Sweaters, boots, scarves. Bring on the soup, herbal tea, and snuggly blankets. Autumn has arrived.
All summer long I was longing for a comforting soup. But hot soup in the summer heat…no thank you. The weather has finally given me permission to begin making soup again. It’s as if Ms. Autumn has said, “Yes, go ahead, bring out your soup pot.”
I have to also admit that I’ve been lazy or maybe just busy. Lazy, busy, either way you look at it, I have been slacking with cooking. Since resuming my teaching, I must say I’ve relied too much on my quick go-to food items of choice, which means we’ve all had one too many Clif bars, smoothies/shakes, and nut butter sandwiches for our own good (kind of ironic for one that teaches cooking classes).
So I was delighted to open up my kitchen again to some ritualistic (and cathartic) cooking, soup making at that, last night.
This recipe didn’t take long, and I enjoyed every step of the process because it was improvisational cooking at it’s best. I had this basic idea of what I wanted in the end product, but along the way, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do next. Very exciting.
Soups are, in my opinion, a near perfect food if you do it right. They can be made to be very filling and are great for big families as they are easily “stretchable” (just add more broth and/or flavor). I tend to always fill the pot when I’m making mine, that way I have lunch for the next few days and/or leftovers to freeze for later.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa), a grain that is grown in high altitudes and a staple food in places like Bolivia, is a super grain X 10. It is the only plant food (besides soy) to contain all 8 essential amino acids, making it a great source of “complete” protein. It’s very filling and nutritious and easy to cook (takes only about 15 minutes). You can purchase it at many stores, including Costco now. I buy mine in bulk from Azure Standard.
I can’t help myself with certain ingredients. Garlic, for example, is a flavor that I can barely taste anymore since I like to put it in all of my dishes and in large amounts. Feel free to use more or less of this ingredient. For this soup, I also put in a whole head of cauliflower. Cauliflower is one of those lovely veggies (green cabbage as well), that, when chopped into small pieces, becomes barely negligible in soups. Yet it adds much to the soup by way of texture, nutrition, and density.
This soup is a meal in a bowl. Top with shredded romaine lettuce and/or avacado for extra flavor and nutrition.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 onion
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- 8 stalks of celery
- 3 non-hydrogentated vegetable bouillon cubes (I like Rapunzel brand, Sea Salt & Herb flavored), makes 6 c. of broth
- 8 c. water
- 1 TBS. oregano
- 1 TBS. thyme
- 1/2 TBS. smoked paprika (or regular paprika, I purchased mine from Costco)
- 1 1/2 c. dry quinoa, rinsed (to take away bitter coating)
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped/processed into small pieces
- 1 c. dry curly noodles of choice (I used a brown rice spiral version, which is gluten-free)
- 2 c. frozen organic sweet corn
- 6 c. tomatoes (use fresh or diced tomatoes w/ the juice)
- 1/4 c. sucanant
- 1/4-1/2 c. raw cashews, depending on creaminess desired (OPTIONAL) or use 1 c. plain, unsweetened soy milk
- 4 roasted red bell peppers (I buy mine in a jar which keeps for awhile refridgerated)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- shredded romaine lettuce & diced avacado (OPTIONAL)
To make: Heat soup pot on medium heat. In a food processor, pulse garlic and onions until finely chopped into small pieces. Put onions and garlic in pot and stir occassionally for a few minutes, until onions become translucent (I love the smell of cooking garlic and onions!). Add celery and stir/cook for 1-2 minutes. Add vegetable bouillon, water, quinoa. Simmer on medium high for about 10 minutes. In a blender, blend cashews, tomatoes, red pepper, sucanant. Add to soup mixture along with cauliflower, noodles, and corn. Continue to simmer for 10-15 more minutes, or until quinoa and noodles are fully cooked. Turn heat to low until ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste, top with lettuce and fresh avacado.