Category Archives: soup

The Organic Box, Baby Turnips and Peter Berley: just in time for longer, warmer, and sunnier days.

Well, I did it.

I got my husband to eat turnip and swiss chard AND like it.

All thanks to Peter Berley’s fabulous recipe for Turnip and Leek Soup with Potatoes and Chard from his Fresh Food Fast cookbook.  Did I mention it is fabulously easy as well?

I got two bunches of sweet baby turnips in my Organic Box.  For those of you who don’t know, The Organic Box is a local organic produce service.  They source out local food producers when the season permits and when it doesn’t they source from small farms across the Americas.  Even though I get to pick every item that shows up in my box, it still feels like a surprise each time I get home and open up the box to check out the great mix of fruits and veggies!  They are not just produce though.  You can add on locally produced organic milk from Saxby Dairy Producers in the south end of Edmonton, and grains and pulses from Saskatchewan farms, not to mention their newest addition locally produced organic fruit wines and much much more.

Back to the turnips.

I have never seen or, in my memory, eaten baby turnips.  They were wonderful in the soup and I imagine they would be wonderful roasted as well.  They are about the size of radishes and tied together in that familiar bunch of green tops and creamy white roots.

And now back to the soup.

I have long since learned that Peter Berley’s simple list of ingredients and seasonings make the most wonderful dishes.  I neglected to check my spices before starting the soup and I had to sub in cumin seeds for the caraway, which worked out fine, but I am sure the caraway would have been much better.

I will admit that I used to think if the dish did not contain a long list of spices that it would taste bland or need spicing up, but the perfect blend of vegetables, butter, and salt and pepper make a soup that can make anyone, even my husband, learn to love cruciferous root vegetables and leafy greens.

Leek and Turnip Soup with Potatoes and Chard

3 Tablespoons butter (substitute oil to make it vegan)
2 medium leeks
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 pound small white turnips, quartered or cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound of potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed, trimmed and chopped
Freshly ground pepper

  • In a 3 quart saucepan melt the butter over medium heat
  • Add the leeks and a dash or two of salt.  Saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir together.
  • Add 6 cups of water, turnips, potatoes, and bring to a boil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender
  • Add the chard and cook for about 3 minutes until tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Vietnamese Pho – Vegetarian Style!

I was directed to this great recipe on the Veg News website by my co-worker’s girlfriend.  At work one day he commented on how she had made this great vegetarian Pho, so I was delighted when the link showed up in my inbox a few months later.

I have never had real authentic Pho with beef, so I can’t say if the soup tastes like it should or not. Regardless, it is a great soup and both EPC and I slurped it all up for dinner tonight.

No leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

I wasn’t sure if the soup would be as good as the name  – Faux Pho.  Needless to say I spent a lot of time this weekend mentioning to my husband that I would be making Faux Pho, or was that (ahem) Pho Faux, for dinner on Sunday. I guess the soup was pretty stellar, because any annoyance he might have felt at my play on words over the course of weekend was remedied as he finished up his second bowl.

The soy sauce, Chinese five spice powder and of course the seitan make this into one meaty soup quite unlike anything I have had before, except maybe at Padmanadi.  And what do you know, it looks like Padmanadi is having an all you can eat vegetarian buffet this Feb 3 and 4 in celebration of Chinese New Year!

The Vietnamese Faux Pho was quick, easy and delicious, so we will definitely be having it again.

FYI:  I subbed one heaping cup of coarsely grated carrots for the mung bean sprouts, used Green Cuisine plain seitan (available at Planet Organic) and upped the amount of fresh lime juice considerably

Click here for the recipe

The tang of lemon and feta: Greek Lentil Soup

I took a look at this recipe and thought that sounds good: I love lentils and who doesn’t like feta cheese!

It was better than I expected.   I figured that it would be good, after all I have never had a lentil soup I did not like, but it was better than good.   Mediterranean style lentil soups are nothing new, but I am not sure whether it was the lemon or the feta, or both, that took the flavour of this soup out my taste experience.

When you have eaten a lot of lentil soups like I have, finding one that charts out a new taste territory is a good thing.

That is all I have to say.


Try the soup.

Greek Lentil Soup (adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz)

To make it vegan leave out the cheese.  If opting for a gluten-free option make sure your vegetable broth is GF.

2 cups of red lentils, rinsed well and drained
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups of carrots, diced
1 cup of potato, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, ground or minced (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
7 cups of vegetable stock
a couple handfuls of fresh spinach
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste (remember the feta will add some saltiness)

2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon mint
freshly ground pepper to taste

  • In a large soup pot warm the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, carrot, potato, pepper, chilies, rosemary, oregano and 2 bay leaves and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and the stock and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted
  • Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl stir the feta with the mint and freshly ground pepper.
  • Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with the feta mixture.

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Tag-team Sunday night supper: Sage Focaccia and Fire-Roasted Black Bean Soup

I usually end up making dinner on Sunday evening because EPC likes to relax in the late afternoon before he heads off to his Sunday evening yoga class.  But this week he decided to make his favourite black bean soup recipe from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian.

In response I chose to make whole wheat sage focaccia from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. I had a lot of luck with his whole wheat pizza crust and figured it couldn’t hurt to give his foacaccia bread a try. Afterall, the flecks of fresh sage in the bread would make a great accompaniment to  my husband’s soup.

As always, the soup was delicious.  This was the first time he had tried it with canned fire roasted tomatoes and it did make a difference.

I remember the first time he made this soup – before we had an immersion hand blender – what a mess.  Scooping soup by the cupful into our blender was not the easiest way to blend up the soup, and we lost a considerable amount on the floor.  It certainly made my husband an advocate of our latest kitchen appliance.  If you  like to make soups I really recommend picking up an immersion blender (we got ours at Superstore for about $30.00).  I find even if the soup does not call for pureeing, blending a small amount of the soup gives it a nice thick consistency.

In addition to that first  messy batch of soup,  we followed the recipe by adding the 2-3 jalapenos and the 3 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder it called for.  This made the soup almost inedible!  We now use only one jalapeno and 1 -2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder.

Since winter has practically arrived in Edmonton (one night last week it went down to -5°C!) I did not mind spending the majority of the afternoon indoors as I waiting for the bread to go through two long rises (1 1/2 to 2 hours each).  It was worth it.  I had never made focaccia before and I am really glad that I did.  Next time I will bake it on a sheet of parchment paper.  Well-oiled or not,  I had a difficult time prying the bread off the pan.  The edges cracked a little and I lost some of the bottom to the pan, but what it lacked in presentation it made up for in taste.

I also found the bread cooked quicker than the 20-25 minutes recommended, so make sure you take a peak in the oven after 15 minutes.

I think I will use the leftover focaccia to serve as a bun for the veggie burgers I am going to make tomorrow night.  So stay tuned!

Sage Focaccia Bread

1 1/3 cups of warm water
2 teaspoon of active dry yeast (I used bread machine yeast and it worked fine)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 scant cups of whole wheat bread flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage leaves and about 20-25 whole sage leaves
2 tablespoons of olive oil for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt.

  • Combine water, yeast, and oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the flour, salt and sage and stir to mix with a wooden spoon.  Stir until the dough comes together (it will  come away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball)
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes)
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  In a warm place let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (I found 1 1/2 hours was sufficient).
  • Oil the bottom a cookie sheet with at least 1 inch deep sides ( I recommend parchment paper instead of oil).  The pan should be about 15 by 10 inches.  Flatten the dough into the pan, spray the top of the dough lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough has almost doubled in size (I waited almost 2 hours).
  • Preheat the oven to 425°C.  Before placing the dough in the oven use your finger to dimple the dough at 2 inch intervals.  Place a fresh sage leaf in each dimple, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden  brown and remove from the pan to cool.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

Click to print.

Toni Fiore’s Black Bean Soup recipe can be found here.  EPC only adds 1 -2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder and 1 jalapeno.  The soup is too spicy otherwise.

Ms. Jaffrey’s Madras Curried Tomato Soup

It must appear to you that I have been slacking off at blogging this month.  It’s true.  It is already half way through the month and I have only put up four posts including this one.  I guess that is what happens after a having a month of sure things, courtesy of Lorna Sass, and then moving into the uncharted territory of other cookbooks.

I made a batch of cookies, which are pretty good, but not a recipe I deem worthy of a post and a tempeh jambalaya with similar concerns.  On Easter weekend, I did make an excellent dish but figure it needs a bit of tweaking before it makes an appearance on Cookbook Cooks.  So there you have it.  If everything had worked out a little better, or I had made a better cookie choice, you would be seeing almost double the posts.

Enough about my unposted efforts and on to the meal at hand.

Whenever I use my Madhur Jaffrey World Vegetarian cookbook I always get stuck at the front.

The book starts with beans, dried beans, lentils and nuts and is then subdivided into specific sections such as chickpeas, mung beans or cashews.  Then goes on with the same format for vegetables and grains.  I am sure you can imagine how inclusive, thorough (and thick) this cookbook is.  For example, the soup section doesn’t start until page 575. I think it is clear now why I always get stuck in the first half of the cookbook.

Don’t get me wrong,  it is quite a nice set-up actually.  If you have some swiss chard in the fridge you can flip through the swiss chard section and find such delights as Young Swiss Chard with Sesame Seeds and Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Chickpeas. On the other hand if you feel like kidney beans there is a wonderful recipe for Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with a Peanut Sauce, which is a personal favourite of mine.  This time when deciding what wonderful recipe to try I started at the back of the cookbook instead, bringing me to the delicious Madras Curried Tomato Soup.

The soup that I served veers quite a bit from the original recipe, but in a good way. I took out the heavy cream and substituted light coconut milk and added a can of lentils to give it more protein.  It tastes great and I think you could even add less water and serve it up over rice if you fancy.  We had it with some store-bought naan bread, which neither of us cared for, but was rescued by a thorough dunking in the thick soup.

Madras Curried Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons curry powder
28 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used the no salt added variety)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup  frozen, defrosted peas
1 19 ounce can of lentils
2  tsp salt (you might want to add less if your tomatoes have salt added)
1  can coconut milk (light or original)

  • Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion.  Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
  • Add the curry powder and give a quick stir.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peas, canned lentils, and 4 cups of water.
  • Bring the soup to boil and then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes
  • Blend the soup in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender
  • Reheat the soup if needed and serve

Click to print

A month of recipes from Lorna Sass’s Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure

I thought I would begin concluding this month’s focus on Lorna Sass by giving you a quick tour of her wonderful cookbook Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.  Of course, the month is not over yet, so you can still look forward to more delights from Lorna’s Short-Cut Vegan before month’s end!

Over the last month I have blogged about  three delicious recipes from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure: Thai ChickpeasNew Mexican Pinto Bean Soup, and Caribbean Rice and Beans.  All these dishes turned out fantastic and both EPC and I loved them. Unbeknownst to you, while I wasn’t blogging about the great dishes from this cookbook, I was making more of Lorna’s pressure cooker creations on the sly.  In fact EPC even got in the fun!

One Saturday, I whipped up Quinoa Vegetable Soup for lunch.  This was EPC’s favorite recipe out of the cookbook (so far)!  He couldn’t put his finger on why he loved this dish so much, but I think he really enjoys the taste and texture of quinoa.  Quinoa has more protein than other grains, plus it is gluten-free and makes a great quick-cooking substitute for brown rice.

On the following weekend EPC made the Zucchini Bisque with Tomatoes and Fresh Basil.  One of his favorite vegetables is zucchini, so I wasn’t at all surprised when this dish came under his radar.  The following day I came in from a walk, intending to have leftover soup for lunch, when to my surprise he was finishing off all the leftovers!  It is nice to see my husband excited about Lorna’s book and wanting to get on the pressure cooker bandwagon.  He is always up for making recipes that are as easy as they are delicious.  However, I do wish he wasn’t as excited about eating them, so I could have at least a small bowl of leftover soup!

Over the last month I only had one mishap.  This occurred when I made the mistake of using the bean cooking chart from my pressure cooker instruction booklet, instead of the one located inside the cover of Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.  The beans were so soft, they were unsuitable for the dish I had in mind.  Of course hindsight is 20/20, so when I took at look at Lorna’s bean cooking chart inside the front cover of this cookbook and noticed her cooking times where bit shorter, I realized that I should have used Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure as a reference, which would have left me with an intact bean rather than the resulting mush.  I will know better for next time.

That brings me to the great thing about this cookbook, not only is it chock full of over 150 delicious vegan recipes, but it also includes grain, bean and vegetable cooking charts.  She also discusses pressure cookers at  great length, covering such topics as  How to Care for the Cooker, The Language of Pressure Cooking, and What Size Cooker Should I Buy?.  I found all these tips quite helpful and the format considerably engaging in comparison to my instruction manual.

In the introduction Lorna devotes a few pages to menu combinations, such as Vegan Thanksgiving, Curry in a Hurry and American Creole, which gives you an idea about which direction to head if you have a certain flavour craving.  The cookbook is well-organized and I am glad that it sticks to a traditional layout.  Although quite popular these days, I will confess that I do not enjoy when a cookbook is organized according season or menus.    Perhaps I am behind the times, but I think a cookbook is more functional when you can browse through the soup section if you are feeling like soup, rather than having to flip from page to page using the index as your guide.  Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure is divided sensibly into soup, grain, bean, vegetable, sauce and dessert sections.

That’s right, I said dessert.

Lorna does feature a section on vegan pressure cooker desserts.  It definitely piqued my curiosity and I had to try one.  She provides thorough instructions on how to make a wonderful steamed blueberry pudding cake.  I was blown away that I could make a cake in the pressure cooker and have it turn out fantastic!  The great thing about this cake is there is no oil, it is sweetened with fruit juice and maple syrup and it is totally vegan.  Although not a dessert, Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure even has  a recipe for steamed Boston Brown Bread. How much fun is that!

I have really enjoyed using my pressure cooker to make Lorna’s great recipes, so I am disappointed that she does not have another vegetarian pressure cooker cookbook.   I figured my pressure cooking adventures would be limited to one cookbook.  Luckily, when I was browsing through her other cookbooks on I noticed that Complete Vegetarian Kitchen has pressure cooker instructions for many of its recipes.

I guess I need to make room for another cookbook!

Lorna Sass’s New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup

For the last few weeks we have been blessed with beautiful spring weather here in Northern Alberta, but this weekend was outstanding!  In order to take advantage of the fantastic weather, EPC and I spent both days walking down Whyte Ave and 124th Street.  On Saturday, we enjoyed the weather so much that we put off the evening’s dinner plans until today so we could stroll over to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant for dinner.

With New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup on tap for tonight’s dinner, that makes this a weekend full of Mexican flavours!

This is the second time that I have used my pressure cooker in as many weeks, which should come as no surprise to you, because this month the focus is on Lorna Sass, the Queen of Pressure Cooking.  Tonight’s choice, New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup, comes from her cookbook Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.  The presence of chipotle pepper and fresh avocado are the reasons why I chose this recipe from the over 150 vegan dishes in this cookbook.  Mind you the choice wasn’t easy.  With such dishes as Saffron Risotto with Vegetables, Garlic Lover’s Lentil Soup, and Black-eyed Pea Gumbo it can be quite a task to narrow it down to one!

On another note,  perhaps a few of you have heard that it is difficult to use a pressure cooker on an electric stove and get good results, since most, if not all, pressure cooker recipes are based on cooking over a flame rather than an element.  Since the only thing missing in our building is a natural gas line, I will be stuck with an electric stove for the rest of my cooking days.  However, I am certainly not going to let that stop me from using a pressure cooker!

If you are using a pressure cooker on an electric stove, there are a few tricks needed to compensate for the lack of quick heating and cooling that you would get from a gas stove.  Before putting the cooker on the electric element you need to make sure that the element has reached maximum heat.  In the meantime you turn your second burner on medium low heat, so you can transfer the cooker when it reaches pressure.  The instructions that came with my Fagor pressure cooker explained all of this quite easily.  Lorna also goes over the challenges of an electric stove in the cookbooks introduction. In the case of New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup, after reaching high pressure I moved the cooker on the medium low burner and let it cook for the prescribed 8 minutes.  During that time, I threw together a couple of corn tortilla Monterey Jack quesadillas to go along with the soup.

Once again, the recipe turned out perfectly!  The chipotle chili pepper and lime juice made this soup sing.  EPC also did a bit of singing I am afraid.  That single teaspoon of  chipotle chili powder was a bit too much for my husband.  Next time I will drop it down to 1/2 a teaspoon, but hot or not he cleaned his bowl.

Perhaps after glancing at the recipe below and the photo of tonight’s dinner, you have made the connection that the recipe has corn kernels and the photo does not.


I forgot to add the corn.  The weekend is over and it seems to have done me no good.  I hope that I do not forget to take my lunch tomorrow, because I have leftover New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup to look forward to.

New Mexican Pinto Bean Soup

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped (about 1 medium)
1 large red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh or frozen (defrosted) corn
1 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 dried chipotle pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small pieces, or 1 -2 jalapeño, or a generous pinch of crushed red chili flakes.  (I used chipotle chili powder because my dried peppers were flavourless – 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon depending on the amount of heat you desire)
4 cups of boiling water

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 -2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ripe avocado, cut into a 1/2 inch diced
1 teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste

  • Drain and rinse the beans
  • Heat the oil in the cooker and add the cumin seed.  Give them a quick stir and add the garlic and let it brown.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the beans, corn, oregano, chipotle, and water
  • Lock the lid and bring the cooker to high pressure.  When high pressure is reached, lower the heat enough to maintain the pressure and cook for 8 minutes
  • Release the pressure and remove the lid – pointing the lid away to release any excess steam.
  • With a slotted spoon transfer 1 cup of the beans to a blender and puree with the tomato paste.  Add back to the soup
  • Add cilantro, lime juice, avocado, salt,and season with pepper.

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