easy vegetarian soup recipe

concerning the voicemail / minty pea soup with cashew cream

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DSC_0038I’m pretty sure that the voicemail is nearing extinction, however, as an 80’s child and former owner of a Star-TAC flip phone (those are still awesome), I have enjoyed the progression of the voicemail personality. My first message went along the lines of “Hey! You’ve reached Jenny’s phone, leave a message and I’ll call you back, thanks…bye!”  Translation: I just got a phone, I like boys, messages are cool, yay!

When I was college bound, it morphed into “Hey, this is Jenny, leave a message.” Translation: I smoke cigarettes and am too important to talk to you. So important in fact, that once I graduated from college I found myself folding Life is Good tee-shirts and developing anxiety. Solution? I changed my message to…oh no, wait– I moved to Hawaii. And they don’t have phones there. See my travels in semi-employment here. No, seriously, I think the next time my message changed was when I heard some of my productive girlfriend’s voicemails. You know, the ones with real jobs and briefcases and lady suits. Their voicemails sound like you have actually reached a company. “Hello, you have reached the voicemail of _____, I am unavailable to take your call at this time, but if you leave your name, number, and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day.” Translation: I have a job, and I kind of hate it, but this message will make you wonder if I’m filthy rich and important. And I did wonder…and I did get nervous. So I updated mine to a milder version and tried my best to sound friendly and upbeat instead of my usual, monotone man voice. Translation: I sound like Johnny Cash. Lately, however, I’ve noticed a trend towards the mysterious Siri-type computerized “You have reached 000-000-0000, at the tone, please record your voice message”. Translation: you’re basically the Dos Equis beer guy and you don’t need to have something as archaic as a voicemail message (or you’re just a lazy cow). Hmm, I may have to do that next…

Now that you’ve re-recorded your voicemail fifty times and are so terrified of your own voice that you wonder how anyone can like you, why not make some minty pea soup with cashew cream? Peas are in season for 3 seconds so if you can’t find fresh english peas (which are incredible), you can easily substitute frozen peas. On a side note, if you are native to Beantown and raising a little organic baby, you can use Lovage BabyBlends’ Minty Peas in this soup as an alternative to buying peas and mint. The recipe for that can be found soon on Lovage BabyBlend’s website. Check it out!

DSC_0039Minty Pea Soup with Cashew Cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 ½ cups stock

About 2 cups of freshly shelled english peas OR 1 bag of frozen peas

Handful of fresh mint

Pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup cashew crème

DSC_0048In a saucepan, heat oil over a medium flame and add onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent, but not browning. Add stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add peas, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper. Stir in mint and cook for another minute or so. Turn off flame and leave on stovetop. In a high speed blender, puree ½ cup raw cashews and ½ cup filtered water on high until it resembles a thick heavy cream (you only need half of the cream, but your blender won’t be happy with less. Translation: it will probably smoke and smell like burning rubber). Save the other half of the cream for a topping on fresh fruit or stirred into granola or other soup dishes). Pour some of the cream into a bowl, leaving about half in the blender. Now add your pea soup, and briefly puree until smooth. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of cashew cream. Makes enough for 2-4 unicorns who still can’t figure out their voicemail passwords. DSC_0053

the unhealthy vegan? / smoky cream of fennel soup

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DSC_0239There are a lot of unhealthy vegans out there. Wait, what? you ask in bewilderment. I thought vegans were plant eating hippie health nuts who eat bark and berries? Well, yeah, in the good ol’ days, but as veganism has become more mainstream, so has the food industry’s development of meat and dairy replacements. According to a recent study, there are over 7 million vegetarians in the US, and of that group, about 1 million are vegan. This means that there are over 7 million people spending their money on plant-based foods, and that number is steadily on the rise. As a result, there’s been a major influx of meat and dairy replacement “convenience” foods, and shopping for vegan and vegetarian food has never been more accessible. Sounds great, right? In theory, yes, and if you’re considering a plant based diet, the transition couldn’t be easier. But the problem is, we plant eaters have become brainwashed by the same marketing propaganda that our meat eating comrades often experience. Grocery stores now market highly processed vegetarian foods, glittering with magical phrases like “all natural meat alternative” (translation: processed soy isolate crap with cane sugar, “natural” i.e. we-don’t-want-to-tell-you flavorings, cornstarch, and maybe some good old MSG (no, not Madison Square Garden…Monosodium Glutamate, otherwise known as the devil’s (sugar’s) right hand man.)

But are these foods really better than the animal products they’re replacing? From an ethical standpoint, yes, but from a nutritional standpoint…I don’t think so. A vegan or vegetarian that consumes a diet high in processed soy meat alternatives and other convenience foods made from refined flours and sugars is in danger of becoming just as unhealthy as someone who follows a standard American diet. The bottom line is, processed foods, whether vegetarian or not, are high in sodium and sugars and low in nutrient density. Over time, eating nutrient poor foods can lead to deficiencies and chronic degenerative diseases. Solution? Eat a mostly WHOLE foods plant-based diet, rich in sprouted whole grains, legumes, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Don’t just go veg for ethical reasons, go veg for your health!

Now that I’ve ruined your sugar-laden soy latte and fake sausage breakfast, why not try something more WHOLEsome? Sweet tasting fennel, creamy cashews, smoked sea salt and the refreshing zip of licorice come together in this easy, dreamy, creamy fennel soup.

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DSC_0243Smoky Cream of Fennel Soup

1 T cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 bulb of fennel, green fronds and bulb root removed, then chopped

3 large carrots or 5-6 small carrots, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

3 cups stock

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour or up to overnight + 1/2 cup fresh water

1 T unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground with a mortar & pestle

1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (I recommend alder smoked sea salt)

Fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste

IN a soup pot, heat oil over a medium flame and add onion. Sweat for a few minutes until onion begins to soften, then pour in fennel, carrots, and garlic. Stir to combine. Allow to cook for several minutes, then add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce flame to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a high speed blender, add soaked (and rinsed) cashews and water. Blend on high until mixture resembles a thick cream. Pour cashew cream into simmering soup and stir. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. Turn off flame and add vinegar. Pour soup into blender and puree until smooth. Transfer pureed soup back to pot and season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with crushed fennel seed and smoked sea salt. Makes enough soup for 4-6 recovering junk food addict vegan unicorns.

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