Three Bean Tortellini Minestrone

Three Bean Tortellini Minestrone

This Three Bean Tortellini Minestrone tastes like it’s been simmering all day, but you can make it in just over 30 minutes! Thanks to the addition of READ’s canned three bean salad, it gets the yummiest depth of flavor despite just a quick simmer on the stove! It’s vegetarian too, but even meat lovers will like this soup!

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Instant Pot Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup with Pumpkin

Instant Pot Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup with Pumpkin

Warm up with a bowl of this instant pot vegan mushroom barley soup with pumpkin! It's incredibly easy to make - just mix all the ingredients in the instant pot and set for 40 minutes. You'll get a richly flavored soup, packed with whole grains, beans and veggies, perfect for winter months. A perfect make ahead meal! 

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Simple Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

A cozy bowl of fall-flavored goodness! This simple roasted sweet potato and cauliflower soup is made with only 7 ingredients, but packed with flavor. It's extra creamy from a little half and half swirled in. Perfect make ahead meal for a cold day. Just reheat and top with some of the ideas I give for garnishes. 

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Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup with White Beans

Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup with White Beans

Make this spicy butternut squash tortilla soup with white beans for fall! It's vegetarian and packed with fiber from winter squash and white beans! Double up the recipe and freeze for later. I love to serve this vegetarian soup garnished with avocado, cheese, cilantro and lime! 

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Simple White Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil, Feta and Kalamata Olives

Simple White Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil, Feta and Kalamata Olives

Have you heard of soup bling? It's my favorite way to fancy up easy soups, like this simple white bean soup with smoked paprika oil, feta, and kalamata olives. Even without the toppings, this soup is PACKED with flavor, despite it's simple ingredients list. Make extra and freeze for later! 

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Creamy Carrot Soup with Red Curry

This simple creamy carrot soup with red curry is packed with deep flavor and spice. Enjoy on it's own as an appetizer or garnished with avocado and quinoa for a balanced meal. 

When I was in second grade, I received some devastating news.

I learned I needed glasses.

Yes, I was to be a four eyes, a pretty difficult pill to swallow for the new kid who was already pretty, well, awkward. But don't worry guys, I had a plan. Because rumor had it carrots give you perfect vision. So, I basically went a carrot bender.

As an FYI for anyone thinking of doing the same, apparently no amount of carrots can cure a -10.5 prescription. So while I'm still blind as a bat without my contacts, I can thank carrots for making me the genius I am today (kidding!). Or at least, maybe helping me score a few points higher on my spelling test! That's because carrots are packed with nutrients that nourish the brain.

Most notably, 1 cup of carrots contains over 100% daily needs of vitamin A. The hippocampus, part of the brain that's responsible for creating new brain cells (neurogenesis), is loaded with receptors for vitamin A. There's good evidence that vitamin A plays a big role in neurogenesis, which some think plays a preventative role in depression. Studies have linked lower levels of carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A, with depression.

Carrots are also a rich source of a compound called luteolin, a flavonoid, which has been shown to prevent age related cognitive decline and inflammation in the brain. The same compound has been studied for anti-cancer benefits as well.

Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, it's best to enjoy carrots with fat. Preferably fats that also have mood boosting benefits of their own, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado and coconut milk! This rich and creamy soup uses all three for flavor and creamy, sumptuous texture. Serve it with a scoop of protein and fiber rich quinoa for a well rounded meal.

Creamy Carrot Coconut Soup with Red Curry

Serves: About 6

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 10 medium carrots, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 avocado, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • Chopped almonds, toasted
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add curry paste and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add enough water to cover, salt and black pepper, cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes until carrots are tender.
  2. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree soup. Stir in coconut milk and adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Divide between bowls. Garnish with a scoop of cooked quinoa, avocado slices, almonds, cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil.

More recipes featuring carrots: 

Gluten Free Carrot Pecan Muffins
Gluten Free Carrot Pecan Muffins
Fermented Carrot Pickles
Fermented Carrot Pickles
Chipotle Roasted Carrots with Orange
Chipotle Roasted Carrots with Orange

Vegetarian Brown Rice Congee with Tempeh

For a unique breakfast, try this vegetarian brown rice congee with tempeh, a healthy take on a traditional Asian breakfast. 

First of all, thank you all so very much for all the incredibly kind feedback on yesterdays post on dieting and feminism. Seriously, some of your comments and emails brought me to tears! It was a post very much written from the heart - I actually stayed up till midnight writing it! I was really worried in my sleep deprived state I wouldn't be able to make the statement I was trying to make, so I was happy to hear so many of y'all connected.

Now, on to todays post!

Growing up in Atlanta, one of my favorite weekend treats was going to Canton House on Buford Highway for dim sum. Having moved from New York City, with Chinatown and its plethora of authentic Chinese food, I was so happy to find a place that sold things other than sesame chicken and lo mein. I'd guess we went there twice a month growing up and I still go almost every time I'm back in Atlanta!

Have you ever been to dim sum? It's kind of like Chinese tapas, but instead of ordering off a menu, small plates of food are carted around the restaurant and you simply point at what looks good to order. It's perfect for someone like me who can't make a decision to save her life when faced with a menu. Also, endless dumplings.

Heaven.

There were a few dishes we always ordered. Steamed pork buns for my brother. Rolled rice noodles for me. And always a bowl of congee to share.

Congee is a type of rice porridge served for breakfast in many Asian countries. It's made with rice simmered until it's broken down and soup-like, flavored with just a little bit of pork or chicken and topped with all sorts of yummy things, like green onions and fried shallots. So basic, yet so delicious. My mouth is literally watering right now.

When we went to Vietnam, I was SO excited when I found congee at our hotel breakfast buffet. Like, I flipped out to Scott and basically forced him to get a giant bowl with me. I was heartbroken when I had a bite and realized it was super bland and not at all the congee of my youth. Have you ever had a bite of your favorite hamburger from your favorite childhood restaurant, only to realize they changed the recipe? That was how heartbroken I felt. Literally, every single hotel we stayed at had the same bland congee.

Since then, I've been craving some congee. (P.S. Columbia friends, favorite Chinese restaurant recs? I've found great Korean and Vietnamese, but nothing but Panda Express-style Chinese.). So, I decided to whip some up myself.

This recipe isn't exactly authentic because, you know, I'm white, but it's still packed with flavor and I think, pretty close in flavor profile to the original. Don't skip on the toppings! They pack in the flavor and make a pretty dish!

Vegetarian Brown Rice Congee with Tempeh

Serves 6

Ingredients

Congee:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped

Tempeh: 

  • 1 tablespoon seasme oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Fried Shallots:

  • 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For serving:

  • Tempeh
  • Fried shallots
  • Sliced green onion
  • Soft or hard boiled egg
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, toasted
  • Red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Bring brown rice, ginger, garlic and water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt. Reduce heat to maintain at a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 1 and a half hours, until it has a thick, soup-like consistency and the rice is broken down. Add more water if it's starting to look too thick. Stir in spinach and let wilt.
  2. While congee is cooking, make the tempeh. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tempeh and cook until browned and tender,about 5 minutes. When cooked through, stir in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to season. Once soy sauce has evaporated, about 1 minute, turn off heat and set aside in a bowl until ready to use.
  3. To make the shallots, toss shallot rings and cornstarch together in a bowl. Heat oil on medium high heat in a small skillet. Add the shallots and fry until golden and tender, flipping halfway, about 2 minutes per side Remove immediately to paper towel lined plate.
  4. Serve congee garnished with tempeh, fried shallots, green onion, a drizzle of sesame oil, egg and red pepper flakes.

3 Recipes for Mason Jar Soup

3 Recipes for Mason Jar Soup

These recipes for mason jar soups are perfect for packing for lunch! Batch cook on the weekends, store in the fridge, just add hot water, give it a good shake, and you're good to go! Try Italian zoodle with white beans and tomato broth, red lentil coconut curry and miso noodle. 

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Chestnut Soup

Not sure what to do with all those chestnuts you roasted over an open fire? This rich and creamy chestnut soup makes a stunning and festive appetizer for Christmas or a seasonal weeknight main.

Chestnuuuuts simmering in an open pot...

^^^ See what I did there?? ???

This bowl of creamy chestnut soup will give you all the Christmas feels...and probably get that song stuck in your head for the next 72 hours. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Is there anything that evokes a sense of nostalgia more than food? And I could use a little extra holiday nostalgia this year. It really doesn't feel like Christmas, and not just because it's almost 80 degrees out. Since we left for Hawaii on Thanksgiving, we kinda missed the whole kickoff to the holiday season. Not that I'm complaining. If you can't have stuffing, the best sushi in Hawaii ain't a bad second place.

It hit me a few days ago that last year was probably my last 'normal' Christmas. You know, the kind where the entire family is together, you're in the house you grew up in, and even though you're in your thirties, you're still treated as the kid. The hubs and I both come from families where Christmas is a huge celebration and since our parents live too far apart to do both houses in one day, we switch off years. Two years ago, I thought it would be really hard spending my first Christmas away from my family, but after staying up late drinking wine together, wearing matching PJs (yes, really), it felt like home.

This year, we're just doing a small Christmas since everyone just got back from Hawaii and my sister-in-law's wedding, and sadly, we won't have the whole family together either. And next year, my parents are planning on moving, so I have no clue where we'll be celebrating it. Then of course, my siblings will probably start having kids and (prepare yourself for some serious brattiness), Christmas will start revolving around them. As we were decorating our sad looking tree because (more brattiness ahead), the hubs made me get one small tree instead of two big trees, we realized pretty soon, it might just be us for Christmas. Now we're trying to think of traditions for just the two of us. Help wanted! Please comment with any ideas!

Recognizing my need for some Christmas spirit, I've decided to fully commit my kitchen to only baking Christmas cookies until December 25th. Kidding! But I am whipping up all the seasonal fare, despite the t-shirt and shorts weather outside.

Chestnuts seem like such a Christmas-y food, even though I had only had them chopped up and tossed into Thanksgiving stuffing. That was, until I tried this incredible chestnut soup when I was in France last year. Thick and rich with a unique, nutty flavor, topped with a savory whipped cream, I seriously still have dreams about that soup!

Isn't it funny how nostalgic, comfort food can instantly transform your mood? Comfort food gets a bad rep, and certainly emotional eating on the regular is a problem, but sometimes food can provide you with you the comfort you need, whether you're struggling through, real or imaginary problems (like being a brat about Christmas). The smell of chestnut soup simmering in the kitchen definitely made me forget about the lack of snow anywhere on the east coast!

This soup would make an elegant appetizer for a holiday meal, or serve it as a main course, paired with whole grain bread and a small cheese board, or paired with a hearty salad. For this recipe, I used precooked chestnuts from Trader Joe's, but feel free to roast your own if you feel so inclined!

Chestnut Soup

Serves about 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 13 ounces pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
  • Grated fresh nutmeg, for serving
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley or chives, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add celery, onion, and carrot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover and add chestnuts and red wine. Simmer 5 more minutes. Carefully remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half and half or cream.
  3. Divide soup between bowls. Garnish with grated fresh nutmeg, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley or chives.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

I’m calling it guys. This is the soup of the fall. Silky smooth and ultra creamy with that whole sweet and spicy thing I love so much. And that soup bling is out of this world.

As much as I try to be one of those people who can just look at what looks beautiful at the farmers market and whip up something tasty on a whim, I’m just not. I need recipes. Hence my extensive cookbook collection. Even if I don’t follow a recipe to a T (I rarely do), I need it by my side for inspiration and support.

If I can brag for a moment, I’d love to share that this recipe was all me! I had some sweet potatoes to use up, chipotle chiies in the freezer and a pretty little organic pomegranate on my counter. The rest was history! I should do this freestyle cooking thing more often!

Also on my list of things to do more often – throw dinner parties. I imagine bringing our friends over for a rustic meal prominently featuring seasonal produce served al fresca. In this little fantasy of mine, our backyard is perfectly landscaped and we have a huge farmhouse table under an old oak tree decorated with hanging mason jars. I would serve this dish for a first course in shallow, white glazed bowls. In reality, we do have a beautiful old oat in our backyard, but the only thing underneath it is a notable lack of grass and lots of dog poop. Sigh, if only my pinterest life could be my real life.

Well, at least I can have this pinterest perfect fall soup.'''

P.S. You can absolutely make this with any type of winter squash you like

P.P.S. If you have any cream hanging out in your fridge after Thanksgiving, use that instead of coconut milk.

Chipotle Pumpkin Bisque

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes or 1 medium
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • For garnish: avocado, pomegranate seeds, plain yogurt

Instructions

  1. Poke holes in sweet potatoes with the tines of a fork. Wrap with paper towels and place in the microwave and heat 5-7 minutes until tender.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes total. Add a chili and 1-2 teaspoons of adobo sauce.
  3. Scoop out flesh of potato into the pot. Add broth. Using am immersion blender, puree until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in milk and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve garnished with avocado, pomegranate and yogurt.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup + Best Ever Homemade Broth

Make the most of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey with this BEST EVER homemade broth for leftover turkey noodle soup. Learn my trick for creating the most flavorful broth. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by #PastaFits through my participation in the Healthy Aperture Network, which is awesome, because I love pasta. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 

It’s time for a Thanksgiving confession:

I don’t love Thanksgiving turkey.

There. I said it. Does this make me less of an American?? Are they going to revoke my citizenship? Will I be deported? If I do get deported, do I get to choose where I go? Is Bali an option?

Despite my lack of affection, we still roast a turkey every year. In my mind, it’s for one reason – soup.

Leftover turkey soup is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. Frankly, it’s the only reason I eat Thanksgiving turkey. Less room in the fridge for turkey means more room for soup! We’ve hosted the past four years, not because we love squeezing a dozen people into our old craftsman, but because we end up with all the leftover soup. Sorry family. We still love you (we just love soup more).

This year, sadly we’re not getting a Thanksgiving. Although it’s not too sad – we’re headed to Hawaii for Scott’s big sisters wedding! Hawaii > stuffing. But only slightly.

This year, whipping up Thanksgiving inspired recipes for the blog has to take the place of the actual holiday. I’ve already got some Thanksgiving worthy Brussels sprouts, a classic Italian holiday dish, AND a non-pie pumpkin dessert on the way! When #pastafits asked me to create a healthy pasta meal for the holidays, I essentially used it as an excuse to make soup.

Normally, we make matzo ball soup the day after Thanksgiving, which I love, but after a day or two I’m ready to get some fiber back in my system. That’s where whole grain pasta comes in. With 6 grams in a serving, it’s a nice way to get your gut in order after the stuffing-extravaganza that is Thanksgiving (as it should be!). Comforting, yet vegetable packed and nourishing turkey noodle soup is a nice break from sweet potato casserole.

What makes this soup is the broth. It’s spectacular. I learned how to make broth from my mom, who I would consider a soup making pro. Sorry mom, but I’ve learned some things. I see your broth and I raise you one. My secret is roasting both the bones and vegetables before making the stock. It adds a richer flavor and a hint of sweetness. Once the bones and vegetables are roasted, you use a little wine to deglaze the pan and scoop up every last bit of yummy goodness. I used red wine, which gives it a darker color, but feel free to use white. The other secret ingredient - dill. How do people eat chicken noodle soup without it? It's a blasphemy!

When making noodle soup, be sure to boil your pasta separately. Cooking them in the broth will make your leftovers mushy and sad. If you freeze leftover soup, just boil up a small pot of pasta when you’re ready to eat.

What's your favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers? Share in the comments below! 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup + Best Ever Homemade Broth

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Best Ever Broth: 

  • 1 leftover turkey carcass, picked clean of meat
  • 4 quarts water (or more)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup red or white wine
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 6 sprigs of parsley
  • 4 sprigs of dill

Noodle Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 10 cups turkey broth
  • Leftover cooked turkey
  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain pasta
  • Lots of chopped, fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions

  1. First make the broth. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Break turkey carcass into pieces and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 45-60 minutes until bones are dark and caramelized. Place bones in a large pot and cover with 4 quarts of water (or more to cover bones). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, skimming any foam that forms at the surface.
  2. Meanwhile, toss onion, celery, and carrots with a tablespoon of olive oil. Spread evenly over the same baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until browned. Scoop roasted vegetables into the simmering broth and add dill, parsley and peppercorns.
  3. Place baking sheet over the stovetop and add wine, scraping up browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Let simmer to reduce a few minutes, them pour into the broth. Continue to simmer 60-90 minutes until flavors have melded. Season with salt and set aside.
  4. In another large pot, heat tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 10 cups broth and leftover cooked turkey. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-30 minutes until flavors have melded.
  5. While soup is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to soup along with lots of fresh dill for garnish.

Recipe Redux: Homemade Vegetable Broth From Scraps

Save money, reduce waste, and create something tasty with this homemade vegetable broth from scraps. 

Hey all! Just dropping in with a quick recipe today for Recipe Redux. The theme this month is DIY kitchen essentials, and what's more essential than a great tasting vegetable broth? Between soups, casseroles, cashew cheese and braising veggies, I find myself using vegetable broth at least once a week.

Too bad most store bought vegetable broth tastes pretty ick. Or it has a weird orange color (I'm looking at you Trader Joes!). It's unfortunate, because a great tasting broth is essential for a great tasting dish.

A few years ago, I learned this trick for making vegetable broth from scraps. I simply keep a gallon ziplock bag in the freezer and throw in vegetable scraps as I cook. When it's full, I cook the scraps with water in water in the slow cooker to make an easy homemade broth. Look at me - saving money, reducing waste AND creating something delicious in the process.

Make sure to use the right vegetables. If it tastes bitter, so will your broth and that's no bueno. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts should go in compost instead. Same goes for eggplant, turnips, radishes, And while it's fine to use vegetables that are a little past their prime, don't use anything moldy or slimy. That probably goes without saying.

Now, what to save. Feel free to use the roots, stalks, leaves, ends, peelings, and skin of any of the following vegetables: onion, garlic, leeks, scallions, celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, mushrooms, bell pepper (not green), shallots, potatoes, pea pods, greens, asparagus, lettuce, green beans, squash, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.

This recipe makes quite a bit, so I keep about four cups in the fridge to use that week and store the rest in 4 cup portions in the freezer.

Oh, and if you happen to have a leftovers from a whole chicken, throw that in the crockpot with half a bag of vegetables to make chicken stock!

Homemade Vegetable Broth From Scraps

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon ziplock bag full of vegetable scraps
  • A couple garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the scraps in a slow cooker. Fill almost to the top with water. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. Let it sit in the slow cooker off heat to cool down. When warm to the touch, carefully drain into a colander over a large bowl. Store 4 cups in the fridge for immediate use and freeze the rest in 4 cup servings.

Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

Indulge your ramen noodle cravings with this vegetarian ramen noodle soup with shiitakes and bok choy. 

If you wanted to label me as a food snob, I suppose you wouldn’t be all that off. I will happily pay exorbitant amounts of money for heirloom beans or locally and sustainably caught fish. I turn up my nose at anything made with Hershey’s chocolate (tastes like chalk!) in favor of artisan, bean to bar chocolate (which I'll happily drive almost an hour out of my way for). And although there’s only three whole foods I dislike (red apples, papaya and sea urchin), there’s a laundry list of processed foods I wouldn’t be caught dead eating - baked chips, non-premium ice cream, condensed soup, velveeta and chicken nuggets to name a few.

That said, there are plenty of junk foods I adore. Like cheese puffs. I don’t care what they do to give it that crunch, and I don't want to know, because they make me happy. After a long, eventful weekend out of town, there’s nothing quite like a spicy chicken biscuit from Bojangles on the way home. And then there's ramen noodles, the 80 cent meal that got me through college. My favorite way to cook them was to drain out most of the water then mix in the spice packet to make it saucy rather than brothy. So good!

I haven’t had cheap ramen in years. Nowadays, there's so many delicious and much healthier alternatives. We've got a great little ramen shop that opened downtown. Then there's Lotus brand, which makes awesome ramen with whole grains like millet and black rice. It's my go-to whenever I'm sick with a cold. And of course, now I make my own every so often. But I won’t lie, if there's ever a zombie apocalypse, that’s what you’ll find me looting for (along with the peanut butter!).

The key to good ramen is making a delicious broth. I infused mine with the flavor of dried shiitake mushrooms, but feel free to use any type of dried mushroom you can find. You'll also want to be on the lookout for whole grain ramen noodles, which have a springier, chewier texture than regular spaghetti. I couldn't find them the last time I went to the store, so I tried this trick from Serious Eats and cooked whole grain spaghetti with baking soda. Weird, but it actually kinda worked!

For additional protein, feel free to add chicken, shrimp, tofu or edamame to this soup.


Vegetarian Ramen Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

Serves: 4-6

If you can't find whole grain ramen, try cooking whole grain spagehtti or angel hair in 4 quarts of water mixed with 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Weird, but works. Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 12 ounces whole grain ramen or whole grain spaghetti
  • 1 lb baby bok choy, stemmed and leaves separated
  • 1/2 cup kimchi (optional) plus 4 tablespoons liquid
  • 4 soft-boiled eggs, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add onion and saute until starting to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, water, and dried mushrooms. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. While simmering, cook noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. When broth has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in soy sauce and miso. Season with salt to taste. Add boy choy, cover and simmer 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Stir in noodles, kimchi and liquid if using. Serve with soft boiled eggs.

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 This easy and healthy vegetarian ramen noodle soup with shiitakes and bok choy is super delicious and comforting! #vegetarian #ramen #soup #healthyrecipe

Kabocha, Kale & Roasted Garlic Soup

A simple winter soup made with the most delicious of all the winter squash - kabocha. Roast a head of garlic along with the squash for a rich, caramelized flavor and stir in sauteed kale for a hit of fresh green. 

Remember when I first met kabocha and quickly fell in love? Well guess what? We're still going strong! In fact, I've left Scott and kabocha and I are moving in together ;-)

Okay, that last part was weird...

But in all seriousness, kabocha and I have been having quite the love affair this winter. I can't get enough of it's dense, creamy texture and rich sweetness! I've been throwing roast cubes of it into everything I eat...and sometimes snacking on caramelized cubes of it between meals. But mostly, I've been making soup. Lots and lots of soup.

I tend to get sick of pureed soups pretty quickly, but I remain enamored with this basic one, even after multiple batches. You can use this recipe as a template and add different flavors and spices as you like. Give it a Middle Eastern flair with a sprinkle of za'atar, swirl of olive oil and dollop of plain yogurt. Stir in sweet rice cake balls to make a traditional Korean soup called danhobak juk. Stir in curry and turmeric for an Indian spiced soup. Or, go all Paula Dean with it and cook the kale in rendered bacon fat then garnishing with crumbled bacon. Kale cancels out bacon, or something like that.

For a topping, I saved the kabocha squash seeds and roasted them as I whipped up the soup. One thing I love about winter squash is you get a meal and a snack out of one piece of produce. Squash seeds are packed with nutrition - healthy fats, fiber, zinc, and copper to name a few. I've seen many recipes that call for meticulously soaking and cleaning the seeds, but I say pfffttt to that! The squash "guts," if you will, may not be as pretty, but it adds flavor and that's the important thing.

This is one of those recipes that speaks for itself, so I'll just get to it. But first, tell me your go-to winter soups in the comments below. The temperature is dropping and I need some inspiration!

Kabocha, Kale & Roasted Garlic Soup

serves 4-6

You could certainly make this with any other winter squash, it's just that kabocha is the best, so why would you :) Other greens, like chard or collards, work in this as well, just adjust your cooking times accordingly so the greens are wilted, not crunchy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium kabocha squash
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Carefully cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and guts using a spoon, reserving only the seeds in a small bowl. Cut each half in half so you have four sections. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet.
  3. Peel away the paper outer layers of the garlic. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and wrap with a square of aluminum foil. Place alongside the squash.
  4. Place pan with garlic and squash in the oven and roast about 45 minutes until tender. Check the squash after about 30 minutes with a fork to see if it's tender. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. While cooling, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add kale, salt and pepper and saute until wilted, adding a couple tablespoons of water to help it steam.
  6. While the kale is wilting, scoop squash flesh and roasted garlic (just squeeze the individual cloves out of it's paper) into a blender. Add vegetable broth, turmeric and caynne and blend until pureed. Pour into the pot with the kale. Add 2 cups water to the blender to help rinse out the remaining squash puree and pour that into the soup. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bring soup to a simmer then cook 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  8. Reduce oven temp to 375. While the soup is simmering, toss the seeds with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet (can use the same one you roasted the squash on). Roast for 10-15 minutes until crispy and crunchy, but not browned.
  9. Serve soup garnished with toasted seeds.

Tom Kha Tofu

A flavorful Thai coconut soup, packed with tofu and veggies including sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms.

Tofu Tom Kha Gai

For a little more than a year, I've been participating in Recipe Redux with a group of healthy food bloggers. Each month, we're given a new kitchen challenge, like recreating a favorite food memory, or creating lunchbox friendly snack bars for back to school. It always fun to see everyone's interpretations of the theme. This time, we're playing a little game in honor of Recipe Redux's 42nd month - turn to page 42 in your nearest cookbook and give it a healthy recipe makeover.

My nearest cookbook wasn't exactly a cookbook per say, but my "pinterest" binder before pinterest was actually a thing. For years I collected recipes from blogs and magazines in binders and notebooks. Thank goodness for the bright minds who finally figured out a way to save some trees and keep it all online!

Garlic, lemongrass, Serrano chili and ginger for soup

Since I was still feeling a little under the weather last week, I was excited to see a soup on page 42, and a spicy one at that. Tom Kha Gai is a Thai coconut soup, and one of my all-time favorites. It's basically what I use to judge a Thai restaurant's authenticity.

vegetarian tom kha gai

Now, this version isn't exactly authentic. It's missing the kaffir lime leaves and galangal typically used and I used cremini mushrooms instead of straw mushrooms. But, it's much more approachable for the home chef and still tastes delicious!

To give this soup a makeover, I decided to make it with tofu. I also added green beans and sweet potatoes to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables and it make it a bit more filling. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu

Tom Kha Tofu

Serves 6

Adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Serrano chilies, stemmed and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 13-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4th of a large onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 lb tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Scallions, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring the broth, to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add lemongrass, ginger, chilies and ginger. Cover and simmer 10 minutes to let the flavors infuse.
  2. Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, onion, mushrooms, green beans, sweet potato and tofu. Cover and simmer 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide between bowls and serve garnished with cilantro and scallions.