Joni’s Creamy, Chunky, Rustic, and Flavorful Potato Leek Soup (or is it Celine’s?)

Posted by on April 22, 2010 | 14 Comments

As my friend Ricki pointed out, half the fun in using recipes from 500 Vegan Recipes is trying to guess which author wrote which recipe. Both ladies have been blogging their recipes for quite some time, offering hints of their style. But still, I was stumped on some. This recipe though, definitely Joni. I think.

Well, whoever created it, it is delicious! And talk about filling. I tend to be one of those people who eats half my body weight at each meal. But a modest bowl of this soup at dinner was plenty. For that reason, it makes a perfect vegetarian night meal (Meatless Mondays anyone?), and who doesn’t love leftover soup for lunch?

There are many potato leek soup recipes out there, but this one has its own special touches that I just loved. Unpeeled potatoes for a “rustic” look and taste (mmm, love those potato skins!); lemongrass for a unique essence that melded perfectly, and the use of vegetable broth instead of chicken broth gave the soup a beautiful and unexpected orange hue. I liked this, as it left my husband guessing on what type of soup it really was, and of course looks better in pictures …

Rustic Vegan Potato Leek Soup

I adapted the recipe just slightly, adding a wee bit of white pepper, specifying the salt amount I used, and substituting dried lemongrass (luckily I had some on hand since the fresh lemongrass in store looked far less than stellar). I discovered dried lemongrass at Cost Plus World Market. A generously filled jar for just $2.99, so I had to give it a whirl. I also adjusted the directions quite a bit to fit how I made the soup. But, the basis of this soup is all Joni, err … or Celine.

 

Recipe: Rustic Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Summary: Recipe adapted from 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free; I think you could substitute olive oil here if need be)
  • 2 Medium Leeks, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds and halved (about 3 cups)
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Lemongrass or 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemongrass
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (I used Pacific Foods Organic Vegetable Broth)
  • 1-1/2 lbs Russet Potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (skin on)
  • 3/4 to 1 Teaspoon Salt, or to taste (I used 1 teaspoon total)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon White Pepper (optional)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the margarine in a stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the leeks and lemongrass and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the leeks soften quite a bit and just begin to brown.
  3. Add the broth, deglazing the pan if needed, and bring the soup to a boil.
  4. Add the potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. The original recipe called for using an immersion blender, leaving some chunky, but I don’t have one. So I placed half of the soup in my blender, and carefully (make sure that lid is covered, you don’t want hot soup flying out!) whizzed it until creamy and relatively smooth. I then added this back to the pan along with the white pepper and gave it all a stir to combine.
  6. Taste test and season to taste with more salt (I used another 1/2 t). If using black pepper, this is the time to add it, or you could let each person grind in their own.

Diet type: Vegan

Number of servings (yield): 4

Copyright © Alisa Fleming.

Rustic Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Chipotle Chicken and Chard Chili

Posted by on March 30, 2010 | 16 Comments

How is that for an alliterate recipe title? So thanks to Lacey’s response on my “how to use these veggies” post, I discovered a great new-to-me recipe from Giada of the Food Network. Of course, her recipe needed a few little tweeks. Cheese? Not in our house. How much fennel? Lets trim that down – a lot. Ground chicken? Chicken should be chunky! Parsley on chili? Seriously?

So after making a few modifications this very chunky chili was served and it was delicious! The recipe does make for a very chicken-heavy chili. Feel free to cut that down to 3/4 lb, 1/2 lb, or even make it vegetarian if you wish. You can easily double the beans, add some more veggies (I thought chopped zucchini would go nicely), or just thicken the broth a bit more and enjoy it with less of the chunky add-ins.

Chipotle Chicken and Chard Chili

To note, we did like it as is, and I don’t think my husband (aka “the meat man”) would want me to cut back on the chicken at all, let alone make it vegetarian.

For dinner (the first time), I served full bowls with some homemade “cheddar” and chive spelt rolls (nightime, hence the dark lighting) …

Chipotle Chicken and Chard Chili

For lunch the next day (pictured above), we were out of the rolls, but it still went nicely as leftovers over rice.

On a second go of the chili (more chard in the CSA!), I added some quartered mushrooms (about 4 ounces, but you could go for 8) and served the chili over a bed of rice steamed asparagus. Both veggies were nice additions, so feel free to play around with the produce you have on hand.

 

Chipotle Chicken and Chard Chili

Recipe adapted from Giada’s White Bean and Chicken Chili. I used chipotle chili powder, and even just this wee amount made the dish notably spicy. You can adjust to taste with some crushed red pepper, chilis, or hot sauce, should your chili powder not bring the heat you are seeking.

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, optionally Gluten-Free, and heck, you can even make it Vegan / Vegetarian (sans chicken of course) if you so desire.

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into small slices / chunks*
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Cornstarch or Arrowroot
  • Couple Pinches of Salt (optional)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Large Onion, diced or 1 Leek, sliced 1/4-inch thick and quartered
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt or to taste, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Flour (your choice, I used whole wheat pastry flour), depending on how thick you like it
  • 1 15-ounce can Cannellini or White Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Large Bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces (my bunch with stems was about 3/4 lb) OR 1 Bag of Baby Spinach Leaves (should chard be hard to come by in your area)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn, Thawed
  • 2 Cups Regular or Low-Sodium Chicken Broth (I used regular)
  • White or Brown Rice for serving (optional)

Place the chicken in a medium-sized bowl, and stir in the cornstarch or arrowroot (I like to add a pinch or two of salt here too) until it is well-distributed and appears absorbed. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion or leek and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until nice and softened. Add the garlic and sauté for just 30 seconds or so. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the spices – cumin, fennel, oregano, and chili powder. Cook while continuously stirring, until the chicken is cooked (no pink showing). This will take about 7 or 8 minutes. If the chicken threatens to stick, just add a dash or two of the broth.

Stir in the flour to coat, and add the broth, beans, chard, and corn. The chard will look boisterous, but don’t worry, it cooks down significantly.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow it to simmer for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. The liquid will reduce in half and thicken a fair bit. Taste test it as it is cooking, and season to taste with additional salt (I used another 1/4 teaspoon) if desired. You can also add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper as it cooks if you want more spice, but we found the medium-heat to be just right as is.

If desired, serve over rice and with some homemade rolls.

*I used chicken breasts that were only slightly defrosted, making them very easy to slice. I sliced them about ¼-inch thick, and then cut each slice into ½-inch chunks. But you can cut them any size you like.

Yields 4 servings with rice and/or bread

Can you spot the spoon in this picture?

Chipotle Chicken and Chard Chili

Creamy Green Garlic Soup

Posted by on March 15, 2010 | 18 Comments

This recipe is an ever so slight detour from my ususal “grocery store” fare (though regular garlic can be used, as noted), because I have at last joined the CSA world! Last week I got my very first ever CSA veggie box. Now that we live reasonably close to some of those great California farms, and since all of you wonderful food bloggers have introduced me to this concept, I had to join up. I was actually on the waiting list for Mountain Bounty Farm (who delivers to the Tahoe area), and was able to cut in mid-season.

I must say, I am not the least bit disappointed! A close friend splits a share with another friend, and she thought I was insane getting a whole share for just myself and my husband. But, I think she underestimated 1) my twisted love for vegetables and 2) how much food bloggers relish quality, organic goods. Lets just say, I have had no problem polishing off the entire box, and have still picked up some other veggies at the market this past week.

Since I was new to a few ingredients, like green garlic, I have been trying to stick to recipes with few ingredients, so that I can really taste what these veggies are all about. Green garlic is interesting, as it is the immature version of the bulb garlic we buy at the grocery store. It is milder, and to me it did have a “green” taste. It did seem to be a cross (in both looks and flavor) between large green onions / spring onions and mature garlic.

This is really just a very basic creamy potato soup made with green garlic. You could easily sub in a few cloves of regular garlic, or even a bulb of roasted garlic for a different, but delicious variation. Actually, I think if I were to choose, I would try this soup next with roasted garlic, but the green garlic was a nice variation that was a touch sweeter and had that “cold-kicking” garlic essence that I was craving after a big snowstorm hit.

creamy, dairy-free green garlic soup

 

Creamy Green Garlic Soup

Cheap russets or baking potatotes are the best for soups like this due to their high starch content. Yukons have a medium starch content and will also work well, while adding a touch of their “buttery” feel. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian.

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used olive oil)
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced (about 1-1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 lb Green Garlic or 3 bulbs, thinly sliced and cut in half (I used the whites, pink, and part way up the green) – can sub 2 to 4 minced medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I didn’t peel)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, plus more to taste (I used 1 teaspoon total)
  • 1 Quart Vegetable or Chicken Broth (I used Pacific Foods Free Range Chicken Broth)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Dairy-Free Margarine (optional)

Heat the oil or margarine in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and become translucent.

Add the garlic, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and saute for another 5 minutes – keeping things moving. If the pan dries out, splash in a wee bit of the broth to keep the ingredients from sticking.

Add the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and tender.

Using an immersion blender, or in two batches in a regular blender, puree the soup (garlic, onions, potatoes and all) until it is nice and smooth. I did it in my blender, allowing each batch to spin for a couple of minutes. Use caution when you turn the blender on, making sure you have a firm hand on the lid to ensure that no hot soup escapes. Trust me, that is never fun!

Return the soup to your pot and season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. As noted, I used a fair bit of salt, because I was craving it, but go for what you like best. If you have some miso on hand, I might try mixing in some of this for a different flavor variation instead of the extra salt.

If desired, serve with 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of margarine swirled in to each bowl.

Yields 3 light lunches

Creamy dairy-free green garlic soup

Trusting Your Gut: Creamy Thai Tomato Soup

Posted by on September 13, 2009 | 22 Comments

I am not always much for stories, but today, I just need to share. Luckily, my story (or two) includes a recipe (a really delicious one in fact) to reward all of you who stick around.

Two weeks ago, I was in the kitchen, experimenting yet again. I have been in constant pursuit of the perfect Thai Lettuce Wraps. It was my fifth round of attempts (yes, I said fifth). All prior recipes were okay, but not quite there, so I decided to go with a different inspiration, one with a tomato-y base.  I used a recipe as my general guide, and all seemed to be going well, until I added the coconut milk. Way, way too much. The seasonings were so diluted in the sauce that I knew the remaining chunks of veggies and meat wouldn’t be flavorful enough on their own.

I was about to give in, serve them in the lettuce wraps, and chalk it up as another mediocre attempt when something compelled me to just give the sauce a little taste to see if it was worth salvaging in some other way. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I seriously impressed myself. Not wanting to waste a drop, I added more light coconut milk and served it up as a chunky soup / stew. We licked our bowls clean within mere minutes. Needless to say, I have already made that soup again, and again (recipe below).

But it seems that whatever that something inside of me was, that gut feeling to not just let it go, was the theme that week.

For years my husband and I hesitated to even say the name of the town we moved from almost five years ago. We had lived there for many important and wonderful years of our lives. We bought our first home, we got married, we built a successful business … but, at the end of it all, we left with so much animosity. Though our marriage was strong, we hit one of those rough patches in life, and we took our anger out on “that place.” We couldn’t even appreciate the wonderful friendships that were just beginning to build and the sheer beauty that surrounded us.

But that week, as we laid on the living room floor staring at the ceiling and discussing our next step, as we wondered about continuing our lease or buying a place where we currently live, a place we do enjoy … the conversation took a sharp turn to the land of the unexpected. The monster was unleashed; someone said the name of “that place,” and we both rather suddenly, wanted to go back. It was a strong gut feeling that literally consumed us. Our anger had long passed and we knew, we just knew, it was where we now belonged.

Within a single day, we went from four plus years of refusing to say the name of “that place,” to committing to move there and “settle down” in just 30 days.

Today as we talked about it with both nerves and excitement, my husband said he even started to well up when telling some people that we were moving back (my husband does not cry!). When I asked him why we are both feeling so emotional, he said, “It’s because we are going home.”

Dairy-Free Tomato Thai Soup

Alisa’s Accidental Creamy Thai Tomato Soup

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, relatively Low-Fat, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian. This is the baseline recipe, see my notes below for adding veggies and to make it vegan/vegetarian.

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (substitute peanut, olive, or grapeseed oil if you wish)
  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Leek (about 1 medium – whites and lower green, tough leaves removed) or Thinly Sliced Yellow/White Onion (about ½ medium onion)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Finely Minced Ginger
  • 8 Ounces Lean or Extra-Lean Ground Turkey (can substitute chicken or tofu or see veggie options below)
  • 1 8-Ounce Can Plain Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s or generic)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Red Curry Paste
  • 1 Cup Light Coconut Milk or Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
  • 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Lime Juice

Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek or onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute more. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the turkey. Cook, breaking it up as you stir, until cooked through, about 7 minutes or so. Stir in tomato sauce and curry paste, and allow the flavors to meld for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (coconut milk through the lime), and let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken a bit. Serve.

Optional Veggie Add-Ins: This recipe is very friendly to veggies in terms of taste. On the first go, I added 2 full cups of baby spinach leaves near the very end of simmering. The second time I added about 1.5 cups of thinly sliced cabbage after the onions. Both were wonderful (I think we liked the spinach best though). Some other veggies that really appeal to me for this recipe are cauliflower, eggplant (would need  a bit more saute time), and baby corn.

Vegetarian / Vegan Option: As noted above, you can substitute in tofu for the meat, and/or feel free to go crazy with the veggie suggestions or your own ideas. The tricky part is the fish sauce. It seems there is a vegetarian version on the market, or you can make your own homemade version, or in a pinch, substitute soy sauce (adding some nori flakes if you have them – seaweed gives it more of that fishy taste), but the flavor will be a bit different.

Dairy-Free Tomato Thai Turkey Soup

Blog Events: I am submitting this recipe to Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.

Mushroom Barley Soup – Simple Comfort Food

Posted by on March 16, 2009 | 55 Comments

Well, technically, if you are making my version of Mushroom Barley Soup, it should actually be classified as a stew. Both my husband and I love barley, so I feel no need to use moderation when adding the pearly grain. So many recipes I see for this type of soup use a paltry 1/3 cup of dried barley with 8 cups of broth – ridiculous! The recipe below is filled with barley and mushrooms, and it makes a hearty meal for two, or a light lunch for three. And when I say hearty, I mean it. I am sitting here typing this with an ever-expanding belly having just downed this entire bowl …

Mushroom Barley Soup

 Also, I lost track on how much salt I used (bad I know!), but it was somewhere around ½ teaspoon, plus I added 1 teaspoon of miso paste (optional, can just add salt to taste; we tend to splurge on the salt with soups). The amount of salt you need will vary quite a bit depending on the saltiness of the broth and tomato paste you use and how salty you like the end result. I used the organic beef broth from Trader Joe’s, but I was ½ cup shy, so I added water to get to the full 4 cups. I also used a tomato paste that was simply tomatoes, no added sodium or flavors. While I do recommend beef broth, chicken broth or no chicken broth could be subbed in a pinch, and I think the mushroom broth from Pacific Foods would be good; I buy it whenever I find it for a good price, which is rare.

Okay, one last note … I was completely out of other veggies, but if you like, feel free to add in some diced carrots and/or celery for some added nutrition and flavor.

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup / Stew

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used grapeseed, but Olive or Vegetable will do)
  • ½ Medium Onion, slivered (about 1¼ cups)
  • ½ Cup Dry Barley, rinsed (I used the inexpensive pearl barley)
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (or about 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 8 Ounces Sliced Button or Cremini Mushrooms
  • 4 Cups (1 quart) Beef or Mushroom Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ¼ -1 Teaspoon Salt to Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Miso Paste (or simply more salt to taste)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Reduce the heat just a touch, add the barley, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms, followed by the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaf, and I would start with ¼ teaspoon of salt and the miso if using. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the barley is nice and tender.  Season to taste with additional salt (see my notes in the post above) and black pepper to taste.

Yields 2 hearty, meal-sized servings

I had planned to make this soup crockpot-style, but as usual, I ran out of time. It should do well in a slow cooker; set on low for 6 to 8 hours, allowing the barley time to cook.

 

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