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Magnificent Minestrone

30 Jan

IMG_3989Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident.  When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions.  Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew.  It tastes so much better than this picture looks.  Photography is still not my forte!)

When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”?  Thank you universe!

I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans.  So no extra shopping necessary!

I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all.  The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base.  This is my favorite brand of broth.  It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk.  I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth.  Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.

I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs.  I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!

Minestrone Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup broth

3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

3 carrots, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 cups No Chicken bouillon

1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice

1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice

3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened.  Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion  blender.  Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot.  Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender.  Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.


Yummy Oil Free Gazpacho

4 Sep


It’s the season for tomatoes galore and so I wanted to make something featuring this fine fruit.  I decided on gazpacho since I haven’t made it in years.   As I perused my cookbooks and the web for ideas, it was hard to find a recipe without oil.  I did finally find one in My Beef With Meat.  (I love this cookbook, by the way!)I made just a few modifications to suit my taste.


6 medium, very ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks

2 celery stalks chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 onion, chopped

3  garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 slices sourdough bread, crust removed, cut in cubes

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

6 shakes tabasco sauce (optional)

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (to add to puree)

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (to add to puree)

1/4 cucumber, chopped (to add to puree)

Chopped fresh parsley


Place the tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, balsamic and red wine vinegars,  worcestershire sauce, sugar, tabasco (if want a little kick in your soup!) in a food processor or a high-speed  blender and puree until well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the puree into a large non-metallic container and add the chopped tomatoes, cucumber and pepper and mix by hand.  Chill and serve with chopped parsley as garnish.

Sweet and Spicy Chili

13 Oct


It is soooo good to be back posting on Vegan Mofo!  I have fallen behind on my posts as I was out of commission.  You see I was down with the flu for the last week and I could not even consider looking at food let alone cooking it or eating it.  So you can understand how wonderful it feels to be able to think about food with delight again instead of turning green inside and out.

Anyway, here’s my 6th post for Vegan MoFo, Sweet and Spicy Chili adapted from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet Cookbook.  My husband loves this chili!  I would call it a pantry chili since much of it comes from cans and spices so that it’s quick to throw together.  I changed it up a bit by using pinto and kidney beans and using spicy sausage vegetarian crumbles, but you can use whatever beans and vegetarian meat substitute you prefer.  Or leave the veggie meat out altogether and throw in some pumpkin or butternut squash.  And of course, always double so that you have some to freeze!  Yum!

Make sure to check out some of Robin Robertson’s other recipes on her blog.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small sweet yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

one 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 cups apple juice

one 4-ounce can diced hot green chiles

one 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

one 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetarian sausage crumbles

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne.  Add tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, apple juice, chiles and beans.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the veggie crumbles and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Red Curry Soup with Rice and Purple Kale

3 Oct

It’s Vegan MoFo day 2 and I was in the mood for soup.  I knew I had kale and sweet potatoes and I knew I had made a soup recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen blog (which I absolutely adore and highly recommend!) several times before using these ingredients that I had loved.  So, I went through my awesome giant binder of recipe winners.  That is recipes I’ve made before that are husband approved.  Well, to be honest, if he loved the recipe and I did not it got tossed.  So, it has to pass the test of delighting both of our taste buds.  This one was a true winner!

Red Curry Soup with Rice and Purple Kale


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced medium

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3/4 cups basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed

6 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons of red curry paste (start with one and taste)

1 bunch of purple kale (or any kale really), thick stems removed and cut into bite size pieces

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1 can lite coconut milk

1 tablespoon agave syrup

Juice of one lime


Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium heat.  Saute onion in oil with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes or so, until translucent.  Add garlic and ginger and saute a minute more.

Add rice, vegetable broth and salt, cover pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, lower heat to simmer.  Mix in curry paste to taste.  Add kale and sweet potatoes.  Cover pot and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.

Add coconut milk, agave and lime.  Taste for salt and flavor.  Add more curry paste if you like.

Remove from heat and serve immediately or let sit for 10-15 minutes to give the flavors time to blend.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

15 Nov

This soup is delicious!  I had a couple of small bowls and my husband ate the rest of the pot in one night!  Do you think he liked it?

I had also made a big beautiful salad.  It was a perfect light meal. I love cooking food for my husband!  He is so appreciative and complimentary and gets such pleasure in eating the delicious vegan food I make. I’m thinking of making this again for a first course for Thanksgiving.  It has the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors.  I think even the younger kids will like it! Here’s the recipe from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.  I only made a few changes.  I used half of the amount of Earth Balance and two cans of pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. Deelish!

Carrot and Tahini Soup

22 Oct

This recipe is adapted from one posted in the New York Times Dining and Wine Section.  It calls for leeks which I didn’t have so I substituted a chopped sweet onion.  It also called for fresh cilantro or mint for garnishing but I was fresh out of mint and my husband thinks cilantro tastes like burnt rubber.  I often just substitute fresh parsley but this time I let the turmeric and coriander and fresh carrots speak for themselves.  The tahini and lemon juice increased the depth and mellowness.  My dear husband said “This is the kind of soup I would eat whether or not I was hungry.  Don’t know if that’s good or bad.”  All I can say is yum!

Those cute little puffy things pictured in the soup are pita crisps made with whole wheat mini pita rounds.  They sort of look like donuts to me in this picture.  Speaks to my skills or lack thereof in food photography!  Or maybe donuts in your carrot soup sound appealing?

Vegan MoFo Day 10: Butternut Squash Soup

10 Oct

October is flying by just as fast as the rest of my life.  Participating in the Vegan Month of Food has had a slowing effect though. Perhaps by documenting each day with the vegan food or interests that occupy it, I feel more grounded in that particular day.  And of course, eating yummy food is a savoring experience that keeps me in the present moment, one delicious bite at a time!

Along with the butternut squash, this recipe also includes greens (I used swiss chard), bell pepper, carrots and corn to make it even more colorful and veggie hearty, packing in the Vitamins A and C, fiber and antioxidants.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine recipe from 2006 that included bacon.  I had collected it years ago when I was still eating animals.  I thought I’d look at their site to see if they have included many vegan items in their listings.  When I entered a search for “vegan food”, 1000 “vegetarian” entries popped up.  I did find the term vegan in one of these recipes and followed it to this vegan recipe slide show.  Just 22 recipes are included in this clearly labeled vegan slide show.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups organic no chicken broth

One 2 pound butternut squash-quartered, seeded, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

5 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, halved

3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 celery ribs, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon organic canola oil

2 packed cups coarsely chopped chard, collards or kale

2 cans pinto or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 medium carrots, finely diced

1 red bell, finely diced

1 1/2 cups corn kernels

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Saute garlic, leeks and celery in oil until just soft.

2. Add squash, thyme and broth.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

3. Discard the thyme sprigs from the soup.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup or using a standard blender, puree in batches.  Add the carrots, greens, beans, bell pepper and corn and bring to another boil.  Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.  Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve.

There are so many butternut squash soup recipes out there.  What’s your go to favorite?  Please share!