It’s definitely here. As winter creeps upon us and chills our insides, it is important to stay warm from the inside out. This is the time of year that I reach for thick leggings versus pants, as I need extra layers of warmth like I need extra heat in my belly. This borscht recipe is one of my all time favorite ways to seek comfort, and I’ve been making it for the family ever since I’ve been lucky enough to have one (it’s been a few years). Continue reading
Tag Archives: soup
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
~ Albert Einstein
I hope you all had a truly fab weekend soaking up the spring sun and taking it all in!
As for us, we’ve got a new layer of topsoil in the garden and a clean fresh outlook – here’s to the new season…and Easter coming up!
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Today’s post is (once again) dedicated to the simple easy pleasures in life. Healthy food made delicious by the addition of simple (and rich) spices!
A vegetarian’s palette of inspiration is only as limited as the spice cupboard, and inexpensive staples can go from pretty meh to pretty mean in a few seconds with (just a little) bit of spice.
Indian spices in particular are so wonderfully varied, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with combos (but it can be done) – and there are a few easy ones that everyone should be familiar with.
They would be (for me): cumin (both ground and seeds), ginger, turmeric, black mustard seeds, coriander, garam masala (so many kinds!), cardamom..there are a few others – what are your classic faves?
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
There are so many different spices to name but I’ve always had good luck preparing delicious veggie curries and bean dishes out of the ones listed above. They are known for being widely beneficial to digestion, and gentle and calming for the soul (maybe that part is just for me – anyone else?).
Side Note: Here in Vancouver – home to one of North America’s most widely celebrated Indian restaurants (Vij’s) – we are lucky to have a few high quality haunts (from budget to high-end) to frequent for a taste of the real thing. My recent (1st!) trip to London also brought me to Brick Lane, which was a very special experience, and I’ll never forget my 1st taste of that delicious lime pickle…amazing!
Alas, I don’t think a trip to India will ever be in the cards for me (but never say never), and I would never consider my home cooking a substitution for the real thing……but it isn’t all that hard, and cooking this way is:
Delicious, cheap, and good for you.
Less complicated ingredients means you are more likely to make this. Less canned or jarred spice mixtures mean cleaner, simpler food. Less cream and animal based curries means lighter, cheaper meals. Less heavy beans means your body might not mind eating these (especially if you are sensitive to beans and legumes).
More flavorful vegetarian dishes in your repertoire means more yummy foods to cook often. More vibrantly colored food means more visual pleasure for your senses. More ginger and spices means more help for digestion. More cheap dinners means more money for other things. Straight up and simple, this dish a classic.
Red Lentil Vegetable Curry:
- (2) tbsp olive oil, canola oil, or ghee
- (2) tbsp black mustard seeds
- (1) onion chopped (about one heaping cup)
- (2) tsp salt
- (2) tsp turmeric
- (2) tsp cumin
- (2) tbsp fresh chopped or grated ginger
- (3) carrots, chopped (about one heaping cup)
- (2) medium potatoes (about one heaping cup)
- (1.5) cups canned diced tomatoes (1 398ml can)
- (1) cup red lentils
- (4) cups water
- (1) lemon
- black pepper to taste
- fresh cilantro for garnish
The trick with this style of cooking is to have all of your spices ready and veggies chopped and ready to go.
Everything happens pretty quickly and even for experienced cooks it’s difficult to be prepping and measuring while the cameras are rolling. So be ready!
In a medium large pot, heat the oil on medium high. When hot, add the black mustard seeds and stir until they start to pop – don’t leave the stove – this takes about 30 seconds only!
Once the little seeds start dancing (and popping!), add the chopped onion and salt and cook, stirring about 5-6 minutes, or until golden. Add ginger and remaining dry spices and cook, stirring for one minute on medium heat. When spices are fragrant, add tomato and stir all well for about a minute or two until well integrated.
Hang tight – now you can almost step away….
Add lentils, chopped vegetables and water and stir all to well combine. Bring to a light boil on medium-high with the lid on. Once boiling temperature has been reached, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from prevent sticking to bottom of the pot.
Once ready, add the juice of lemon. Simple, zesty, and ready to serve!
Serve with ground pepper, a dash of butter or olive oil, plenty of freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh cilantro – don’t forget the side of rice if desired and buttery naan bread too!
This will get more delicious the longer it sits in your fridge and I highly recommend making it a day before you serve it. I’ve been making this curry as long as I’ve been cooking it seems – it never gets tired, and it’s always incredible!
So there you have it! An easy dinner on a cold night, or a starter to a great Indian meal.
I’ve got a bit of this leftover and I am thinking tonight’s dinner may just consist of a bowl of curry..straight up and simple.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama
Now we’re on the hunt for a new budget favorite – can’t wait to see what we find – and I hope they re-build and wish them well…lots of great memories and gratitude were had at that delicious place
How about you?
- What are your favorite curry dishes with lentils?
- Got any spices we should all add to the list?
I’d love to know how they turned out. Drop us a line – we’ll be so happy you did!
Yours in Less,
Doesn’t everyone love a good soup?
Ahhh, Saturday is here. It was a long week. Ain’t that the honest truth..
I’ve battled a cold (some say I get man-sick), and it’s been a tough weather week here in Vancouver – can you say endless grey and rain? Add to that a smattering of snow, slush, drizzle, mist, wind, and pretty much everything else and you’ve got a perfect reason to make:
A pot of Honest Soup!
Yep, I am calling it Honest Soup because when it comes to making a killer soup, you don’t have to be a master in the kitchen, or even a super confident cook (in my humble opinion anyway).
Honestly, once you find a few tricks when it comes to proportions, you rarely even need recipes. And if you (like me and especially my family) enjoy reveling in a little flavor, you know that the secret to a delicious veggie soup is in the butter, the salt, and the cheese* (that’s for you, Charlie).
*unless you don’t.
I like dairy free soups too (all you wonderful vegans out there, that’s for you), and the same rule applies. A few tricks are all you need!**
But (let’s be honest here) what home cook doesn’t already know that?
All you need is:
- (just a little) onion
- (usually) potato or sweet potato for starch
- a random selection of vegetables
- a blender or hand blender
- and (just a little) inspiration!
Since this blog is all about living with (just a little) less, last night was also a perfect opportunity to forego an unnecessary shopping trip to the market and clean out the fridge. All this blogging, recipe writing, and cooking has me pretty inspired, and I had a real beautiful mess of random veggies left in my crisper.
This is what it looked like to start (not terribly glamorous, folks!):
Honest Vegetable Soup:
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium/large yellow onion)
- 2 cups potatoes, chopped (skin on)
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups chopped broccoli (including the stalks)
- 1 lonely celery stalk, chopped (broken in 2 pieces!)
- 2 cups green cabbage, chopped
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- 1 cup heaping grated sharp cheese (tonight it was an English Dubliner Cheddar)(optional for vegan soup)
- 1 cup milk (optional for vegan version)
- 1.5 tbsp salt
- 1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
- Olive oil for cooking
- black pepper
Chop all your veggies and separate veggies in bowls according to cooking time.* Heat olive oil on medium high and add onion and one tbsp. of salt. Cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes until brown. Add chopped potatoes, and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add water and broccoli, broccoli stalks, and celery and bring the water to a very gentle boil on medium heat with the lid on. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until stalks are soft. Add cabbage and kale (stir them in gently) and cook, covered for another 5 minutes.
With your hand blender (or blender in batches), blend all to a very smooth puree in the same pot you cooked it in. Add grated cheese, milk, remaining salt, and pepper.
Anything tastes good with cheese, salt, and butter (but there are other ways too). And a good blender is a must.
Turn heat to low and stir until creamy and all the cheese is melted. Add butter if desired, and season to taste with pepper. Serve in bowls topped with chopped fresh herbs, more black pepper if desired, and (always) (just a little) swirl of olive oil.
*Always cook veggies according to their type: 2-3 minutes for leafy greens, 5-8 minutes for celery, carrots, cauli/broccoli, 10+ minutes for potatoes and starches.
**For a delicious vegan soup, I simply omit the additional milk after blending and add a few tbsp to taste of medium miso to the soup. This adds flavor, richness and a yummy salty kick in the pants (honestly). Top with green onions and olive or sesame oil.
Serve this soup with crusty bread or crackers, a good glass of wine, and an (honest) smile.
A warm bowl of soup on a cold night can’t be beat, and my fridge is looking pretty sweet this morning too.
Here I come kitchen
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
~ Thomas Jefferson
I’d love to know how you clean out your fridge and make use of the random bits that just don’t make it into your delicious creations throughout the week.
Stay tuned this week, I’ve got a killer kale pesto to share and another creative (and tasty) use for almond pulp!
Thanks to two of my favorite bloggers for the Versatile Blogger shout out – I’ll be reciprocating some of that love over the weekend…you guys are all amazing!
Happy Saturday folks!
Yours in Less,