Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Roasted root vegetables

Following on my last couple of posts about roasted vegetables, here is an alternate and incredibly easy use for roasted root vegetables: soup!  My husband loves soup and although he prefers chunky soups to purees, I find a hot and hearty pureed soup really comforting.  This is another way to repurpose one meal into another.

Roasted root vegetable soup is so simple to make, I don’t even think I need to post up separate instructions:

  1. Dump roasted root vegetables into a blender.
  2. Add some vegetable stock.
  3. Blend.
  4. Serve.

The thing about making roasted root vegetables is that I find it incredibly easy to make a massive amount at once.  But eating roasted vegetables every night for a week can get a bit boring, so it is worth it to find alternate uses for them.  If it is possible to make a huge amount of something one night so I can do minimal cooking the other nights of the week, I am game.  Who doesn’t love a life hack like that?

Often when we repurpose leftovers, it’s tempting to just change them marginally.  But they still retain the same mouthfeel, even if the flavors change a bit.  By turning the roasted root vegetables into a soup, you completely alter their texture and taste.  Normally when we eat roasted root vegetables, we taste each individual vegetable.  You can close your eyes and tell if you are eating a potato, a carrot, or a beet.  Even if you get a couple of different flavors in one bite, they are only marginally mixed and still identifiable.  But once they are blended into a soup, the flavors meld seamlessly and create a new taste.

Simply adding all these vegetables to a pot, boiling, and blending will not give you the same result as roasting.  Roasting is a process that tends to intensify and concentrate flavors.  The caramelization process that takes place during roasting naturally intensifies the sweetness of even the most bland ingredients.  Boiling and then blending will leave you with a soup that is much more bland and flavorless, whereas blending up roasted vegetables will give your soup all the oomph and power of sweet, concentrated flavors.

Another bonus of turning leftover roasted root vegetables into soup is the freeze factor.  Roasted root vegetables cannot just be frozen as they are because some vegetables just will not maintain the right kind of texture and flavor when later defrosted, plus you’ll lose all the crunchiness that comes from roasting and be left with soggy cubes.  Not appetizing!  But once you blend all the vegetables up into a soup, you can definitely freeze it.  Just remember that if your mixture contains potatoes, you will need to stir well when you reheat it to redistribute the moisture in the soup evenly throughout.

Perhaps the best part about this soup is that it is so easy and fast.  Once you have your roasted root vegetables, you basically just need to spend one minute blending them.  If they’re cool, then just heat and serve.

And of course, it is versatile, too.  You can change the flavor of the soup dramatically depending on what vegetables in what amounts you’ve chosen to roast.  Is it a sweeter soup with lots of things like pumpkin and beets?  Or is it more savory, with flavors like potato and celeriac?

Changing the seasonings on the roasted root vegetables also dramatically changes the flavor profile of the soup.  Make Indian-style curried root vegetables and you’ll have a curried soup.  Italian herbs give you an Italian style soup.  Virtually any flavor combination that works for roasted root vegetables works for roasted root vegetable soup, too.

Finally, jazz it up with different toppings.  A soup heavy in orange colored vegetables, like pumpkin, carrot, and sweet potato, begs for a sprinkle of nutmeg and some toasted pumpkin seeds.  Pine nuts and soaked raisins are the perfect topping for a Moroccan-style blend.  Try sour cream and spring onions (or finely diced jalapenos) on a Mexican-style blend.  A curried soup goes great with some yogurt and chutney on top.  As far as toppings go, they sky’s the limit!

Because roasted root vegetables often include more starchy or high-calorie ingredients, a big bowl of this soup is satisfying enough to constitute an entire meal.  Alternatively, serve it up as a pre-course, or even during the meal itself.  A curried soup can be a nice side during a meal of thali while a Moroccan-style soup could even be poured over a mound of couscous.

Heat it up really hot before school and fill a thermos to send with your child as a healthy school lunch choice – it should still be hot, but not too hot, by the time they are ready to eat it.

To me, roasted root vegetable soup is the ultimate comfort food.  It’s easy and fast and is a great way to repurpose leftovers.  I hope you enjoy!  We enjoyed it so much I completely forgot to take a picture until it was all gone!

The (Healthy) Icing on the Cake

The (Healthy) Icing on the Cake

Icing in a bowl

Tomorrow is Australia Day, so in preparation for the celebrations I’ve decided to share a recipe for Lamingtons, an Australia Day tradition.  Lamingtons are basically a sponge cake, cut in squares, then covered in chocolate icing and desiccated coconut.  So before I share the lamingtons recipe with you, I want to share with you a recipe for a healthy, raw vegan, gluten free chocolate icing.

What is the difference between icing and frosting? Well, icing is thinner and frosting is thicker! At least that’s my definition!  This recipe is quite thin and so it is good for dipping, pouring, or spreading in a very thin layer.  It is really versatile, too.

Make sure the bananas you’re using are super ripe, as that is a big source of sweetness in the recipe, plus you want them to blend up nice and smooth.

Chocolate icing in blender

Healthy Raw Vegan Gluten Free Sugar Free Chocolate Banana Icing

This icing is amazing.  We just couldn’t stop licking our fingers, and of course the kids loved it!  It is primarily a chocolate icing but the flavors of banana and coconut do come through a bit.  To reduce those flavors, you can try increasing the amount of cacao powder and agave syrup you add, but as I’m happier with some subtle natural flavor coming through I haven’t tried this, so you’ll have to experiment and leave a note sharing how it worked for you!

Ingredients

3 small extremely ripe organic bananas
1/3 c. organic dates
2 tbsp raw organic coconut oil
3 tbsp raw organic agave nectar (honey also works fine)
3 tbsp organic cacao powder
1 & 1/2 tbsp raw organic almond milk

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour into a bowl or container and spread on cakes, cookies, bread, or anything else you can think of!

Variations

  • For a less sweet variety, omit the agave syrup/honey.
  • For those allergic to nuts, substitute oat or coconut milk for the almond milk.
  • To remove the chocolate, substitute 2 tbsp superfine coconut flour for the cacao powder.
  • To change the flavor, remove the chocolate as per the above step, then add in a few drops of the essence of the flavor you want to add, such as vanilla, almond, or hazelnut.  Make sure it is the kind of flavor that is compatible with the flavors of coconut and banana, as these flavors will come through a bit.

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes

Strawberries in blender

As I mentioned yesterday, I have way too many strawberries.  I am always on the hunt for healthy recipes my kids will love.  Not only that, but I want recipes I can make a LOT of and then freeze.  One of our household favorites are Banana Oat Blender Pancakes from Mountain Mama Cooks.  So, I wondered, can I convert this recipe and make strawberry pancakes instead? If I do that, will they actually taste like strawberries?  Or will the strawberries, with their more mild taste than banana, be lost entirely?

Pancake mix in the blender, ready to go

To my mind, a batch of healthy pancakes that tastes good is quite possibly the perfect food. Because they are gluten and dairy free, even my picky hubby will eat these. Make them fruity enough at the start and you won’t even need jam or syrup.  They’re good to eat hot out of the pan, but they’re also perfect for snacking straight from the fridge.  They’re portable and hold up well even if you’re out for the day on a hot day.  Best of all, they freeze really well.  I just stick a stack of them in a bag and freeze them together (in our house, a stack of pancakes disappears in an instant), but if you want to be able to pull out one at a time, just layer a square of baking paper between each of them.

As the pancake mix blends, it creates a beautiful pink batter.

As the pancake mix blends, it creates a beautiful pink batter.

So off I went to experiment with Mountain Mama’s tried and true recipe.  With some changes, it worked!  With enough strawberries you can definitely taste them!  They also add a delightful (and somewhat romantic) pink tinge.  After my first batch, I did find I needed to add a bit more oats than the original recipe called for (alternatively, I could have reduced the amount of rice milk added).  That’s because strawberries are bit more “watery” than bananas.

Pancakes in the pan

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free* oats
  • 1 1/4 cups homemade rice milk (recipe for this coming soon)
  • 1 punnet organic strawberries, washed and green tops removed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon local honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large organic egg
  • coconut oil for cooking

*I do not use gluten free oats because nobody in our house has such a serious allergy that a bit of cross-contamination would be any issue, and oats are naturally gluten free.

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, except coconut oil in the base of a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat and melt one teaspoon of coconut oil.
  3. When hot, pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake (I pour straight from the blender – no extra cleanup from scooping!).
  4. Brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
  5. Serve hot with fresh diced or sliced strawberries on top.

Variations

  • Try other flavors or types of milk for additional layers of flavor.  I bet chocolate almond milk would be amazing.  You can also use cow’s milk if you don’t mind dairy.
  • Chop up strawberries and mix them into the batter just before pouring if you want chunks of strawberry in your pancakes, as opposed to just the flavor throughout.
  • If the batter becomes too thick to pour (and it does thicken the longer it sits), just add a tablespoon or two of milk (rice, almond, etc) and mix in to thin.
  • To make them vegan, omit the egg and substitute maple syrup for the honey.  They’ll still turn out fine. 🙂
Strawberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and powdered coconut oil (no, it is NOT powdered sugar!).

Strawberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and powdered coconut oil (no, it is NOT powdered sugar!).

My 14-month-old is happy I handed him a pancake.

My 14-month-old is happy I handed him a pancake.

That strawberry pancake didn't last long!  He shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once.  It took a few tries to get it all in there.

That strawberry pancake didn’t last long! He shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once. It took a few tries to get it all in there.