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.

Zucchini Soup

When I think of soups, the classic minestrone, tomato basil and cream of asparagus come to mind, but not one with zucchini as the main ingredient. Since I’m always up for trying something new, I gave this zucchini soup recipe a go, and it turned out very flavorful due mainly to the natural flavor of the zucchini. To enjoy, I suggest adding some kind of crunch on top. That could be roasted nuts or croutons, my pick was roasted chickpeas. Enjoy!

Silky Zucchini Soup

Ingredients:

> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> 1 small onion, finely chopped
> 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
> salt and pepper
> 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick
> 2/3 cup vegetable stock

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook about 10 more minutes, or until softened.

Add the stock and 1 1/2 cups of water, and bring to a simmer. Cook until zucchini is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender until it’s silky smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.

White Bean and Kale Soup

Vegetable soup is like chicken noodle soup — light yet filling for your body and soul. It’s a homey food that no matter what mood you’re in, it always makes you feel better. The best part is vegetable soup is so easy to make. This white bean and kale soup requires chopping of the vegetables and then everything else takes less than half an hour for cooking. Feel free to play around with different vegetables that are in season. White Bean and Kale Stew Ingredients:

> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 onion, diced
> 2 cloves garlic, chopped
> 3 carrots, peeled and diced
> salt and pepper, to taste
> 1 lb cherry tomatoes, sliced
> 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
> 1 lb kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces

Instructions:

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, and add onion, garlic and carrots. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add tomatoes. Cook until mixture begins to caramelize, about 3 minutes.

Add 7 cups water and beans, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, then stir in kales. Cook until tender, about 2 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 entree-sized servings.

Adapted from Whole Living.