Special Dish for the Week: Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by the favourite veggies of my recently visiting long-time friend, I delight in the roasted sweetness of tri-colour peppers and the intensified flavours of cauliflower in this Special Dish for the Week:

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

Although I love the taste and texture of roasted and grilled vegetables, I hardly ever prepare them that way, not having a proper grill and not feeling sufficient confident—but energy conscious—to roast them in the oven. In fact, I don’t recall having ever roasted my own peppers—and they are superb, as I was reminded while assembling this soup.

I begin my soup by soaking red lentils over night, preparing chicken bone broth and roasting the vegetables a little in advance.

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

The ingredients include:

  • bone broth (chicken, turkey, or duck) (optional)
  • small bits of meat flaked off the bones used to make broth  (optional)
  • olive oil for roasting the veggies and sautéeing the onions
  • onion, coarsely chopped and sautéed in the olive oil remaining from roasting the veggies
  • garlic, minced
  • red, orange and green peppers, roasted, broiled, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • cauliflower, roasted, broiled and chopped coarsely
  • red lentils, pre-soaked and cooked separately in some of the bone broth
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • red Thai chili pepper (optional) 
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • spinach, coarsely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup - Chunky

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup – Chunky

Though the soup is multi-stepped in its preparation, it is quite fun to make—not to mention incredibly vibrant visually with all the colours!

I manage to resist the temptation to spice up the soup with red Thai chili pepper or a spice like turmeric or cumin, although I may in a future iteration. I may also omit the bone broth in the future, being rather strong, it overpowered the subtler roasted flavours of the veggies.

I try the soup first in its chunky form, before puréeing it with my hand blender to make the soup more creamy. Both versions are delicious. With the addition of several raw garnishes, though, such as broccoli flowerettes, spinach and cilantro, the creamed version is a calmer texture experience.

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup - Pureed

Roasted Pepper and Cauliflower Soup – Pureed

 

Special Dish for the Week: Thai Eggplant Curry

Joined by a long-time Waterloo engineering friend for a few days of play in the Vancouver February sunshine, we gather a few authentic Thai ingredients at Granville Island Public Market, we prepare for this Special Dish for the Week:

Thai Eggplant Curry

Thai Eggplant Curry

Thai Eggplant Curry

We spend a wonderful day of strolling around the lovely if still chilly West End, sprinkled with early cherry blossoms, and perusing the magic of DragonSpace gift shop and Public Market at Granville Island, wandering the mystical lands of fairies and dragons and delighting in vibrant colours of fruit, veggies, and flowers.

With an online mediation awaiting us that evening still, we ferry back home across the Burrard Inlet to prepare this Thai curry for our dinner.

What fun and healthful adventure with a loving friend from afar!

Thai Eggplant Curry Ingredients

Thai Eggplant Curry Ingredients

This Thai curry includes some exotically authentic Thai ingredients*:

  • coconut oil
  • green Thai curry paste
  • coconut milk
  • Thai eggplants*, quartered
  • yam, cubed
  • cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • cilantro roots, finely chopped
  • Kafir lime leaves*
  • Thai basil*
  • Bragg soy sauce
  • Maple syrup
    • cilantro as garnish
The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Engineer/Artist Dinner Companion

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Engineer/Artist Dinner Companion

The preparations go much faster with an assistant peeling and chopping while I rinse and heat up the oils and curry paste. Our dish is ready in record time, made fragrant and delicious with two doses of TLC. We enjoy it with a glass of sweet Apothic Rosé.

Thai Eggplant Curry Dish

Thai Eggplant Curry Dish

Special Dish for the Week: Mushroom and Lentil Soup with Rosemary

I continue my streak of weekly soup, warming the body and the soul in the chill of the winter months, sharing this Special Dish for the Week with several guests throughout the week—ones from as nearby as my next door neighbours who drop by for a short visit, from a little further away but very close to the heart, and from years past but remaining true—as I serve:

Mushroom and Lentil Soup with Rosemary

Mushroom and Lentil Soup with Rosemary

Mushroom and Lentil Soup with Rosemary

I select mushrooms as the main source of nutrients for this soup for their ability to produce and deliver their own vitamin D.

I begin my soup by soaking lentils over night, and preparing chicken bone broth a little in advance.

  • green lentils, pre-soaked and cooked separately with finely shredded wakame
  • carrots, cubed and cooked with lentils
  • broccoli stems, coarsely chopped and cooked with lentils

I use my hand blender to purée the lentil base to add later to the soup as another protein source and to make the soup more creamy.

Mushroom and Lentil Soup Ingredients

Mushroom and Lentil Soup Ingredients

The star herb / spice of this soup is rosemary, where I use its powdered form. Herbs and spices are known to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. The ingredients of the soup include:

  • bone broth (chicken, turkey, or duck)
  • small bits of meat flaked off the bones used to make broth
  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • shiitake mushrooms, chopped finely
  • portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp rosemary powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
Mushroom and Lentil Soup Dish

Mushroom and Lentil Soup Dish

Mixing the puréed the lentil base with the seasoned mushroom bone broth, I serve the soup garnished with finely chopped broccoli flowerettes that join the chopped cilantro, a recent favourite addition for raw nutrients and added texture.

Meal ideas & recipes from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Cauliflower and Lentil Soup with Cardamom

I take a brief break from bone broth in my soup and use coconut oil and lentils for the veggie broth in this Special Dish for the Week:

Cauliflower and Lentil Soup with Cardamom

Cauliflower and Lentil Soup Ingredients

Cauliflower and Lentil Soup Ingredients

The star herb / spice of this soup is cardamom, where I use its powdered form. Cardamom contains phytochemicals that help counterbalance the undesirable effects of hormones on certain cells in the body. The ingredients of the soup include:

  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions, herbs and spices
  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, grated
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • red lentils, pre-soaked
  • carrots, diced
  • broccoli stems, coarsely chopped
  • cauliflower (stems and flowerettes), coarsely chopped
  • finely shredded wakame
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
Cauliflower and Lentil Soup with Cardamom

Cauliflower and Lentil Soup with Cardamom

I use my hand blender to purée some of the soup, and add some whipping cream to make the soup more creamy.

I serve the soup garnished with finely chopped broccoli flowerettes that join the chopped cilantro, a recent favourite addition for raw nutrients and added texture.

Special Dish for the Week: Butternut Squash Tagine Dinner

True to the origin of ideas, I prepare this Special Dish for the Week with its original main ingredient—the tricky to crack but delightful to taste butternut squash—for a Saturday night dinner with a lovely friend, serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat with love, comprised of 3 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Butternut Squash Tagine

Tagine Dinner Menu

Tagine Dinner Menu

Leek and Yam Potato Soup

Leek and Yam Potato Soup

Though the days are slowly growing longer, and the temperatures and rains of the West Coast appear mild, warming the body and the soul with spiced, earthy and colourful dishes adds even more joy into the cold and dark winter season.

I begin this feast for all of the senses by serving a Leek and Yam Potato Soup, garnished with finely chopped broccoli flowerettes that join the chopped cilantro, quickly becoming a favourite addition for raw nutrients and added texture.

The Tagine main course (le plat principal) is accompanied simply yet elegantly by pre-soaked tri-colour quinoa, which enriches the dish with its own distinct slightly nutty flavours..

Butternut Squash Tagine

Butternut Squash Tagine

Having made previous tagines with chickpeas and zucchini, I return to the original recipe for this dish with the squash and “Maggify” it again with the mushrooms:

  • butternut squash, pre-baked in the oven for ease of pealing and cubing
  • shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked with using dried (saving the flavoured water)
  • large can of organic diced tomatoes

I find that the butternut squash adds a delightful combination of bright orange colour, perfectly tender texture, and slightly tangy yet sweet flavour. A lovely mid-winter addition to soups, stews, and of course, tagines. Adding a little more sunshine into the making of this dish, I sip a glass of rosé wine from the south of France, Le Petit Chat Malin (the cunning little cat), as I prepare it.

Butternut Squash Tagine Ingredients

Butternut Squash Tagine Ingredients

The spices, however, are the true star of this dish. I use most of the suggested herbs and spices (about 1-2 teaspoons each), adding or exchanging a few:

  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions, herbs and spices
  • onion, finely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, grated
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • coriander powder
  • cinnamon powder
  • small cinnamon stick
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • finely shredded kelp
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • water from soaked shiitake mushrooms
  • honey
  • black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • cilantro, to garnish
Butternut Squash Tagine Dish

Butternut Squash Tagine Dish

We enjoy my culinary creations with a glass of Shiraz red wine gifted for the occasion by my sufficiently impressed dinner companion (who had not yet until now experienced the Special Dish of the Week tradition, ever so lovingly captured in these postings).

Little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed—which in this variation contain both blueberries and chopped pecans as well as a small clove of garlic and a touch of TLC topped with a whole pecan—round out this delicious meal, one that begins with a short guided meditation and interweaves with the timeless of poetry.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book, from Canadian Living, from “The Wahls Protocol” book, and from the Budwig Diet.

Special Dish for the Week: Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad

Another dose of French inspiration is presented to me by a friend during our rendez-vous at a local French café in Vancouver when she hands me to read her new copy of “Lunch in Paris”, which includes a chapter with a recipe from the author’s next book, “Picnic in Provence”, from which I concoct the second of this week’s two Special Dishes for the Week:

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad

As I prepare this dish to marinade in the spice-infused olive oil over night, I can nearly taste how much even more alive and delicious it would be with these ingredients picked up in season at a Provençal market.

But alas, I make do with what I currently have available to me, incorporating organic and local ingredients where possible, adding an extra dose of TLC to fill in for the Provençal freshness.

I do treat this dish to authentic herbes de Provence, and serve it with a rosé wine from the south of France, Le Petit Chat Malin (the cunning little cat).

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Ingredients

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Ingredients

The marinade for this warm salad includes:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, infused with a few spices
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • black pepper and sea salt, to taste

The spice-infused olive oil marinade could be made one day before, or simply on the day of marinading the veggies.

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Marinading

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Marinading

I tenderly douse the salad ingredients in the marinade, putting my heart as well as my hands into the heap of veggie morsels, consisting of:

  • large can of organic chickpeas
  • 1 of each yellow and red onions, chopped and sliced to different thicknesses and sizes
  • 1 of each green, orange and red peppers, coarsely chopped
  • cilantro, on the side for garnish

I leave the marinading veggies over night in the fridge, loosely covering the oven glass dish with a baking sheet to let the veggies breathe but not dry out.

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Dish

Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad Dish

The next day, I bring the marinaded veggies to room temperature, and shortly before my lunch guest arrives, I place dish in the oven for about 1 hour at 350F (180C).

I suspect that the cooking time could be decreased when the veggies have marinaded over night, resulting in a more crispy onions and peppers. As it is, the “salad” turns out to be more of a “stew”.

Nonetheless, it is very tasty, and where lacking in crispness, the spiciness gives this warm salad a kick. Garnished with chopped raw cilantro, it is both a taste and visual sensation!

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble

Though it is a rainy and chilly day in Vancouver, the colours and spices of this Provençal dish, enhanced further by the rosé, bring out the sunshine from within the feasting diners.

The dessert of gluten- and dairy-free peanut butter apple crumble—my lunch guest’s creation—rounds out this delicious meal, one that begins with a short guided meditation and ends with a lovely walk through Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood when the rain subsides for the afternoon.

Meal ideas & recipes from “Picnic in Provence” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Leek and Potato Soup with Thyme

I discovered a little while ago how much I enjoy cooked leeks as another sulfur-rich vegetable, and I include them in one of this week’s two Special Dishes for the Week:

Leek and Potato Soup with Thyme

Leek and Yam Potato Soup with Thyme

Leek and Yam Potato Soup with Thyme

I serve this soup on several occasions this week where I am joined by a friendly dining companion. It is another excellent variation of the bone broth soup that is nutrient-rich and ever so flavourful, warming in heat and spices for the cool winter season.

I start by preparing the bone broth, and this week, I use chicken bones. While the bone broth simmers for several hours, I begin preparing the other soup ingredients: slicing, chopping, mincing. In another pot, I begin with sautéeing my leeks and onions in coconut oil, to intensify their flavours. I allow hem to brown little, to add a deeper colour to the soup.

Leek and Yam Potato Soup Ingredients

Leek and Yam Potato Soup Ingredients

I slowly add the remaining ingredients, which include:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 leeks, coarsely chopped
  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • bone broth (chicken, turkey, or duck)
  • garlic, minced
  • yam (or sweet or white potato), cubed
  • small bits of meat flaked off the bones used to make broth
  • broccoli stems, coarsely chopped
  • wakame seaweed flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp thyme powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • whipping cream
  • broccoli flowerettes, finely chopped and added raw as garnish
  • cilantro as garnish
Leek and Yam Potato Soup with Broccoli and Cilantro Garnish

Leek and Yam Potato Soup with Broccoli and Cilantro Garnish

This time, I decide to try something a little different with the broccoli and include its finely chopped flowerettes as garnish along with chopped cilantro, thus maintaining the raw nutrients of these greens. To my delight, this twist works well, especially once the cool and textured garnishing broccoli mixes into the warm soup, resulting in broccoli al dante.

Leek and Yam Potato Soup Dish

Leek and Yam Potato Soup Dish

Meal ideas & recipes from Canadian Living and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.