Quinoa, Greens and Root Veg Soup

I’ve totally been embracing this whole “eating New England style” as November comes to a close.  “New England style” is basically eating the produce that’s available in New England during fall and winter.  It largely consists of storage crops and winter greens.  Produce like potatoes, winter squashes, onions, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and even tatsoi.

Also, soup has been served practically everyday in our little apartment.  LLN basically reflects what Roo and I eat, so hopefully you haven’t grown tired of the seasonal veg and soups that have been featured.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!  I am absolutely in love with swinging by the farmers market at city hall to see what’s available that day.  Sometimes I peruse the tables out of need for a recipe, and other times it’s to just pick up an item or two, if only to support the farmers that trekked into the city, just to sit in the cold all day.  Just a note: the more you frequent a vendor, the more likely they’ll remember you and try to give you a better deal (ie I’ve received a free handful of this or that and sometimes a couple of apples).  It really does pay off to shop local.

Ok, enough about farmers markets.

I’m here to write about soup.  Soup that I was able to make in thirty minutes after a quick chop of some seasonal produce and a stir in of quinoa.  Soup that has a bit of heat from red pepper flake, an earthiness from rosemary, loads of textures and a “complete protein” that makes even the judgmental of a plant-based diet hush as they dunk chunks of warm, crusty bread into the broth.

It’s incredibly flavorful and fast.  It’s a soup that warms our bones on nights when the heat drops below freezing and our uninsulated windows remind us that summer is over and it’s time for tea, blankets and baking.  Lots of baking.

And like most soups, it tastes even better the next day, as the flavors are able to meld together; potatoes completely infused with the spicy earthy broth.

Which leads me to ask, have you made a soup with quinoa before?  What do you typically use quinoa for?  I’ve used it in cakes, salads and now soups.  I don’t think there’s anything this little seed can’t do.

Inspired by The Urban Vegan Cookbook Recipe for Quinoa Soup

Adapted from Spicy and Hearty Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup

Ingredients

1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot)

2 medium onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced (love garlic, LOVE)

1 – 2 teaspoons of red pepper flake (if you’re heat sensitive, start with a half teaspoon)

1 bunch of collard greens, (about a pound) leaves removed from stems, torn with hands into easily edible pieces (you can use kale, collards were all I had.  I would not recommend spinach, unless if it was added right at the end, as it’s incredibly delicate compared to kale, etc.)

8 cups of low sodium broth (I used homemade vegetable)

Half to 1 cup of dry quinoa (1 cup results in a lot of quinoa with very little broth.  If you’d like to have a lot of liquid in your soup, use half a cup)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of dried rosemary

2 carrots, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

3 to 4 medium potatoes, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Equipment

One large pot

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

A spatula/tongs

Pour olive oil into your pot and place over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions turn golden brown (it may take more than five minutes depending on your burner), add the garlic, red pepper flake and rosemary.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the broth, quinoa, bay leaves, greens, carrots and potatoes.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce the heat to bring the soup at a simmer.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, about fifteen minutes.

Add the beans if using, and stir in.  Simmer for about five minutes longer, then serve.

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A Different Kind of Smoothie

Tonight Roo and I did something daring.

Did we watch the new Harry Potter movie with risk of being spotted by Roo’s students?

Wash our clothes in the same laundromat that the neighborhood guy walks into, with plastic bags on his feet?

Try to groom Stinky when she least suspects it?

No to all of those.

What we did was drink our greens.

And it was delicious.

Before I completely lose you, (because it took some convincing for myself to do it), your smoothie will not, I repeat, NOT taste like a bag of lawn clippings. It’s honestly undetectable. All you need is a really good blender, a couple of ingredients (your berries don’t even have to be fresh, I love frozen fruit for sheer convenience) and a really good poker face when you hand it over to your partner. Or in my case, not look at Roo until I asked him how the smoothie was.

What’s the advantage of drinking your greens? In our case, it was mostly to use up the seemingly endless supply of greens stacked up in our fridge from our CSA. Also, cooking greens does cause it to lose some of its “superfood” quality, especially when you boil them (eg collard greens) and then drain that water away (all the nutrients have leached out into that water). By eating it raw, we get everything that mother nature intended.

If you don’t have spinach, feel free to try something else. This is your smoothie. If you have baby spinach, it’s actually the most commonly use “green” to use since it’s widely available and easiest to blend.  It also is even more mild tasting than (regular) spinach.

Please don’t judge our flooring, we’re renters.

Serves two generously

Ingredients

Eight ice cubes (the blocky ones from a tray)

Two handfuls of frozen strawberries

Two handfuls of frozen raspberries

Two handfuls of frozen blueberries

Two bananas, broken up with your hands

Juice from two lemons (I don’t like super sweet smoothies)

Quarter to 1 cup of apple juice (we’re down to a quarter cup, really enjoying the not too sweet taste of the fruit, but it’s your smoothie, you can add more as you taste and blend)

Leaves from spinach (about a handful), washed and water shaken out (it doesn’t need to be bone dry)

Equipment

A powerful blender

Add ice cubes to the bottom of the blender. Then add the bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and then greens. Squeeze the juice of two lemons over the ingredients. Add the apple juice. Blend. The smoothie will be quite thick (we love drinking them with straws, oooooh, novelty!) but delicious.