Friday, June 5, 2015

Lunch Box: Green and Yellow Vegetable Soups

I've been absent from the blog for a few weeks for an excellent reason -- I was getting married!  Now I'm ready to get back to both cooking and blogging, and over the next week or so I'll be featuring some great recipes to pack for lunch.  I've posted lots of lunch box recipes in the past, and this set will keep you happy and full at lunchtime.

This soup recipe is based on a great feature from Food Network Magazine.  The whole issue was based on embracing the vibrant colors of different foods, and one of the articles focused on bringing together veggies of specific colors to make pureed soups. I made both a "green" version and a "yellow" version, and both made for flavorful lunches.  I recommend rounding out your meal with a small whole wheat or multi-grain roll, or some crackers.

The formula for this soup is pretty straightforward: saute aromatics, add a diced potato (for body and creaminess), along with dried spices of your choice.  Then simmer with up to three different vegetables from one color family (I used asparagus, zucchini, and edamame for my green soup, and summer squash, bell pepper, and corn for my yellow soup).  Finally, puree until smooth and finish with something fun -- I added feta to my thyme-flavored green soup and coconut milk and Sriracha to my Asian-inspired yellow soup.  The soup keeps well for a few days, so you can cook this on the weekend and then portion it out into containers for lunch during the week.  And, you can vary both the vegetables and the flavorings to suit your pantry and your mood.  Just stick to one color of vegetable to keep the colors bright.

Green Vegetable Soup (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Makes 2-4 lunch servings

Olive oil
1/2 red onion, minced
Salt and pepper
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup frozen edamame (no need to thaw)
3-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, and more as needed
To serve: crumbled cheese (feta is excellent!)

1. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, 10 minutes or so, stirring often.  Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the potato, stir to combine, and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add the bay leaf, thyme, garlic powder, asparagus, zucchini, edamame, and chicken broth.  Season again with more salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the veggies are completely tender, 15-20 minutes.
4. Let the soup cool a bit, and then puree using an immersion blender or regular blender.  For super smooth soup, force through a fine sieve.
5. If needed, thin the soup with more broth or water.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pack in lunch containers, or if serving right away, reheat until hot.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle with a crumbly cheese like feta or goat.

Yellow Vegetable Soup (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Makes 2-4  lunch servings

Olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
1 cup diced yellow summer squash
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
3-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 can light coconut milk
Sriracha, to serve

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and cook until nicely softened, 8-10 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and potato, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, for another 5-6 minutes or so.
2. Add the squash, bell pepper, and corn, and stir to coat them in the oil.  Then add the chicken stock, fennel seeds, cardamom, and cumin.  Season with more salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.
4. Let cool a bit, then puree using a blender or immersion blender until smooth. Store in lunch containers, or reheat to serve immediately.  Drizzle with Sriracha before serving if you like it spicy.

Other Lunch Box Posts: 

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