Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

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You need this soup.

Are you sitting somewhere looking out a window staring in disbelief at white snow, thinking “what in the world???”. You need this soup.

Are you wondering what lowlife bribed the groundhog to convincingly tell us all a boldface lie about spring? You need this soup.

Are you wondering why the heck people believe a rodent about seasonal change, but refuse to believe science about global warming? Well, then you need to come sit with me…’cause I like you…and we’ll have this soup.

This recipe came from a great vegan food blog called the Lunch Box Bunch. It is so very, very good. Slightly sweet, spicy and rich. A great winter soup that is also vegan and gluten free (yes, really!). And once you have a baked sweet potato, it takes about 10 minutes to make. Easy, delicious, healthy and quick. What’s not to love? Except that snow outside…and that damn groundhog…

You can get the original soup recipe HERE. I changed it up a bit, using coconut milk instead of vegetable broth/soy milk and one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I love those things) instead of chili powder. Also finished with a squeeze of lime and some home baked chipotle lime tortilla strips. Next time, I might try adding curry to get some turmeric in that soup! YUUUUUUMMMMMM. My version is below.

Check out the Lunch Box Bunch blog (and Twitter feed) for more great, healthy, vegan recipes!

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup (2 servings)

1 large, organic sweet potato
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 lime

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove pulp from sweet potato when cool enough to handle.
Combine sweet potato pulp, coconut milk and chili pepper in a sauce pan. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add juice from half the lime and stir.
Heat through, then ladle into serving bowls. Squeeze remaining lime half of lime into serving bowls. Top with crispy tortilla strips, avocado chunks, lime zest or roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

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I have always found cherries disgusting. Cherries and clowns. While I love all fruits, I have always steered clear of anything with cherries in it. A clown eating cherries would probably be my ultimate nightmare. Add a llama into the picture and I’d need definite therapy. Now, my introduction to cherries seemed innocent enough. Someone gave me a cute little red foil box of cherry cordial chocolates for Valentines Day, and I was probably about 10 years old. I ate the entire box of 6 chocolates in one sitting, because at 10 you don’t know better. I won’t go into what occurred next, but let’s just say I have had an aversion to cherries or anything cherry flavored ever since. I’ll save the clown and llama stories for another time.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay to read the positive research for tart cherries and tart cherry juice for joint inflammation. Could I break my 36 year ban on cherries? As an experiment, I bought some dried tart cherries and some 100% red tart cherry juice at Trader Joes and tried them. Really, amazingly delicious. And they live up to their “tart” name! Not the disgustingly sweet cherries of my traumatic childhood experience, these cherries are flavorful and pleasantly tangy. The juice (I take about 4 oz. per day) is astringent like grapefruit juice and, I have to say, it would make a mean cocktail 🙂

Using my dried cherries, I came up with this absolutely delicious oatmeal recipe last week that takes advantage of the fiber and healing properties of steel-cut oats and adds in anti-inflammatory tart cherries and soy as well. The recipe below is for making your oatmeal in a crock pot overnight, but you can make it on the stovetop as well.  So now I have scratched another childhood aversion off the list. Clowns are definitely still there. And llamas. Definitely llamas.

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (not quick cook oats!)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup organic, vanilla flavored soy or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup local honey or organic, unbleached cane sugar
  • 1 cup dried, tart cherries
  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a crock pot. Stir well and cover.
  2. Set your crock pot for the lowest setting (“low” on my crock pot is still too high, so I use the “keep warm” setting and that works perfectly)
  3. Cook overnight or for 7-8 hours (if you know you will be cooking your oatmeal longer, add a bit more liquid).
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Fish with Tomato and Fennel

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Someday, I am going to retire and move to Italy. In my mind, that retirement includes doing yoga on the sunny balcony of an apartment in Cinque Terre, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. And shopping in the weekly market to buy fresh cheese and produce and local olives, capers, tomatoes and fish. And socializing with the other local old people who gather at the market. That image often helps me get through the most stressful workdays and puts a smile on my face in the most tiresome meetings. It’s my mental happy place.

I found this recipe today in the New York Times and it may become the tangible representation of my idyllic dream. A culinary happy place. With some fresh fish from Locals Seafood, local fennel, local tomatoes we froze whole over the summer and some organic olives and capers, I think this will be a winner. When we canned and froze tomatoes over the summer, I envisioned being able to coax a bit of summer in the dead of winter and this may do just the trick. For Tom, I will leave off the olives (actually, I will add them to my plate :-)) so we can both be happy. Will post photos of the final product!

Fish with Tomato and Fennel (4 servings)

  • 4 fish fillets (I’m using NC striped bass)
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup unpitted olives
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian, flat leaf parsley
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook without browning until it is soft (about 15 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the thyme and garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir well.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, olives and capers to the pan. Raise the heat a bit and cook until the mixture is thick, but not dry (about 15 minutes depending on how much liquid your tomatoes hold). Reserve and keep warm.
  4. Cook fish to your preference (I will pan sear these babies).
  5. Plate the fish and top with the tomato and fennel sauce. Garnish with parsley.
  6. Pour yourself a glass of wine, inhale the delicious aroma and dream…
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