Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup

I’m really starting to get into this whole ‘living in a house’ thing – being able to walk two paces without tripping over or bumping into something or someone is a refreshing change. Previous to living in the RV I’d been a condo and apartment dweller for the better part of two decades, since I moved away from the parental nest at age 18. This span of time gave me plenty of experience in the art of making do with limited closet space (which always proved to be the ultimate first world problem for this clothes hoarder), living in close proximity to others (including cats and their littery, feathery, toy-mousey paraphernalia), and of course, cooking in very small kitchens – which I waxed on about ad naseum during those 7 sanity-testing months at the trailer park!
Carrot1
So yeah – I grew more than accustomed to confined interior living spaces. Those years of living in high rises also inured me to life without access to immediate outdoor space. Yes, there were public parks around where I lived at various points, and a couple places had a small patio (one of which accompanied a 26th-floor suite and was so high off the ground it caused vertigo if you dared look over the edge). But living above ground level as I did meant that having access to an actual yard just wasn’t on the menu. I didn’t mind too much at that point – convenient access to a million coffee shops, restaurants and places to shop was more of a priority. In my mind, yards were the mein of suburbanites – and goodness knows I wasn’t one of those!
Carrot2
It was only when we moved into the house – in the suburbs, the horror! – that I realized how out of touch I was with the notion of having a yard – an actual plot of grass that only we (and assorted neighbourhood wildlife and possibly the odd eccentric searching for cans) have access to. The first couple of weeks we were here I only went into the backyard for practical reasons – i.e. to pick up dog poop. Partially it was the rain, but the real issue was that I didn’t know what to do with all that space! I’m not making this up – it had been such a long time since I’d been privy to a backyard that at first all I could do was shuffle around uncertainly back there, ineffectually contemplating the dilapidated shed.
Carrot3
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve impressed myself. Determined to overcome my silly yard trepidation, I suited up in a pair of garden gloves and rubber boots, and armed with a spade and rake undertook the process of weeding the garden beds. Fifteen minute backyard sessions have gradually lengthened into one and two hour weed-pulling fests. Despite various squirrels giving me the stink eye, at moments I’ve even felt quite peaceful and meditative back there, ankle deep in dirt!
Carrot4
Earlier in the week as I gazed into the produce drawer in the fridge, I got to thinking, ‘I should grow some of these vegetable things myself’. For a time I was really into playing Farmville – it can’t be that much different, right? Who knows, maybe this time next year this blog will have done a 180 and feature dishes that use produce grown in my own backyard – more improbable things have happened (did I mention I have a baby and live in the suburbs?)! In the meantime, why not try this easy, vegan and super flavourful soup on for size? Yes, it’s STILL  soup weather here on the West Coast, where Spring showers continue unabated. This recipe features caramelized roasted carrots, spices, fresh ginger and smooth coconut milk was the ideal reward after all my labours out back, tilling the soil 🙂
Recipe: Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional for garnish)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place carrots in an oven-proof dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes – turning carrots over half way through – or until carrots are tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots and saute until soft and translucent.

3. Add garlic and ginger and saute just until golden brown.

4. Add red pepper flakes, cinnamon, paprika and coriander and stir until spices coat other ingredients.

5. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer.

6. Once carrots are cool enough to handle, chop into smallish pieces, discarding of ends. Add to saucepan.

7. Let soup simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes.

8. Using an immersion blender, puree until soup is smooth. Alternately you can transfer soup to a conventional blender to puree, then return soup to saucepan.

9. Add coconut milk and stir to warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

10. Serve, topping each portion with chopped green onions. Eat!

You might also like:

Advertisements

Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

In my last post I detailed a few of the nefarious finds we’ve made at our new house: the elaborate spider’s nest in the wall, the sketchy crow bar marks on the front door, the kitschy linoleum underlying the lurid teal carpet in the bedroom, both of which are now on their way to the municipal waste station. The weirdness of this flooring situation didn’t hit me until last night. Why was there linoleum in the bedroom to begin with – was that a thing in the late 1960s? And was covering it with teal carpet really the best solution? Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. That being said, the creative mind responsible for said carpet would likely be equally offended by my design sense .

French1

It’s not my intention to sound like a big old squeaky wheel about the house – believe me, I am more than relieved to be out of the RV even if it means dodging the odd Black Widow and seeing various shades of teal wherever I look. But there’s one last undesirable feature of the house I’d like to mention. The toilet. Yes, I bring up toilets way too often on this blog. But it’s worth mention that, in a cruel twist of fate – after 7 1/2 months of persevering with the clog-prone septic system in the RV – the toilet in the house is… well, I’ll be nice and say it has personality. Indeed, it makes disturbing gurgling sounds, its water surges threatening toward the rim, it flushes ‘normally’ only if you hold the lever down just so. I’m starting to think I must have been an incompetent plumber in a previous life, and am paying my due now via a series of faulty toilets.

French2

The house has also coughed up some pretty cool booty (as in stuff, not the other kind). My SO has actually owned this house for several years, but was renting it to his sister until we moved in last month. Evidently he’d used the cupboards in the laundry room as a dumping ground for miscellaneous junk before he moved out years ago, because when I went to clean out said cupboards I unearthed – amongst several pieces of ancient Tupperware – an ice cream maker straight from the 1980s (remember when these were all the rage?), an unused wok (score) and bafflingly, a single leather glove – which made me wonder if I had a piece of forensic evidence on my hands.

French3

Over the weekend we had a very welcome spate of warm, dry weather here in the Lower Mainland ,which prompted everyone to simultaneously shed their fleece and Gore-Tex and flee into the out-of-doors. This week, however, the Spring showers returned, putting me back in the mood for warm food. The seasonal ingredients that are beginning to make an appearance in grocery stores inspired me to whip up this easy springtime soup featuring French green lentils, pearl barley, sweet carrots, shallots, leeks, white mushrooms, spring onions, lemon and fresh basil! Apart from asparagus (which I’ve yet to come across unfortunately), nothing heralds the arrival of Spring like lemon and fresh herbs 🙂

French4

Recipe: Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup french green lentils, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley, uncooked (omit or substitute lentils if you’re GF)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 small carrots, diced into 1/4″ thick medallions
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (I used low sodium)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (dark and light green parts only), plus a bit more for garnish
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place dried lentils and barley in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside until needed.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots, leeks and carrots and saute until tender.

3. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika and stir just until garlic is golden brown.

3. Add in cooked lentils, barley and zucchini and stir until everything is combined.

4. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until zucchini is tender (or preferably longer to let flavours develop). Taste and season with salt and pepper.

6. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice, green onions, and basil.

7. Serve, topping each portions with chopped green onions and lemon zest. Eat!

You might also like:

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini ‘Noodles’ | In Fragrant Garlic-Ginger Broth

Brace yourselves! After a tragicomic  7 1/2 months we’ve officially moved out of the RV and into a real house! On Saturday morning we hitched up the Gypsy Roller and hauled her out of the trailer park to our new abode, where she now sits in the driveway. While I feel somewhat indebted to the old girl for putting a roof over our heads for the past several months, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t fantasized about pushing her over the edge of a cliff or setting her ablaze and doing a wild dance around her charred remains. There are many worse fates than spending over half a year shacked up in a 28 ft. long trailer  – but I’ve felt like a caged animal over the last few month and am quite relieved to be out of that brown-upholstered box!

SpagNood1

We’re far from settled in our new place. Ninety-nine percent of our belongings are still in storage, and there’s a ton of renovating that needs to be done before we can move in the rest of our stuff. I’m pleased to report, however, that I now have a functional kitchen to cook in. It’s in serious need of an update – the colour scheme (burgundy and teal!) is an assault on the senses – but unlike the kitchenette in the RV I now I now have a normal-size stove, fridge and sink, and a decent amount of counter space. This means I no longer have to place a cutting board over the sink in order to chop vegetables, or cram all my fresh produce into a miniscule crisper – oh joy!

SpagNood2

I thought I’d use our new living arrangements as an opportunity to make a few changes to this blog. It’s fully my intention to continue to create ‘delicious meatless recipes’ – as the byline of the blog declares – but as of the weekend the ‘straight from the kitchenette of my recreational vehicle’ bit ceased to be the case. In other words, I’m not longer ‘dispatching from the Gypsy Roller,’ so I think a blog name change is in order! I’m thinking of going with Gypsy Roller’s Veggie Kitchen. We may have moved on from the Gypsy Roller, but I’d like to keep the name in the title of the blog – just to pay homage to its ‘roots’! I also plan on posting more product reviews and joining Foodie Pen Pals Program (now that I have an actual mailing address!). If there’s anything you think I should post about, do let me know.

SpagNood3

This soup is one of the last things I cooked in the kitchenette of the RV (weep… I’m already feeling a little sentimental). With Spring approaching I’m starting to crave lighter fare, despite the still dreary weather outside. Nothing is more satisfying than a hot, steaming bowl of ramen when it’s damp and cold outside – but here I’ve replaced the traditional soba noodles with roasted spaghetti squash and zucchini sliced into thin ribbons. The broth is simple but full of robust flavours – garlic, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes – and will both warm you up and clear the cobwebs out of your head! Crunchy veggies and soft tofu top the soup and make it a perfect mid-day meal or light dinner 🙂

SpagNood4

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini ‘Noodles’ | In Fragrant Garlic-Ginger Broth

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

Fragrant Garlic Ginger Broth

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium)
  • Salt to taste

For the rest

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini sliced into ribbons (using a vegetable peeler or mandolin)
  • 1/2 small red pepper, julienned
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 8-10 snap peas
  • 1/2 cup soft tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Roast spaghetti squash: Preheat oven to 425F. Carefully cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place squash skin-side up in a casserole dish and roast in oven for 45 minutes, or until flesh is tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While squash is cooling, prepare Fragrant Garlic-Ginger Broth.

Prepare Fragrant Garlic-Ginger Broth: Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and saute just until fragrant and garlic is golden brown. Add vegetable broth and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and add zucchini, snap peas and cubed tofu. Once zucchini and snap peas are tender-crisp, remove saucepan from heat. Taste broth and adjust with salt if necessary.

Assemble soup: Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh with a fork and divide between 2 serving bowls. Ladle broth/zucchini/snap peas/tofu on top of squash. Top soup with julienned red pepper, grated carrot and chopped cilantro. Eat!

You might also like:

‘Bloody Mary’ Tortilla Soup

While I’m not much of a drinker at this point in my life – apart from the odd box glass of wine or pint of beer – I’ve long been an aficionado of fancy cocktails. By ‘fancy’ I’m not referring to the neon-coloured concoctions served in sugar-rimmed martini glasses that have gained popularity amongst women drinkers, nor drinks that use – and it pains me to write this – Red Bull, or any energy drink for that matter, as a mixer. By ‘fancy’ I’m talking about the cocktails popularized in and around the mid-20th century – the Manhattan, the Gimlet, the Negroni, to name a few – prepared stiff and poured into elegantly garnished glasses full of ice.
Tort1
On the trashier (or kitschier, if you want to be nice about it) end of the fancy cocktail spectrum are tiki drinks, which I also have a real soft spot for. These tropical cocktails were also big in the 1950s are traditionally served in ceramic Polynesian-themed vessels with a flamboyant garnish of some description – think mini paper umbrellas and plastic cocktails swords plunged through pineapple wedges and Marascino cherries. Tiki drinks tend to be ultra-sweet and always contain staggering amounts of alcohol – come to think of it, they’re the perfect beverage  for hot summer nights at the trailer park, once the Coors Light runs out!
Tort2
I think what draws me to cocktails from this time period is lore surrounding them – specifically, formal cocktail parties and the idea of taking time to relax at the end of the day with a nicely-prepared drink. I’m sure popular culture has done much to romanticize the consumption of alcohol during this era, and surely it was used and abused as much (if not more) then as it is now. Regardless, I love reading old cocktail recipes and plan on someday putting together a well-stocked cocktail cart with all the necessary accoutrements!
Tort3
One of my favourite cocktails is the Bloody Mary. Here in Canada at least, the Bloody Mary seems to exist in the shadow of its more popular cousin, the Caesar. The latter – which is actually a Canadian invention – consists of Clamato juice (clam-flavoured tomato juice), vodka, lime juice, Worchestershire and Tabasco and is normally consumed with brunch as a hangover ‘cure’. Regardless of my vegetarianism, anything clam-flavoured strikes me as WRONG and as such I’ve always opted for the Bloody Mary, which is basically the same drink but with tomato juice used in place of the dreaded Clamato.
Tort4
Truth be told it’s been a couple years since I drank my last Bloody Mary, but my favourite boozie libation was top of mind when I created this tortilla soup recipe. Its tomato-based broth and Mexican spices lend themselves perfectly to the flavours found in the Bloody Mary: fresh lime, tangy Worchestershire (I used the vegan kind as conventional Worchestershire contains anchovies), and Tabasco added  to taste for some extra heat. Diced avocado, fresh cilantro and lime zest provide a cool counterpoint to the soup, and blue corn tortilla chips add a fantastic crunchy texture. This is definitely my favourite recipe of late – and I promise it won’t leave you with a hangover!
Recipe: ‘Bloody Mary’ Tortilla Soup
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 small zucchini, diced small
  • 1/2 cup of corn kernels
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1 398ml can of diced tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium broth)
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worchestershire sauce
  • Juice and zest of 1 small lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 cups blue corn tortilla chips
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • Salt to taste

Method:

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic, jalepeno and red pepper flakes and saute just until garlic begins to brown. Add paprika and chili powder and stir until spices coat other ingredients.

Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, zucchini, corn and pinto beans and stir until everything is combined. Bring soup to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and let soup simmer, partially covered, until zucchini is tender – about 20 minutes, or preferably longer to let flavours develop. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in Worchestershire sauce and lime juice.

Serve, topping each portion with tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, lime zest and Tabasco sauce to taste. Eat!

You might also like:

Vegan Indian-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Soup | With Sizzling Oil (Baghar)

After the onslaught of snow last week – and the subsequent ass-whooping I received from the snow shovel – I figured that would surely be the end of it, at least for a while. Being from Vancouver, where snow that sticks to the ground for more than a day is a rarity that garners in-depth headline news coverage, I simply wasn’t able to fathom the possibility of a protracted spell of truly Wintery conditions.
Cauli1
But as it happens, the cold has continued unabated! It dipped to -15C over the weekend, and while the propane furnace did a bang-up job of keeping the RV toasty warm, we had an issue with a pipe – namely the HOT WATER pipe running to the kitchen and bathroom sinks – which froze at some point between Friday night and Saturday morning. Somehow the hot water pipe in the shower didn’t freeze, which is fortunate as that would have precipitated a major melt down on my part. While I’m willing to rough it to an extent, the complete absence of hot water is way too Little House On The Prairie for my liking.
Cauli2
It warmed up slightly today – just enough I suppose, as the pipe miraculously unfroze itself this afternoon. Lethally long and pointy icicles have also been crashing haphazardly from the roof of the RV – a not-so-good side effect of the fractionally warmer temperature. With hot water flowing freely for the time being (I’m assuming the pipe will refreeze when presented with the opportunity) I was able to wash the dishes is warm water once more – quite the luxury after forcing my rubber-gloved hands into icy cold water the last few days.
Cauli3
To distract myself from the pipe crisis I threw together this spicy roasted cauliflower soup on the weekend. After an excellent authentic Indian meal at Poppadom’s in Kelowna a few days earlier, I was inspired to kick things up a notch flavour-wise in the kitchen(ette). Roasted cauliflower provides the perfect starting point for an Indian-inspired soup, and with 8 different spices (in addition to fresh garlic and ginger) I really gave my spice collection a run for its money! Eight might sounds like a lot of spices, but none of them are particularly difficult to find, so if you don’t have them in your pantry already then this is your opportunity 🙂 T0 layer in even more flavour, I finished the soup with a cumin, fennel and red pepper flake sizzling oil, or baghar. The soup is delicious on its own – and vegan to boot – but if you like a lot of heat then definitely give the baghar a go. Serve with a side of warm naan bread or basmati rice.
Cauli4
Recipe: Indian-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Soup | With Sizzling Oil (Baghar)
Makes 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
For soup:
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 large red onion (or 1 small one), diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For baghar:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds

Method:

Prepare roasted cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400F. Place cauliflower in a single layer in a rectangular pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside until needed.

Finish soup: In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and saute just until garlic begins to brown. Add spices and stir until they coat other ingredients. Add cauliflower, vegetable stock and water to the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat and let simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutues (or longer if time allows – as with all soups the longer they simmer the better the flavour!). Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (you can also transfer the soup to a conventional blender to puree). Taste and correct with salt if necessary.

Prepare baghar: Just before you are ready to serve soup, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and cumin seeds and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Lower heat and add red pepper flakes, stirring just until incorporated with other ingredients. Remove from heat and transfer to a small ceramic dish (this will ensure spices don’t burn).

Serve soup, topping each portion with a few drops of baghar. Eat!

New Year’s Minestrone Soup

Howdy everyone! It’s taken me longer than normal to post a recipe here; as is likely the case for many of you, the last few days have been spent slowly emerging from a holiday-induced food and booze lethargy. I can’t say I always enjoy the overconsumption that typically comes with the season – often I find myself stuffing my face for the sake of stuffing my face – but this year I’m proud to report I really put my heart (and stomach) into it! Christmas dinner on the 25th was had at a resort in the snowy Cariboo region of BC  (108 Mile Ranch to be exact) and featured an impressive spread with lots of tasty vegetarian options – the roasted brussel sprouts and yams being the standout dish – and a nice selection of BC VQA wines. We went with the Blasted Church gewurztraminer (thumbs up). After going back for seconds and then finishing things off with an impressive helping of dessert, as is my way (black forest trifle and pumpkin mousse), I wish I’d worn pants with an elasticated waste. You just can’t wear skinny jeans to a buffet, everyone knows that.

Minestrone1

More eating happened the following day at my mother-in-law’s place (Hi Sher :)), most of which wasn’t too disastrous from a health perspective apart from the generous glass of Baileys-on-ice I knocked back after taking Hunter out for a toboggan ride in the snow, and the handfuls of candy I compulsively helped my to from the bowls set out on the side table.

Minestrone2

Even with Christmas over and done with, I was somewhat compelled to continue the festive eating as my birthday falls on the 27th. I was still too full from Christmas to bear the thought of a dinner out to celebrate on my actual birthday, so we waited until we returned to Lake Country the following night. My plan going in to the meal, commendably, was to not eat anything too extravagant, but after one glance at the menu and a few sips of wine I suddenly felt less inclined to act commendably. First there was grilled foccacia served with a roasted garlic bulb and baked brie with roasted red pepper mayonnaise, then came the main event – a fantastically flavourful capellini pasta with seasonal roasted vegetables. Finally there was dessert – an amaretto-infused pannetone bread pudding – which was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever ingested. All was washed down with a bottle (maybe two) of Arrowleaf pinot gris, another great BC wine. Just recounting the meal makes me fall into a reverie. Sigh.

Minestrone3

After really giving it (pie hole-stuffing) my all for several consecutive days, I was more than craving a simple, vegan meal to ring in the new year. This soup isn’t particularly festive in the traditional sense (truth be told, I don’t even know what traditional New Year’s fare looks like), but you can’t deny that it looks like one hell of a party in a bowl: lots of colourful veggies, bowtie pasta and confetti-like jasmine rice, all in a warming, paprika-spice tomato broth. A bottle of cheap bubbly wine and homemade pizza will be the extent of our celebrating tonight, and I highly doubt I’ll stay awake until midnight – at this point catching up on sleep is far more important. However, I’m looking forward to further mining my twin obsessions (cooking and eating) in 2013 and discovering your culinary creations as well. Happy New Year 🙂

Minestrone4

Recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup rice (I used Jasmine)
  • 1/2 cup farfalle (bowtie) pasta (or your choice of gluten free pasta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 398ml can diced tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute just until fragrant and golden brown. Add red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika and coriander and stir until spices coat other ingredients. Stir in sweet potato, zucchini, yellow and orange pepper and corn. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and water. Add rice and pasta and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer until pasta, rice and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach. Remove from heat as soon as spinach is wilted. Taste and correct with salt if necessary. Serve, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Pearl Barley

After much wringing of the hands over how our RV would fare through winter conditions, we had our first bona fied cold snap of the season this weekend. Now, I’m sure our cold snap had very little on, say, Winnipeg’s, where the city was buried under feet of snow, the temperature dropped to an incomprehensible -20C (although it commonly gets even colder there), and there was likely a lot of this going on. Still, it fell below 0C here in the Okanagan and snowed a few inches, which certainly qualifies as a cold snap in my Winter-phobic Vancouverite mind. We do rain in Vancouver – endless, endless rain – but rarely sub-zero degree weather.

So when it started to snow on Sunday afternoon we battened down the hatches and braced ourselves for Winter omnishambles. Which… never really came, apart from a couple cold spots on the linoleum floor and a few unpleasant drafts seeping in later in the evening – but those were taken care of well enough with a pair of slippers for me, footed sleepwear for Hunter and an extra blanket on the bed. The snow started out a mere flurry that afternoon but when we got up the next morning there were a few inches of the stuff on the ground. Luckily, I had dug my snow boots out of the storage locker a couple weeks back ‘just in case’ – fully in denial at that point that I wouldn’t be able to continue wearing my glorious Birkenstocks (I have a newly-formed affinity for ortho-footwear) all Winter long.

My elderly neighbour, always setting the bar high where yard work is concerned (this is the same woman who, a few weeks back, had raked and bagged all the leaves that fell on her property during an overnight windstorm by 8am the next morning), was out shovelling snow at the crack of dawn, while Mike and I sat and drank coffee and – not expecting snow to come so soon – contemplated going to Canadian Tire to buy a shovel. Earlier in the week this same neighbour told me a harrowing story (for the second time) about her brother-in-law who was forced to stand outside with a hairdryer trained on his septic hose (or ‘poo hose’ as she calls it) at 2am one Winter night in an attempt to thaw it, having neglected to properly insulate the thing. ‘Insulate your poo hose!’ she warned, lest we find ourselves in the same situation. Sound advice!

Well it’s on THAT appetizing note that we arrive at this post’s featured recipe! Naturally, a nice thick soup was sounding pretty good given the wintery conditions, and with Mike home for the long weekend I whipped up something that would appeal to his omnivorous manly-man palate. The recipe uses four different roasted vegetables, which give the soup a nice rich flavour, and although the soup is pureed, each maintains its individual character: potatoes give it a comforting creaminess, shallots and parsnip a subtle sweetness, and celery adds extra body to the flavour of the soup. Pearl barley – which Mike describes as “so chewy and so good!” – bulks up the soup and makes it a filling meal. Don’t forget to top with finely grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)  – it really tastes delicious. Serve with crusty whole grain rolls, or a side salad!

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Soup with Pearl Barley

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water (to cook barley)
  • 1 medium white potato, scrubbed (I left skin on but you don’t have to) and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 shallot, peeled and halved
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (low sodium if preferred)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan), for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare roasted vegetables: Preheat oven to 400F. Place diced vegetables in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven and – tossing periodically – let vegetables roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare pearl barley: Combine barley and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed and barley is al dente. Remove from heat, transfer barley to colander and rinse under cold water (this will remove excess starch). Set aside.

Finish soup: Heat 1 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute just until golden brown. Add paprika, cumin and coriander and stir until spices coat garlic. Add roasted vegetables, vegetable broth and bay leaf and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and puree soup using an immersion blender (or by transferring the soup to a conventional blender in a couple batches, then back to saucepan). Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Add cooked barley to soup and continue to simmer until barley is warmed through. Serve, topping each potion with grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!