Category Archives: Soups

Vegetarian Soup Sampler: French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Minestrone

It is 25 degrees out and snow is softly falling.  Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner.  My fresh fraser fir is still up and decorated and Christmas music has given way to George Winston’s December and some great banjo tunes.  I’m thinking warm and cozy thoughts snuggled on the couch under an antique wool afghan.  Really no better time to share with you a sampler of the soups I made recently.

One day a few weeks ago, I decided my life needed some serious soup therapy.  There’s nothing I want more in cold Michigan weather than a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread to dunk in it.  That day I set to it, chopping up mounds of carrots, celery, potato, onion, and garlic and creating three hearty vegetarian soups.  Oh, what a day!  With steam coming off of three big soup pots on my stove, the warmth in my kitchen and in my heart was tangible.

The great thing about making big pots of soup all at once (and getting the labor out of the way) is that you can freeze and enjoy the soups long after they are made.  Once the soups had cooled, I ladled some of each into quart-sized freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my choice of three soups to thaw and heat on a cold winter day in January or February.



French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils (sort through for debris/rocks and rinse)
  • 1 cup of dried wild mushrooms with reconstituting water/mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup of kale or collard greens, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Minced parsley for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it browns slightly and softens somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste to the onion and stir to coat.  Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley and cook for a few minutes.  Add the lentils, 1-2 cups of mushroom stock, 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, mushrooms and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more if you prefer.  Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad and crusty bread.
  4. Serve 4 to 6.



Split Pea Soup

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Saute on medium heat until vegetables are somewhat softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat slightly so vegetables do not continue to brown and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Place split peas, water, salt, and dry mustard in a Dutch oven if you have one.  Otherwise a stock pot works fine.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with a lid to partially cover for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Simmer gently for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables and peas are soft.  If soup is too thick, thin with some water or vegetable stock.
  4. Add pepper and vinegar to taste.  Serve with a good crusty rye bread.
  5. Serves 6-8

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  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash (1 inch diameter), diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 20-30 oz of canned tomato puree or strained tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, white beans, or garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I use mini shells or ditalini but any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, and salt.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add celery, carrot, oregano, and basil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree, and beans.  Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Test the soup to see if the vegetables are tender.  Add pasta, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top and with a crusty sourdough or baguette.
  5. Serves 6-8
  6. NOTE:  If you are freezing some of your minestrone, do not add the pasta before freezing or it will come out all mushy.  Freeze the minestrone and when you are ready to thaw and enjoy it, cook up some pasta to add to the minestone–much better!

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Did anyone else have a delicious Thanksgiving?  You, you, and you?  Well, I did too.  And I am so thankful for the friendship I enjoyed over meals and the classic Thanksgiving dishes (cranberry sauce recipe to post soon) as well as some new favorites (hello, sweet potato and coconut milk puree!).  But now that that Butter Fest 2012 is over and done with I am craving some good clean foods, some hot yoga, some brisk walks, and a push to get back to some good whole foods eating.

This year started out on a great foot.  I was eating only whole foods and shying away from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.  After the holiday season my body was begging for vegetables, spices, and whole grains.  But alas!  Somehow, somewhere along the way I fell into a vat of whipped cream veered somewhat off of the path…(was it when I discovered this spring that I loved baking and became semi-addicted to sugar?) and now, at the beginning of this holiday season I have decided to get back on the wagon with my eating.  It feels necessary.  And happily, it feels so good.  This weekend, I went back to January and dug up the healthy living recipes I had so carefully selected, many from Sarah B. at My New Roots (love, love, love this blog).  One of the recipes was a butternut squash soup.  Imagine my delight when I realized that this week’s host of the Food Matters Project, Jen from Prairie Summers, chose a roasted butternut squash soup as this weeks recipe for all of us project participants to cook up.  Using elements of each recipe, I created my own vegetarian version, adding Indian spices and celeriac for a simple soup chock-full of flavor.

I paired my soup with a beautiful salad with mixed greens and microgreens, radishes, broccoli, and roasted acorn squash drizzled with a simple tahini vinaigrette.

And how goes hopping on the clean food wagon again?  Not too shabby, I say.   With food this colorful and flavorful, Thanksgiving is a distant memory and I’m not in any rush to get to the sugar cookies just around the bend in December.

I will be posting many more colorful whole food recipes this month–please join me and try one out.  I recommend starting with this one!

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook (original recipe was Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon, (page 120)

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 bulb of celeriac, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  1. Heat the oven to 400F. Spread the squash, onion, apples, celeriac (if using), and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Roast until veggies are tender and slightly browned, approx. 45 min.
  2. Remove sheet from the oven and transfer the roasted vegetables to a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the stock and the seasonings and simmer until the squash, onion and apples become very soft and begin to break apart.  You may either leave the soup chunky at this point or puree partially or fully with an immersion blender.  I pureed my soup partially to leave some chunks of apple, squash, and celeriac.
  4. Top with some shredded cabbage, cilantro, some raw pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, or some yogurt–whatever you like!  I would recommend this with a salad and some naan, hot from the oven.  Mmmmm!

Cauliflower Soup with Sharp Aged Cheddar and Homemade Mustard Croutons

This week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe choice was Whole Cauliflower with Sausage, chosen by Gracie over at Food Fascination.  I had every intent of trying this recipe but somehow my head of cauliflower turned into soup instead–blame it on this cold weather I guess–and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is probably the best thing I could have done with it.  This soup is decadent, creamy, warming, easy and wait for it….healthy to boot.  A complete surprise for me, having never made cauliflower soup before.  It is the first recipe I have tried from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Every Day and if this recipe is any indication, I’m going to really love cooking through and getting ideas from this book.  I’ve been a long time fan of Heidi’s beautiful blog, 101 Cookbooks, so I’m thrilled to have her book in my home.  Beautiful!

If you are wanting to try the whole cauliflower with sausage (and it does sound good!) head over to Food Fascination for the full recipe.  For endless variations, head over to The Food Matters Project website.  Now onto this delicious soup recipe…

Cauliflower Soup with Sharp Cheddar and Homemade Croutons adapted ever so slightly from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

For the croutons:

  • 6 oz of whole wheat bread, torn or cut into little pieces (less than 1 inch)–will yield about 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, shopped
  • 3 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2/3 cup of freshly grated aged cheddar cheese, plus more to top
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. to make the croutons, put the torn/cut bread in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter oer medium-high heat.  Whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt, and sage into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread.  Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the croutons are golden and crunchy.  Flip them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
  4. While the croutons are toasting, start the soup.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the onion and a big pinch of salt.  Saute until the onions soften, a couple of minutes.  Stir in the potato, cover, and cook for about 4 minutes, just long enough for the pieces to soften up a bit.  Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth.  Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are, stir in the cauliflower.  Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the cauliflower is tender throughout.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender.  Stir in half the Cheddar cheese and the mustard.  Add more broth or water if you feel the need to thin the soup at all.  Taste and add more salt, if needed.  Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese, some croutons, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.

Michigan Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle

This is the last week for corn in Michigan, a truly sad state of affairs, I’d say!  I’ve been hooked on an aptly named variety called “Heavenly Bliss” from Platte Family Farms of Comstock Park, MI (find them at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market).  Luckily, I had the good sense to freeze a couple of gallon bags of it to pull out when I am most in need of the fresh taste of summer in the middle of the long winter ahead.

In the midst of my efforts to preserve the harvest, I realized that I had several perfectly good ears of corn, kernels removed, just begging to be used for corn chowder stock.  Six lovely ears of corn went to the new task and the result was this sweet and smoky corn and sweet potato chowder with chipotle, adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe.  An excellent way to enjoy our delicious Michigan sweet corn.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project; serves 4

  • Kernels from 6 ears fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, minced, with some of their adobo sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chipped finely
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind) or masa harina
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large red skinned potato, peeled and chopped
  • Chopped fresh basil
  1. Put the corn cobs and 6 cups of water in a pot over medium-high heat and salt it.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat so the water bubbles gently and cook for about 15 minutes.  Let the cobs steep until you’re ready to make the soup, then remove them and save the broth.
  2. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When it’s hot, add the onions, chipotles with some of their adobo sauce (you can always add more later), and red bell peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers begin to get soft, about 1 minute.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in the cornmeal and some pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the milk and reserved broth and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Stir or whisk constantly until the cornmeal is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the corn kernels, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn and potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the basil if you like and serve.

Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup Two Ways

Wowee–already week 13 of the Food Matters Project!  This week we made Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup, chosen by Adrienne from Adrienne Eats.  I made mine two ways–chunky and pureed.  Click here to see what the other members of the project made!

After a week spent away on a business trip, it was fantastic to come home in time for the weekend to get back into my normal swing of things.  There is something very calming and reassuring about the weekly FMP recipe.  I know that no matter what else is going on, I am going to take part of my weekend to make something new.  What a great thing to add to my routine.  This soup was simple yet elegant, and captured two of my favorite things about spring:  leeks and asparagus.

This soup combines the creaminess of white beans and potatoes with the brightness of asparagus and leeks.  Bittman offers up a couple of suggestions for the final makeup of the dish–chunky or pureed.  I decided to make it two ways, one with the soup slightly mashed for creaminess but the asparagus intact and one with the soup pureed completely.  I loved both and may have even enjoyed the pureed soup better but my dining companion declared the pureed soup to be a bit too “baby-foody” for his taste.  To each his own, I guess!

One thing to keep in mind with the preparation of this dish is to wash the leeks thoroughly.  This won’t be as big of an issue if you are using wild leeks but this (now) city girl had to buy a gigantic leek from the grocery store and clean it well.  The best way I have found to clean leeks is to slice the white and light green part thinly and plunge in a bowl of cold water, swishing and then draining several times.

As a finishing touch, I chopped up a few asparagus spears and used them as garnish.

Roasted asparagus and white bean soup

Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 leeks, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 c cooked or canned white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, bean cooking liquid, or water, plus more as needed
  • about 1.5 lb of asparagus, peeled if thick
  • One 2-oz piece Parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings
  1. Heat oven to 450. Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit and beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup of the broth, and stir to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the potatoes, about half the beans, and the stock. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover partially and cook, stirring infrequently, until the potatoes are disintegrating, 20 to 30 minutes; add more liquid as necessary so the mixture remains soupy.
  3. Meanwhile (or ahead of time), put the asparagus in a shallow roasting pan, drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning the spears once or twice, just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool a bit. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to shave slices from the piece of cheese.
  4. When the soup is ready, mash the potatoes and beans a bit. Chop the asparagus and add it to the pot along with the remaining beans to warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve each bowl with some shaved cheese on top.
Pureed Asparagus and White Bean Soup: After you add the chopped roasted asparagus in Step 4, carefully puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender; or simply mash with a potato masher. If you prefer, puree only the beans and broth and add the chopped asparagus before serving.

Curried Tomato Soup

Thanks to Joanne for her interesting pick for the Food Matters project this week.  I really look forward to my weekly creation and having someone else pick a dish for me (and everyone else on the project) really pushes me to try new things.  Not that I don’t try new things all of the time…but it’s undeniable that I tend to pick certain types of dishes over others.  Well, this week was Curried Tomato Soup with Hard Boiled Eggs.

I have been going through a hard boiled egg phase lately so I already had that going for me.  And the soup ingredients were very similar to a cauliflower and pea curry I made recently (sans peas) so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.  I put the soup together whilst gabbing on the phone so it took a bit longer than it should have but it was very easy.  When done, I wasn’t sure I liked the big chunks of cauliflower floating around in it (I should have chopped it into smaller bits) so I took my immersion blender (best thing since sliced bread) and went at it.  If you don’t have an immersion blender yet and you like to cook please, for me, just get one.  They are so awesome.  You can make smoothies, puree soups, dips, anything…all without dirtying a food processor or blender.  Anyway, I went at it until the soup was a puree with some very little bits and I really like what it did for the soup although I’m sure it would have been fine without pureeing had I chopped the cauliflower into smaller bits.  For Joanne’s take on the dish as well as the recipe, head to:  For everyone else’s take on the dish check out:  Those bloggers come up with some very unique takes on each week’s recipes.  I took the soup to Sunday dinner with Carrie, Abby, Kellie, and Bill and offered it two ways:  topped with roasted shaved fennel or with hard boiled eggs.  At first everyone thought it seemed more like a sauce or a dip but after a bite or two, everyone seemed to really get into it.  I got more into it myself and am glad to have this added to my repertoire!  One other thing:  I served it at room temp and preferred it this way.  It was a great dish on what felt like a summer day on the patio.


Curried Tomato Soup with Hard-Boiled Eggs

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chile
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include their juice)
  • 1 small cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chile.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the curry powder, cumin, and sugar.  Cook and stir until the spices become fragrant, a minute or 2 more.
  2. Add the potatoes and carrot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, for a minute or 2, then add the vegetable stock, coconut milk, and tomatoes with their liquid.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.  Cook, stirring once in a while, until the potatoes and carrots are fairly soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower and adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently.  cook until all the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes more.  (The soup can be made up to this point in advance and refrigerated for several days or frozen for months; gently reheat before proceeding.)  Serve garnished with the hard-boiled eggs and cilantro.
  4. NOTE:  I pureed it, which I thought turned out pretty well.  It would translate well into a sauce for vegetables or tofu over rice or as a dip for some crusty bread.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Escarole

I have been doing a some traveling lately (and eating out a lot) so I was looking forward to getting home and making a big pot of soup.  Nothing says home to me more than a pot of soup (at least in the winter).  This recipe from last month’s Cooking Light magazine had been on my counter for a while and it is one of those soups I always hear good things about so I thought I would give it a whirl.  I wasn’t sure if I would be too into this soup–I typically like soups with tomato bases or with bean bases (split pea, red lentil, etc.).  I also wasn’t crazy about the escarole idea (kind of lettuce-y) and almost bailed on it altogether, thinking of adding kale instead.  But I made the recipe to the letter and it is delicious.  Filling, creamy, savory, and so good.  Ah, it is good to be home!

  • YIELD: Serves 4 (serving size: about 2 cups soup and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese)
  • HANDS-ON:15 Minutes
  • TOTAL:50 Minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2  (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2  fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1  (1 1/2-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
  • 8 cups chopped escarole (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese


1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth and the next 5 ingredients (through cheese rind); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in escarole and carrot; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrot is tender. Stir in red pepper, salt, black pepper, and vinegar. Remove and discard rind; sprinkle soup with shaved cheese.