Yum Factor With Tomato Basil Organic Soup

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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)

White Spot Pumpkin Soup and Rock Stars – A Soup Review

Pumkin Soup White Spot

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Pumpkin Soup at White Spot

This afternoon, I was shopping for some running shoes in Burnaby and I decided to go to White Spot for lunch on Market Crossing (just off of Marine Drive).

I asked my server (a very friendly gal named Anita) what was the special soup and she said that it was Pumpkin Soup. At first, I was going to pass on it and go for the Chowder that is offered on the menu, but my server was so passionate and said that the pumpkin soup was very VERY good. She left and came back right away with a taster for me. Wow, that was great service – I never even asked for it! Loved that special attention and ability to try before making a commitment.

And yes, she was right, the Pumpkin Soup was yummy. Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pumpkin soup, but by December I’m usually very tired of it because I have made many batches in the fall.

But this one was different…

What’s the verdict of White Spots Pumpkin Soup? It was way better than the average pumpkin pureed soup. It was like creamy velvet and it had some nice texture with finely grated vegetables. I think it was carrots, zucchini and possibly squash that was grated in the soup after it was pureed. Also the soup had a good balance of acidity. I think I am going to try to recreate this soup at home.

White Spot Rock Stars:
I gave Anita (my server) feedback that I really liked the soup and mentioned that I was curious to know what the ingredients were. She totally went out of her way to ask her Kitchen Manager. And shortly after, Calvin Canlas came to the table to talk to me about the soup – he was a true evangelist for White Spots menu. His eyes really lighted up when we talked about soups and he shared his recent liking of fried leeks as a garnish on top of soups – I concurred, as it is something I want to try in one of my soups as well. He also promised to email me the exact ingredients and also printed off a similar pumpkin soup recipe that he recommended himself (I may have to try in future as well). Both, Anita and Calvin are Rock Stars – White Spot should be so proud to have employees like them. Thumbs up to White Spot on Market Crossing!

Main soup kitchen at White Spot:
Since White Spot is a chain restaurant (40+ restaurants in lower mainland), they make the soups in their main kitchen to keep quality control and most likely cost control. I guessed that they would have some additional ingredients to help to emulsify and/or stabilize the soup versus what you use if you were to make at home. I think that is fair enough – and I don’t care because it does taste really good.

The only thing I would recommend to White Spot is to add some kind of garnish on the top the soup (be it fresh herbs or a sprig, something crunchy or even some finely grated raw carrot).

Bye bye pumpkin and hello roasted tomato: Calvin told me that White Spot should be serving up their popular Old Fashion Roasted Tomato Soup in near future to replace it’s Pumpkin soup. Something that I will have to come back and try for sure.

White Spots Pumpkin Soup ingredients: Calvin promptly emailed me the ingredients later in the afternoon and here they are:

Water, pumpkin puree, heavy cream, carrots, onions, half and half (milk and cream), enriched flour, (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron thiamine mononitrate, roboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, enzyme) butter(cream milk), natural flavour, yellow squash, zucchini, celery, tomato sauce, (tomato puree, salt, citric acid), onion powder, chicken meat and chicken juices, modified cornstarch, yeast extract. ginger puree, chives, soy and corn protein, spices, sugar, red pepper sauce, potato flavourings, potato flour, black and white pepper, carrot powder, turmeric.  Milk, soybeans and wheat.

If I was to try to recreate this soup at home: I think I am going to try to recreate this at home. I especially liked it with the finely grated vegetables. I would probably do the following:

  •  use alternate soup thickeners such as soy flour or Xanthum Gum instead of the wheat flour so that it is gluten-free soup. Who knows though, I may not even use a thickener or just use more potato.
  •  omit onion and carrot powder and just rely on the fresh onion and carrots.
  • use low sodium vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
  • add some lemon juice and lemon rind at the end of the cooking process.
  • as for the process (roughly). I would first saute the onions, chopped pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, potato and squash, add the stock, spices, herbs, simmer for 20 minutes, puree the soup, add in the creams/thickeners with some finely shredded carrots and zucchini, simmer for 5 minutes to soften the shredded vegetables a tad, add lemon juice and rind.
  • definitely serve the soup with some fresh herbs or some sort of garnish on top. I think this is the only thing White Spot should add to their Pumpkin soups just before serving!
  • experiment with some fresh herbs like parsley, oregano – I think the soup had an additional green herb, but It may have been the chives…I may be wrong though.

Oh BTW – I had White Spots Oven Baked Vegetable Sandwich with my soup and it complimented it very well.

Soup Mistress Rating for White Spots Pumpkin Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Have you discovered any yummy soups at White Spot? Feel free to share below in comments.

Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup

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The completed vegetable wonton miso soup.

I really enjoy cooking with wonton wrappers and a huge fan of various wonton soups. I was on a hunt for something different from the regular shrimp or pork wonton soups. I  bumped into a Miso Soup with Sweet Potato Dumplings recipe on my Epicurious App and decided to make it.

Did you know? Miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. Also some studies suggest that miso can help treat radiation sickness, citing cases in Japan and Russia where people have been fed miso after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More about Miso on Wikipedia here.

The Verdict of this soup? I first made the soup following the recipe exactly, but I found it quite bland. I decided to make it a second time and I adjusted some of the ingredients. Adding a tasty vegetable broth (instead of water), carrots, cremini mushrooms and some sesame oil made a big difference for my taste buds. I renamed it Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup and I would make it again with the adjustments. Also, I found this recipe not super great for left overs the next day because the sweet potato wontons get a little too soggy for my liking. If you are keeping left overs for next day, I would keep the wontons separate from the broth in another container.

Ingredients for Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups bok choy, sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, julienne or shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooking Instructions for Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prick holes in potatoes. Bake on a baking sheet until soft, turning once, about 1 hour. (If using a large sweet potato like I did, leave more longer in the oven.)
  2. Cool potato, then peel and mash.
  3. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and shallot, stirring, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir garlic mixture, pepper flakes, salt and pepper into potatoes.
  5. Place bok choy, sprouts, mushroom, and carrots in a pot with 4 cups vegetable broth. Start to heat up soup.
  6. Lay out wonton wrappers on a cutting board. Drop a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture in the center of each. Spray with a fine mist of water and gather edges together and pinch to seal the pockets.
  7. Set wontons (dumplings) on top of vegetables in pot. Bring to a boil.
  8. Cook, covered, until wrappers are translucent, 3 to 6 minutes.
  9. Divide veggies and wontons among 4 bowls.
  10. Add 2 cups water to another pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add miso, stirring until it dissolves.
  11. Divide among bowls; top with scallions.

Original Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Miso-Soup-with-Sweet-Potato-Dumplings-240809

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced canola oil with olive oil
  • added sesame oil
  • used less salt
  • used vegetable broth instead of water
  • added some shredded carrots – needed some contrast
  • added cremini mushrooms
  • omitted edamame

Soup Mistress Rating for Vegetable Wonton Miso Soup:

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

Turkey Spinach Soup – A Perfect New Year Resolution Dish!

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The completed turkey spinach soup

Over the holidays, I celebrated with food. I had a lot of butter-rich breakfasts, delectable desserts, chocolate covered cherries and splashes of wine here and there. And let’s not forget about turkey and gravy – oh how much I love you so!

On boxing day, I was excited to cook a turkey to make some homemade turkey stock for a healthy soup. Homemade turkey stock is probably the best stock ever!

Time to detox myself and go back to my regular healthy eating habits….

So turkey spinach soup it was!

The Verdict of Turkey Spinach soup? I truly believe I created a really tasty healthy turkey soup recipe. I didn’t follow a recipe what-so-ever. I wanted to make a turkey soup that had no pasta and decided to use parsnips as a stand in. I tried to use whatever fresh vegetables and herbs I had in the fridge.

This soup freezes very well. I ate a batch from the freezer already this week!

Turkey Stock Ingredients:

  • turkey carcass
  • turkey giblets
  • 4 sprigs thyme, whole
  • 5-6 celery ribs, cut in half
  • 1 white onion, cut in half
  • 2 large carrots, cut in half
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • dash of pepper and salt
  • 15 cups of water (approx)

Turkey Spinach Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cup carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 cup parsnips, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
  • 7 cups turkey stock
  • 2 cups, white cooked turkey meat, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • dash salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions for Turkey Stock:

  1. Add all stock ingredients in a very large pot with strainer.
  2. Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 – 60 minutes covered.
  3. Strain and discard all but the liquid.
  4. Filter the stock with fine sieve.
  5. Skim fat off the top of the rested liquid with large ladle or scoop.

Cooking Instructions for Turkey Spinach Soup:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 5 minutes, or until onions are softened.
  2. Add parsnips and carrots and cook for 4 more minutes.
  3. Add thyme and dill.
  4. Add turkey stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add spinach and chives, cook until spinach is slightly wilted. Add dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Serve immediately.

Soup Mistress Rating for Turkey Spinach Soup:

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

Stirring up Carrot and Saffron Soup at The Cookshop in Vancouver

Chef Alan Storimans

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Chef Alan Storimans was very passionate and instructed us how to create a few dishes.

Just right before the Christmas holidays I had the liberty to attend a cooking class at The Cookshop in Vancouver. The evening theme was Tuscan Participation and I had a wonderful time.

Chef Alan Storimans was very passionate and instructed us how to create the following dishes:

  • Carrot soup with saffron, sour cream and chives
  • Yukon gold potato gnocchi with pesto, lardons and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Handkerchief pasta, fire roasted tomatoes, spinach, baby shrimp, sea scallops, herb pan butter sauce
  • Goat cheese ravioli, wild smoked salmon chive cream sauce
  • Sweet honey ricotta cannoli

This week I remade the carrot soup recipe at home with some minor modifications, and I do love it. It is the first time that I have cooked a soup with saffron. I think saffron along with the chives are the superstar ingredients of this soup. Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Read more about Saffron on Wikipedia here.

Ingredients for carrot soup with saffron, sour cream and chives

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup leeks (light green and white part), chopped
  • 3/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 4 cups carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 and 1/2 cups of low sodium vegetable stock
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 6 teaspoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Cooking Instructions for carrot soup with saffron:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions; cook 5 minutes, or until onions are softened.
  2. Add saffron and carrots and cook for 4 more minutes
  3. Add stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  5. Return soup to saucepan over low heat. If soup is too thick add more stock and cook just until heated through (do not boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with sour cream and chives. Serve immediately.

What I changed from original carrot soup with saffron recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • used more leeks just because I love them
  • used low sodium vegetable stock instead of chicken stock

Soup Mistress Rating for Carrot and Saffron Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Curry Chicken Soup – A Great Noodleless Under The Weather Soup

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The completed curry chicken soup

Last week, I felt a bit under the weather. In the past, I would attempt to make the same homemade chicken noodle soup to make me feel better. But not this time, I wanted to try something different and went on a hunt for a soup that I can add chicken and garlic to make me feel better.

I found this Curry Chicken Soup recipe in a cookbook called “Soup Bowl” – I modified it a tad to my liking though.

The verdict? This soup is pretty good and even better the next day! The superstar ingredient is the apple – it gives the soup a subtle sweetness, yet not too sweet. Even though this soup seems quite creamy, there is no cream or milk what-so-ever. The lemon juice gives it a very nice zest. The shredded raw carrot adds a nice touch as well – I think the next time I make it I would add even more!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and ½ cups white onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 and ½ cups parsnip, chopped small
  • 1 and ½ cups carrots finely sliced chopped small, plus some shredded for garnish
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6oz / 175 g cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the parsnip, carrots, and apple and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder until the vegetables are well coated, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Keeping a cup of the solids aside, transfer the balance of soup to a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice and puree soup until smooth.
  5. In a separate pan, fry up chicken pieces on medium to high heat.
  6. Return soup puree and reserved solids to the saucepan. Add the chicken and cilantro to the saucepan and gently heat through. If you want a thinner soup, add more vegetable stock to your liking.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro and shredded carrots. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe: Page 103 – Book: Soup Bowl – An inspiring collection of soups, broths and chowders.

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • used more curry powder
  • used more lemon juice
  • replaced chicken stock with vegetable stock
  • omitted rice
  • added garlic clove
  • added ginger

Soup Mistress Rating for Curry Chicken Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Carrot, Orange and Tarragon Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Carrot, Orange and Tarragon Soup

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The completed Carrot, Orange and Tarragon Soup

This is one of my most recent recipe makeovers. I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favorite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • vegetarian
  • vegan (exclude the kefir/yogurt from recipe)
  • gluten-free (exclude the kefir/yogurt from recipe or use gluten-free kefir/yogurt)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound bag peeled carrots sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon Gran Marnier (or brandy or any orange liquer)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • Fresh tarragon sprigs
  • 4 teaspoons of kefir (or plain yogurt)

Cooking Instructions:
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; sauté about 8 minutes (until onions are soft). Add water and bring to boil. Simmer (reduce heat) until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chopped tarragon and orange zest in blender and then vegetables. Puree soup in blender until very smooth (work in batches if you need to). Return soup to pot. Stir in orange juice, and Gran Marnier. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish soup with a swirl of kefir (or plain yogurt) and a tarragon sprig and serve.

Original recipe url: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Carrot-Soup-with-Orange-and-Tarragon-231862#ixzz1X6iy3HdO

What was changed from original recipe:

  • substituted butter with olive oil
  • substituted chicken broth with water
  • added orange zest
  • added kefir (or yogurt)
  • changed orange juice to freshly squeezed
  • changed brandy to grand marnier

Soup Mistress Rating for Carrot, Orange and Tarragon Soup Recipe Makeover:

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