“Almost Spring” Lemon Kale Soup

While other parts of the country have lovely breezes and tree blossoms, springtime in Bozeman varies from 65 and gorgeous to torrential rain and 20-mph winds. As the wettest and most temperamental time of year, April and May can see the entire weather spectrum in the span of just a few hours. This means while my morning ride might be delightful, my commute home is just as likely to be a drenching headwind. Such is life.

Because of this, however, my food desires can also change at a moment’s notice, which makes it challenging to do my normal weekly lunch and dinner prepping. If I make soup on Sunday, by Wednesday it could be 75 degrees (which is what happened this week); if I plan out some tasty salads, Tuesday will be met will a blizzard. Clearly this isn’t a huge crisis but as someone who likes to eat with the weather it does pose some difficulty.

In light of that, this soup spans the spectrum of weather, equally warming on a chilly day as it is fresh and spring on a warmer ones. A light broth (either vegetable or chicken) surrounds a light but filling mix of white beans, vegetables, and a touch of lemon. I have used both vegetable and chicken stock and they are excellent, so don’t feel you’ll be missing out by going the vegan route here.

Any white beans you have around will work nicely here, so I used a mixture of cannellini and butter beans for interest. Great northern beans would also be great, or whatever your favorite one might be. It takes 3 cans so mix and match to your heart’s content. For interest I added some grated zucchini and yellow squash, which won’t overpower the flavor but gives it some texture and an always-welcome veggie boost. Celery would also work nicely, although personally I rarely buy it.

I’m of the opinion that it’s highly challenging, if not impossible, to have too many leafy greens in a soup, so I don’t honestly measure. Just keep adding handfuls until it looks like enough. I probably added around six cups here, but there’s no rules with kale (or spinach, or chard, or whatever you want) so add as much as or as little as you like. The way I look at it is the more you add the more you’re basically eating soup and salad in one go, which seems like a win in my book.

The added lemon juice brightens the flavor without really tasting very lemony, but start with half the amount if you’re unsure about it. It gives a freshness and a springtime note to what could just as easily be a winter soup. As an added bonus, this soup comes together in just over 30 minutes, so if on those days you’re home late and starving because you completely underestimated how long you’d be out with your coworkers, you can still make a warm and healthy meal in a pretty reasonable amount of time.

Complainy carnivores in the house? This soup would be excellent with some cooked and shredded chicken and it’s easy to add that to individual bowls if you have a mixed crowd to please. It’s also extra delightful with bread, so pick up your favorite focaccia or crusty baguette (great for dipping) to have on the side.

“Almost Spring” Lemon Kale Soup

Adapted from Fork Knife Swoon
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
3 (15 oz) cans white beans1, drained
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, grated (about 1-2 cups)
salt and pepper, to taste

3-6 cups baby kale2, to taste (I like a lot of greens, so I used closer to 6 cups)

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot, and heat over medium until warmed.
  2. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is softened and translucent.
  3. Stir in herbs and continue to sauté until onion is just starting to brown.
  4. Stir in stock, half the lemon juice, beans, and zucchini, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. Taste, and add more lemon or spices as desired.
  5. Carefully stir in kale and continue to simmer until softened, 5-10 minutes3. Serve hot with a tasty bread for dipping.

Notes

I’ve used two cans cannellini beans and then one can of either butter beans or great northern beans. Feel free to mix and match and substitute your favorite white beans.

If you’re not a fan of kale, substitute any dark, leafy green of choice. If you’re using something more delicate, like spinach, add it just before serving as it does not keep its shape as well as a heartier leaf like kale.

Although kale holds its shape nicely it does darken into a muddier green over time, so for the bright green color it’s best to serve fairly promptly.

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

February is a strange month, equally full of obnoxiously pink items and overpriced flowers as it is dreary days and bluebird skiing. Long-time readers will know I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day but as it is my anniversary with M it becomes more special. Each year I bake a cake to celebrate and this year will be no different – check back in two weeks for this year’s (hopefully successful) endeavor. Valentine’s desserts are typically quite indulgent, which makes today’s recipe a great option if you’re planning to eat in this “holiday”.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

As part of last month’s Mindful Eating challenge I was looking for recipes that were delicious and wholesome and things that I felt good about eating, emotionally and physically. This soup definitely fits the bill. It’s fairly light which makes it pair great with bread or even grilled cheese, and requires simple ingredients and relatively chill preparation.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I used a whole package of the large bell peppers from Costco, but if yours are smaller you may want closer to 8. Once flattened they should completely fill the cookie sheet to make sure you have plenty of red pepper flavor. The addition of crushed red pepper flakes adds a little kick, and a dollop of sour cream is a great garnish. This recipe is easily made vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable broth (and nixing the sour cream), which makes it versatile for a whole slew of different diets.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I served mine with some quick drop biscuits, but you could invite added flair with some fancy grilled cheese (think sourdough bread and Gruyère, or focaccia and brie) or a whole grain loaf. Add a side salad or some roasted veggies and you have a complete meal – with plenty of room for dessert and leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Adapted from House of Yumm
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

6 large red bell peppers

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat your broiler to high and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the bell peppers into flat strips, removing seeds and membranes.
  3. Place the peppers skin side up onto the prepared baking sheet, flattening them as much as possible.
  4. Broil until skins are at least half blackened, about 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place immediately into a sealed container to steam.
  5. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until onion is translucent.
  6. Retrieve the bell peppers, peeling off the charred parts of the skin, and add to the pot. Add broth and spices and bring to a simmer.
  7. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender1 to puree the soup completely. Taste and adjust spices as necessary.
  8. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream (optional) and some extra crushed red pepper flakes or oregano for garnish. Goes great with a hearty bread.

Notes

If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender to puree the peppers, onion, and garlic before adding the broth and spices (thinning with some of the unheated broth if necessary to get a fine puree), then return to pot and follow directions as normal.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Happy almost New Year and hope everyone had a merry winter holiday, for those of you that celebrate it. I spent Christmas with M’s family in Oregon, which was a little weird given the lack of snow, but nice to spend the time with his family. We did not celebrate with the cinnamon rolls I posted two weeks ago, but I did make pie for Christmas Eve dinner with the grandparents. Maybe I’ll get the blueberry recipe up sometime next year.

Broccoli Cheese Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This week I’m posting a nice cozy soup, great for the week between Christmas and New Year’s where all you want to do is hang out inside and relish those last few days off work or school. This is a simple recipe, and pretty quick to make, but it’s hearty and creamy and with all that broccoli in there it masquerades as vaguely healthy.

I like to use sharp cheddar in soups, but some pepperjack or gouda or any combination that strikes your fancy is sure to be delightful. A creamy base with generous amounts of cheese is intertwined with a hefty amount of broccoli, sure to please your cozy palate without feeling too much guilt about it.

Broccoli Cheese Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I added a little celery as filler, but it’s just fine without it if you don’t have it on hand. Likewise you could throw a little zucchini in there. Since it’s puréed anyway, it’s a great soup for sneaking a couple extra neutral veggies into a meal.

When I was making it, M frowned at the idea of a meatless soup, so I added some diced turkey at the end to satiate him. It certainly is not necessary and the soup is great in its original vegetarian state, but if, like me, you have some carnivores to appease, some chicken or turkey is a great addition.

Broccoli Cheese Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

It goes great with a side of whole grain bread for either lunch or dinner, and reheats nicely if you have leftovers. If you’re looking for a simple and classic meal that’s maybe a little less extravagant than typical holiday fair, make a batch of this soup.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 2 quarts (a little more if you add meat)

Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
2 small stalks celery, finely diced (optional)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half

4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1.5 pounds broccoli, chopped small (about 8 cups)
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)

1-2 cups cooked, diced chicken or turkey breast (optional)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Directions

  1. In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add onion and celery and sauté until softened and onions are translucent.
  3. Stir in flour until no lumps remain, then stir in half and half until smooth.
  4. Add broth, garlic powder, and pepper, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer over medium-low about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens slightly.
  6. Add broccoli and carrot, and simmer until softened, about 20 minutes.
  7. Use an immersion blender (or any blender) to puree the soup to your preferred texture. I like it mostly smooth with a few chunks of broccoli, but you can blend as little or as much as you like.
  8. If using poultry, add it now and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until meat is warmed through.
  9. Remove soup from the heat and stir in the cheese until completely incorporated.
  10. Serve hot with an extra pinch of cheese, a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, and a side of savory bread.

Apple Pumpkin Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Perhaps after the overwhelming feasting of Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day you are ready for something a bit more on the healthy side. Or maybe you wisely skipped all that but are always on the lookout for new recipes. Look no further! Today I have a wonderful healthy and vegetarian (optionally vegan) recipe to share with you all.

Apple Pumpkin Roasted Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I’d been eyeing soups like these for a while but only a few weeks ago bit the bullet and bought an immersion blender. Turns out they are awesome and you should absolutely get one. If it’s not in the budget or cupboard space doesn’t allow, you can make do with a food processor or high-end blender, but for real an immersion blender is the way to go. I ordered mine from Amazon (no I’m not getting paid for this, I just love it) and it is fantastic. I’m sure I’ll be using it often, which is good because I haven’t quite found a cupboard to store it in.

Regardless, soup. Butternut squash is always rampant in the winter but until this year I’d never actually cooked with it. Turns out that like spaghetti squash, it’s an incredibly easy option. After roasting, it’s delicious simply mashed with a little butter and salt and pepper, and even more amazing in more complex recipes like this soup.

Apple Pumpkin Roasted Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Squash and pumpkin bolstered slightly with the sweetness of apples are mixed with vegetable stock and spices for a wonderful savory entrée. An optional addition of heavy cream makes it an extra amazing experience but it’s also delicious without. Either way, the slightly sweet vegetables with a little spiciness is an excellent combination. With everything puréed together, the flavors are perfectly blended into a simple course that easy to pair with many sides.

Apple Pumpkin Roasted Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is vegetarian as is, and can be made vegan by omitting the cream or substituting your favorite non-dairy option. If you’re neither of those things, serve with some crumbled bacon for extra flair, or just to appease the carnivores in the family.

Since the oven will already be hot from roasting the squash, a batch of roasted Brussels sprouts makes a perfect side dish to round out a very colorful meal. Even better, this soup reheats nicely either on the stove or in the microwave, which is great for the abundant leftovers I hope you have.

Apple Pumpkin Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Smile Sandwich
Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients

1 medium to large butternut squash

1 medium onion
2 apples
3 cloves garlic
olive oil

32 oz vegetable (or chicken) stock
1  cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheets with foil or a silicon mat.
  2. Cut squash in half (the long way) and remove the seeds. Coat lightly with olive oil and place on baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until squash is easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, dice onion, apples, and garlic. (I also like to pre-measure my spices into a small cup and then clean up the kitchen at this time, but that’s totally up to you.)
  5. When the squash has about 15 minutes left, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  6. Add onion, apple, and garlic and saute until they are softened, about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in spices, pumpkin puree, and vegetable stock and continue cooking while you finish the squash. (If you pre-cooked your squash, you can just skip straight to step 9.)
  8. When the squash is cooked, remove from oven and carefully scoop out the flesh from the skin. (You may want to wait about ten minutes for them to cool down a little, and/or use a heat-proof glove).
  9. Add squash to the pot, bring soup to a boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and add the cream, if desired. Use an immersion blender to completely puree the soup. Taste and up the spices a little, if desired.
  11. Serve hot with freshly ground pepper on top. Refrigerate leftovers.

Veggie Soup

Now that I’ve been back about a week, I’m finally starting to feel back to normal. Three weeks of travel and socializing was pretty rough on this introvert and some peace and quiet over the weekend did a world of good. I got back to baking with pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, and then figured I should make something for dinner also. With snow in the forecast this week (!) a batch of soup was definitely in order.

Veggie Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

While traveling I ate a ton of delicious but not exactly healthy things, so now that I’m back I’m trying to do a little better in the eating department. While skimming Pinterest (like ya do) I whizzed passed a vegetable soup recipe that looked great. I didn’t really follow it so much as use it as a guideline, but I always appreciate the inspiration. Vegetable stock and spaghetti sauce make a yummy broth filled with whatever veggies suit your fancy. I threw in potatoes, celery (since we had some around), carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, green beans, corn, and peas, but you can easily tailor it to your preferences or to your supplies on hand. Pretty hard to go wrong here so just chop some fresh or throw in some canned/frozen options and you’re good to go.

Veggie Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I didn’t spice mine a ton, but I did throw in a few. I put some guideline measurements for the beginners but if you’re a practiced soup chef feel free to change them up. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredients list, it’s a super easy recipe.

This is a great vegetarian option for a cool fall day, and maybe the rest of the week since it makes a ton. If you’re wanting to make it more carnivore-friendly, brown up a pound (more or less) of your favorite ground or diced meat and throw it in when you add the broth. Enjoy!

Veggie Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Veggie Soup

Inspired by Cooking Classy

Makes a lot (4-5 quarts)

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

5 medium potatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
24 oz spaghetti sauce
32 oz vegetable stock (low sodium)

2 tsp thyme
2 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup/can green beans
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1-2 handfuls fresh spinach

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add oil, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes (no need to drain), and spaghetti sauce. Gently pour in vegetable stock, add spices, and stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add green beans (drained, if using canned), peas, corn, and spinach, then simmer for another 5 minutes or until ready to eat.
  5. Serve hot, goes great with corn bread!