Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Roasted Radishes and Carrots with Lemon Dill Sauce

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I had far too many radishes from the food bank, so I decided to try roasting them. As you can see they are huge radishes so are relatively mild.

I scrubbed them with a wire brush because the dirt was ground in. It took a lot of work to clean them, but it was worth it. I cut them into halves or quarters depending on their size. I wanted to get them all about 1.5 inches or so. I peeled and cut the carrots to the same size.

This is about eight radishes and 4 carrots cleaned and cut to size.

Preheat oven to 450°. I use paella pan for roasting vegetables. You can use a cookie sheet, bar pan, anything that is on the shallow side. I tossed the radishes and carrots in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. I roasted them until they began to caramelize.

To make the sauce, I heated 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP of flour in a sauce pan, stirring over medium low heat for about four minutes until the flour is completely cooked, but not browned. I then added 1 cup of milk. I had low fat milk on hand, so that’s what I used. I stirred until smooth, adding the zest and juice from one lemon and a bit of dill weed. I used a bit more dill weed than I intended because the bag slipped. It was still delicious.

The contrast between the piquant radishes and the sweet carrots with the creamy sauce was delicious. This made four servings.

 

 

Chop Salad

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This is a simple salad that is fast, easy, crunchy and delicious.

Strain a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Let drip dry a bit before tossing in a bowl.

Chop up the following veggies to add:

  • Dice 1/4 red onion
  • Slice 2 radishes
  • Chop one celery stalk
  • Chop one Carrot
  • Chop some fresh cilantro

Mix together 1 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The usual ration of vinegar is 1 to 4 to emulsify, but I like it a bit more vinegary. I do it about one to one, then add some salt and pepper.

It’s better the next day. Makes two servings.

 

Braised Beef Shank & Vegetables

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This is a shot at the big cooking pan full of vegetables and the beef shank I braised with them since it makes about 8 servings and the shank will be pulled apart to add bits of beef to each serving. This takes several hours in the oven, so you must plan ahead, but it takes very little to prepare.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp shaved nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 beef shank
  • 1.5 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen Italian beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

To begin, I warmed olive oil on medium heat is a big pan. I shaved about 1 tsp of nutmeg into the oil using a microplane. I added 6 peppercorns and a tsp of cinnamon. I let the oil heat until the spices thoroughly infused the oil and the air was rich and aromatic. This is enough nutmeg to be spicy, to leave a bit of tingle on your tongue. You can use less, but I love the flavor it brings.

I added the beef shank and let it brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. While it was browning, I chopped 1 and a half onions and 2 stalks of celery.

Removing the shank from the oil and setting it aside while I sautéed the vegetable. I added the onions and celery and let them cook. I added some  salt and pepper.

I turned the oven on to 350° to pre-heat.

I chopped up the carrots, potatoes and smashed and peeled the garlic gloves. When the onions were transparent, I added these veggies and let them cook for a few minutes. I added some  salt and pepper.

Then I added the Italian beans and diced tomatoes and stirred everything together. I added some  salt and pepper, then I tossed in a bay leaf and put the shank back in the pan.

Remember that adding salt and pepper throughout the cooking builds flavors more effectively and helps avoid over-salting at the end.

I put the pan in the oven and let it braise for the next 3 hours. It was delicious, spicy and aromatic. It made at least eight servings, so I stored it in an airtight container and reheated for several meals.

 

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

So this was more effort than my usual meal since I actually had to make this broth before I could poach the cod, but it was so worth it. The fennel broth imparted a delicate hint of fennel, nothing overpowering and cod needs something light and delicate. It was delicious. Good thing, too, as the first time, I forgot to take the picture. So I made it for lunch the next day and took pictures but forgot to make sure they were in focus. So, 2 days later for my third meal, I finally got the pictures. While this makes one serving, the broth is usable multiple times if you strain it after using it. It should be good for four days or you can freeze it and use it to poach chicken, fish, or vegetables.

So first you make the broth. This took a little over an hour.

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Sauté onion, celery, carrot and fennel until they change color.

Start with 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1/2 yellow onion and half the stalks and fronds from a fennel bulb. Clean and chop into thin slices.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan to medium, add the veggies and stir. Cook until they change color then add 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 tsp of thyme, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds, salt, pepper and the rest of the stalks and fronds, chopped up finely. Simmer.

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Add water and wine to the sautéed vegetables and bring to a boil, then simmer.

Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Cool and strain.

Heat the broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan and then put your filet in the broth to poach. Make sure it is completely covered. Like all fish, do not overcook. It will take about  7 minutes more or less, depending on the size of the filet. It should be flaky and opaque.

While the broth was heating, I made an easy little sauce for the fish. I took 3 grape tomatoes and quartered them lengthwise and put them in a dry sauce pan on high to get a tiny bit of char. Then I added 2 tsp of chopped onions, salt and pepper, and 1 tsp of butter. I cut 4 olives into slices and added them. I let it all cook until tender and the tomatoes were breaking down and added a splash of white wine.  I turned down the heat and let simmer until the fish was done.

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Lay down a nice sauce (tomatoes and olives) and serve with a vegetable on this side (cucumbers).

I served it with some slices of cucumber with salt, pepper and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar on the side. I laid down the sauce and placed the cod filet on top.

While the Swede in me thinks nothing in the world can compare with some torsk sautéed in butter with a bit of nutmeg, this is a delicious, light and flavorful alternative. Definitely a better use of the stalks than compost.

 

Sour Cream Slaw with Fennel

Sour Cream Cole Slaw with Fennel, Carrots and Dried Cranberries

I had company the other day and decided to make a big batch of cole slaw. I love cole slaw and am always trying to find new ways to make this favorite form of salad. Of course I started with cabbage. Using a mandoline, I cut 1/2 of a medium sized head of cabbage into thin slices. I added some salt and let it rest for an hour. After an hour, I squeezed the excess liquid out. This keeps the salad from getting watery after it is dressed.

Next I sliced one bulb of fresh fennel on the mandoline, I set the slicer blade at the thinnest option for both the cabbage and the fennel. I then peeled and sliced on carrot, switching out the triangular piece of the mandoline from flat to one that cuts matchsticks. I chopped up one half of a Spanish or red onion and added that. I shook all the ingredients together.

For the dressing, I added about 1/2 cup of sour cream and squeezed in the juice of one fresh lemon. I then added 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar, some salt and pepper and a tbsp of poppy seeds. Lastly I added a large handful of dried cranberries.

The fennel adds a great light tanginess to the hearty slaw. The dried cranberries balance the sourness of the sour cream and the choice of sour cream instead of mayonnaise made this salad much lighter and fresher tasting, perfect for a hot summer day.

This made 8-10 servings.

Couscous, Carrots. Scapes and Green Beans

Couscous, Carrots and Green Beans

This was heartier than it looks at first glance, those green beans have real substance and make a delicious and hearty lunch.

First, I made the couscous by toasting 1 cup of couscous it in a dry pan on medium for about 3 minutes before adding 1 cup of boiling water and putting a lid on it. I set it aside and cooked the vegetables.

I used 2 tsps of olive oil. I added some cinnamon and cumin and heated until aroma filled the air.

I added 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped, and salt and pepper, and cooked until tender.

I chopped 2 small carrots and 2 garlic scapes into 2 inch long, but thin pieces, the size and shape of green beans. I added them to the oil and sauteed until nearly tender. Then I added 1 cup of frozen green beans and cooked nearly done. Before it was finished, I added the couscous to the pain and let it finish cooking.

This made 4 side dish servings or 2 entree size servings. The flavor was hearty, yet light.

Rutabaga Soup with Apples, Carrots and Linguiça

Rutabaga Soup With Linguica, Carrots and Apples

Winco had some impossibly low-priced linguiça that I picked up a few weeks ago and put in the freezer. I thawed it out for a soup, deciding to try it with a couple rutabagas. I was a bit leery because it was so incredibly cheap ($2.67 for 1 pound) but hoped for the best. Let’s just say that I will be buying it again. It was delicious and made a fabulous soup.

Okay, I started with 1 TBSP of olive oil in my soup pot and heated it on a low medium. I added 1 tsp of cumin powder and 1 tsp of cinnamon. While it heated, I chopped1 medium yellow onion, salt and pepper, and tossed it in, letting it sauté until tender. While it was cooking, I pelled a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and shredded it. I then added 2 cloves of minced garlic and sautéed everything together. The aroma was heady. I added the linguiça and let it cook a bit, so it was browned before I added 1 quart of water and  turned the heat up to a simmer.

Now I peeled 2 carrots and 2 rutabaga and 1 apple and chopped them up into small pieces. I did not worry about regularity as I planned to puree the soup, but it would cook faster with smaller pieces. I added them all to the soup, tossed in some salt and pepper and let it cook until tender.

I removed the linguiça and set it aside. I let the soup cool down, coming back an hour later to puree the soup. An immersion blender works best, but I don’t have one, so I used my Magic Bullet. After it was pureed, I added back the linguiça that I had chopped into 1/2 inch long pieces. I reheated it using the microwave on low and added a dollop of sour cream for that hot-cold,  spicy-sweet and sour contrast.

I made a similar soup several times, but this has a different flavor profile with the cinnamon and the linguiça and is, I think, a better version.

Ginormous Rutabaga Lentil Soup

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I love a good lentil soup and make it frequently. I usually use a ham shank to add some depth to the flavor of the broth, but vegans can leave the ham shank out and make it vegan. It will still taste good. This batch, though, was the best ever thanks to the idea of adding a couple rutabaga.

So here’s the recipe.

Heat 1.5 TBSP of olive oil in your stew pot. Add some pepper and cumin to heat and infuse the oil.

Add 1 large yellow onion, chopped and let soften.

Then add 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery and 4 diced garlic and saute.

Peel and chop two rutabaga and add, let all of this cook a bit.

This is when us carnivores can add the ham shank. Add a couple quarts of water and let simmer until veggies are tender.

Add one pound of lentils and cook until tender.

This is a rich and hearty soup and the rutabaga adds a tartness that is just incredible. It makes a huge pot of soup – about 8 to 10 bowls similar to the one in the picture.

Lamb Neck Braised with Turnip and Sweet Potato

Lamb Neck Braised

Groceries are becoming incredibly expensive, especially meat. When I saw Safeway had lamb neck for only $3.49 a pound i decided to try it. I love the flavor of lamb but have mainly cooked shoulder roasts, shanks or chops. Being neck bones, I knew the meat would probably be tough, the more connective tissue there is, the tougher the meat tends to be. Neck bones are considered offal – the cheap cuts that are often neglected. Sometimes for good reason, but in this case, it turned out to be wonderful. So with tough meat, the trick is to cook low and slow, so I decided to braise it.

I preheated the oven to 300° Fahrenheit.

I put this big skillet on the stove with about 2 TBSP of olive oil and heated the oil. I added 2 pinches of cardamom and a pinch of cumin, 1 small chopped yellow onion and 2 diced gloves of garlic with a bit of salt and pepper.. When the onion was tender, I added the neck bones – about 2/3rds of a pound, added salt and pepper and browned them.

Meanwhile I scrubbed 2 carrots and cut them into big pieces (the more you chop up your carrots, the more nutrients leach out.) Then I chopped up 2 celery stalks. I peeled 1 turnip and 1 sweet potato and cut them into chunks as well. I added to the mix with some salt and pepper and stirred. Then I added 1 can of diced tomatoes and then filled the can with water and added that as well.

Then I popped in the oven and let cook slowly for what seemed like days but was only 2 hours. My apartment was redolent of the aroma of lamb, tomatoes, cardamom and all this goodness that the time passed slowly. But it was so worth the wait!

The turnip and cardamom really make this recipe, the tart sweetness of turnip was exactly what was needed to add a grace note to this hearty meal. The tomatoes and carrots added sweetness, the celery gave it an earthy base and the sweet potato added flavorful substance. It was so delicious I actually used my finger to clean the broth from the pan.

Please note that I added salt and pepper with each new step. The reason is that you should always season what you are cooking in the moment, adding the season again with new ingredients. Not only will it taste better, you are less likely to overseason it.

This made four servings of stew – and with just $2.09 worth of meat. Definitely a rich meal that is not costly. In fact, it’s only $1.42 per serving – excluding the cost of spices.

  • $2.09 Lamb
  • $1.69 Sweet Potato
  • $0.45 Turnip
  • $0.10 Carrot
  • $0.21 Celery
  • $0.32 Onion
  • $0.12 Garlic
  • $0.69 Diced Tomatoes