Tag Archives: soup

Playing in the Kitchen

finished soup

Today, I thought I’d dive in to recipe development in a bit more depth.
Recipe development: that sounds so fancy, doesn’t it? It’s not fancy in my head. Really, it’s just playing in the kitchen — usually because we’re starting to get hungry and need something fast. So here’s how a typical dinner happens around here.

raw veg

This one started, as they often do, with the realization that dinner needed to hit the table pretty darned soon, and I had no plan. Sigh. I spy some veggies in a wooden bowl, and think I should use that squash. The weather’s been cold and damp today; soup sounds good. I chop up the squash, and peel some carrots. Roasting is usually quick, and gives really good flavor. Roasting brings out the sweetness, so I’m pretty sure even the littles will like it.

Thinking I’d like something warm and Mexican-inspired, I pull out salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon, and sprinkle those on the veggies. I quickly melt a bit of coconut oil, and pour that over them as well. Pop the trays in a 425 degree oven, and that’s underway.

I send a text to the husband, trying to convince him to pick up a rotisserie chicken on his way home. Husband says nope, can’t do it. Another dramatic sigh. I’ll pull something out of the freezer.

pork jowl

A quick dig around in our small freezer brings me to this chunk of smoked pork jowl. I figure hey, that’s basically bacon. I’m going to slice it up and fry it to go with the soup.

While the meat is cooking, I start thinking about the final dish. Since I’m going to puree the veggies in the Vitamix, I know the soup will be super smooth and silky. Crisp pork will make a nice contrast to that, but I want a bit of crunch (and color) as well. How can I do that? I pull out the hand grater and shred some red cabbage.

Onions in Pork Fat | Paleo + Life

I think about adding some of the garlic I roasted last week to the soup, but am torn. Like the roasted veg, the garlic is sweet, but the flavor’s a bit stronger than I want. Instead, when the pork is done cooking, I slice an onion really thin, and cook the slices in the rendered fat. The onion slices start to caramelize as they cook, starting to develop a deep, sweet flavor, but also picking up a bit of the smoky flavor from the cooking fat. As I taste them, I think: Yup, that was the right choice.

When the onions are done, I pull them out of the pan and set them aside. By this time, the carrots and squash are fork tender, so I pull them out of the oven. I let them cool for a few minutes, but since we need to dish dinner up PDQ I’m handling them while they’re still hot. The carrots are already peeled, and just need slicing, but the squash needs the peel taken off as well. I toss the chunks into the Vitamix, and blend away.  Because of the quantity of veggies, I do this in two batches.

Once the soup is blended, dinner’s basically done. I scoop a hefty portion into a bowl for each of us, topping it with the red cabbage, bacon and fried onions.  No time for fancy plating: we’re starving, and it smells fantastic. We dig in.

Food Lover’s Fridays: Bone Broth

Bone Broth | Paleo + Life

Food Lovers’ Fridays: I’m a big fan of bringing classical cooking methods and recipes into the home kitchen. Today’s post is part of a series meant to highlight those traditional techniques and recipes that can be used in or adapted to paleo cooking.

In my continuing quest to keep the creeping crud away, I decided to revisit one of my favorite foodstuffs. It seems weird to consider broth a food, because I have always used it as an ingredient, but lately I’ve gotten into just cups of bone broth on its own.  Apparently this makes me trendy: the chef of Hearth restaurant in New York has opened a to-go shop just for bone broth.

Trendy or not, homemade broth or stock– the difference is that broth is made with meat, instead of just bones — has been my go-to, never-fail solution to sick for years. My kids all know the drill: if you’re sick enough to stay home from school, you’re getting broth for your meals. (Incidentally, this has prevented more than one case of “too sick to go to school.”) It’s the perfect base for making soups or for braises. If you eat/can tolerate rice or beans, they are so much tastier when cooked in broth rather than water.

Things to note: I’ve taken a tip from several other paleo bloggers and started making my bone broth in two phases. First, I cook the bones until they are softened:

Cooked bone | Paleo + Life

The bones go from this…

shattered bone | Paleo + Life

…to this.

Then I add the vegetables, and cook the mixture even longer.

Cooked broth/veg | Paleo + Life



A few broth tips: Though I haven’t yet tried it, Simone Miller of Zenbelly recommends adding egg shells to your broth if you happen to have them for extra calcium. I always use cooked bones — some cooks prefer a  “white stock”, where they blanch the bones, but I like the deeper flavor of cooked ones — and let the mixture go for days on end. In my experience, it takes between 24-48 hours to get the bones crumbly.
The broth here was made with turkey, but two or three chicken carcasses would produce about the same volume of broth. I like to add a little bit of salt when I add the vegetables, but because my broth is usually incorporated into other dishes, I don’t use much. Finally, some people like garlic in their stock, while others say it has too domineering a flavor. I add a couple of small pieces, but I think it is just as good without — cook’s choice.

Food Lover’s Fridays: Bone Broth


  • Poultry carcass (I used one from a cooked 18-20 lb. turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Water
  • 4 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, quartered, peels left on
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 small cloves garlic, peels left on (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Using a meat cleaver or other strong knife, breakdown the carcass so that it fits into a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and then add water to cover the bones. Program slow cooker to longest setting; cook until the drumstick bones become softened enough to easily break. [This takes at least 24 hours in my cooker - you may need to reset the cooking cycle more than once.]
  2. Add carrots, onions, celery and garlic (if using) to the slow cooker; cook for at least another 8 hours. Allow to cool.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, strain solids from the broth and refrigerate immediately. If desired, broth may be frozen for later use.

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Cauliflower Leek Soup | Paleo + LifeWhen people ask how I survived graduate school while raising a family, I usually say something about my amazing husband and his incredible support, or our kids, who are (mostly) becoming ever more helpful as they grow up. These things are true, and I certainly don’t want to take credit away from my lovely family, but if I could only to point to one thing in particular?

Soup. Lots and lots of soup.

I am pretty certain that 90% of dinners during the last four years involved some sort of crockpot soup concoction and either crackers or cheese toast. Since going paleo/Primal, we have switched to various types of homemade crackers, and have also made bread with Primal Girl’s excellent magic dough recipe.

Soup is generally a simple process, especially around here on a weeknight. Four steps, and we’re done: chop, cook, mash, and eat. There is a world of technique between “chop” and “eat,” of course, and endless choices of foods to combine, but that’s the fun of it. For this one, I was thinking of potato leek soup, but wanted something was less heavy.
(While some paleo and Primal eaters can handle them, white potatoes = starch bombs as far as the hub and I are concerned, so they were out.) Instead, I grabbed some cauliflower that needed cooking and a couple of kohlrabi that I literally scrounged from the back of the fridge (seriously, they’ve been there for about a thousand years). If kohlrabi is not available where you live, substitute broccoli instead.

Even though I wanted to make the soup quickly, I also wanted a deeper flavor. To accomplish this, I sauteed the leeks and garlic gently for a good long while and used the same fast cooking in a hot oven as for my Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli. Cauliflower is less dense than kohlrabi or broccoli, so takes a little less time to roast. Chuck it all in the Vitamix, and voila: soup’s on. (Ahem. That was a French joke. Soupçon? Get it. Sorry. Forget I said anything. I am a nerd.)

If you are speedy at trimming your veggies, you can easily get this soup on the table in under an hour. Then you too can get back to studying, knowing that your family has been well-fed.

Cauliflower Leek Soup


  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, divided
  • 1 lb cleaned, sliced leeks (frozen ones are fine)
  • 5 cloves garlic, slivered
  • One head cauliflower
  • 2 knobs kohlrabi (or two bunches broccoli)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups herb stock


  1. In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 tablespoons coconut oil. When oil has warmed, add leeks garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown slightly (~30-40 minutes).
  2. Wash and trim the cauliflower. Peel and slice the kohlrabi into rough chunks. Spread kohlrabi and cauliflower on cookie sheets. Drizzle the vegetables with the remaining coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a 425° oven. Roast vegetables until starting to color and they are fork tender: about 20 minutes for cauliflower, about 30 for kohlrabi.
  3. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine half of the leek mixture with the roasted kohrabi and 2 cups stock. Blend until desired smoothness is reached:
  4. 20-40 seconds for a chunky soup; 40-60 seconds for a smoother purée. Pour into a large bowl. Add remaining leek mixture, remaining stock and roasted cauliflower to the blender and process (cauliflower is not as dense as kohlrabi so it will purée a touch faster). Stir to combine; serve immediately.

PDX Parsnip Soup

PDX Parsnip Soup | Paleo + LifePortland’s weather is mercurial at the best of times. Cloudy days that I’m certain will end in rain often turn sweaty and bright before I can grab my waterproof jacket. Conversely, even a string of warm, sunny days is no guarantee that the sun won’t suddenly dart behind a cluster of clouds, thorough soaking everything before I quite know what has happened.

This soup was inspired by the latter kind of day. I was in the kitchen with the kids — summer vacation is upon us, even if summery weather isn’t — and they were starting to get that glassy-eyed look that leads to cries of “I’m starving!” and “What are we having for dinner?” Needing something fast and simple that would also use up the sadly neglected veggies in the fridge, I devised this soup on the fly. We ate it with bacon, which makes all things taste better, and homemade almond flour crackers (one of many excellent recipes from Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods).*

The bright sweetness of parsnips and carrots combines beautifully with the earthy musk of cumin and the lemony tang of coriander. It might not be the first combination that springs to mind, but I found it delightful. For those who eat dairy and feel like a splurge, grate some real Parmesan cheese over the individual servings; the flavor is absolutely luscious. If you are doing a Whole30, are vegan, or simply prefer to avoid dairy, a bit of nutritional yeast is a tasty substitute.

PDX Parsnip Soup


  • Four fat parsnips
  • Four carrots
  • 1 cup dehydrated unsweetened coconut
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast


  1. Wash carrots and parsnips, snapping off the skinniest roots. Slice into rounds.
  2. Fill the bottom of a large steamer with water. Place the vegetables in the top portion of the steamer. Cover and cook on medium heat until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, reserving four cups of the steaming water.
  3. Pour two cups of the steam water into a high-speed blender along with the coconut, cumin, and coriander. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Pour one cup of reserved water into In a high-speed blender. Add approximately half of the carrots and parsnips. Blend for 1-2 minutes, tamping vegetables down as necessary, or until mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  5. Pour another cup of steam water and the rest of the vegetables into the high speed blender; blending as before. Add to the soup in the bowl and stir.
  6. Finally, pour the last cup of reserved water into the blender. Blend for approximately 30 seconds. Stirring as you pour, add the water to the soup.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with a little sprinkle of oregano and cheese to taste.

* = Affiliate link.

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