Category Archives: Soups and Stews

Basic Veggie Freezer Bouillon Cubes

The most intensely delicious French dishes start with a mirepoix, which is essentially 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, and one part carrot. This is where this freezer bouillon method begins.

In my studies of classic cuisine, before the beginning of each class whoever arrived first would start the broth cooking. Savory rich broth was made usually with saved veal or chicken bones and tons of onion, carrot, and celery. The broth was allowed time to develop and then it was strained and shared to add depth, body, and flavor to any number of dishes.

In Vegan cuisine studies, class started essentially the same way… with a large pot filled with water and aromatic and flavorful veggies. A ladle or two hooked onto the pot stood at the ready for cooks to scoop out and strain rich flavorful broth. One big advantage to the vegan broth was that is had no fat to get in way. Just flavor.

The thing which aches my resourceful heart is that at the end of cooking all those once vibrant beautiful vegetables are discarded. Just thrown away, the pot cleaned and back on the rack to do it all again the next day. While I accept that some food waste is inevitable and one pretty much needs to just get over it, if there is a place in the home kitchen where waste can be reduced and every molecule of nutrition used, then why not use everything? Those little veggies worked very hard to grow into whole foods. Let’s use them!

Still, making your own broth base takes time. Why bother?

Here’s why:

  • You are in control of the quality on ingredients you use.
  • You can make it salt free. So many commercial veggie bases and salt bombs! Or, you can use a better salt like pink himalayan sea salt, or something like umeboshi plums.
  • No added preservatives or unwanted ingredients. Just pure clean delicious vegetables.
  • You save money. Box broth = 3.00 – 4.00 per 32 ounces. For the cost of my veggies, adding 1 cup to every cube, I get an amount equivalent to about 6 boxes. I can easily afford to go organic at these rates.
  • You save shelf space, although you do need some freezer space. The water is added in when you are ready to cook your dish. You store only concentrated flavor. With commercial brands, you are storing essentially flavored water. You can opt to buy shelf stable veggie bouillon cubes, a great space saver! But then you usually get all the salt and unwanted ingredients.
  • Convenience! Any time you want a flavor boost or a really quick soup, you can just grab a frozen cube or two from the freezer and melt it into the dish. Great for sauces, gravies, soups, stews, even cheese or faux cheese dips. Dinner is on the table fast!
  • It tastes better.
  • Bonus! It makes for an easy tool for adding more nutrition into your dishes.

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On the day I made this broth, my meat-loving son came downstairs to ask what smells so delicious. ūüôā Vegetables! Those moments are precious. ūüôā Generally I am more in favor of transforming and celebrating vegetables rather than hiding them. ¬†It is good that kids learn that vegetables are just delicious foods that happen to be good for the body. That said, I do slip in veggies all over the place where they are somewhat disguised. My kids have grown up eating so much more carrots and celery than they realize, and much of it is through broth used in their favorite dishes.

Enough talk… Here’s how!

The Base

Start by preparing your veggies. Wash them, no need to peel carrots and celery. You can keep all that nutrition. Peel and discard the tough outer layer of onions. Or use leeks for a milder flavor. You can also substitute celery root for the celery. Peel and smash your garlic.

Because root vegetables grow underground and are more heavily inundated with pesticide, organic is preferable if you can get it.

You do not have to be precious about chopping your veggies. We are not really concerned about even cooking as it will all get blended. I am using these little containers from my local Chinese grocer because they measure 2 cups. But honestly, most of the time I just throw in what I have on hand without measuring. Often additional seasonal veggies go in the pot too. Zucchini, turnips, even leafy greens. I just avoid anything that might be bitter.

miseenplaceveggies1

Put your veggies into a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook them until they are tender. If you need to add a little water during the cook time because the amount reduces, that is fine. Because we will be reducing this puree, too much water will slow down the process. Use as little as possible. We will cook out the water and reserve the nutrients.

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Even more nutrition!

Adding in a strip of kombu or a couple of bay leaves will break down the veggies in a way that makes them more bioavailable, pulling out all that nutrition and allowing your body to digest it better.

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Once veggies are tender, blend them! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use any blender, but it would be best to let the water cook out a bit and cool it enough to allow for safe handling as you transfer the veggies to and from the blender.

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Blend until smooth.

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Flavor enhancers

If you used a regular blender, return puree to the pot and stir in flavor enhancers, tomato paste and liquid aminos. Feel free to use any enhancer you like! Vegan worcheshire sauce, herbs that go well with many dishes, like thyme, umeboshi plum paste as a salt replacer… whatever you like in a broth. As noted below, I would definitely add a little miso if I had some on hand.

vegbroth6_600

Cook on a low-medium heat until it has reduced and thickened enough to be scoopable. Alternatively, you can skip this step and just pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. They will be a little less concentrated, but that is not a problem, just use them with a little less water when you are ready to cook with them.

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Convenience

At this point, you can allow the mix to cool. Then scoop mounds onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Get them into the freezer quickly. Or you can always use your ice trays. They make cubes that are a little neater. I just like my scoops. ūüôā

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Once frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer bag or sealed container. Keep them in the freezer and use as needed.

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Basic Veggie Freezer Bouillon Cubes

You can start with this basic mix and then customize it as desired. Add in additional veggies and flavorings. Reduce any that are too prevalent for your taste. Make it your own! Having these on hand is great time and money saver.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups carrots, rough chopped (or a little less, if prefered)
  • 2 cups celery, rough chopped – may be substituted with celery root
  • 2 cups onion or any combination of leeks and onion, rough chopped – leeks are more mild
  • 2 green onions, rough chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2-3 bay leaves or 1-2 inch chunk of kombu
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 2 t tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid aminos, tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos and/or a little miso!

Method

Prepare all your veggies by washing them and rough chopping them so they will be easier to puree. Do not worry about precise measurements. No need to peel carrots and celery.

Add your veggies (onion, carrot, celery and garlic) to a pot and just cover with water. Add in bay leaves or kombu. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer til tender, about 30 minute.  If you need to add a little water during the cook time because the amount reduces, that is fine. Because we will be reducing this puree, too much water will slow down the process. Use as little as possible.

Fish out bay leaves or kombu.

Once veggies are tender, blend them! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use any blender, but it would be best to let the water cook out a bit and cool it enough to allow for safe handling as you transfer the veggies to and from the blender.

Stir in tomato paste, and liquid aminos (or whichever product you are using) and salt. 1/2 teaspoon salt is a small amount but you will be concentrating the flavor and salting you dishes later. For other salt options see this post. If I were not out of miso, I would definitely throw a little in for a deeper umami flavor.

OPTIONAL (for reducing to concentrate flavor and save space) Cook on a low-medium heat until it has reduced and thickened enough to be scoopable. You can skip this step and just pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. They will be a little less concentrated, but that is not a problem, just use them with a little less water when you are ready to cook with them.

Place mix into ice trays or scoops on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Immediately place into freezer.

Once frozen, transfer cubes or scoops into a freezer bag or sealed container. Keep in the freezer and use as needed. Depending on how concentrated your cubes are, you can melt one cube into a cup or two of hot water for a delicious low-salt, highly nutritious, additive-free quick and easy vegetable broth. Or just throw them into a variety of dishes for added flavor and nutrition.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

This is for my friend Kayrie, and for anyone who loves a hearty soup that will fill you up without weighing you down. My tastebuds can’t seem to get enough of this soup! I enjoyed a warm bowl every morning until it was gone! …right down to the last tiny lentil.

This comes from ATK’s new vegetarian cookbook. Kayrie expressed interest in a good vegetarian dinner, and as I had been carrying around my new toy, aka “The America’s Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook”, I tossed it over to her and asked her to choose something. She leafed through the pages and quickly found this one – White Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Mustard Greens.

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

This was a great choice! What a lovely evening we had chopping, dicing, and layering flavors. Sadly, we could not find white lentils anywhere. Whole Foods had black, yellow, green, orange, and a few other colors, but no white! So we used some french lentils from my pantry. French lentils hold up very well in a soup. Our mustard greens did not have much of a mustardy bite, but were still very delicious. When soup was done, we filled up our bowls and were surprised that after all those incredible aromas, the first bite was … mediocre. But the second bite was kinda good. The third was delicious. Which each bite, the flavors layered and built on the palate and each bite was more delicious than the last. The final bites were heaven.

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

The recipe calls for adding a little lime/tomato salsa to the top of the bowl. Do not skip this! It enhances flavors exponentially. For a twist, Kayrie had the idea of adding okra to this soup, which also sounds amazing!

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

And, oh! This happens to be vegan  and gluten free too.

From America’s Test Kitchen

White Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Mustard Greens

This recipe comes straight from America’s Test Kitchen’s new book! (I am a fan)

Ingredients:

  • 2 t cumin seeds (we had only powder, and used a little less)
  • 3 T vegetable oil (we used coconut oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 T grated fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup white lentils, picked over and rinsed (we had french lentils)
  • 5 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 14 oz mustard greens, stemmed and chopped (we use stems too)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped fine (we just dice them & use everything)
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 3/4 c canned coconut milk

Method

  1. Toast cumin in 8-inch skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about one minute. Transfer to bowl. (Because we had only cumin powder, we skipped this and added cumin powder with the garlic in step two, to allow it to bloom)
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 t salt and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in half of jalapeno, ginger, and garlic (and cumin powder, if you are using powder in lieu of seeds) and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, broth, bay leaf, turmeric, and one teaspoon toasted cumin and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave mustard greens in a bowl until wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to colander and let drain. In a separate bowl, toss tomatoes, lime juice, remaining 1 teaspoon toasted cumin, remaining jalapeno, and 1/4 t salt. (See notes)
  4. Discard bay leaf from the soup. Puree 3/4 c soup and coconut milk in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds, then return to the pot. Stir in mustard greens and bring to brief simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top individual portions with tomato mixture, and serve.

Notes:¬†I’m very sure there is a sound scientific reason for microwaving the greens; it is probably delicious! But I can’t bring myself to do that, for fear of losing nutrients. I threw them directly into the soup.

Enjoy!

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Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

In honor of Star Wars Day…

Hardcore Star Wars fans will immediately notice the faux pas on this page. But it is not in the food! The food is good! When these spices, which will now be “Yoda spice” to me, hit the pan, the aroma is intoxicating. A feeling of peace and serenity fills the air, and the soul. And with power spices like turmeric and ginger, this would be fabulous for a young Jedi in training!

According to Wookipedia:

Rootleaf stew was a favorite meal of Jedi Master Yoda during his exile on Dagobah. It was a staple of his diet, supplemented by yarum seeds, mushroom spores, galla seeds, and sohli bark. Yoda prepared rootleaf stew the evening that he met Luke Skywalker.

To set the scene…

The only information that Wookiepedia has on the stew’s ingredients is that they “came from plants found on Dagobah”. ¬†So with no access to Dagobah vegetation or knowledge of their Earth counterparts, we have to use a little guesswork to create Yoda’s Stew.

This was done for us by Craig Claiborne in 1983. Chef Claiborne was hired by NPR to create this dish for a 10-part radio drama aired on the station. This recipe is his, with a few tweaks.

Chef Claiborne’s recipe is printed below. Feel free to make it as-is, or tweak it any way you like! It does contain the primary elements, roots (ginger, turmeric), bark (cinnamon), and seeds (cumin, cardamon). There should probably be mushroom added, and I do question the availability of lamb on Dagobah, but the flavors synergize nicely!

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

To make this recipe easier, you can gather all the spices together first. This is your coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves… Yoda spice blend.

(This is pretty much a Garum Masala.)

yodaspice1

I am adding ground lamb because I have ground lamb. However, it seems very unlikely that there would be lamb-like creatures in the swamps of Dagobah. Maybe crustaceans, frogs, and snakes?

Cook the lamb first, then set it aside. Discard the grease from the pan. Keep the fond!

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Chef Claiborne’s recipe calls for A LOT of parsley. I just chopped up about one half of a bunch, then threw in, maybe a cup. Use any amount you like.

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Blooming spices!

A little bit of coconut oil in the pan will bloom your spices beautifully, bringing out all that wonderful flavor and aroma. Ahhhh

If you have sliced your onions, brown those first! Then bloom your spices and throw in your bay leaf and ginger too. My Jedi do not like onion pieces, so I grate my onion and garlic and add it after the spices and ginger. If desired, add heat in the form of peppers. I have habanero, so that will go in.

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Seriously, happy happy aroma…

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Now we have spices, grated onion and garlic, ginger and bay leaf… add water, just enough to make it soupy and allow flavors to continue to meld. I think Yoda would approve of this sauce.

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The lamb goes back in…

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About 5 minutes before stew is thoroughly cooked, with flavors developed to your liking, add fresh chopped parsley. As much as you like.

If you want your stew more soupy, add water, or chicken broth.

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The last item to go in is the spinach. It takes seconds for it to cook. Chef Claiborne cooks his spinach separately, probably to ensure that it is not overcooked, and to improve the texture. I prefer to save time and throw it in at the very end… and I use a lot less spinach.

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Jedi ready!

Yoda Root leaf Stew

In case you did not notice the faux pas… I thought it would be cute to use my daughter’s Old Republic symbol in the background, only to be quickly reminded that Yoda’s time was thousands of years AFTER the Old Republic.

Whatever….

Yoda Root leaf Stew

The stew is REALLY good! Serve it at your Star Wars party. ūüôā

Yoda Root leaf Stew

Stay tuned for my Vegan version! To be posted soon!

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew by Craig Claiborne

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lean lamb or other meat
  • Salt to taste; if desired pepper to taste
  • Freshly ground 6 tablespoons oil, light or vegetable or other
  • 6 cups parsley,¬†finely chopped
  • 3¬†cups onions; thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic; finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ginger root; finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot green or red chilies; finely chopped, seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon; ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds fresh spinach; well rinsed and tough stems removed

Method

  1. Cut the meat into one inch cubes, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet and add the meat, turning to brown the pieces on all sides.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a Dutch oven or heavy casserole and add parsley, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the onions are wilted. Add the meat, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger root, chilies, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. (I add about 2 teaspoons salt at this point, then adjust at end)
  4. Add water to cover, bring to boil and cover tightly. Let simmer about 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the meat is quite tender.
  5. Meanwhile, drop the spinach into a kettle of boiling water with salt to taste and let simmer about five minutes. Drain well and run under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
  6. Squeeze the spinach to remove all excess liquid. Place the spinach on a chopping block and chop coarsely.
  7. Add the spinach to the stew and stir. Let simmer together about five minutes.
  8. I like to serve this over white rice with steamed carrots.

Enjoy! And May the 4th be with you.

For great food ideas for your Star Wars theme event, please check out my new ebook on Amazon.

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Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew – Vegan

Yes, I’m serious. Yoda stew. Because I am surrounded by¬†nerds,¬†I mean SciFi fans.

There is a school of thought that says that Yoda is vegetarian. If anyone is able to confirm or deny this theory, please do! In any event, with all due respect to Chef Chaliborne’s 1983 rendition of what Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew from the Planet Dagobah might look and taste like, the idea of a vegan version sounds plausible…. and recreating this iconic dish is just fun. Not to mention, a great way to convince young Jedi to eat spinach! Yoda loved it! ūüôā

Yoda's Rootleaf Stew

According to Wookipedia:

Rootleaf stew was a favorite meal of Jedi Master Yoda during his exile on Dagobah. It was a staple of his diet, supplemented by yarum seeds, mushroom spores, galla seeds, and sohli bark. Yoda prepared rootleaf stew the evening that he met Luke Skywalker.

To set the scene…

The only information that Wookiepedia has on the stew’s ingredients is that they “came from plants found on Dagobah”. ¬†So with no access to Dagobah vegetation or knowledge of their Earth counterparts, we have to use a little guesswork to create Yoda’s Stew.¬†This was done for us by Craig Claiborne in 1983. Chef Claiborne was hired by NPR to create this dish for a 10-part radio drama aired on the station.¬†His recipe – a Paleo version containing animal protein – is posted here.

The spice blend that Chef Claiborne uses is pretty much a garum masala. It is delicious! And it does contain the primary elements of Yoda’s stew, roots (ginger, turmeric), bark (cinnamon), and seeds (cumin, cardamon). These would be very nourishing and strengthening for a young Jedi in training!

Sooooooooo

When I think of available ingredients in the swamps of Dagobah, something like this comes to mind…

root_leaf1

Yoda did use mushroom, and some sort of tuber would fit in nicely.

Chef Claiborne’s recipe calls for A LOT of parsley. I just chopped up about one half of a bunch, then threw in, maybe a cup. Use any amount you like.

parsley1

To make this recipe easier, you can gather all the spices together first. This is your coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves… Yoda spice blend.

(This is pretty much a Garum Masala.)

yodaspice2

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

In  a little cooking oil, cook the mushrooms first, then set them aside.

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Blooming spices!

A little bit of coconut oil in the pan will bloom your spices beautifully, bringing out all that wonderful flavor and aroma. Ahhhh

If you have sliced your onions, brown those first! Then bloom your spices and throw in your bay leaf and ginger too. My Jedi do not like onion pieces, so I grate my onion and garlic and add it after the spices and ginger. If desired, add heat in the form of peppers.

spicebloom1

spicebloom2

This grated onion and garlic looks like mush, but it is flavor! Full delicious flavor.

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Now we have spices, grated onion and garlic, ginger and bay leaf… add water, just enough to make it soupy, allow flavors to continue to meld, and to cook your taro root. If you prefer, use potatoes.

Add in your diced taro root. Couldn’t you imagine something like this tuber growing in the swamps of Dagobah?

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When the taro root is just about tender and cooked through (raw taro root can be toxic to the liver), add mushrooms back in, and your parsley. Use as much parsley as you like.

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If you like, add lentils. This is about 1/4 cup rinsed and cooked french lentils. French lentils fill out the soup beautifully with a firm meaty texture and earthy flavor.

If you want your stew more soupy, add water. The last item to go in is the spinach. It takes only seconds for it to cook. Usually I use a heartier green in soups and stews, but spinach just seams more appropriately swampy.

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Jedi ready!

Yoda's Rootleaf Stew

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

Altered from¬†Chef Claiborne’s recipe from the 1983 NPR Star Wars features, this vegan version would do Yoda proud!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz mushrooms, quartered (baby portobella used here)
  • Cooking¬†oil (I like coconut)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (or grated)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoons ginger root; finely minced
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon hot green or red chilies; finely chopped, seeded
  • Spice blend
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/8 teaspoon cardamon; ground
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup peeled and diced taro root
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cooked lentils (I like french lentils)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley (use as much or little as you like)
  • 1/2 – 1 pound fresh spinach; well rinsed, sliced (or kale or collards, if you prefer a green leak that holds up better in a stew)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. In  a little cooking oil, cook the mushrooms first, then set them aside.
  2. In the same oil (add a little more, if needed), brown sliced onions, then add peppers, ginger, and spices to bloom them. Lastly, add minced garlic. If you have grated your onions and garlic, add them in after the spices are bloomed.
  3. Add taro root (or potato, if using) and just enough water to cover and cook them. Cook taro root until it is just about tender, uncovered. Adjust water level as needed.
  4. When the taro root is just about tender and cooked through (raw taro root can be toxic to the liver), add mushrooms back in, and your parsley. Use as much parsley as you like.
  5. Add lentils, if you are using them.
  6. Add spinach at the very end. If you are using a heartier green, add it in about 5-7 minutes before stew is completely cooked.
  7. If you want your stew more soupy, add water. Adjust seasoning, as desired (salt and pepper).

Serve immediately. It is very good over rice!

Enjoy!

For great food ideas for your Star Wars theme event, please check out my new ebook on Amazon.

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Simple Kale and Potato Soup with Purple Broth

We eat a lot of soups with kale. We eat all the other green too, and, yes kale may be so “two years ago,” but it is still so nutritious and holds up very well in a soup.

Kale LOVES potatoes. Many cultures have a kale-potato combo soup. Often they include sausage and beans. In Portugal, you can get a piping hot bowl of caldo verde with Yukon gold, kale, and chorizo. In North Africa it might include peanuts and cinnamon, in Italy Cannelloni beans are mixed in, and lentils in other parts of Europe.

Cooking Kale…

Kale is one of those foods that should be cooked either very quickly – under about 8 minutes, or for a very long time – over 25 or 30 minutes. In between cooking times are not optimal. This gives you the option of slow-cooking kale in water or broth first, then adding in everything else or making a soup and throwing kale in at the end. A person who is ill, stressed, or pulling all-nighters studying or working, will likely benefit from a slow-cooked soup, making all those nutrients even more bioavailable.

Make a delicious and simple soup…

Start with broth. Vegetable broth. Chicken broth. Whichever suits your diet.

I happen to have on hand a chicken broth made with still very good vegetable scraps, including one or two little purple carrots. Those little carrots gave me the coolest accidental purple broth, even though there were yellow and orange carrots in there too.

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I like russet potatoes in my soup. Yukon gold are nice and creamy too. Use what you have on hand.

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Dice potatoes. I like about a 3/4 inch dice. Keeping your cuts all the same size will allow your potatoes to cook evenly.

dicedpot

This is about 1 cup of diced potatoes added to about 2 cups of broth. Add the potatoes to cooled broth to bring up the temperature of everything evenly.

When potatoes are almost cooked, still slightly undercooked, run a masher over them to release starch into the water. You can also remove a few and puree them to thicken the soup.

kalepotsoup1

Add in sliced kale and cook up to about another 8 minutes.

You can tear or slice kale. I like thin slices right through the stems. This keeps stem pieces small and crisp. and reduces waste! You buy all that nutrition, why not use it? (I think I just channeled Anne Burrell.)

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Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add a little onion powder, if you like.

Add a healthy sprinkling of nutmeg. Mmm

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You can keep this vegan by using vegetable broth and stopping here. It is delicious!

Or… you can add a touch of heavy cream or milk to gild the lily.

Serve hot.

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Enjoy!

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Grandma Sue’s Homemade Chicken and Noodles

Happy National Homemade Soup Day! (Jan 4) Today we are enjoying Chicken and Noodles, passed down to my children from their Grandma Sue.

This is comfort in a bowl. If ever my kids are feeling under the weather, they request this soup. Dried noodles simply will not do. They must be kneaded, rolled thick for my son, thin for my daughter, and cooked in homemade broth.

This is a wonderful¬†pass-along-to-the-next-generation recipe.¬†If you want a really fun time, teach noodle making to a kid. Borrow a friend’s kid if you have to. The first little people I made this soup with were my sisters. So much fun! (Just make peace with the mess.) There is nothing like making funny-shaped noodles on flour covered counters… over floured floors… with floured little smiling tiny people standing on floured chairs to reach the counter. I highly recommend it!

I have been making this for so many years now that some of my own alternations have slipped into the process, but I will try to remember how Grandma Sue makes hers, in order to share accurately.

chickennoodlesoup2

Chicken and Broth

Grandma Susan, if I remember correctly, makes her broth with one whole chicken and one whole onion. That’s it. Clean and simple. Her soup is always delicious. Just to bump up the nutrition and add a bit more flavor, I¬†like to add carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Bay leaves work to break down the veggies so your body gets even more nutrients from them. More about broth and stock making here.

Cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked. Add more water if needed. Depending upon the size of your chicken, this will take a good 45 min. to 1 hour, or so.

broth1

Remove chicken from the pot. I like to allow broth to continue simmering, coaxing out more flavor and nutrition from the veggies.

Being careful not to burn your fingers, remove chicken from bones. Two forks will help make quick work of this job. Or, the more sensible thing to do would be to just allow chicken to cool first. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. If chicken has cooled, it is best to refrigerate it until you need it.

cookedchicken1

Skim fat from the top of your broth. Strain the broth. Discard cooked veggies. You should have a good 6-8 cups broth. Add water, if needed. Keep the broth warm.

broth2

Grandma’s Noodle Method

You can make your dough while your chicken simmers.

Sift flour into a bowl and set aside.

sifting_flour

sifted_flour

Crack 3 eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk them. If you want more noodles, you can start with more eggs. Of course, then you will also need more flour.

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Grandma Sue likes to add salt and pepper directly into the egg for added flavor.

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Add sifted flour a little at a time, fully combining with the eggs.

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After a bit, a whisk or a spoon will not do. You will have to flour your hands and get them in there.

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Add flour until you have a nice firm dough. Knead the dough just long enough for it to come together nicely and form a ball.

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Cover and rest dough for about 1/2 hour.

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Cut off a piece of dough. If you would like, refrigerate the remaining dough. Sometimes it is easier to manipulate when slightly chilled.

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On a floured surface, flatten your dough and roll it out very thin. Be sure to keep everything floured so that dough does not stick to your surface, hands or rolling pin.

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Using a knife or pizza cutter (I prefer a pizza cutter), cut noodles into whatever length and width you like. We like nice wide noodles.

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With the broth heated to almost a boil, drop in noodles one or two at a time so they do not stick together. They will cook quickly.

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Repeat this process with the remaining dough until it is all gone. You are now a noodle-making machine! The last noodles will be cooked in only a couple of minutes. And the flour that stuck to the noodles should be thickening the broth slightly.

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You can use a spoon yo gently push noodles sitting on top into the water, so that you can add more without them sticking together.

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Add in chopped chicken. Salt and pepper, to taste.

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Now all you need is a warm blanket, a comfy chair, and a good book.

Mmmmmmm

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Grandma Sue’s Homemade Chicken and Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c ap flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: parsley garnish

Method

Into a stock pot, add chicken and onion, with a little salt. (I also add carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves.) Cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked. Add water if needed. Depending upon the size of your chicken, this will take a good 45 min. to 1 hour, or so. Remove chicken from the pot. I like to allow broth to continue simmering, coaxing out more flavor and nutrition from the veggies.

Being careful not to burn your fingers, remove chicken from bones. Two forks will help make quick work of this job. Or, the more sensible thing to do would be to just allow chicken to cool first. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. If chicken has cooled, it is best to refrigerate it until you need it.

Skim fat from the top of your broth. Strain the broth. Discard cooked veggies. You should have a good 6-8 cups broth. Add water, if needed. Keep the broth warm.

To make noodles:

You can make your dough while your chicken simmers.

Sift flour into a bowl and set aside. Crack 3 eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk them. Grandma Sue likes to add salt and pepper directly into the egg for added flavor. Add sifted flour a little at a time, fully combining with the eggs. You may not need all 2 cups. After a bit, a whisk or a spoon will not do. You will have to flour your hands and get them in there. Add flour until you have a nice firm dough. Knead the dough just long enough for it to come together nicely and form a ball. Cover and rest dough for about 1/2 hour.

Cut off a piece of dough. If you would like, refrigerate the remaining dough. Sometimes it is easier to manipulate when slightly chilled. On a floured surface, flatten your dough and roll it out very thin. Be sure to keep everything floured so that dough does not stick to your surface, hands or rolling pin. Using a knife or pizza cutter (I prefer a pizza cutter), cut noodles into whatever length and width you like. We like nice wide noodles.

With the broth heated to almost a boil, drop in noodles one or two at a time so they do not stick together. They will cook quickly. Repeat this process with the remaining dough until it is all gone. You are now a noodle-making machine! The last noodles will be cooked in only a couple of minutes. And the flour that stuck to the noodles should be thickening the broth slightly. Add in chopped chicken. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Sit in a comfy chair, wrapped in a blanket, with a good book, and enjoy your soup.

Leftovers: Grandma’s family loved leftover soup the next day after the refrigerated noodles had absorbed all the broth and it is really no longer “soup”… it is chicken and flavorful dumplings. If you want it to remain soupy the next day, you can strain off the broth and just store it in a separate container. Then pour it back in when you want more soup.

Enjoy!

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Nourishing Chicken Broth

The old wives had it right! Broths and stocks are so nourishing and healing. While chicken is the standard and may add a layer of nostalgia, vegetables broths and other stocks certainly earn their place on the well-nourished table.

Today… Chicken stock and broth.

Which factors differentiate a stock from a broth are debatable. In my view, terms are much less important than results. It is better to understand the product.

Bones (and cartilage and skin) provide gelatin which thickens the stock and gives it body. ¬†The result is a richer, thicker mouthfeel. The term for simmering bones, with little or no meat and flavorings, then straining the liquid, is generally regarded as “stock”.

Meat provides flavor. Simmered meat, with seasonings, to enrich water, is generally regarded as “broth”. The strained liquid will be thinner, but very flavorful.

When making your broths and stocks, you decide. Throw in anything you like. It’s your creation.

Store-bought Stocks and Broths

  • When it comes to store bought stocks and broth, in my experience, definitions pretty much go out the window. They generally are thin and flavor varies. When using store-bought, I opt for an organic brand and then transform the flavor.

What goes in?

Bones

Collagen in bones is beneficial for skin and bone health. As we grow older, we tend to lose collagen, resulting in wrinkling and joint issues. Collagen can also be important for people with connective tissue issues, like EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome).

Collagen gelatanizes and makes the stock rich, thick, and delicious.

Money-Saving Tip: Buy whole chickens and collect bones in a plastic freezer bag. Keep frozen until you are ready to make stock.

Meat

Meat brings flavor. If you are making a chicken noodle soup, or want to simmer chicken for a dish, like BBQ Pulled Chicken, go ahead and throw in the whole bird. You will get a thin broth, which you can use many ways.

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Vegetables

For flavor and nutrition, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic are standard. Depending on what your broth will be used for, feel free to throw in any other vegetable you have on hand. I have thrown in kale, parsnips, and just about anything else that needed to be “used while it is still good”.

Wash your veggies, but there is no need to peel them. A lot of nutrition lives in carrot peels. You bought the carrot; you can use the peel.

Tip: If you feed scraps to your sweet dog, be careful of what you include in the broth. For example, onion is not recommended for a doggie diet. You can always add it in later to your soup, stew, or sauce.

Carrots, however, are great for dogs. My little dog will only eat carrots that come from my chicken broth. She LOVES stock and broth days.

Nutrition and flavor enhancers

If you are all about maximizing the nutrition you get from every bite, either bay leaves or a piece of kombu should go into every broth you make. Bay leaves and kombu break down the other ingredients as they cook, making the nutrients in them even more bioavailable. In other words, you will increase the nutrition you get from each bite.

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Basic Nutrient-Rich Chicken Broth

Ingredients

  • chicken bones (with or without meat attached)
  • water – enough to cover chicken
  • vegetables – recommended: 1-2 ¬†carrots, 1-2 celery stalks, 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 bay leaves or one strip of kombu (an inch or two)
  • optional: dried herbs, to taste (thyme is very good)
  • optional: salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Place chicken bones into a large stock pot and cover with cool water. Rough chop vegetables into large pieces and add them in. Add bay leaves or kombu. Add seasonings, if desired.

Bring pot to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 1/2 hours. After about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, you have extracted just about all the flavor you are going to get.

With a large spoon, skim fat and any scum off of the top. (There should not be scum if you have slow simmered the broth.) Through a fine-mesh strainer, strain out the liquid into a large bowl.

If you are making your broth in advance, you can cool the broth and refrigerate it. If you do this, you do not need to skim the fat because it will separate itself as the broth cools. You then need only to remove the chilled fat from the top and discard it.

Your broth is ready for a plethora or recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate, or freeze.

Enjoy!

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Tomato and Kale Soup -Any way you like it!

Are you missing the bright red juicy tomatoes of summer? This is one of those few items for which I will occasionally turn to the canned goods isle of the supermarket. Still, I am going to prefer the non-chemically peeled, preferably organic brands. And if I can find them in glass jars, all the better!

Kale is available year round and a GREAT choice for green leafy vegetables in winter. It stand up well in soups, and it just loves hanging out with tomatoes.

This is a highly flexible and forgiving soup. My favorite kind of easy weeknight dinner. I start the base, make my own delicious hearty bowl, then let everyone else “fix” it to their own liking. ūüôā

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Build a base of FLAVOR.

When you start with a good strong flavor base, you can take it, pretty much, any direction you like and it will be delicious.

Onions, carrots, celery, and garlic mingle and with broth and tomatoes… what could be wrong with this!

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My dear son’s preference

Smooth with basil and oregano, and usually extra garlic. My son purees all his tomato products. This is a great idea for anyone who loves a creamy potato soup without additives, dairy products or gluten.

You could make it even creamier by adding in some coconut milk. Or if you can handle dairy in your diet, heavy cream.

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Mine is better. ūüôā

Chunky bites with bursts of tomato flavor and spicy! I prefer variation in texture with each bite owning its own flavor. Yum! Red pepper flakes make it as spicy as I want it. Plus. this just feels nourishing. And it is!

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Tomato and Kale Soup – Any way you like it!

Ingredients

  • 1 T cooking oil (we like coconut)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (32 oz) broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 32 oz can whole tomatoes
  • sliced kale, about 2 cups
  • optional flavor additions: red pepper flakes, basil, oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Note: you can add flavor and save time by purchasing crushed tomatoes with garlic, onion, and herbs.

Method

Build your soup flavor base.

Saute onion, carrot, and celery in oil in a sauce pot, on medium temperature for just a few minutes to wake up their flavors. Stir in garlic and cook for just a couple more minutes. Add broth and cook for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add tomatoes. Use your spoon or spatula to break up whole tomatoes. (I start with whole tomatoes because I prefer chunky bites.)

Option: If you want a smooth tomato broth with kale, using a blender, or immersion blender, puree the broth at this point. If not, ignore this step.

Add in any flavors you like. My son always adds basil and oregano. I was in a red pepper flakes and black pepper mood. Add what you like, taste, and adjust seasonings. If you are using fresh basil, wait until your soup is almost done before adding it in.

Continue to cook and allow flavors to marry for about another 15 minutes.

Add kale and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or just long enough to soften the kale.

Note: Kale is best when it is either briefly cooked or slow cooked. It it not quite as good in between. My son cooks his kale forever!  The good thing about this soup is that it is good at pretty much any stage. Longer time simply develops the flavors, providing a bot more intensity.

Enjoy!

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Chicken & Barley Soup

There are two reasons for posting this dish.

  1. Zucchini season – and a need to use this vegetable every chance I get
  2. Phase One of The Fast Metabolism, NY Times bestseller, authored by Haylie Pomroy

Make that three reasons – it sounded good! And it is warm, earthy, and comforting. With mushrooms and barley, it is meaty without needing a lot of meat. It is lean, nourishing, and a lovely way to wind down after a long day.

This recipe came from Haylie Pomroy’s book The Fast Metabolism. Recently, I blogged a “What does this look like” review of the methods described in her book, and wanted to provide you with a recipe or two to go with it. Of course, anyone can use, or modify, this recipe for any purpose, but if you have been considering using Pomroy’s methods, this will give you a good taste of Phase One.

Chicken and Barley Soup

This is a one pot meal. There will not be much clean up. ūüôā

You will need a cutting board to prep your vegetables. And you will need to shred the chicken breast. Other than that, everything gets cooked all together, for an easy dinner.

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Haylie Pomroy’s Chicken and Barley Soup

From The Fast Metabolism Diet

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 T garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups yellow summer squash, cubed
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup barley

Method

Put 4 cups of water into a large soup pot and add the broths. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 hour.

Add the vegetables and barley to the soup pot. Bring back to a boil and simmer on low for another hour or two, until vegetables are desired texture.

Notes: The recipe does not call for it, but I am assuming the chicken should be shredded or chopped. I removed my chicken when it was cooked through and shredded it. Then returned it to the dish as it was finishing.

Also, I had no vegetable broth or butternut squash, so I used my homemade chicken broth and water to achieve a nice broth. When you refrigerate leftovers, the broth will continue to be absorbed by the barley grains. You may wish to add a little liquid upon reheating.

 

Enjoy!

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Savory Black Bean and Kale Soup

Beans are underutilized, in my opinion. Of course, as with any other food, there are those who have difficulty processing them. My soap box: every body is unique and foods which are optimal for one person may not be for the next. But if you can eat beans, good for you!

Black beans:

  • are inexpensive and easy to prepare
  • are a great source of phytonutrients and flavanoids
  • provide folate, fiber, and many other essential nutirents
  • are a great source of protein for vegetarians
  • are disease fighters!

Studies suggest black beans are¬†beneficial in lowering the risk of Diabetes Type 2, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. For more information, see this article from the world’s healthiest foods.

Benefits of soaking beans:

  • Saves time! Soaking any bean helps it to cook faster and more consistently
  • Saves nutrition! Bioavailability of nutrients increase with soaking
  • Saves your dignity. Digestion improves, reducing substances like raffinose and stachyose, if you discard the soaking water

Dried vs canned

This is a personal choice. If buying canned, consider choosing a BPA-free brand. (More comments on canned foods here.) Canned beans have a tinny flavor. Rinsing them thoroughly, adding other flavors, and cooking them longer will help to reduce that canned metallic taste. However, canned beans are pantry-friendly, quick, and easy to use on a busy night.

Dried beans are also very easy to prepare. Throw them in some water an hour before you plan to use them, or the night before. Rinse them and cook them unsalted for about 45 to 1 hour. It does take that little bit of time, but is relatively no work. They can even cook in a crock pot Рgenerally 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Easy! And you can use the broth in which they cook as another ingredient.

Here is a nutrient dense, soul-satisfying, savory black bean and kale soup. Inexpensive, easy, and nourishing.

Savory Bean and Kale Soup

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Saute onion and celery until tender. Add garlic and spices to wake them up.

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Puree veggies, spices, and 1 cup beans. Add them to your liquid to thicken the soup.

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Add kale. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add remaining beans. Adjust seasonings.

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Serve with anything you like – avocado, sour cream, green onion.

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Black Bean and Kale Soup

This is a very mild soup. However, you can easily make it spicy by adding hot sauce or diced, seeded jalapeno. Add jalapeno either to the onions, or to the broth and allow time for it to cook through.

 Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups cooked black beans (2 15 oz cans or 1 cup dry)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or use garlic from cooked beans)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/8 t oregano
  • 4 cups liquid (any combination of bean broth, water, or vegetable broth)
  • salt, to taste –¬†I like about 1 t
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3¬†cups kale, thinly sliced or chopped

Method

If using dried beans, cook them according to package directions. I like to rinse them and soak them for at least one hour, then cook unsalted, with garlic cloves and a bay leaf, until tender. Save the broth for more substance and flavor in your soup.

If using canned beans, rinse and set aside. You may prefer to bump up the other flavors and cook the soup a little longer when using canned beans.

Into a heated and lightly oiled sauce pot, add onion and celery and cook until tender. Add garlic. Add cumin, coriander, and oregano. Stir and cook for about a minute to wake up all the flavors. Add 1 cup of your cooked beans to this mixture and puree, in a food processor or blender, until smooth.

Add liquid to the same pot in which you cooked your vegetables. Heat and add pureed bean mixture. Cook a few more minutes to allow soup to thicken. Add kale and cook for another 5 minutes, or until kale is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add remainder of beans. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Serve topped with green onion, cilantro, or diced avocado, if desired.

Enjoy!

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