CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS

It’s Winter.  There’s that bleakness in the air of people desperately craving Spring.  Although, we're closer to sunnier days than we were a couple weeks ago, we're still (unfortunately) in the thick of it.  Temperatures are unstable, snow storms & "frozen rain" have both been in the forecast this last week.  We’re all seeking a bit of comfort, in whatever way we can get it.  

I'm still calling it the beginning of the year even though it's practically (already) March.  Although it's passing quickly, the year so far has been an unprecedented one, in so...so many ways.  Not just “the world” / politically, but I’m personally feeling that “off-ness”.   When it’s time for change - transition - and it feels a little like growing pains.  Not really sure yet where to go with it all, so until then, I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and making soup.

CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free) Serves 4-6

This soup is simple, delicious and the perfect warming bowl for these Winter months.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but in reality mostly requires a little chopping and adding things to the same saucepan.  If you don’t have fresh turmeric (or ginger) root, add about a teaspoons or so of the ground versions, taste it and decide whether you want more.  For the lemongrass, use the back of your knife to “bruise” the lemongrass - this helps bring out its flavor (don’t forget to remove before ou blend!).  Also, this would still be great without lemongrass, so feel free not to follow the recipe exactly ;)

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, divided
  • 2 medium carrots, medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped
  • 2 in. piece of ginger root, minced
  • 4 in. piece of lemongrass, bruised then halved
  • 1.5 in. piece of turmeric root, diced
  • 6 cups of cubed kabocha (or about 1/2 a medium squash)
  • 1 (15oz.) can of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • About 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • Greens, to serve

In a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium high heat.  After a minute, swirl oil around in the pan to coat the bottom, then add carrots, celery, scallions, stirring often for about 5-7 minutes or until they begin to cook down and scallions have softened.  

Then, add ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and kabocha, cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, then add coconut milk, water, miso and salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until squash is softened (very easily pricked with a fork).  Taste the broth, it should taste flavorful (if it doesn’t, let it go another 5-10 minutes).  *Don’t forget to fish out your two pieces of lemongrass, if you choose to blend.  Then, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth, or add to a vitamix to whirl up.  Add the juice of one lemon, and stir to combine.

For crispy lentils:  Add 3 tablespoons or so (enough to coat your pan well) coconut oil to a skillet over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot (hover your hand over the skillet to test), add cooked lentils in an even layer. (You might need to do batches for these, depending on your pan size, don’t overcrowd!)  Let them cook, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.  Add more oil if necessary, they should be “sizzling” in the oil to get them real crispy.  They will take about 2-3 minutes to get crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove and set over a paper towel-lined plate.  

To serve, top soup with freshly ground pepper, a handful of greens or herbs (cilantro or parsley would be great, I used baby arugula), and a small handful of crispy lentils per bowl.  It serves 4-6, depending on what you consider to be a “bowl” or if you’d like this as a meal, or starter.  Store the soup in a jar (beware, it will stain plastic) or tupperware, for up to a week (it hopefully won’t last that long).  The soup will thicken once refrigerated, feel free to use a few teaspoons of water when reheating, or keep it nice and thick.

CREAMY PUMPKIN OAT BRAN

Oat bran may sound like the healthy and responsible choice in the morning, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious!  It’s all about the add-ins and in the fall & winter months, the options are really endless.  I love my oatmeal, oat bran, etc. with tons of warm spices and something special like pumpkin puree or apple butter.  It takes an otherwise average breakfast and turns it into something that feels like a treat.  

CREAMY PUMPKIN OAT BRAN PORRIDGE (Gluten-free, Vegan) Serves 2

  • 1 cup hemp or almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup oat bran (gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • freshly grated nutmeg

Add almond/hempmilk, water and sea salt to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then whisk in oat bran very slowly, making sure there are no lumps. 

 Cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes, then remove from heat and cover for 2-3 minutes.

Then, stir in pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil and spices.  Serve immediately with additional coconut oil and spices to top.

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