Tag Archives: Soup

Recipe testing, new yoga class and post-half-marathon high, OH MY!

27 Oct
I run for Animals!

PETA Pack for the win!

This past month has brought many highs amidst a devastating low. I completed my first half-marathon, despite my stupid knee acting up, and it was one of the greatest personal accomplishments EVER. I raised 750$ for PETA, and completed the race 30 minutes shy of my expected time! Not only was my experience with PETA Pack an incredible one, but the organization and efficiency of the Oasis Marathon organizers and volunteers made Race Day a very special, smooth and inclusive event for everyone. To all my friends and family: if anyone is interested in joining the team next year, please let me know! Let’s start training early, together, and run the race as a group!

As much as i enjoyed my pre-race training, i was happy and excited to return to my yoga practice. When i started training for the half-M, i vowed to continue practicing yoga on a daily basis. I failed. My practice dwindled to once a week (if i was lucky). It was gross. I was gross. My hips were tight, my shoulders were stiff, and i was kind of an emotional wreck. Adding to this was the fact that i was teaching 2 classes a week, which made me feel like a yogic hypocrite. As i entered Moksha yoga for my first class back in 3 months, a look of shame was clearly written all over my face. Even before we prepared for our first downward dog, i knew this class would be a disaster. A wonderful, eye-opening, sweaty disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. By the end of that class, i left the studio with shaking arms, a sore core and the biggest smile ever on my face. I had returned home. Just like returning home after an extended absence, the familiarity of the practice was there, but it was surrounded by change. I embraced the shaking of my legs in Warrior 2, I relished in the screaming of my hips during any and every forward bend we went into. There was so much stiffness in my body, so many points of tension. I felt like i was rediscovering yoga asana all over again. And it was awesome. Though i initially felt frustration at having let my practice slip during training, i have begun to discover that taking a step back, to then revisit my practice, has offered me a whole new journey of self-exploration.

Reuniting with my asana practice has been a welcome addition to my weekly schedule, as has the addition of a morning yoga class to my teaching schedule. Starting next week (November 2nd) I will be teaching a morning yoga class at FlowSpace, a wonderful space in the historic Union Francaise building. If you or anyone in your circle is interested in yoga before work, this class is for you. I’m hoping its proximity to the downtown core will attract 9-to-5ers, as us office workers can always benefit from the awesomeness of yoga! (I don’t know about you, but Computers give me Stiff Shoulders.) It’s better than coffee, i swear! For a look at my complete teaching schedule, please click on the option under the “About” header.

On the food front, I’ve signed on to test recipes for one of my favorite vegan cookbook authors, Terry Hope Romero. I’ll be posting lots of food pics once i start testing; I’m really looking forward to getting started!

To celebrate Halloween, i have tried incorporating pumpkin into soup and desserts. The soup (roasted pumpkin soup) was awesome, the dessert (pumpkin brownies) was a huge fail. I literally had to scrape the pumpkin layer off the brownie crust and throw it out, so as to salvage the brownie part. It was messy to make, messy to eat, and messy to dispose of. I should have known better than to try and change a good thing; brownies are the cat’s pajamas on their own, with no need for a layer of gelatinous pumpkin to dress them up.

The soup, however, was warming and spicy; perfect for crisp fall lunches.

Garlicky Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 small pumpkin

1 full head of garlic (to ward off vampires, of course)

1 medium yellow onion

2 sweet potatoes

1 carrot

1 regular potato

1/2 cup red lentils

6 cups veggie broth

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon of cayenne powder or crushed red chili flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pumpkin in half through the middle and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. You can keep the seeds for roasting if you’re into that. Cut the garlic in half through the middle, keeping the white outer layer on. Drizzle olive oil on inside of the pumpkin halves, rubbing it on the flesh. Rub olive oil on the exposed flesh of the garlic as well. Place the pumpkin halves side by side on a parchement-lined baking sheet, flesh side down, with the garlic halves under the pumpkin halves. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until tender. (WARNING: It’s going to smell soooo good.)

While the pumpkin is roasting, prep your other ingredients. Chop onion into little pieces. Peel sweet and regular potatoes, and chop into small pieces. Peel and chop carrot into small pieces.

Once pumpkin is ready, get out your favorite soup pot. Cover the bottom with a couple of swooshes of olive oil. Throw in the onion. Cook the onion on med-high heat for 5 minutes, until soft. While the onion is cooking, scoop out the flesh from the pumpkin, discarding the skin. Put in a bowl and reserve. In your soup pot, throw in the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the potatoes, lentils and pumpkin. Take your sweet, delicious roasted garlic bulbs. Grab the bulb halves from the top and squeeze the bulbs out of their skin into the pot. Add all the spices and cover with broth. Turn the heat to med-low and let simmer, partially-covered, for at least 45 minutes. Once the potatoes are tender, you are ready to mash this soup into potage form. Take the cauldron off the heat and grab your handheld masher (electric or potato masher). Mash the soup until it reaches a creamy consistency, or leave it a little lumpy if that’s your thing.

Put pot back on heat, and heat soup on med-low heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!

You can sprinkle pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top before serving, it gives the soup a delicious crunch.

I wonder if our neighborhood will get many trick-or-treaters? I wonder if the trick-or-treaters will stage a mutiny against me if i give out vegan fruit chews or carrot sticks?

I heart lentils.

23 Feb

For Christmas this year, i received the Williams Sonoma SOUP cookbook, filled with dozens of different soup recipes. They are not vegan whatsoever; pretty much all the recipes use chicken or beef stock. However, this problem is easy to remedy, by substituting the meat stock with a veggie stock. So many of the soup recipes look delicious, but every time i open the book i gravitate towards the first recipe i tried upon receiving it: the lentil soup recipe.

As a vegan, i try to incorporate lentils in my diet as often as i can. They are super high in protein, and when you make them with a grain (such is the case with this soup, and the addition of quinoa), they are a source of complete protein. As per Wikipedia: “A complete protein (or whole protein) is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body.” When a dish is high in protein, that’s cool, but when a dish is a complete protein, that is super awesome!

I tinkered with the recipe just a bit, adding quinoa to up the nutritional value, and subbing the veggie broth to make it VEGAN!

Super Delish Lentil Soup

Extra virgin olive oil, to coat pot

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons chili flakes

1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice

1 1/2 cup lentils* (rinsed)

1 cup quinoa (rinsed)

approx 7 1/2 cups veggie broth

1 lemon, sliced

A handful of spinach

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil on med-high heat. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and bay leaf and stir to coat. Cook 5 minutes until fragrant. (The smell of cooking onions = one of my favorite smells…) Add the curry powder and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Throw in the diced tomatoes, lentils, quinoa, veggie broth and lemon slices, and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, lower heat to med-low, and cover, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, taste the lentils. If they are soft to the bite, the soup is ready. Take out and discard the lemon slices and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste, throw in the spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted. Take off heat and serve!

You will notice as the soup simmers that the lentils and quinoa soak up a lot of the broth. If you feel your soup is getting too thick, just add a bit more broth until your preferred consistency, and keep simmering. I personally love thick stews, so in my opinion: the thicker, the better!

*LENTILS: There are so many varieties and colors of lentils. My personal favorites are the green and the reddish pink varieties. The red lentils have an almost meaty consistency to them, and are great thrown in chilis. The green variety have an earthy taste, and in my experience, are the easiest to find in grocery stores. Both these colors lend themselves so well to soups, giving your soup a stew-like consistency and a hearty feel.

When it comes to vegetable broth, i am a firm believer that quality affects the whole recipe. My soups and recipes ALWAYS taste better when i am using a high quality, organic veggie broth (like Pacific Foods), as opposed to veggie broth cubes. While the price of organic, high quality veggie broth is quite a bit steeper than cubes, it’s worth the delicious taste it adds to your food! Quality over Quantity, wut wut!

 

 

Parsnips and Carrots: A True Love Story…

17 Feb

After a truly invigorating Moksha yoga class, i never really want to go home and cook a big, heavy meal. I usually gravitate towards fruit and granola, salads or soups. However, i am completely disgusted by the amounts of sodium present in generic store-bought soup. What is the point of all this salt? Furthermore, when you buy reduced-sodium choices, they just taste weird. It’s a lose-lose situation. Luckily for me, there is an abundance of root veggies at the grocery store lately, and making soup is the perfect après-yoga activity, because you can laze around and put your feet up while the veggies are simmering!

I feel like parsnips are an over-looked veggie, the under-dog of its family. A relative to the carrot, the parsnip is neither as popular or as widely-used in recipes. However, parsnips pack more potassium than their orange counterparts, and are super high in dietary fiber. Another point in the parsnip’s favor is when it’s cooked, it takes on a sweet, hearty flavor. Super yummy. I decided to give parsnip a chance at its 15 minutes of fame, and make a potage out of it. I also threw some carrots into the party pot, so they wouldn’t get jealous. 😉

The addition of apples, ginger, sweet potato and nutmeg to this mélange made for a deliciously hearty bowl of awesomeness. It was a little sweet, a little spicy, and very nutritious. What more could you want out of a soup?

To assemble this potage, grab a large soup pot, and cover the bottom with extra-virgin olive oil. Turn your burner on medium-high heat. Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic, minced, depending on your garlic tolerance. I personally LOVE the stuff, so i minced 6 cloves. Let the garlic hang out, and once it has become fragrant, grate a 3-4 inch piece of ginger into the pot. Let the ginger and the garlic flavors meld together for a minute. Then toss in 6 chopped medium carrots and 6 chopped medium parsnips. Stir it all up and let cook for a minute. Throw in 1 chopped sweet potato and 2 chopped apples. Sprinkle a little nutmeg and some cayenne pepper, and stir to coat all the veggies. Cover the veggies with veggie broth (my favorite brand is Pacific Foods), and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat to medium, and let simmer until all the veggies are tender. If you have a blender, spoon the soup into the blender and blend until puréed. If you have a hand mixer, go to town on the soup with the mixer. Purée until no chunks remain. Chop up some chives or scallions and use as garnish for each bowl. And Voilà! Soup!

The cool thing about this soup is it fills your kitchen (or 2 1/2 apartment) with a sweet aroma. It’s great at this time of the year, when the weather is a little unpredictable. (Will it be cold, colder, or utterly freezing tomorrow? Who knows?) It also lends well to dipping breads and scones, if that’s your thing. This soup nourishes the soul after an intense yoga session (or any workout for that matter!) because of it’s warmth and sweetness. It also freezes well; a batch of this can easily last me a week!

Speaking of nourishing the soul, I’ve been contemplating the subject of change today. As i look outside onto the first sunny, warm day in a long time, i can sense the feeling of spring, slowly creeping up on us. I feel spring is a season of renewal and cleansing, whether planned or not. Just as the snow melts and does away with impurities, we regenerate in a way. There is an energizing, invigorating feeling that surrounds the arrival of spring. Physically, we don’t bundle up into ourselves as much, we lose that hunched-over feel of keeping warmth in. We can open our hearts, stand taller and walk with a spring to our step (seeing as there is no more ice on the ground… walking with a spring in your step in the winter is treacherous!) At this time, one of the closest people in my life is undergoing a huge change and moving into her very own first home. It’s new, it’s modern, and it’s a fresh start. I, myself will be moving into a larger, more spacious apartment in a month’s time. This feeling of change transports me to a very specific feeling in my childhood. Every time i would get sick, the minute my mother would sense that i was getting better, she would kick me out of my room and wash all my sheets and pillowcases. The feeling of crawling back into a fresh, clean, crisp bed is the same feeling i get when winter moves to spring, when i move to a new abode, when a life-changing shift happens in my life. Spring is quite familiar to us, but in my eyes it always feels like a fresh start. A time to take on new projects, revive  forgotten ones. As much as some of us try to push it away, i try to welcome change as the start of a new adventure, as freshly washed sheets on my bed…