Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Souper Summer Dinners

Soup? In the summer? You bet! Soups don't have to be heavy and hot. If you've had enough salads to last you the next few months, here are a couple of recipes for yummy and simple summertime soups to create from your garden and farmer's market bounty. Both are vegan (if you use veggie broth and skip the worcestershire) and ultra-healthy.

Creamy Ginger-Carrot Soup

  1. 2 14-oz cans of broth
  2. 1 can water
  3. 1 lb carrots
  4. 1/2 chopped fresh ginger

Cut carrots to 2-3 inch sections. Bring broth and water to a boil in a saucepan and add carrots. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook covered until carrots are tender, adding water as needed to cover carrots. When carrots are cooked, empty pan--liquid, carrots, and all--into a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pan and serve at room temperature.

Here's what mine looked like. I served it with a substantial bread (like ciabatta or focaccia) and a cheese plate. It comfortably serves 4-5 adults. This recipe would work with any starchy vegetable.

Gazpacho is healthy, cheap, and requires no cooking whatsoever, so why aren't we eating it every day? I had trouble finding a viable recipe and therefore ended up coming up with my own variation. My preschoolers loved it and called it ketchup-o.


  1. 4 large tomatoes, chopped, peeled, and seeded
  2. 1/2 onion, so finely chopped it's almost pulverized
  3. 1 cucumber, chopped and peeled
  4. 1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped and seeded
  5. 2 stalks celery, chopped
  6. 1 shallot, finely chopped
  7. 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  8. 1 Tbsp chives
  9. 1 Tbsp parsley
  10. 2 tsp sugar
  11. 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  12. 1/8 cup olive oil
  13. 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  14. 4 cups vegetable juice (like V8)
  15. Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Combine all in large bowl. Blend half in blender on pulse setting until just blended--don't completely paste-ify it. Add back to bowl and mix well. Blend more if the consistency isn't right; otherwise, chill and serve. This tastes better as it ages!

I sprinkled a little cotija cheese on top and served with french bread. This was a huge hit with my husband and kids, who are usually unrepentant carnivores. It's easily enough for 6 enthusiastic eaters, even 7 or 8.

Check back in a few days for more on my family's ever greener lifestyle and more veggie-full recipes!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Emmie's Back!

I hope my kind readers will forgive my long absence--2 months? can it be? Between pregnancy fatigue and an endless parade of houseguests, sitting down to the computer moved down the priority list to somewhere between having the cat shaved and vacuuming between the couch cushions. My commitment to a greener lifestyle has luckily remained stronger than my motivation to chronicle it. Here are a few observations I've made during my yet short foray into the organic life:

1. Organic, local, and/or healthy food does not necessarily cost more. Why not? I am no expert in agriculture, but I'd guess that transporting those peaches from Chile ain't cheap, at least not as cheap as transporting cherries from the next town over. Plus, I know that the cherries meet US health codes, which we cannot guarantee when dealing with other countries. I'll take my fruit without that side of melamine, thanks.

2. Kids *will* eat that stuff. I know because I have a few. Mine seem to be slowly losing their taste for additives and food-like chemicals, although they still have occasional Cheeto cravings. The munchkins will try anything with enough encouragement, so we have tried about a million different kinds of granola and trail mix with varying results. Being actively involved in the growing and/or purchasing of snacks is a big advantage, so bring them along when you go to the farmer's market and health food store.

3. Once you are used to eating real food, everything else tastes like, well, crap. I spent two days in the hospital following my daughter's birth and found most of the food an unrecognizable chemical and starch cocktail. Granted, institutional food is not meant to be a gourmet experience, but I think they were trying for edible. No such luck. Several guests brought me fast food, which I had trouble convincing myself to eat as well. I was happy to come home just to have a real meal.

So far the most difficult products to find locally and affordably are meat and dairy, but I'm working on it. Darigold is technically local despite being a large regional brand, so I favor them at the grocery store when organic is just too expensive. Meanwhile, I've been incorporating more vegan and vegetarian meals into our diets to keep as local as possible. My latest project is summer soups--recipes will follow early this coming week. Until then, take care of yourselves and enjoy the bounty of summer!