vegetarian

Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

fall is here!

Hi friends! I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus — it’s been crazy busy summer of work and travel, but now that Fall is in full swing, life is finally slowing down. The transition from summer to fall is always bittersweet and seems to be happening very rapidly this year. The hot summer days full of simple salads and cold summer treats are being replaced with warming soups, stews and heartier meals. We can finally turn our stoves and ovens back on!

With this transition, I bring you a recipe for this Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. It’s comforting and filling without being too heavy. There’s nothing like scents of onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms and thyme cooked in butter to get you in the cozy, fall spirit!

A soup great for digestion + boosting mood

Need some digestive support? Soups are a great option because they are generally easier to digest.

Remember the Avgolemono recipe I sent out a while ago? It was a delightfully creamy, lemony soup thickened with eggs. I used that same technique to thicken this soup to avoid using cream or coconut milk, which are often hard for people to digest.

This soup is also loaded with ginger and lemon, making it perfect for days where you’re digestion is feeling off. Keep reading to learn why wild rice is so much easier to digest than other grains!

This time of year (especially in Portland) the winter blues can start to set in as days get cloudier and cooler. This soup is loaded with brain and mood boosting nutrients to prevent those winter blues. Egg yolks are a great source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Mushrooms are another plant-based source of vitamin D because they absorb sunlight as they grow.

Other favorite warming recipes for fall:

Chana Masala
Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlickly Yogurt Sauce
Ginger Coconut Brown Rice + Banh Mi Bowl
Spice Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

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What is wild rice?

Did you know wild rice is actually a type of grass? It’s called ‘rice’ because of it’s similar appearance and cooking method to other grains. This makes wild rice a great option for people who struggle to digest grains or are grain-free. It also has twice the protein as regular brown rice and is packed with fiber.

How to make a soup creamy without cream

Most of the time, recipes call for coconut milk as a dairy-free substitution for cream. I do this a lot, but sometimes the strong coconut milk flavor and sweetness aren’t what you’re going for! That’s where eggs come in…

When you whisk eggs together while slowly pouring in a hot broth, the eggs get gently cooked into a creamy liquid. Stir that back into your soup and you’ve got yourself a velvety, rich broth!

Try my recipe for Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)!

How to make Wild Rice Mushroom Soup

Simply sauté the aromatics in butter to release their flavor. Then add in the mushrooms, wild rice, thyme and bay leaf and stir it all together. Then add water and broth and let it simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked!

To make the soup thicker and velvety, you’ll whisk together 1 egg and 1 egg yolk in a small bowl. Remove some of the hot liquid using a measuring cup and slowly pour it back into the eggs, whisking constantly. This way the hot water will slowly cook and emulsify into the eggs. Stir that back into the soup and watch the magical creaminess happen!

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Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced
3-inch piece of ginger, grated (about 2 tbsp)
1 tsp salt
1 cup wild rice
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
2 large sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth (or use 4 cups water)
2 cups water
2 eggs (1 whole egg + 1 yolk)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups packed chopped kale

Instructions:
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger and salt. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add the wild rice, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf (if using). Stir to mix everything together.

Add the broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 30-45 minutes, or until the wild rice has burst open and is still slightly chewy. Remove from heat and stir in the kale to wilt.

In a small bowl, whisk together one whole egg, one egg yolk and the lemon juice until smooth. Remove one cup of the broth from the soup and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture in a slow steady stream. Slowly stir the mixture back into the soup. Add more salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve warm garnished with olive oil, flaky sea salt and black pepper.

*See tips and tricks section below!

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Tip and tricks for the perfect Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

  1. The amount of salt needed with depend greatly on the vegetable broth that you use, so add more salt if it is low sodium! Salt (and acid) is the KEY to tastier food at home.

  2. When whisking the hot broth into the eggs, make sure to pour it in a slow stream while you vigorously whisk it into the eggs. We don’t want scrambled eggs!

  3. Don’t have wild rice? Try using brown rice, but reduce the cook time to 25-30 minutes.

  4. Wild rice can take longer or shorter depending on what brand you buy. Just look for some of the grains to burst open. They should be a little chewy, but not crunchy!

  5. If the rice is taking longer and the soup is losing more liquid than you’d like, just add in some more water.

  6. Don’t have vegetable broth? Skip it and use 6 cups of water instead!

Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

This Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew is loaded with some of my favorite cozy spices to use this time of year. The coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika combo will warm you up from the inside out! The bites of sweet dates and salty olives combined with the spicy broth is to die for! BONUS — it’s loaded with immune-boosting foods to keep those nasty winter bugs at bay.

Lentils and chickpeas are my favorite legumes to use as plant-based options for dinners and lunches. While I love eating local, grass-fed, pasture-raised, etc… meats a few times a week, I try to make the majority of my meals plant-based for simplicity, affordability, and variety. The moment I tested out this chickpea stew, I knew it was going to be a weekly staple.

It’s super easy to throw together — simply sauté some onions and garlic, add your spices and chickpeas, mash them up a little to thicken the stew, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until done, voila!

I make a ton of stews this time of year because they keep well in the fridge or can be frozen for an easy meal. Make a double batch and freeze half, you won’t regret it!

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Whats the difference between a soup and a stew?

Soups have much more liquid, whereas stews are meats, legumes, and/or veggies that are simmered with enough broth to cover/cook until everything is tender and the broth is reduced and turned ‘saucy’. Yum!

How do you make a vegetarian stew?

Swap the beef, poultry or pork with some good old reliable legumes! Sauté your aromatics and spices/flavors, add the protein and liquid and simmer until everything is tender and liquid has reduced.

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Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 heaping cup)
2 cups water
1 cup packed chopped kale
½ cup chopped pitted green olives
¼ cup chopped dates (or dried apricots or golden raisins)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Chopped toasted almonds, for garnish

Instructions:
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and red chili flakes (if using) and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, to toast the spices.

Stir in the chickpeas, then use a fork to mash about ⅓ of them up. Stir in the sweet potato and water and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the greens, olives, and dates and simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve with rice or quinoa and garnish with cilantro and almonds. This is also delicious with a dollop of plain yogurt!

Tips and Tricks for the perfect Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

  1. Make sure to mash 1/3 - 1/2 of the chickpea to help release their starches and thicken the stew (thanks Alison Roman for the tip!).

  2. Some canned chickpeas are way creamier while others can be a bit mealy and dry. You definitely want CREAMY to thicken up the stew. I love the 365 brand from Whole Foods. If you cook your chickpeas at home (this yields the best chickpeas by far), then use 4 cups cooked chickpeas!

  3. Toasting the spices enhances their flavor, so don’t skip that step! But be careful not to burn them — stir it constantly and make sure there is still some oil in the pot. If not, add a glug.

  4. You still want the final product to have some liquid/sauce but not so much that it’s like a soup. Keep reducing the liquid (or add some) until it seems right.

  5. Make sure you taste and add salt/spices/maybe some lemon juice until you like it!

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

This is my go-to quick and easy meal for when I get home and have nothing planned for dinner. It only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your fridge and pantry. It also freezes really well — I usually freeze half for easy future meals!

The ingredients couldn’t be simpler or more affordable!

  • Spiced Lentils and Rice: oil, onion, salt, spices, brown rice and lentils

  • Garlicky Yogurt Sauce: plain yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper

  • Fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)

  • Fried Egg (optional)

This meal may seem basic, and it is, but it’s also jam-packed with flavor and loaded with nutrition. The warming spices are toasted in oil and infuse the rice and lentils with tons of flavor and the browned onions add a little touch of sweetness. Don’t skip the the tangy, garlicky yogurt sauce — it makes the dish. SO GOOD!

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What are the health benefits of lentils?

Lentils are a nutrition powerhouse! They are loaded with protein, zinc, iron, and fiber just to name a few. The list seriously goes on and on. By far my favorite legume!

How do you make a yogurt sauce?

There isn’t a simpler sauce than a yogurt sauce. All you need is yogurt, water, salt and pepper for the most basic version. I like adding lemon juice and garlic for a more punchy flavor!

Does it matter what kind of lentils I use?

You you should use green lentils or black (beluga) would also work I think. Don’t use red lentils as they break down too much and are better for soups.

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Spice Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 tbsp avocado oil, divided
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 ½ tsp salt, divided
2 tsp coriander
1 ½ tsp allspice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 cup brown rice
4 cups water

Garlicky yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 tbsp water, or more to thin it out
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
¾ tsp salt
Black pepper

Garnish (optional): fresh cilantro, paprika, fried egg

Instructions:
In a large pot, warm 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over high heat for 4 minutes, or until they start to turn light golden brown (see picture above).

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and spices and stir constantly to toast them, about 15 seconds.

Add the brown rice and lentils and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to coat them in all of the spices and oil.

Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 40 minutes, stirring halfway. If there is still water left in the pot, remove the lid and turn to heat up to boil it off.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce by mixing together all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. You may need to add more water to thin it out depending on the thickness of the yogurt you used.

Serve the lentils generously slathered in the yogurt sauce and topped with cilantro, paprika, and/or a fried egg, if desired.

Tips and tricks for the perfect spiced lentils and rice

  1. Cooking times can vary due to different factors: type of stovetop, brand of brown rice…so make sure to taste the rice to make sure its done. If there is still water in the pot and the rice is done, remove the lid and boil it off. If it needs more time to cook, just add more hot water.

  2. The lentils cook faster than the rice so they will be done sooner, but that’s fine, trust me!

  3. The lentils might rise to the top while cooking, that’s why its good to give it a stir halfway through so that the rice can cook evenly.

  4. This will stay good in the fridge for 5-7 days. It also freezes really well — just pop it in the microwave until thawed and quickly whip up some yogurt sauce!

Chana Masala

Chana Masala

Now that fall is here all I want to do is eat soups, stews and roasted everything! This Chana Masala is a tomato-based chickpea stew that is full of warming spices and flavors. I love this recipe because it uses super simple, budget-friendly ingredients, and is a delicious, comforting plant-based dinner option that also freezes really well!

This recipe is very dear to me because I got it from one of my best friends mom who used to feed me A LOT of Indian food back in high school. I’ve never had anything quite as good since!

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How do you make chana masala?

First you pulse the jalapeño, garlic, ginger and onion so that everything is very finely chopped. Then you toast the spices in shimmering oil, which blooms them and makes it super fragrant. Next you add the onion mixture to the pot and let them caramelize a bit. Then you add the pureed tomatoes and cook that for a bit so that it thickens. Finally, you add the chickpeas and remaining spices along with spinach (if using) and then stir in the cilantro. Easy peasy!!

What is chana masala curry?

It is an Indian curry made with ginger, garlic, green chiles, onion, tomatoes, a warming spice blend, and chickpeas. It’s very simple yet super satisfying!

You’ll need a few spices for the delicious spice blend, but if you don’t have them they are totally worth investing in. Here is what you’ll need: cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and paprika.

Is chana masala good for you?

Yes!! It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger. Since it’s a tomato-based stew, it’s high in vitamin C and carotenoids that are also great for reducing inflammation. The chickpeas add a healthy dose of fiber and protein. Add some spinach for an extra boost of calcium and iron!

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Chana Masala

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked brown basmati or short grain rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 jalapeno, deseeded
4-5 cloves garlic
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or diced, but you will have to puree them)
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups packed spinach (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions:
In a food processor, pulse the jalapeño, garlic, and ginger until everything is finely chopped. Add the onion and pulse again a few times until finely chopped. This step really helps to finely chop and release the juices for maximum flavor.

In a large pot, add the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the spices and let them toast in the oil for about 1 minute, stirring often.

Add the onion mixture and salt and cook for 5 minutes to let the onions cook down and caramelize and spices continue to release their flavor (this is key for a deep, rich flavor).

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 more minutes to thicken. Stir in the chickpeas, garam masala and paprika and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the spinach (if using) and cilantro and let the spinach wilt (if using). Remove from heat.

Serve on top of a bed of basmati or short grain brown rice. Enjoy!!

Tips and tricks for the perfect Chana Masala

  1. Make sure not to skimp on the oil. It allows the spices and flavors to bloom and gives the stew a rich, satisfying mouth feel.

  2. Don’t skip any steps! Caramelizing the onions, toasting the spices and simmering the tomatoes are all KEY to a delicious chana masala.

  3. You could try hand chopping everything if you don’t have a food processor. I haven’t tried it this way but am sure it will still be delicious. However, pulsing them released the juices from the garlic, ginger, etc… and leads to a better smooth texture in the stew.

  4. This will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and freezes for several months!

  5. I always have some little bags of cooked grains (brown rice, farro, barley…) in my freezer so meals like these come together super quickly! Simply microwave the grains until warm or let them sit in the fridge overnight to thaw.

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

This recipe is inspired by my grandmother who would always make her famous German potato salad whenever we came to visit her farm in the summers. It's not your average mayo-heavy potato salad. Instead, I use a simple mustard vinaigrette which gets soaked up by the potatoes making them super flavorful. The cucumbers add a nice refreshing crunch to balance the starchy potatoes. This salad will be your new go-to side dish for parties and barbecues!

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What kind of potatoes are best for potato salad?

You want to use potatoes that are waxy and less starchy, such as new potatoes, red potatoes and fingerling potatoes. These potatoes will hold their shape much better than their starchy family members!

How do you make homemade potato salad?

Homemade potato salad is so much tastier and more nutritious than your average store-bought version. All you have to do is boil potatoes, let them cool enough to handle, then slice them thinly. Add to a bowl and toss with a vinaigrette to soak up the flavors. Add in any mix-ins like cucumber, celery, radish, nuts, herbs, etc... Toss with more dressing and serve!

Are potatoes bad for you?

A lot of people think potatoes are empty carbs and provide little nutrition value. You might be surprised to know that potatoes are rich in vitamins C and B6 as well as micronutrients like magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. 

German Potato Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs new potatoes (or red or fingerling)
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp minced shallot (or sub 2 cloves garlic)
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:
In a large pot, add the potatoes, enough water to cover them by 2 inches and a generous douse of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife (this will depend on the size of your potato). Drain and rinse the potatoes quickly with cold water so they are still hot but cool enough to handle. 

While the potatoes cook, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, shallot and salt in a small bowl.

Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle but are still warm, slice them into thin rounds and add to a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the warm potatoes and gently toss to coat. Let them soak up the dressing for 10 minutes. 

Add in the cucumber, walnuts, dill and remaining dressing. Toss everything together to coat. Taste an add more salt or vinegar if needed. 

Tip and tricks for the perfect potato salad

  1. Do your best not to over or undercook the potatoes. You want a knife to be able to slide in with a tiny bit of resistance. It's not the end of the world if you overcook, it will just be a little bit softer and might not hold together as easily, but still delicious!
  2. It's essential that you add half of the dressing to the sliced potatoes when they are still warm. Letting them soak up the liquid really boosts the flavor.
  3. Always start cooking potatoes in cold water for even cooking results.
  4. The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  5. If making it a day ahead, make sure to taste the salad before serving. Often it will need a splash of vinegar and some salt to wake it up!