Fennel and Leek Soup

Fennel and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

This is great for a warm day is soothing on the belly. It’s light and cooling, with a nice touch of sweet, pungent and bitter qualities. Fresh herbs would work perfectly – for the flavor I wanted I only had dry herbs on hand. Also, if you enjoy the flavor of fennel, I suggest adding ½ teaspoon or more of crushed fennel to stock.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb with stalks, coarsely chopped, stalk ends and fronds set aside
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped and divided
  • 1 small red potato, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp dried fennel, crushed
  • 3 pinches dried summer savory
  • 3 small pinches dried rosemary
  • ½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped, and more for garnish
  • ½ raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté leeks they start to soften. Meanwhile, in another pot, heat stock, water, fennel ends and fronds, 1/3 of celery and chopped parsley on medium heat.

To leeks, add fennel, fennel stalks and remaining celery. Cook until fennel starts to soften, approximately 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Add potato and a generous pinch of salt. Stir then add all the contents from the pot with the stock. Add the summer savory and rosemary and bring to a boil. Once it boils, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, lightly toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet for 1 or two minutes. Immediately remove and pulverize in a food processor. Add a ladle of liquid from the soup to saturate the pumpkin seeds and set aside.

Remove large pot from heat and add the pumpkin seed mixture. Blend soup well with an immersion blend or transfer to a blender. Add Aleppo pepper if using and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6-8.

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

For this soup I used lots of summer/early autumn vegetables. Substituting the zucchini and corn with butternut squash and turnips and using canned tomatoes in lieu of tasty summer tomatoes would be an easy transition for a warming late autumn or winter soup. This soup is well balanced with flavor and texture and is quite fulfilling in the belly.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 ¼ cup corn kernels (2 cobs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, and more for garnish

In a large pot, sauté onions, carrots and peppers until onions become slightly translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute. Add Mexican oregano and tomatoes, cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the potatoes, stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes and stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, and possibly more smoked paprika. Stir in cilantro before serving and garnish individual portions as desired. Although not listed as an ingredient, a splash of lime adds a nice brightness.

Serves 6-8.

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Mains & Sides Recipe

Okra is sweet, cooking and astringent, making it a good balancer for the three doshas. It also said to be full of nutrients and have many health benefits. It’s generally in season July through September, although in California okra season extends through November. The cooked onion and red bell pepper are natural flavor matchmakers with the okra, although the red bell and paprika should be used in moderation for high pitta. Another option: try green bell pepper for a milder flavor or a yellow bell pepper for more sweetness. I made this as a side dish for my husband’s fine Southern cooking, but it can be paired with Indian, Moroccan, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisines. Simply adjust the spices and oils as desired.

  • 1 Tbs sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 lb okra, washed and dried; tips and ends cut off, cut into ¼-inch circles
  • ½ large red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp salt

Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add onion, bell pepper and salt. Sauté until onions become slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Add okra, cover and simmer until okra becomes tender, approximately 15 minutes. Stir mixture often to avoid burning.

Serves 4-6.

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Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary

Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary

Mains & Sides Recipe

Great for a windy and rainy day, this comforting soup warms the body. Seasoned with harissa, a blend of pepper, caraway, coriander and cumin, enhance the flavor of the soup, while the pistachios and rosemary add a little texture and color.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tsp harissa paste*
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs rosemary, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pistachios

Lightly sauté carrots in 1 Tbs of olive oil. Add water and stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add butter and harissa and blend well using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt to taste. Return to low heat until ready to serve. In a separate pan, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Sauté rosemary until it sizzles, then add pistachios and cook until they just start to lightly brown. Remove from heat.  Top soup with pistachios and rosemary.

*Harissa Paste

You can buy harissa paste already made or make it yourself with red peppers or dried chiles. I use a dry (mild heat) blend that’s made with guajillo peppers, caraway, coriander, sweet and smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. If using a dry blend, whisk together 3 Tbs of the spice with 3 Tbs of olive oil, 1-2 minced garlic cloves and the juice of one lemon. Let sit for an hour before using and store in an airtight container. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Serves 6-8.

Transitioning into Fall

Transitioning into Fall

Daily Practice Inspiration

In order to be in balance and to stay grounded with what is around us, we need to seek or find grounding and balance within ourselves…the best we can. Create a ritual for yourself – maybe something as simple as a 10-minute mediation to steady the mind. Or, start your morning with some gentle sun salutations and balancing postures to invigorate you and prepare you for your day. Finish the practice with a forward fold and a cozy Savansana.

Zucchini and Leek Soup

Zucchini and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

One of my clients recently made me zucchini soup, and I had never ate it before. Expecting it to have a thin consistency with little taste, it was slightly creamy and surprisingly delicious. Her secret to texture and taste – leeks. Knowing that cooked zucchini is easy to digest and is good when your having gut issues (which I was) I decided to try making a similar soup myself. Not bad, not bad…

  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 7 large zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into 1-inch thick half moons
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Allepo pepper or ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add zucchini, stock, salt, pepper and Allepo (or crushed red) pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low-medium, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat, and butter or additional olive oil and blend using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt, pepper and Allepo pepper to desired taste.

Serves 6-8.

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Mains & Sides Recipe

This Sicilian-inspired pesto is perfect for summer. It uses raw tomatoes and a fresh mixture of herbs. The sauce is traditionally made with all basil, but this combination of herbs provides a burst of flavor. And, it’s simple to make. When cooking for two, I half the pasta and seal and store the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for the next day. If not having pasta, it works great as leftovers with quinoa or a white fish.

  • ¼ cup blanched or raw almonds
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom
  • 2 cups roughly chopped herbs*, 1/3 cup each of mint, parsley & basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated fresh
  • 1 lb pasta, farfalle, strozzapreti or similar

Toast the almonds and put aside to cool.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt then add pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, combine almonds, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt and pulse gently until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil in at a slow, steady stream while pulsing so the mixture begins to emulsify. Continue pulsing until all oil is combined and the sauce start to form a smooth paste. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer to stop pulsing while the pesto retains some color of the tomatoes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then fold in the Pecorino Romano.

Add the pasta to the sauce or put the cooked, drained pasta into another large bowl and add desired amount of pesto. Toss pasta and sauce until all of the pasta is coated, adding up to a ¼ cup of pasta water if needed to break up the sauce. Place in serving bowls and garnish with herbs.

Serves 4-6.