Seeing Green

March 17, 2012

Here is a celebration of Green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Green candy on my window sill

Green and white striped candy canes

Green buttons

Green thread

Disposable fountain pen with green ink

My favorite sweater, a gift from my friend and colleague Kathy who finds treasures like this at thrift stores.

A new batch of Green Velvet Soup with ham (see my blog post for 12/10/2011 for the recipe)

Green shamrocks on my sister's Bleek sugar & creamer

Watercolor sketch of Bleek sugar & creamer

Soup Worthy of a Poem

March 12, 2011

Sliced scallions for soup


This Winter Day
by Maya Angelou

The kitchen is its readiness
white green and orange things
leak their blood selves in the soup.

Ritual sacrifice that snaps
an odor at my nose and starts
my tongue to march
slipping in the liquid of its drip.

The day, silver striped
in rain, is balked against
my window and the soup.

Rain in rivulets on kitchen window

Sometimes I start with a poem or quote, other times with a photo, and sometimes with an idea.  For today’s post, I wanted to share Maya Angelou’s poem.  And then I had to find a soup recipe worthy of the images in the poem.  I think I found it with Coconut Red Lentil Soup, which I discovered at  This is a wonderful winter soup.  I’ve copied the recipe below for your convenience.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

1 cup / 7 oz / 200 g yellow split peas
1 cup 7 oz / 200 g 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 butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz /  45 g golden raisins
1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

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 butter 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.

Red split lentils and yellow split peas

White, green and orange vegetables for the soup


Toasting the curry spice

Eleven Bean Soup

November 17, 2010

Watercolor sketch of dried beans

I keep a jar of eleven mixed, dried beans in my pantry, a handy staple for cold-weather soups and stews.  I got the recipe years ago from my sister.  A 2-cup bag of the mixture makes a great hostess gift for the holidays, especially if you include a soup recipe with it. 

Here are the dried beans in the basic recipe:

  • black-eyes peas
  • yellow split peas
  • green split peas
  • Great Northern beans
  • large lima beans
  • small lima beans
  • pearl barley
  • pinto beans
  • navy beans
  • red beans
  • lentils

Jar of 11-bean mixture

I used about a cup of the dried bean mixture for a variation of chili made in the crock pot.  But here is the original recipe I got from my sister, which uses about 2 cups of the dried bean mixture:

Wash the beans thoroughly and place in a large container.  Cover with water, add 2 Tbsp salt, and soak overnight.  In the morning, drain the beans.  Add 2 quarts of water and 1/2 lb of diced ham (or ham hocks).  Bring to a boil, then simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 29-oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Simmer another 30 minutes.

Hearty Chili 11-Bean Soup

Watercolor sketch of dried beans

Sweet Potato Soup

October 25, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup

I’ve been reading about pumpkin soups on some blogs I follow, and I decided I’d adapt the recipes to use up some leftover baked yams we had on hand.  The end result was a seasonal hit. 

Some of the ingredients for my Sweet Potato Soup

I started by sauteing two cloves of garlic and about an eighth of a chopped yellow onion in olive oil until softened.  Then I added about 2 cups of broth (you can use more or less to get the soup the consistency you want) and mashed yams.  I had about 2 cups of leftover mashed yams.  I seasoned the soup with 2 tsp Thai red curry paste and salt.  I brought this to a boil, then added 1 can of coconut milk.  Once the soup heated through, it was ready to eat.  I used some chopped peanuts and craisins for garnish, but they ended up sinking because my soup wasn’t very thick!

The soup was really, really good.

Good to the last drop

Soda Bread

March 19, 2010

Flax Irish Soda Bread ready for the oven

Rustic loaf of Flax Irish Soda Bread, still warm

Chicken soup and warm bread, perfect companions

I had never made Irish Soda Bread, so I planned to make my first loaf in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  My plans were waylaid by a bad cold.  Today, for the first time in six days, I feel like I have turned the corner and am beginning to recover.  I thought that warm bread would go perfectly with some leftover chicken soup, so I baked a loaf for lunch.

I discovered the Flax Irish Soda Bread recipe on a blog for the Whiteley Creek B & B.  My sisters and I stayed at this rustic B & B in northern Minnesota and we were all impressed with Adrienne, the owner and host.  She is currently going back to school to study nutrition, and the recipes she features on her blog always seem to burst with healthy stuff.  You can check out her blog at  The Flax Irish Soda Bread recipe was posted on March 11th, but for your convenience, I’ve copied it here:

Flax Soda Bread

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat or rye flour

½ cup ground flaxseeds

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3 tbsp butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

¾ cup buttermilk

2 tbsp honey

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together the eggs, buttermilk, and honey. Add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. (Dough will be sticky.) Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. (I tossed just enough flour on top of the dough as I worked it so it wouldn’t stick to my fingers.) On a greased baking sheet using well-floured hands, shape dough into a 6-inch round. (It will poof as it bakes.) With a sharp knife, cut a 4” cross, ¼” deep, on top of the loaf (to let the bread stretch and expand as it rises in the oven). Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Here are a couple of photos I took at the Whiteley Creek B & B.  I hope they capture some of the rustic charm of the place.

The dining room was an old railroad car.

The screened porch, a comfortable gathering spot

Turkey Leftovers

November 29, 2009

Ingredients for Black Bean Soup with leftover turkey

Southwestern Turkey and Black Bean Soup

One of the best things about leftover turkey is the chance to make and enjoy Black Bean Soup.  I found my favorite Black Bean Soup recipe in the Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry cookbook compiled by the Chinaberry Book Service in 1996, and I have been making this soup ever since.  (I love reading the book recommendations from Chinaberry.  Now that my daughter is grown, I no longer read the reviews of children’s books, but I still get good ideas from the “Good Reads for Adults.”  You can find them at

Southwestern Turkey and Black Bean Soup
(Original recipe submitted to Chinaberry by Barb DeWeerd, Wisconsin)

3 cans (15 oz) black beans
4 c chicken or turkey stock
1 T olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp cumin
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 c diced, cooked turkey
3 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Puree 1-1/2 cans black beans in food processor with one cup broth.  Set aside.

Heat oil in large pan.  Add onions and pepper.  Saute 10 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cumin.  Stir one minute.  Add tomatoes, bean mixture and remaining whole beans.  Gradually add 2 cups stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer 20 minutes.

Add turkey, jalapeno and heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.

I serve the soup with corn bread or tortilla chips.  I usually top my soup with a spoonful of sour cream, grated cheese and diced avocado.


Minnesota Wild Rice

November 3, 2009


Soup made with Minnesota wild rice and mushrooms

I think that regional food specialties make good souvenirs.  I returned home from Minnesota with three pounds of wild rice in my carry-on luggage.  This week I made Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup by adapting a recipe I found on the Thimbleberries Quilting website  I added mushrooms and omitted the bacon, parsley and almonds.

Lynette’s Wild Rice Soup
by Lynette Jensen

2 medium stalks celery, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 c)
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-1/2 c cooked wild rice
2 c chicken broth
1 c whole cream
1/3 c toasted slivered almonds
1/4 c snipped parsley
4 slices thick, lean bacon cooked and crumbled

Cook wild rice following package directions.  Cook and stir celery, carrot, onion and green pepper in butter in 3-quart saucepan until celery is tender (about 5 minutes).  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add chicken broth slowly, stirring constantly to blend in flour.  Add wild rice.  Heat to boiling.

Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.  Stir in cream, almonds, parsley, and bacon.  Heat just until hot, but do not boil.

Makes 5 servings, about 1 cup each.


Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

My oldest sister’s favorite wild rice recipe follows:

Hunter’s Wild Rice Casserole

Brown together: 2 lbs meat (duck, venison, pheasant, elk, or beef)
3/4 c chopped onion
2 c chopped celery

Place browned ingredients in a casserole dish and add:
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 to 2 cans mushrooms
5 or 6 Tbsp soy sauce
1 c wild rice (uncooked)
3-1/2 c boiling water

Stir together and bake, uncovered, for 1-1/2 hours at 350 degrees.  This will look very watery and you will wonder if it will turn out — it does. . . perfect every time.