Monthly Archives: September 2013

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut, Lime and Ginger

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The tastes of fall… with a little hint of the islands… and (shh, here’s the big secret) you make it in your pressure cooker! You’ll be eating fall in the islands without tending to a hot stove all evening. Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve used my pressure cooker for anything other than cooking dried beans. I had it out tonight for just that reason–to cook up some garbanzo beans, which came out great on high pressure for 35 minutes without pre-soaking. Since I already had the cooker out, and had been toying with making some kind of butternut/coconut soup, I googled around for a recipe as a starting point and took it from there. I started with this recipe from hip pressure cooking: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/cream-of-butternut-squash-ginger-soup/

I only had a red onion, so in it went. The recipe came together easily, and after 15 minutes of steaming away it was ready to blend with my immersion blender. Here’s what I changed… I added the zest and juice of one lime and a can (14 ounces or so) of lite coconut milk after I blended it. This made it creamy and the lime brightens up the flavors. Plus it will keep you from getting scurvy. Don’t underestimate scurvy.

Now, being that I’m NOT a food stylist, and blended butternut squash soup does not make a terribly striking picture, I’m not including a photo, but believe me, this is delicious. Sprinkling on pumpkin seeds and maybe a little lime zest in each bowl would make it fancier, or you could try plating it and then drizzling on the coconut milk to swirl into each serving if you want it super chic. I don’t care about looks, I just wanted to eat it up. After a week of very bland food (which is a story for another day), this made a delicious and very interestingly flavored meal for moi. Enjoy!

I’ve got to use my pressure cooker for more soups… this could be as big of a life saver as the slow cooker. Which seems ironic. What are your favorite pressure cooker recipes?

Crock Pot Curried Lentil Soup with Apples and Spinach

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Mmmm, fall. Soup season. Which naturally leads to Crock Pot season. Nothing feels better than walking into the house after a long day–of school/work during the week or sports and hiking on the weekend–and being greeted by the smells of a hot dinner, already prepared, because you are so freakin amazing as a culinary goddess that dinner is made. Bam. And a hot crock o’ healthy soup–just add a salad and maybe some bread, and you’re set.

So true confessions time, this was not a good weekend for me foodwise. And I’m looking at you, bread. What is it about bread? The hubs and I went out to dinner. Outback of all places. Are you shocked that it was hard for me to eat vegan at a place who’s signature is a slab-o-beef, and what passes for a veggie is only barely a veggie, dipped in batter, and deep fried, served up with a creamy sauce? We passed on the blooming onion but that hot crusty brown bread they bring to the table was hard for me to resist. I think I ordered the only near-diet-fitting-for-me thing on the menu–a sesame chop salad with ahi tuna. I have fish about once a month so that didn’t bother me. But aside from that one dish, I don’t think there was anything else on the menu I could have eaten. Oh well, live and learn. Then we had a fun party at a friend’s house replete with apple pie and cheesecake (baby slice, no more than a taste), and a church picnic (where I did stay vegan but I’m sure got more oil than normal), and I am feeling off track.

Therefore, I will be serving this soup without bread. In fact I already served it to myself–this was a Saturday afternoon project. I had an idea of what I wanted but couldn’t find the exact recipe, so I cobbled together different ideas and added my own seasonings. The result is really good, and lentils are so good for you–protein, fiber, tummy-filling goodness. The apples and curry give it a little bit of warmth and autumn flavor. The spinach can be stirred in to the hot soup when it’s done cooking–it will flash cook from the heat of the soup–or sprinkled on top of each bowl. I prefer it sprinkled as it makes a nice presentation.

lentil soup
image from freedigitalphotos.net By Gualberto107

Curried Lentil Soup with Apples and Spinach

8 C water
2 C brown/green lentils
1 small-medium red onion, minced
2 large carrots, minced
2 large stalks of celery, minced
2 large/3 small cloves garlic, minced
3 apples, peeled and chopped (cooking apples are prob. best but I used gala)
1/2 t black pepper
1 t mild curry powder (or more to taste)
1 cup (packed) chopped fresh spinach or more to taste
salt–to taste–about 1 t or so

Put all ingredients except spinach and salt in crock pot. (I throw the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the food processor to mince.) Cook on low 8 hrs or high 4 hrs. Use an immersion blender to purée to desired consistency–I like it a little chunky–you can skip the blending altogether or make it totally smooth and anything in between. When soup is desired consistency, add salt to your preference (or omit) and either stir in spinach or sprinkle the chopped spinach directly on top of the soup in bowls.

You can probably increase the curry powder if you want a strong curry taste. The one teaspoon I used made it “present” but not overpowering. Or skip it altogether if you’re not a fan, I’m sure it would still be great without the curry.

What’s your favorite healthy crock pot creation? I need ideas!