SOUPer easy — Quinoa and Veggies!

Do you hit a point in late winter when you are tired? When the idea of cooking becomes a bit — much?

When I find myself a bit too ready to turn in early and sleep in late to want to prepare a meal, quick stovetop and crockpot soups that can cook with little effort when I am home, or while I am at work or overnight as a hearty breakfast-in-a-thermos become my best friends. Unlike using beans, which can turn to mush when overcooked, quinoa hold up rather well to reheating and will be ready more quickly than other grains, reducing the total cooking time.

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This Vegan-Friendly Veggie and Quinoa Soup has a less than impressive name, but it is simple, delicious, and ….

1. An easy way to use veggies you are concerned will spoil in the fridge!

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2. Despite the instructions, this is easy to dump in a crock-pot and forget about for 5-7 hours. Given the reality of a long workday, I’ve made this on low heat, returned home from work 9 hours later, and not suffered for the extended cooking time. You can use dried lentils or mung beans instead of the canned beans if you choose this method, but any other beans will take too long to cook — just add the canned beans at the end.

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… Try replacing some or all of the northern beans with dry black lentils (add twice as much extra water as lentils), which do not need pre-soaking. Your vegetable soup will be full of anthocyanins (dark purple antioxidants — plant chemicals that fight disease and reduce damage in your body), which help improve the nutrient density and balance of the recipe — Eat a Rainbow every day!

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Not a fan of intense spice? Want to change it up?

Use a crock-pot so you can have both food and a busy schedule that serve your highest good. Sauteing the vegetables adds an element of sweetness, so you may wish to reduce the red pepper a bit to suit yourself.

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Replace some of the red pepper with smoked paprika for a smokier profile that is less spicy.

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Enjoy the shifting weather with this adaptable, delicious, and what-do-i-have-lying-around friendly recipe!

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Cozy and Comforting : Warm Winter Soups – Pho

About halfway into a bowl of perfectly spiced pho, my tastebuds start to cry “make this every day. it is perfect.” If you crave this savory, balanced soup of protein, vegetables, and love, read on — you may save yourself a lot on take-out this year!

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This image shows traditional pho, with beef and beef broth. The recipe I have linked to is more appropriate for every eater, as it is a vegetarian version of a traditional beef pho. Feel free to stick with beef — just choose grass-fed! [ Stay tuned for other posts on making your own chicken bone broth — not too different for beef stock. ]

As you develop the perfect balanced soup for your palette, here are some ways you can play with this basic *vegetarian* pho recipe:

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Cloves are part of the stock’s flavor, and boast some of the highest antioxidant levels of any food or spice.

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… Don’t skimp on the carrots and ginger — let their sweet flavors and the immune-boost of the ginger help carry you through the season.

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Some adaptations for your highest health and enjoyment:

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… Add a fresh jalapeno, or part of one, to spice up your pho.

… Experiment with different noodles if your digestion is sensitive. Gluten-Free noodle options include Bean Thread Vermicelli, Rice Noodles, and Soba (check label as soba noodles may be made with wheat)

… Add a pinch of bonito flakes or fish sauce to create a more savory seafood flavor.

… Add shredded greens to your soup for more fiber and to increase yoru electrolyte intake — mmmmminerals!

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Feeling Pho-tastic? Share your souper stories below.

Cozy and Comforting : Warm Winter Soups — Potato Leek 3 Ways

Need some soothing options for a grey February?

Today’s Soup is the essence of comfort food – Potato Leek Soup!

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Potatoes can help support serotonin (and to a lesser extent, dopamine) production. Low serotonin is the essence of seasonal affective disorder. Potatoes are full of vitamin B6, which helps us reduce stuffiness, is associated with reduced risk of depression and chronic inflammation, and helps to support female hormone balance — so with tryptophan that can be used to make serotonin and the B6 support to convert it into serotonin, these little spuds pack a powerful mood-boosting punch! Potatoes also contain a good dose of potassium, which lowers blood pressure and compliments potassium-poor leeks.

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Add to your potatoes the sulfur-rich support from leeks to (again) reduce stuffiness, boost your immune system, reduce cancer risk by supporting liver detoxification, and support joint health, and you have a great combination for the winter blues and seasonal illness that often is found in February.

Moreover, the sticky fiber in potatoes compliments the roughage fiber in leeks with some water from the soup. The result? Perfect pooping.

1. Try a traditional, french-style with heavy cream — my favorite is Julia Child’s recipe.

2. For those of us avoiding dairy — one great reason to do so is to cut back on mucus production — here is a delicious alternative recipe from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. I’ve made this a few times without the gnocchi and love it. The gnocchi is in the bottom recipe.

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3. And finally, for those of us on a lower-carb diet, trade the potatoes for a lesser quantity of beans and increase the sulphur content with delicious asparagus!

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What is your favorite comfort-soup? Please share!