I love vibrant coloured soups. I call this Big Red. With the winter weather continuing, this makes one pot of hearty, healthy, cozy deliciousness.

This soup is inspired by the “Creamy Red Lentil Soup” in The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Barbara Schieving. I’ve just played with seasonings, veggies and eliminated dairy. But if you happen to have some cashew cream to drizzle on top, that would bring it to the next level 🙂

 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. neutral tasting oil (grapeseed, canola, olive oil)

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

5 garlic cloves (don’t be scared: cooking garlic makes it lose its pungency!)

2 cans x 398ml fire roasted diced tomatoes (use regular if you don’t have fire-roasted)

6 cups veggie broth (or water if you don’t have enough broth)

1.5 cups red lentils, rinsed

1/2 – 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, to taste

Spices (choose whichever combo you’re in the mood for):

1 tsp. ground cumin plus 1/4 tsp. dried thyme

OR 2 tsp. each dried basil and oregano (do more or less of each depending on your preferences)

salt and pepper, to taste

red chili pepper flakes, to taste, if you like a bit of a kick

 

Directions

Sauté onion in oil until fragrant and soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add remainder of ingredients, EXCEPT for vinegar. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. You could also do 10 minutes on high pressure in your pressure cooker.

Stir in the red wine vinegar, and using immersion blender, blend to desired consistency. If using regular blender, transfer two cups of soup to a large bowl and blend the rest. Then stir in the reserved soup. Do a final taste test and add more seasonings if desired.

Serve with a slice of your favourite bread or naan. I wouldn’t worry about making a salad: it’s already so nutritionally dense.

Makes excellent leftovers 🙂 If soup thickens too much, just add more water or broth to thin out.

This is inspired by the soup we had at our Fab 5 annual gift exchange. That’s my bestie group, with all sorts of dietary requirements (i.e. GF, dairy free, vegan), and this soup was a winner. I’ve tweaked the recipe so it’s not as sweet and allows for flexibility on which veggies to include, depending on what you have in the fridge. Don’t get overwhelmed by the ingredient list. Several ingredients are optional for added flavour and preferences. I’ll be making a big batch of this tonight. Yum!

 

Ingredients

coconut oil (or a neutral-flavoured cooking oil)

1.5-2 cups chopped hard veggies, whichever of these you have handy: carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes

1 medium/large onion, finely chopped

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

2+ tsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated, to taste

 

4-6 cups of veggie broth or water. Use less liquid if you want a heartier soup, more liquid if you prefer more broth.

1 can coconut milk (400 ml)

2+ Tbsp. soy sauce, to taste (use GF if you need)

2-4 Tbsp, to taste, of your favourite red or yellow Thai curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand is vegan if that’s important to you, while Asian Home Gourmet is the mildest, but with rich flavour)

2-3 lime leaves (optional)

1 stalk lemongrass, washed and trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces (optional)

Additional veggies*: chopped sweet peppers, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, cooked chickpeas, frozen peas

1/2 – 1+ Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste

 

Firm or extra firm tofu (optional) cut into thin slices or small cubes, as you prefer

 

cilantro and sliced green onions to sprinkle on top (optional)

cooked rice noodles or rice (optional)

 

Directions

Sautee hard veggies, onion, garlic and ginger in coconut oil until fragrant and veggies begin to soften. Add veggie broth, coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, lime leaves, lemongrass, chickpeas if using, and lime juice.  Simmer gently, partly covered, for 10-15 minutes so the chickpeas absorb that lovely flavour. Taste and add more soy sauce, curry paste, salt or lime juice if necessary.

*Then add veggies in the most sensible order. Use whatever you like or have on hand, but pay attention to different cooking times: Red peppers only need a minute or two otherwise they become mushy and dull. Add green peas right before serving so they preserve their vibrant green colour. Mushrooms can be added early if you want more flavour, or right before serving if you prefer that fresher texture. Bamboo shoots do well at any stage of the soup.

Tofu can be gently stirred in anytime near the end so it doesn’t fall apart and crumble from too much stirring.

Once the veggies are all tender to your liking, ladle into bowls. Add cooked rice noodles or rice, and top with cilantro and green onions if using. Enjoy 🙂

Oh, and don’t eat the lime leaves or lemon grass. Just leave them in the pot to keep lending their beautiful flavour to any leftovers. Yum!

FAQ: Where the heck can I get lime leaves and lemongrass?  T&T market, Superstore and Save-on-Foods typically carry them, and they’re cheap. I use what I need, then freeze the rest in Ziplock-style bags for up to a year. Whenever a recipe calls for it, I just take out of the freezer, rinse and trim as necessary. Works perfectly!

This is a tasty curried soup to warm you on a chilly fall or winter day. It’s super adaptable too: Make the soup with more broth if you want a soup-like consistency, or less liquid to make it thicker like a curry. I use Indian curry in this recipe, but you can play with the recipe and use any spices you like. Serve over rice or on its own; great with a lovely slice of bread or naan, too.

 

Ingredients

coconut oil (or a neutral-flavoured cooking oil)

1/2-1 onion, finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp.+ fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (optional)

 

Your choice of veggies chopped to a similar size: celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, potatoes all work well

1.5-2 cups yellow lentils/split peas (they’re the same thing), rinsed

water or veggie broth, enough to cover the split peas by at least an inch

1 tsp+ (or to taste) of your favourite curry powder (cumin, turmeric, coriander, a bit of cinnamon etc.)

salt, to taste

2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn (optional)

fresh cilantro garnish, optional

 

Directions

Sauté onion, garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant and soft. Add chopped fresh veggies and rinsed split peas, then broth or water. Add salt and curry or other seasonings, to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, for at least half an hour, or until split peas are tender.

Pay attention to your liquid as it’s simmering, and add more broth or water as desired. This is a good time to add more seasonings to suit you and your family’s tastes. Add corn when peas are almost soft.

Serve over rice or grain of your choice, or with your favourite bread or warm naan.

Makes excellent leftovers 🙂

This is a cheap, no-brainer way to make your own vegetable stock using veggie scraps that would otherwise be destined for green waste or compost. 

All you have to do is save your vegetable scraps (like peels, stems and ends) from your food prep, put in a ziplock bag and toss in the freezer. Every time you food prep, add the scraps until the bag is full. You can also throw in slightly sad looking veggies that are still perfectly edible, just not crisp enough to eat fresh. And make sure your scraps are clean—we’re not making dirt soup 🙂

 

Ingredients

Basic veggies needed

Onions

Celery

Carrots

 

Add any or all of these to make your broth tastier

Herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary

Garlic

Parsnip

Tomatoes

Ginger (not too much unless you’re aiming for that flavour)

Mushrooms

 

Season with salt, peppercorns and bay leaves, to taste

 

Directions

When your bag is full, add to a large pot of water, supplement with more veggies as needed. Then season with salt, peppercorns, a bay leaf or two if you have them, and let simmer for 1 to 3 hours. Let cool, pour through a fine mesh strainer, and voila! Practically free, natural and home-made stock to use for all your veggie broth needs.

I keep a jar of the stock in the fridge for up to a week, and freeze the rest to use as needed.

Note: Avoid cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts. Also use dill sparingly. I once ruined a batch of broth with too much dill.

This was the first vegan meal I ever ate that I loved. I didn’t even know the term “vegan” yet, but was blown away that a meal THIS delicious didn’t have meat or dairy in it. It’s amazing as is (from Taste Magazine, Fall/07 issue), but I have some variations at the end of the recipe if you want to add more protein or just more veggies that still preserve the soup’s beautiful colour.

 

Ingredients

2½ lbs (1.25 kg) or 1 medium-large butternut squash

½ head (about 6 cloves) whole garlic

vegetable oil

1 large onion, very coarsely chopped

2 tbsp (30 ml) ginger root, peeled, minced

1 stalk lemon grass, ends trimmed (optional but highly recommended)

1-3 lime leaves (optional but highly recommended)

3 cups (750 ml) vegetable stock or bouillon

2½ tbsp (22 ml)  soy sauce (GF if needed)

1 tbsp (15 ml) Thai red curry paste

2 tsp (10 ml) dark brown sugar (optional)

398 ml can coconut milk

lime wedges and cilantro

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Half squash and scrape out seeds. Place cut side down in a small amount of water in a baking pan. Brush ½ unpeeled garlic head with oil and tuck alongside. Roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large deep saucepan. Add onion and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until soft, about 7 minutes. Be careful not to brown or scorch. Stir often. Cut lemon grass into 3 inch pieces and add. Add lime leaves. Stir in stock, soy sauce, curry paste, and sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When squash is tender, cut peel from squash and cut flesh into chunks. Add to stock. Pop roasted garlic from their skins and add. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes for flavours to blend. If using lemon grass and lime leaves, remove with a slotted spoon and discard. Purée remaining ingredients using a hand-held blender or purée in two batches in a blender or food processor until squash is smooth. Return to saucepan. Whisk in coconut milk and heat through.

Squeeze the juice of a wedge of lime over each serving and garnish with cilantro before serving. Don’t skip this step! It completes the recipe. But if you’re one of those people who hates cilantro then just do the lime.

 

Notes/Tips

If you’re pressed for time, you can skip roasting the garlic and butternut squash. Just add it to the broth with the spices, onion etc.  Also, peeling the squash is actually not necessary. Peeling does give soup a “silkier” texture though, if that’s what you’re going after.

You can also roast the squash and garlic ahead of time and keep in the fridge up to a few days. I do this if I’m roasting other veggies anyway but won’t have time to fully prepare the soup that day.

I usually add some cauliflower, yellow and/or red lentils (for protein), carrots, yams—basically anything that doesn’t compromise the lovely orange colour. It’s a great way to add more veggies and clean out my fridge 🙂

The “broth” should taste saltier than you normally want, because by the time you blend all the vegetables the saltiness disappears and just tastes wonderful.

You can eliminate or reduce the sugar (I use barely any if at all: For example, if I’m using carrots they lend a sweetness so don’t need any sugar).

I love Thai red curry, but Thai yellow curry or Indian curry also work really well; same with cumin, a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg, or whatever tickles your fancy. Probably skip the lemongrass and lime leaves if you’re not doing the Thai curry.

FYI lemongrass and lime leaves are readily available at T&T market and Superstore. I think I’ve seen at Save-on-foods too. They keep well in freezer for a year.

Soup freezes well, but if freezing, don’t add the coconut milk. After you thaw it, soup will look like mush but be patient. Heat it up, stirring well, and THEN add coconut milk. It’ll be almost as perfect as freshly made soup 🙂