My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘soup’

Vermont Mulligatawny 1

Posted on March 25, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve had a cold for a week and all I want is soup.  Spicy soup, especially.  And the other day a can of coconut milk jumped out of the cupboard (probably literally, as you know if you’ve ever seen how I cram things in there) at me, and I had some chicken breast left over from a roast chicken (I always do, since I really don’t like white meat), and before I knew it, mulligatawny was on its way.

You know mulligatawny, right?  It’s the creamy curried soup with chicken and usually rice.  In this case, I had root vegetables about and used those instead; it was a nice change from the other ways we’ve been eating them all winter long.

And the soup was just right for this cold-riddled time of year: creamy, spicy, hearty and great for warming you up from the inside out.  Even our visiting 5-year old neighbor agreed … while E. & Z. were eating frozen Costco pizza and staring at him in a sort of confused surprise.

A couple of cooking notes:

  • I started with cooked leftover chicken, but if yours isn’t cooked, cut it into pieces and brown it well in the first step, removing it before you add the vegetables, and then returning it to the pot to finish cooking in step 4.
  • Go ahead and substitute in other vegetables if you like, but make sure they’re mostly of the mild and savory variety for best flavor.

Vermont Mulligatawny
Serves 3-4

1.  In a big pot, heat until rippling:

  • 3 T. mild oil (I had some palm oil around, which I used for the flavor.  This would also be a good place to use up any ghee or coconut oil you may have.)


  • 2 carrots, cut into small-ish dice
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut into small-ish dice
  • 2 potatoes, cut into small-ish dice
  • 1 onion, cut into small-ish dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • one 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I was out and added 1 T. ground ginger instead)

3.  Stir, then add to it:

  • 1 T. curry powder

Which is what I totally would have done if I had had it.  Fortunately I had a lot of interesting bits of spices and seeds and things around and got out my awesome molcajete and ground it up instead, using approximately:

  • 1 small dried hot pepper
  • 1 t. cumin seeds
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. coriander seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod

4.   Add 2 T. water, then cook the vegetable and curry mix over medium-low heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.

5.  Add to the pot:

  • 2 c. cooked chicken, cut into pieces about the same size as the vegetables
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water if you must)

Stir well, bring to a boil, then add:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk (if you’re calorie-careful you can use the light version of this)

Stir it some more.

6.  Ladle into bowls and serve, with fresh cilantro, or apple slices, or lemon wedges, if you like.  We had none of these and were just fine.

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Children of the Corn 4

Posted on August 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Is it just me?

Wouldn’t you expect that your children and their two friends could stay at the petting zoo and playground for two minutes while you ran to get them a bottle of water since the poor little darlings were thirsty?

And if they had to run wild in the minutes you were gone, surely you’d think they could continue on with the petting zoo animals, or climbing the wooden tractor, or running across the wide, safe, open field.  What child of reading age would cross an acre, pass the “CLOSED” signs, and enter the corn maze?

This place, by the way, is a big old actual maze with paths that swirl around in traditionally confusing and re-doubling ways.  It wasn’t terrifying at 3:00 p.m., but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be there after sundown.   I’ve seen the horror movies and I know what goes on.

Still, you and your younger child yourselves entered the forbidden rows, yelling for the trespassers and were at last reunited, after telling the offending three children that they were in TROUBLE and had ONE MINUTE to find their way to where you were (because if you tell people to do something impossible while YELLING, the laws of physics will change to accommodate your wishes), and then the farmer showed up to yell at them too.

So there we were with glaring adults and big-eyed children.  I was waiting for the finger-pointing and the meltdown and I was ready to dish out some Very Serious Consequences.  But that was when E. said, “Listen.  It’s my fault.  I went in and they came in to get me out.  I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed.”  The farmer looked at me and I think realized they were in much more trouble on the homefront than they were with the farm.  He asked, “So now you know you did something wrong?  And if I had a cable across that row you wouldn’t have gone in?  We want to make sure you’re safe, you know.”

I don’t know what you would have done but for me it was to give the children a hug.  And then we shared our first cider donuts of the season sitting around a picnic table talking about how to decide what’s allowed and what’s safe, about how smart it was to stay together and keep each other okay.

In the end it was one of those golden moments when our children show us the beautiful people they’re becoming, even if there’s plenty of crazy along the way.

And then we went home to make a dinner of our first 2010 local apples, some good Cabot cheddar, and a pile of crackers, since I had no energy left for cooking.  On the way, E. said, “Mommy, you know it’s not really my fault.  They should have signs showing how to get out of that place!  Can you believe there was only one picture of the whole thing?!”


And now that we’ve recovered I want to share with you this pure summer harvest celebration of a recipe that we enjoyed last week after a much less adventurous visit to our CSA farm.  It was Z.’s idea to mix, “corn … and cheese … and broccoli and water … and I’ll stir it all up!”  I’m sure he was thinking something more mudpie-ish, but to me it sounded like chowder, and that’s what we made.

Cheesy Corn Potato Chowder
About 6 servings

1.  Remove the kernels from:

  • 3 ears fresh corn

and set aside.

2.  Heat until rippling in a large sauce pan:

  • 2 T. butter or olive oil

3.  Adjust heat to medium-low, and add:

  • 2 cups diced potatoes, with peels unless you really hate them
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until carrots are softened, and onions are starting to brown gently.

4.  Stir in and mix very well:

  • 1/2 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour (substitute your usual thickener if you’re going for gluten-free)

Then pour in, 1/2 cup at a time, and bring to a simmer while stirring.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water

5.  Stir in and cook at a low simmer just until broccoli turns bright green, about 3 minutes:

  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I use Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar)
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli (or substitute spinach or chopped chard)
  • the reserved corn

Heat through, and serve.

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Saved by Lettuce Soup 5

Posted on June 16, 2010 by crankycheryl

Oh, for crying out loud.

Here I am the day before CSA pick-up #2, with a crisper full of lettuce that’s about to be crowded by a lot more. Something drastic had to be done.

So I started thinking about lettuce, and how it has a lot in common with vegetables that tend to get much more diverse treatment like zucchini or cucumber: basically green containers of water without a terribly strong flavor of their own.  And I remembered running into a lettuce soup recipe somewhere out there on Planet Internet, and put this together with what needed to be used up around here.

This particular version yielded a tart, fresh, creamy soup that I served warm.  But you should feel free to serve it cold and make any substitutions – soy or coconut milk for the cream and/or yogurt, drop in a couple teaspoons of hot sauce instead of the salsa, toss in a grated cucumber or whatever you like.   Remember: soup is here to use up what you’ve got and you’ve got to make it work for you.

Green & Creamy Lettuce Soup
4 servings

Put in a blender:

  • Half of the leaves from one head of any mild-flavored leaf lettuce (it doesn’t have to be perfectly crisp), reserving the rest to be added in as the soup purees
  • 3/4 cup low fat yogurt
  • 1 avocado, minus peel and pit
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used a medium-spicy salsa verde that was lurking around)
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. light cream

Pulse the soup to puree, adding in the rest of the lettuce as there’s room.  Heat just until warm, or serve cold.

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Birthday Lunch for Mom: Squash-Lemongrass Soup 1

Posted on March 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

My mother always seems to be away for her February birthday, which is a pretty sensible reaction to late winter in Vermont, really.

So it was late but at last we got together.  My mom loves Korean food and culture and so I was researching a lunch to build around the kimchi that was newly ready when she left this comment here on the blog:

“I feel faint after seeing your latest post on steamed buns.”

So of course I had to make another round of those, and then since the whole Korean theme was sort of blown, I felt free to improvise a soup to use up our last butternut squash – vaguely inspired by the knowledge that there was such a thing as Korean pumpkin porridge.

It was a nice, nibbly sort of lunch – a couple of the buns, some soup, the kimchi, and then a traditional spinach side dish.  Maybe you too have one last squash from the winter CSA and want to give it a whirl.

Butternut Squash-Lemongrass Soup
4 servings

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded, and roasted for 30 minutes at 400
  • 1 – 2 cups mild vegetarian stock (if you’re using storebought, try the “Better than Bouillion” line, which has less of that overly-processed taste than many do)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1 t. lemongrass paste (I’m sorry – I used the stuff in a tube!), or else 1/2 t. lemon zest, 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. chopped ginger
  • salt to taste
  • toasted hulled squash seeds for garnish (you should roast the ones you scooped from the squash for a snack, but they’re a little too coarse for a pleasant topping)

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop its flesh and 1 c. stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and a generous pinch of salt in a blender or food processor.  Adjust its thickness with more stock if you wish, and taste for salt.  Heat until just at a simmer and serve topped with the seeds.

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Roasted Beets 4

Posted on October 28, 2009 by crankycheryl

stew beets sauerkraut veggie burgers 012Yesterday, Z. and I were walking downtown and he announced, “Mommy, the days when you are frustrated with me are OVER and I’m going up the mountain I’m going to climb the rocks WAY UP HIGH.  But you are the best snuggler in the world and so I’ll stay with you forever.”

Love is complicated, but your root vegetables don’t have to be. Give this a try:

Roasted Beets

  • Small to medium whole beets, skins left on but greens and long roots removed.
  • A tablespoon of olive oil.
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Oil a half-sheet or other rimmed baking pan well.
  3. Place beets on it.  Cover with a second pan.
  4. (Alternately, you could wrap each one individually in foil and place them directly on the top oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below it to catch the drips.)
  5. Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.

Then you can slice them for salads, or puree them for soup (my friend Dannah just posted on Facebook that the “easiest beet soup in the world” is pureed roasted beets processed with kefir or buttermilk).

beet salad 010I made this salad for lunch today: greens with marinated tofu and the beets, spritzed with rice vinegar and olive oil and sprinkled with gomasio.  What I really wanted was gobs of goat cheese, but I’m back on the Bittman plan, and so righteous tofu it was.

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Spinach Potato Soup 0

Posted on March 24, 2009 by crankycheryl


So we were planning a fund raiser for the cohousing playground, and it turned into The Souper Supper, with a few of us mamas making soup and bread and brownies.  We wanted a nice assortment, so Kiley made a chunky tomato, and Ming made a Nepali sprouted bean soup (and dressed us all in beautiful, traditional Sherpa outfits).  And I made this one so we’d have something green without the expense or bother of salad for 60.

fixed-sherpa-dress20 servings

  • 8 lbs. baking potatoes, baked and peeled to whatever degree you prefer.
    4 10-oz. bags frozen spinach, thawed
  • 8 c. vegetarian stock,plus optional extra
  • 8 c. soy milk, plus optional extra
  • 1/4 c. olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 4 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 qt. soy creamer
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 2 T. dijon mustard
  • 2 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. powdered lemon peel
  • salt to taste (I’d start with 1/2 t. per pot)

Puree potatoes and spinach in several batches in a food processor or blender with just a little soy milk, leaving just a little bit of chunky texture.  Have a large mixing bowl at the ready to hold each batch as it’s done.  Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in each of two large (8 qt.) pots until rippling, then add onions and cook until translucent over medium-low heat; turn heat down to low and stir in chopped garlic and cook until fragrant.  Stir half of the potato-spinach mixture into each pot, and half the remaining soy milk and stock, stirring to combine well.  Stir half the soy mixture into each pot, and then half of the spices and seasonings.  Whisk, whisk, whisk until thoroughly combined.   Add more soy milk and/or stock until it’s the texture you like.  For me, I wanted it just liquid enough to be a definite soup and not milky green mashed potatoes.

Turn heat down to low, and taste for salt.  Serve at once, and for heaven’s sake, don’t leave the second pot on the burner while you go traipsing off with your friends and neighbors and burn it before you even get to try any.  But hopefully if this does happen, you too will have two other delicious soups to enjoy instead.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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