Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Soup”

Chicken soup’s vegetarian equivalent: Chickpea and wild rice stew

Chickpea soup 1

As I write this post, I’m home from work trying to nurse a cold that’s been lingering for the past few days. I almost felt guilty staying home today to try to feel better, but then I thought “Why do I feel this intense pressure to be at work, even when I’m not healthy or up to being there?” I think a lot of it has to do with the societal pressure of feeling like work should always come first. I shouldn’t have to be on my death bed to justify taking a sick day when I clearly can’t function as I normally could if I was there.

After reading a few of Anne’s posts on her blog, Balanced Living, I’m reminded by how important it is to manage stress within one’s life. The post, Mind over Medicine has a link to an interesting TED talk about stress and how to deal with it. Stress is probably what caused me to be sick in the first place.

Now, its’ time to heal with some healthy food and much needed rest. The chickpea and wild rice soup recipe posted below, is filling, nourishing, and delicious. It is just what my body ordered on a day like today.

Chickpea soup 2

Chickpea and wild rice soup:

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients: 

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic diced,

optional: 1 yellow onion, diced

1 medium sized potato, peeled and diced

3 stalks of celery, washed and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 quarts of culinary vegetable broth

1/2 cup of a wild and brown rice mix

1/4 tsp each of salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp each of oregano and dried basil

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. When it’s hot, add the onion. After letting the onion soften for 3-5 minutes, add the garlic. After a minute or so, add the potato, carrots, and celery. Let those ingredients cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chickpeas, vegetable broth, rice, and spices. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Then let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice and potatoes are tender. Enjoy!

Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

I knew this day would come. I knew that my clumsiness would eventually show itself. It can only stay hidden for so long. When my uncoordinated nature comes out, there isn’t just one tiny incident of tripping up the stairs or bumping into the coffee table. It consists of a day’s worth of clumsy moments. Each one slightly more embarrassing than the last.

Earlier in the day on Monday I’d been brushing up against every possible piece of furniture in my path (it’s no wonder that I have a collection of bruises that I can’t explain).  Therefore, Monday night’s plate incident came as no surprise.

I now have one less plate in my cabinet. Said plate has been transported to the garbage where it will reside for the rest of its days. As for me, my (accidental) plate throwing spell is over (I hope).

There wasn’t even anything I could have done to save the plate. As soon as it left my hands and shot through the air I thought, “Man down.” It was as if the action was unfolding in slow motion, but I still didn’t even have enough time to reach out for the plate to try to save it. It hit the ground. White pieces of glass went flying under the chair, into the kitchen, and under the end table. It was like a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except for that my plate smashing was unintentional.

After cleaning up the mess, I breathed a sign of relief (odd, I know) because for me this moment was inevitable. It was going to happen (I’ve got a history with breaking glasses, bowls, plates, you name it, I’ve probably broken it). The first plate was broken. The mystery of when and how it would happen was over. Now, I can move forward with the five plates I have left. Maybe they can all last longer than this first one (a few months isn’t a long enough life span for a plate).

Yet again, I’ve rambled on about the small moments of my life. All of which have nothing to do with the recipe found below. The watermelon gazpacho was not the culprit of the incident. It was however, very delicious and slightly more notable than my plate dropping accident. Sweet, spicy, and savory are all words that could be used to describe this cold soup. Enjoy!

Watermelon Gazpacho:

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cups of watermelon, cubed

1 medium tomato, diced

1 small-medium cucumber, diced

1 jalapeno, diced with the seeds removed

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 1 tbsp of fresh cilantro (diced)

1 lime juiced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/8 tsp of garlic powder

Method:

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend on high until the soup is smooth. Chill the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Optional: I made a fresh salsa out of the leftover ingredients (cucumber, watermelon, tomato, cilantro, and lime) to top the soup with. A suggested side dish would be jalapeno cornbread.

Mean Green Gazpacho

Green gazpacho 2

Since getting a food processor for my birthday in June, I’ve learned a few things:

1. Not everything tastes or looks better when made in a food processor (the only guacamole I wasn’t crazy about was made in a food processor)

2. Having a food processor opens up a whole new window of items that can be cooked or at least made much more easily (hummus or avocado pudding anyone?)

3. Gazpacho is amazing and is worth having a food processor to make it upon your convenience

Green gazpacho

Green gazpacho served alongside some jalapeno cornbread.

Mean Green Gazpacho

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

1 green heirloom tomato, diced

1/2 an avocado, removed from skin and diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

1 tbsp of freshly diced cilantro

1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of water

1 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Method:

After prepping all of the ingredients, add them to a food processor or high speed blender and blend on high until the mixture is smooth. You may need to occasionally scrape the sides of the food processor with a spatula during blending. Top with a fresh salsa or sauteed/grilled corn (after cutting it off the cob, I sauteed my corn in a bit of olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper).  Chill before serving and enjoy!

Spicy Jalapeno Gazpacho Topped With Grilled Corn and Culinary Firsts

Gazpacho 2

Since becoming a vegetarian in February and later trying to eat an entirely plant-based diet, I have cooked, prepared, and tried many new foods. Eating a plant-based diet has helped me to become more creative in the kitchen and to avoid making and remaking the same recipes over and over again.

One of my latest firsts was making gazpacho. I’ve never made a chilled soup before, let alone eaten one. That is where my new(ish) food processor came in handy. After first tasting my spicy gazpacho creation, I was addicted. I gobbled up the whole bowl and vowed to make more in the near future. The flavor from the jalapeno was slightly spicy, but the cucumber helped balance the heat of the hot pepper. The lime added just the right amount of sweetness to the soup and the spices and garlic kicked it up a notch (as Emeril Lagasse would say). I also enjoyed the added texture of the corn with the smooth soup. Do you have a favorite summer soup?

Making gazpacho was a culinary first that paid off. The grilled corn was another foodie first of mine. If you missed the how to and recipe for grilled corn and chili-spiced snap pea salad, you can find it here.

Grilled Corn

“Grilled” corn without the grill.

Spicy Jalapeno Gazpacho Topped with Grilled Corn:

*Makes two small to medium bowls of soup or one large bowl

“Grilled” Corn Ingredients:

1 cob of corn, remove the husk

1 tsp of olive oil

1/2 tsp of dried cilantro and chili powder

A dash of salt and pepper

Guacamole Ingredients:

1/2 an avocado, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 a lime, juiced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Optional: diced tomatoes, jalapeno, onion (I just kept mine simple using an avocado, garlic, lime juice, and several spices)

Gazpacho Ingredients:

2 1/2 – 3 cups of diced tomato

1 medium cucumber, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (or 2 for more heat)

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 – 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of black pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 3 tsp of freshly chopped cilantro

1 lime, juiced

Method:

The “grilled” corn was inspired by Shannon’s genius recipe for grilled corn made without a grill, which can be found on her blog Move Eat Create (click here for a link to her how to post and recipe for corn and yellow pepper relish). I followed her cooking instructions, just changed up the spices a little bit. If you have a grill obviously you can just use that!

To make the “grilled” corn without a grill, first remove the corn husk and turn the broiler on. Then, gently rinse the corn and pat it dry. Add the olive oil and spices to the corn cob and make sure they are distributed evenly. Put the corn cob on a broiler safe baking pan and put it about 5 inches away from the heat. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then turn it 1/4 of the way. Do this until all sides of the corn have been “grilled.”  Set the corn aside to cool. When it is cool you can slice it off the cob and set it aside until the gazpacho is ready.

To make the guacamole, just halve the avocado and dice it small. Add the avocado to a bowl with the other ingredients and mash with a fork. Put it in the refrigerator to let the flavors combine.

To make the gazpacho, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Turn onto the highest speed and process until the mixture is smooth. Add additional spices to taste before serving (if needed). Chill for about 10-2o minutes before serving, if your ingredients were not chilled before adding them to the food processor.

When serving, add the gazpacho to a bowl. Then top the gazpacho with the grilled corn and top the grilled corn with the guacamole or avocado slices. All three recipes are very simple to make, yet they are still entirely delicious (especially when served together). Enjoy!

Gazpacho 1

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