Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lentil and Spinach Soup

I discovered this week that lentils can give an incredibly creamy texture to soup while also adding protein, in much the same way that white beans do when added to squash to make soup.  This recipe is a quick and easy way to make a tasty and nutritious meal! I have no recollection of where I found this recipe, as I have had it in my 3-ring binder of favorite recipes since I was in college.  But this is the first time that I had pureed it and was quite pleased with the texture.   

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
1 large leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped  (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups water
1 small bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 pkg (10 oz.)  frozen spinach, thawed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

In a saucepan, combine the lentils, leek, onion, garlic, water, bay leaf and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.  Add the thawed spinach, with the cumin and coriander.  Stir together over medium heat for 5 minutes until spinach is tender.  Puree to desired consistency.  Add freshly ground pepper to desired taste.  Add a bit of lemon juice to each bowl.  Delicious served with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for Pzazz!

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: Approximately 1 cup          
Calories: 81
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 206 mg
Total Carbs: 20 g
Dietary Fiber: 9 g
Protein: 8 g

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Caleb's Curry Squash and Bean Soup

Our oldest son is an inventive cook, as well as a fine brew master.  His sense of flavor and texture combinations rivals that of any chef I know.  He created this soup and shared the basic recipe with me. I made it last week and found it to be incredibly easy, nutritious and delicious!  

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped  (about 1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups cubed (1"cubes) peeled butternut squash
4 cups vegetable broth
1-15 oz. can drained and rinsed white beans  (or 1 1/2 cup cooked white beans)
1 teaspoon curry powder (use more if you like it spicier)
few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Saute onion, garlic and squash cubes in the coconut oil about 5 minutes, until onion is tender.   Add the vegetable broth, the white beans and and the curry powder . Simmer until the squash is very tender.  Puree with an immersion stick or blender.   Add a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes if you want to kick up the Pzazz factor just a bit.  I put a few small dollops of plain yogurt on the top of the soup which was just the right compliment to the curry flavor.

Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 136
Total Fat:  2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                              
Sodium: 235 mg
Total Carbs: 27 g
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Protein:  5 g

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Red Lentil and Squash Soup by Anna Thomas

Once again, Anna Thomas has captured my appetite with this exquisite soup.  My family also raved about this soup that combines red lentils and butternut squash.  Lentils come in brown, green and red.  The typical red lentils found in most stores are actually pink and turn golden when they are cooked.  They tend to be the nuttiest and tastiest of all the lentils for my taste, and they cook in about 20 - 30 minutes.  They can become mushy if overcooked, but that is what makes them perfect for Indian dals, as well as my dietary needs.  I promise you won't be disappointed by this wonderful soup.  It is included in Anna Thomas' cookbook, Love Soup. If you click on that link, you can learn more about that cookbook and watch a video of Anna Thomas making a roasted root vegetable and squash soup.  I haven't tried it yet, but plan to do so soon because it looks delicious!  To purchase her cookbook, see her website at Anna Thomas

For my followers who have wondered why there haven't been any posts recently, I had open surgery to remove my gall bladder on February 15.  The monthly injection of Sandostatin Lar that I receive to stall the growth of the neurodendocrine tumor on the head of my pancreas also destroys the gall bladder eventually, so that is why it had to be removed .  The surgery was deemed a "risky" procedure because of complications resulting from my first surgery in 1998, as well as the CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery I received in 2005 for the second tumor. But a highly competent surgeon safely removed my gallbladder.  Additionally, he was performed a duodenojejunostomy, which created a bi-pass around the area in my duodenum that was compressed by the tumor.   It was this stricture that caused me to eat pureed foods for the past 3 - 4 years.  So this new bi-pass will allow me to eat more solid foods.  Amazing!!!  My surgeon said I have progressed from "pureed baby food" to "toddler food."   As I heal from the surgery, I am still eating primarily pureed food, with slow additions of more solids, as my confidence grows.  

Be assured I will continue to post new recipes for healthy pureed foods on this blog!  I have heard from many of you via email that this resource has been valuable for your needs and I want to continue to support you in this way.  Besides, the recipes are hopefully good enough that even those who do not need pureed foods will find Pzazz-filled recipes to add to your repertoire here!  This recipe certainly fits that criteria.  


    1 generous cup dried red lentils
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 small butternut squash
    2 medium yellow onions, chopped                
    1 1/2 Tbs coconut oil
    1 small garnet red yam
    2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
    1 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted and ground 
             (or 1/4 tsp dried ground cumin)
    1 tsp. turmeric
    1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
    4 - 5 cups light vegetable broth
    2 - 3 Tbs fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the squash in half, seed it, and put the halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast the squash in the hot oven for 45 minutes, or until it is soft.  When the squash is tender, scoop it out of its skin- you should have about 2 1/2 cups of cooked squash.

While the squash is cooking, saute the chopped onions in the oil with a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring often, until they are soft and turning golden brown, 20 - 30 minutes. 

Rinse the lentils and combine them in a soup pot with 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and boil gently for about 20 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.

Peel and dice the yam. 

When the lentils are just tender, add the sauteed onions, diced yam, minced ginger, cumin, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and 4 cups vegetable broth. Simmer everything together, covered, for another 25 minutes. Then add the cooked squash to the soup. Cook until everything is soft.  Add another cup of vegetable broth if the soup seems too thick.

You can stir up the soup and leave it this way, with a rough, rustic texture.  Or, if you want or need a smooth soup, remove it from the heat, let it cool slightly, then puree in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender.  

Return the soup to the pot and bring it back to a simmer.  Stir in the lemon juice a little at a time, tasting as you go.  Correct the seasoning with more salt as needed.  This is also the time when you might decide to amp up the red pepper a bit, if you like a spicier soup.  I did not add the lemon juice and it was tasty even without it.

Optional garnishes as suggested by Anna Thomas:
fruity green olive oil
chile salsa
sour cream                                                        
fresh white cheese                                                      

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 10
Serving Size: 1 cup                    
Calories: 150
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 548 mg
(this could be reduced by using a low-sodium vegetable broth)
Total Carbs: 26 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 7 g