdue the spice.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.

Chickpea Veggie Stew

Winter in California doesn’t always bring cold temperatures or harsh conditions, but merely hearing about snow storms and single-degree temperatures from friends on the East Coast makes me crave a hearty, filling meal. Often soup is thought of as an addition to a meal — hardly ever does it stand on its own.

This soup seeks to defy that norm. It’s full of nourishing flavors while the chickpeas provides protein and the sweet potatoes carbs making for a filling meal. Feel free to add other fresh vegetables to add even more variety to the recipe.

Chickpea Veggie Stew

Ingredients:

> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
> 1 sweet potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
> 4 heirloom carrots, diced
> 2 garlic cloves, minced
> 3 cups vegetable broth
> 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> a dash of almond milk
> 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
> salt and pepper
> 3 cups arugula

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the bell peppers until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add the broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add a dash of almond milk and the lion juice. Bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Top with a handful of arugula.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of ____ [fill in the blank] soups are always buttery and high in fat because besides whatever vegetables is featured — asparagus, mushroom or broccoli — the other main ingredients are cream and butter. The richness of these soups is typically overpowering for me, which is why I rarely order a cream-based soup or make them at home.

Recently I had a cooking adventure with a dear friend of mine who is a health foodie and nutrition maven (check out her recipes at Naturally Wholesome Life). It was a chilly, raining night so we knew we wanted to make a soup, but beyond that, the world was our oyster. That’s how this broccoli soup came about. It’s a culmination of friendship, creativity and love, all packed in one.

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

> 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
> 1 1/2 cups boiling water
> 4 teaspoons lemon juice
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 onion, chopped
> salt and pepper
> 3 cloves garlic, chopped
> 2 medium heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
> 4 cups vegetable broth
> 1 green chili, chopped
> 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:

Place macadamia nuts in a large bowl and submerge in boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable both and broccoli and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, or until broccoli is al dente.

Place macadamia nuts, water and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Remove half of the macadamia nut cream from the blender and set aside in a small bowl. Add the saucepan mixture, parsley and 2 teaspoons lemon juice to the blender, and blend on high until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls with a few spoonfuls of macadamia nut cream on top. Garnish with a few parsley leaves and macadamia nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from My New Roots.

Black Bean Mushroom Soup

One of the easiest and most satisfying recipes to whip together is soup. I’ve experimented with carrot soup, zucchini soup, green pea soup and many others, and while those are delicious, they often lack the proper nutrients including protein and calcium.

The simplest sources of protein for vegetarians are beans and nuts, along with dairy sources like yogurt and eggs. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my obsession with chickpeas. Earlier this year, I went through two cans of chickpeas a week, and yes, I was the only one consuming all of those chickpeas roasted, atop a salad or mixed into hummus.

Whenever I find a recipe that I love that doesn’t have chickpeas, I’m thrilled because it’s a new set of flavors to add to my culinary arsenal. This soup calls on another common bean, the black bean, as well as mushrooms for its flavor. Aside from being quick and easy, this recipe requires minimal ingredients and is great for beginning cooks and aficionados alike.

Black Bean Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 garlic clove, chopped
> 1 yellow onion, chopped
> 12 ounces white cap mushrooms
> 1 1/2 cups hot water
> 1/2 cube vegetable stock
> 1 can black beans
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until they have become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 7 more minutes. Add the hot water, stock cube and beans, and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer the cooked mixture to a blender, and pulse until liquid with some texture.

Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from One Green Planet.