This is a yummy, quick soup, especially if you have left-over rice in the fridge which we often do. I got it from Ross Dobson’s market vegetarian and he mentions that these sorts of boiled rice soups are often eaten for breakfast in China and other Asian countries. I would love to try that sometime but find mornings are too busy to actually “cook” something. But it does kind of make sense – this soup is warming, comforting, filling, and nutritious. What else do you need to start the day? Or end it? Or mark the middle of it? I guess ultimately it’s the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

1 tbsp veggie oil

2 tsps sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 scallions, finely chopped

2 tsps finely grated ginger

1 small red chile, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 cup long-grain rice

6 cups veggie stock (you need a lot less if you are using left-over, already cooked rice)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 bunch of collard greens, roughly shredded (or other greens of your choice – I used rainbow chard)

1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

white pepper

Put the oils in a saucepan and set over high heat. Add the garlic and scallions and cook until the garlic is turning golden and just starting to burn. This will give the soup a lovely, nutty garlic flavour. Add the ginger, chile, and rice to the pan and stir-fry in the garlic-infused oil for 1 minute. Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil.

Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until the rice is soft and the soup has thickened. Add the greens and cook for 5 minutes, until they turn emerald green and are tender. Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls, sprinkle the cilantro over the top and season to taste with pepper.


This is a white, light, almost refreshing French onion soup in contrast to those we usually encounter that are dark, earthy, and heavy. I enjoy both. This one is great for a light lunch, or a true souper like my grandmother used to have on the farm. Since the kids still adore cheese, I simply floated the toasts on the soup – gruyère toasts for them and plain toast for Andrew and me. Let’s be honest, some people eat French onion soup for the cheese but do they really need a pound and a half dripping off the side of the bowl?

enough for 8

a couple of good glugs of olive oil

6 large onions, sliced

4 bay leaves

a few sprigs of thyme

4 tbsps plain flour

1.5 cups white wine

8 cups veggie stock

8 tbsps white sherry, dry port, madeira or masala

slices of baguette or bread of choice

gruyère, if using

Heat the olive oil in a heavy dutch oven, add the sliced onions, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook over medium heat until soft, almost translucent and and slightly sticky. Once done, add the flour, stir thoroughly, and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine slowly, stirring well, so you get a nice smooth base before adding the stock. Add the stock and stir well. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Add the white sherry and continue to simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Meanwhile, toast the baguette. Set plain baguette slices aside until soup is ready. If using cheese, place sliced gruyère on the toasted baguettes and melt under the broiler. Check soup for seasoning. Add to individual bowls. Float toasts on top of soup and serve immediately.


curried butternut squash soup

November 14, 2010

vgourmet, vegan soup, butternut squash soup, ruth richardson

This looks a lot like my spicy pumpkin fennel soup I know but I’m a firm believer that you can never have enough soup in your life. The question has been posed: “Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests?”

Amen to that. This is an old favourite from years back. I think I originally found it in the Silver Palate Cookbook but I can’t be certain. I have veganized it for your vegan pleasure. Have it on a blustery Fall Sunday for lunch with a warm baguette and a glass of wine. It will feed your soul. And your stomach.  Beware – it’s incredibly filling!

4 tbsps oil

2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped

4-5 tsps curry powder

2 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes

2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes

3 cups veggie stock

1 cup apple cider

salt and pepper to tast

Heat oil in s heavy-bottomed pot. Add yellow onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add curry powder and stir constantly for about 2  minutes. Add butternut squash and apples and saute for a few minutes until warmed through. Add veggie stock. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until squash is cooked. Set aside and let cool slightly. Blend in a food processor until it reaches desired consistency. Return to the pot. Add apple cider and salt and pepper to taste.

vegan pumpkin soup, vegan soup, pumpkin and fennel, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I came across a lovely, big pumpkin the other day in all its autumn glory. It was a Rouge Vif d’Etamps. I just love the name but beyond it’s moniker – also called a Cinderella Pumpkin – it’s a unique French heirloom pumpkin. They say that it is the variety cultivated by the Pilgrims and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. How apropos. They are beautiful, and tasty, a fact to which this soup can attest.

3 lbs pumpkin (or orange winter squash), peeled, seeded and cubed

2 cups fennel, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups veggie broth

1 to 2 cups fresh cider

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

1 apple, cubed

2 tbsps organic cane sugar

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper and saute for another minute or two.

Add pumpkin and sliced fennel. Pour in veggie broth and 1 cup cider. Add bay leaf. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender. Remove and discard bay leaf. Puree in batches; return to saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste. If soup is too thick, thin it with remaining 1 cup of cider as needed.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cube apple. Sprinkle with sugar. Heat a frying pan on the stove on medium high. Saute apples until carmelized and nicely brown. Ladle soup into bowls. And top with carmezlied apples, seeds and/or nuts (I used curried cashews).

latin corn soup

September 6, 2010

What to do with fall’s bounty? My parents came home from their cottage yesterday. On their way they stopped at a farmer’s market and, as is want to happen, they bought way too much stuff because it all looked so fresh and tasty. They came over to say hi and brought a dozen ears of corn to add to the half dozen I had just bought at the farmers’ market in the city that morning! So being up to my ears in ears of corn I decided to make corn soup and corn, peach, and tomato salsa. When trying a new recipe I always make just one batch in case I don’t like it. But when I hit on a successful recipe, like this one, I always wish I had made two or three!

2 cups thinly sliced onions

2 tsps olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 fresh chile, minced

2 tsps ground coriander

1 1/2 tsps dried oregano

1 tsp salt

2 cups veggie stock

1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes

2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 14-oz can coconut milk

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (4 – 5 ears)

2 tbsps lime juice

2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

avocado cubes (optional)

In a soup pot on medium-high heat, cook the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic, chile, coriander, oregano, and salt and stir constantly for a minute. Stir in the veggie stock and radishes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionly, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

When the vegetables are tender, add the the coconut milk, tomatoes, and corn and bring back to a simmer, stirring occasionly. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Top each serving with ripe avocado cubes, if you wish.

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

vegan pea soup, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

Joshua, my very sweet and handsome now 17-year old gave me a small-sized format cookbook for Christmas called 200 Veggie Feasts. Despite the fact that he likes to accuse me of joining a cult, he’s nevertheless supporting my new health regime by giving me very well chosen cookbooks (he also gave me one called Salt that’s beautiful). I’ve tried a few recipes from 200 Veggie Feasts and they are really nice recipes! This one is no exception. Simple. Earthy.  Like a vichyssoise with the freshness of peas and the pepperiness of arugula. Full of flavour and summery goodness. We had it with the mushroom toasts for a light Sunday supper.

3 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, finally chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsps chopped thyme

8 oz potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 1/2 cups fresh peas

4 cups veggie stock

2 1/2 cups arugula leaves, roughly chopped

juice 1 lemon

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the peas, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, add the arugula and lemon juice and process until smooth. Return to the pan, adjust the seasoning, and heat through. Serve immediately, drizzled with a little extra oil.

mushroom soup

June 13, 2010

This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain‘s Les Halles Cookbook. Given the name you can probably guess that there isn’t too much that’s vegan about Anthony Bourdain and his slaughterhouse cookbook. But it is a highly entertaining cookbook given his irreverence, and there are a few gems in there that can easily be vegan-ized. This soup is one of them. Olive oil instead of butter; veggie stock instead of chicken stock; you’re good to go.

I’m going to quote his recipe in full with a few vegan translations. But before I do, one question – why take out the sprig of parsley? I’m a big fan of leaving it in there, along with other herbs like thyme (my favourite – in fact I think it almost makes the soup). Leaving them in there and just blending the whole schmozle together gives you better taste and you get the full medicinal benefit of those mini super-powered greens.

“This is ridiculously easy soup to make. It’s tasty and durable, and it gets even better overnight.

6 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces mushrooms
4 cups veggie stock
1 sprig of flat parsley
salt and pepper
2 ounces high-quality sherry (don’t use the cheap grocery-store variety; it’s salty and unappetizing and will ruin your soup)

In the medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms. Let the mixture sweat for about 8 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn’t take on any brown colour. Stir in the veggie broth and the parsley and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.

After an hour, remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender’s lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom puree to erupt all over your kitchen?

When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately.

And if you really want to ratchet your soup into pretentious (and delicious), drizzle a few tiny drops of truffle oil over the surface just before serving. Why the hell not? Everybody else is doing it.”

asparagus soup

April 17, 2010

Okay, I might be jumping the gun here a bit but I can’t help it. Spring is in the air even though it’s still only mid-April, and things are popping up in the garden. Rhubarb, chives, leafy greens. Asparagus is soon to follow. This recipe is from a really un-vegan cookbook called Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Great cookbook but getting a little dusty on my shelf these days. I’ve modified the recipe several ways and, alas, it’s still awesome. Oil instead of butter. No cream. The author, Simon Hopkinson, peels his asparagus and purees it into a very refined “elixir” as he calls it. I don’t. I love the “country” version with its more robust texture. And “just to know” (my 8 year-olds expression that makes me smile each time he says it), last year I bought pounds of fresh asparagus to make this soup. I made soup until I was sick of it. But it still wasn’t enough. We piled through it in no time, asparagus season ended, and I went into withdrawal. Moral of the story? Make way more than you think you need!

Oh, and one more thing. This is true for any cooking, but with really exposed recipes like this, the better the ingredients, the better the finished product. Don’t cut corners. Use good olive oil. Buy really nice, organic leeks. Make some home-made vegetable stock. You’ll thank yourself.

1/2 cup really good olive oil

4 small leeks, trimmed and chopped

3 cups veggie stock

1 potato, peeled and chopped

salt and pepper

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and peeled

Heat the oil and stew the leeks until soft. Add the stock and potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes. Quickly chop the asparagus, add to the soup. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Blend thoroughly. Check the seasoning. This soup is equally good hot or cold.

Photo credit: Kristina, Lovely Morning

coconut red lentil soup

March 28, 2010

I guess technically this is a soup but we served it last night in wide bowls over a pile of quinoa and it’s as soupy as some of our stews. Or is it as stewy as some of our soups? Whatever its label it’s really good. Complex flavours. Gorgeous colour. The raisins (I used currants) give you a hit of sweetness. This soup, while heavy and warm, gets “uplifted” by the light, refreshing addition of green onions. It’s from a blog I like, 101 cookbooks. This soup will help brighten any cold night with its colour – “the color I see when I close my eyes and turn my face toward the sun” as Heidi notes – and pungent warming taste. Yum.

1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas

1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)

7 cups / 1.6 liters water

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins (I used currants)

1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

one small handful cilantro, chopped

cooked brown rice, farro, or quinoa for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.


March 20, 2010

This is Alice Waters‘ Minestrone Soup from The Art of Simple Cooking which is, indeed, so simple and yet so good. Definitely make a double or triple batch as it keeps well, just gets better with age, and totally hits the spot throughout the week for a quick lunch or totally comforting dinner (with some toasted baguette and tapenade!)  The trick is to cook the soffrito until it is really golden and then the soup sings.

Before I get into the recipe itself, let me just say that there are some incredible dried beans on the market these days. I have found the most incredible varieties, some even locally grown. They are so beautiful it almost seems a shame to cook them. See if you can find them since a) we need to keep heirloom varieties alive, and b) they make cooking that much more pleasurable. As Anne Michaels said in one of her brilliant books, “make beauty a necessity and make necessity beautiful,” or something close to that. You catch the drift. So here’s to the beauty and necessity of a really good bowl of soup. It can heal the world.


1 cup of dry cannellini or other beans, like the calypso beans above, soaked overnight

This will yield 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked beans. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat:

1/4 cup olive oil


1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

Cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Add:

4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

5 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons salt

Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add, and bring to a boil:

3 cups water or vegetable stock

When boiling add:

1 leek, diced

1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

Cook for 5 minutes, then add:

2 medium zucchini, cut into small dice

2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

Cook for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary. Add the cooked beans, along with:

1 cup bean cooking liquid

2 cups of kale or chard, coarsely chopped

Cook for 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more bean cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve in bowls, each one garnished with:

2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp grated parmigiano (which I don’t add but the kids like it!)

photo credit: Rebekah Richardson-Duffy