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

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

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

Don’t Pinch My Blog, I’ve Got a Green Recipe!

As mentioned in my last post, we are on week one of our first CSA. It was like Christmas pulling out one surprise veggie after another … until I got to the final item, the lump of coal at the bottom. “What’s this?” I said. It didn’t quite look like kale or chard, but similar. I went to the inventory sheet and my fears were realized – collard greens.

My first and only experience with collard greens was purchasing them in a bag on sale at a mega-grocer about seven years ago. Terrible, terrible, terrible. But determined to polish off that entire CSA box and give every veggie a fair trial, I headed to one of my favorite healthy cookbooks, Whole Life Nutrition. I was confident that Alissa (gotta love her name) would have a recipe to turn those greens into something good. In fact, she had two. One was for Apple-Spiced Collard Greens, which sounded rather tasty, but I didn’t have any apple juice on hand. The second was for Collard Green and Hummus Roll-ups. Now hummus, that is something I almost always have on hand!

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

My version is more of a guide / idea than a recipe, but let me tell you, it really worked to turn those nice big collard leaves (perfectly flat and excellent to work with, unlike kale or stiff chard leaves) into a tasty large snack or small meal – however you view it. And I realize Collard Greens don’t exactly shout “St. Patrick’s Day,” but hey, they are GREEN!

Now it is quite possible that there will be more of these collard greens in today’s CSA box, so please do tell … Do you have any ideas or favorite recipes for using Collard Greens?

 

Collard Green and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Adapted from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • Collard Green Leaves, nice full healthy ones
  • Hummus, your flavor of choice
  • Carrots, for shredding
  • Avocado, sliced (optional – I didn’t have any)
  • Leftover Chicken (optional – omit for a vegan option)
  • Olives (optional – my hummus was kalamata olive hummus so I could resist)
  • Other Veggie Toppings of Choice (go wild!)

Lay the leaves flat, and cut them in half, carefully cutting out that thick stem. Spread each leaf half with your favorite hummus (I was using an olive hummus, hence the darker color), and sprinkle with grated or shredded carrot.

Okay, get ready, this is my first ever step by step photo – except it is just one step …

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Now, simply roll them up tight for a very light snack (I did this once, and they were tasty just like this!), or top them with your choice of toppings. The second time I made them I had some leftover chicken and olives, so I went with this, which made thicker rolls.

Yields as many as you like

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Creamy Green Garlic Soup

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

Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

I have been so impressed with how well our herb plant not only survived the move, but also how much it is thriving, even in this cooler climate. Must be all of the great sun it is getting in our very bright new (to us) kitchen.

Alisa's herb garden

I have found good use for the basil and parsley with some regularity, but until yesterday, I hadn’t found a good recipe for the sage. My husband is okay with sage in light moderation, but I have to use caution, lest he be overwhelmed (I am an herb- and spice-aholic). So it took me some time to be inspired by a sage-including recipe that we would both enjoy.

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

This one definitely fit the bill, and it also gave me another opportunity to test out the new Earth Balance soy-free margarine (all natural – none of those nasty trans fats!). If dairy works in your household, butter can of course be utilized, but all of you dairy-freers and vegans out there will be happy to know that the Earth Balance was excellent as a “browned butter.”

Though I typically roast squash for that caramelization effect, I must admit that this cooking method worked fabulously. It was almost like a steaming technique that locked in the natural flavor. Try it!

Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

Recipe adapted from Recipezaar. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • 1 Acorn Squash (medium-sized), cut in half lenthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance soy-free, but you could also sub in coconut oil and a pinch of salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey (agave nectar, brown sugar, or maple syrup should also go nicely)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Fresh Sage, minced

Preheat your oven to350°F.

Place the prepared squash cut side down on a baking sheet or in a bakng dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Keep in mind, if you leave it cut side down after removing it from the oven, it will continue to soften and cook a bit.

While the squash is baking, place the margarine in a small saucepan over medium-low to medium heat. Stir (not constantly, but with regularity) and cook until it just begins to brown, but do not let it burn (took about 10 minutes for me – You can also see these more detailed instructions for browning butter)

Remove the margarine from the heat and stir in the honey (or other sweetener) and sage. Allow the flavors to sit and meld while your squash cools for a few.

Cut each squash half into quarters (this is how I like to serve it), and evenly spoon the sweet sage butter into the squash sections and serve.

Note: I like to make cuts in the middle of each squash section, allowing the butter to seep in. You can also smash it in for some tasty mashed squash.

Another Note: I served this for lunch with simple baked chicken breasts. Slopping up any honey-sage-butter that had drizzled onto my plate with the chicken was really yummy too.

Yields 2 squashy servings

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

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