Ying and Yang – A Balanced Chowder For Vegan and Not-So Vegan

One soup recipe that I have been meaning to create for quite sometime is a chowder that is lactose-free (no milk or cream) and vegan for myself and not so vegan for my husband with salmon. I have fallen off the vegetarian wagon lately and not sure if meat is my thing once again. I feel so much better sticking to vegetarian.  I have made this chowder in the past with bacon and wine, but for last night I wanted to make it a lighter healthy bowl of soup.

The Verdict of Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder

This chowder is very hearty with crusty toasty bread and is milk/cream-free (I used Almond Milk for the creaminess). I did not feel like I missed any of the cream, the almond milk worked very well. And the base had just enough heat with the crushed chiles and the serano chile. This is a perfect ying yang soup recipe to make two people happy, one wanting vegan and the other not. Was very good as left overs today!

Vegan Chowder Base

Vegan Chowder Ingredients:

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  •  2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chiles
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want to go vegan as bad as you do:

  • 1/5  pack of wild smoked salmon,  torn or cut in smaller pieces.

Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, over medium, heat olive oil up.
  2. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in vegetable broth, tomato, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, and thyme to pot. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point. Reduce heat to low – simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls
  6. Garnish with chives.

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want go vegan as bad as you do:

  1. Distribute the smoked salmon to the top of bowl before the chives.

Soup Mistress Rating for Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Pecan Mexican Inspired Soup With Corn As A Party Crasher!

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I am always on a hunt for unique soup recipes and this is one. While I was housesitting in San Jose looking after a loving adorable cat named Sylve back in March, I had the opportunity to peruse a wonderful Mexican Cookbook with her snuggled up to me.

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Above: Awe, Sylvie is so cute!

Pecans, leeks and tomatos…sounded very interesting especially so with a smokey chile.

The Verdict:

This soup seemed creamy to me even before I added the cashew cream! Must have been the cashews meets leaks pureed. I used two chipotle chiles that were in adobe sauce and it had a nice spicey bite. The soup is very earthy and warm to my tummy.  It would be a perfect starter to a Mexican Fiesta dinner. The original recipe did not call for corn, but I added it at the very last minute (after the puree part) because both myself and my husband thought the end product needed some nice morsels after our first spoonfuls. We are not both fans of a soup that is 100% pureed. I was making vegetarian tacos with corn and zuchinni so at the very last minute I threw in corn into our bowls and voila – it finished the soup off perfectly! What an inpromtu adjustment can do to a dish! Love this soup now and would not make it without the corn.

Also, for the next time I make this soup, I am going to modify it 100% to Vegan, since I substituted cream for cashew cream – I was already half way there. So the next time, I am going to use olive oil instead of butter.

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Note: Picture above is missing a cup of corn, which I added in at the end.

Ingredients (serves six) :

  • 2 tbsp butter (sub with olive oil if you want a vegan version)
  • 1 leek, white part only , sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 dried chipotle or other smoked chilies ( I used two chipotles that were in Adobo Sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 clove (I used 3 cloves, just because I love cloves)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled , seeded and finely chopped
  • 8 3/4 veggie stock ( I used only 7 cups of stock, it seemed like if I was to use 8.75, it would have been too watery for myself)
  • 1 cup cashew cream (This is made with blending cashews, lemon, water, olive oil and garlic in a vitamix blender)
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of corn (This was added in at the last minute and not n the picture above)

To Garnish:

  • 18 pecans , roasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

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Who would guess that these ingredients above would be the base of a soup? :)

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add the leek and celery and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the pecans, chiles, sugar, clove, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and tomatoes and continue stirring gently until fragrant.
  3. Add the stock and continue to stir gently until the mixture comes to a boil. SImmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Pour the mixture into a food processor until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into a clean pan and set over low heat, stirring gently until warmed through.
  6. Add the cream and corn  and simmer, stirring constantly for another 5 minutes, then stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediatly with toasted pecans and sprinkled with parsely

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Above: Simmer for 20 minutes.

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Above: This is what the soup looks like after pureed and before adding in the cashew cream – looks creamy without the cream at that point!

The original recipe is from: Mexico The Cookbook, by Margarita Carrillo Arronte

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What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Substituted cream with cashew cream
  • Added corn
  • Used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Also only used 7 cups
  • Will use olive oil in future instead of butter.
Soup Mistress Rating For Pecan Corn Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5) fourheart
Presentation: (4.25/5 )
Taste: (4.25/5) 

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup – A Road Bikers Delight To End The Day With!

Just this last weekend, I was treated to a very nice soup.  After biking a 41 miler through Red Rock all the way to Blue Diamond and up the highway, Graeme (Soup Mister himself) decided to make us this very healthy Coconut Curry Lentil Soup. It was very healthy PLUS blog worthy to share. A true road bikers delight to end the day with!

The Verdict of Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

When Graeme said that he was going to make a very simple soup, it sounded like nothing special, but YUM YUM YUM, I was wrong! This soup was buttery without butter and very curry-delicious! I would lap this up again in a heartbeat *hint* *hint*!

This soup is very versatile as a soup or I’d even consider thickening it like a stew. Perhaps scooping papadums in the thicker version to pick up the buttery lentils and tomatoes. or put it over some nice white fluffy rice!

This soup was very good the next day, I had a spoonful right out of the fridge before heating up and it was awesome even cold! I wouldn’t change anything in the recipe.

Graeme used famous Vij’s Masala spice in the soup that I purchased up in Vancouver. Vij’s Restaurant is a must go to restaurant if you are ever in Vancouver, Canada.

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (I think Graeme may have added a tad more)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (Graeme used Viji’s Masala spice (pic above))
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups dry red lentils (Graeme used brownish/green lentils)
  • 2-3 handfuls of chopped kale or spinach (Oops, this was left off, perhaps next time we will add in)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: chopped cilantro (fresh coriander) and/or vegan sour cream (we used my homemade cashew cream)

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup Instructions:
  1. In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is translucent, a couple minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are very tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Before serving, stir in the kale/spinach.
  5.  Ladle out in serving bowls.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and/or cashew cream.
  7. Enjoy!

Graeme followed this recipe here from Vegangela’s Blog (Funny just realized Angela is from my hometown Winnipeg as well – nice stuff Angela!): http://vegangela.com/2014/01/09/coconut-curry-lentil-soup/

Soup Mistress Rating For Black Bean Soup With A Myriad of Fixings:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.8/5
Presentation: (3.85/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Fassolatha – A Greek Godess Yummy Navy Bean Soup

Oh boy, it’s been ages since I blogged about a soup!! I’ve been busy trying other recipes outside of soups (like homemade gnocchi, dehydrated snacks and a few different vegetarian pâtés). I have a liking to get back on the soup bandwagon again…we’ll see how that goes though!

Just last Saturday, I was having a girlfriend over for dinner and I decided to make it a Greek night. I made this soup along with homemade spanakopita, ttzatziki (with cashew cream instead of yogurt) and greek salad and it all did not disappoint!

The Verdict of Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup:

At first, I did not have any plans to add in bacon, I had FULL intentions to making this soup vegetarian. But when I was at the boiling stage just before simmering the soup, when I tried a spoonful test, the soup seemed bland to me and at this point I decided to add bacon, lemon juice and lemon zest to my recipe. I think the new ingredients made a huge difference. Also I shouldn’t short change the 1 hour simmering process that lifted the velvety navy beans and the just-right acidic diced tomatoes which were dancing in the pot with screaming delight!

We had this soup as left-overs for the next few days and on the third day I loved it just as much as the first day!

I would make this soup again and perhaps freeze it for an impromptu lunch one day in the near future.

Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup Ingredients:

  • 4-5 slices of bacon, chopped small and cooked until crisp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cans organic navy beans (2 x 14.5 ounces)
  • 4 springs thyme (approx 1 tablespoon finely chopped)
  • 1 can organic diced roasted tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup of chopped parsley
  • 5 cups of veggie stock (may add more to your liking)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

 

Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup Instructions:

  1. Cook small bacon pieces in fry pan until crisp, transfer to plate over paper towel. Set aside.
  2. In soup pot, add a little olive oil heat up on medium.
  3. Sauté chopped onions and garlic, cook until translucent, 5-7min.
  4. Add carrot and celery, saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and the 5 cups veggie stock.
  6. Add beans – add more veggie stock or water to cover beans if needed.
  7. Add thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to your taste.
  8. Cover and bring to boil.
  9. Once boiling, add in the bacon.
  10. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 – 60 minutes.
  11. Serve soup in bowls.
  12. Garnish with some extra parsley and delightful lemon zest.

The Original Recipe From Herehttp://www.lemonandolives.com/fassolatha-greek-bean-soup/

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • used canned navy beans instead of great northern dried beans
  • did not use a bay leaf
  • used organic vegetable stock instead of water
  • added about 1/3 cup of cooked bacon pieces
  • used my smoking gun to give a tad smoked flavour
  • added juice of one lemon at the end of the cooking process before serving
  • added lemon zest to each bowl of soup before serving
  • used more parsley
  • I used roasted canned tomatoes and I did not mash the canned tomatoes, I kept them chopped just like they are.
  • I added garlic. What soup is not friendly for it?!! :)
Soup Mistress Rating for Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (3.75/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Oh So Very Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Sans Cream!

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup

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The completed Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup with Goat Brie Pesto grilled sandwiches,

Lately I’ve been using cashews in recipes for replacement of sour cream or cream cheese (in savoury dishes as well as sweet dessert toppings) and all have turned out so wonderful. I have a fair bit of almond milk in soups to date, but wanted to try cashew cream in its place. This particular recipe grabbed my attention because it had a range of spices that I would not normally use together in one recipe. I was first a little septic because I never thought of using cumin, curry, dill and basil together with cloves. I thought “what the heck”, let’s risk it and give it a shot.

The Verdict of Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup

Wow, let’s just say it is a home run! If I was served this soup in a restaurant I would definitely think that it had a ton of fatty cream and butter!

I must say that my scepticism was wasted thinking time. The mix of spices played very well together. Not one spice was overpowering and they all seemed to be in perfect harmony!

The soup had delightful hint of heat…not too much either.

And oh so awesome creaminess!!!

This soup goes very well with the goat brie pesto grilled sandwiches I made with yummy gluten-free bread!

I also think this soup is very versatile and tasty for any kind of pasta. The next day I simmered it down a little and added in fresh cooked gluten free pasta with jumbo shrimp, smoked salmon and a bit more pieces of fresh basil.  Who would know that this delectable pasta sauce was a soup the previous day?!!


Note: Cellery is missing in the above ingredient picture – I did add it in the recipe though!

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups onions,
  • chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle, dried
  • 3 tablespoon fresh basil
 , finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 whole cloves 
(or ground)
  • 2 28-oz cans chopped or diced oragnic tomatoes
  • The juice from one lemon or lime
  • basil for garnish

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Instructions:

  1. In a blender (I used a vitamix) blend the cashews and water until smooth.
  2. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil, and add the onion, celery and salt. Cook slowly, partially covered. Stir occasionally. When onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant. Add remaining spices and continue to cook another minute or two.
  3. Add tomatoes, and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soup begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4.  Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender (be very careful when blending hot liquids!), until soup is smooth.
  5. Add cashew cream into soup.
  6. Add the lemon juice and fresh basil
  7. Reheat gently, watching carefully as it’s easy to scorch the bottom.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the optional basil leaves.
  9. Enjoy!
I made a pesto with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan for a lactose-free alternative for the brie goat grilled sandwiches, here’s the recipe:

 Basil Pesto Ingredients:

  • 1 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup Nutritional yeast

Combine the basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

The Original Creamy Cashew Tomato Soup Recipe Here: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Cashew-tomato-soup-346120

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Used olive oil instead of canola oil
  • Did not use fennel
  • Used fresh basil and added it at the end.
  • halved the recipe
  • Added a 1 1/2 cup of water, it seemed to thick

Soup Mistress Rating for Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Soups of San Diego – A Summery Cream Satisfaction Indeed

Last week I had the great liberty to visit beautiful San Diego. My trip was originally for business to attend a conference on tag management software for analytics, but I was able to combine it with a few days of pleasure time.

Coming from rainy Vancouver, I was very impressed with the sunshine and shorts weather for my first two days. I had a cute tour guide visiting with me and we had a wonderful time bike riding around Coronado Island and downtown San Diego. During the week, I experienced some mighty fine restaurants and pubs.

With the mild weather and great soups, it was very much a summery cream satisfaction for myself. The following are my three favorite soups that I had dining out during my week stay in San Diego.

Kelvin Restaurant at W Hotel
http://www.kelvinrestaurant.com
421 West B. Street, San Diego, CA

I had their Rustic Poblano Corn Soup with spiked popcorn:

The Verdict of Kelvin Restaurant Rustic Poblano Corn Soup:
On my last night I decided to have a quiet dinner at my hotel (W Hotel). This restaurant is petit but very modern and nice. I wanted to have a light dinner so I ordered the Rustic Poblano Corn Soup with the Duck Confit Quesidillas. Both paired well together. But I ended up with a not so light dinner – I was super stuffed after eating it all.

The soup seemed to have fresh kernels within the pureed base, which I thought was a classy touch. They were not mushy what-so-ever liked canned corn. I LOVED the use of tiny chopped chives (my favorite soup topper) as well as a tasty swirl of chile infused oil. The oil added a really fine touch of heat.

And the spiked corn as a garnish – oh my! It sure prettied up the soup! First ever experience of popcorn as a garnish for myself.

My waitress shared that the soup had cream, vegetable stock and rice flour.  I am sure that it had a lot of cream too. It had a very good tasting base but a tad heavy on the cream side. I also think it didn’t really need the rice flour because it was to thick for my liking (almost like risotto thick).

The taste of the soup rocked, but does not get high marks for a slimming soup from me.

Oh well, I enjoyed it but back on the treadmill I go!

Soup Mistress Rating For Kelvin Restaurant Rustic Corn Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5)

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/menu-restaurants/blue-point/
565 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA

I had their famous Lobster Bisque with sherry and creme fraiche (gluten-free):

The Verdict of Blue Point Coastal Cuisine Lobster Bisque:

What a special treat, I went to this restaurant twice in one week! The first time was pleasure and the second time, Tealium Software treated our team at Electronic Arts to dinner. I also had a great opportunity to sit besides Jim Sterne – one of the biggest Analytics evangelist and great eMetrics conference host and speaker. Was fun to talk analytics with him.

A few of us at the table ordered the Lobster Bisque. This soup was super rich and very tasty. The soup was perfect for my appetite because I only ordered crab cakes with it.  Jim, on the other hand couldn’t finish it because he thought it was too rich and filling – he was also waiting for his main entre. Perhaps Blue Point should offer a cup of bisque for those who may be like Jim and not want a big bowl?

The pieces of lobster in my bisque was meaty and juicy at same time. Perhaps it marinated in the soup a tad -sometime I find lobster to tough. I didn’t pick up on the Sherry in the soup – perhaps it dissipated? The seasoning was just perfect but the bisque could have used triple the amount of chives.

I would order this bisque again but perhaps replace the crab cakes with some more fresh oysters, which by the way, comes from beautiful British Columbia (my home province)!

Soup Mistress Rating For Blue Point Coastal Cuisine Lobster Bisque:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5)

Mimmo’s Italian Village
http://www.mimmos.biz
1743 India St, San Diego, CA., San Diego, CA

I had the their soup of the day which was a Tomato Basil Soup:

The Verdict of Mimo’s Tomato Basil Soup:

The last day, I had fun hanging out with two other co-workers (Nataliya and Robert). We took a tour on the USS Midway ship and then we ventured to Little Italy for our last meal before heading to the airport.

Mimo’s grabbed our attention and both Robert and I ordered the Tomato Basil soup. I really enjoyed it – I have tried many tomato basil soups and this one makes one of the top 5 I had to date.. It was simple yet tasty like it should be. I lapped up the bowl of soup with some very fresh bread slices. And the freshly grated parmesan is a must at any Italian restaurant don’t you think?

Thumbs up for taste as well as a slimming soup from both Robert and myself!

Soup Mistress Rating For Mimo’s Tomato Basil Soup:

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

Tomato Root Soup On Top of Grouse Mountain Could Use Grind Workout

Yesterday, my girlfriend Karen and I decided to get some fresh air and exercise up on Grouse Mountain (a very pretty local ski hill in the North Shore of Vancouver). So early in the AM, we strapped on snowshoes and hiked up the Snowshoe Grind. The Grind was a killer workout indeed and we had an appetite for lunch by 11am, so we visited Attitudes Bistro for a sandwich and soup.

The soup of the day was tomato and root vegetable – the server said it was one of the better ones (had tomato, parsnips, celery, & carrot) , so Karen ordered a bowl and I ordered a cup with a sandwich.

The Verdict of Attitudes Bistro Tomato Root Soup?
Karen loves soup and most of the time we are out, she orders soup. I decided to get her perspective on this soup as well. For the most part, we agreed that the soup was ok, and could have been improved in a few ways.
  • The soup seemed kind of bland and could have used:
    • a dollop of cream with a fresh herb (perhaps basil)
    • chunks of another vegetable would be nice to add some texture
    • some sort of nice garnish, perhaps a bit of fried shredded parsnips
I did love how the parsnips played with the tomato soup base. This is one soup I would like to try to make myself at home with modifications noted above.

Soup Mistress (and Karen) Rating for Tomato Root Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5)

Taste: (3.5/5)

Oh, ya. With the soup I had the Roasted Vegetable Sandwich. I highly recommend the sandwich – it was fabulous and had arugula, artichokes, hummus, tomato & organic flat bread. The soup needs some refining to be at the same level as the sandwich! Perhaps a Grind Workout!

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)

Ooh La LaTomato Gin Soup, A Le Crocodile Classic

Just last week I went to Vancouver`s Le Crocodile with my girlfriend Karen for lunch. Was my first time and wished that I have had the opportunity to go there two decades ago! It is a formidable restaurant. Presentation of our food was exquisite. The lovely chef surprises were a superb touch as well (a tart for appetizer and sorbet for dessert) – left me feeling quite special. Loved our waitress – she was so refined, knew and described the french menu to a tee and had a very cute charm.

I decided to start with the  “Le Crocodile Classic” Tomato and Gin Soup, served with Fresh Whipped Cream.

The Verdict of Le Crocodile Classic Tomato and Gin Soup?
Ooh la la. The soup was very good, the tomato base was so smooth and not too acidic.  I felt like asking for more fresh whipped cream and chives though! I was a naughty gal and dived right into the middle right off the bat and lapped it all up. I do love chives so much and when I swirled the cream into the soup, I was in heaven and soon forgot about the nasty head cold I was fighting. Not sure if I recognized the gin per se in the soup. I would like to make it in the future at home and try it with and without gin to see if it makes a noticeable difference.

I could not find a published version of Le Crocodiles Tomato Gin soup but found some contenders to try out in the future that seem to be from some local chefs in Vancouver:

  • http://lesleystowe.com/blog/summer-tomato-gin-soup/.
  • http://vitamindaily.com/content/rob-feenies-tomato-gin-soup-exclusive-recipe
  • http://www.westernlivingmagazine.com/FD/0310.Food.html
  • http://www.gourmetwarehouse.ca/qs/page/17299/17088/115
  • http://www.food.com/recipe/gin-tomato-soup-22116

Rob Feenie’s recipe calls for Hendricks Gin. I may steer towards using that gin because it has a cucumber infusion I am told – that should go well with tomato.

Soup Mistress Rating for Le Crocodile Classic Tomato Gin Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5)
Taste: (4.5/5)

Along with the soup, here are other dishes that were served to us (Foie Gras, Lobster Tempura, Lamb Chops). I loved the Tempura and Karen loved her Lamb Chops!: