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Thinking Out Loud: Cooking My Feelings

Happy Thursday! First week of February, how did we get here? I haven’t done a proper brain-dump thinking out loud post in a while, so here’s a small collection of random.

*We all have our ways of dealing with emotional situations. I’ve been cleaning a bunch and cooking my feelings lately (so what else is new?). Apparently my feelings are ancient grains and sautéed mushrooms & shallots. How did I manage to go so long without eating farro? Crispy chickpeas with greens and fried egg have also been on the menu.

And so. Much. Soup. gnocchi chicken soup

The other night I made a chickpea pancake and topped it with leftover greens, some avocado, and nutritional yeast. That was good too. Why don’t I do it more often?

IMG_5227

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What I Ate Wednesday #252

I’ve been joking recently about descending into a life of workaholism. Since taking a legit day off is still a skill I’ve yet to master, as I was writing on here recently, I’ve taken to finding little ways to fit in “me” time, whether it’s a favorite workout or yoga class or even just cooking myself a nice meal. For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I thought I’d share a look at what I ate on a day I worked from home.  Read More »

White Bean Potato Soup (vegan)

So apparently there is a right way to lock the lid on a Vitamix so you don’t end up with a soup or smoothie explosion all over your counter. Totally winning at adulting over here. Anyway, with this newly acquired knowledge handy, I proceeded to make a blended white bean potato soup the other night. Success! And no mess to clean up. Win-win situation.

This makes a delicious (and super-easy) dinner on a cold evening and also happens to be vegan. You’ll get a hefty dose of fiber, protein, and potassium, plus some vitamin A. You can also make it gluten-free if you use a gluten-free broth.

White bean potato soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic. Sautee until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add rosemary, potato, beans, and broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer until potato is soft.
  3. Allow soup to cool about 10 minutes and then blend either using a stick blender or by pouring in batches into a standing blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour soup back into pot and heat until desired temperature or pour into a storage container and place in fridge for later use.
  5. To serve: pour over steamed kale, garnish with hemp seeds

(serves 2)

What’s your favorite cold-weather meal? 

 

 

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup

Time is a funny thing. While looking through blog archives, I saw that this time 4 years ago, I was writing about vegetarian mac & cheese and drinking wine at karaoke nights with fellow grad students. Said grad school friends and I are very much not in school anymore and super-busy and often working weekends. However, when karaoke does happen? Whiskey all the way, baby. Wine makes me way too sleepy—not conducive to staying up past 9 pm.

Haha that said, it’s been months since I’ve been anywhere near a karaoke machine. January sends a lot of us into hibernation mode, and for better or worse, I am no exception. Once upon a time, I used to stay up late on the regular, and though it still happens on occasion when I have a good reason, I am totally okay with going to bed at grandma o’clock on a cold weekend night, especially if I’m clocking in at 7:30 the next morning.

I made this soup on a night when I was way more in the mood to chill in with Netflix and writing projects than to swipe on some smoky eye makeup and make first-date small talk over a $12 glass of wine. Some things are worth the headache, and some just aren’t. I think you know when you know, and staying home and making this soup instead was totally the right move that night.

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup

So this soup. It’s great for when you need (or want) to clean out the fridge or freezer. I used a bag of frozen grilled veggies from Trader Joe’s and some leftover red quinoa, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I added turmeric for color and to add a little cold-kicking action, but feel free to leave it out if you just can’t wrap your head around Italian-style seasonings and turmeric in the same bowl.

If you prefer to make the meatballs in a frying pan, go right ahead, but since finding out how easy they are to bake, I’m never doing it any other way again. Less cleanup = happy Jess. You can make them any size you like, too, just know that the cooking time may change. Adorable meatball scoopers like this one my sister gave me for Christmas are optional but totally encouraged if you want your meatballs to be uniform in size. meatball scoop

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup
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What I Ate Wednesday #249

Happy  What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a great week so far. I can’t believe we’re already getting into mid-January. Like, what the what? I can’t even. Am I still allowed to say “I can’t even” in 2016? I really hope so.

Anyway, for this week’s food diary-style post, I thought I’d share what I ate  last Friday, when I spent a day off traveling to the suburbs to have lunch with my mom and get my hair done. Is it weird that I still like to go to the same person who did my hair when I was in high school? She also does my mom’s hair and my sister’s and I think one of my aunt’s? I’ve gone through phases with people closer to home, but sometimes that comfort level is important when so many other things in your life are in flux. Totally worth the trip.

Haha wow—did not expect to get all philosophical about hairstylings, but hey. How about we get to the food part of this post?  Read More »

Kabocha Soup

And here we are in mid-December. If I were writing this post like a medical note, it would go something like this:

Pt is s/p Hanukkah celebrations, currently tolerating a high-salt, high-sugar diet with moderate alcohol intake. +flatus, some BMs, but pt c/o bloating, excessive thirst. Recommend increase fluids. Would also consider probiotic supplement to promote regularity. Pt encouraged to focus on lean protein sources and high-fiber foods in preparation for Christmas feast with in-laws later this month. Nutritional considerations for cocktail hour and setting attainable New Years goals were also discussed. Pt was receptive. Will continue to monitor. 

As Merry As I Get

Ready for a break from sugar? You’re in good company. This soup is a refreshing change of pace—perfect for a cold night in. Make with a stick blender or in a regular blender—just be careful not to overload the thing and then use too high a speed setting like I did. Unless, of course, you like orange explosions all over your countertops.

I like to serve this with a little green on the bottom, such as steamed kale or shredded sautéed brussels sprouts or cabbage (yes, really). You can top with a fried egg, a garnish of pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese like I did here, but it’s also delicious with a roast pork mixed in. For a vegan take, sprinkle a tablespoon of hemp seeds on top for an extra protein boost. I used powdered ginger in this recipe, but feel free to use fresh instead—just mince finely and add with the garlic.

kabocha soup with egg

Ingredients:

  • 1 small kabocha squash, cut in half with seeds scooped out
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garum masala
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a baking pan with water and place squash, cut side down. Bake until flesh is soft. Allow to cool and then scoop squash outside of the peel.
  2. Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a stock pot or large saucepan. Add onion and cover. Cook on low until soft. Uncover and add garlic. Saute another minute and add spices.
  3. Add broth and squash. Stir well to mix.
  4. Blend soup, either using a stick blender or by pouring the soup in small amounts to a blender.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite soup? 

What I Ate Wednesday #244: Keeping It Real during the holidays

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. I’ve been writing a lot lately about some of the more indulgent things we enjoy during the holiday season, so how about what to eat the rest of the time? I thought I’d use today’s “what I ate” post to show an example of how I keep it real on a regular day so that I have room to enjoy a drink or a treat later in the week. This was Friday, which I spent working at the hospital. I was supposed to have evening plans, but a last-minute cancellation left me with some time to run errands, work on a writing project, and try a new recipe, which I can’t wait to share soon! So pros and cons.

Anyway, about the “what I ate” part of this post… Read More »

Drama-Free Pasta: RD-Approved

I was having a conversation with my dad the other day about carbs and he said, “…well, I know, like, you don’t eat pasta, so I was wondering what carbs are okay,” and I was like, “Wait-I don’t eat pasta? S***, is THAT what people think?”

So, in order to dispel the myth, here is a post about how I eat pasta. This is what works for me in my own life and is by now means prescriptive or one size fits all advice, but I’ve found it keeps the dinnertime drama to a minimum and helps me enjoy pasta in the context of an overall healthy diet—no overthinking or carb-guilt required.

RD approved pastaRule #1: Pasta is not the devil—or the enemy, depending on your belief system. Maybe I’m old-school, but I find the most satisfying, energizing meals involve a protein, plenty of veggies, a bit of fat, and some source of carbohydrate. To me, pasta is just one of the many carbohydrate options out there. To make it more filling, I reach for whole grain varieties whenever available, but if what I really want on a particular night happens not to be whole grain, I listen to that craving. When you stick to whole grains and complex carbs most of the time, there’s a little room for the occasional small serving of white pasta.

Rule #2: Portions count. Most nutrition labels provide the stats for two ounces of pasta—that’s actually equivalent to two 1-ounce USDA servings of pasta. That’s just fine, especially if you’re spreading your carb intake throughout the day and balancing it out with protein, healthy fats, and nonstrachy vegetables, but where most people run into trouble is having a larger portion than those two ounces.

Rule #3: Bulk up your bowl with veggies and protein. A few of my favorites: leafy greens like arugula and kale; roasted broccoli or cauliflower; eggplant; fresh burst tomatoes; shaved sautéed brussels sprouts; caramelized onion; chicken; shrimp; a poached egg…Have fun experimenting!

Rule#4: Go easy on the sauce. No reason to drown your meal in creamy sauce. Start with a tablespoon. Sprinkle cheese sparingly, knowing that you can always add more later if you really want to.

Rule #5: Serve in a smaller bowl. Part of the beauty of pasta is what an abundant meal you can make from humble ingredients. To highlight that, serve in a smaller bowl or dish so the meal fills the plate and provides that visual satisfaction. Another idea: make a small serving of pasta and mix with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

Rule #6: No guilt allowed. Demonizing a particular food sets you up for a complicated relationship with that food, making hard to find your own sense of moderation.

What’s your favorite way to eat pasta? 

A few of my favorite pasta (and pasta-related) recipes:

 

What to Make this Weekend: Pasta

Happy Friday! Hope you’re looking forward to a great weekend. Any cooking projects on the agenda? I’m working at the hospital, so am planning a lot more (defrosted) soup-and-salad-type meals. That said, I’ve been craving pasta lately. It’s definitely one of those cool-weather comfort foods. Did you know it’s National Pasta Month?

I know pasta gets a bad reputation because we tend to think of more indulgent incarnations, but when you choose a whole grain variety and pair it with lots of veggies and some protein, it can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Here are a few of my favorite pasta-centric meals:

To keep the pasta party going, here’s a cute but informative infographic:
Pasta is Complex

What’s your favorite pasta? 

 

What I Ate Wednesday #237: Making Strides

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. I can’t believe we’re already to the mid-way point of the week. I’m afraid that if I start talking at all about how busy/overloaded I am, I’ll burst into “how the eff is all this going to get done” tears, so let’s flashback to Sunday, which I spent with my mom.

The past few years, we’ve participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Central Park to honor the memory of my grandmother, who passed away at the age of 61 after a long battle with breast and ovarian cancer. Watching her struggle was a huge part of my deciding to become a dietitian. I always get a little choked up at the starting line, but mostly, I’m just happy to be able to spend it with my mom. We had great weather this year, if a big chilly. Making Strides 2015

Breakfast: My mom was set to come to my apartment at 7:20, so I got up, showered, and ate some leftover pumpkin cranberry oatmeal while doing line edits on a piece until she got there. cran pumpkin oats and line edits

Lunch: We went to The Smith near Lincoln Center. Both of us ordered the lobster avocado salad (with lemon vinaigrette instead of the buttermilk dressing), and we also shared a side of brussels sprouts (pan fried with orange oil) and bacon. I was so hungry, and this totally hit the spot. Lobster salad the smith

Snack: I got crazy-hungry after doing some more writing and cleaning, so midway through the afternoon, I ate some Greek yogurt with coconut flour and cinnamon, topped with PB2 sauce. Of course I forgot to take a picture. That’s how I know I’m really hungry. This is what I usually have on hand. Trader Joe's Greek yogurt

Dinner: I went to a super-relaxing yoga class and came home to a bowl of this slow cooker soup inspired by a chicken and broccoli rabe chili recipe on Half-Baked Harvest. I used a LOT of paprika, which is one of my favorite spices, and this was so good with some shaved parm on top. On the side, the had a whole wheat sandwich thin with more of the miso-tahini pumpkin sauce and roasted eggplant rounds. broccoli chicken chili and toast

Snack: After a few more hours of editing work (I swear I have a life, just not on this particular night), I got hungry again, and the only thing that sounded good was more yogurt. So yeah.

What life events inspired you to take your career path? What was the best thing you ate this past weekend?
To see more WIAW from other bloggers, check out founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

 

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