This Tuscan soup is more like a hearty stew than a soup, and it may not look great but it’s so incredibly flavorful and delicious. It only requires a few ingredients and can be made very quickly. In Italy, it’s made year-round with a few modifications; in the summer months when plum tomatoes are aplenty and ripe, they make it with fresh tomatoes. When the tomatoes are not in season, they make it with canned plum tomatoes. If you make it with the canned tomatoes, make sure to buy Italian-made because they will have nothing added (no salt, no preservatives—just tomatoes). And I have never tasted better tomatoes than fresh Italian tomatoes. They are exquisite. I watched about five Italian YouTube videos to see how differently each chef makes this dish, and I made mine based on theirs. There are a few ingredients that you don’t change: lots and lots of fresh basil, vegetable broth, stale crusty bread (I used a white Artisan-style bread), and of course the tomatoes.
1 28-oz can Italian-made (I used Cento) crushed tomatoes (you could use whole)
1 beefsteak tomato (skinned), chopped (I added this because I wanted more chunky tomato)
1 32-oz carton organic vegetable broth (or, you could make your own)
About a half a loaf of stale Artisan-style hard bread, cut into ~2-inch chunks
About 2 cups of fresh basil — I used fresh from my garden
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (you could use leek bulb, instead)
3 carrots, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, whole but smashed (you’ll remove them once the soup is cooked)
EVOO (high quality)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Generously swirl olive oil into soup pot and heat on medium. Add the garlic and stir around for a few minutes in the olive oil. Next, add the carrot, celery, and onion. Stir to mix and let cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, but not brown. Add the canned (and/or fresh chopped) tomatoes, stir well to mix. Tear about a third of the basil into the mixture (never cut or use scissors—always tear it). Mix and let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Add about half of the carton of vegetable broth, stir. Add the bread, mix well and simmer on low. Add some more torn basil leaves, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Simmer and let the bread become really soft and mushy. Remove the garlic cloves. Serve in individual soup bowls, garnish with fresh basil, and (optional) drizzle a little olive oil over top.
1 24-oz bottle of Rega Italian strained tomatoes (Passata Di Pomodoro)
1 26-oz carton of Pomi strained tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried sweet basil
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Add about 2 tbsp olive oil to a heavy skillet and heat over medium. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the fresh basil and parsley, reserving a few leaves of each for garnish. Continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the strained tomatoes (both the Rega and the Pomi). The Pomi strained tomatoes are thicker than the Rega, and no tomato paste needed to be added to this sauce. Simmer on low with the lid tilted on top, stirring frequently. Taste after about 25 or 30 minutes, then taste before adding salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti. When it is al dente, drain and return to pot. Add enough sauce to the pasta to coat all of it lightly. Serve each plate with additional sauce on the side, and garnish with fresh basil and parsley.
Protein-rich millet is not as popular in the U.S. as quinoa, but it ought to be. The millet plant is drought-tolerant, and nutritionally it competes with quinoa. It is gluten-free and non-allergenic, with lots of fiber and other beneficial qualities. To learn more about millet, see: “12 Health Benefits of Millet” at http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-health-benefits-of-millet.html.
I cooked the millet per package directions, then set it aside to cool. Meanwhile, I sautéed some garlic and onion in some EVOO. I added the millet and stirred it well as I sprinkled a generous amount of both turmeric and curry powder to the mixture. I served it with some fresh parsley and basil alongside my baked sockeye salmon. Not one of my vegan dishes, but high in protein and very nutritious. I had leftover millet the next day. It is the perfect main dish for a vegan meal, served with some fresh veggies or fruit on the side (which is what I did with the leftovers).
I know it seems as though I have been making a lot of tomato-based vegetable soups lately. Well, I have. I try varying the ingredients each time, though, and in this recipe I added both curry and turmeric. I started out with less, and at the end I added even more. These two spices give the soup a great flavor.
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow cooking onion, chopped
6 stalks celery with leaves, diced
2 large carrots. diced
1 tomato, chopped
6 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 c dried peas, washed and rinsed
1 c dried lentils, washed and rinsed
4 large green zucchinis, julienned
a large handful of fresh arugula, whole
a handful of fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp curry
1 tbsp turmeric
2 32-oz cartons of organic vegetable broth
2 1/2 c Pace Picante mild salsa
1/4 c Stelline pasta
1/4 c whole-grain elbow pasta
2 c water (filtered)
Heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a soup pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, peas and lentils and stir for about 5 or 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, tomato, basil and parsley mixture, and the curry and turmeric. Stir well and often for the next 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and the salsa. Stir and bring to a boil, add the pastas and reduce heat. Gently boil for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups water, stirring every five minutes or so while simmering for another 20-30 minutes. Add the arugula about five minutes before serving.
Here, I made my Quinoa Tabbouleh recipe, posted on May 13, 2014. The only change I made to that recipe was the addition of 8 oz. of drained and rinsed sliced black olives, and only one bunch of finely diced green onions.
I served it with baby spinach, sliced avocado (what else is new?), and a handful of fresh organic blueberries.
I still have tons of fresh organic blueberries to use, so I made a batch of overnight, quick-cook, organic steel-cut oats. Simply mix 1 1/2 cups oats with 2 tsp. chia seeds, and 2 cups of organic almond milk. Pour into a sealed container, and refrigerate overnight.
I heated a little of it (about a cup) in the microwave this morning, and added a bunch of the blueberries. It was really delicious, and there is enough leftover for several more breakfasts (or snacks). You can add whatever you fancy each morning to this overnight oat mixture. It’s healthy, nutritious, and quite delicious.
I bought a new mandolin slicer a few weeks ago, and it’s been a fantastic tool for my kitchen. But the spiral slicer that I picked up from Bed Bath & Beyond? THAT is the best thing EVER for creating julienne squash, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers and other vegetables. I used it to make the spiral-sliced zucchini (“zoodles”) in this salad, and I sliced the other veggies using the mandolin. It took only minutes to make, and it looks very presentable.
In this salad, I spiraled two zucchinis. I used the mandolin to finely slice half an English cucumber, half a yellow bell pepper, half sweet onion, and then I simply diced a few Roma tomatoes and half an avocado. Last, I added a handful of baby kale.
For the dressing, I mixed equal parts fresh lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper. I drizzled a little over the veggies, and then mixed them gently together. And that was it! Easy.