Susan's Cooking Blog
Sharing tips and recipes for healthy menus
Susan's Cooking Blog

Easy Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

I made an easy creamy broccoli soup the other day:

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This is a very easy soup to put together.  You can use either fresh or frozen broccoli.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups low or no sodium vegetable broth
3 large stalks of broccoli, tough stalks peeled and sliced, florets medium small
1 TBSP dried dill
1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
Fresh dill for garnish
White pepper to taste

  1. In a heavy bottomed soup pot, saute the onion in a little broth until it is translucent.
  2. Add celery and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the broth, broccoli, and dried dill and simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  4. If desired, chop the broccoli up a bit more (I use a pastry cutter right in the soup pot to do this).
  5. Remove 2-3 cups of the soup and blend it in a high powered blender the cashews.
  6. Return the blended soup back to the pot, add the nutritional yeast and stir to mix in.
  7. Heat through and serve, topping with snipped fresh dill.

Garlic Mincing

I've been enjoying a new gadget I bought to mince garlic. 


You put the garlic cloves into the bottom of the container, put on the lid, and rotate the two sides.  The "teeth" chop up the garlic.


It turns out very finely minced, but not pressed.  I've been using it a lot.  It can do up to 4 very large garlic cloves at a time.

The Garlic Twist sells at Amazon for $11.99.  I haven't checked around to see if there are lower prices anywhere else, but there might be.  Let me know if any of you see it at a lower price and I'll update my entry here.

A Visual for You

There are so many authors out there pushing various "healthy" agendas.  Here's a perfect evaluation:

Preserving the Harvest

It has been a fun summer in my garden and I have been using the produce plus great prices in the stores right now for many fruits to make preserves to enjoy throughout the rest of the year.


Most pickle and preserve recipes contain a LOT of salt and sugar and I don't eat refined sugar and keep to a very low sodium diet.  But I've found that you can substitute pureed dates or date syrup for some sweetness and eliminate or significantly reduce the sodium with some thought.

Two very successful recipes I've made this year are for salsa and mango chutney.


Here's the recipe for the salsa.  It was originally posted by Bryanna Clark Grogan on a VegSource message board.  My notes are in brackets.

Fresh Salsa
8 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 large green pepper, seeded
1/4 cup drained pickled jalapeño peppers OR 2 or 3 fresh seeded hot green chilies OR use 1 Tbsp pureed canned chile chipotles[I used fresh jalapenos from my garden]
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, very well drained [I used equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes from my garden, peeled and seeded]
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup tomato paste [I used this]
2 Tbsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar [I used fresh lime juice]
1 - 2 tsp salt [I left this out]
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp fresh) [I left this out]
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley [I used about 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro]
1 tsp dried red chile flakes (if you like it really hot--but remember that this salsa gets hotter as time goes on) [I left this out]

If you have a food processor, pulse the garlic cloves, then add the onion and green pepper, cut in chunks, and the jalapeños and pulse until minced. Add the drained tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed.

If you don't have a food processor, then you'll have to chop everything fine by hand.
Keep in tightly closed jars in the refrigerator. It will keep refrigerated for several weeks. Some clear liquid will rise to the top. Pour it off or stir it in, depending on the consistency you like. [Because I was making this in bulk, I then proceeded to heat the mixture to boiling, then ladle into sterilized jars, sealed them, then processed in a boiling water bath for 30 min.]

I used this recipe from Saveur magazine for the Mango Chutney with a few alterations:

  • I did not use the oil. I water sauteed the garlic, onions, etc.
  • Instead of the habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, I used fresh chopped jalapenos.
  • I left out the brown sugar.  Mango is sweet in its own right!
  • Because I left out the sugar, I only used half the amount of vinegar and lime juice.

I'll post some of the other pickles and preserves I've been making in a separate entry.

Tomatoes Galore

I just love tomato season.  So many varieties; so little time to capitalize on them though!

I've been making tomato sauce from the plums/romas:


Shown above is a quick sauce made from sauteed onions, mushrooms, fresh tomato puree, garlic and Italian seasonings, served on top of "zoodles" (spiralized zucchini sitting in for noodles). Scroll down to the description of zoodles in this post.

I have a zucchini glut so also used some stuffed served with tomato sauce on top. I sliced a medium zucchini into chunks then hollowed the slices out with a melon-baller, and did a thinner zuke "boat". 


Here they are stuffed with a tofu "ricotta", fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes: 


They were great with the simple tomato sauce.

However, when the tomatoes are the sweetest most delicious heirloom varieties, simply sliced is the ticket for me. A 14 ouncer heirloom took center stage on my lunch plate today: 


Yesterday's feature was slightly smaller but oh so delicious: 


Both lunches were served with an adapted version of the Whole Foods' Health Starts Here Broccoli Salad with Almond Chili Dressing.

Burger Madness (Vegan)

Summertime finds a certain amount of burger madness chez Susan.  I thought that a post featuring various vegan burgers would be fun and might provide you with some new avenues to explore.

There are many options for the base for a good vegan burger:  beans (including tofu), grains, mushrooms, etc.  Here are three of my current favorites.

Umami Mushroom Burger


I adapted this from a recipe found here.  I made a few changes to the recipe to improve its nutritional profile.  I altered the recipe by reducing the sodium (used half the called-for Tamari and used low sodium soy sauce instead, plus used only 1 of the 2 tsp of Worcesterhire sauce). I also didn't use the grapeseed oil. I water sauteed the shallots and garlic and only used a light spray of olive oil spray in the pan when cooking the burgers.

I didn't use parmesan cheese, of course. I substituted 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast. I used raw cashews, untoasted. I substituted rolled oats for the whole wheat flour, and pulsed the oats in the dry container of my Vita-Mix to make them more flour-like in consistency.

I saved the soaking water from rehydrating the porcinis and then used that liquid to moisten the burgers a bit while I was incorporating the oats. And I left them in the fridge for a good 45 min. before cooking.

Roasted Beet Tofu Burgers


These vibrant-looking burgers are from a recipe on fatfreevegan.  I've made them a few times and always enjoy them.  They are a more delicate burger so probably wouldn't be able to stand up to grilling, but when baked they are great.  If you wanted them sturdier, you could add some oat or whole wheat flour.

Lynne's Black Bean Burgers

I also really like a black bean burger recipe developed by Lynne, a member of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's member support forum.  Lynne uses black beans, very finely shredded carrots, and brown rice as the base of her burgers.  I served them on top of a grilled portobello mushroom, then topped with:  grilled onions, roasted red peppers, 1 TBSP low sodium salsa, and a dab of Dijon mustard.


Black Bean Burgers
by Lynne Murray

1 lb dried black beans, cooked (on the soft side)
1 medium onion, minced
1 large red pepper, minced
1 Tablespoon dried basil (Lynne uses Penzey’s and so do I!)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 carrots, peeled and shredded very fine on a box cutter
½ to ¾ cup pre cooked brown rice

Water sauté onion and red pepper and garlic. Once starting to get soft, add basil. After several minutes add carrots – they don’t need much cooking. Mash the beans with a potato masher until partially mashed. Mix in veggies and brown rice. Form into ball form, about the size of a small burger. Put on a plate, or plates, cover with plastic wrap and chill. Once chilled you can press into patty form.  Lynne cooks hers in her toaster oven on broil. Broil just enough to get hot through and a bit crispy on the outside without browning.

Black Bean Chipotle Soup

I've been loving a sort of ad hoc black bean soup I've been making lately.

It is based on a recipe from the Rick Bayless cookbook, Mexico - One Plate at a Time. His recipe includes Masa "Gnocchi", which I didn't make or add to the soup, but I bet they'd be great. Interesting concept. I just wanted straight soup with no other starch but beans.


Ad Hoc Black Bean Chipotle Soup


1.5 cans cooked black beans (I ran out of dry... they are much better if you cook them yourself).
4 med sized roma tomatoes
1 med sized red onion
4-5 whole garlic cloves
2 tsp of chipotle in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
3 oz raw baby spinach
Chopped tomato, onion, cilantro for garnish (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Halve tomatoes and set them in a baking dish lined with parchment paper, along with whole garlic cloves and onion very roughly chopped. Use a dish with some lip on the sides so the juice of the tomatoes doesn't run off. Roast veggies until they are mostly soft and you can pick the skins off the tomatoes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, put black beans (with liquid) in a med sized sauce pan and bring to a low simmer.
  3. Remove skins from tomatoes and add them along with any accumulated juices into a high speed blender along with the garlic and chipolte. Puree until smooth. Add cooked onion chunks and blend on low speed for a short time just to chop them a bit more finely.
  4. Add puree to simmering beans. Cover and simmer until mixture -20 thickens a bit (approx. 15- 20 min.).
  5. Remove cover and stir in baby spinach. Cover and let wilt, stirring every few minutes to incorporate the spinach into the soup.
  6. Serve topped with chopped onion, tomatoes, cilantro and a dab of leftover savory salad dressing if you have it. I used some leftover "caesar" dressing made with roasted garlic and cashews.

Eggplant Bolognese

I tried another recipe from the Whole Foods' Health Starts Here collection - Eggplant Bolognese.

Click here for the recipe.


I thought this was excellent.  Instead of serving it on pasta, I served it on spiralized zucchini which was very lightly steamed.  To make the zucchini "pasta"  I used a Spirooli.  See below for everything that you've always wanted to know about spiralizing vegetables and more.

Green Lemonade

This is a naturally tart/sweet juice that tastes just like it sounds, like lemonade with a twist - of green, that is.

I'm told this recipe was originally published by Natalia Rose, but I don't have her books so can't be sure. It has been circulating on internet cooking forums for years in various forms.

This recipe requires a juicer, not a blender.

Green Lemonade

2 organic Fuji apples (or similar)
1 whole organic lemon, peel on
1 big head of organic Romaine lettuce
5 stems organic lacinto kale (or other greens)

Just juice, stir, and enjoy!


If you see these in the market:


buy some!  These are fiddleheads, which are actually the shoots of the ostrich fern.  They are a short-lived delicacy.

Steam them lightly, add a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and serve with a bold nut-based sauce.

Early Spring is fiddlehead season!  These are foraged, not commercially grown usually.


April 2014

Recent Posts

  1. Easy Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup
    Saturday, February 09, 2013
  2. Garlic Mincing
    Thursday, October 11, 2012
  3. A Visual for You
    Sunday, July 01, 2012
  4. Preserving the Harvest
    Sunday, October 02, 2011
  5. Tomatoes Galore
    Sunday, August 07, 2011
  6. Burger Madness (Vegan)
    Sunday, July 24, 2011
  7. Black Bean Chipotle Soup
    Monday, June 06, 2011
  8. Eggplant Bolognese
    Saturday, June 04, 2011
  9. Green Lemonade
    Saturday, May 07, 2011
  10. Fiddleheads
    Friday, May 06, 2011

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