Carrot Soup, Carrot Soup, and more Carrot Soup.

This years crop of carrots has been the best yet.  With most of the vegetable garden put to bed for the winter,  I dug up half of my carrot crop. carrots2

Trimmed the tops and gave them a fast hose cleaning.

A couple of months ago I tested out a few carrot soup recipes.  And today I set out to turn a pile of carrots into carrot soup to put into my freezer.

The three recipes I made are: Curried Carrot Soup, courtesy of Rachael Ray, Roasted Carrot Soup, from Donna Hay magazine, and Moroccan Carrot Soup,  from A Sweet Spoonful.  For the most part I follow recipes, but I make small changes as I go based on my ingredients on hand and my personal likes.  The recipes are only a guide line.


The smells coming from my kitchen today where fantastic.  From the sweet smell of freshly dug carrots to roasting onions, to fennel sautéing in olive oil.   And then there is the smell of curry.


roasted2I start with Roasted Carrot Soup as it needs to roast in the oven for at least 30 minutes.   You roast the carrots, an onion and garlic lightly coated in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin.  






After about 45 minutes in a 350 oven the carrots are roasted and tender. 






roasted6This is combined with vegetable stock and chicken stock in a large pot and pureed with an immersion blender.   Add a cup of sour cream and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.   Salt and pepper to taste.






After cooling, I package for the freezer in 2 and 2 1/2 cup containers for use later.






The next recipe is the Curried Carrot Soupcurreyed2

This is similar to the first recipe except the carrots, and onions are sautéed and simmered in broth instead of roasted.







This recipe has the most spices going on.  I cut down a bit on the amount of curry and switched the cayenne pepper to chipotle pepper.






Again the soup is processed with an immersion blender and simmered again with the addition of sour cream.






While this may look like the roasted carrot soup, one taste and you will not mix them up.  This is spicy, this is hot.  This soup has kick to it.   Because not everyone likes as much heat as I do, next time I’ll cut the pepper amount in half.



And now on to the Moroccan Carrot Soup.  


moroccan1This soup has more complex flavorings with the addition of sweet potatoes, and an apple added to the carrots.   And a dash  of lemon juice at the end.







But we start by sautéing fennel seeds in olive oil, then add the carrots, apple, sweet potato and sauté them as well for a few minutes.





Then like the others, vegetable and chicken stock is added and the soup is simmered until all vegetables are tender.






Remove the bay leaf and puree with my stick blender until smooth.  Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. 

Cool and package for freezer.



So now I have enough carrot soup in the freezer to get through to next carrot season.carrotsall

Hearty Beef and UnBarley Soup and Oat Groat Giveaway

Beef Un-Barley Soup

Beef and Oat Groat Soup photo by vsimon

Hum? Doesn’t barely have gluten? Yes, you are right.

But certified gluten free oat groats don’t. Please let me introduce you. Oat groats make a fantastic gluten free stand-in for glutinous barely. 

Cream Hill Estates grows and produces certified gluten free oats. They are not cross contaminated with glutinous grains during growing, milling, package, or transport. Cream Hill Estates is offering a package of their certified gluten free oat groats to one random winner who comments below. 

Oat whole grain nutrition.

Oat groats are truly whole grains. And no doubt about it, they are tasty, filling and nutritious. Two new pilot studies from Scandinavia show oats increase vitamin B1, magnesium, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants in the gluten-free diet.

Oats are a rich source of a unique fiber called beta-glucan. It lowers cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. It also enhances the immune response to bacterial infections. Beta-glucan helps stabilize blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. And, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows a low glycemic diet, including oats, resulted in greater weight loss than a conventionally balanced diet.

Are oats right for me?

Only you will be able to decide. Please visit my Nourish column in the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness newsletter for more info. Scroll down a bit for the Oh Boy, Oats! article.

Hearty, and super simple in a slow cooker.

You can dump everything raw into the slow cooker. But you’ll get better brown color and flavor if you brown the beef in a separate pan first. This extra step isn’t difficult and immediately fills the house with beefy aroma.

Round steak is a flavorful, inexpensive cut of meat. And tough if cooked quick. Cooking low and slow magically makes it tooth tender.

Oat groats take a long time to cook too. Perfect for a slow cooker. They ooze body into the soup broth. And also add tender, not too chewy, not mushy texture to the chunks. I think even fans of beef barely soup wouldn’t recognize these are oats, not barely.

Of course, the onions are optional if you don’t tolerant them.

Beef and UnBarley Soup

serves 6-8 metric measures
1 ½ pound beef round steak .7 kg
1 cup oat groats 100 gm
1 cup diced onion 130 gm
1 cup diced celery 130 gm
1 cup diced carrot 130 gm
8 cups gluten free beef broth
(or 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Beef base)
2 liters

Cube beef into small pieces. Brown in a large sauté pan.

Put browned beef and everything else into a 12 cup crock-pot.

Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.

Enjoy your day, and your dinner. 🙂

Extras freeze well, so make a lot and save some for next month.

How to enter to win Cream Hill Certified Gluten Free Oat Groats.

1. Visit Cream Hill Estates recipe page and decide which recipe you would like to try first.

2. Tell us which recipe you chose in the comments below by February 10, 2010.

A winner will be selected by random number generator and notified by email February 11, 2010.

Full disclosure- Cream Hill Estates provided me with free oat products for recipe development. And I am happy to share simply, healthy dishes made with oats.

Update 2-11-10. The winner of the certified gluten free ot groats is Debora.

Trendy Bean Soup

trendy bean soup

trendy bean soup photo by vsimon

How many food trends can you fit into a bowl? Let’s count.

  1. Local.
  2. Organic.
  3. Backyard gardening.
  4. Low carbon.
  5. Heritage seeds.
  6. Naturally nutritious.
  7. Food is the new health insurance.
  8. Gluten free.
  9. Frugal.
  10. Make ahead meals.

OK, that is enough for one abundant bowl of bean soup.

We grew many beans this year in our back yard garden. You can’t get any more local than that. Pesticide free and organic, there was plenty to share with the bugs. Together these trends lead to another -> low carbon.

The seeds are saved year to year, from an old heritage line.

Plain old beans are naturally nutritious. You couldn’t pack more fiber in if you tried. And are great sources of many vitamins and minerals, no need to add more. This type of food makes the best health insurance.

Beans are inherently gluten free and frugal. They might be the definition of frugal in a dictionary somewhere. Ours were free!

Our beans

They are mostly scarlet and pink lady runner beans, with a few coco rubicos thrown in. We grow them on 7’ tee-pees,  hummingbirds buzz and hover from one to another all summer long. 

These colorful beans cook to a lovely coco brown.


scarlet runner dry bean photo by vsimon

How to cook beans

The traditional way to cook dry beans is to soak overnight in a large amount of water. The beans swell and double in size, or more.

In the morning you can drain the water and add fresh, or not. Some say draining gets rid of the trouble makers in the GI compliant department.

Bring the beans and water to a simmer and cook until they are soft. How long to cook beans varies on the size, age, and type of bean. This could take an hour or more. Skim off any foam that forms. You’ll have to do this several times.

The runner beans are very large, the size of a butter bean or big lima. The coco rubicos are half as big. If the little ones fall apart by the time the big ones were done, no worries.


coco rubico dry bean photo by vsimon

Quick soak

I wanted to pressure cook this soup and hadn’t soaked the beans overnight. So I quick soaked these beans. That means to cook for a little bit, then let them sit, and swell.

Put the beans in the cooker and see how far they come up the side. Then add water to a level two times higher than the beans.

Make sure you have a large enough pressure cooker. Foam can plug the safety vents. Don’t fill a pressure cooker more than half full with beans and water.

Bring them to pressure and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave the cooker on the burner. Allow the pressure to release naturally (slowly). You can achieve in one hour what an overnight soak would accomplish.

After the quick soak, I added a bit more water. Enough to so there were equal layers of the plump beans and water above them.

Then I cooked these for only 15  minutes. I quickly released the pressure to see if they were tender, they were. If they weren’t, I’d lock the lid back on, bring to pressure, and cook a bit longer.


pink lady runner dry bean photo by vsimon

Cook without a recipe

I could write a recipe for this soup, but I am not sure know how useful it would be to you. You only need to follow the general cooking instructions above.

Or follow the specific instructions on the package of beans you buy. There are many, many kinds to try.

You can add onions, celery, and carrots to the mix while you cook it. When it is done, puree it smooth, or chunky. Or leave it brothy.

There are many seasoning suggestions beyond salt and pepper. Make it Mexican with cumin, oregano, and garlic. Make it savory with thyme and sage. Smoked paprika makes it lovely. Make it Midwestern with chili powder and tomatoes.

*Don’t add tomatoes until he beans are soft though. If you add them in the beginning, your beans may never get soft.

Bean soup is a filling vegetarian meal. Or you can add any leftover meat you like, such as ham, pork, or sausage.

I added sausage and leftover pork roast from pasture fed animals, purchased directly from a local farmer. Is that another trend I spot?

Be sure to serve bean soup with a splash of vinegar! I learned this from the folks at the nursing home I worked at years ago. And my husbands family does it too. It adds zip and ups the saltiness, without ever more salt. I like good vinegar here, apple cider, sherry, or Champaign.  Don’t use malt vinegar, it is not gluten free.

Make ahead

Bean soup freezes (and thaws) beautifully. Make a big batch, cool it, package it, freeze it. You can have lunch or dinner in February from soup you make tomorrow.

What are your favorite dry beans for soup?


Enter the Gluten-Free, Hassle Free book giveaway by January, 13, 2010.