Tag Archives: soup

Pumpkin Bean Quinoa Stew

Did you know that the spanish word for ‘pumpkin’ is calabaza?

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes. This recipe, like many others, was born of pantry ingredients and a blasé attitude towards cooking. I’ve been busy and, as a result, not cooking or blogging. In fact, for the first time, feeding myself feels like a chore. I have even depleted my precious  freezer-ful of Trader Joe’s packaged vegetarian goodies. Sad times.

Feeling like I needed something wholesome and real, I glumly poked around my kitchen the other night, zeroed in on a can of pumpkin puree leftover from the Fall, and finally the rusty wheels of inspiration started turning. Very creakily.

What resulted was a Mexican-inspired pumpkin bean stew, with some quinoa thrown in for good measure. Cilantro, garlic , cumin and lime come together to give pumpkin puree a decidedly non-Thanksgiving kick.

Tasty and hearty, I hope this stew chases away your kitchen doldrums, like it did mine!

Hearty, rich and full of flavour.



1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 19 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or other bean, such as black or pinto)

1 28 0z. can pumpkin puree

1 bouillon cube

6 cups boiling water

1/2 a lime

1/2 tbsp salt ( and more to taste)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced for garnish


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-low heat.

Add the onion, sprinkle with a little salt, and fry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a kettleful of water.

Add zucchini and bell pepper to the onions and cook until slightly softened.

Add cumin, chili powder, garlic and quinoa and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.

Add beans, pumpkin, bouillon cube, salt and 6 cups boiling water.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or until veggies are tender and quinoa is cooked.

Squeeze in the lime juice, and stir in the cilantro. Taste for salt. I added more.

Serve with avocado and a sprinkle of cilantro on top if you want to get fancy.

Makes a big pot of stew. I froze a LOT of it for a rainy day. Add more water if you’d like a soupier consistency.



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Filed under Dinner, Soups

Green Soup with Fresh Cilantro Pesto: A Recipe, With Love

Green soup with a fresh cilantro pesto that packs a wallop. Of garlic.

The recipe that I am about to share with you is one I will most likely never make again, at least not for a long , long time. Don’t get me wrong—it was really good!

As some of you may remember, I was on a soup kick a couple months ago. I was attempting to jam as many vegetables and healthy fats (snicker, I just accidentally typed ‘farts’. Farts are healthy too) into one easily eaten bowl. This was my way of feeling useful and proactive when my Papa was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to create any other recipes for him, as he died two months later on Valentine’s Day.

I normally would feel uncomfortable sharing such intimate things with the anonymous vastness that is the internet, but my Papa was a public guy. He was the editor of a local newspaper, and then moved on to positions in communications and media relations. So when he was diagnosed, he was excited to collaborate with me here, using The Keen Kitchen as a space to share words and cancer-fighting recipes . We both hoped and believed that this would carry on a lot longer than it did.

I am lucky to have collaborated with Papa several times in the past. When I was 9, he had my review one of my favourite albums at the time, Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Candles, Snow & Mistletoe, put in the paper. When I was 14 and at the peak of my awkward years, I again wrote something that was published (I can’t remember what), accompanied by the worst photo of me in existence. Last year, after reading my blog, he gave me a shot at interviewing people and writing stories for the charity organization where he worked, leading me in a roundabout way to the newspaper job I have now. So even though he verbally tried to discourage me from going down this path, I now realize that he believed in and nurtured my abilities, inadvertently grooming me to follow in his footsteps.

This post has been months in the making. As things progressed, Papa moved more slowly, but he was determined to write something about this soup, even a week before he succumbed to his failing liver. I felt like I needed to write this before moving on to other posts—something I couldn’t face until now. I’ve still been cooking and have made a few things that I deemed bloggable, but it just didn’t feel right to do so. I do want to carry on creating recipes and writing, especially since he was so supportive of this endeavor. I know I’ll think of him every time I write and use my portable photo studio, and that my heart will ache every time. Unfortunately this is life, and we just have to carry on and try to live in an exemplary fashion, doing justice to the memory of those we have lost. I still feel like Papa is here somehow, and I hope I can continue to make him proud.

And keep making healing soups, like this one.

A weird thing-- Papa took a few pictures of this soup too. I wanted to use one here, but they have vanished from my computer, as have the emails they were attached to. Spooky.

As usual, this recipe makes a big pot of soup. It’s tasty by itself, but a drizzle of fresh cilantro pesto really takes it to another level, so I strongly recommend making it! A warning, though: it has a strong garlic flavour, which I love but some may not. It’s so good for you, though.

As for the soup itself, the ingredients are quite flexible. Have anything else green and lovely on hand? Throw it in! The more the merrier.

Soup Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (or even better, broccoli. I just didn’t have any on hand.)

1 kettleful of water

1 tbsp bouillon powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 kales leaves, torn

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups fresh spinach

salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro Pesto Ingredients:

1 bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt


Heat oil on medium in a large soup pot. Add onions, zucchini and cauliflower and/or broccoli and fry until softened.

Meanwhile, boil a kettleful of water.

Add herbs, bouillon, garlic and kale to the pot, stirring until wilted. Add the white beans and the boiling water (about 6 cups). Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all the veggies are soft.

While the soup is simmering away, make your cilantro pesto: throw all ingredients into a small jar and stir. Done.

When the veggies are soft, add the fresh spinach and let cook a couple minutes until it’s wilted.

Take the soup off the heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a generous drizzle of cilantro pesto.

Update: found it! This is Papa's photo.


Filed under Soups

Vegan French Onion Soup

Je m'appelle "Soupe." Enchantée.

Let’s talk about onions. How do you feel about them? Perhaps because of their pungency, they seem to incite strong feelings one way or another. In my case, our Facebook relationship status would be “It’s Complicated.” Remember when I told you how gross mayonnaise is? Well, I used to feel the same  way about onions. Hated them. Would not go near them. Would not eat anything they had even touched.

I have been daydreaming about French Onion Soup for like four days and have been writing this post in my head for three. I am obsessed. How did I get to this place, you ask? Well, I learned that onions can be cooked into oblivion. When slow-cooked, they dissolve and impart a delectably rich flavour to every dish they meet. Once I wrapped my head around this concept, I gradually started to actually like the little tear-jerkers.

Oh, and I grew up and quit being such a whiner.

This recipe isn’t particularly innovative: a quickle Google search will give you oodles of French Onion Soup recipes with similar methods and ingredients. I have actually never eaten the stuff until today, as I understand it is usually made with beef broth and I’ve been a pescatarian for nearly twenty years. Plus, the whole anti-onion thing made this soup my literal nightmare in a bowl.

Turns out the secret to making this soup is caramelizing the onions for about an hour. Uncovered! Think about what this makes your house smell like! Think about what slicing five big onions means for your eyes! It’s worth it though. If you’re a reformed onion-loather or a French Onion Soup-deprived vegan or vegetarian, this one’s for you.

I don’t know if this tastes anything like the classic beef-based version, but hot damn is it ever tasty! Super rich and flavourful, the Daiya and bread really take it to another place– onion heaven.

Oh, and apparently an onion a day keeps the doctor away.

La soupe, nue et sans pain et fromage.

I used Michael Smith’s recipe (mostly because his name is a combination of my parent’s names) as a base and easily veganized it.


2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

splash water

5 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup brandy ( I imagine sherry or white wine would be nice too)

6 cups water (or vegetable stock– omit the bouillon cubes)

1 onion bouillon cube

1 mushroom bouillon cube

1 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp Bragg’s or wheat-free tamari

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Daiya mozzarella

Wheat-free bread of choice (I used Quinoa Barley bread– NOT gluten-free!)


Throw onions, vegan butter, splash of water, a pinch of salt, and oil into a large soup pot and turn heat to medium-high or high. Cover and let cook for around ten minutes, until the onions have softened and the water has evaporated.

Uncover and turn heat to low. Let the onions caramelize for around an hour, stirring every five minutes or so. As I write this, the onions have been doing their thing for 40 minutes. They are soft but not brown. They’d better get to browning!

Update: Onions have shrunk in size considerably. And I broke one of my lightbulbs while setting up the lightbox.

Not a golden colour at one hour. Turning up the heat to medium and watching carefully!

Cat has entered the lightbox. Does not bode well for the food that will soon be in there.

I don’t know why I am live blogging this. Sorry.

Screw it. Onions aren’t dark brown.

Add the brandy, bouillon cubes, water, Bragg’s and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes.

Turn on broiler and cut bread to fit your bowl. Toast it.

Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and top with toast. Sprinkle with as much Daiya as your heart desires.

Broil until Daiya is melted.


Melty, bread-y, oniony, kind of boozy. French? Je n'ai aucune idée.

Serves 4. While very tasty, I would not recommend this as a weekday soup, as it takes awhile to caramelize the onions. Make it on the weekend unless you like eating at 9:30 pm. 


Filed under Soups

Carrot Yam Ginger aka Sneaky Bean Soup

Sunshine in a bowl! Enjoy with a mug of green tea. (Photo and food styling by Papa)

I have one of those faces that, when resting, prompts people to emphatically ask “What’s wrong?” So, sometimes I walk around smiling to prevent that.

Anyway. This has been an awkward introduction to a new soup recipe! What I’m trying to say is that sometimes when I am wandering around grinning stupidly, I am actually making up soups in my head. I thought about this one for a few days before I made it. I have read a lot of stuff about ‘super’ and anti-inflammatory foods and such, and I was trying to keep cancer-fighting and preventing ingredients in mind. Good things like garlic, ginger, onion and turmeric.

Now, I hesitate to quote stuff from the internet, so I looked to Dr. Andrew Weil’s website to make sure my hunches were true. He has written many books, after all, and he’s not some yahoo, like yours truly, that just tells you things are healthy without any evidence to back it up.

So, here’s a quote from oncologist Donald I. Abrams found in the “Cancer” section of the website: “I […] recommend seasoning food with ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, [and] drinking green tea, all of which have anti-inflammatory effects.” The gospel truth right there for you.

This soup, a yummy and vitamin-packed vehicle for aforementioned cancer fighters, also makes good use of carrots, a yam, coconut milk and a sneaky can of white beans. Brightly coloured orange (and green) veggies pack a nutritional punch (ugh, what a cliché, sorry) and the beans add some bulk and much-needed fibre. And the coconut milk? Well, y’all know I add that shit to everything!

All that was a long-winded way of saying that I tried to cram a lot of anti-inflammatory veggies, fibre, and healthy fat into one good-tasting soup that would be easy to eat. Mission accomplished.

But don’t take my word for it! Here is mi padre:

A big pot of this soup has made dark days spent rattling around an existential wilderness remarkably bearable. This cancer has stolen my appetite. We all have our own special relationships with food. For me the most perfect comfort foods are soups and stews.

This week’s soup recipe is pure liquid sunshine, flavourfully loaded, and just textured enough to reveal in a subtly honest manner the nature of its health giving materials. Very yummy!


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

5 carrots, diced

1 largish yam, peeled and cubed

A 2″ piece of ginger, grated (I sort of wish I had added more)

2 very large (or 4 normal) cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp Herbamare (or regular salt)

8 cups water

1 19 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can full-fat coconut milk


Heat oil in a large pot over medium to medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until slightly softened.

Add carrots, yam, ginger, turmeric and garlic. Cook until veggies have softened a bit, around fifteen minutes.

Add water, salt and beans. Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer until all the vegetables are completely soft.

Take pot off the heat and blend soup with a hand blender until completely smooth. Warning: I stained my dad’s partner’s white blender doing this. Sorry, Tracy. Turmeric is crazy yellow!

Taste for salt. I added quite a lot more, but didn’t measure.

Stir in coconut milk.

Bask in the deliciousness.

Makes a large pot of soup.


Filed under Soups

Lentil Soup and New Beginnings

I would have called this 'Lentil Slop,' but who would want to eat that? Me, that's who.

I’ve been alluding to new beginnings for a couple posts now, and I’ll make good on it, I swear!

I made this lentil soup because I thought it would be healing. My father has been diagnosed with cancer and my first instinct was to cook. I find it therapeutic most of the time (ie. when I’m not under pressure to get dinner on the table!) and as soon as I found out, I started frying up some onions and envisioning healthy, hearty and anti-inflammatory things. I do believe that food can heal, or at least help keep one strong along the journey. It’s a practical way to cope with the curveball that’s been thrown at us. The unfortunate thing is that almost everyone is thrown this same unwelcome curveball at some point.

The result is this savoury mush. It’s meant to be a lentil soup, really. Something I thought would be easy and palatable. Something I could cook and share with Papa. Something that would heal.

With that in mind, I am planning to use this space to create cancer fighting and immune system boosting recipes that will benefit everyone, really. Who couldn’t use a little more kale and beets in their life? And in their smoothies. Yes.

And, with that, here’s something from my dad:

Hello dear readers. My name is Michael. My daughter Maya is the brilliance behind this delectable online resource, The Keen Kitchen. The blog began as a way to share unique, delicious and nutritional recipes for those of us who face or have loved ones who face health challenges. I spent my career as a communicator with writing as a core tool in my bag of tricks. I tried to counsel my kids to run away from anything that even had the faintest whiff of writing about it.  Oh why didn’t they just listen and take on a satisfying career as a medical diagnostician? (I know, right?) You know the drill… Good money, flexible hours, travel the world one clinic at a time.

Well here we are now. You must agree that Maya is a first-class communicator and the medium she has chosen, healthy recipes for those who need to be a bit more creative with their ingredients, is of universal value.

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. Not good.  It looks like I’m on a faster track to enlightenment than I had imagined a week ago. I’m about to be medicalized. My natural default is optimism so I’m going to nurture that. I’ve also been advised to try to stay as physically strong as possible. That’s where this little venture comes in to play. Maya will add immune boosting recipes into the mix here at The Keen Kitchen. Food is love! I hear there will be a kale smoothie in my future? (Yep. There will.) Let’s spread a lot of that good stuff around to those, who may like me, be facing health challenges.

So stay tuned. Check out Maya’s recipe for lentil soup. I’ve always loved lentil soup in all of its permutations. This one is particularly tasty. It’s substantial, bursting with textures, exudes an oddly meaty meatlessness. Try it at home and you’ll find that it fills in the gaps in the gut in a most pleasant way.

Another gratuitous mush shot. Delicious mush.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed

9 cups water (or more if you want a thinner consistency. Start with 9.)

2 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 a head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbsp tahini

juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground pepper


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium or medium-low heat.

Fry onion for about 15 minutes until softened.

Add salt, bouillon powder and cumin and stir until fragrant.

Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add lentils and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook a pot of brown rice.

After 45 minutes of simmering, use an immersion blender and blend slightly to add a little creaminess.

Add cauliflower and simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Stir in tahini, lemon juice and cooked rice.

Add freshly ground pepper.

Eat and be merry!

Makes a large pot of soup. Serve with a slice of lemon if you like. Add more water if you want a soupier soup!


Filed under Soups

Tomato Garlic Chickpea Soup

Garlic soup for the vegan soul.

You know that thing where you haven’t done the weekly grocery shop and you find yourself with a sparse crisper and you’re sick of seeking sustenance from a bag of Daiya and a couple corn tortillas?


Can we be friends?

Because I seem to find myself in this predicament on a biweekly basis. Well, thank goodness for blogs, I tell you! And for stewy soupy concoctions.

The inspiration for this particular combination was equal parts bare fridge and a FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for White Bean and Garlic Stew. Since I modified it a fair amount, I’ll share my version. Also, we thought it was quite delicious, thanks to something I hadn’t tried before– adding an entire bulb of garlic to a normal-sized pot o’ soup.

Do it, people, just do it. As promised by Susan, the whole cloves of peeled garlic become very mellow and yummy, just like when garlic is roasted. The garlic really gave the soup a richness and depth that made it addictive and seconds-worthy.

Vampire proof.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 bulb garlic (about 15-20 cloves) peeled

2 large carrots, sliced

1 small zucchini, chopped

2 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vegetable bouillon

freshly ground pepper

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, juice left in

1 19-oz can chickpeas. drained and rinsed


In a soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.

Sauté onions for 5 minutes.

Add carrots, zucchini and garlic cloves and sauté another few minutes.

Add water, salt, bouillon, bay leaves, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Cover, lower heat and simmer for an hour, stirring and adding more water and adjusting salt if you want it soupier.

Serve with freshly ground pepper.

Savour the delicious garlic cloves and share some with your nearest and dearest.

Serves 5-6.

And now, just ’cause, a pretty little ditty by some nice young British boys:


Filed under Dinner, Soups

‘Orange You Glad It’s Vegan’ Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Spicy. Creamy. Vegan.

Cheesy title. Groan. I am a little too giddy for my own good, for it has been a long while since I have posted a recipe! Vacation, shift work, and lack of enthusiasm are all to blame. The good news is I just got the fantastic day job I’ve been yearning for (hi, new coworkers!), and am pretty excited to come home and cook every evening after work. Oh, I also have inherited a new kitty. He is currently perched right beside me and is purring his little heart out. Love it.

Anyhow, enough about me! Let’s get to the good stuff. Like soup. My Oma had a pretty delicious sounding soup recipe kicking around and I snagged a photocopy of it. It is called “Asian Pumpkin Soup.” I have no idea where she got it, so I can’t really give anyone credit for it. I changed the ingredients quite a lot, though, as I had to omit the curry powder, cashews and whipping cream. Jack is allergic to curry powder that has turmeric in it, so I get my curry fix with thai curry paste.

I am pretty pleased with how this soup turned out. It is velvety and has a slightly sweet and tangy flavour thanks to unlikely (to me) suspects orange juice and banana. It’s also pretty spicy, so please reduce the curry paste and jalapeño if you don’t want that extra kick! Also, be careful. As I was seeding the jalapeño, some of its juice squirted into my eye. It hurt  a lot and I started panicking, thinking it would just keep hurting more. I started picturing myself with a horribly red, burnt eyeball. I started wondering how I would ever work in a place where I have to deal with the public now that I was horribly disfigured. Um, the burning stopped like five minutes later and my eye is totally fine. But please, be careful.

I really wanted to serve this with latkes for some reason. It seemed like a harvest-y combo. Has anyone ever made sweet potato latkes?

Creamy Curried Pumpkin Soup: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?


1 tbsp coconut oil (or other mild-tasting oil)

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 walnut-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 banana, sliced in rounds

1 tbsp red thai curry paste (use less if your paste is really spicy. Mine isn’t crazy hot. Or substitute 2 tbsp regular curry powder.)

4 cups water

2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tsp salt

1 large (796 mL)  can pure pumpkin

1 (400 mL) can coconut milk

200 mL orange juice

fresh cilantro for garnish


Heat coconut oil on medium heat.

Add onion, jalapeño and ginger. Sauté for around 6 minutes.

Add banana and curry paste and stir until the curry coats everything evenly.

Add water, bouillon and canned pumpkin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Take pot off heat and blend soup with a hand blender.

Stir in orange juice, coconut milk and salt. Taste for salt and add more if you like.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Makes a good-sized pot of soup.


Filed under Soups