Guacazpacho Noodle Soup

The idea for this recipe has been simmering (so to speak) in my head for a few days now! I had a bunch of avocados on hand that I needed to use, and I wanted to do something more interesting than just making a smoothie or guacamole. I’ve also been really wanting to come up with some cold soups for summer. I love the idea of gazpacho, but I can’t eat bell peppers, so that’s not for me. So I came up with this recipe that uses the theoretical idea of gazpacho (cold soup, tasty vegetables, most of the “cooking” is just “everything sits together in the fridge”) and the flavor profile of guacamole…plus some other stuff that seemed like it would go well in there, like coconut milk and black beans and noodles!

You can actually make this recipe without cooking anything. I prefer garlic and beans cooked, so my soup involved cooking, but if you don’t want to cook them, just ignore the olive oil, put everything except the beans and noodles in the blender raw, blend it up, add the beans and noodles, and then refrigerate it all. TA DA! Raw soup!

But if you want to cook your soup, you can follow the instructions below.

olive oil
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
3 avocados
1 can (15oz) full-fat coconut milk
1 cup tomatoes, diced (including juice)
a handful of cilantro (omit if you hate it)
⅓ – ½ cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
hot sauce to taste
salt, soy sauce, or Bragg’s liquid aminos to taste
noodles as desired (i used green bean flour cellophane noodles)

Preheat a soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the minced garlic, stirring frequently till it starts to brown (turn down the heat if necessary so it doesn’t burn!) Squeeze in the avocado meat. Make a big mess. This is the best part. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, and cilantro. Stir till well-combined.
Put the contents of the pot in a blender. Blend till thoroughly liquefied. Pour it back into the pot.
Stir in the nutritional yeast and lime juice.
Set the pot back on the stove. Add the black beans and turn the heat to medium. Make sure to cover the pot now, unless you enjoy getting splashed in the face with hot soup! When it starts to splash up against the pot cover, turn the heat down to low. Cook it like this for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the noodles. Refrigerate. Serve cold.

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Kalamata Pesto!

I’ve just moved into a new apartment and, thanks to my fabulous Grandma, I now have a food processor!! I’ve been wanting one for years and finally I have it. I am SO EXCITED.

Naturally I wanted to celebrate by making pesto! I adapted this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Bestest Pesto“.

I used the greens and herbs I had on hand, but if you have more basil than I had, I recommend using more of that, and maybe less of something else. Also, if you hate cilantro, leave it out and put in more basil or spinach or anything else leafy and green that you like.

Note on garlic: I’ve been having a weird reaction to raw garlic lately, but I’m totally fine if it’s cooked for even just a few seconds. No idea what’s up with that, but since I love garlic more than life itself, I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking all my garlic for a few seconds.

Note on nuts: I recommend at least half your nuts be pine nuts if you can afford them. I couldn’t today, so I used walnuts and pecans, which turned out great anyway! But, if you can get pine nuts, use some!

I think I ended up with about 2 cups of sauce from this recipe.

½ cup nuts (I used ¼ cup walnuts and ¼ cup pecans)
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Earth Balance soy butter (or just use more olive oil and a pinch of salt)
2/3 cup basil
1 cup cilantro
1 ½ cup spinach
1-3 Tbsp fresh herbs (I used oregano, Isa likes thyme…go ahead and experiment!)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
6 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup kalamata olives
2 Tbsp lemon juice (add more as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

First, toast the nuts. Heat up a (dry!) pan on medium-low, then put the nuts in it for about 10 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every couple minutes so the nuts don’t burn. When your nuts are nice and toasty, dump them right into the food processor.

If you’re cooking your garlic, you can now use that same pan. Melt the Earth Balance (or just put the olive oil right in the pan), then add the garlic, toss it around for 30 seconds to a minute, then dump all that in the food processor too.

Pulse the nuts and garlic a few times. Add the greens and herbs, and the nutritional yeast. Puree thoroughly, adding the olive oil as you go. Add the olives and lemon juice and whizz it up some more till the olives are completely mixed in. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with spaghetti…or whatever you like!

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Simple Coconutty Mushroom Spinach Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe from my friend Joan’s family. It comes together very quickly and is so rich in flavor! If you don’t have coconut oil, you could use olive oil or Earth Balance instead. 

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped 
8oz mushrooms (I used portabello)
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1-1 1/2 Tbsp ginger root, chopped
1/4 cup water or veg broth
10oz spinach leaves
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp black pepper
salt, soy sauce, or Braggs liquid aminos to taste (optional)

Melt the coconut oil in your soup pot. Stir in the onions and mushrooms, and let them cook on medium for a few minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and water or veg broth. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach, then cover the pot again and give the spinach a few minutes to cook down, adding a little more water if necessary to keep stuff from sticking. Add the coconut milk and blend till smooth, using a food processor, standing blender, or immersion blender. (If you need to do this in batches, you can add the coconut milk 1/4 cup at a time.) Return it to the pot if you’ve taken it out, and add the nutmeg, pepper, and your choice of salty ingredient if you want it saltier.

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Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies with Chocolate Chips

yields: about 30 cookies

6 Tbsp soy butter
6 Tbsp peanut butter
1 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp applesauce
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
pinch of cloves
1 ½ cups + 3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup crushed or chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F. Soften the soy butter (either leave it sitting out, or microwave it for 15 seconds). Combine the soy butter, peanut butter, and sugar in a large bowl, then beat them together with a hand mixer. Add the applesauce and extracts, continuing to mix into a creamy paste. Add the spices and mix them in. Add the flour and baking soda together, then the chocolate chips and pecans. Combine thoroughly to form your dough. Spoon large tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving room for the cookies to expand. Bake for 10-14 minutes (12 was perfect for me), then let cool for at least 5 minutes on the baking sheet.

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Banana Cocoa Gingersnaps

I managed to get these gingersnaps to be just the right combination of fluffy and snappy. I wasn’t actually planning for them to be as banana-y as they ended up being, but I think using the vanilla extract brought the banana flavor out quite a bit. I could smell that happening as they were baking and wasn’t sure how it would taste, but it turned out to be really delicious!

yields: about 1 1/2 dozen cookies

½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ a banana (I prefer an incredibly overripe banana)
¼ cup applesauce (or just use the whole banana, but I found it needed more moisture)
⅓ cup maple syrup (you could also use molasses, maybe add some sugar if you do that)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
2-3 heaping tsp ginger (I used 2 but would probably use 3 next time)
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix the oil and sugars together until well-combined. Stir in the banana, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and cocoa powder, stirring them in with the liquids to form your dough. Scoop out balls with a tablespoon (they can be a little larger than the spoon) and roll them between your palms and place them on your cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with your hand or a glass — I made mine pretty flat at this point, as they will rise, and this makes sure the middles get cooked evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes (12 was perfect for me).

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Raspberry Lemonade Cookies

It’s been so cold the last few days! Time for some warm, fluffy, summery-flavored treats.

yields: about 2 dozen cookies

½ cup soy butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup raspberries
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup plantmilk (I used “drinking” coconut – not the thick stuff from a can)
½ banana (about ¼ cup)
2 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Let the soy butter begin to soften while making the lemonade puree. Put the raspberries, vanilla, lemon juice, plant milk, and banana in a blender or food processor. Puree till smooth and set aside. Use a hand mixer to begin combining the soy butter and sugar, then add the puree and continue mixing till it’s nice and creamy. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir it all together to form your dough. If it’s too crumbly, add more plant milk. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough into balls (they can be a little larger than the spoon) and roll them between your palms so they’ll be round. Set them on your cookie sheets, evenly spaced (they’ll spread a little) and pat them gently (don’t pancake them, just a little pat-pat). Bake for 10-15 minutes.

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New Year’s Eve Soup!

For New Year’s Eve, I made this tasty soup incorporating black-eyed peas (for good luck), greens (for prosperity), and assorted veggies that were hanging out in my fridge in quantities not quite large enough to make them into a whole dish (for rainbows!) I recently impulse-bought some filé powder at The Spice House in Chicago, having absolutely no idea what that even tasted like, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Leave it out or use some other tasty herb that you like, if you can’t find it, but if you can, it really adds an interesting and complex flavor to this delicious soup.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
1 sweet potato, diced into bite-sized pieces
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp filé powder
1 tsp black pepper
4 cups veg broth
3-4 cups water (to be added 1 cup at a time)
4 cups pre-cooked black-eyed peas (or 2 cans)
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup beluga lentils (or whatever lentils)
several handfuls of greens (I used kale since that’s what I had; collards or mustard greens would be commonly used in the Southern USA tradition, while spinach is more of a Jewish tradition, but any green leafy vegetables will work!)
any veggies you have in your fridge that you’d like to throw in (I had red cabbage and some broccoli stems)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
hot sauce

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Saute the onion for 3 minutes or so, then add the potato and garlic and stir for a minute or two. Add the seasonings, broth, 1 cup of water, peas, rice, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for about 30 minutes. Add more water to thin, as needed. Add the greens and any other veggies you’re using, and the apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast. Taste for seasoning. Serve with hot sauce.

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