Posted in Bouncing Tigger's Vegetarian Recipe Challenge, Food, Recipes

Meatless in May. Want to Help?

Well, okay. I just found a WordPress blogging challenge I can get my teeth into (literally as well as figuratively). Bouncing Tigger’s Vegetarian Recipe Challenge may just fit the bill. So far I’ve been doing pretty well, with no objections from the hubby and I’m looking forward to trying new recipes.

My, What A Lot of Cauliflower You’ve Got!

So, first: here’s a recipe I put together for soup. Proportions are entirely optional, as are the number and type of veggies. The more veggies the merrier, including members of the broccoli family which often don’t play nice with the neighbors. I’ve done this soup with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Cabbage would be fine, although I don’t think I’ve ever put cabbage in up until now. I’ll have to try it next time. Come to think of it, I don’t think bitter greens (kale, collards, etc.) would work in this soup.

I also add a handful of lentils and a can of beans of whatever kind. There’s your protein. I add some grains, too, like barley and quinoa. And, just to top it off, I also drop in a small amount of pasta towards the end.

I typically use soup stock for this soup. Sometimes it’s home-made, sometimes it’s from a can. How much? Enough to cover the veggies and still leave room for broth – and the inevitable expansion of the grains.

Here are the veggies I typically use:

Onions, garlic, carrots, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, peas. I sometimes add tomato and mushrooms, although just small amounts of each. I start by sauteing the onions and garlic in olive oil, then add the other veggies until they’re glistening. Then I add the broth, stir it up, then stir in a handful of lentils, barley and/or quinoa and a can of beans. I’m partial to chick peas, but you can add whatever you want.

I usually use frozen corn and peas, so I want until the soup is almost done to add that plus the pasta. If I have any parsley, I’ll chop that up and add it, too.

Now, here’s your part – do you have any vegetarian recipes you’d like me to try? I like to take pictures and videos of what I’m doing, so I’d probably do that and post it here. Check out my new recipe collections page to let me know!

Posted in Food, Recipes

The Incredible, The Wonderful Squash and Bean Soup

Butternut SquashIt’s the perfect night for soup – cold and wet. I, however, have just come home from a massage so feel just fiiiiiine, thank you very much.

I put the ingredients together for this soup before I left and we were eating about 40 minutes later. Got to love that, too. I’ve had this recipe kicking around for years, sitting in a humongous file folder with recipe clippings I’ve had since the early 1990s. A few weekends ago I decided to tackle that folder and divide it into categories that I could deal with, like vegetarian dinners, breakfast, meat dinners, side dishes, soups, etc. I rescued this soup recipe from folder limbo and and so, so happy I did.

I think butternut squash works best with this soup. It complements the flavor of the carrots to add a very mild sweetness to the broth. And, of course, it really does matter what kind of soup stock you use. I made my own a few days ago, from odds and ends – including bones – that I had laid away in my freezer.

Winter Squash and White Bean Soup
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

1 tbs olive oil
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 cups chopped leek (about 3 leeks)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups vegetable stock
5 cups water
2 cups chopped green cabbage
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 – 2 cups cannellini or other white beans, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (soup pot) over medium heat until hot. Add squash and next six ingredients (squash through 1 garlic clove). Sautee 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of vegetable stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add the other cup of stock, the water and bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add cabbage and beans and simmer again for about 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Add fresh parsley and serve.

Alternatively, you can substitute all stock or part stock and part water for the proportions outlined in this recipe.

Posted in Food, Recipes, Summer

Today’s Two-For-One

Cook me, baby!

Spent today cooking, cooking, cooking. There must be something I’m trying to get out of my system. Either that, or the huge loads of vegetables we typically collect in the summer are making me feel guilty. Don’t waste that! It’s fresh. It was plucked out of the ground just this morning. You’ve got a freezer, right? Get those pots out, girl.

I took care of two items cluttering my fridge and counters this afternoon. Our neighbors/condo co-owners belong to an organic farm share and kindly shared a huge bag of fresh beets. They’re not fond of beets, but they thrill me to my Polish core. Beet soup. Beet salads. Grated beets. You name it, I love it. I whipped up a humongous batch of  Rydzynski family beet soup, straight out of my grandmother’s kitchen and passed on to me via my dad. Every family probably has a grandmother like this: about 4 feet tall, hair in a bun, black orthopedic shoes and a pot of something on the stove (or in the oven) morning, noon and night. When we were kids we were ritually led to her ancient kitchen, seated onto uncomfortable kitchen chairs and given a plate of something home made to eat. Woe to the kid who didn’t finish it. Hey – people starved to death in the old country. They sure as hell weren’t going to do that here.

I’ll eventually share the recipe. In its current shape it’s a bit hard to decode and I want to play around with the proportions, particularly those of sugar to vinegar. Sweet-sour soups are an Eastern European thing, and they’re really good.

Can you spell borscht?

I also made my second batch of tomato sauce, this time from Marcella Hazan‘s The Classic Italian Cookbook (a real classic. Get it!). She has three fresh-tomato sauces that are absolutely out of this world. They are simply called Tomato Sauce I, Tomato Sauce II and Tomato Sauce III. They vary in the amount of time the tomatoes are cooked. Tomato Sauce I, which I made this afternoon, is the longest-cooking recipe. It’s a simple procedure involving plum tomatoes, olive oil, salt and smidgens of onion, carrot, celery and sugar. I use this sauce to accompany gnocci if I’m having it plain. It also pairs extraordinarily well with chicken. Give it a try yourself and see what you think:

Tomato Sauce I

2 pounds, fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (remove seeds and skin beforehand if you don’t have a food mill)
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste (I use 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Wash tomatoes in cold water. Core and slice in half, lengthwise. Simmer in a covered saucepan for 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours more.

Puree the tomatoes through a food mill (if you have one), to remove the seeds and skin. Meanwhile, wash out the pot you were using and add the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until just translucent, not brown. Add carrot and celery and saute for just another minute.

Add the pureed tomato, the salt and the sugar. Cook at a gentle simmer, uncovered or partially covered, for another 20 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent sticking.

If you try any of the sauces I’ve mentioned, please do let me know. I’d be curious to know what you think of them.

Posted in Food, Recipes

Black Bean Dreamin’

Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup

Man, it’s cold outside! We had a snow flurry yesterday – the first real one this winter – and it’s still cold and very, very windy. Most of the snow has melted, but it still feels like winter out there.

This time of year, I do soup and stews. They’re hearty and they’re warming. A few weeks ago I noticed a few cans of black beans languishing at the back of the cabinet. I pulled them out, dusted them off, and put together a nice little black bean soup. Here’s the recipe (you’ll need a blender or a food processor, too):

Hearty Black Bean Soup
(recipe adapted from Chipotle Black Bean Soup recipe on

2 cans of black beans (15.5 oz each)
2 tbs cooking oil (I use olive or canola oil)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 – 2 tsp ground cumin (I use the larger amount)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 small tomato, chopped, or one cup canned, diced tomatoes
1 – 2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt (optional, depending on your broth. Some canned broths are already salted)
Fresh-ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and green peppers and cook until softened (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and cumin and saute until fragrant. Add beans, broth and tomato and cook until onion and green peppers are soft (15 – 20 minutes).

Take a cup or two of the soup and put into blender or food processor. Process until pureed, then return to soup. This will thicken the broth and intensify the flavor. Add salt and pepper if/as needed.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Posted in Autumn, Food, Recipes, Seasons

Curried Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Curried Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.



Enjoy! I just made this tonight, to ward off a chilly fall evening. Rumor has it the heat will return by this weekend, but until then I’m taking advantage of those wonderful fall flavors.

This soup is simple and absolutely delicious. It’s going into my regular recipes repertoire. I haven’t added anything new in a long time, but this one is worth the extra typing.

Posted in Food, Recipes

Beets and Cabbage

I went for comfort food tonight. If you’re Polish – or any Slavic nationality, actually – borscht/barszcz is part of your structural DNA. This version is from Ukraine and is part of a massive collection of Polish recipes by Robert Strybel. You don’t buy this book unless your name ends in -ski and vowels are not part of your way of thinking.

Ready for a shot at this? Let’s go! Here’s what you’ll need:

2 lbs beef stew meat, with or without bone
3 – 4 medium beets, fresh
2 potatoes (peeled or not)
2 cups green cabbage
1 can small white beans (or make from scratch)
1/2 tsp marjoram
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp white sugar
1 cup sour cream (one of the four food groups of Poland)
2 tbs flour

Use a food processor for this recipe, if you have one. It will cut time and labor. Beets leave a lot of red behind, but that washes out with water.

Wash and cut stew meat. Add to soup pot with 6 – 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, skim off foam, and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.

While the meat mixture is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Wash and trim the beets. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for an hour. Cut potatoes into small dice and keep submerged in water to prevent browning. Shred cabbage and set aside. Open can of white beans, rinse in colander and set aside.

When beets are cooked, remove from oven and let cool. Slip off skins and shred beets.

Add vegetables and beans to meat mixture after 1 1/2 hours. If necessary, bone meat before adding vegetables. Add marjoram, salt and pepper. Cook mixture for another 40 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar, salt and pepper. Taste for balance.

Prepare sour cream. Spoon into a mixing bowl and add 2 tbs flour. Whisk until creamy. After 40 minutes, scoop a little bit of the soup broth into the sour cream mixture, whisking after each addition. Add broth until sour cream is pink and the mixture is no longer cool or cold. Then, slowly add the sour cream to the soup, stirring vigorously to prevent clumping.

Let the soup cook for a while longer, below the boil. to dispel the “flour-y” taste. Adjust seasonings and serve hot.

The sweet-sour thing may be confusing for some. It’s very Eastern European, and works particularly well with beets. My family makes a different version of this recipe. I guess there are as many recipes for barszcz as there are Polish people to make it.

Here are some pics I took along the way. And, I even made a little video for you. Enjoy!

Start with good veggies!

Drain and rinse your white beans. Navy beans are good in this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend cannellini. They’re too soft.

Here’s your shredded cabbage. I did this in the food processor. Big time saver.

And here are the grated beets. Isn’t that pretty???

Here’s the soup on the first boil. By the end it’ll be ruby red.

This part might be a little tricky. Add the hot broth, a tablespoon or so at a time, whisk and keep doing that until the sour cream is warm and has had a chance to combine with the broth a bit. If you don’t do this, the sour cream will separate in the soup. You don’t want that. You want this:

From ruby red to hot pink! Cleanup isn’t that bad, either. It just looks like the aftermath of a slasher movie. Just rinse out everything and you’re done.

And, here’s the video I promised!

Ukranian Beet Soup.wmv

Posted in Uncategorized

Smokey Ham-Bone Soup Stock

  • 1 meaty bone from a smoked ham (half-cut)
  • A few chicken bones
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 – 3 medium onions, with skin left on
  • 2 – 3 large carrots, snapped in half
  • 2 medium or 3 small potatoes, quartered
  • Other vegetable scraps: zucchini, green beans, etc.
  • Water, to cover

  1. Assemble stock ingredients in large stockpot
  2. Fill with water to cover by at least 3 – 4 inches
  3. Bring the stock to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours
  4. Cool stock and strain through colander. Refrigerate
  5. Remove congealed fat from stock and 2 – 3 days in fridge or up to 6 months in freezer.

Smokey Ham-Bone Soup Stock @ Group Recipes

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