Keeping things simple in a not so simple world

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not an ordinary chili

Over the years, I have tried a variety of chili recipes. I make a great vegan chili – dumping all sorts of veggies in. We tried a new coconut butternut squash chili for a Holiday party this past December. A killer meat chili with organic ground beef and lots of ancho chili pepper…

The types of beans, veggies, meats – it varies every time. I’m sure yours does to.

Today, I have a chili recipe that is about flavor. Forget the veggies and meat. This is about savoring the balanced blend of smokey and sweet and bitter. The mellow with the fresh and robust.

I hope you try this. It is VERY simple. But certainly does not taste so…

not an ordinary chili

1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
sunflower oil
2 15 ounce cans of black beans (3 cups black beans)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
30 ounce can tomato puree
3 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces good quality organic dark chocolate, in smallish pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder (ancho is preferred)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the onion and celery, cooking until just soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden.
Add the tomato paste, stirring until incorporated.
Add the beans and puree, mix well.
Add the broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
Add the chocolate, stirring frequently until melted.
The consistency should be thick and saucy. The color should be a deep brown-red.
Add more chocolate if desired.

Leave to simmer…

In the meantime, make the cilantro pesto…

1 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup walnuts
olive oil

In a food processor, add all the ingredients, drizzling with the olive oil. Pulse, adding more olive oil as needed.

Serve the chili with a dollop of pesto on top.

My kids inhaled this. It was a real hit!


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spring in the air

Yes, I realize that we are having a spring snow. But I am in denial. Sometimes, mother nature is too much.

This lovely spring soup has brought us lovely spring goodness to our home and comfort to a dear friends. Our community gardener, someone who has become family to us, whose daughter is our sitter, sister and friend, passed away suddenly Monday. This soup was a small token in a time of hurt.

To spring and happier times…

carrot dill soup

4-6 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 quarts vegetable broth
1 bunch of fresh dill, finely minced

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil until shimmering and add the vegetables, saute for 4 minutes or until onion is soft and golden.
Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables are soft.
Using a hand-blender, food processor or blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the dill.


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special soup

Every so often I want a special soup. Something to serve for guests. Or to have something extra special for comfort.

This soup is based on a native american soup recipe. It may sound like a bizarre combination, but trust me, it is quite good.

toasted pecan soup with cheddar cheese

4 cups pecans
olive oil
1 onions chopped
1-2 quarts vegetable broth
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed (may use dry)
salt and pepper
good quality yellow cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400*. Place pecans on a cookie sheet and put cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the pecans don’t burn. You want them just golden and hot. Let cool.

Crush the pecans into smallish chunks.
In a soup pot, heat some olive oil and add the chopped onion. Once soft, add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pecans and thyme leaves.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until pecans are somewhat soft.
Using a blender, food processor or a hand-blender, puree the soup. Season to taste.

Serve warm with the shredded cheddar cheese. Or room temp without the cheese.

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soup to go

I’ve been having trouble figuring out what I want to do for lunch at work everyday. I am not overeager to spend money, but somehow we don’t have the fixings for a salad, or leftovers don’t sound good or they are eaten for breakfast and before you know it, I’m headed to Trader Joe’s to get something for work.

But this weekend I had a minor revelation.

I love a cup of soup during the winter…and my son has gotten sick of them – so we haven’t had as many, meaning we don’t have leftovers. Also, he is on an anti-squash kick…meaning we have three squash in the basement that would go to waste otherwise….

Now the true genius to the “Soup to go” is not the recipe, which you can find below and is very good, but rather the fact that I was smart enough to put the soup in small Ball jars. We kept a few in the fridge and froze a bunch more. I can simply pull them out and bring them with me, already “packaged.”
Can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier!

Curried Triple Squash Soup
Note: You can use whatever type of squash you have on hand to make it sweeter or more savory as you like.

1 medium acorn squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
4-6 cups water
1 can coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons curry powder (depending on your taste)
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the broth and add the squash, covering with water until all the squash is covered.
Add coconut milk and spices.
Bring to a boil, simmer until squash is soft.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using a stick-blender or blender, puree the soup. Warning: if you puree with the soup while it is still hot, please be careful! I do not recommend it!

Fill as many small Ball jars or other small containers with soup. If freezing, leave enough room for expansion.

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rhubarb strawberry soup

The end of rhubarb season is upon us.  It is truly such a short season.  Though, many grocery stores do sell frozen rhubarb, it is not quite the same.

A favorite rhubarb treat of ours is rhubarb strawberry soup. It is nice on its own, as a breakfast treat or a great replacement for strawberry shortcake.

Rhubarb Strawberry Soup
It is important to use organic apple juice. Half of all pesticides used on produce are for apples because they attract so many pests and diseases. Also, a lot of those pesticides contain arsenic.

1 large bundle rhubarb cut (about 2-3 cups)
1 large container strawberries, cored and sliced (32 ounces)
1 jug organic apple juice (64 ounces)
1 large or 2 small cinnamon sticks

In a large stock pot, place the juice, rhubarb and strawberries. Bring to a boil and add cinnamon sticks. Reduce to a simmer and cook until somewhat thickened (about 15-20 minutes). The rhubarb will literally melt and the strawberries will become very mushy. Remove cinnamon stick(s). Puree in a blender or with a hand/stick blender.
Chill and serve.

Serving options:
Serve with sour cream or creme fraiche.
Pour over biscuits for a strawberry/rhubarb shortcake.
Add some silken tofu just before blending for a boost of protein and serve for breakfast.