Butternut squash is a hard winter squash that grows on a vine. It is sometimes referred to as the butternut pumpkin or gramma in Australia and New Zealand. It has a sweet nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin and it becomes increasingly sweeter and richer as it ages.. Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium and Vits A,C and E.
Chickpeas sauted and seasoned with lime juice, salt and pepper added a different dimension to this rather plain Butternut Squash soup. I tried coconut oil instead of the usual EVOO I use in most of my western/italian/mediterranean dishes. Coconut Oil is so under rated, don't you think? Not many of us know that coconut oil is made up of nearly 50% lauric acid which is known to help speed up metabolism, to burn belly fat and improve cellular function. I met the husband of my friend Sherin last night who advised me to take a tbsp of coconut oil twice a day on an empty stomach to help with any inflammation in your digestive system. Key is to look for virgin coconut oil so as to ensure it is not adulterated.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
3 tbsp coconut oil (2 tbsp for the squash soup and 1 tbsp for the chickpeas)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 qt vegetable broth
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 can chickpeas
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt & pepper
1) Heat a saucepan and warm up 2 tbsp coconut oil. Fry the diced yellow onions and minced garlic.
2) Add in all the spice powders and salt and saute further.
3) This will be followed by the butternut squash and veg stock. Cover and let it cook for 5-10 mins.
4) In the meantime, saute the chickpeas in another tbsp of coconut oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This will give a peppery tangy taste to the chickpeas. After 2-3 mins on medium heat, set aside.
5) After 10 mins, the squash would have softened.
6) Blend this mix and pour it back into the pot. Check and adjust for seasoning.
7) When serving, scoop out the butternut squash soup in to a soup bowl and place chickpeas in the center. Add a sprig of coriander leaves for garnish and finish up with a swirl of coconut oil.
Meatless Minestrone is one of my favourite soups. Packed with vegetables, pasta and beans, it is wholesome goodness in a bowl. And it is so easy to prepare, like most soups.
I frequent The Soup Spoon a chain of eatery here in Singapore. It has a range of delicious soups which can be devoured with salads, wraps and sandwiches. For the longest time, I used to indulge in mostly their Mushroom Stroganoff - a chunky thick creamy mushroom soup served in a a bread bowl. Yearning for a change, my girls and I tried their Meatless Minestrone and then we wondered why didn't we try this before? It was so tangy and so full of goodness. Because it was quite thick in its tomato base, it quickly filled our hungry tummies.
I attempted to recreate their Meatless Minestrone last week. It was warmly welcomed at home. Try it on a cold rainy evening...you'll go to sleep, your tummy filled with warm nourishing soup under your equally warm blanket. With a smile, for sure! What a simple but perfect way to end an evening ...
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
2 cups of small shell pasta, boiled till al dente
4 tbsp EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tin of diced tomatoes, blended till smooth
1 cup of cubed carrot
1 cup of cubed zucchini
1 cup of cubed capsicum, any colour
1 cup of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced leek
5 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 tin of either kidney or cannelloni beans, drained
A dear friend of mine and ex-neighbour Yew Hong shared this recipe with me so many years ago, probably more than 10 years. I have closely followed this recipe whenever the craving for something spicy, tangy and soupy comes along. And anyone who knows me well will know that a bowl of clear tasty soup will win me over anytime anyday!
Tom Yum Soup can also made using a ready made paste available in many Asian grocery stores but the floating chilli oil puts me off. I prefer making this easy clear version sans oil. It is flavorful and gives a wonderful kick after your first spoonful! Trust me you'll be back for seconds!
Ingredients for Stock
5 cups of water
2 Lemongrass, cut into 3 each and crushed to release its essence
6 slices of Blue Ginger
10 coriander roots
4 small onions ( shallots )
Get all the ingredients ready.
Boil everything for 10-15 mins. Strain and keep the stock. Discard the vegetables.
Ingredients for Soup
6 slices of Blue ginger
1 tomato, sliced into 8 pieces
2 lemongrass, cut into 3 each and crushed to release its essence
4 lime leaves, sliced into strips
1 red bird's eye (chilli padi), sliced
A small bunch of Enoki mushrooms
Juice of 2 big green limes
1/3 cup coriander leaves for garnishing
2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1)Prepare all the vegetables and the seasonings for the Tom Yum Soup.
2) Pour the stock back into the pot and add all the vegetables except coriander leaves and lime juice. Add the mushroom seasoning and salt together with the other vegetables. Let the soup boil for 5 mins.
3) Switch off fire and pour into big soup bowl. Add in the lime juice, stir and then garnish with coriander leaves.. Best served and slurped piping hot!
Watercress plants are an aquatic perennial herb found in abundance alongside slow running waterways and near natural springs. Watercress leaves and stems are both edible and are rich in many Vitamins - Vitamin A, C, E and K and other essential minerals. Obviously very low in fat and cholestrol and a good source of protein, folate, magnesium, potassium (I could go on and on here). But the best thing is it makes a great soup - both in western version nd the chinese version. I have posted the western version here wih home made croutons. Makes a great winter warming soup. The recipe is skinny too - only skim milk and olive oil has been used. You can substitute with butter and cream for added richness.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1) Cube the potato and chop the onion finely.
2) Clean and wash the watercress leaves and stems.
3) Heat a deep soup pot and pour 2 tbsp EVOO. Fry the chopped onion, minced garlic and potato cubes for 3-5 mins.
4) Add in the vegetable stock and skim milk and cover. Cook for 5 mins till the potato cubes are done.
5) Add the watercress leaves and stems and cook for another 3-5 mins.
6) This is how it would look at the end of the cooking time.
7) Process this in a blender and return it back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
8) To make your own croutons, cut bread into cubes and fry them in a pan with EVOO till they turn light brown on all sides. I used foccacia bread for that earthy meditaranean taste.
9) Serve with homemade croutons and a swirl of EVOO. Top it off with a few low fat Feta Cheese crumbles for that extra flavor.
Yesterday, March 26th was an important day. Apart from the fact that it was a dear friend's birthday, March 26th also marked the day when I had a first taste of demonstrating my cooking skills LIVE! Imagine that!! I showed a group of 16 ladies in my Siglap community in Singapore as part of my grassroots reach out - how to prepare this easy delicious nourishing Chinese Vegan Hot & Sour Soup. A bit hesitant and a tad nervous at first - because there I was, an Indian showing how to prepare a Chinese dish to a group of mostly Chinese ladies!! What in the world would they not know which I would??
Truth be told, I wasn't even planning to demonstrate this month's cooking class. These cooking demos are conducted during the last Sat of every month and we are always are on the lookout for demonstrators or culinary experts to show us how to cook a particular cuisine every month. Last month, we had a lady, Nora, who showed us how to make Choc Almond Slices under Baking theme. This month's theme was Chinese cooking. Devoid of instructors, Alice my fellow committee member, volunteered to conduct this month's class. I was actually 'sucked' in to fill in the extra time because her dishes would take a very short time.
Since we are on this page, can I add something about Alice? Alice is a born orator and her love for cooking was so evident during yesterday's cooking class. She was 'alive' with her chatty description of all the ingredients and engaged the participants very well. I am having a kind of writer's block here because I just can't come up with the right words to describe her demo style. All in all, she was a blast!!
But I must say, me being roped in was a blessing in disguise. I had an exhilarating experience! My nerves calmed down after the first few mins and soon I was giving them tips to make it to their preference. Everyone liked the soup and one exclaimed it was so easy to prepare and yet so tasty!! It was whole new experience for me. I was quite high on endorphins late into the night :)
1/2 (half) tbsp. canola oil
4 dried shitake mushrooms
12 dried tiger lily buds
2 cups of hot water
2 cups of room temperature water
½ a block of firm tofu, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chilli padi (bird's eye chilli), sliced (or more if you prefer spicier)
1 and 1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tin braised peanuts, drained
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup spring onions, chopped
Extra sliced chilli padi for garnish
1 tsp sesame oil
Wash the shitake mushrooms and tiger lily buds and then soak in 2 cups of hot water for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, cut the stems off the shitake mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps thinly. Cut the tiger lily buds in half. Set both aside. Strain and reserve the soaking liquid.
Heat the canola oil in a soup pot and fry the minced garlic and sliced chilli padi till fragrant.
Then add the mushroom seasoning and stir for a minute.
Then add in the reserved soaking liquid, 2 cups of water, rice vinegar and light soy sauce.
Let it come to a boil and then add in the sliced shitake mushrooms, tiger lily buds, braised peanuts and tofu strips.
Let the whole soup boil well for another 2-3 mins.
Then pour in the cornstarch mixture and then the soup will thicken.
Just before serving, garnish with chopped spring onions, sliced chilli padis and swirl in the sesame oil.
You can add in a variety of other ingredients – silken tofu instead of firm tofu, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms etc and if you prefer a non-vegan soup, you can swirl in 1 beaten egg at the end. Or you can even substitute the 4 cups of water with chicken stock if you would rather opt for a non vegetarian version.
What better way to incorporate our favorite Pasta Marinara with a warm soup? Make a delicious comforting Pasta Soup of course! I had just made fresh vegetable stock yesterday and decided that it would be ideal to cook this for dinner.
You can use any type of pasta but Angel Hair Pasta is thin enough to go well with his soup. And to give that protein power, I added a can of kidney beans. Cannellini Beans or Small Red Beans do work as well too.
Ingredients (for 2 as a main meal or for 4 as a side dish)
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green zucchini, cubed
1/4 red/yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 cup Marinara sauce (See Note)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 cups of Veg stock
200gm Angel Hair pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 can (15oz) Kidney Beans/Small Red Bans/Cannellini Beans, drained
Salt and Ground Pepper
Red chilli flakes/Parsley flakes
Cook the pasta, al dente, according to instructions and keep aside.
Take a medium sized pot and fry the onions in EVOO till translucent.
Fry the minced garlic next, again only till translucent and the garlic aroma fills the air.
Add in the zucchini and bell pepper cubes and cook till they are half done.
Add in the Italian, other seasonings and the marinara sauce and let it start bubbling for a few minutes. Do remember that marinara sauce comes with its own sodium hence watch out for the salt.
Pour in the veg stock and the kidney beans and boil for 2-3 minutes.
Lastly add in the cooked pasta and let the whole soup boil for 5 mins.
Serve warm immediately with any bread sides eg Garlic Bites, Bruschetta Bites, Avocado Bites, Gourmet Boscaiola Pizza. Keep red chilli flakes and parsley flakes on the side as accompaniments.
I like Rinaldi Traditional Marinara sauce as it is light and not loaded with seasonings.
Packed with health benefits, broccoli is one of the vegetables you should be eating on a regular basis. I don't think I have to vouch for broccoli. I am sure we know a lot about this great vegetable. They don't call it a superfood for no reason.
Here I have come up with a low fat broccoli soup to nourish our body while laying off the fats.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 tbsps EVOO
1 medium onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves minced
3 cups fat free veg stock
5 cups broccoli florets
1 potato, scrubbed, eyes removed and cubed small
1 cup skim milk
Salt & Pepper to season
EVOO for swirling and low fat Feta cheese crumbles for garnish and for that mmmm.... flavor
Heat a soup pot with EVOO and then add the chopped onions.
Fry the onion till it becomes translucent, not brown.
Then, add the minced garlic and again fry till translucent only.
Season with salt & pepper.
Add in the veg stock and let it come to a rapid boil.
Toss in the broccoli florets and potato cubes.
Let it cook on low heat for 5-10 mins with the pot covered.
Once the vegetables are cooked, blend the mixture till smooth and creamy.
Return to pan and add in the skim milk.
Let it boil once more and check for seasoning.
Serve hot in a soup bowl garnished with fat free feta cheese crumbles and a swirl of olive oil. Marries well with any bread dish - bruschetta / garlic bread.
Light delicious wholesome dinner.
I had vegetables which were about to rot. I popped all of them into a Stock pot with seasonings to make Vegetable stock. With that as the main ingredient, I made Stock Flavored Rice. Served with yummy Chinese Silken Tofu Vegetable Soup. A light non spicy meal but so so satisfying...
Ingredients for Stock Flavored Rice
1.5 cups Jasmine Rice
3 cups Vegetable Stock
2 stalks scallions cut into 2 inch strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsps Mushroom Seasoning
Fry the minced garlic in oil and transfer to the rice cooker together with the rice, stock and cut scallions. Stir in the mushroom seasoning. Cook in your rice cooker as usual.
Ingredients for Chinese Silken Tofu Vegetable Soup
2 inch ginger, minced
2 tsps Mushroom Seasoning
3 tsps light soy sauce
1/4 red bell pepper, cubed
1/4 yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 small broccoli, cut into small florets
1 block silken tofu, cut into big cubes
3 cups water
2 tsps corn starch mixed in 3 tbsps water to form a thick paste
Fry the minced ginger in oil till light brown and then add in the mushroom seasoning and soy sauce.
Add in the vegetables and pour 3 cups of water.
After the vegetables are cooked, add in the silken tofu and simmer.
In the meantime, mix the cornstarch in water.
Add in the cornstarch mixture and let it simmer for 3 mins.
The soup should thicken now.
Serve hot with Stock Flavored Rice and Cilantro Dipping Sauce.