Tag Archives: soup

I love when this happens!

How often have you looked through your fridge or cupboard, and come to the realization that you have ALL the ingredients on hand for a meal that you hadn’t even planned?

It's not the sexiest -looking soup, but it felt so fresh and yummy. And no weird chemicals or additives!

It’s not the sexiest -looking soup, but it felt so fresh and yummy. And no weird chemicals or additives!

I mean, you scan through your dry goods, fruit & veg, and whatnot and your smart little brain takes those ingredients, and swiftly calculates them into a total dish you can actually cook? That’s awesome!

That is awesome, and it happened to me last week. I had kale, veg meatballs, tomatoes, garlic, veggie stock, carrots, celery and tortellini on hand. Brain threw those items into the calculator, and came up with: ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

So, excited, I set right to it. We’ve been having unholy amounts of rain lately, and soup has seemed like a good idea – yes, even with the humidity.

My house quickly filled with the scent of garlic, tomatoes, celery and carrots gently sauteeing in olive oil…and later, in went the veggie Italian meatballs (courtesy Gardein). As you may (or may not) have read in my earlier posts, I ALWAYS have homemade veggie stock on hand for the base of any kind of soup.

Fast forward about an hour, and I added the veggies, tortellini, meatballs and a generous handful of kale to the stock and let it simmer. Of course, I added freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to top it off.

I love when a non-plan comes together!

Pho sure!

Is there anything more satisfying than a humongous bowl of pho?
Maybe there is, to you, but I sure love sinking into this fragrant soup filled with amazing aromas, crunchy bean sprouts and fiery chilies.

2010-08-22 11.02.32I was first introduced to pho at a little hole in the wall Vietnamese place here in Florida. This place is authentic (and people do swear by its magical powers and great, cheap food) with Buddhas strategically placed and Vietnamese TV on in the background.

I had the vegetarian pho, and what struck me especially was the little side dish of condiments – basil, bean sprouts, chili peppers, lime) that signaled you to place them gently atop the finished soup, creating a masterpiece. It’s almost too pretty to eat!

When I get a hankering, I make my own at home (see above pic). It’s not hard. I love my river rice noodles, so those are very important. You can add anise, black pepper, garlic, and what not to a good veggie based broth. Add tofu (or leave it out), green onions, sliced mushrooms, gently simmer. Then you can begin adding your pretty condiments. Pho is adaptable to whatever you have on hand – it’s a lovely, gentle, forgiving soup. 🙂

Here I go again.

ImageHave I told you how much I LOVE making homemade veggie stock? I know I’ve expounded on the subject many a time before – and I duly apologize for the repetition.


I. Love. Making. Veggie. Stock.

Full stop.

I have a freezer full of the stuff. Never knowing when it might be needed, it could serve as the base for a really awesome French onion soup, or as an elixir for if and when I come down with a nasty flu bug, God should be so gentle.

And not only that: but I love knowing I’m not just tossing out the inedible bits and bobs that come from my veggies. Just throw them in a freezer bag, and when the bag seems full enough, bingo! Time to make the stock!

If you’d like my uber-easy stock-making secret, just leave a comment!


Thai on the fly

I’ve been meaning to make the Spicy Thai Soup from my Vegetarian Times cookbook for some time; and it was this weekend that I discovered I had all the ingredients on hand. Yay!


Coming home from a hard day at work, I whipped up this tasty soup in no time. I was really hungry, so I tossed some shelled edamame with chopped garlic, sea salt, sesame oil and red pepper flakes as my side dish (heated briefly). Oh my, pure heaven. Edamame is up there on my list of my food addictions and I think preparing it this way is my new favorite.

I didn’t have kaffir lime leaves on hand but the book did say I could sub lime zest, which I did. The soup turned out spicy, salty, zesty, and so clean-tasting!

I’ll bet this would be a great meal if you were feeling under the weather. Lots of healthiness, here.

Golden elixir

More ‘stock’ photography! Tee-hee! Ok, sorry for the pun. But I’m in love with homemade veggie stock. I’m super-in-love with the way it makes me feel, this energy-giving elixir. This particular one, pictured, was derived from bits of carrot, onion, celery, tomato, eggplant, cauliflower, garlic, and dried herbs (which you see at the bottom of the cup). It’s so perfect, it doesn’t even need salt. I simply sip it like a tea. And I instantly feel energized and all warm & fuzzy.

Stock it to me

There is nothing, in my opinion, more glorious and humble

Gorgeous, isn't it?

than beautiful homemade vegetable stock.

Day-off Dining

I love those lazy days off from work where I can, at my discretion, knit, nap, read, and most importantly, cook. I always have veggies in the house, but today I noticed that some of them needed to be used as soon as possible – you know how veggies get that sad, dull, almost-but-not-quite-squishy look to them, begging to be eaten or cooked. Yep, I had quite a few of those.

Take cherry tomatoes, for instance. I bought them last week at a local farmer’s market; a tiny, but heaped-up basket full – and down to about 10 or so today, they were looking a little wan. I also had an uncut  green pepper who needed attention as well, so I chopped those guys, along with some elephant garlic, and started a tasty sofrito that will be used in some black beans and rice. Sofrito – the homemade kind -adds a wonderful flavor to Caribbean dishes. Skip over the jarred stuff and make our own – trust me. It smells awesome while it’s cooking.

Last week’s leek greens and kale stems had been saved, along with some mushroom stems and onion bits. I’m of the mindset that you pay (sometimes dearly) for produce; you should get every bit out of it that you can. I save things like stems and inedible parts to make pure vegetable stock.  Kale makes amazing stock. I let my bits boil away for two hours, and the result is a hearty stock that forms the base for many soups, such as this shell pasta/veggie soup I made today as  well. Yum. Good comfort food for a lazy day off!

Stock it to me

What tastes better (and is more nutritious) than homemade stock? Not only that, but it smells GREAT while in the pot. I love making fresh vegetable stock out of various bits and pieces from chopped up veggies that I’ve saved in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. This particular stock, below, was made from collard green stems, broccoli stems, nearly-dead spinach, celery, onion, garlic, cilantro and black peppercorns. I simmered it for an hour to reduce it, then added 2 cups more water to flesh it out. Once cooled, it went back into a convenient baggie and into the freezer. I’ve got about 4 cups’ worth here. Next stop: Bryant Terry’s Succotash soup – and this stock will be its basis.

You can always use what you have on hand – that’s the beauty of “custom” stock. Discarded vegetable parts, like inedible greens stems, or cauliflower bottoms, make hearty stock.

An announcement, and a shot of food

Hi. Just wanted to let readers know of some changes. I’ve changed the name of this blog to better reflect my simple, new direction on my food writing, and it also better reflects my personality. Although “Above the Fruited Plain”‘s concept originally was a good one, and it served me well for almost ten years (in concept, research, and on ‘paper’), it never really took off. Besides, originally the idea was to approach the Food Network as an idea for a show, but it’s already been done and is being done (to death) as we speak.

I’ll still be doing historical research on American foods, but I will mostly be focusing on my exploration of different cuisines, my experiences with different products, restaurant adventures, and my cooking experiments! As well, I will be within the week migrating this blog over to WordPress to better suit my personal blogging needs – and to give the blog a fresher, more modern look (as well as make it easier to read).

Now: Let’s eat!

Pumpkin and Roasted Corn Soup. From Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Current Obsession…

…Miso soup. I buy it from the local Asian market in a refrigerator pack of paste. It makes fabulous soup, awesome stir-fry base, and adds flavor to salad dressing.

Here’s my miso soup with noodles and a little green onion in my new oriental soup bowl, which I bought specifically for my Asian soups. I love my new little bowl!

Below, somen noodles which I am also currently obsessed with. Isn’t the packaging gorgeous?