There are a lot of New Year’s traditions out there — eating black eyed peas, wearing red underwear, nursing a hangover… But here’s mine!
My sister and I started the tradition of having lentil soup around New Year’s during our first year of law school when we lived together in San Francisco. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, but we found out that eating lentils around the new year is supposed to bring money and good fortune in the coming year, according to Italian lore, and so the tradition stuck.
I mean, because who doesn’t want money and good fortune? I sure do.
Here’s a delicious way to get your lentils (not to mention a crapload of veggies!) And it’s gluten free. And vegan. So, y’know, make a big ol’ pot and invite the pickiest of eaters over.*
*Although, I find it’s especially delicious with a giant hunk of sourdough slathered in butter, so…
based on Ina Garten’s Lentil Vegetable Soup
- 1 pound green lentils
- 3 medium to large yellow onions, diced
- 2-3 leeks, white part trimmed, washed, and sliced thin
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch celery, trimmed and chopped
- 1 large bunch carrots, chopped (I just do the amount that comes in the Trader Joe’s bag)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried cumin
- 3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/4 cup tomato paste, or 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Optional for serving: freshly grated parmesan cheese
- In a large bowl, cover lentils with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain. If the water is murky, rinse lentils in warm water.
- To a large stockpot over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions, leeks, garlic, celery, carrots, thyme, cumin, salt (start with 1 tsp) and pepper. Saute until softened and fragrant (10-15 minutes).
- Add stock, tomato paste (or tomatoes), and lentils. Cover and let come to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, then simmer uncovered for 1 hour (until lentils are cooked through).
- Add red wine vinegar, then salt and pepper to taste. Top bowls with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
Devour and then reap your wealth in the new year!
This soup is so easy, it should be illegal. Although, then you’d have to make it all on the DL (Mom: that means “down-low”), and hope that the police wouldn’t show up and arrest your scofflaw, soup-making, law-breaking a**.
Lucky for you, there’s nothing illegal about this soup — EXCEPT FOR HOW DELICIOUS IT IS.
Are you hoping that I get less weird in the new year? I think KC is too. Joke’s on you guys though, cuz it’s not happening!
Potato Leek Soup
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 leeks, white part trimmed and sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 medium to large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cups half and half
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh minced chives
- Fresh minced parsley
- Crispy bacon or prosciutto
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Like, all of the above (omg, yum)
- Place a large stockpot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add leeks and onions, some salt and pepper, and saute until just soft and very fragrant. Add potatoes and stock, then cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Using a hand blender (or using a regular blender — in batches), puree mixture until desired consistency is reached. (You can have this be totally smooth, or a little chunky — up to you!) Add in half and half, season with salt and pepper to taste. (If the soup has lost some of it’s heat at this point, just return it to the stove and heat through, stirring occasionally.)
- Serve plain, or with any or all of the above toppings.
I mean, did I say easy or did I say easy.
Oh hey, health. So nice to see you.
So generally, I don’t really think of myself as a “classic vegetable soup” kind of person. I think I have bad memories of eating canned vegetable soup as a child, which I remember tasting like, well, a can. It’s weird because I’m pretty sure we had canned soup rarely, if ever; but clearly those few occasions made an impression. Give me a legume-based soup any day. Pureed soup of squash or split pea? I’m in. But a veggie-laden minestrone? I’d probably hesitate before jumping into that.
This soup, however, is chock-full of veggie goodness (obviously) and is so so delicious. I also love that eating something that tastes so hearty and delicious is also good for you. Plus, this recipe makes a big batch of soup which is perfect for larger groups or lots of leftovers. (That’s the whole point of soup, right?)
That’s like the holy grail of feeling healthy right there.
This recipe is easy, and can be customized to include whatever veggies you like. Feel free to sub in a different kind of squash if you’re not feeling the butternut, or replace it with potatoes. You could certainly use a different kind of dark leafy green besides spinach — kale would probably be delicious. Leave out the pasta, or use rice pasta if you’re not into gluten. And of course, feel free to leave out the pancetta and swap veggie stock for the chicken stock if you want to make this vegetarian/vegan. My only notes would be to keep the mirepoix as the base (this is carrots + celery + onion), keep the tomatoes for depth, and add some sort of legume for thickness (kidney, giant white beans, or white northern beans would all be good), oh, and don’t leave out the wine + pesto at the end — it really makes a difference in the flavor (I’m sure red wine would also work in place of the white wine).
slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Foolproof
- olive oil
- 4 oz pancetta, diced small
- 1-2 large onions, diced
- bunch of carrots, diced (I just dice up the amount that comes in the TJ’s bag)
- 1 head of celery, base and tops removed, diced
- 1/2 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 28 oz can chopped tomatoes in juice
- 6-8 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cooked pasta (I used orrecchiete because it was the smallest shape I had on hand, but any other shape would work well. Small shapes like tubetti, or any of the piccolini pastas, might be preferable.)
- 1 bag or bunch spinach leaves, washed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (a kind you’d want to drink)
- 2 tbsp store bought pesto (I used the TJ’s brand)
- Optional: freshly grated parmesan, romano, or pecorino cheese for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, salt and pepper, and saute until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, bay leaf, and cover with chicken stock (use your judgment here as to how much stock you want to use — I add just enough to cover everything). Add a bit more salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Discard bay leaf. Add beans and pasta and cook through. Determine whether you need to add more stock at this point (the soup should be pretty thick).
- Just before serving, toss in spinach until just wilted. Stir in wine and pesto. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve with freshly grated cheese and/or crusty bread.
I know this kind of looks like a lot of ingredients and steps, but it’s actually very simple and doesn’t really require much measuring of ingredients at all. So chill out and let’s get cooking.
First, let me take a moment to be real self centered and say: Happy Birthday Go for 30! Three (!) years ago today, I wrote my very first blog post, all about how I had decided to give up washing my hair. (Not really — it was about not using shampoo and conditioner anymore. And if you’re wondering, yes, I still wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Commitment!)
Ok, enough about that. In my quest to forever master more soup recipes, I came up with this recipe for butternut squash soup. Here’s the thing: I love the idea of butternut squash soup. I love the color, I love the texture, I love the health factor… but I freaking hate sweet soup. I don’t know — there’s something about sweet, starchy veggies that I just can’t get on board with. Candied yams? Ugh. Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping? I can’t even go there. As a result, I combined and modified a few different recipes I found for butternut squash soup to make this slightly spicy, full-flavored butternut business.
I found that combining the squash with a lot of other veggies was a good start. Roasting everything together kept things simple and flavorful — basically two of my favorite things in the cooking world. Combine it all with some stock, round it out with spices, and you’ve got yourself a really good thing going.
Let’s just get right down to it, shall we?
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 huge-ish butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks*
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced in half, then cut into 3-inch sections
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
- 3 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 small apple, cored, cut into fourths
- 2 medium yellow potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4-6 cups veggie and/or chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- cayenne pepper
- Optional: 1/4-1/2 cup half and half
- Toppings (optional): fresh chives, crispy bacon or prosciutto
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Combine all veggies/fruit onto sheet pan(s) in a single layer, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (I used coarse salt and quite a bit of pepper.) Place in oven and roast until fork-tender, 25-35 minutes.
- Heat stock on stove until just heated through.
- When veggies are done roasting, transfer from pan into a large pot. Cover with 2-3 cups stock, then blend everything with a hand blender. Add more stock one ladleful at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
- Once everything is pureed and the desired consistency is reached, add cinnamon and nutmeg. Add additional salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. (Keep in mind that cayenne pepper is one of those spices that builds as you eat it, so the soup will taste progressively spicier as you eat a whole bowl of it.)
- Bring soup to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for a bit (I did about 30 min, but you could probably get away with less.)
- Optional: add a splash of half and half at the end (to taste); top bowls with fresh minced chives and/or crispy bacon or prosciutto.
*You could use a combination of other similar winter squashes here as well –any combo of 1-2 sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, or kabocha squash would probably work well.
I guess I should probably make a clarification on the title here — “spicy” really means “as spicy as you want to make it.” (This may have been evident already by the “Totally Customizable” part of the title, but, y’know…) I know some people don’t love spice, and I’m cool with that. I also know that some people like to basically light their face on fire with hot sauce and claim it’s delicious. Personally, I like a little spice, but not the amount where it feels like you’ve rubbed cayenne pepper all over your body. (That sounds itchy.)
When I decided that I’d like to master some new recipes, I knew that this endeavor would include a recipe for tomato soup. I love me some tomato soup with grilled cheese. I especially like that having tomato soup allows you to consume a childhood staple (namely bread + cheese + butter) while still acting like you’re having a semi-gourmet meal. I mean, you could totally make this for guests and not be ashamed by it. On that note — this recipe is great to make for guests. It’s way easy, makes a bunch of soup, and it’s delicious. (I mean, really, would I give you guys a recipe that I thought was terrible? Well, yes. But I totally explained that.) Oh yeah, and this soup is so easy to customize for picky appetites — you can make it gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, whatever you want.
Spicy Tomato Soup
(serves 4-6, generously)
- 4 tbsp. butter/olive oil/coconut oil (your choice — I used butter)
- 1 1/2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste (I used coarse sea salt)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp curry powder*
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes*
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup flour
- 32 oz chicken stock/veggie stock/water (your choice — I used chicken stock)
- 2 28oz cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice (I used regular unsalted, but fire roasted and/or salted would be good here too. I recommend using San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them.)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1-2 cups whole milk/half and half/cream or 1 can coconut milk (add this to taste — I used about 1 cup of half and half in mine)
- Heat oil or melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and salt, then saute until very fragrant and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add in cumin, coriander, curry powder and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add in tomato paste and flour, stirring until well-incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Add in stock or water, thyme, and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with your hands or the back of a spoon.
- Turn up the heat to high, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Using a hand blender, blend soup to desired consistency (you can also use a regular blender for this step, just make sure cover the top with a towel to let the heat escape, otherwise it will blow the top off and you’ll have a big ol’ mess).
- Add milk/cream/coconut milk and salt to taste.
- *The Spice Factor: For a less spicy soup, use mild curry powder. For more spicy, you can use a combination of mild and hot curry powder (I used 1 tsp hot, 2 tsp mild in mine). To make the soup even less spicy, omit the red pepper flakes and just use regular ground pepper here.
- To Make Soup Gluten Free: omit the flour in step 3.
- To Make Soup Vegetarian: use veggie stock or water, rather than chicken stock.
- To Make Soup Vegan: use olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter; use veggie stock or water rather than chicken stock; use coconut milk rather than milk or cream.
- The Dairy/Coconut Milk Part: You can always omit the milk/cream/coconut milk altogether for a more traditional, straight-up tomato soup. (To make it way traditional, omit the cumin, coriander, curry, and red pepper as well, add in 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.)
- Acidity Issues: If you find the soup to be too acidic, add in 1-2 diced carrots in step 1 with the onions — this will help cut down on the acidity. You can also add sugar to cut down on the acid as well.
- Grilled cheese (I used sourdough + cheddar for mine, but feel free to get creative. Multigrain + swiss? YUM. Sweet baguette + pepper jack? Delicious. Olive bread + goat cheese? OMG I can’t even deal.)
- Grilled cheese croutons (make grilled cheese, cut it into crouton-size squares — aren’t you fancy).
- Croutons (cut up bread into cubes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, bake at 400° until crispy — 8-10 min).
- Whatever your little heart desires.