Category Archives: Soup & Stew

♥ Slow Cooker Hominy Soup

I’m happy to report that I am (finally!) a working woman again. I have been fortunate in that I was able to transform my volunteer work into a paid position. To my way of thinking, that makes every paycheck a bonus. Having Fridays off does not suck, either. Yaaah me! 🙂

Now that I’m away from the house during the week, the dinner schedule has drastically changed around here. I’m lucky enough to be off by 4:00 in the afternoon and I live a mere 5 minutes away from my new office. But, when I return to the house, the greyt boys are my first priority (sorry, J!) and not the usual dinner prep work. Luckily, we have just enough daylight left to take a walk down the street to the boys’ favorite hang-out spot.

The meadows adjacent to the lake are chock full of squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, coyote and bear. The greyt boys practically go berserk with all the delightful scents and sights they encounter. And they love to eat snow, which is funny considering that both of our boys spent their racing careers in very hot climates.

The slow cooker has become my best friend since I returned to work. In fact, I think I might be forming an almost-romantic attachment to mine. It’s reliable and it’s dependable and when I return home from walking the dogs after work, it’s waiting for me with a hot, home-cooked meal. I’ve known a lot of men that can’t deliver on those basic desired qualities! Now, if it could only shovel the driveway…

♥     ♥     ♥

Slow Cooker Hominy Soup

Adapted from this recipe.


4 cups yellow and/or white canned hominy, drained and rinsed (alternatively, use 2 cups hominy and 2 cups frozen corn kernels)

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 small zucchini, sliced in halves or quarters

2 small yellow squash, sliced in halves or quarters

2 poblano peppers, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 8-ounce package soy curls (chicken-style seitan works, too), soaked for 15 minutes in filtered water

3 cups vegetable broth

1 14-ounce can tomato sauce or tomato purée (preferred)

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon azafrán or saffron (see note)

2 teaspoons Mexican oregano leaves

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Optional Garnish:

Shredded green cabbage

Diced tomato

Diced avocado

Chopped cilantro


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, zucchini, yellow squash and peppers until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Cut the heat and remove the pan from the burner to cool.

Meanwhile, drain the soy curls and cut into bite-size pieces. Add to the slow cooker with the hominy, vegetable broth, tomato sauce or purée, tomatoes, crushed red chilies, bay leaves, azafrán (saffron), oregano, thyme and salt. Stir in the cooked vegetables and turn the slow cooker to ‘low’. Cook for at 8 to 10 hours. Add the corn the last 30 minutes, if using.

Serving suggestion: place a handful of shredded cabbage in a large soup bowl and ladle the soup over it. Garnish with diced tomato, diced avocado and/or chopped cilantro.

Note: The azafrán (saffron) ingredient won’t make or break this recipe. If you have it on hand, great, but know that buying this costly ingredient for this dish is strictly optional. Myself, I use it liberally because I happen to have a large box of Iranian saffron in my pantry. That’s one of the few perks of being married to a man who deploys to the Persian Gulf (way too) often: care packages from the Spice Souk in Dubai. I’ve been spoiled by having access to some of the world’s best spices at dirt cheap prices.

Can't you almost smell the heavenly aroma of the Spice Souk?!


♥ Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside. I know I sound like a broken record, but we are still snow-less here at Lake Tahoe. If you ask me, the lack of snow hardly makes the freezing temperatures worthwhile.

I like winter for the simple fact that I am able to justify serving soup for dinner for days on end. I love soup. In fact, I could live on it year-round. It’s the ultimate comfort food, as far as I am concerned. There’s nothing better than a bowl full of hearty and belly warming soup after coming in from the cold.

♥     ♥     ♥

Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Adapted from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant


1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

5 cups water

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 red onions, roughly chopped

4 medium carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 Tablespoon Mediterranean oregano

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want it

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

6 to 8 cups No-Chicken or vegetable broth (depending how thick you like it)

1 cup quinoa, soaked for 15 minutes and rinsed

1 16-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed


Rinse the lentils and bring to a boil in the water. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and carrots until the onions just begin to soften. Add the garlic, oregano, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, sea salt and bay leaves. Cook for a few minutes, but don’t allow the garlic to brown.

Meanwhile, begin soaking the quinoa in water.

Add the parsley and the tomatoes; stir and cook a few minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste until blended.

Add the broth, the lentils and the drained quinoa to the tomato mixture and lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

Add the spinach and cook another five minutes or so until the soup is heated throughout.

Serve with a side salad and crusty bread.

♥ Spinach Zuppe With Pesto

I love soup; I could eat it every day. And during long stretches of cold weather, I usually do! We don’t get much snow in the Puget Sound. My neighbors to the south may disagree with the recent weather events, but up here in the San Juans the snow usually skips us entirely or melts off within a day. But, it is cold during the winter here. The temperature doesn’t dip that far, it is true, but the coastal winds and the ever-present damp permeates everything and chills you through, right to the bone.

This soup is one of my cold weather favorites. It’s hearty and warming on a winter day. The pleasing aroma fills the kitchen as it cooks and the basil pesto hints at the promise of spring. It isn’t far off, although the endless gray sky days of January makes springtime seem impossibly far away!

The flavor of this soup is simply wonderful with the homemade pesto. It will thicken up as it cooks with the addition of the “mushy” Cannellini beans. Serve it over day old toasted artisan bread (traditional zuppe), as pictured, or with a fresh loaf of 100%  Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil from Healthy Bread In Five Minutes A Day (yes, I will continue to sing this book’s praises!). For an extra treat, we chop up a handful of Kalamata olives and knead them directly into the dough before baking. SO good!

Spinach Zuppe With Pesto


1 large onion, chopped

3 ribs celery and leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried Mediterranean oregano

1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (or 1/4 cup dried)

2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 1/2 cups soaked Cannellini beans (from 1/2 cup dry), cooked until mushy (or slightly more for a thicker soup)

4 cups No Chicken or vegetable broth

8 cups loosely packed baby spinach, washed

4 basil pesto “ice cubes” (or 4 Tablespoons), recipe below

Serving Suggestions:

Day-old toasted artisan bread, cut into large chunks

Good quality Balsamic vinegar, optional


Mist a large soup pot with extra-virgin olive oil. Sauté the onion and celery until crisp-tender. Add the garlic, red chili pepper flakes, oregano and parsley; sauté for another minute.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, the beans and the broth; bring the soup to bubbling. Reduce the heat and add the baby spinach and the pesto cubes. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is tender and vibrant green and the frozen pesto has melted, about 20 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Ladle the soup over the cut-up toasted bread in soup bowls and serve. Or enjoy alongside a fresh loaf of crusty bread. Stir a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into each bowl before serving, optional.

♥     ♥     ♥

Basil Pesto

This fresh pesto is wonderful spooned over pasta and as a pizza topping. The frozen pesto is a fantastic addition to Italian soups and stews.

During the summer months when I have more fresh basil than I can use, I make a large batch of this pesto to freeze for winter use. I multiply the ingredient quantities by 4 and freeze the pesto in ice-cube trays with lids until solid. When frozen, remove the 1-tablespoon pesto cubes from the ice-cube trays and store the cubes in tightly sealed freezer (or vacuum seal) bags.  To use, remove the desired number of cubes from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator.


1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste


Process all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is a coarse purée.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides, as needed, until the desired consistency is achieved.

♥ Feel Better Food

Wow, it is cold out there…and I’m seriously trying to avoid catching one! And serious germ warfare requires an equally serious weapon: Momma’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

Okay, I know that soup doesn’t actually cure the common cold, but it sure does  make you feel better. Soup warms you up, inside and out, and it keeps you hydrated. As it turns out, your momma was right about drinking plenty of fluids when you’re sick: staying hydrated helps your body fight off an infection and it can lessen both the severity and the duration of the infection, too. Not only that, the steam from a hot bowl of soup opens up the nasal passages and the broth soothes a sore throat.

I’ve never written my recipe down (until now) but it always has the same key “feel-good” ingredients. Dark leafy greens, like spinach and parsley, are loaded with vitamins A and C (as are the tomatoes). The capsaicin in the crushed red chili peppers  clears a stuffy nose and congested lungs. Fresh garlic is even reputed to be a natural antibiotic. Sometimes I will add a few tablespoons of minced fresh ginger  to soothe an upset stomach, if that’s a symptom that we’re treating.

Typically, I will use whatever noodles that we have on hand: broken up angel hair, rotini or my new favorite: Tofu Shirataki noodles (made popular by the low carb craze). But tonight, the girl requested dumplings rather than noodles, so I omitted the noodles from the recipe. Although I like dumplings, I don’t like how goopy they make the soup after cooking. So, I cook the dumplings in a separate pot of broth and then add the dumplings to each individual soup bowl. That way, the leftover soup isn’t tainted by dumpling goo!

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Momma’s Chick’n Noodle Soup


1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 cup chopped sweet onion (1 small)

1 cup carrots (about 3), sliced in half coins

1 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)

2 32-ounce cartons No Chicken broth

2 bunches fresh parsley, washed (1 bunch securely tied up in cheesecloth and 1 bunch chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers

2 to 4 cups fresh baby spinach (optional, but I always add it in for an extra vitamin boost when we are feeling under the weather)

1 14.5-ounce can Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with juice

1 6.5-ounce tofu cutlet (or pressed extra-firm tofu), cubed small

2 8-ounce packages spaghetti shape Tofu Shirataki noodles


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sauté just until the garlic is aromatic, a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, tie the parsley securely in a square of cheese cloth. Add in the celery and carrot tops, if you have them, for extra flavor and nutrients in the broth.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth, cheesecloth parsley, dill and crushed red chili peppers. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, rinse the Shirataki noodles and cook according to package directions. Rinse the noodles after cooking and cut them into 1 to 2″ pieces; set aside.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, diced tofu and noodles. Cover the pot and continue to cook until heated throughout and the spinach is a vibrant green.

Carefully remove the cheesecloth parsley with a large slotted spoon, squeeze out the excess broth (return the broth to the pot) and discard. Add the fresh chopped parsley  to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve hot.

Note: I typically do not add salt to my dishes when cooking. Instead, I add a sprinkle of freshly ground sea salt at the table.

♥     ♥     ♥

Whole Wheat Dumplings

Makes 8 to 10 dumplings


2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain soy milk

3 Tablespoons canola oil


Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the soy milk and the oil in a separate bowl and then add to the dry mixture; mix well.

Drop the dumplings by large tablespoons into the boiling broth or soup. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer on medium low heat for 10 minutes. Turn halfway through the cooking time, if necessary.