Summertime Soup Series: Anjo Blanco, A Gluten-Free White Gazpacho

Anjo Blanco

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Anjo Blanco a great summertime soup!

I’m down in Vegas for a while and it is hot hot hot! The last thing I feel like doing is chowing down on hot hearty soups – so I’m on a hunt for some great summertime soups!

I am keeping a total open mind – as I was one of those people who did not fancy cold soups. I think I changed.

This is the first of my many summertime soups I want to try and I have had this particular Anjo Blanco recipe bookmarked since January from a foodie magazine. It is a Spanish version of white gazpacho.

Ladle and garnish

 

The Verdict of Anjo Blanco Soup?

I would have never thought that these particular ingredients would conjure up into a soup! I was a tad sceptic on the output, but kept an open mind because it looked oh so pretty in the magazine. I am impressed of the way it turned out, especially with my modifications turning it into a gluten-free and cows milk-free soup!

The garlic worked well with the sweetness of the apple, grapes and almond milk. The graininess of the bread made me feel like I was eating a hearty soup because I used a medium sieve (not a fine one that was called for in original recipe)…and that was just fine.

My partner in crime, tester of food extrodinaire, liked the texture of the toasted almonds and the zip of the red wine vinegar it gave the soup. He also gave the soup, to his surprise a 4.5 out of 5 for taste. We both agreed that the presentation came out well too and it deserved a 4.5 out of 5.

Would I changed anything? I would perhaps serve this soup in a martini glass, which would allow me to have a choice of sipping on the soup versus spooning it up.

Anjo Blanco Ingredients:

  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 2.5 cups crust-less gluten-free bread
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 blanched almonds
  • 2.5 cups almond milk (I used vanilla flavour which worked, you can also use plain)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • dash salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Anjo Blanco Instructions:

  1. Combine apple, garlic, bread, grapes, blanched almonds, almond milk, and 1 cup water in a medium bowl; season with salt.
  2. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
  3. Transfer soup base to a blender (or use immersion blender) and puree, adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until smooth. With motor running gradually add 1/3 cup olive oil and 3 tbsp vinegar.
  4. Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; cover and chill until very cold, about 2 hours. Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
  5. Toast sliced almonds to a slight brown, let cool.
  6. Ladle soup among bowls; top with toasted almonds: drizzle with oil and vinegar pretty swirls or droplets.
  7. Now go sit out on your summer deck, watch the sunset and enjoy the soup there!

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • Used 2.5 cups of almond milk instead of whole milk & water (but did add some water)
  • Used 1/3 cup of olive oil instead of 3/4 cup
  • Used shaved almonds in the soup base but thin sliced almonds for garnish
  • Used 2.5 cups of my favorite gluten free bread recipe (minus the olives and almonds) instead of 3 cups of white country bread.

Soup Mistress Rating for Anjo Delight:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Veganlicious Soup Options in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland is Plentiful

For the last three weeks I have been participating in a vegan challenge and it has been a mighty fine journey. I must confess that I did have one slip up just 3 days in. I confessed to my challenger. He displayed disbelief and disappointment of my news – I felt like a gigantic fricken loser! After that naughty episode, I got back on the program instead of just throwing in the towel. I was determined to do it!

At first I thought it was going to be very difficult to find good vegan grub in Vancouver and the lower mainland, but after being a week and half into my challenge, I was overwhelmed by the options – and plentiful indeed!

The Outcome?
Over the last few weeks I felt super great and realized that I was treating my body well with this diet choice. I am considering becoming a vegan close to full-time (well…minus 2-3 days per month. I do love having an egg and prosciutto once in a while as well as butter on my hot air popcorn!). Read more on veganism here.

Below are vegan soups that I want to share with you that are from my favorite vegan friendly spots to date in Vancouver/ Lower Mainland:

Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House
http://www.paradisevegetarian.com/
8681 10th Avenue, Burnaby, BC

I had their #12 Soup: Veggie Chicken Rice Noodle Soup (Pho Ga)

The Verdict of Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House Veggie Chicken Rice Noodle Soup
Refreshing sunshine on a grey day for me! I was astonished how the slices of veggie chicken had the texture like any juicy meat basting in a fine broth. The soup was served with sprouts and lemon on the side, which soon joined the party in my bowl. The broth seemed very flavorful and hint of a creamy broth. I’d love to find out how they make their broth and try to recreate it at home.

I am sure that I will visit this place frequently on the way home from work. I was surprised that it was so close to home and that I walked by it many times when shopping at Choices. A nice spot indeed with a humble and cute atmosphere. The lady who served me was so passionate about the food and even gave me a recipe book on organic vegan cooking! So sweet!

I also tried the vegetarian ham and the vegetarian chicken….very nice tasting nuggets dipped in a sweet chile sauce….pass a napkin please!

Soup Mistress Rating For Veggie Chicken Rice Noodle Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5)
Taste: (4.5/5)

Nuba, Healthy Fresh Lebanese
http://www.nuba.ca/
1489 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

I had their vegan soup of the day, it was a Roasted Tomato Soup.

The Verdict of Nubas Roasted Tomato Soup
Wow and wow. The soup was very yummy. It also looked and tasted creamy to me. But what was the cream if it was the vegan soup of the day? I asked the server what was in the soup and was totally surprised that it was not a complex soup what-so-ever. I expected some magical spices or additional ingredients as well as some vegan cream-like ingredient. He mentioned that it did not have any cream and it was the powerful food processor that made the soup so fluffy and creamy. Also the soup just had bay leave and thyme – that’s it!

KISS – Keep it simple soup! It must have been the good quality tomatoes or the particular technique of roasting that delighted my taste buds!

Soup Mistress Rating For Nubas Roasted Tomato Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5)
Taste: (4.5/5)

Bandidas
http://bandidastaqueria.com/
2781 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC

I had a small bowl of their Tortilla Soup. It was made of roasted tomatoes in a rich vegetable stock.

The Verdict of Bandidas Tortilla Soup.

The soup was very nice, chunky and thick. The base was pretty tasty and who doesn’t like avacados? I do think it could have used some corn and the chips were a tad too salty for my liking. Something that was not stated on their website is that they have vegan cheese and vegan sour cream. I was going to opt out of the cheese, but when I read the vegan options on their printed menu I was delighted!

Although the soup receives a decent review from myself, the superstar dish was their tacos. You must have the tacos with your soup or just stay home in your jammies!

I had the following 3 tacos, they were killer and very unique:

  1. Bobcat – Roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, purple cabbage pinto beans, cheese, sour cream, & roasted salsa
  2. Stella – Kale, butternut squash, roasted salsa, pinto beans, cheese, & sour cream.
  3. Ronny Russel – Roasted yams and onions, fresh guacamole, black beans, green salsa, purple cabbage & toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

 

Soup Mistress Rating For Bandidas Tortilla Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (3/5)
Taste: (3.5/5) 

A New Year Start With a Super Green Pot Of Morgans Soup

A super green soup

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The completed soup. Super duper healthy for you!

On New Years Eve before going out with some of my friends, I made a huge pot of probably the greenest and healthiest soup I made to date. This was a pot of soup for my New Years detox and to take to work that week for my lunches.

I follow Vega on Facebook (clean plant-based nutrition products) and they’ve posted this soup recipe a few times since October/November. It looked awesome and sounded super healthy with kale, swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus –  I’ve been wanting to add more Kale in my diet.

Benefits of Kale:
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, lutein, zeaxanthin, and rich in calcium. Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Read more here.

The Verdict of Morgans Green Soup:
Right after New Years, I somehow got a fever/flu and I was very glad that I had this huge pot of soup all made and sitting in my fridge. I definitely, think it helped me recoup and fight the fever faster. The soup was not the best tasting soup, but the healthiest I probably had. The original recipe seemed a tad bland. I did try to adjust and add in freshly squeezed lime juice, more garlic as well as some very fine chopped red thai chile. The soup needed some acidity as well as a little more heat. Perhaps it was because I was sick and my taste buds weren’t 100%. In the end, I would make this soup again for my lunches, but probably not one I would make for dinner guests. Not everyone would appreciate it as much as I and it is not a “wow, this soup is awesome” kind of soup. Also, next time I would chop the asparagus pieces way smaller – I didn’t like how big I did them in the soup (hard to pick up with spoon).

Morgans Green Soup Ingredients (with my adjustments, I also doubled the recipe so that I had a huge pot for a few days and froze some in ziplocks for a later date.)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 onion, diced
  • 1.5 head garlic, minced
  • 3 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 small red thai chile
  • 4L (16 cups) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 cups broccolini, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, chopped, stems and leafs separated
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 4 cups spinach (not packed)
  • 2 (14oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut thinly on an angle
  • 1 lime, juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut thinly on an angle
  • pepper, freshly cracked, to garnish
  • 1 parsnip

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pot. Sauté onion about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, red thai chile and ginger, sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in vegetable broth, cauliflower and broccolini. Bring to a boil. Simmer soup for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in swiss chard, kale and spinach. Let greens wilt in soup for 2-4 minutes.  Add in coconut milk.
  4. In high-powered blender (or use immersion hand blender), blend soup until completely smooth. If soup is too thick, add more broth or water to thin it out.
  5. Add asparagus into soup and continue to cook until asparagus is cooked, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add in lime juice
  7. Heat 1 tbsp in a small fry pan and fry the diced parsnips till a tad golden, cool on a paper towel.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  9. Garnish with green onion, parsnip, chili flakes and freshly cracked pepper.

Add sliced asparagus into soup and cook 3-5 minutes until asparagus is cooked. Serve with green onions, chili flakes and fresh cracked pepper.

Orignal soup recipe link: http://myvega.com/blog/2012/morgans-green-soup

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • doubled most ingredients to get a huge pot of soup
  • olive oil instead of coconut oil
  • broccolini instead of broccoli
  • added julienne fried parsnips as a garnish
  • omitted chile flakes for garnish – with the red thai chile, it was already hot enough.

Soup Mistress Rating for Morgans Green Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (3/5)  

Moroccan Chickpea Soup, A Happy Planet Vegetarian Gluten-free Masterpiece

The other day I left the office quite late and didn’t feel like cooking and I decided to stop off at Choices on the way home.

Happy Planets Moroccan Chickpea Soup grabbed my attention being organic and all. I brought it home and heated it up very slowly on low-med heat. It’s funny, I did not have huge expectations for a prepackaged soup – but I was totally surprised of how awesome this soup was when I had my first spoonful! OMG!

The soup seemed so fresh, and had noticeable pieces celery and onion and full firm chickpeas. The vegetables and beans were not mushy what-so-ever. The spinach seemed to be chopped fine and hide in the background giving the chickpeas all the attention it deserves.

The warm spices had a nice touch. I read the ingredients and it had basil with cilantro and cumin. I would have never thought to use those three together! Cilantro and cumin together is a gimme though as a duo. Although it does not read fennel seeds in the ingredients, I think it adds a extra special touch to this soup.

Take a look at the picture of the soup in my bowl above. I think it could fool a meat eater!! I am guessing that a percentage of the soup was pureed to give it a thicker consistency like a meaty soup. It can also fool the same person that it had a meat broth base too – it had some mighty fine depth!!

Happy Planet wasn’t too shy on the spices and it worked out like a vegetarian masterpiece!!

Oh ya, it is also Gluten-free, high in fiber and more. Read more here on Happy Planets website.

Ingredients: Water, organic chick peas, organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic celery, organic spinach, organic garlic, organic sunflower oil, organic tomato paste, sea salt, organic cilantro, organic and/or natural spices.

This is one soup I would LOVE to try and recreate at home! I may put this at the top of my to do list! I would also consider bring home another bag of this soup from the grocery store anytime in the future.

Soup Mistress Rating for Happy Planet Moroccan Chickpea Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5)
Taste: (5/5)

Has Cream of Broccoli Soup Not Yet Reached Maturity?

Cream of Broccoli Soup

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Cream of Broccoli Soup at Max's Deli, Oak Street, Vancouver, BC

The other day I stopped by Max’s Deli on Oak street in Vancouver. I use to live very close to the deli and frequented it on many occasions. They have tons of wonderful deli foods which are prepared onsite and their bakery products are so beautiful and very tempting.

I decided to have their cream of broccoli soup for lunch with a potato latke. I am not normally a fan of broccoli cream based soups especially if I don’t know what is part of the “cream” base. I did wonder if it had flour and/or fatty creams which I normally try to avoid, but I thought “heck why not have it, it is not going to kill me”.

The Verdict of Max’s Deli Cream of Broccoli Soup? It was pretty tasty.  I spooned up some large chunks of broccoli in the soup – that was nice to see. There were hints of some shredded white mild cheese in the soup – I am not 100% sure what the cheese was though. The soup had a flavorful base to the soup. The spices used were mild and tasty but safe. The soup was not a super duper wow factor for myself, but good enough to fill my tummy until I get home in a few hours after running errands. I wish they had the ingredients listed on the soup board because I missed an opportunity to ask the deli girl – there was a large lineup of customers.

I personally think cream of broccoli soup has not yet reached maturity in many restaurants and cafes. All seem to serve up the same “safe” cream of broccoli soup like Max’s Deli.

I decided to go on a hunt online to find some contender creamy /cheesy broccoli soups to try at home. I found many recipes used fattening creams (IE. whipping cream, cream, sour cream), or processed cheese (velveeta – yuck!) and flours. The recipes that did catch my attention were ones that used potatoes for the thickening/starch agent (for gluten-free) and different cheeses (such as goat cheeses (cheddar, soft or mozarella), stilton and blue cheese) as well as low fat milks.

I did find a great contender broccoli soup recipe that is gluten-free and casein-free (no cows milk) that I may try at home and modify a tad. Here it is:

I also like this recipe below with wild mushrooms – it may be good to incorporate with above recipe:

When I was researching broccoli soup recipes, I discovered some with cumin, cayenne pepper, other vegetables, lemon juice and even nutmeg. I would like to play with those ingredients in a broccoli soup.

Here’s a list of other notable broccoli soup recipes that use other ingredients and no flour.

Do you have a favorite broccoli soup recipe? Feel free to share in comments below!

Carrot and Yam Soup – A Great Way To Lose Your Soup Virginity

Carrot and Yam Soup

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The completed Carrot and Yam Soup

Just the other day I pulled out one on my largest and heaviest cook books. I realized that on the inside of the cover I had scribbled a soup recipe for a Carrot and Yam Soup. The recipe was given to me from my sister-in-law back in 1991 and it was my very first homemade soup that I cooked up. The recipe was long forgotten about for about 2 decades. It seems as though my soup making lifetime has been about 23 years to date. Wow – where does time go?!

Ohh, Carrot and Yam Soup – the soup I lost my soup virginity to. I was curious to find out if it was as great as I remembered it. So I decided to make the soup yesterday evening.

The Verdict of Carrot and Yam Soup? Very refreshing indeed. I adjusted a few ingredients from the original recipe a tad. I added freshly squeezed juices versus concentrates and focussed on more ginger and some tasty garnishes on top. I would make this soup again in future. It is even better than what I remembered it!

Carrot and Yam Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (plus 1/4 cup for frying yam shavings for garnish)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2- 1/2 cups yams, chopped (keep a small chunk for rough shaved yam pieces for garnish)
  • 4 cups carrots, chopped
  • 3 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of goat yogurt
  • lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • orange zest from 1 orange

Carrot and Yam Soup Instructions:

  1. Heat up olive oil in large pan. Saute onions on medium heat until soft for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in yam, carrot and ginger and saute for 3 more minutes.
  3. Add in vegetable stock, apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for about 40 minutes (or when carrots are soft).
  5. While soup is simmering, heat up 1/4 cup of oil in small pan and fry approx 1/2 cup of rougly shaved yam pieces in batches. When golden brown reserve yam pieces on a paper towel.
  6. Puree soup with blender. Be careful with hot liquids. If using hand blender take soup off of heat first.
  7. Heat soup back up on low/medium.
  8. Ladle soup in bowls.
  9. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of goat yogurt, some fried yam pieces and sprinkle of orange/lemon zest.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • used fresh lemon juice and fresh orange juice instead of concentrates, and more of both
  • used more onions
  • doubled the ginger
  • used fried shaved yam pieces, lemon/orange zest, orange slice and goat yogurt as garnish

Soup Mistress Rating for Carrot and Yam Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.15/5) 

Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup

Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup

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The Completed Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup

I just realized that I have not yet shared my favorite cauliflower soup recipe on this blog! This is one recipe I can basically make in my sleep.  I already made it this year 8 times, and it is only the end of February. Normally, I really don’t like cauliflower served by itself (being steamed, raw or stir fried), but I do LOVE cauliflower in soup!

Did you know that cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbs but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density? Also cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health. Read more about cauliflower here.

The Verdict of Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup? This soup is so easy peasy to make! When blended, it comes out very velvety smooth. The soup seems creamy – some people may think that it has cream or milk, but it does not. The lemon juice adds a fresh zip to it. The tiny diced tomatoes and sprinkled truffle oil add an elegant taste on top. I find myself craving this soup from time to time and that is why I have made it so many times. Simple soup, yet very flavorful and filling indeed!

Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 cups (medium-large head) of cauliflower, chopped
  • 4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • dash salt and pepper
  • white truffle oil (drizzled on top)

Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute for about 5 minutes (or until onions are soft).
  2. Add cauliflower, saute for 2 additional minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Working in batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Be careful with the hot liquids.
  5. Return soup to saucepan over low heat. Thin with more broth if desired.
  6. Stir in chives and lemon juice, stir, cook just until heated through (do not boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Top with finely chopped tomato and drizzle truffle oil on top. Serve immediately.

Soup Mistress Rating for Velvety Creamless Cauliflower Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5)

Spicy Oyster Chowder Perfect to Serve up for Valentine’s – A Soup Recreation

Spicy Oyster Chowder

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The completed Spicy Oyster Chowder garnished with chives.

Happy Valentine’s day! If you are looking for ideas on what to cook for your loved one tonight, why not serve up some Spicy Oyster Chowder?

Did you know that oysters are an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient known for its contribution to sexual development, hence the reputation as an aphrodisiac? Well, if you didn’t, you know now. Oysters are also rich in iron, copper and other minerals, which contribute to good health.

I have been on a hunt for a good Oyster Chowder recipe and decided to modify another recipe last night. This recipe is a recreation from a Clam Chowder I made at a cooking class a few months ago.

The Verdict of Spicy Oyster Chowder? Yup – this is a keeper recipe for sure. This is one soup I am very proud of. With the modifications, this chowder base can be very versatile and used with other variations of fish (I.E. salmon, clams, shrimp or any white fish). The superstar ingredient is the Thai Red Chile (don’t underestimate this little chile – one alone can really heat up your whole pot of chowder). I also decided to use a goat yogurt (10% Greek style) instead of a cows milk/cream since I am a little sensitive to casein which is found in cows milk and not in goats milk. Along with the heat from the red chile, the tangy goat yogurt with the lemon and thyme, the chowder has an addicting freshness and good balance of acidity!

For a special treat, I used more white wine as the base.

Spicy Oyster Chowder Ingredients:

  • 100 grams double smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper (approx 3/4 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • reserved oyster juice from oysters
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 large tomato, diced small
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup goat yogurt (I used 10% Greek style)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 small tubs fresh oysters, drained, washed, chopped midsized. (Sieve the oyster liquid and keep to use)
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Spicy Oyster Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, sauté bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, approximately 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to plate and allow to rest.
  2. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, red thai chile, red pepper and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in oyster juice, wine, tomato and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Add the goat yogurt, lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point.
  5. Add in chopped oysters and cook until oysters are slightly firm (edges curl a little) , approx 2 -4 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish with chives.

Original recipe here: Julienning and Dicing For The Perfect Soup

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • replaced clams and nectar with oysters and juice of oysters
  • added red thai chile, celery, red pepper, tomato
  • replaced whipping cream with goat yogurt
  • omitted cornstarch and corn
  • used more veggies, thyme, wine and garlic

Soup Mistress Rating for Spicy Oyster Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

 

Yum Factor With Tomato Basil Organic Soup

tomato-organic-soup-1

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The Completed Tomato Basil Organic Soup

A while ago, Noel Pullen (@noelpullen) (another soup-a-holic like myself) shared Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup recipe with me along with his own modifications. I’ve been meaning to make this soup with Noel’s recommendations for quite some time. Noel made the soup a tad thicker (doubling the veggies and not the water/stock) and gave it some zing by adding peppercorns and increasing the amount of basil.

The Verdict? I purchased the same canned tomatoes and vegetable stock cubes that Noel used at Donalds Market (at the Westminster Quay). The canned plum tomatoes are really great and have a thick tomato base, which I think is what gives this soup a very yummy taste. These canned tomatoes don’t seem to be as watered down as other brands – I would buy them again. The extra basil and peppercorns really added some nice depth to the soup for sure. Two thumbs up for this soup and it’s modifications. I feel really healthy eating this soup because I used all organic vegetables! Yum factor indeed.

Ingredients for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:
(Serves 10 – 12,  this is a big batch of soup – great to freeze as well)

  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes, preferably organic
  • 1.5 liters of boiling water
  • 2x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 20 large fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Cooking Instructions for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:

  1. Heat olive oil in large heavy pan (or pot) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with the lid slightly on until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
  3. Bring 1.5 liters of water to a boil and turn off. Stir in stock cubes until dissolved.
  4. Add stock to the pot with vegetables, as well as the canned and fresh whole tomatoes. Stir.
  5. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt and peppercorns and add the basil leaves.
  7. Using a hand blender or regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan and a few small basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Original recipe here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/soup-recipes/tomato-soup-updated

What was changed from Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup recipe:

  • increased to 20 big basil leaves
  • added 10 black peppercorns
  • doubled all the vegetables and not the liquid
  • added parmesan as a garnish (this was my modification)
  • used all organic vegetables

Soup Mistress Rating for Plum Tomato Basil Organic Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

Karmavore Serving Up Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup – A Soup Review

Karmavore Specialty Shop

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Karmavore Vegan Specialty Shop serving up Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup.

I have been making an effort to check out new places in New Westminster since I moved here less than a year ago. This past weekend, I decided to check out Karmavore, a Vegan specialty store on Columbia Street. I heard that it had a little vegan cafe in the basement and I wanted to try one of their vegan soups.

I was impressed when I walked downstairs towards the deli case and saw some very pretty looking vegan desserts. I was also very curious of how their raw pizza may taste like, but I quickly reminded myself that my mission was to try their soup. BTW I heard that their Black Forest Cake made by Sprout is a sure winner (I will have to come back and get it when my mom is visiting next month because Black Forest Cake is her favorite dessert).

I soon found out that Karmavore Deli did have a soup.  But, I was a tad disappointed that they did not have their own house made soup and they were serving up Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup instead. I convinced myself that shouldn’t be such a home-made soup snob and just try it already.

Did you know that Happy Planet was founded by Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s current Mayor? In 1994, he and Randal Ius pressed organic carrots from Gregor’s farm into bottles.

The Verdict of Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup? The soup was very tasty yet light (a good thing to me) and on the spicy side (it had some yummy Thai chile). The amount of Thai chile was fine for me, but it may be too much heat for some people. There was some nice bits of tomato and all the ingredients tasted quite fresh – it was not a mushy premade soup surprisingly. I was also impressed that this soup was gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan with no preservatives. I never paid attention to this line of soups when I saw them at the grocery store. The best thing I loved about the soup was that it did not use noodles nor rice and had a lot of baby corns and bamboo shoots. I think the bamboo shoots were the superstar ingredient and can be a great substitute for noodles or rice in many Thai Coconut Soup recipes. I’ve been meaning to try a Thai Coconut Soup recipe that my brothers girlfriend shared with me –  I think I may use bamboo shoots in it as a recipe adjustment as well!

If I was to try recreate Happy Planets Thai Coconut Soup at home, I would try to slim down the sodium a tad. When I look at the nutrition facts it is saying that there is 550mg of sodium per 250ml – I think it is a little high. I would not add any sea salt and rinse the baby corns in running water (if they are canned, they may have added salt or sodium).

Happy Planets Thai Coconut Soup Ingredients: Water, coconut milk (coconut milk, water, guar gum), baby corn, onions, bamboo shoots, tomatoes, carrots, red curry paste, red peppers, green peppers, sunflower oil, galangal, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, sea salt, lemongrass, evaporated cane juice, kaffir lime leaves.

Soup Mistress Rating for Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5)