Leek, Potato & Broccoli Soup {vegan}

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Fancy schmancy green smoothies are fine by me. But I like to kick it old school with my blended vegetables sometimes — with some green soup.

We get our color from broccoli and spinach and then trick it out with non-juice things like potatoes, leeks and garlic and top it all off with maple balsamic caramelized onions and some toasted almond flakes.

These onions are ideal on pretty much anything savory. I recommend adding a pinch of chili flakes to the batch for the perfect sweet and spicy mix. I love these on sandwiches, on roasted vegetable salads and stirred in to soup for extra texture and excitement.

There’s plenty of time for green juice in the future. Today, we soup!

green soup 2

Leek, Potato & Broccoli Soup

  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used macadamia oil)
  • 2 medium-large leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium head broccoli, trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • 3 cups spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot heat oil over a medium high heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the leeks soften. Add a splash of warm water to the pan if the leeks are sticking at all. Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook for another minute, stirring.

Add potato and vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add broccoli and cover the pot reducing to medium-low. Let cook for about 10 minutes until everything cooks through and the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Stir in spinach.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender in batches or use a stick blender to get a smooth consistency. Season.

Serve with maple balsamic caramelized onions (see below) and toasted almond flakes.

Maple Balsamic Caramelized Onions

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 medium red onions – or a mix of yellow and red (whatever you’ve got) thinly sliced into half-moons
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • water
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • pinch of chili (optional)

In a large pan, heat oil over a medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, until very softened and getting golden. Add a little splash of water at any point if the pan gets too dry.

Add balsamic vinegar and allow to bubble down and reduce, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes (again, adding small splashes of water as needed.) Once completely softened, turn off the heat and stir in the maple syrup, another pinch of salt and chili (if you’re into that sort of thing). Stir to combine and set aside until you’re ready to serve.

I love having this on hand in the fridge for a couple of days to add to anything and everything.

Ginger Molasses Cookies + Ice Cream Sandwiches

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These are representative of my annual negotiation with a warm weather Australian Christmas. Most days in December are too hot to bake – but without baking, Love Actually, and Buble’s Christmas crooning – what else is there to get me in the mood?

Malls are stressful, the post office tries one’s patience, and every women’s magazine is telling you to avoid canapés, load up on crudités and choose low-fat turkey breast (no skin!) over ham to avoid that holiday bloat!

My response is simple: butter, molasses and brown sugar. I seek solace and holiday cheer in the kitchen and bake like there’s a freaking blizzard outside.

Boldly spiced and chewy, these are my ultimate festive cookies. They taste like Christmas, even if it doesn’t totally feel like Christmas.

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Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

voraciousvander -eggplant

Oh hey slow cooker, hey.

You’re looking really great over there on the counter, all warm and stuff.

But not too warm that you heat up the whole dang apartment like that gauche oven. No. You’re super classy and independent  You take your time, do your job well and I don’ t even have to supervise you.  You’re like the perfect job candidate.

Sorry.

I was just…ah, having a fake conversation with my slow cooker to provide a weird/funny introduction to a recipe that I cooked in my slow cooker. NBD, guys.

Slow cookers make me think of meaty stews and thick soups, so at first, they don’t really seem to fit in with summer cooking. But they’re actually pretty perfect for summer (and obviously winter, spring, and fall.) No oven, no stove. Just toss a bunch of things in there, leave it alone, and come back to find a whole meal of cooked food!

Great right?

I love our slow cooker, it’s easy to clean and takes everything from pork neck to big summer eggplants to flavor nation.

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Orange Gingerbread Cake

voracious vander - gingerbread

I know the last thing you want to hear me talk about is how I STILL cannot deal with being in the opposite season of what I’m used to.

But it just doesn’t feel right, you guys.

The symbols of the holiday season are all out of place, for starters. There are no snowmen (or women), disposable pine trees or need for a yule log. And Santa’s apparel makes me sweat just looking at it. Get that man some shorts! Or at least some capri pants.

I started to wonder if the usual heady holiday baking spices were appropriate for the summertime?

I feel like the whole point of using lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves is to warm me up when it’s cold and I’m looking for some comfort wrapped in sugar wrapped in cake.

But really, the point of all of these awesome spices is to make it taste unmistakably like holiday time.

So short answer: they’re totally appropriate.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Simple things that will always always brighten my day:

  • This picture of kangaroos hugging
  • A cheap manicure
  • Soul music
  • Unexpected flowers
  • A new book
  • A good margarita
  • Treat yo self. And all things Amy Poehler is involved in
  • Dinnertime with Mr. F
  • Making lists of completely unimportant things

This soup is a brightener too – in color and flavor. It’s hearty and almost a little rich, without actually having anything rich in it. Depth is added to the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes by roasting and the addition of earthy cumin and a little spice from Cayenne pepper balance it all out.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
– 4 medium carrots, washed well and roughly chopped
– olive oil
– 6 whole cloves of garlic (skins on)
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 large yellow or brown onion, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
– 6 cups vegetable stock/ broth
– salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 F/205 C.

Chop the bottom off of 6 cloves of garlic, but keep them in their skins.

Arrange the 6 garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and carrots on well oiled baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft and golden. Remove garlic cloves from their skins.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped onion and a little salt and saute until softened and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute.

Add stock and bring to a boil.

Add roasted carrots, sweet potato and garlic to the stock and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and then carefully blend with a stick blender or in batches in a blender, until smooth.

Serve warm with fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.