Vegetarian Lentil Soup


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

3 ripe tomatoes,diced (or one can peeled, diced tomatoes)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

2 quarts cooking liquid (vegetable stock, water, or a mix)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 or 2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

1 tbsp red wine vinegar


1.  In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the tomato paste, mix well and continue to saute for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add the fresh tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

2.  Add the cumin powder, herbs, lentils, salt, pepper and cooking liquid.  Stir well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat.  Continue to simmer until the lentils are cooked and soup has thickened (about 45 minutes).

3.  Taste and adjust seasonings per your preference.  Stir in the spinach leaves and red wine vinegar.  Serve hot with salad or crusty bread.


Tomato Vegetable Soup

This recipe is originally from the Canyon Ranch cookbook, with minor tweaks.  When you include just veggies, it’s a great, light soup.  Add some crushed red pepper for a spicy kick.  Stir in a bunch of whole spinach leaves at the end to add more green to your meal.  Add beans or potatoes to make it heartier, and some pasta to make it a one pot meal.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 zucchini, unpeeled and diced

1 summer squash, unpeeled and diced

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (feel free to use a pinch or two dried)

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (feel free to use 1 tsp dried)

2 cans peeled and diced tomatoes, including the liquid

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 quart vegetable stock

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste


1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Saute onions, carrots and celery until the veggies start to sweat and the onions are starting to soften.  Add the zucchini and herbs and mix well.  Saute for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the diced tomatoes and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.  Add the cannellini beans and vegetable stock, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, and mix thoroughly to combine.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

3.  Remove from heat.  Stir in red wine vinegar.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

6 New Recipes! – Follow Up

Here’s the follow up to the 1/29/2012 post on the Asian smorgasbord/cooking orgy from last weekend.  I’m giving you links to the original recipes along with alterations that I made.  Sorry, no pictures this time.  I’ll load pics when/if I repeat these recipes.

1.  Vegetable miso soup

My changes

I used vegetable stock and white button mushrooms, omitted the udon noodles, doubled up on all the veggies except the scallions, and used red instead of white miso paste.

2.  Malaysian potato and green bean curry

My changes

I used a small onion instead of shallots since I just hate peeling shallots, and new potatoes instead of fingerling potatoes.  Otherwise, no changes.  Oh, I did add a little extra water while the potatoes were cooking in order to have more sauce.

3.  Thai-style (-ish) veggie fried rice

My changes

I omitted the pork and fish sauce, doubled up on the bok choy and tripled the green chillies (we were itching for some really spicy food this week).  I also added a little bit of soy sauce for salt.

4.  Vegetarian ma-po tofu

My changes

I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and omitted the pork to make this vegetarian.  I wanted to use Sichuan peppercorns but, for some reason, my excellently stocked Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Indian/Mexican… heck, it’s a world super market… did not have any in stock.  I added a little extra red chilli paste to make up for the lack of peppercorns as I wanted to keep the spice level high.

5.  Vegetable pot stickers with spicy dipping sauce

My changes

I used plain old white button mushrooms and Savoy cabbage.  Otherwise, I made no other changes to the original recipe.  Next time, I will probably reduce the amount of Chinese five spice powder to about half the suggested amount.  The pot stickers were really good, but it was just a touch too much anise for me.

Update:  I used some leftover stuffing in grilled sandwiches today.  Gotta love an electric sandwich grill/press.  I just spread a teensy bit of margarine on the outsides of the whole wheat bread slices, smeared a little green chilli chutney on the insides, generously filled the bread, and put the lid down.  Yum!

This Week’s Menu… 6 New Recipes!

After Pongal festival cooking two weeks ago and an all Tamil menu last week, we needed something a little different this week. So, at the end of the day… after a couple of hours of food prep, an hour and a half or so of actual cook time, hanging a light fixture in the living room (finally!), and fifteen minutes of wrapping… we have:

1. Three quarts of vegetable miso soup
2. Two quarts of Malaysian potato and green bean curry
3. One quart of Thai-style (-ish) veggie fried rice
4. One quart of vegetarian Ma-po tofu
5. A gazillion vegetable pot stickers (some wrapped but not cooked, and enough filling and wrappers put aside to be wrapped and frozen for a rainy day) with spicy dipping sauce
6. Carrot, celery and avocado maki
7. Kale and cabbage slaw with ginger avocado dressing

The slaw is just a variation of the kale and celery root slaw I tried a few weeks ago. The maki was made by memory, based on what my friend Cathy’s mom showed me years ago. I’ll post the recipe when I get a chance. For the other dishes, I simply made slight alterations existing recipes to make them vegetarian and to adjust seasonings to taste. Thanks to the great cooks who shared their recipes!  I’ll post the links and alterations as soon as I can.