Monday, March 24, 2014

Coconut Spinach Soup

I recently discovered a new food blog, Beyond the  It features many recipes using coconut oil and coconut milk, so it caught my attention for this reason.  This particular soup takes only about 15 minutes to make, start to finish. Pzazz for sure!  

For the yogurt-cilantro sauce, I used plain goat yogurt to fit my dietary and taste preferences, but you could use whatever type you like and/or need. The sauce is definitely one I will make for other uses, too.   I think it would be great with a salsa/rice combination.  

For the cilantro, I used Garden Gourmet refrigerated cilantro paste. Just stir it into the yogurt.  As I was taking a photograph of it, I looked more carefully at the ingredients, and realized it contains a small amount of whey (milk). Hmmm..  I am on a dairy-free and gluten-free diet as a possible remedy for a type of autoimmune disease that sometimes responds well to eliminating these products.  I don't think such a small amount will make very much difference for me, but I will need to consider it more carefully before I use it again.  The ease of using this product is great, though, because it eliminates the need to puree anything. I simply stirred it into the yogurt.  These tubes also stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least a couple of months, so it tends to be cheaper than buying a whole bunch of cilantro that often doesn't get completely used at my house.  

Oh...decisions, decisions.   Only in the abundance of America do we even get to consider such possibilities and luxuries.  Speaking of luxuries.....

The ease of preparing this soup allowed me the luxury of making some gluten-free dairy-free biscuits to accompany the meal.  Yum and Pzazz!

2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups fresh spinach
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 can) (I used Taste of Thai brand)
dash of freshly ground pepper

For the garnish:  (not included in nutritional analysis) Simply combine these ingredients by stirring or use a Magic Bullet to ensure the cilantro is pulverized well if you use fresh cilantro.  
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or 1 Tablespoons Garden Gourmet Cilantro paste
1/4 cup plain yogurt (goat, dairy, soy, coconut, etc.)

Put the onions and garlic into a large soup pot with just enough water to simmer/sweat them over medium heat until tender, about 3 - 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, and continue cooking for another minute or so.  Add the spinach (no need to chop it) and stir frequently over low-medium heat until the spinach is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and continue cooking for about 3 - 5 minutes.  

Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or other device. Return to the burner and stir in the coconut milk, gently heating it through.  Pour into soup bowls and garnish with the cilantro-yogurt sauce.
 Relax and enjoy!

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 7
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 49
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 73 mg
Total Carbs: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Potato Cabbage Soup

Tom has been playing Celtic music most of the day, setting the tone for St. Patrick's Day.  One of his Irish co-workers makes a feast that rivals the best in Ireland, consisting of corned beef brisket, Irish Colcannon, and a host of other gastronomic delights.  

My venture into St. Patrick's Day cuisine is far less complicated and adventuresome, but I decided I wanted to make a cabbage soup of some kind that would not be too difficult to digest. The one that inspired me came from Real Simple.  The inclusion of potatoes in the soup made me hopeful that the cabbage would not cause too much digestive distress. Of course, I used coconut oil rather than olive oil and butter. 

I also added ground fennel, a known digestive aid.  I had fennel seeds in the spice cabinet as Tom frequently uses them in a variety of his Italian meat entrees, so I ground them in our electric spice grinder.

I wasn't familiar with Savoy cabbage, but was wowed by its brilliant, tightly dimpled leaves that formed the head. Tom looked at me quizzically as I exclaimed over the beauty of this humble vegetable, wondering at what inspires me.  As I tore off the outer leaves, I was impressed with the tenderness of the leaves in contrast to the typical red and green cabbages.  These obvious differences prompted me to take a quick look at one of the seed catalogs to find out more about Savoy cabbage where I discovered that it is a milder tasting than typical red or green cabbage. Seems like it is my Lucky Leprechaun Day! 

The garlic cloves are simply halved and added to the soup while cooking. Then as they are pureed with the rest of the soup, the flavor is imparted to the whole soup.  Yummy for those of us who like garlic!!

I garnished my bowl of soup with some shredded fresh dill.  I'm not sure I liked the taste of the dill with the fennel, so next time I will try something else. Any ideas?  Let me know if you try something that works well for you.  

Enjoy the Celtic music, food, and festivities!

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
3 - 4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
dash of salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound Idaho/Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 dried bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
freshly ground black pepper

Heat coconut oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the cabbage, scallions, garlic, and dash of salt.  Cool until the cabbage is slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, potatoes, bay leaves, and ground fennel.  Simmer, covered, until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, about 15 - 20 minutes.  Discard the bay leaves.

Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.  

Nutrition per serving:
 Servings per recipe: 4

Serving Size: 11/4 cup
Calories: 186
Total Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol:  0mg
Sodium: 592 mg
Total Carbs: 26 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 7 g

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cream-less Asparagus Soup

It's the "green" time of year for many Irish people and those who just want a reason to drink green beer. Me? I could be considered Irish all year round with all of the green food I eat on a daily basis.  St. Patrick's Day also means the heralding of spring in my mind, though in Duluth that just means we won't endure too many more days of subzero weather or 8" of snow.  (I woke up on Wednesday morning of this week to 4" of fresh snow in our yard.  Enough already!!)   

So, as I was saying, spring...which means asparagus to me.  Though I know I have a few other asparagus soup recipes on this blog, that doesn't stop me from trying a new one to share with you. 

This recipe is an adaptation of one I found at Martha Stewart's site.  The original used olive oil to saute the vegetables as well as more for drizzling into the soup as it was pureed for a whopping total of 1/4 cup.  I easily substituted coconut oil and used only 2 Tablespoons of it.  I also omitted the water that was added to the chicken broth and thought it was still just a bit on the thin side, so you might want to reduce the chicken broth slightly if you like a thicker consistency.  But it's the crushed red pepper flakes that really makes the wonderful clean flavor of the asparagus stand out.
Lucky Leprechaun Pzazz! 

    2 Tablespoons coconut oil
    1 large shallot, thinly sliced lengthwise
    pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    dash of salt
    1# fresh asparagus, woody stems removed, chopped into 1" slices, with a few tips reserved for   garnish
    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves

Heat coconut oil on medium heat.  Add shallot, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are tender and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add chopped asparagus and cook for one minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Continue to cook until asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach leaves and cook just until wilted. Puree with an immersion blender.  Now wasn't that easy!!

If you saved some asparagus tips to garnish the soup, boil them just briefly, then place in a ice-water bath to stop the cooking, then drain. This will soften them, but depending on the consistency of the soft or pureed food you need, you may need to omit this for yourself. But you might enjoy the visual appeal it adds. Yet, if you are just going to toss them anyway, its not worth the bother, unless you are also serving this delicious soup to guests and want to wow them a bit. I originally saved quite a few (as you see in the photo), but then added most of them to the soup to puree instead because I thought that soup was a bit thin.  

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 5
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 83
Total Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 494 mg
Total Carbs: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 4 g