Andouille Sausage and Vegetable Soup (Whole 30-Friendly)

So…I started the Whole 30. And I have to say, I give a lot of credit to those of you out there who have done this diet.

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And I wasn’t even a terrible eater to begin with. I already consume loads of veggies and fruits and generally stay away from takeout and junk food. But RICE? CRACKERS? HUMMUS? CHEESE? Those foods are my friends. And now I’m standing on the other side of a fence staring longingly as they all throw a party I’m not invited to.

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The Whole 30 website is quick to remind us (repeatedly) that it’s “only 30 days”. I’m on Day 7 and so far a total of 30 still seems a bit insane. But my husband has been as level-headed in his advice to me as you would expect from someone who still gets to drink a beer and have cake. He reminds me that I’ll be unhappy with myself if I cheat or quit early, and the long-term benefit will be worth it.

Well, damn.

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Of course he’s totally right. And I am super glad to have an extra push to make me think about new types of meals and actually do some serious cooking. Our oven may be the size of a shoebox and we may only have two working burners on our stove, but I’m not a quitter.

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Here’s one absolutely to-die-for Whole 30-friendly dish inspired by @briewilly (Instagram) who is my hero for healthy food porn. Mind you, he was able to add beans, which would be SO GOOD in this dish. But I don’t want to talk about it.

What You Need:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 Andouille sausages, sliced into thin rounds (mine came fully cooked but it doesn’t matter either way)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 5-6 celery stalks, chopped (should be about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (I can’t stress it enough that making your own broth is SUPER easy. My fool-proof recipe is here)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp garlic and herb spice (or a similar table spice of your choosing)

What You Do:

In a large skillet, warm 1 tsp of the coconut oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and cover. Let cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the carrots can be pierce easily with a fork and the celery and onions are translucent.

While the veggies cook, warm the second tsp coconut oil in another pan and cook the sausage slices, covered.

Once everything is done, add the sausage to the veggie pan (drain any grease first), and mix well. Add your spices (these can be a combo of any you like. I recommend any herbs and spices that you like in a soup or stew.

Add the vegetable broth and stir will.

Finally, add the spinach and mix in thoroughly. It should take less than a minute for the spinach to wilt down to soup-quality leaves.

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Heavenly Slow Cooker Meals: Sweet Pepper, Corn and Potato Stew

You know what’s really great? Frozen vegetables.

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Everything outside has been noticeably dead since mid-January when the temperatures plummeted and sucked the life out of everything. I’m skeptical about where my tomatoes are coming from at a time like this, because I’m pretty sure it’s not the farm upstate.

So frozen veggies! What an idea! For these slow cooker meals, it’s a great solution. Not least of all because I’m usually only making a slow cooker meal in the first place because I am trying to save time. So if I don’t have to slice up a vegetable, that’s a big win.

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One quick note about this dish – if you don’t eat dairy or you hate the idea of buttermilk, leave that ingredient out of the recipe. Another option is to top the dish with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

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What You Need:

  • 5 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 10oz bag frozen sweet corn
  • 2 cups chopped bell peppers (I used red, yellow and orange for some summertime color)
  • 5 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeded if desired to reduce spiciness)
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded cheddar

What You Do:

Put everything except the buttermilk into the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours, or high heat for 4.

When it’s done, add the buttermilk and stir well. Top with cheddar cheese.

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Buttermilk Red Pepper Tomato Soup

It’s football season. I’m not super into watching sports on TV. I like playing sports, but there’s a fine glaze that forms over my eyes whenever Mike switches the channel to a game of any kind. I’m still trying to figure out why there is Sunday night football, Monday night football AND Thursday night football. It feels like it’s always on. (Sorry football fans).

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But – BONUS! If I don’t care about what’s on TV, that leaves me plenty of time to cook. And that’s something I’m totally fine with. On a separate note, does the buttermilk face I made in my soup look slightly demonic to anyone else?

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What You Need:

  • 15 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into rough strips
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large baking dish, place the halved tomatoes, onions, red peppers and garlic, alternating layers to ensure they’re all combined.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are puckered with split skin, surrounded by juices.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the solid veggies and place in a food processor.

Blend the roasted veggies until smooth, and pour into a large bowl.

Add the spices and buttermilk and stir well. Reheat if necessary but it should be hot enough to serve.

Pro Tip: Dip a grilled cheese in it. Is this even a pro tip? Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together like chocolate and milk.

My other pro-tip is to save the leftover baked veggie juices, pour into a Tupperware and freeze. It’s vegetable broth for your next recipe. BOOM!

Winter Warmer Turkey Soup

I feel like this entire holiday season has been filled with turkey. After roasting and frying two free work turkeys, the leftovers were staggering despite inviting several friends over to share in the spread.

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Our dog is still enjoying the fried turkey, the oil from which apparently remains in trace quantities in our backyard. And if anyone is going to track down a small drop of fried turkey oil, it’s Madison.

Turkey Frying (21)      Turkey Frying (15)      Proshutto Scallops (5)

We were left with so much food that the obvious solution is throwing it into a giant soup. I can’t take credit for this dish though. Mike has a knack for randomly deciding to make dinner and busting out an amazing recipe. This soup he made on a chilly day last week is definitely blog-worthy, although he wasn’t used to having to keep track of every shake of the spice bottle.

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Soups have the advantage of being filling and giving you tons of leftovers, which was great in the midst of the holidays when I felt like the last thing I had time for was cooking.

Whether you have leftovers or not, this dish is doable with any combination of ingredients, and with our without meat.

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What You Need: 

  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth (you can make your own by boiling veggies in water and draining out the broth)
  • 3 carrots, sliced into disks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped
  • 2 large yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1.5 cups roasted turkey, hand-pulled into small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

In a large skillet heated on medium with oil, add carrots and celery and cover, cooking until just softened.

Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent.

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In a large soup pot, bring broth to a boil and add the yams, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Turn the soup pot heat down to a simmer and add the carrots, celery, onion and mustard greens to the pot.

Stir and continue heating for about 10 minutes or until all veggies are soft and mustard greens are limp and reduced.

Serve with bread of choice for dipping – we used pretzel bread rolls from our local food store. Delish!

Pro Tip: As I said, you can add anything to this dish that you have lying around. It would be great with other greens like bok choy, spinach or kale, and other veggies like sweet potatoes or turnips.

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Thanksgiving Day 5: Creamy Butternut Squash, Potato and Pear Soup

Nothing beats two foods that “pear” together well (har har), and Butternut Squash and Pears are no exception.

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This is a delectable soup perfect for a cold day, and since there will be lots of those coming up, my suggestion is to stock up on Butternut Squash and pears now. Not kidding!

This dish is quick to prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, and makes enough for leftovers (depending on how large/hungry your family is) 🙂

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What You Need:

  • 1 large Butternut Squash, skinned, halved and seeded (about 3 cups mashed)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • One large or two small white potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, roughly sliced
  • 4 Bartlett (or other) pears skinned, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • A few pear slices for garnish

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Place the squash facedown on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is soft enough to get a fork through.

While the squash is cooking, boil water in a large pot and boil the potatoes until soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.

Once the squash is done, pile it into a food processor along with the potato, onion, pears and spices, and give it a good whirl. It should still be fairly thick at this point.

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Scrape the whole mixture into a large 4 or 5 quart pasta pot and turn the heat up to medium.

Gradually add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly, until it is the consistency of, well, a creamy butternut squash and pear soup. (You might find you need more or less broth depending on how you like your soup, but 2 1/2 cups was perfect for mine).

Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with a few pear slices, and you’re good to go!

Also, I enjoyed this soup with a hearty slice of no-rise whole wheat stout bread. Highly recommend!

Pro Tip: You can cut your cooking time down if you cut the raw squash into chunks and boil them with the potato. Once they’re soft, drain, and blend with the remaining ingredients.

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Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ooooh Fall I love you.

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Every time I find myself feeling slightly saddened about the end of summer and impending onslaught of cold weather and snow storms, I have to stop myself and go take a walk. Right now, the trees are BEAUTIFUL (living through a New Hampshire winter is worth it!) and the temperatures are PERFECT. There is literally nothing about this season to dislike.

Potato and Pesto Pics (21)And I could go on and on about how this is the best time of year for farm-fresh veggies, but if you’re reading this you probably already know this, so instead I will just move ahead to the reason you’re here and give you this recipe for potato and roasted red pepper soup. It has all the farm veggie essentials loaded right in, and is super easy to make.

What You Need: 

  • 6-7 smaller sized red potatoes, skins on, diced into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-7 red small-medium sized red peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, roughly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • About 3 cups vegetable broth. I made mine using my tried and true vegetable broth recipe.
  • 2 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup chives chopped
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

Add your veggies to a large baking dish and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are soft and emitting juices.

While the veggies are cooking, fill a large pot with enough water to cover all your cubed potatoes. Add potatoes, cover, and bring to a slow boil, watching to ensure the water doesn’t foam and bubble over.

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When boiling, turn down to a simmer, and leave covered, cooking until potatoes are soft and fork tines easily pierce through.

When both the potatoes and vegetables are done cooking, add everything to your food processor and pulse, being careful to just roughly blend and not puree. We want this to be a little chunky with standout potato pieces!

Transfer the blended mixture to the large pot and, keeping the pot on low-medium heat, and add 3 cups of vegetable broth (you may need slightly more or less depending on your mixture and how thick you prefer your soup.)

Stir well until well mixed and soupy.

Pour into bowls, and top with chives and cheese. Then, enjoy!

Pro Tip: This is an awesome way to create almost a week’s worth of food without really doing too much. You can beef up this soup to an even larger total yield by adding additional ingredients like your favorite type of bean (cooked and roughly blended into the mixture), shredded chicken (cooked and added at the same time as the vegetable broth), or a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, with juices (this will cut down on the amount of broth you have to add).

Potato, Leek and Kale Soup

So Mike has bronchitis. He’s not thrilled, for obvious reasons, but also because he’s been sick straight through some of the nicest days we’ve had in months.

The sun is out, the temperatures are steadily warming up, and there are legitimate flowers growing in our yard. It’s amazing! And on nights like we’ve been having, I naturally gravitate toward the grill. Except when my husband is sick. On nights like THAT, I gravitate toward soup.

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There’s been a leek in our fridge for more than a week, and unlike my interaction with most vegetables, I was kind of stumped on how to use it, and had forgotten why I bought it in the first place.

I know when people are sick, chicken noodle soup is the natural go-to, but I decided to switch it up and make a creamy potato leek soup – completely vegetarian, and completely daily and gluten free.

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What You Need:

  • One large leek, top layer and leaves removed, sliced
  • 4-5 small to medium yellow potatoes, quartered (you can peel them if you want – I didn’t)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cups kale, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I got mine this way)
  • 1/3 cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper

What You Do: Leek Soup (5)

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook at a slow boil for about 30 minutes or until soft.

Drain the potatoes into a strainer and set aside.

Leek Soup (2) In the same saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add sliced l  leeks, chopped onion and chopped garlic and simmer for  about 20 minutes. Add the chopped kale about halfway  through (after about 10 minutes) and simmer all until soft  and kale has reduced.

Add the potatoes and stir. Then add the vegetable broth  and bring the mixture to a slow boil.

Add the black pepper and stir. Remove from heat.

Pour the mixture into a food processor. If you like your soup chunkier like I do, pulse  until just blended. If you want a smoother soup, blend for longer until creamy.

Add the soup back into the saucepan. Add the almond or soy milk (or any milk of your choice) and stir.

It’s ready to serve!

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Pro Tip: Make this soup a little spicy (you know I did) by adding a hot pepper of your choice into the mixture, or simply sprinkling some crushed red pepper on the soup once it’s ready to serve.