This Garlicky Leek Soup was inspired by my love of potatoes. While there is only a little potato in it, that certain creamy potato flavor is there. The combination of potatoes, leeks and garlic are more than the sum of their parts – they were made to sing together. Lately I’ve been on the sub cauliflower for white potatoes in everything train, and I did stir some cauliflower into one bowl of this soup and that was delicious. In this vein (of mashed potatoes) you might top a bowl with a little grass-fed organic plain yogurt. This recipe also has the boost of plant protein with a can of white beans in there. All in all, a nutrient-dense and delicious soup, perfect for a cool spring day.
In my humble opinion, potatoes have gotten a bad wrap in the healthy food world. They are rich in fiber and vitamin C, and particularly when you can find smaller colorful purple, red or gold fingerlings – all very worth the space in your garden – filled with disease-busting antioxidants.
Garlicky Leek Soup
In honor of my love for potatoes.
- 1 large spanish onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots cleaned and chopped
- 4-5 stalks celery chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic peeled, center stem removed, chopped
- 1 medium organic potato skin on, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 cups clean water
- 3 large leeks sliced and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp thyme dry
- 1 15-oz can cannelloni beans (Eden brands is a good choice)
- 1 small bunch parsley chopped
- 1 pinch salt and black pepper or to taste
Place onion, carrots, celery garlic and potato in a heavy soup pot, with olive oil, and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add leeks and thyme and stir. Once you smell the leeks and thyme begin to cook (couple minutes), add water and beans.
Turn to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes.
If you have an immersion blender, lucky you - blend the soup. If not, use a blender (to minimize accidents, let the soup cool before you blend it). Alternatively, leave it unblended. Add parsley, black pepper and just a smidgeon of salt.
Other additions if you so choose:1/2 head cauliflower, chopped. Plain organic grass-fed yogurt.
Potato heads unite!
This summer I was breakfast salad crazy – in the garden, knee-deep in some wonderful greens, and the vegetable bowl craze just pointed to making more breakfast salads. Yum.
Now that the weather is just beginning to cool, my breakfast salads are warm. The garden is filled with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and other delectables. Now, my breakfast salads are one-pan wonders morphing into veggie bowls. All good!
To put together a breakfast salad, pull together whatever you have in the fridge, notice the veggies that are in season (even better, at their peak) now, and think about the flavors you’re pulling together. I choose greens, a vegetable or two, flavorful protein-rich compatibles like nut butter, nuts or seeds, whole grains or soft-boiled eggs.
Salad dressings can boost nutrition – making your own from whole ingredients is worth it! Topping your breakfast salad with a bit of mayo, smooshed avocado, or good olive oil and vinegar works great too.
Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes & Soft Boiled Egg Breakfast Salad
Quick, fresh and satisfying.
- 1/2 cup spinach or other greens I used baby organic
- 5 stalks asparagus, sliced Use any vegetable you have on hand.
- 1/2 sweet potato, cooked, sliced I often cook-off 3 or 4 sweet potatoes on a Sunday to use through the week.
- 2 eggs, soft boil To soft boil an egg, place them in a small pan in cold water, then turn to high and bring to boil. Turn heat off - when the water is cool enough to peel the eggs (about 15 minutes) the eggs will be soft-boiled.
- 1 Tbsp mayonnaise, good quality organic or it's actually easy to make your own
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp Fresh dill, diced
Toss sweet potatoes, greens, and asparagus in a medium breakfast bowl. Top with 2 soft-boiled eggs, sliced in half. Top with mayo and mustard.
Toss all together, top with dill and enjoy.
There are so many combinations of breakfast salads.
Here are a few combos to try:
Spinach - walnut - egg - turkey bacon - poppyseed dressing
Cabbage - cashews - carrots - egg - Asian peanut dressing
Red or green lettuce - grilled BBQ chicken leftovers - red peppers - balsamic vinaigrette
Tomatoes - basil - pine nuts - olives - tofu - olive oil
I finally got a glass pitcher with a cylinder in the top so that I can easily make herbal waters – cold water sun infusions. These are really the perfect alternative to soda or even to sparkling water in plastic containers.
Why Drink Herbal Water?
With herbal waters, you take a pass on the sugar and whatever else is in packaged drinks you purchase. But you also get a smidgen of phytonutrient and bioenergetic support (that certain je ne sais quoi – a delight of unknown origin) from herbs and other botanicals. Herbs do contain some of the most potent of nature’s medicines, and the flavors and fragrances you experience are those potent antioxidants that provide health-enhancing benefits like calming inflammation and helping to make your internal environment resilient.
How to Make Herbal Water
The recipe is so straight forward – it’s really more of a reminder.
Herbal Water Recipe
Herbal water passes on the sugar and expense of soda and soothes your senses with some of the most potent of nature's medicines - phytonutrients.
- 1 quart water clean, filtered
- 1 /2 cup herbs & flavorings any edible fresh herb, root, flower or spice
Fill a one-quart glass pitcher with water.
Place herbs and flavorings in something that will allow their suspension in the water - a clean small cloth bag, for example - I have a pitcher made just for sun-tea, with a plastic cylinder attached to the lid. A tea-ball would do the trick. There are an array of options available commercially.
Place pitcher containing herbs on a sunny windowsill or a sunny spot free from critters.
Leave for at least an hour, preferably several hours.
Remove herbs/flavorers, and enjoy as is or over ice. Keeps refrigerated for about a week.
This is one of those non-recipe recipes - perhaps it's more a technique. But, having a quart of herbal water around is a wonderful direct and simple way to connect with what is blooming or at it's peak in my yard. Simple refreshing plant medicine.
Here are a few of my favorite herbal water combos I’ve tried over several summers:
- Fresh ginger and English mint – refreshing and delicious
- Lavender and blueberries – sweet and soothing
- Cilantro – like a light green drink – tastes cleansing
- Watermelon and lime – sweet and tangy and what is it about watermelon that just makes me happy?
What’s Your Favorite Herbal Water Combo?
If the idea of botanical cooking appeals, check out Kami McBride’s book, Herbal Kitchen. It’s an inspiration, a classic and uses botanicals in a variety of creative ways, from herbal waters to soups to cordials and even bathing and beauty non-products. Check her out!
Check my other plant medicine and plant-centric recipes.
If you live in New England, this has been a chilly – OK freezing – spring. Our minds are thinking of fresh herbs and lightening up, but our palates crave warmth. It’s an excellent time for a fresh curry. Here’s one made with pork tenderloin and cauliflower. You have here a one skillet meal, my friends, that takes about twenty minutes.
My beloved husband has, over the past year or so, become quite a connoisseur of quality food for less $. Do you know how sexy that is for a dietitian? Quite. I have become a student of his method of finding excellent quality food deals locally. It involves knowing when the local shopper’s guide comes out, and knowing what’s on special. In last week’s supermarket circular, there was a two-for-one offer of pork tenderloins (and organic chicken breasts, by the way). Who knew.
Pork tenderloin is a lean and healthful meat, particularly when raised as nature intended – on a small farm with love and a varied diet. Here’s what I did with half of a pork tenderloin. This Pork Tenderloin Cauliflower Curry recipe is easy to modify. You may of course eliminate the pork and sub tofu or beans for a vegan curry. Chicken and shrimp are also easy substitutes.
Pork Tenderloin Cauliflower Curry
Half a pork tenderloin (about 1 lb), sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 cup asparagus, snapped into bite-sized pieces
1 12 oz can coconut milk
2 Tbsp red curry paste
2 Tbsp chopped Thai or regular basil
Coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat with sesame oil, add pork pieces and sear, turning, for about 4 minutes. Turn head down to medium. Add cauliflower and saute for 4 minutes. Add asparagus, coconut milk (give the can a good shake before you open it). Stir in curry paste and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Slice into one of the pork piece to make sure it is cooked through – no pink inside. When pork is cooked through, cauliflower is soft and asparagus is bright and al-dente (still has some firmness), top with basil and serve as is or over brown rice or another grain.
Check out all my easy healthy recipes.
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I never met a mushroom I didn’t like, and I’ve had the pleasure of quite a few.
If you ever get the chance, take a mushroom walk with the Boston Mycological Club(or your local club). They are a perfect collection of culinary, botany and sensation-seeking enthusiasts. When I went, we found baskets-full of colorful beauties, then using field guides and spore patterns (the definitive method to differentiate friend or foe from a safe-to-eat perspective), we identified, divided up and took home our bounties for happy times of all sorts.
Gathering mushrooms from the wild is getting evermore popular, but I don’t do it because even though I’ve had some experience with my mycological friends, every year even expert mushroom collectors eat the wrong fungi and that’s it – they can kill you. There are such a phenomenal range of cultivated mushrooms now available, I suggest sticking with and enjoying that.
I love the mushrooms, dill, and sour cream that frames Hungarian mushroom soup. If you can find a good local organic grass-fed sour cream, then by all means, use that (grass-fed dairy has a more favorable lipid profile as well as being easier on the earth relative to its mass-market cousins). If you are dairy-free, you can substitute a bit of soy milk plus an extra squeeze of lemon to approximate the tang you’ll miss from yogurt or sour cream.
Here I’ve aimed to boost the nutrient density by loading up on herbs – both dill and parsley, as well as other vegetables, and lightened it up with yogurt rather than sour cream. I found that when I used this quantity of herbs, I needed to blend the finished product – herbs are so delicate that when they are cooked like this in a soup, they need to be blended or finely finely chopped or their texture just isn’t what you want it to be.
1 – 16 oz package organic mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots
1/2 yellow onion, sliced & cubed
1/2 medium yellow turnip, peeled and sliced
2 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
about 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
about 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp organic grass-fed yogurt or sour cream
In a heavy soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Slice carrots and clean and slice mushrooms, and slice turnip, discarding any waxy covering it may have. Add these veggies to the pot and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add stock and simmer 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, chop herbs. Add herbs and yogurt or sour cream. If necessary, cool and run through a blender for a smooth and creamy texture.
Gwen Gaillard was the belle of Nantucket’s culinary scene for years. We have a tattered cookbook filled with Gwen’s recipes from her heyday. This carrot soup is one of them, with a little of my own updates and thoughts.
Carrots, turnips, potatoes and onions are really all this soup consists of. Simplicity. But it packs a grounding sweetness – rooting I should say – of tubors. Perfect for this transitional season of surprising coolness and breeziness, when you get hungry for hearty but don’t want to slide into dough-eating.
We got a beautiful bunch of carrots from the Farmer’s Market in Great Barrington this week, along with a turnip, so it was time to get this one rolling. This soup is a great base for adding a variety of other flavors – toss in an apple, or a thumb-sized piece of ginger, or some spicy peppers for variety. Gwen’s recipe calls for butter, but you can easily make this soup vegan and delicious by simply sautéing the onions in olive oil rather than butter. Easy.
Carrot Soup Ingredients
1/4 large yellow onion, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs fresh carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 large turnip, washed and cubed
2 large potatoes, washed and cubed
2 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp peppercorns
Saute the onions in the butter over medium-low heat.
Place the carrots, turnip, and potatoes in a soup pot with water, and simmer over low heat. After a half-hour, add the sautéed onions, salt and pepper.
When vegetables are soft, blend with a hand-blender (or a regular blender if need be).