Spicy Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer soup

When the temperature outside is 114 degrees (no lie), I mostly want dinners that consist of ice cream. Then ice cream later for dessert. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we crank the air and head to the stove to make a meal like Spicy Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Soup.

Soup isn’t typically top choice for summer meals, but this dish is nothing like sitting down to a heavy fall soup or stew. The fresh summer veggies lighten things up.

Spice things up

You could use whatever vegetables you have handy, and toss them together with stock and seasonings for a light, quick meal. I added harissa paste for some zing, and lemon juice and zest (my favorite part of the soup) to lighten things up. If you don’t have harissa handy, use any sort of hot sauce, or red pepper flakes if you prefer.

When it’s so hot out that you could cook an egg on the sidewalk, head indoors, grab a cold beverage and make a batch of this summer soup instead!

 

Recipe for
Spicy Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Soup


 

 

Split Pea Soup with Parmesan-Thyme Crisps

A thick and hearty soup: Split Pea Soup with Parmesan-Thyme Crisps

I know this is the week to make all those St. Patrick’s Day meals you wait for all year, but if I wait any longer to make Split Pea Soup with Parmesan-Thyme Crisps, it’ll be too hot in Phoenix to want to eat soup!

Start a new tradition

It’s not a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish, but the soup is green, there are potatoes involved, and the Parmesan-Thyme Crisps look like pretty Irish lace doilies.  So maybe this would make a great St. Patrick’s Day meal!

This thick, filling soup is something you can put together in just a little more than an hour. You basically toss the ingredients into a pot and that’s really all there is to it! The soup is low in fat and makes a hearty meat-free meal.

Parmesan-thyme crisps

These are really easy to make and fun to use as garnish! Put them together while the soup cooks.

A great garnish: Parmesan-Thyme Crisps

  • You’ll need about 4 ounces of fresh Parmesan cheese (grated very fine) for 6 crisps, and about a tablespoon (or a bit more) of dried thyme.
  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Add a tablespoon of cheese for each crisp, mounded, to a baking pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper (about 1/2 and inch apart).
  • Use the back of the spoon to spread the cheese thin and form it into a circle, about three inches in diameter. Sprinkle a little dried thyme to the top of each circle.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them, or until the edges turn just slightly golden. Allow them to cool, then use a spatula to carefully remove them from the pan. Use one crisp to top each bowl of soup as garnish.

Recipe for Split Pea Soup:
Serves 4

Okonomiyaki (“Japanese pizza” or “pancakes”)

Some people call okonomiyaki “Japanese pizza” or “Japanese pancakes,” but to me, this traditional dish made using a thin egg and flour batter is similar to a frittata.

Made to order

I’m sure my version of okonomiyaki is a far cry from the traditional Japanese versions, but I really enjoyed it! Besides, okonomiyaki means “what you like” that is “grilled or cooked” – how accommodating, right? Okonomiyaki is great served as an appetizer or light meal.

My style

My recipe is loaded with veggies only (okonomiyaki usually includes cabbage as well as other vegetables, but many recipes include meat like pork, or even shrimp and squid, too), and I used Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour to make it a gluten-free dish.

I also made a quick mayo-garlic chili spread to use as a topping (4 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed with 2 tablespoons of prepared garlic chili sauce). In Japan, brown sauce is used to top the dish, along with a mayonnaise-type sauce drizzled over top in a crosshatch pattern. Seaweed flakes, pickled ginger and Bonito (a type of mackerel) flakes are also sprinkled over the finished dish.

A good source

My nephew, Andrew, lives in Japan so I had to ask him about okonomiyaki. He seems to know a LOT about it! Two common types include Kansai- or Osaka-style okonomiyaki, and Hiroshima-style. The Osaka-style is made by adding the ingredients in with the batter, and the Hiroshima-style is made layering the ingredients on top of the batter, using much more cabbage than the Osaka-style. Sometimes noodles and egg are included, too.

Flip out

The challenge to this dish? Flipping it after the first side is cooked. I know that sounds funny, but it’s harder than you think! Typically, okonomiyaki is cooked on a teppan, or type of griddle. After cooking one side for several minutes, two spatulas are used (for best results) to flip it. I used a large sauté pan to cook mine, and it took me a few flips before I got it right!

Andrew tells me that okonomiyaki restaurants are popular in Japan, and I can see why! You can grill your own okonomiyaki in some restaurants, or you can buy them from street vendors. Whatever you decide to add to your okonomiyaki, it’s the name of the game – “what you like!”

 

Recipe for okonomiyaki
Serves 4-6

Black Bean Veggie Burgers with Corn Salsa

If you buy the frozen veggie burgers at the grocery store, cross them off your list. If you’re hesitant about veggie burgers, try these right away. If you think veggie burgers taste like cardboard, whip these up. Seriously. They’re really good!

Sisterly Advice

My sister, Elizabeth, sent me the recipe she put together for these veggie burgers. She said they are so good she doesn’t even buy her regular brand from the grocery store anymore. I was a little apprehensive, but I love veggie burgers and thought I’d give these a try.

Getting this meatless burger together had the workspace around me smelling like springtime! There are bunches of different veggies in these burgers that provide great flavor and texture. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can substitute your favorite vegetables, beans and even spices, which I did. (I’m already thinking about putting together a curried version.)

Pick Your Crowning Glory

Both my sister and I used panko breadcrumbs, which are larger in texture than regular breadcrumbs — they have a flaky texture — and some say they’re better for frying and baking because they don’t absorb oil as easily as regular breadcrumbs and, therefore, stay crispier. I made Corn Salsa as a topping for the burgers (goes great with chips, too!), but top them with whatever floats your boat — cheese, avocado, lettuce, mustard… again, that’s the beauty of these burgers!

These burgers can be frozen (once cooled) for the week ahead or serve them up, stat!

Black Bean Veggie Burgers with Corn Salsa:

Makes 8 medium burgers and 3 cups of salsa

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

Warm up with a bowl of Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) - it makes a heart, great-tasting vegetarian meal

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) is a simple, hearty, Italian soup-type dish made with pasta and beans. Some of you may know this dish from your Italian relatives, friends or local restaurants as “pasta fazool.”

Everyone seems to have their own special recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, and this one is my family’s (although my mom’s version is always different because she usually tosses in miscellaneous veggies she has on hand).

If my dad were alive, he’d be cracking up to see that I was sharing this recipe. He always thought it was funny when people fussed over rustic Italian dishes that were the most simple and cost effective — basically the “peasant food” he grew up eating in Italy because it was inexpensive and readily available.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) is a delicious Italian dish

Peasant food or not, Pasta e Fagioli will fill you up, and it makes a delicious, satisfying meal — especially when it’s served with rustic Italian bread and a glass of wine!

This is a vegetarian recipe (and vegan with a swap of the Parmesan cheese), but many people add prosciutto or bacon to the dish for added flavor.

Recipe for Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans):

Makes 6 servings