Ground roasted peanuts thicken this stew and, surprisingly, add a layer of flavor complexity more than a peanut taste. For nutty goodness, add more roasted peanuts to individual bowls when serving. No need to purchase specific vegetables and herbs because whatever is in your fridge works in this very forgiving dish.
dried chiles (such as chipotle, guajillo, and/or chile negro), stemmed
roasted unsalted peanuts
olive oil or coconut oil
brown rice, preferably quick-cooking rice or regular rice soaked for a few hours and drained to shorten cooking time
mixed vegetables of choice (such as mushrooms, zucchini, daikon, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, celery, and beets), chopped
fresh herbs of choice (such as parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and/or thyme), chopped
Cut the chiles into strips using scissors and seed if desired. Place in a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water, and set aside.
Grind the peanuts for a few seconds in a spice grinder or blender (if you grind longer, you’ll get peanut butter!). Set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften. Add the rice, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Add the chiles and their soaking water. Add the chopped vegetables and the ground peanuts, cover, and cook until softened, adding additional water as needed. Add the turmeric, garlic, greens, and black pepper, cover, and cook until the greens are cooked the way you like.
To serve, spoon the stew into individual bowls and sprinkle with herbs.
Here’s a salute to summer zucchini. For a main dish, add a large quantity of the vegetables to serve over your favorite grain or pasta; for a first-course soup, add more juicy tomatoes. Instead of the mix of spices listed, use any spice mix or grill rub that you enjoy.
extra-virgin olive oil
mushrooms, thickly sliced
red onion, chopped
sweet peppers, chopped
jalapeño chile, sliced
chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with juices
zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
super-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
mixed ground spices (such as cayenne, caraway, cumin, coriander, and garlic powder)
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley
Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in one layer and cook, without stirring, until browned. Lower the heat to medium. Stir in the onion, peppers, and chile, cover, and cook until softened. Stir in the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook until the tomatoes are cooked through. Add the zucchini and tofu, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft. If the mixture becomes dry, add a splash of water.
Stir in the mixed spices and cook a minute longer. Season with salt to taste and a few grinds of pepper, sprinkle with the parsley, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve.
It might be a little late for fresh peas at the farmers’ market, but frozen work fine, along with fresh or frozen corn. This summer, consider freezing fresh ears of corn to make this chowder anytme—just steam or microwave the frozen ears in the husk for a minute or two, shuck the ears, cut the kernels from the cobs, and add to whatever you’re cooking.
extra-virgin olive oil
cauliflower, coarsely chopped
fresh or frozen corn kernels
fresh or frozen peas, snow peas, or sugar snap peas
pitted kalamata olives (optional)
thinly sliced green onions (optional)
hot-pepper sauce (optional)
Warm the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Stir in the cauliflower and cook until the cauliflower is soft. Add a splash of water, if needed, to deglaze the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the corn and continue cooking, covered.
Meanwhile, in a heatproof glass measuring cup, whisk the miso a teaspoonful at a time into a cup or two of hot water until the miso is fully integrated to make a broth. Pour the broth into the soup pot.
Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend the soup to your desired creaminess. Return the soup to a simmer. Add the peas and cook until heated through.
To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with olives, green onions, and hot-pepper sauce.
The packaged precooked polenta that comes in a log thickens this healthy, quick, and comforting soup. If you add red beets as part of the chopped seasonal vegetables, the soup will turn pink, unless you use varieties that don’t bleed, like golden or Chioggia beets.
avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
jalapeño or serrano chile, sliced (optional)
chopped seasonal vegetables (such as carrots, celery, fennel bulb, cauliflower, and beets)
chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
packaged precooked polenta, sliced and cubed
greens (such as chard, kale, collards, or beet greens), stems removed and leaves finely sliced
herbes de Provence or fresh or dried rosemary and thyme
chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms in one layer and cook, undisturbed, until sizzling and browned. Move the mushrooms to the side of the pot, add the onion and potatoes, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Stir in the chile and chopped vegetables, season with salt, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes become saucy.
Add the polenta and water just to cover the contents of the pot. Cover and bring the soup to a simmer. Let the polenta cook for a few minutes so that it softens, then mash the polenta against the side of the pot. Cook until the polenta is well integrated into the soup and the vegetables are cooked through.
Stir in the greens until wilted. Then add the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
This bright green blended soup is downright delicious. With late spring comes the end of sugar snap peas and fresh dill and the beginning of zucchini, peppers, and potatoes. This version (inspired by a recipe in Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen) combines them into a rich, sweet, and smooth success story. Ladle the soup over brown rice, pasta, or rice noodles or enjoy it on its own.
olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
red or yellow onion, chopped
yellow potatoes, chopped
Padron or Anaheim peppers, chopped
sugar snap peas
garlic cloves, chopped
fresh dill, chopped
hot-pepper sauce (optional)
chopped green olives (optional)
green onions, sliced thinly, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Stir in the potatoes, peppers, zucchini, and a sprinkle of salt and cook until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
Meanwhile, pull the strings off the sugar snap peas and thinly slice the pods. Add the peas to the pot along with filtered water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are completely cooked. Stir in the garlic and dill.
Blend the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or transfer in batches to a standard blender. Reheat the soup, if needed, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more dill. Ladle into bowls, add hot-pepper sauce and olives, if using, and garnish with the green onions.
April vegetable soups are light and brothy compared to winter’s dense stews. Here is a favorite, highlighting spring’s fennel, leeks, romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas, spinach, fava beans, and dill. What’s lovely about this soup is the unexpected crunchiness of the romaine ribs and the creaminess of the avocado. For extra richness, I cooked the vegetables with both olive oil and homemade ghee. Inspired in part by a March 2014 recipe in Sunset magazine.
extra-virgin olive oil and/or ghee
fennel bulb, diced
leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes, mushrooms, and fennel. Cook until vegetables are softened. Meanwhile, cut the ribs from the romaine leaves and finely chop the ribs and leaves, keeping them separate.
Add the ribs to the pot along with the leeks, lemon zest, dill, and salt and pepper; stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.
Stir in sugar snap peas and fava beans and cook for a minute or two until fava beans are completely soft. Add spinach and lettuce leaves and stir until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top each bowl with avocado and more fresh dill.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, root vegetables, and mushrooms; sprinkle with salt. Cook, covered, until vegetables soften.
Meanwhile, put chiles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. When soft, cut with scissors while submerged and stir chiles with soaking water into pot. Add red lentils and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add broth just to cover and cook, covered, until lentils are soft.
Add garlic, coconut milk, and cabbage. Cook, covered, until cabbage softens. Stir in Sriracha, shredded coconut, and green onions just before serving.
I love a hearty soup in the winter. This one satisfies, with one or two beets for sweetness—pink Chioggia or golden beets don’t bleed like red beets, but if you don’t mind a scarlet-colored soup, use red beets. If you don’t have beets, no worries.
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and shallot and cook, covered, for a minute. Add mushrooms, potatoes, beet, and salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften. Add broth to cover and simmer, covered, until broth is flavored by the vegetables, about 15 minutes.
Stir in garlic and broccoli and cook, covered, until broccoli is softened. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup a little, keeping the soup chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Chipotle chiles (smoked and dried red-ripe jalapeños) add the essential smokiness in this stew. Although black-eyed peas do not require soaking, you can shorten the cooking time by pouring hot water over them and allowing them to sit on the counter for an hour or more. Serve this stew over pasta or your grain of choice.
greens, such as collards, kale, or Swiss chard, center ribs removed and leaves chopped and washed
chile powder (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, if using, and potatoes. Cook until vegetables soften.
Add black-eyed peas, broth, and chipotles. When chipotles plump up and soften, use scissors to cut each into several pieces. Cook until black-eyed peas are soft.
Add salt, cauliflower, and more broth if needed. When cauliflower is soft, add greens and parsley, and cook until greens are soft. Add chile powder, if using, and pepper. Adjust seasonings and serve with your favorite hot sauce if you like.
* Find at well-stocked groceries or Latino markets.